Fantasy Baseball: NL-only Mock Draft Review

On January 27, 2014, I participated in the Fantasy Alarm NL-only fantasy baseball mock draft for the Baseball Guys 2014 Draft Kit. I had the 11th overall pick in this 12-team league which was comprised of some of the brightest minds in the industry including Ray Flowers, Jeff Mans, Glenn Colton, Howard Bender, Steve Gardner, Tim Heaney, Derek Carty and Lawr Michaels.

Here is a breakdown of my picks in the order of the round they were selected.

Ryan Braun1. Ryan Braun (OF-MIL)

Despite being suspended for the last 62 games of 2013 for PED’s, I still pegged Ryan Braun as a top five pick in an NL-only league. After all, he has put up monster numbers every year of his career, even after he had tested positive for high levels of testosterone in 2011. So when he was available at the 11th pick, I pounced. Braun may not be likeable, but he is a talented baseball player with something to prove. I fully expect .300/30/100 with or without PED’s.

2. Giancarlo Stanton (OF-MIA)

When you think about being alone on an island as a fantasy baseball metaphor, Giancarlo Stanton has to come to mind. He has prolific power and incredible talent, but he is surrounded by an awful lineup with no viable alternative source of protection. Stanton has also been bitten by the injury bug the past couple years, so there is some additional risk there. That being said, he should hit at least 30 home runs by accident.

3. Adam Wainwright (SP-STL)

Pitching is much deeper in NL-only leagues than AL-only, so I had several options to choose from. I opted for Wainwright over Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Zack Greinke. He looks better than ever after Tommy John surgery and piles up wins to go along with dominant ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. Wainwright is the complete package on a very good team with a solid offense and terrific bullpen.

4. Dominic Brown (OF-PHI)

Let me preface this by saying that my computer froze and I was auto-selected Dominic Brown. I suppose it could have been worse, but I would not have taken him here in the 4th round. That being said, Brown does have the potential for 30 home runs as he demonstrated tremendous power during the first half of 2013. He needs to learn better plate discipline and also figure out how to handle left-handed pitching more effectively. Hopefully with a healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitting around him he can become the main force in the Phillies’ lineup. He is fine as my third outfielder.

5. Brandon Phillips (2B-CIN)

I was a little surprised to Phillips still available at this point of the draft. Over the past few years he has consistently failed to reach 20 home runs, but there is nothing wrong with expecting 15-18 long balls from your second baseman. Now that he is entrenched as the Reds’ cleanup hitter, he has traded his stolen bases for RBI which is fine. I’ll sign up for .280/18/90 for a fifth round second baseman any day of the week.

6. Aroldis Chapman (RP-CIN)

I had thought about taking Craig Kimbrel earlier but decided to wait until this pick. That turned out to bite me because Kimbrel went one pick ahead of me. Instead I opted for Aroldis Chapman over Kenley Jansen. Chapman has a little more experience and has not encountered health problems like Jansen has. The Reds will be good again so Chapman should have no problems racking up 35-40 saves to go along with dominant ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.

7. Matt Adams (1B-STL)

This pick came down to a choice between Matt Adams and Ryan Howard. I opted for Adams who is on the way up whereas Howard is a shell of his former self. Adams should finally get enough playing time to allow him to approach 30 home runs.

8. Todd Frazier (3B-CIN)

With all the power Frazier has, it is hard to believe he has never reached 20 home runs in a season. I think that will change this year as he finally puts it all together. He may not be of much help in terms of batting average, but an output of 20-25 home runs and 80 RBI is well within reach. Plus, third base in the National League is pretty thin once you get past the top tier names so I was satisfied getting him at this point in the draft.

9. Jimmy Rollins (SS-PHI)

The end might be near for the 2007 National League MVP as Rollins’ numbers took a major nose dive in 2013. That being said, I think he still has enough left in the tank to be useful. He is only two years removed from a season where he hit 23 home runs and stole 30 bases, so it is possible 2013 was a fluke. I’ll take my chances with him as a 9th round pick to fill out my infield.

10. Tim Lincecum (SP-SF)

This was admittedly a bit of a stretch as I probably could have waited a little longer to take The Freak. He has really fallen on hard times the past couple years, but despite that the Giants re-signed him in the hopes that he can rekindle his past glory. Poor mechanics and a lot of wear and tear have made Lincecum a risky endeavor in fantasy baseball. This is a boom or bust pick.

11. LaTroy Hawkins (RP-COL)

My search for a second closer led me to a 40+ year old who cashed in on a terrific 2013 season with the Mets. LaTroy Hawkins found the Fountain of Youth last year and has earned another closing gig with the Rockies. I am quite skeptical about him and would not be surprised if he loses his 9th inning job by the All Star break.

12. Chris Young (OF-NYM)

As a Mets fan, I loathed this free agent signing. Chris Young is coming off a season where he hit .200 and was absolutely abysmal. Now the Mets are banking on him being an every day corner outfielder. He does possess a mixture of both power and speed, so he certainly can be a fantasy asset. But it has been quite awhile since he produced at an acceptable level, so this selection should tell you all you need to know about what was available at this point.

13. Travis Wood (SP-CHC)

Despite only winning nine games in 2013, Travis Wood had a terrific season for a very bad Cubs team. He compiled a 3.11 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 200 innings. He does not have overpowering stuff as indicated by his 6.5 K/9 ratio, but he is a solid fantasy starter and won’t hurt you in any categories.

14. Carlos Ruiz (C-PHI)

My usual strategy is to punt catchers because I think it is a waste of a position and generally most backstops produce similar numbers. I recognize there are exceptions like Buster Posey, but catchers are more susceptible to injuries and do not tend to play every day. So my choice is to just wait as long as possible and settle for what is left. By this point in the draft there were only a couple of starting catchers left, so I grabbed Ruiz who is fresh off a new contract and looking to prove that he doesn’t need PED’s to be productive.

15. Kyle Lohse (SP-MIL)

There was no chance that Kyle Lohse was going to replicate his 2012 season, so teams were reluctant to sign him to a free agent contract since draft pick compensation was attached to him. Milwaukee finally signed him and he actually did put together a fine year compiling 11 wins to go along with a 3.35 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Now that the Brewers have added Matt Garza, Lohse moves down a spot in the rotation which could provide more advantageous matchups throughout the season.

16. Nate McLouth (OF-WAS)

After enjoying a career renaissance in Baltimore, Nate McLouth cashed in by signing a contract with the Washington Nationals. He probably won’t get as much playing time as he did with the Orioles due to the presence of Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Denard Span. But when he does get opportunities, Mclouth could be a source of cheap stolen bases and runs scored.

17. Cody Ross (OF-ARZ)

This pick got rave reviews in the draft room as Cody Ross slipped off everyone’s radar after enduring a serious hip injury in the middle of last season. Ross is a nice player who can quietly hit 15-20 home runs and drive in 70-75 runs. He signed a big contract last year so he will get plenty of playing time coming back to a lineup that now includes Mark Trumbo.

18. Lyle Overbay (1B-PIT)

I needed a corner infielder and this was arguably the best that was available. It just so happens that his name is “Overbay” in that symbolically I can say that I will never be “over Jason Bay.”

19. Tyler Thornburg (SP-MIL)

The Brewers are very high on pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg. The Mets wanted him in a potential deal for Ike Davis, but Brewers general manager Doug Melvin wouldn’t bite. Thornburg was a candidate for the Brewers’ rotation before they signed Matt Garza, so his role in 2014 is undefined at this time. He also did pitch out of the bullpen in 2013 so it is possible he could be groomed for a late inning role.

20. Vic Black (RP-NYM)

This could be one of the steals of the draft. Vic Black was acquired late in 2013 from the Pirates and became an integral part of the Mets bullpen, especially after Bobby Parnell went down with an injury. While Parnell is expected to be ready for Opening Day, Black is their backup plan should Parnell run into any issues. He has dominant stuff and should have an excellent K/9 ratio.

21. Zach Lee (SP-LAD)

Zach Lee is one of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects and will likely be at Triple-A this year. I drafted him on the premise that injuries will likely affect the Dodgers’ rotation again as Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are serious question marks coming back from injuries. If Los Angeles does have to dip into its farm system again, Lee could be a candidate to make the jump to the big leagues.

22. Darwin Barney (2B-CHC)

I needed a middle infielder and there was absolutely nothing left at this point. At least Barney plays most of the time, but a batting average near the Mendoza line will not keep him in the lineup much longer.

23. Tuffy Gosewisch (C-ARZ)

Since I am committed to punting catchers, I was setting myself up for a lackluster second backstop. So with my very last pick and without any options of starters, I admittedly went with a personal choice on this one. I attended several Lakewood Blue Claws games (the Phillies’ Single-A affiliate) and grew a fondness for Tuffy Gosewisch. So to repay him, I drafted him onto my team.

C Carlos Ruiz-PHI
C Tuffy Gosewisch-ARZ
1B Matt Adams-STL
2B Brandon Phillips-CIN
3B Todd Frazier-CIN
SS Jimmy Rollins-PHI
CI Lyle Overbay-MIL
MI Darwin Barney-CHC
OF Ryan Braun-MIL
OF Giancarlo Stanton-MIA
OF Dominic Brown-PHI
OF Chris Young-NYM
OF Cody Ross-ARZ
U Nate McLouth-WAS

P Adam Wainwright-STL
P Aroldis Chapman-CIN
P Tim Lincecum-SF
P LaTroy Hawkins-COL
P Kyle Lohse-MIL
P Travis Wood-CHC
P Tyler Thornburg-MIL
P Vic Black-NYM
P Zach Lee-LAD

EVALUATION: From an offensive perspective, this team is built on power and run production. I should be at or near the top with home runs and RBI with bangers like Braun, Stanton, Brown, Adams and Phillips. I think I will have some problems with batting average and stolen bases. In terms of pitching, I only have two sources of reliable production in Wainwright and Chapman. I will need Lincecum to return to his pre-2012 form and also get top notch performances from Lohse and Wood in order to compete in the pitching categories.

Let me know what you think of this team.  Send your comments to me by email at michael.stein@fantasyjudgment.com or through social media on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).

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