Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft Army – Review and Analysis (Draft #23)

On March 19, 2015, I participated in the Mock Draft Army’s 12-team, 5×5 mixed Roto fantasy baseball league.  For those of you who don’t know, Howard Bender (@rotobuzzguy) has created an army (hence the name) of fantasy experts who routinely participate in mock drafts with the public.  This has been an overwhelming success the past couple years because it gives people invaluable opportunities to practice their drafting skills, styles and strategies.  It also connects the experts to the listeners and fosters a camaraderie that is unique to our industry.

I personally love doing mock drafts because it allows me the chance to test out different theories and play out scenarios that I might not necessarily implement in a real draft.  But because fantasy drafts are unpredictable, doing these mocks gives us the tools necessary to adjust on the fly and be prepared for anything.  That being said, I had the 7th overall pick in this draft and did not expect to get one of the top hitters I wanted.  With Clayton Kershaw still on the board, I selected him and then decided to go with another pitcher in the second round no matter who was still available.  As it would turn out, I ended up getting Felix Hernandez which gives me arguably the best combination of starting pitchers you can possibly draft.

By drafting Kershaw and Hernandez with my first two picks, I could afford to hold off on pitching for quite awhile and load up my offense.  My first two offensive players ended up being at the middle infield positions – Jose Reyes and Jason Kipnis.  Since this was only a mock, I decided to fill those scarce positions with players who score a lot of runs and steal bases.  If Kipnis is healthy, he can also hit 20 home runs.

Here is my roster broken down by the order in which round they were selected:

1. Clayton Kershaw (SP-LAD)
2. Felix Hernandez (SP-SEA)
3. Jose Reyes (SS-TOR)
4. Jason Kipnis (2B-CLE)
5. Albert Pujols (1B-LAA)
6. Matt Holliday (OF-STL)
7. David Wright (3B-NYM)
8. Brett Gardner (OF-NYY)
9. Alex Gordon (OF-KC)
10. Brian McCann (C-NYY)
11. Huston Street (RP-LAA)
12. Drew Storen (RP-WAS)
13. Gregory Polanco (OF-PIT)
14. Michael Pineda (SP-NYY)
15. Andrew Cashner (SP-SD)
16. Brett Cecil (RP-TOR)
17. Carlos Beltran (OF-NYY)
18. Desmond Jennings (OF-TB)
19. Jedd Gyorko (2B-SD)
20. Jake Odorizzi (SP-TB)
21. Alex Rodriguez (3B-NYY)
22. T.J. House (SP-CLE)
23. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C-MIA)

The first thing that stands out to me about this roster is that I lack a true power hitter who is a lock to hit 30 home runs.  Albert Pujols is arguably my best power hitter and his best days are clearly behind him.  However, while I do not have any true bangers I do have a plethora of players who are likely going to hit between 10-20 home runs.  They are also the type of players who will score a lot of runs, steal bases, and hit for a decent batting average.  Basically I think this roster is very balanced which would make me extremely competitive in all of the offensive Roto categories.

I also went outside of my comfort zone and drafted a catcher much earlier than I normally would.  My strategy in fantasy baseball is to punt the catching position regardless of what format or structure the league is.  In my opinion, catchers do not provide enough value to spend a relatively early round pick on when you can wait until the end of drafts to get similarly disappointing production.  In this draft, I selected Brian McCann in the 10th round.  I did this for a couple reasons: 1) I wanted to try something new out and a mock draft is the ideal forum to do that; and 2) my roster lacked power and McCann will likely hit at least 20 home runs which is what I needed.

After loaded up on starting pitching in the first two rounds, I filled out my offense over the next eight picks.  But I still did not have any closers heading into the 11th round and I knew I needed to focus on that before the pickings became extremely slim.  I was very pleased to land Huston Street and Drew Storen in the 11th and 12th rounds, respectively. Street should reach 40 saves again on a good Angels team and has been undervalued in most drafts that I have participated in thus far.  Storen is also in for a big year returning as Washington’s closer on a team that should win a lot of close games.

Despite waiting a long time to take another starting pitcher, I was very happy to fill my staff out with pitchers such as Michael Pineda, Andrew Cashner, Jake Odorizzi and T.J. House.  These are four young starters with tremendous upside who can help me dominate several categories if things go as planned in conjunction with Kershaw and Hernandez.  I also grabbed my third closer with Brett Cecil who will be Toronto’s ninth inning stopper.

BEST PICK – Drew Storen in the 12th round.  As volatile as closers can be (including Storen who has already lost the closer’s job in his career), I loved the value and upside of this pick.  The Nationals should win 100 games this season, and many of them will likely be close because they don’t have an explosive offense.  If Storen can stay healthy and maintain consistency, he could provide similar save totals as the elite closers like Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman.

BIGGEST REACH – Albert Pujols in the 5th round.  I passed on a first baseman when I drafted Kipnis in the 4th round, so I settled on Pujols during the next round.  Pujols still has something left in the tank, but he is clearly on the downside of his career.  Gone are the days of a .300 batting average, but he can still be expected to hit .275 with 25 home runs and close to 100 RBI.  There is equally the chance that he is physically unable to walk or run and lands on the disabled list for an extended period of time.

SLEEPER – T.J. House in the 22nd round.  House has all but locked up a spot in Cleveland’s starting rotation with a dominant spring training and an injury to Gavin Floyd.  I’m not saying he is the next Corey Kluber, but there are similarities to 2014.  Last year, people hyped up Danny Salazar over Kluber, and all that happened was Salazar getting demoted and Kluber winning the Cy Young award.  This spring, the hype is surrounding Carlos Carrasco whereas I think House is the better pitcher.

BUST ALERT – Jason Kipnis in the 4th round.  While I like the upside Kipnis has with his power and speed capabilities, he is an injury risk.  Kipnis is also a streaky player with a history of extremes during both halves of a season.  It will cost me dearly if he is unable to produce his expected statistics.

ANALYSIS – Overall I liked the team I drafted despite taking some chances and experimenting with different strategies.  I am not saying I would actually make these decisions in a real league, but at least I know it is a possibility and can result in a solid, well-balanced team.  You can see the results of the entire mock draft here.

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