Fantasy Baseball: ESPN Mock Draft Review


Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing like a nice leisurely fantasy baseball mock draft to get primed and ready for the real thing.

While this may be a little late in the draft season to be mocking, the father of an infant quickly learns to take the narrow time slots that open up for eating, showering, writing, prepping for drafts, and occasionally sleeping.

The other day I jumped into an ESPN mock draft with the option to pick second or fourth.  In a real draft I’d prefer the second pick, which gives a 95 percent chance of Miguel Cabrera and a 5 percent chance of Mike Trout.

That being said, fourth is no slouch, offering a 50/50 shot at my third and fourth ranked players: Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen.  I love the power that Goldy guarantees and his little bit of speed certainly helps things out.  The Dread Pirate is such a money-in-the-bank five category guy that I’d happily scoop him up as well.

I chose to mock in the fourth spot because it meant that my first pick would be from one of the two deepest positions, meaning I would still be forced to evaluate every position.  What lessons could I learn by taking Miggy and essentially ignoring 3B for the rest of the draft?

The first round went like this, with my picks in italics:

1. Mike Trout OF
2. Miguel Cabrera 3B
3. Andrew McCutchen OF
4. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
5. Carlos Gonzalez OF
6. Chris Davis 1B
7. Adam Jones OF
8. Jacoby Ellsbury OF
9. Robinson Cano 2B
10. Adrian Beltre 3B
11. Edwin Encarnacion 1B
12. Bryce Harper OF

My only major qualm with this round is Ellsbury.  I just can’t get behind investing your No. 1 pick into a speed-first guy when there’s so much speed to be had later in the draft — never mind the fact that his sketchy health is already looking a little questionable.

  • Let it be said that I’m not a huge Chris Davis fan, but if you happen to be a believer then I don’t see how a 50-bomb guy could ever slip out of the first round in our power hungry times.
  • I love Encarnacion this year — I have him on literally all of my teams — and I think that ESPN is the only site that has him properly ranked in the first round.
  • Even though I’d never go starting pitcher in the first I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see no Clayton Kershaw yet.  (This mock was before the recent news about Kershaw’s back ouchies.)

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The second round:

13. Clayton Kershaw SP
14. Troy Tulowitski SS
15. Hanley Ramirez SS
16. Ryan Braun OF
17. Prince Fielder 1B
18. Yu Darvish SP
19. Jason Kipnis 2B
20. Joey Votto 1B
21. Evan Longoria 3B
22. Dustin Pedroia 2B
23. Carlos Gomez OF
24. Max Scherzer SP

  • When my turn came I had Longoria, Pedroia, and Giancarlo Stanton at the top of my queue.  I went with Longoria, shoring up what I consider a shallow position with a 30-home run lock.  He’s coming off of a season of perfect health and is primed to produce first-round value.
  • My heart broke went my boy Pedroia went with the next pick, but it was greedy of me to think that he’d slip to 28th overall when Kipnis went 19th.
  • My only quibble in this round is Carlos Gomez.  His batting average in 2013 was driven by an unsustainable .344 BABIP — he will not hit anywhere near .280 with a 73% contact rate (which also dipped to 68% in the second half).  Like I said before with Ellsbury, you can buy your speed with a little more reliability at a cheaper price.

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Third round:

25. Adam Wainwright SP
26. David Wright 3B
27. Freddie Freeman 1B
28. Giancarlo Stanton OF
29. Felix Hernandez SP
30. Yasiel Puig OF
31. Jay Bruce OF
32. Ian Desmond SS
33. Ian Kinsler 2B
34. Shin-Soo Choo OF
35. Jose Reyes SS
36. Stephen Strasburg SP

  • I had added Jose Bautista and Choo to my queue in case someone snaked Giancarlo from me, but thankfully I was able to land his 50-homer upside and clever wordplay.  The choice between Giancarlo and Choo is one of upside vs. stability.  I felt very secure with my first two picks and was ready to (ahem) swing for the fences.  I’m not concerned with the team’s lack of speed, and looking at an easy 100 bombs already on my squad is a comforting feeling.
  • At this point I felt so good about the beginnings of my offense that I started chucking all of my remaining aces in my queue: Felix, Strasburg, Cliff Lee, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Verlander.  A couple of them went a few picks later but I was sure one or two would make it back around to me.
  • I questioned the Trout team’s decision to go Scherzer/Wainwright with his second and third round picks, knowing that he won’t get another bat until 48th overall.
  • Freeman seems like a bit of a reach at No. 27 in a non-keeper league as I think he’s still more of a 25-homer guy at this point in his career.
  • I turn up my nose at a third-round Yasiel Puig for reasons I’ve already detailed.  No thank you.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Fourth Round:

37. Justin Upton OF
38. David Price SP
39. Buster Posey C
40. Alex Rios OF
41. Cliff Lee SP
42. Josh Donaldson 3B
43. Chris Sale SP
44. Jose Bautista OF
45. Madison Bumgarner SP
46. Eric Hosmer 1B
47. Elvis Andrus SS
48. Craig Kimbrel RP

      • The aces in my queue started to dry up quickly but Bautista was still sitting there so I decided to get greedy and really overload on power.  Unfortunately the guy in front of me won the value lottery so I had to be happy taking my consolation prize: my original plan.  While I have Bumgarner and Verlander on pretty equal footing I think Bumgarner’s a little safer, and Verlander was ranked lower on ESPN’s defaults so there was more of a chance for me to lucksack into him in the fifth round.
      • Shockingly, Team Trout grabbed Kimbrel, and then snagged my Verlander with the first pick in the fifth round!  Spoiler alert, his offense turned out to be absolutely atrocious.  You can’t play Mike Trout everywhere, buddy.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Fifth through eighth round:

52. Albert Pujols – 1B (CI)

Pujols is being terribly underrated this year.  Sure, he was hobbled in 2013, but he still smacked 17 homers and drove in 64 in 391 AB.  His line drive percentage (19.8%) was the highest it’s been since 2008.  He’s looked healthy in spring training.  I see his floor as .270/25/80/80.  I think .280/30/100/100 is completely within reach.  Fifth round?  Thank you very much.

69. Matt Holliday – OF

Boring?  Yes.  Solid?  Yes.  Great value in the sixth?  Absolutely.

76. Everth Cabrera – SS

A reach?  Yes, but my love for Everth Cabrera has been well documented on this site.  Yup, wrote about him twice.  At this point in the draft all of the second-tier shortstops were off the board and my team was woefully short on speed.  My plan would’ve been foiled if someone snaked me on him, so I had to be absolutely certain I didn’t lose him.

93. Jordan Zimmermann – SP

A safe, steady, solid number two.  He won’t put up ace numbers in strikeouts, but he’ll eat innings with a fantastic ERA and WHIP.

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Ninth through thirteenth round:

100. Julio Teheran – SP

This guy will be drafted as an ace-level pitcher in 2015 so I’m more than happy to snag him here in the ninth as my third pitcher.

117. Jedd Gyorko – 2B

There was a huge run on second basemen, with Aaron Hill, Martin Prado, and Chase Utley going off of the board just before me.  I may have reached a little here, but I like Gyorko’s power at this weak position, and with him here I can be free to focus primarily on speed unless someone slips to me.

124. Salvador Perez – C

Aaaaand, someone slipped to me.  Perez was the only player I saw on the board who was head-and-shoulders above everyone else at his position.  At this point, unless several injuries strike, I can’t possibly see this team not dominating in power.  From here on out it’ll be best to make sure I take no other speedless batters and spread the steals around the rest of my roster.  I don’t need to win steals to win the league, just finish middle of the pack.

That being said, I do regret this pick, as Alex Cobb went just after me.  I would’ve felt spectacularly about my pitching if that were the case.  I took note of the fact that relievers were beginning to dry up, however, I only draft saves when my middle tier is almost gone.

141. Andrelton Simmons – SS

I shored up my middle infield spot here with a well-rounded player who I believe has some speed upside.

148. Austin JacksonOF

A good power/speed threat with a high floor and significant upside.  Detroit looks like it’s going to be doing more running this year as opposed to the usual beer league softball team station-to-station style, so a 15/25 season with oodles of counting stats is what I see on the horizon.

Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The rest of the draft went as planned.

Bullpen: I waited until the end of the closer run and grabbed the two of the last dependable closers in

Steve Cishek (165) and Casey Janssen (172).  Predicting saves is a fool’s errand and those two are highly underrated for different reasons (Janssen’s late start, Cishek’s sucky team.)

I then filled out my outfield and pitching staff, focusing on speed and upside respectively, and this is what the final product looks like:

C – Salvador Perez

1B – Paul Goldschmidt

2B – Jedd Gyorko

SS – Everth Cabrera

3B – Evan Longoria

CI –  Albert Pujols

MI – Andrelton Simmons

OF – Giancarlo Stanton

OF – Matt Holliday

OF – Austin Jackson

OF – Norichika Aoki

OF – Ben Revere

UT – Angel Pagan

P – Madison Bumgarner

P – Jordan Zimmermann

P – Julio Teheran

P – Marco Estrada

P – Scott Kazmir

P – Rick Porcello

P – Chris Archer

P – Casey Janssen

P – Steve Cishek

Bench – Justin Morneau, Corey Kluber, Rex Brothers

I would be more than happy to take this team into battle.  If I had to take any pick back it would be the Salvador Perez pick in the eleventh round.  Had I taken Cobb that round and then later grabbed a Jason Castro or Wilson Ramos, I’d feel a lot better about my pitching staff.  As it stands I’m confident in my top three starters and I think two of Kazmir, Estrada, Porcello, and Archer are going to break out in a big way this year.

My offense is deep, dependable, dominant, and something that starts with D and means “full of power.”  If my pitching doesn’t shake out the way I’d like I can always trade an outfielder to that dummy with the No. 1 pick who has a million pitchers (I kid you not, his best hitter not named after a fish is Matt Adams.)

Let me know what you think.  If you have any drafts left, real or mock, may your targets never slip.

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