I want to thank Jason Sarney of Fantasy Phenoms for inviting me to participate in the second of their series of mock drafts. The league details are the standard 12-team mixed 5x5, rotisserie format. The draft was a serpentine 23-round session, with two catchers, a first baseman, a second baseman, a shortstop, a third baseman, a middle infielder, a corner infielder, a utility player, five outfielders, and a staff of nine pitchers.
I have been using a slightly modified form of the projections that come with the Diamond Draft Fantasy Baseball Software, but I did not have time to load them into the Mock Draft Central system before the draft. Therefore, I had to do my best with the rankings they provided. You can be the judge.
I enter every re-draft league (and thus all mock drafts) with the same simple strategy. I try to draft players with upside potential in every round especially pitchers. I tend to avoid players I see as in decline unless they come at a major discount. I usually speculate on saves in the end game unless someone good falls to me. In addition, I do not pay much attention to position scarcity except at the catcher position. This strategy has worked for me repeatedly, but this was some other plan.
R1 P2 Ramirez, Hanley SS FLA
The first round held no real surprises. I am a just a bit impressed that Matt Holliday (OF, OAK) has maintained his first round status. His 12.53 ADP according to Mock Draft Central is a sign that no one will be surprised to see Holliday provide a typical performance as an Oakland Athletic. I have taken Hanley Ramirez (SS, FLA) first overall in more than one mock draft already. I think his combination of 30 homerun/50 stolen base potential is very tough to ignore, especially when it comes from a shortstop.
R2 P11 Phillips, Brandon 2B CIN
I love that Tim Lincecum (RHP, SF) was the first pitcher drafted. I think he deserves the position and this comes from someone who loves Johan Santana (LHP, NYN) as much as ever. However, Lincecum’s ADP has him going almost a round later than Santana, so this is a little early. Brandon Phillips (2B, CIN) has 30/30 potential but 25/25 is a much better bet. Somehow, despite ignoring position scarcity, I have already built a very strong middle infield.
R3 P2 Fielder, Prince 1B MIL
In retrospect, I should have taken Matt Kemp (OF, LAD) in this spot. I like Prince Fielder (1B, MIL) and I think he will have another productive season bit I have been targeting Matt Kemp because I see him having first round value. I should have known he would not be around for my next pick. Choosing Prince also ensured that I would not have an elite outfielder. Carl Crawford (OF, TAM) would have been another good choice. He lost some status due to his injury-plagued season but I expect him to be back on top of his game this season. With first base being deep, I could have waited a while and still drafted a quality corner.
R4 P11 Victorino, Shane OF PHI
I was a little shocked to see Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, BOS) go this soon. His present ADP has him going in the early sixth round. With the second half slump Ellsbury experienced I did not expect to see anyone in a rush to draft him. Shane Victorino (OF, PHI) was the best outfielder on the board. I had to select him if I wanted to have a half-decent outfield I had to start filling it. Victorino is just a notch below elite level but provides power and steals in bunches.
R5 P2 Hart, Corey OF MIL
Had I been on my game I probably would have targeted one of the elite catchers at this point. This round sees the first closer come off the board when Chris Lynch selects Jon Papelbon (RHP, BOS).
R6 P11 Ordonez, Magglio OF DET
A small closer run ensues but fortunately, I am not so out of sorts as to follow suit. I am attempting to make up for not having an elite outfielder by drafting a strong and deep one. Magglio Ordonez (OF, DET) is an old favorite. He does not have his former speed and his power is fading but he still hits for a strong average and enough power to stay productive.
R7 P2 Uggla, Dan 2B FLA
At this point I decide that since the outfielders I like are going fast that I’m going to select the best middle infielders I can. Now that I am thinking more clearly I wish I had taken Geovany Soto (C, CHC). Nevertheless, the team I have this point is still a strong one. Dan Uggla (2B, MIA) is good for 30 homeruns.
R8 P11 Hardy, J.J. SS MIL
Some experts seem to have a problem with J.J. Hardy’s (SS, MIL) streakiness. This might matter a little in head-to-head leagues, but in reality, this is a silly argument against him in most leagues. Fantasy Baseball is a marathon you do not judge a player by a few cold streaks or even a few hot ones. Darryl Strawberry (OF, Retired) was streaky, so was Reggie Jackson (OF, also retired). Without his famous end of the season hot streak in 2008, we would all have Manny Ramirez (OF, Free Agent) outside of our top 25 outfielders. Hardy’s 118.7 ADP which places him well behind one year wonders like Troy Tulowitzki (SS, COL) and Stephen Drew (SS, ARI) and declining veterans like Miguel Tejada (SS, HOU) and Derek Jeter (SS, NYY) is a travesty of fantasy baseball justice (I just made it up).
R9 P2 Rivera, Mariano RP NYY
Even non-closer people have limits. I could not allow the best closer of all time to remain on the market for another round. Mariano Rivera (RHP, NYY) still displays every skill you want to see in a closer candidate. He is as safe a closer pick as can be made. I always find it easier to take closers in expert leagues and other tough leagues because everyone waits on closers and drafting the best ones in the middle rounds of the draft is tolerable to me. This team does not resemble my typical ones at all.
R10 P11 Lester, Jon SP BOS
I expect Jon Lester (LHP, BOS) to move into the top tier of starters this season. He has the magic combination of a good strikeout rate, groundball rate, and decent control that lies in the heart of every dominate starter. I am shocked by the selection of Carlos Marmol (RHP, CHC) ahead of so many established closers. Marmol will compete with Kevin Gregg (RHP, CHC) and Jeff Samardzija (RHP, CHC) for the role. Gregg of course was the Florida closer for the last two years and was acquired by trade earlier in the offseason. Samardzija is just the young fireballer that Lou Piniella fell in love with last season. Marmol is not even close to a lock so selecting him at this point takes a giant leap of faith.
R11 P2 Chamberlain, Joba RP NYY
If Joba Chamberlain (RHP, NYY) can stay healthy (and in the Yankees rotation), he has a chance to be as valuable as any pitcher in baseball. I really like the odds that he can do it. If I can draft Lester and Chamberlain in my real leagues this spring, I will be a very happy man. However, I will not hold my breath expecting that to happen.
R12 P11 Doumit, Ryan C PIT
In a shallow league like this, you need to get quality at the catcher position. Ryan Doumit fits the bill. I like the Adam Jones (OF, BAL) pick. I expect him to take a real step up this season. The closers are coming off the board, which does not bother me at all.
R13 P2 Beltre, Adrian 3B SEA
The last time Adrian Beltre (3B, SEA) was in a walk year, he blasted 40 homeruns. Even if he does not step up quite like that again, I still love having Beltre in a walk year. Matt Wieters (C, BAL), the catching prospect that everybody wants went in this round. Is it just a coincidence that David Price (RHP,TAM), the pitching prospect that everyone wants, also went in this round? Kevin Slowey (RHP, MIN) went with the third pick of the round and could be a very nice bargain.
R14 P11 Byrnes, Eric OF ARI
I did not want to be left with the dregs of the outfield so I grabbed Eric Byrnes (OF, ARI) here. If healthy, I expect him to bounce back with 15-20 homeruns and 25-30 stolen bases, which is a nice value for this round.
R15 P2 Johnson, Josh SP FLA
Josh Johnson (RHP, FLA) had a very strong second half after returning from Tommy John Elbow Surgery. He should continue to grow stronger this season.
R16 P11 Lowe, Derek SP ATL
The Atlanta Braves were willing to overpay because Derek Lowe (RHP, ATL) is as steady and durable starter as there is in the majors. He has never been on the disabled list. How many veteran starting pitchers in the majors can make that claim?
R17 P2 Scherzer, Max RP ARI
I drafted another great arm with upside this round. Max Scherzer (RHP, ARI) has an incredible ability to incur strikeouts. He should excel as either a starter or a closer. I tend to believe he will stick in the rotation but you never can tell.
R18 P11 Saltalamaccia, J C TEX
This is probably the riskiest pick I made. Jarrod Saltalamaccia (C, TEX) does not have a guaranteed starting job. I expect that he will and based on his winter league performance I think the Rangers will have a hard time keeping him out of the lineup now that Gerald Laird (C, DET) has been traded to the Detroit Tigers.
R19 P2 Duchscherer, J SP OAK
When healthy, Justin Duchscherer (RHP, OAK) is one of the most effective pitchers in baseball. For most of the 2008 season Duchscherer was one of the American League leaders in ERA. He ended last season badly due to a hip ailment but he expects to be ready to start on Opening Day.
R20 P11 Giambi, Jason 1B OAK
No, Jason Giambi (1B, TB) is not the player he was ten years ago, but who is? He still draws walks in bunches and has the power to hit 30-35 homeruns. He is likely to ever bat .300 again but in the 20th round I’ll take what I can get.
R21 P2 Hughes, Philip SP NYY
I know there were better bets available than Phil Hughes (RHP, NYY)who not only has to fight for a rotation spot but also against the expectations of fans that went from sky is the limit to “trade ‘em” in the space of one season. I expect him to make all of his doubters eat their words.
R22 P11 Ziegler, Brad RP OAK
I am confident that Joey Devine (RHP, OAK) is going to close for the Oakland Athletics. However, Brad Zeigler (RHP, OAK) held that job for a portion of last season and at this point in the draft, I am willing to take a few chances.
R23 P2 Church, Ryan OF NYM
For some reason, I ended up in auto-draft for the 23rd round and rather than select J.D. Drew (OF, BOS) I was given Ryan Church (OF, NYM). Church is a solid player and if he can remain healthy and the regular starter in right field he will exceed his draft position in actual value.
C: R. Doumit, J. Saltalamaccia
1B/3B/CR: P. Fielder, A. Beltre, J. Giambi
2B/SS/MI: B. Phillips, H. Ramirez, D. Uggla
U: J.J. Hardy
OF: S. Victorino, C. Hart, M. Ordonez, E. Byrnes, R. Church
SP: J. Lester, J. Chamberlain, J. Johnson, D. Lowe, M. Scherzer, J. Duchscherer, P. Hughes
RP: M. Rivera, B. Zeigler
The result is teams that should hits lots of homeruns and steal tons of bases. The offense should be one of the better ones in every category with the possible exception of batting average. The pitching staff could not be loaded with more potential. It is that potential being reached that will make the difference between a good team and a great one.
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