Drew Silva

Draft Strategy

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Early February Mockin'

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yep, it's not even the middle of February and we're running analysis of a fantasy baseball mock draft. I'll spare you the "we're so dedicated" jargon (because I'm hoping it's assumed) and get right to the good stuff:

I invited a group of 10 industry professionals to participate in a mock 5x5 league last weekend with the intention of getting a better feel for current trends. It's a slow-moving style draft hosted by the excellent CouchManagers.com and it has been an absolute pleasure thus far. We've just entered Round 8 and we are going all the way up to 18. Below I'll recap the first six rounds.

First, let me introduce you to the crew:

Team 1: Eno Sarris (FanGraphs.com, FantasyLoungeSports.com)
Team 2: Auto-Queue (Computer-run)
Team 3: Drew Silva (That's Me!)
Team 4: Steve Gardner (USA Today)
Team 5: Tim Dierkes (MLBTradeRumors, RotoAuthority)
Team 6: Mike Axisa (River Ave. Blues, MLBTradeRumors)
Team 7: Jesse Spector (New York Daily News)
Team 8: Sam Miller (Orange County Register)
Team 9: Chet Gresham (Razzball.com)
Team 10: Dan Wade (Bleacher Report)
Team 11: Thor Nystrom (Rotoworld)
Team 12: D.J. Short (Rotoworld)

The draft is the most crucial part of any fantasy season and there's no better way to get prepared than studying the way your peers select players. Keep up with ADP trends, follow Rotoworld's player news page religiously, but also participate in a mock draft or two. A mock draft is like a warm-up for your fantasy brain. Like taking the PSAT, but a whole lot more fun and without the chicks.

[My picks can be found in bold, blue lettering.]

Round One

1. 1. Hanley Ramirez
1. 2. Albert Pujols
1. 3. Alex Rodriguez
1. 4. Chase Utley
1. 5. Ryan Braun
1. 6. Prince Fielder
1. 7. Evan Longoria
1. 8. Miguel Cabrera
1. 9. Mark Teixeira
1. 10. Troy Tulowitzki
1. 11. Ryan Howard
1. 12. Matt Kemp

Talking Points

  • Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols will (and should) be selected at the top of nearly every fantasy draft this spring. There's really no reason to expound on why because we all know what they bring to the table: power, and, most importantly, consistency. Beyond those two it gets a bit murkier.

    I went with Alex Rodriguez third overall, but not before considering many other options. A-Rod is as strong a fantasy player as anyone when he's at his best, but he turns 35 this season and his home run totals have been all over the map since he blasted a career-high 57 in 2002. He's stealing fewer bases and he's still somewhat of an injury risk. That said, let's not forget that the man is buoyed by a star-studded lineup and is almost a sure bet for 120-plus RBI if he plays a full season.

  • This is the first draft I've participated in this winter where Tim Lincecum was not selected in the first round. Instead, players like Miguel Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki made the cut. It just goes to show you that everyone has a different strategy and a different idea of what works. Lincecum is close to a sure bet for 250-plus strikeouts and superb ERA and WHIP numbers, but some owners tend to trust hitters more than pitchers.

    Tulowitzki didn't hit 35 home runs last year, nor did he top 100 RBI, but he mans a position where value is scarce. Oh, and he had a 1.043 OPS after the All-Star break. A lot of bright folks are expecting that trend of excellence to continue once the 2010 season officially kicks off. It's tough to argue against most first-round picks, no matter who you're drafting with.

  • Best Value

    Matt Kemp isn't likely to fall to the 12th overall pick in many drafts this year. He established himself as a true fantasy stud last season with a .297 batting average, 26 home runs, 101 RBI, 34 stolen bases and 97 runs scored. The 25-year-old is being selected at an average draft position (ADP) of 7 in most mocks and was a steal at No. 12.

    Round Two

    2. 1. Tim Lincecum
    2. 2. Matt Holliday
    2. 3. Joe Mauer
    2. 4. David Wright
    2. 5. Grady Sizemore
    2. 6. Roy Halladay
    2. 7. Carl Crawford
    2. 8. Ian Kinsler
    2. 9. Felix Hernandez
    2. 10. Justin Upton
    2. 11. Ryan Zimmerman
    2. 12. Pablo Sandoval

    Talking Points

  • Here's where things get interesting. Joe Mauer and Lincecum seem like great picks and should go as high, if not higher, in most regular drafts this season. Mauer had an other-worldly .365/.444/.587 batting line in 2009 and he smashed 28 home runs in just 138 games played. It's almost impossible to find consistent fantasy production at the catcher's position and the kid from St. Paul has it all.

    The selection of Matt Holliday at 14th overall, on the other hand, scares me. He raked to the tune of a 1.023 OPS in his two-plus months with the Cardinals last season, but can we really expect him to keep that kind of pace? Keep in mind he's a .318 career hitter and has averaged just 29 home runs over his first five professional seasons. Heck, he only hit 24 dingers all of last year. That kind of production, especially in an outfielder, can be often be found deep into drafts.

  • Pablo Sandoval receiving a second-round selection also bothers me. I like the guy's nickname, and I think it's great that he shed a ton of excess weight this offseason, but I'm not sure passing on Mark Reynolds was a bright idea. Allow me to work up a side-by-side comparison:

    Sandoval, 23, hit .330 with 25 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB and 79 R in 2009.
    Reynolds, 26, hit .260 with 44 HR, 102 RBI, 24 SB and 98 R in 2009.

    A little simple math will tell you that "Kung Fu Panda" does not belong in the second round, or at least not before Reynolds.

  • continue story »
    Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
    Email :Drew Silva

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