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Draft Strategy

Live Mock Draft Grades

by Nathan Grimm

After a successful maiden voyage last spring, Rotoworld once again hosted a live fantasy baseball mock draft this year. Live on Rotoworld.com Wednesday morning, our own D.J. Short and Ryan Boyer, and Yahoo Sports’ Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski, took on each other and eight Rotoworld Draft Guide subscribers to see who could build the best team.

I was asked to blindly hand out individual roster grades afterward, choosing one overall winner from the 12 teams. I didn’t stream the draft as it happened and was simply sent the results via email on Wednesday afternoon. The names of the owners were only given to me once I was ready to publish this write-up, so no bias was at play.

After the round, the overall selection number is in parentheses next to the player’s name -- (1) is the first overall pick, (24) is the No. 24 pick in the draft, etc. That helps provide some context when comparing a player’s value here as compared to his average draft position (ADP).

This is all based on standard 5x5 fantasy scoring with the following roster setup: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, UTIL, UTIL, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, RP, P, P, BN, BN.

Team 1 (D.J. Short)

1. (1) Mike Trout (LAA - OF)
2. (24) Freddie Freeman (Atl - 1B)
3. (25) Blake Snell (TB - SP)
4. (48) Daniel Murphy (Col - 1B,2B)
5. (49) Xander Bogaerts (Bos - SS)
6. (72) Kenley Jansen (LAD - RP)
7. (73) Zack Wheeler (NYM - SP)
8. (96) Matt Chapman (Oak - 3B)
9. (97) Mitch Haniger (Sea - OF)
10. (120) Andrew McCutchen (Phi - OF)
11. (121) Raisel Iglesias (Cin - RP)
12. (144) Miguel Cabrera (Det - 1B)
13. (145) Ender Inciarte (Atl - OF)
14. (168) Joey Lucchesi (SD - SP)
15. (169) Danny Jansen (Tor - C)
16. (192) Joe Musgrove (Pit - SP)
17. (193) Jesus Luzardo (Oak - SP)
18. (216) Kevin Gausman (Atl - SP)
19. (217) Matt Barnes (Bos - RP)
20. (240) Paul DeJong (StL - SS)

Team overview: I’m trying to pace myself to avoid peaking too soon, like giving out the Golden Ticket before the one really beautiful girl walks by on an episode of Singled Out, but I’m really in like with this team. Trout, of course, provides the single best foundation available, but getting Freeman at 24 overall is a coup, and the lineup as a whole is a great mix of bankable stats and a few upside plays. If there’s a weakness it’s the rotation depth -- Lucchesi isn’t an ideal No. 3, and only five of the six starters will even begin the year in the majors, likely -- but I’m a fan of the speculation on breakouts from Musgrove and Luzardo. In all, a well-rounded team that should vie for a title, and ultimately, my favorite of the draft.

Favorite pick: McCutchen. The Freeman pick is probably the best value, but the drafter didn’t really have to do much there, just sit and say “thank you.” McCutchen is one of my favorite undervalued guys this year, as I think the move to a better park and a stacked Phillies lineup will be very good for the veteran.

Least-favorite pick: Chapman. He’s certainly got his believers, but I’m not sure he’ll be better than some of the third basemen drafted behind him (Donaldson, Andujar, Myers).

Grade: A+

Team 2 (Cullen S.)

1. (2) Mookie Betts (Bos - OF)
2. (23) Giancarlo Stanton (NYY - OF)
3. (26) Juan Soto (Was - OF)
4. (47) Khris Davis (Oak - OF)
5. (50) Cody Bellinger (LAD - 1B,OF)
6. (71) Corey Seager (LAD - SS)
7. (74) Matt Carpenter (StL - 1B,2B,3B)
8. (95) Dee Gordon (Sea - 2B,SS,OF)
9. (98) Charlie Morton (TB - SP)
10. (119) Josh Hader (Mil - RP)
11. (122) Dallas Keuchel (Hou - SP)
12. (143) Rich Hill (LAD - SP)
13. (146) Tyler Glasnow (TB - SP,RP)
14. (167) Billy Hamilton (KC - OF)
15. (170) Kenta Maeda (LAD - SP,RP)
16. (191) Dellin Betances (NYY - RP)
17. (194) Will Smith (SF - RP)
18. (215) Andrew Miller (StL - RP)
19. (218) Collin McHugh (Hou - RP)
20. (239) Jesse Winker (Cin - OF)

Team overview: My first instinct was to not like anything about this team, but upon further review, the offense balances power and speed well, albeit at the cost of some batting average. The pitching, though, falls short of the mark, which will happen when you don’t take your first pitcher until Round 9. It’s a high-risk, high-reward group of starters, but this owner will need a lot of things to go right for the staff to get enough wins and strikeouts to compete in those categories, and saves don’t appear to be in the equation, either. If I squint hard enough I can see a competitive team, but it’s a gambit. (They don’t even have a catcher, for crying out loud.)

Favorite pick: Winker. To get a guy with the upside of Winker as your last-round pick is a nice value to say the least. I’m bullish on Winker to have a nice batting average and on-base floor with 20-plus homer upside and the counting stats that come with it in GABP.

Least-favorite pick: Keuchel. Keuchel’s appeal slips with each passing day as he goes unsigned. Baking in the time it will take him to get up to speed -- assuming he signs any time soon -- I don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze at this price.

Grade: B


Team 3 (Frank W.)

1. (3) Jose Ramirez (Cle - 2B,3B)
2. (22) Corey Kluber (Cle - SP)
3. (27) Manny Machado (SD - 3B,SS)
4. (46) Jack Flaherty (StL - SP)
5. (51) George Springer (Hou - OF)
6. (70) Jose Abreu (CWS - 1B)
7. (75) Yasiel Puig (Cin - OF)
8. (94) Sean Doolittle (Was - RP)
9. (99) Wil Myers (SD - 3B,OF)
10. (118) Corey Knebel (Mil - RP)
11. (123) Shane Bieber (Cle - SP)
12. (142) Willson Contreras (ChC - C)
13. (147) Elvis Andrus (Tex - SS)
14. (166) Rick Porcello (Bos - SP)
15. (171) Carlos Santana (Cle - 1B,3B)
16. (190) J.A. Happ (NYY - SP)
17. (195) Justin Smoak (Tor - 1B)
18. (214) Eduardo Escobar (Ari - 3B,SS)
19. (219) Jimmy Nelson (Mil - SP)
20. (238) Nick Markakis (Atl - OF)

Team overview: This team has balance, but it almost has too much safety to truly compete. Where is the upside? Safe, bankable floor in the early rounds is the name of the game, but is there a next level for guys like Porcello, Happ, Smoak, Escobar, Markakis? A couple of those names to provide balance is fine -- even though I might not take a few of them at all in a 12-team league -- but the counterbalance to those should be a couple high-ceiling shots in the later rounds. This team won’t embarrass itself, but it likely won’t win very often, either.

Favorite pick: Andrus. I’m a big believer in his chances of bouncing back this year. Maybe not to the extent of that fantastic 2017 season, but I think he’s going to be a steal going as late as he is in most drafts.

Least-favorite pick: Smoak. First base isn’t deep this year, but there are better darts to throw, especially with Abreu and Santana already in tow, than the 32-year-old.

Grade: B-


Team 4 (Dan G.)

1. (4) Nolan Arenado (Col - 3B)
2. (21) Gerrit Cole (Hou - SP)
3. (28) Carlos Carrasco (Cle - SP)
4. (45) Joey Votto (Cin - 1B)
5. (52) Jean Segura (Phi - SS)
6. (69) David Dahl (Col - OF)
7. (76) Brad Hand (Cle - RP)
8. (93) Jose Leclerc (Tex - RP)
9. (100) Luis Castillo (Cin - SP)
10. (117) Aaron Hicks (NYY - OF)
11. (124) Nomar Mazara (Tex - OF)
12. (141) Yoan Moncada (CWS - 2B)
13. (148) Yusei Kikuchi (Sea - SP)
14. (165) Amed Rosario (NYM - SS)
15. (172) Welington Castillo (CWS - C)
16. (189) Austin Meadows (TB - OF)
17. (196) Chris Paddack (SD - SP)
18. (213) Josh Bell (Pit - 1B)
19. (220) Brad Peacock (Hou - RP)
20. (237) Hunter Renfroe (SD - OF)

Team overview: There’s a balance here that feels really impressive on the whole. Every box was checked, but not at the expense of anything -- none of the picks feel like egregious reaches aimed at filling open spots rather than taking the best player available. I especially like the pitching staff, which has a rock-solid foundation of Cole and Carrasco, a couple of top-10 starters, and then aims for upside with Castillo, Kikuchi, Paddack and Peacock. Even the late-round fliers like Bell and Renfroe have merit. It’s hard to nitpick this club.

Favorite pick: Peacock. The right-hander has been tremendous as a reliever and appears to be in the driver’s seat for the fifth starter spot with the Astros after Josh James’ quad injury. I’m in on that ceiling this late.

Least-favorite pick: Paddack. I might get booed off the stage for panning everyone’s Cactus League Cy Young Award winner, but the reality is, we don’t know how many innings Paddack will log in 2019, and when they might come. There’s not a ton of risk at this stage, but there are still late-round darts I’d have liked more.

Grade: A


Team 5 (Andy Behrens)

1. (5) Max Scherzer (Was - SP)
2. (20) Francisco Lindor (Cle - SS)
3. (29) Javier Baez (ChC - 2B,3B,SS)
4. (44) Anthony Rendon (Was - 3B)
5. (53) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Tor - 3B)
6. (68) Mike Clevinger (Cle - SP)
7. (77) Tommy Pham (TB - OF)
8. (92) David Robertson (Phi - RP)
9. (101) Miles Mikolas (StL - SP)
10. (116) Wade Davis (Col - RP)
11. (125) David Peralta (Ari - OF)
12. (140) Matt Olson (Oak - 1B)
13. (149) Yasmani Grandal (Mil - C)
14. (164) Nathan Eovaldi (Bos - SP)
15. (173) Stephen Piscotty (Oak - OF)
16. (188) Marcus Semien (Oak - SS)
17. (197) Cesar Hernandez (Phi - 2B)
18. (212) Adam Eaton (Was - OF)
19. (221) Freddy Peralta (Mil - SP)
20. (236) A.J. Minter (Atl - RP)

Team overview: One of my favorite sayings, rattled off mostly as justification for doing something stupid, is, “fortune favors the bold.” But this group of hitters even makes me nervous, despite its sky-high ceiling -- Lindor and Guerrero are already injured this spring, Rendon and Pham have a laundry list of past health issues, and few aren’t predicting regression from the volatile Baez this year. The pitching staff carries a lot more certainty, anchored by the consensus first pitcher off the board this year in Scherzer. If you’re passing up a premium hitter by taking a pitcher with your first-round pick, though, I’d just prefer a little more stability in those early-round hitters.

Favorite pick: Eaton. There’s obviously risk here, too, but after pick 200 it’s hard to get too upset about the downside. The upside is the on-base machine he’s been in the past, scoring plenty of runs while touching double-digit homers and steals at the top of the Nationals lineup.

Least-favorite pick: Robertson. I’m just fine with Robertson’s skillset, but his role in Phillies manager Gabe Kapler’s bullpen should give pause. Taking him ahead of guys with defined roles like Leclerc and Doolittle is risky.

Grade: C+


Team 6 (Gary J.)

1. (6) J.D. Martinez (Bos - OF)
2. (19) Paul Goldschmidt (StL - 1B)
3. (30) Trevor Bauer (Cle - SP)
4. (43) Jameson Taillon (Pit - SP)
5. (54) Gary Sanchez (NYY - C)
6. (67) Blake Treinen (Oak - RP)
7. (78) Marcell Ozuna (StL - OF)
8. (91) Victor Robles (Was - OF)
9. (102) Travis Shaw (Mil - 1B,2B,3B)
10. (115) A.J. Pollock (LAD - OF)
11. (126) Jose Peraza (Cin - SS)
12. (139) Mike Moustakas (Mil - 3B)
13. (150) Jurickson Profar (Oak - 1B,2B,3B,SS)
14. (163) Edwin Encarnacion (Sea - 1B)
15. (174) Byron Buxton (Min - OF)
16. (187) Ross Stripling (LAD - SP,RP)
17. (198) Shane Greene (Det - RP)
18. (211) Jonathan Schoop (Min - 2B,SS)
19. (222) Pedro Strop (ChC - RP)
20. (235) Alex Reyes (StL - SP)

Team overview: I don’t know that this team has enough speed -- Robles and Peraza are the only real threats that don’t carry the immense unpredictability Buxton does -- so runs might also be lacking, but it’s a team built to mash. That’s good, because they’re going to have to outscore the opponent on most nights with, uh, two guys slated to begin the year in a team’s rotation. Stripling and Reyes are interesting, high-upside plays, but they can’t be your third and fourth “starters.” Some of those speculative bench bat selections would have been better utilized beefing up that staff.

Favorite pick: Robles. It might have been Strop before the hamstring injury put his readiness for the season in jeopardy, but Robles has 15-homer, 30-steal upside and isn’t being drafted as such.

Least-favorite pick: Ozuna. I’m just concerned about a National League outfielder who only recently even began playing the field in spring games because of concerns about his right shoulder.

Grade: C

Nathan Grimm
Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).