Early RotoGraphs Mock: Let’s Get it Started

We here at RotoGraphs are committed to providing readers with the hottest fantasy content on the web. We’re so dedicated to this, that we’re willing to do a mock draft two full months before the real fun starts. That’s right, over the next week or so, we’ll be covering our mock draft for the site. These articles will cover specific moves, player comparisons and the different strategies used by owners, among other things. If nothing else, they should give owners an early look at how drafts will pan out in a few months. With that said, let’s dive right into the first round.

How it came to be:

Before we do that, I feel I should explain how this experiment came to be. My motivations for doing an early mock draft were entirely selfish. Over the recent holiday break, I started thinking about which players would go in the first round on draft day. After about a half-hour of thinking, I came up with, at best, seven names. For whatever reason, the first round seems less certain than in past seasons.

Instead of figuring out the rest on my own, I decided to pull a couple schmucks into a mock draft. This goes beyond the first round, of course. The mock exists to help me with my own draft prep. It will give me an idea of where players will go, which players I like more than others and what decisions I may be forced to make on my actual draft day. I can guarantee the answers to those questions will change in the coming weeks, but we all have to start somewhere, right? So, keep that in mind. This was my first fantasy baseball-related thing I did prior to the 2015 season. I’m coming into this with zero prep, and I think that will help me moving forward.

The first round:

We’re operating as a standard 5X5 scoring setup. Lineup spots include a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, a corner infielder, a middle infielder, five outfielders and a utility player. There are nine pitcher spots and two bench positions.

Here’s how things shook out in the first round:

Pick RotoGrapher Position Player
1.1 Dan Schwartz OF Mike Trout
1.2 Mike Podhorzer OF Andrew McCutchen
1.3 Zach Sanders OF Giancarlo Stanton
1.4 Eno Sarris 1B Miguel Cabrera
1.5 Paul Sporer SP Clayton Kershaw
1.6 Jeff H (reader) 1B Paul Goldschmidt
1.7 Scott Spratt 2B Robinson Cano
1.8 Chris Cwik 1B Jose Abreu
1.9 Colin Zarzycki OF Jose Bautista
1.10 Jeff Zimmerman 1B Edwin Encarnacion
1.11 Dave Z (reader) SS Troy Tulowitzki
1.12 David Wiers OF Carlos Gomez

Quick thoughts:

– Stanton in the third spot was the first surprise for me. I like the player, but I worry about him missing a few games due to injuries. It has happened in the past. On top of that, I don’t know if I can depend on his BABIP staying that high. There’s a lot of swing and miss in his game, and I wonder if the average will fall. Still, the upside is there.

– There’s always going to be talk about where to take the first pitcher, and I have no issue with Kershaw at five. Sure, pitchers carry more risk than hitters, but Kershaw is as safe as any player in the draft. Let’s face it, if your first-round pick gets hurt, you’re in trouble anyway. If you assume health, Kershaw’s performance will justify this pick.

– I believe Cano is a first-round pick, but I just can’t see myself taking him in the first round. I want power early out of my hitters, and Cano’s move to Seattle pretty much kills any chance he returns to his old power numbers.

– I will cover my pick of Jose Abreu below.

– The end of the first round gets screwy. I can’t tell you if I like Bautista over Gomez, or whether Tulowitzki is worth the risk here. There are, honestly, five or six other players I could see an argument for at the end of the first round. Is Felix Hernandez or Chris Sale a better pick than Gomez? Maybe, but I get not wanting to take a pitcher that high.

– Actually, a little more on Tulo. It’s interesting that he didn’t see a drop in his draft slot after last season’s injuries. The performance is otherworldly when he’s healthy, and, while there’s too much risk for me at 11, I can’t fully disagree with it. He’s so good when he plays, and will outperform this slot if you could guarantee 145 games.

– I should add that David Wiers took Yasiel Puig with the first pick of the second round. I think I like Puig more than Gomez, and I would have switched both of them. In the end, it doesn’t matter, but I’m throwing it out there in case anyone kills Wiers for taking Gomez without knowing he took Puig next.

My pick:

I suppose I should explain my pick of Jose Abreu at eight. He’s the least proven player on the board, with just one season in the majors. He was excellent, but there are some concerns moving forward. His BABIP was high, his home run rate was nuts and we don’t know if pitchers will adjust after an offseason of scouting. That’s a lot of risk, in my opinion, on a first round pick.

The only other player I really considered instead was Edwin Encarnacion. If I had to make the same decision in a week, I’m not sure I what I would do. Encarnacion is tremendous when healthy, but has missed 20 games in each of the past two seasons. My thinking was that Encarnacion might be better per plate appearance, but Abreu may play more games, which would push him over the top. Also, there was some homerism going on here. I don’t know if I’ll get Abreu in any of my real leagues, so I took him here and now I get to write about. Sue me.

Closing thoughts:

The first round remains a mystery to me even after my first mock. So, I turn to you, dear readers. What were your thoughts? Who would you consider in the first that didn’t go? Did you agree with the picks of Stanton, Tulowitzki, Abreu and Kershaw? Did Miggy go too low? Will my selfishness pay off? Let us know about it in the comments.

We hoped you liked reading Early RotoGraphs Mock: Let’s Get it Started by Chris Cwik!

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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I like Rendon instead of Cano. Like you said, Safeco robs power. I would gamble on Tulo also.