It was 2:16pm on a Thursday afternoon. I was sitting on my couch, watching a DVR’d episode of Better Call Saul, when I got the DM that would unknowingly change the course of (the next few hours of) my life.
I was excited. I was nervous. I was completely unprepared. I was about to make as many mistakes as I possibly could in one mock draft.
Last week I participated in a mock draft for Rotoballer which included our very own Alex Chamberlin and Brad Johnson. At first I was pretty honored that Paul asked me to fill in for him, but then quickly surmised that he probably just knew I had nothing better to do with my evening. Thanks a lot Paul! I am always excited to do an industry mock draft because it gives me an opportunity to practice strategies against fantastic competitors as well people who don’t typically know the players I love or hate like my friends do. However, the short notice of it left me uncharacteristically unprepared and set me up for some rookie mistakes.
I had never used or practiced on this particular site. We used Fleaflicker, which in itself was not a bad place to mock draft, but just like every mock drafting platform, it has its own rankings which over values some player and under values others. This seemed to trip up a lot of the participants as we all struggled finding players we wanted to draft in the limited time window and forgot about player buried in their rankings. Always pre rank your players for your actual drafts, but I also recommend doing it for your mocks because they are supposed to simulate real drafts. Which leads me to my next mistake…
(See, that is what we call a segue in the business.) I did not have a paper copy of my ranks with me during the draft. I completely drafted based off the top of my head and by using the players they had on their rankings which led to forgetting about players that I was much higher on than Fleaflicker. Now, you may be asking yourself, “why didn’t you just bring them up on your computer?”
(I am absolutely nailing these segues!) I double booked myself. I host a podcast on thursday evenings which typically starts at 430pm PST and the draft was scheduled for 5pm PST. This meant I was not going to be able to give it my complete undivided attention which when compounded with the first two mistakes meant trouble in the early going. Now, a lot of us mock draft while doing other things. Some of us mock while working. Others mock while they are supposed to be supervising their child’s homework or while what should have been time spent with their wife on a romantic date or evening. I, of course, would never do any of these things! (My wife reads all my articles.) Mock drafts are like homework for school. They can seem tedious, but they should be used as a barometer of what others value in drafts for the upcoming season and as a foundation for the what will be your final exam: your draft(s).
Now, just because one makes mistakes in a draft does not mean they will have a bad one. According to the FantasyPro’s projections, Paul’s and my team are projected to finish in fourth place. So, given projections are just a baseline of reaching certain categorical benchmarks and the fact that I obviously expect that the majority of the players I like will outperform those projections, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have drafted them.
The Set Up
Here is the draft order and participants for this 12-Team Standard draft:
#1 Kyle Bishop – RotoBaller
#2 Alex Chamberlain – Rotographs/RotoBaller
#3 Brad Johnson – Rotographs/RotoBaller
#4 Joe Gallina – RotoExperts
#5 Keith Lott – We Talk Fantasy Sports
#6 Nate Miller – Sporting News
#7 Nick Mariano – RotoBaller
#8 Justin- The Fantasy Fix
#9 Alex Beckey – BaseballHQ.com
#10 Jarad Wilk – NY Post
#11 Paul Sporer/Justin Mason – Rotographs
#12 George Bissell – Baseball Prospectus
I love drafting at the back of the order. I value guys earlier than others in the first round, so a lot of the time I get two guys I perceive as first rounders with my first two picks. I also like having picks close together. I tend to think more about positional need than I typically would in the middle which can often help me construct a better overall team.
Round 1, Pick 11: Jose Altuve– I was originally planning on grabbing Miggy here, but when Altuve fell to this spot, I felt like there was a possibility that Cabrera might still be available with my next selection. I am extremely high on Altuve. I believe he should be a top 6 or 7 pick in redraft formats and I am always surprised when he falls to this far, but their loss is my gain.
2.14: Miguel Cabrera– I gambled that he would be here and it paid off. In a down year for the big guy, he still won a batting title. Given health, I think he is still a top ten player in fantasy and I typically hate when I don’t get a 1st baseman early. Not to mention, I knew that if I took Miggy it would satisfy Paul’s undying need to draft a Detroit Tiger. You’re welcome buddy!
3.35: Lorenzo Cain– This pick was not well received. I had Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole queued up, but both went before I had a chance to grab them. I figured I could get either Harvey or DeGrom with my next pick so I took the player I knew both Paul and I are super high on. I think there is more power in that bat, but even if it doesn’t show, he was still a top 12 hitter last season on the ESPN player rater and I expect him at least repeat that.
4.38: Matt Harvey– Harvey was a guy that proved me wrong last season coming off of Tommy John Surgery, but as low as I was on him last year, I am equally high on him this season. Another year removed from the injury, I could see him improving on his strikeout numbers and challenging for the NL Cy Young title.
5.59: Carlos Gonzalez– I had Zach Greinke, Wade Davis and Carlos Carrasco all queued up here, but then Greinke went a few picks before me. During my pick, I felt like there was a good chance that both remaining pitchers would still be available for my next pick so I took who I felt was the best hitter available. While injury is always a concern for CarGo, the power he can provide is elite and in a 12-team league I am willing to gamble a little more on injury risk guys because the replacement value on the wire is much better than in deeper formats.
6.62: Hunter Pence– So, both Carrasco and Davis went on the elbow and I kind of freaked out. I wasn’t able to search through Fleaflicker’s ranks quickly enough to find someone I wanted at that spot. However, I know Paul is a huge believer in Pence’s ability to bounce back this season and as a huge San Francisco Giants fan, I believe in the Even Year Magic. I BELIEVE! #EvenYear
7.83: Kenley Jansen– I had really thought that the Wade Davis pick might set off a closer run, but was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t. Here, I got my second favorite closer and was able to induce that run with Britton, Kimbrel, Familia, Melancon, and Rosenthal all going off the board before my 9th round selection.
8.86: Maikel Franco– Here is where I made a big mistake. I was struggling with managing the end of my podcast and at the same time trying to navigate the site’s rankings. I couldn’t again find a player I really wanted to draft and grabbed Franco out of desperation to not get auto drafted. Anthony Rendon was still available and i wish I had grabbed him, but never saw him because he was ranked extremely low. Always pre-rank your players kids! Not that I don’t love Franco. I think he can hit 20+ home runs this season with a nice average at one of the shallowest positions in fantasy this year, but I probably could have gotten him with my next pick.
I am finally done with my podcast and am able to fully concentrate on my mock.
9.107: Garrett Richards– No one loves this guy as much as I do. NO ONE! He is mine! BACK OFF! My sleeper pick for AL Cy Young this season is a going to pay huge dividends for fantasy owners this season. I usually prefer him to be my #3 starter in leagues, but I am totally fine with him as a #2.
10.110: Russell Martin– In a two-catcher league, I never want to punt the position. By doing so, you can give yourself too much negative value. In Martin, I get 20+ homer power with great counting numbers and an average that shouldn’t hurt me too much.
11.131: Christian Yelich– I not the biggest fan of Yelich, but at this point in the draft, I felt like I was getting nice value and only Cody Allen stuck out me as a someone I really loved. The balky back is a little scary, but given health I figure he is good for a 7/20 season with a great average.
12.134: Cody Allen- This was probably a little early to take my second closer as some had not even taken their first, but with only two starters, I thought I could really help my ratios and Allen has a nice strikeout rate. Honestly, I am always surprised he isn’t talked about more as an elite closer.
13.155: J.T. Realmuto– Not only did Realmuto steal eight bases as a catcher, but he has shown the ability to steal for more in the minors. He has also shown better walk rates their as well. The overall team in Miami should be better this season, so I would expect his counting stats to increase slightly, but even if what we get is inline with last year’s numbers than he is providing nice statistics for a catcher two.
14.158: Marcus Semien– I have really jumped aboard the Semien hype train this spring. He falls right inline with my typical strategy of punting average. I look at last year’s numbers as a decent baseline of what to expect for him with the potential for more. I would expect an increased walk rate with a possible small jump in power and speed.
15.179: Justin Verlander– At this point in the mock, I realized I still only had two starters. I had three in my queue: Verlander, Chen and Taijuan Walker. With only the two starters rostered I decided that I would go with the safer options to make sure I got to certain benchmarks in the strikeouts and wins without potentially destroying my ratios. I figured I could take more gambles with my last few pitchers, plus by taking another Tiger, I could guarantee that Paul would be happy with the outcome.
16.182: Wei-Yin Chen– Chen is another guy Paul and I both love this year. Great park and league change. Finished in the top 35 among starters last season and is being taken outside the top 50 starter on NFBC. He is a perfect high floor guy with a bit of upside.
17.203: Masahiro Tanaka– I imagine that the reason Tanaka was still even here at this point is the screwy ranks on the site we were using, but it worked out to my advantage. I am very skeptical of Tanaka’s health, but at the same time value is value and what pitcher doesn’t have health concerns?
18.206: Jonathan Schoop– I have been high on Schoop for a few years now and he seems to becoming everyone’s favorite sleeper. I doubt that in most drafts I would get him this low, but I was happy to snag him here because I felt a little light on power. Schoop is going to hit a ton of home runs. He takes less walks than I do and I wished he took a few more, which makes me sound eerily like my wife. He is an example of the extreme depth at second base compared to previous seasons and I guy worth waiting for to fill your MI slot.
19.227: Marcell Ozuna– Ozuna is another guy that has become a trendy sleeper. After an awful start last season, he rebounded with a .278/.320/.469 line in the second half. With a new coaching staff in town he should get a great opportunity to regain some value before Miami eventually trades him off for a bag of balls or polish for that ridiculous fish statue. Have we forgotten that he was a top 125 pick last season? I thoroughly expect a rebound, but even if it is small, he can’t really disappoint where he is currently going.
20.230: Kevin Gausman– I think my thoughts on Eno Sarris’ AL LABR pick of Gausman should suffice…
— Justin Mason (@JustinMasonFWFB) March 6, 2016
Now is the time! All bow before the greatness that is the Gaus!
21.251: Ryan Zimmerman– I was the biggest Zimmerman fan from 2009-2013, but his injuries scary me. However, at this point in a draft, he is nothing but value.
22.254: Chris Carter– Two years ago he was underrated. Last season he was overrated. This year he is underrated again. He is moving to one of the best home parks for in baseball. Even in an awful year, he hit 24 home runs. The Brewers are going to give him every opportunity to play so they can get something for him at the trade deadline. He could easily hit 30 home runs and has the power for more.
23.275: Brandon Finnegan– I think Finnegan is a closer long term, but he does have the potential to be a mid rotation starter. This is the spot I would most likely stream anyways and I really was just ready for the mock to be over. I almost took a number of guys including Kyle Gibson and my sleeper closer candidate in Ryan Madson.
If you haven’t already, please read Alex’s and Brad’s mock breakdown which are linked below.
Brad Johnson- “Industry Mocking Gold”
Alex Chamberlain- “Don’t Win Your Mock: Industry Mock Draft Review“
Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.