The first mock draft of the season is always the most informative. The nice thing about being a fantasy writer is accessibility to expert mocks where everybody involved plays to (fake) win. Yesterday, I participated in Howard Bender’s Mock Draft Army. It was a 15-team, 23-round snake draft with no bench. The imaginary categories are standard 5×5.
I had the dubious honor of drafting first. I also had the doubly dubious distinction of running late. Thankfully, there is no debate about the top player this year. It’s Mike Trout, and he’s all mine. Below I’ve included a grid with my team by position. You can (and should) view the entire grid of picks by round. They’re color coded by position to help you out.
Picking the turn in a 15 team league is a nightmare. If you’re the kind of owner who likes to get “your guys,” you’ll be forced to reach over and over again. I went into this draft with no specific plan besides my internalized values.
The drafting platform – RealTime Fantasy Sports – has a couple quirks. Most notably, anybody outside of their top 400 gets thrown into a giant alphabetical list. Since I was flying solo without the dual screen setup or supporting documents, I restricted myself to their top 400. There were a few picks made (i.e. Michael Saunders) that I would have jumped on earlier.
Let’s talk about my biggest regrets and what I’d do differently. Frazier was a bit of a panic pick in round two. I was frazzled by showing up late and had my heart set on taking Michael Brantley (went the pick before mine). My fellow experts aren’t sold on Brantley – they consider 2014 his absolute ceiling. While I don’t disagree, 90 percent of his excellent season is easily worth the 29th pick.
My biggest issue with taking Frazier early is the decent depth at third base. I actually like Kyle Seager more, and he went later in the third round. Most of the best ones were undraftable for me, but I could have snagged Aramis Ramirez (12th round) or Chase Headley (15th round). Note David Wright falling to the seventh. We’re all very concerned about him.
I took Holland in the fifth round because I couldn’t settle on a position player. I also thought about Albert Pujols, Dustin Pedroia, and Evan Gattis in that spot. In retrospect, I wish I took just about anybody else. Relievers were plentiful right through the end. I snagged Boxberger and Cecil near the end of the draft.
Boxberger can actually keep pace with Holland. Just watch out for other internal options like Grant Balfour as well as Jake McGee’s eventual return. I’m often aggressive with relievers, but I anticipate switching to a passive approach this year. There are just too many options to sink serious budget or picks into the position.
Starting pitcher actually gets fugly near the end of the draft. Part of this is a matter of perspective. Five years ago, an 18th round Wily Peralta is a lovely value. Now he hovers around replacement level. By repurposing the Frazier and Holland picks, I could have set myself up with Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, or David Price while taking a modest downgrade at third base. Although pitching is plentiful, there can be a steep penalty for missing on elite talent at the position. I love the rest of my rotation, but an ace to pair with my excellent sophomores would be the icing on the cake.
Middle infield is a big problem this year. Unless you take one of the top talents, you’ll always leave value on the table when you draft a middle infielder. I think I cobbled together a viable, inexpensive unit. However, I don’t want to find myself in a position where all of my rosters depend on guys like Owings and Flores. Avoiding that eventuality will be a challenge, especially since Owings is my ninth ranked SS, ahead of guys like Alexei Ramirez (rnd 5) and Jhonny Peralta (rnd 10).
You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam