Mocking Backwards

Not everybody bothers with mock drafts. However, if you’re the type of person to read articles on RotoGraphs, you probably mock. Public mocks can be painful – too many autodrafts, noob picks, and people selecting straight from the site ADP. Not to rub your nose in it, but I’m fortunate. My position gives me ready access to mock drafts with fellow industry folk. Our drafts are usually meant to be publicly discussed. It keeps us honest.

I usually do about 10 mock drafts per season. In the past, I’ve generally picked true to my valuations. In other words, I made sure to stretch just enough to get my favorite sleepers and breakout picks. Last night, I participated in a mock with the RotoBaller team. After the first few rounds, an all to obvious question occurred to me – why am I picking guys I like?

It’s one thing to select your favorites in a public mock with a bunch of rando’s. When you’re mocking against quality competition, you’ll learn more by ignoring the guys you want to pick. It’s also great practice for building a roster if Plan A fails.

After once again picking Jonathan Villar and Trevor Story in the second and third rounds, I wondered where they would be picked if I wasn’t selecting them. Next time I mock, I’ll be sure to ignore their existence.

Other players I was curious about included Anthony Rendon, Chris Davis, Ben Zobrist, Jose Ramirez, Miguel Sano, Jose Peraza, Michael Brantley, Greg Bird, and Tommy Joseph. And now, with a sample size of N=1, I have some data. In my case, I’m mostly curious about players I probably ranked incorrectly in my attempt.

My Rank vs. Picked
Player My Rank Picked
Anthony Rendon 39 89
Chris Davis 37 77
Ben Zobrist 70 176
Jose Ramirez 53 106
Miguel Sano 83 115
Jose Peraza 95 163
Michael Brantley 129 142
Aaron Nola 158 150
Greg Bird 219 162
Tommy Joseph 214 255

Based on this one draft, it looks like I have Nola, Sano, Brantley, and Joseph in roughly the right spots. It’s important to note that I selected this list specifically because I thought these rankings might be incorrect. It’s not surprising to see divergence between my rank and the pick. I already planned to bump Rendon, Davis, Zobrist, Ramirez, and Peraza down my top 500. I also intended to move Bird up a couple dozen spots. This exercise helps me to confirm my instincts. I was mostly just curious about Sano and Nola so I’m glad they were accurate.

Next time around, I’ll be repeating this exercise for even more players I covet like Villar and Story. Here is the team I drafted last night with notations for players who are “my guys” and won’t be picked next time around.

My Mock Results
Pick Player My Guy?
4 Paul Goldschimdt
21 Jonathan Villar yes
28 Trevor Story yes
45 Yu Darvish
52 Jonathan Lucroy
69 Matt Kemp
76 Kyle Hendricks
93 Odubel Herrera yes
100 Jake Lamb yes
117 Craig Kimbrel
124 Dustin Pedroia
141 Kelvin Herrera yes
148 Dexter Fowler
165 Marcus Stroman
172 Russell Martin
189 Nomar Mazara yes
196 Logan Forsythe
213 Matt Moore
220 Addison Reed yes
237 Jason Heyward
243 Eric Thames yes
260 Adam Wainwright
267 Jeremy Hellickson


As you can see, despite my plan, I couldn’t help myself in a few cases. Mazara, Reed, and Thames were mostly failures to select an alternative in the one minute allocated for the pick. All three were buried by RTS’ default ADP. I’m not sure it would have been useful to leave them out there.

The actual team composition is solid if unspectacular. There’s plenty of depth, power, speed, and batting average ability. All of the hitters (except maybe Heyward) bat between first and fifth in the lineup. RTS thinks my pitching staff is terrible, but I’ll take the over on some of their projections.

Every year, I re-learn the same lesson about snake draft leagues (I’m almost exclusively an auctions guy). Pick your pitchers early. While there are some sleepers, they’re mostly streamers. Guys like Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Joe Musgrove, and Luke Weaver probably won’t start the year in the rotation. Getting stuck with Wainwright and Hellickson is far from ideal. Better if Moore was the last of my seven starters.

This season, there’s a lot more hitting depth – at least for Opening Day. Among the unpicked hitters were Curtis Granderson, Jung Ho Kang, Michael Conforto, Ryan Schimpf, Shin-Soo Choo, Yasiel Puig, Brett Gardner, Jose Reyes, Kolten Wong, etc. I can keep going for awhile. To be fair, this was a bench-less draft. Those guys aren’t left on the table with a typical five man bench.

We hoped you liked reading Mocking Backwards by Brad Johnson!

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I have to think the Mets give Gsellman the fifth spot over Wheeler. However, even if they don’t, Harvey isn’t a sure thing right now either. Gsellman seems safe to draft.