Mock drafts are very important. They may be the most important part of draft prep, which is good because they are also probably the most fun part of draft prep. Mock drafts are important because it’s where you learn about yourself as a drafter, learn about the kind of snap decisions you make when the guys you really wanted get snapped up right in front of you, the type of players you’ll reach for, and the mistakes you’ll inevitably make along the way. It’s where you can test strategies, test crazy approaches, and most of all, learn from the craptastic drafts you’ll inevitably put together on the way.
All I can say is that I’m very glad I did this mock draft, because I learned a lot about how I want to approach my real drafts. It’s definitely going to be different than what I did here.
Mock Draft Details: 12 team, H2H, 5×5 categories. Check out the live stream and the full draft board here.
Round 1, Pick 1: Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros) – Don’t worry, this was not one of the mistakes I feel like I made in this draft. In fact, I still love the idea of picking Altuve first. I spoke about why I would pick Altuve first overall here. He’s a magnificent hitter, and has been one over the past four seasons consistently. Yes, I’m sacrificing some power here, but I believe I can make up that power deficit later on in the draft, and Altuve’s batting average will be very necessary to help buoy my team in that category.
Round 2, Pick 24: J.D. Martinez (OF, Boston Red Sox) – I typically like to go hitter heavy in drafts, but I was prepared to take one of the four aces if they had fallen to me. None of them did, so I went with the best hitter left on the board in my opinion. Did you know that over the last four seasons, Martinez has averaged 32 home runs, 88 RBI, and a .300 batting average in only 130 games per year? He’ll probably miss a handful of games this season, he’s only played one full season in his career, but he’s a four-category stud who just went to one of the best lineups in baseball.
Round 3, Pick 25: Josh Donaldson (3B, Toronto Blue Jays) – As I said above, I was willing to pick a pitcher if one had dropped, and Donaldson would have been the hitter that I sacrificed. In retrospect, I still look back at this pick and wonder if I should have taken a Tier 2 starter, like Stephen Strasburg or Madison Bumgarner. Of the hitters left though, Donaldson was again the best one. He hit 33 home runs last year, in only 113 games. Had he played 155 games, something he’s done in every season since 2013, he would have hit 45 home runs, with 90 runs and 107 RBI. He’s clearly recovered from his calf injury from early last season, and I don’t expect him to suddenly be injury prone. He’s a steady force.
Round 4, Pick 48: Carlos Martinez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals) – I knew I needed a pitcher at this turn, and there were a number of them I could choose from. I decided to go with Martinez for a number of reasons, but it essentially boils down to the fact that compared to the other pitchers, there was nothing that seriously concerned me about him. Robbie Ray has command issues, Chris Archer has looked really hittable the past two years, I can’t bear to draft Yu Darvish as a Dodgers fan, and Aaron Nola has a limited track record. Martinez strikes out more than a batter per inning, has an acceptable walk rate, and pitches for a team that certainly help him win games. With no other starters on my roster yet, I needed someone I could count on. In complete honesty, I might have thrown something when Carlos Carrasco was picked two picks before me. I was really counting on getting someone in his tier.
Round 5, Pick 49: Nelson Cruz (DH, Seattle Mariners) – My initial strategy coming into this draft was to pick one starting pitcher at each of the 4/5, 6/7, and 8/9 turns. Looking back on how this turned out… I wish I had done things differently. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like this pick here. Nelson Cruz is fantastic value at pick 49, and even though in many leagues he will only be playable at the utility spot, he is definitely worth it. In his three years in Seattle, he has batted .292 with an average line of 92 runs, 42 home runs, and 106 RBI. He has played at least 152 games in each of those seasons as well. With him playing DH all year long and not running around the outfield as a 37-year-old, we should be able to count on close to that level of production again.
Round 6, Pick 72: Zack Godley (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks) – This is where my starting pitcher strategy really came back to bite me. Don’t get me wrong, I love these next two picks. But looking at the draft board now, I could have grabbed Travis Shaw or Lorenzo Cain, and then been able to spend one of my picks at 8/9 on guys like Jose Berrios or Masahiro Tanaka, and the drop off wouldn’t have been as huge. I like Godley a lot, his ability to induce weak contact, his strikeout rate, and the Humidor now make me a believer in his upside as a top 20 SP.
Round 7, Pick 73: Luis Castillo (SP, Cincinnati Reds) – I like Castillo as much as I like Godley, and in a vacuum, I’d pick Castillo over Godley. However, one of the categories in a 5×5 league is wins, and I can’t deny that Castillo will definitely hurt for wins. He’s an electric pitcher though, as he racks up nearly 10 K/9, and his 3.12 ERA and 1.07 WHIP both would have been top 10 among qualified starting pitchers. Sure, he might be lucky to win 10 games this year pitching for the Reds, but he’s a stud in three categories and wins are a fluky stat anyway. Remember when Colby Lewis won 17 games with a 4.66 ERA? Yeah, wins are weird.
Round 8, Pick 96: Whit Merrifield (2B/OF, Kansas City Royals) – I’ve found myself growing on Whit Merrifield more and more as time has gone on, and it honestly might have to do more with his name than anything else. I mean, how cool is that name? Not as cool as the 95 bases he swiped over the past three seasons across AAA/MLB, and certainly not as cool as the 19 home runs he hit despite just a 9.4% HR/FB ratio. He has always hit a ton of fly balls, and his batting average looks pretty sustainable too as he only had a .308 BABIP last season, which seems a little low compared to his skill set. I think there’s a legitimate .290, 20 HR, 35 SB season from Merrifield. I’ll gladly take that this late in the draft.
Round 9, Pick 97: Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) – On the other hand, this is the pick where I truly realized how much I hate the bats available in the 8-10 round range, and like the pitchers much more here comparably. If I had planned better, I would have taken a bat at the 6/7 turn and freed myself up to select either Berrios or Tanaka here. I also would have much preferred Domingo Santana, but as of right now he’s not guaranteed regular playing time. I don’t completely hate my pick here though, as Braun put up 17 home runs and 12 stolen bases in just 104 games, flashing 25/15 upside if he can pull it together for 140 games. His .292 BABIP last year was the lowest of his career, so we could also see his batting average bounce back to around .280 with some regression. That’s potentially pretty balanced production from Braun.
Round 10, Pick 120: Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees) – Gregorius represents the last available SS that I feel comfortable playing every day, which is valuable in and of itself. While there are a number of young prospects at this position that you can take a flyer on late (which I did), I still like to have some steady production as well. Gregorius has hit 20+ home runs two years in a row now, and he’ll bat in the middle of the order where he can drive in a lot of runs in that terrific Yankee offense. A conservative estimate for him would be a .270 average with 20 home runs, 85 RBI, and 70 runs scored.
Round 11, Pick 121: Ken Giles (RP, Houston Astros) – I always try to tell myself to not pay for saves, but what can I say, I love this middle tier of closers this year. The fact that I got Giles almost three full rounds later than guys I consider in the same tier like Roberto Osuna and Felipe Rivero makes me a very happy man. One of the biggest things that gets overlooked when people say “don’t pay for saves” is that you aren’t just paying for the saves, you are paying for the elite peripherals you get from the top closers. Giles has a career 2.43 ERA and 12.4 K/9, and that helps you just as much as the 30+ saves you are guaranteed to get from him as well.
Round 12, Pick 144: Sean Doolittle (RP, Washington Nationals) – I expected Doolittle to be taken in the 22 picks and was stunned to see him still available for me here. He tallied 17 saves in August and September for the Nationals, while maintaining his 2.81 ERA and 10.9 K/9 as well. His 2.59 FIP supported that ERA number as well, and given that he’ll be pitching for the best team in the NL Easy, he’ll get plenty of save opportunities. By the end of the year, I think he’ll be just as productive as guys like Giles, Osuna, and Rivero.
Round 13, Pick 145: Danny Duffy (SP, Kansas City Royals) – At this point, seeing the pitching staff I had “built” so far, I knew I needed to start taking more upside plays in the rotation if this team was ever going to amount to something on that side of the ball. While I could have gone really high-risk, high-reward with Aaron Sanchez, I also wanted some semblance of a decent floor, and Duffy gave me the best of both worlds. He’s improved his command issues, getting his walk rate under 7% two seasons in a row now, and I think he’s got the kind of stuff to strike out a batter per inning. Again, he won’t get many wins, but at this point I can’t focus on that.
Round 14, Pick 168: Matt Carpenter (1B, St. Louis Cardinals) – Matt Carpenter has somehow become the Johnny Cueto of hitters, a fallen stud who is being completely underdrafted at this point. Yes, his batting average was a total drag last year, but he also had the lowest BABIP of his career, by far, at just .274. His career BABIP coming into last season was .329. Even then, he still managed to post an OPS of .835, slug 23 home runs, and score 91 runs. If he can be a little less unlucky than he was last season, he can provide top 12 value at first base again. That’s something I can spend a 14th round pick on.
Round 15, Pick 169: Greg Holland (RP, Free Agent) – Let’s get one thing clear: Holland is only falling this far because he’s not currently on a team. He struck out nearly 30% of the batters he faced, and while his ERA and WHIP were a little higher than I’d like from a closer, he got the job done, converting 41/45 save chances last year. If he were signed to a team as a closer, I have no doubt in my mind he would have been drafted more than two rounds prior, before guys like Raisel Iglesias and Hector Neris.
Round 16, Pick 192: Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners) – Haniger isn’t the sexiest of picks here, as he doesn’t really flash elite upside at any one skill, but he’s kind of just solid in every category. His BABIP was certainly inflated last year, but even with that he looks to be about a .265 guy with 20 HR and 10 SB. I think I should have taken one of the pitchers here, as there were a number of still somewhat reliable SP options with Kenta Maeda, Patrick Corbin, and Gio Gonzalez still available.
Round 17, Pick 193: Welington Castillo (C, Chicago White Sox) – Much like my Didi Gregorius pick earlier, Castillo represented the last catcher who I felt comfortable just leaving in my lineup. I really wanted Evan Gattis here, but Nick was smart and took him 12 picks earlier. In my opinion, getting a catcher is about getting a guy who will play every day and contribute in at least one category, while not killing you in the rest of them. Castillo has hit .272 with 34 home runs over the past two seasons, and he should play close to every day in Chicago.
Round 18, Pick 216: Jay Bruce (OF, New York Mets) – This is the kind of player that I can take due to my batting average being held up by early picks like Altuve and Martinez. If we ignore batting average, then Bruce’s three year average of 32 home runs, 96 RBI, and 76 runs is looking so much better. Those numbers are actually pretty similar to the statlines put up last year by Travis Shaw (7th round), Eddie Rosario (10th), and Kyle Seager (11th). While Bruce doesn’t offer the same upside as the guys I just named do, he still has a very solid floor.
Round 19, Pick 217: Orlando Arcia (SS, Milwaukee Brewers) – This is the point in the draft where I usually just take the lottery tickets with the completely highest ceiling with very little regard to risk. I’m still picking guys that I think will get regular playing time, but I want the guys who could provide the most value at this spot, and I really like the Milwaukee shortstop. As I said earlier, I like Gregorius but he’s definitely a low end starter for me, and Arcia is someone who could easily eclipse him in value if he starts running like he did in the minors. Arcia had a three year stretch where he stole 23+ bases, and I think he certainly can do the same in the majors next season. If he can keep the pop he flashed this year, we could be looking at a 15 HR, 30 SB season from Arcia.
Round 20, Pick 240: Reynaldo Lopez (SP, Chicago White Sox) – Talk about swinging for the fences. Lopez was one of the main pieces in the Adam Eaton trade last offseason, and we saw glimpses of why in his 8 starts for the White Sox last season. His command was excellent, only walking 6.8% of the batters he faced, but he hardly missed any bats, earning only a 14.5% K rate. He’s pretty consistently been over 22% throughout his minor league career, so if he can get closer to that number while maintaining his improved command, he could be a decent fantasy option this late in the draft.
Round 21, Pick 241: Josh Hader (SP, Milwaukee Brewers) – If you thought Lopez had a small sample size, you’re gonna love my next three picks. A starter for pretty much his entire minor league career, Hader hasn’t started one game yet in the majors, but that could easily change this year as the Brewers are very light in the rotation. The good: he struck out an absurd 36% of batters he faced, had a WHIP under 1, and posted a FIP of 3.03. The bad: he walked over 4 batters per 9 innings, and he doesn’t have much in the way of secondary offerings that he trusts. He threw his fastball 81% of the time, and that’s not going to cut it as a starter. His slider was very good in the limited sample size we have, but even then, he’ll need a third pitch he can throw just to keep hitters off balance if he’s going to succeed as a starter.
Round 22, Pick 264: Derek Fisher (OF, Houston Astros) – With the recent news that Yuli Gurriel will miss at least the first few weeks of the season with his hand injury, Fisher should be the favorite to win the starting LF job as Marwin Gonzalez will most likely end up as the everyday 1B. Fisher came up as a highly touted prospect last year, and definitely struggled at the bat, managing only a .663 OPS in 153 plate appearances. However, he’s incredibly fast, and has hit well at pretty much every level of the minors. Given the Astros current track record for developing young talent, I’m willing to give Fisher the benefit of the doubt and a spot on this roster.
Round 23, Pick 265: Walker Buehler (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers) – As a Dodger fan, I’m appalled that it took me this long to draft one of our own. However, the one I did get fits perfectly in the back end of my draft as total high ceiling plays, as there’s a good chance Buehler doesn’t even break camp in the Dodgers rotation. He has impressive stuff, posting K/9 north of 11 across four levels in 2017, including at the big league level. His command certainly had room for improvement, but he looked good there in 65 innings at A and AA ball in 2017. Do I expect to own Buehler long into the 2017 season? Not at all. But all it takes is a little luck for him to break camp in the rotation (especially with how the Dodgers treat their starting pitchers) and at this point, I’ll take that lottery ticket.