Alright, I want to get one thing out of the way right now: I am not a Mike Trout truther. He’s an easy Top 3 pick in any normal season, or even in a 60-game season if the last news we heard wasn’t that he was on the fence about opting out. And that’s not to say I’m mad at him about it, I fully understand why it’s a difficult decision and at the end of the day we’re playing fantasy sports here.
Another disclaimer for my own ego here is that I signed up to participate in this mock only a few hours before we kicked it off, at my parents’ house working off a single laptop screen, so I was able to do precious little format-specific prep as my home league is 7×7 H2H, so most of my work on that isn’t perfectly applicable. Ok anyway, let’s get into the picks.
I had made an agreement with myself to pick either Christian Yelich or Ronald Acuña Jr./strong> depending on who went first. Of course, as soon as my clock started I immediately started thinking about Cody Bellinger because folks, option paralysis is real, but that’s neither here nor there. I wish I could pencil Acuna in for a .300 average like with Trout and Yelich, but he easily makes up for any gap with the SB output, especially in a roto format.
For me, in general, if you get a Top 5 pick, you should really have your mind made up before sitting down to draft and barring some kind of opening week injury any regret is overthinking it.
Round 2, Pick 23: Javier Baez (SS, Chicago Cubs)
It was between Javy and Gleyber here but I figured I could grab Gleyber on the come-around, while also looking like less of a hopeless Yankees homer. While SS is a deep position overall, I feel like Baez has a higher floor than some of the names I could have tried to hold out for, and it’s always fun to have guys on your fantasy team who are just a blast to watch. More to the point, looking back at the draft now that it’s over, I don’t see any names that make me think I would have handled the second round differently.
Maybe in a normal season, I would have been more tempted to pick up a starter along the lines of Mike Clevinger, Stephen Strasburg, or Walker Buehler, but the uncertainty around everything pitching this season has me really focusing more on offense in the early going, and those three names have their own question marks attached, too.
I love a good justifiable homer pick. Should I have picked Jose Altuve? Maybe. Maybe probably. But Torres is a consensus stud, he’s on my hometown team, and he’s in the middle of a good lineup. Both Torres and Baez were picks that “felt” like safe floors with room to grow. It’s not a particularly exciting insight into why I made the picks, but sometimes you want the first few rounds to be a little boring, know what I mean?
Castillo helped anchor one of my fantasy rotations last year and I can fully see him doing it again this year. I live in fear that someday opposing teams will stop swinging at that changeup, but the pitch has so far only gotten better over time, and Castillo aims to try to throw more into the zone this season which could help resolve the only real blemish in his high walk rate. He’s a young Aces Gonna Ace pitcher without the obvious injury risks that are attached to some of the other starters around this tier which makes him a clear choice for me.
Gimme the dingers! George Springer and Eloy Jimenez were picked in the fourth round, both of whom I was considering for this spot, and given the choice between the large New York Outfielders, I’m passing on Aaron Judge given his recent nebulous neck issue combined with the long-lasting rib injury he dealt with over the offseason. Stanton himself gets prime billing as hugely injury prone, but he’s played more than 100 games every season save for 2015 and 2019, and the injury that cost him time in 2015 was a hamate which isn’t something that reoccurs. The Yankees overhauled their strength and training staff over the winter, and a 60-game season will by definition mean less wear and tear, which will hopefully help avoid some of the various strains and sprains that plagued Stanton last year.
Every year I see Greinke go to another team in fantasy, and every year I say to myself “Hey, enjoy that I guess,” and then every year I kick myself for not drafting him myself. Greinke is an ace without the big flash, but he doesn’t walk anybody, he doesn’t give up homers, and in a year where pitcher wins will probably be hard to come by, the Astros #2 man seems like a good place to go looking for them.
Full disclosure: If Patrick Corbin hadn’t been swooped up immediately after my Stanton pick, I would have been looking at him here. But I’m definitely not regretting my pick.
Round 7, Pick 74: Carlos Santana (1B, Cleveland Indians)
Speaking of top-end guys without the flash, here’s a guy who hit 34 home runs and put up a .397 OBP(!!!) to go along with it. It’s not exactly groundbreaking science here, but I’m always willing to buy into the high-OBP guys as anchors for my fantasy offense. Last season Santana upped his launch angle and took his average along with it. He should contribute to every non-SB offensive category. He’s a guy I’ve regretted not getting in the past (even in other drafts this year) and I’m willing to pick him maybe a round earlier than I “should” at this point.
This is a risky pick for a couple of reasons, the most pressing being that Moncada hasn’t reported to camp yet for undisclosed reasons. When he does report, he’ll need time to get up to speed, and then he’ll need to show that he can perform without needing a .406 BABIP. Moncada’s xStats backed up his performance in 2019, and he still has the top prospect pedigree.
I ended up grabbing Moncada two rounds later than James did in the February mock draft, which may not be enough of a discount given the health situation as it stands, and I should have backfilled 3B with a contingency pick a lot sooner than I did, but this could end up being a steal.
Immediately after I took Moncada, Michael Brantley got picked, who I had penciled in for this spot on the wraparound. At this point, I was looking for either more power or more average, so I simply pivoted to the next name on my list. Another rather unsexy pick, but an average near .260 and double-digit homers will always find a home. There seems to always be confounding playing time issues that surround Mets players, but Conforto should have a lock on RF so I’m not concerned about it in this case.
Maeda was the first guy I really learned about solely on PL that I went out and snagged wherever I could when he made his debut, and I was rewarded. It’s no secret that since 2016 he’s suffered from some real brutal Dodgeritis, but the clean northern air of Minnesota should cure that. Maeda has always been one of my watchlist guys, and Nick’s recent article cemented the fact that I should target him again this year. At this point in the draft, Nick was also openly alluding to said article, so I knew I couldn’t wait much longer for this one. There are concerns about innings incentives tomfoolery leading to a shutdown later in the season if the Twins have the division sewn up, but that’s something for September Asher to worry about.
I’ve been told by managers at past jobs that I’m not good at selling my accomplishments, but I will tell you this right now: I take pride in snagging closers after the draft. Between being entirely too online, reading lots of PL articles, and FanGraphs dives, I’ve been the recipient of many an angry text message when somebody gets promoted mid-season and they’ve already been on my roster for a week. Then, I will almost always draft that guy again the next year, which has met with very mixed success.
So here I am going back to the Rogers well, thinking fondly of my brother’s all-caps complaints about my FA pickup in the 2019 season. I always try to grab a closer I trust in the middle rounds just to try to build a foundation of saves while seeing how some of the more volatile situations shake out, and with Liam Hendriks gone this seemed like the time to pull that string.
I also just realized I picked back-to-back Twins which is kind of a visual pun?
Voit’s 2019 season was dragged down by injury, but more specifically by a sports hernia that he had surgically repaired over the winter. Like Santana, the man produces in every category except for SB, and he’s lost 13 pounds in the offseason and promises he will steal at least one bag this year. Voit obviously isn’t a sleeper, but it seems like people still don’t respect him as much as they should and I am pleased to get him in the 12th.
It was at this point that I declared my pitching rotation to be “incredibly boring.” I don’t mean boring to watch, because no staff with Greinke in it can ever qualify for that descriptor, but I feel like I’ve mostly accumulated stabilizer-types with some strikeout upside. And honestly, I was aiming for Dinelson Lamet in this slot to try to give my strikeouts a boost. That said, Odorizzi is not a bad consolation. If he can build on his rising K/9 from last year he’ll be a very solid SP4 on this team. Add in the opponents he’ll be facing in the Central this year and I could see this working out pretty decently.
Pretty much the same story as there was with Rogers, but shakier. Workman walks too many, even for a reliever, but if he’s good enough for Ajeto, he’s definitely good enough for me.
Things are changing in Pittsburg, and guys like Keller stand to benefit with his mean secondaries. This is another strikeout upside play, and again it comes with Nick’s blessing. There’s a lot of room for this to blow up in my face, but we’re getting into the later rounds and if you aren’t gonna take a flier on somebody with Keller’s profile now when will you?
OK, I’ll admit this wasn’t the most serious pick. Marcus Stroman went immediately after this and would have been the sober-minded choice (or even maybe Dylan Bundy who went next round), but this Tweet got posted in the Discord the other day and got stuck in my head for some reason:
Walker's fastball right around 93-94 mph on the stadium gun
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 13, 2020
He’s more of a dart throw than Keller, and the West doesn’t seem like a fun place to try to return to form this year, but again, late rounds and sometimes you just gotta get the people talking on Twitch.
I’ve drafted Andrus as my starting SS in the past and it worked out well, and we’re only talking about being two seasons removed from those years. While his OBP drags down his upside, he’s a nice late-round backup who shouldn’t hurt my cats if I end up needing him to start for a spell.
Honestly, things went a little off the rails right here. My wishlist emptied out in a real hurry, but I was looking for some more power at this point and I could definitely do worse. Looking back, I should have probably taken a 3B here to help alleviate the risk with the Moncada pick, but Nick snagging my real target Miguel Andujar four picks earlier put me on tilt for this one.
The NL has a DH now, which should alleviate some of the more infuriating playing time issues that came up at points last year for Howie. Of course, as of July 13th he still hasn’t been cleared for workouts for an undisclosed reason, which like with Moncada makes this a pretty sizable risk, but we’re talking about the 19th round and for my money the upside is hard to beat.
At this point in the draft I’ve been looking for backup players for a few rounds, and personally, that’s usually the guys who make their way onto my watchlists consistently but end up derailed for some reason or another. Peralta required surgery on his shoulder last year, but he’s in camp and ready to go. If he can return to pre-injury form, he’s an everyday OF.
Round 21, Pick 242: Giovanny Urshela (3B, New York Yankees)
By now I belatedly realized I still didn’t have anybody to slot in at 3B if Moncada wasn’t ready to go. It’s easy to chalk this one up to more homerism, but even while I admit Gio almost assuredly won’t repeat his line from 2019, his hard-hit rate and exit velo supported a .294 xBA, and the Yankees will give him every opportunity to prove it wasn’t a fluke. As I’ve already said, I should have gone with another backup plan at 3B, but I have faith in Gio.
We all need catchers, and running my mouth about Isiah Kiner-Falefa in Twitch chat from the uh, second round, cost me a chance to swoop in and grab him here. That said, as much as I deeply enjoy a good gimmick C pick (please see my Willians Astudillo love,) there’s something to be said for a guy like Steady Yadi, who you know is gonna play every day he can, and won’t murder your rates like so many other non-premier catchers.
Final round and we were all kind of picking to a prompt from Nick about guys he liked for early-season streaming duty, but Lindblom is intriguing on his own. The Brewers signed him to a 3-year deal so they clearly think they have something going there, and hey maybe I grabbed 2018 Miles Mikolas with my last pick.
Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire