I’m excited to announce that I’ve already participated in my first 2018 fantasy baseball mock draft. And here’s the crazy part, it’s still 2017. Mind blown! Last week Scott White from CBS invited me to join his first mock of the season. While one might have thought I would have passed on the offer considering the 2017 World Series had completed only three weeks earlier, I jumped at the opportunity. And when I say “jumped” I mean I shrugged and said to myself, “What the heck.”
The format for the mock league was head-to-head points using standard CBS scoring. Those of you that have read my posts during the last three years will know that I am a points league kinda guy. My content is focused on this format. What better way to get an early start on some new material than to join eleven other top notch analysts in a way too early mock draft.
Unfortunately for me I drew the shortest straw as the randomizer granted me the twelfth pick in a twelve man league. I guess I should say twelve-person league considering my mailman is a woman, my cable guy is a chick and my garbage man is angry old lady. The names of these ‘perts sound male, but I’ve never met any of them in person. Let me make it clear that I hate having the last pick. Ideally, I prefer to be one for the first six to eight picks. After this point, the “no brainers” are gone. Don’t get me wrong, there are great players still on the board, but the obvious players are not.
The thing about having the last pick, or even the first after the first round, is that you get to pick two players in a row. However, then you have to watch twenty-two players be selected before you draft again. Not only can this feel like an eternity, but the anxiety that builds hoping your next target will not be selected can really become burdensome. I suggest a sixteen ounce can of a beer with an alcohol per volume greater than seven percent. An IPA or DIPA would be my weapon of choice. And, of course, please remember to drink responsibly.
Here are the twelve experts that partook in the mock. I guess I could call them my fellow mockers.
Al Melchior, FanRag Sports
Mike McClure, SportsLine
Phil Ponebshek, Patton & Co.
Lance Brozdowski, Razzball/BigThreeSports.com
Chris Towers, CBS Sports
George Maselli, CBS Sports
Scott White, CBS Sports
Mike Kuchera, The Fantasy Man
Lawr Michaels, Mastersball
Garion Thorne, FNTSY Sports Network
Adam Aizer, CBS Sports
Mike Trout was the obvious first pick, although there was some chatter about Jose Altuve being selected. There’s no way I would have taken Altuve over Trout. Mike Trout is the best player in baseball (end of sentence). Is that period redundant since I said “end of sentence?” Perhaps. Altuve might have had more points than Trout last season, but that was only because Trout missed time due to injury. All things considered, Trout finished the season with 513 points in this format, giving him a 1.01 points per plate appearance. While Altuve ended with 599 points, his PPPA was 0.904.
Trout was immediately followed by Altuve and then Paul Goldschmidt. This couldn’t have been scripted any better. I expect these three to be the first three, in this exact order, in nearly every points league draft this year. While Altuve might lose the battle against Trout, I’m giving him the edge over Goldschmidt. The two main reasons are age and position.
Here are the first two rounds of picks. Take a quick look and then I’ll mention my brief notes.
1.1 Mike Trout CF (Al Melchior)
1.2 Jose Altuve 2B (Mike McClure)
1.3 Paul Goldschmidt 1B (Phil Ponebshek)
1.4 Bryce Harper RF (Lance Brozdowski)
1.5 Charlie Blackmon CF (Chris Towers)
1.6 Mookie Betts RF (George Maselli)
1.7 Nolan Arenado 3B (Scott White)
1.8 Carlos Correa SS (Mike Kuchera)
1.9 Clayton Kershaw SP (Lawr Michaels)
1.10 Chris Sale SP (Garion Thorne)
1.11 Anthony Rizzo 1B (Adam Aizer)
1.12 Kris Bryant 3B (malamoney)
2.1 Corey Kluber SP (malamoney)
2.2 Max Scherzer SP (Adam Aizer)
2.3 Joey Votto 1B (Garion Thorne)
2.4 Trea Turner CF (Lawr Michaels)
2.5 Manny Machado 3B (Mike Kuchera)
2.6 Freddie Freeman 1B (Scott White)
2.7 Aaron Judge RF (George Maselli)
2.8 Gary Sanchez C (Chris Towers)
2.9 Francisco Lindor SS (Lance Brozdowski)
2.10 Corey Seager SS (Phil Ponebshek)
2.11 Jose Ramirez 3B (Mike McClure)
2.12 J.D. Martinez RF (Al Melchior)
I’m not about to sit here and second guess anyone’s picks, but the only first rounder that just doesn’t feel like a first rounder in a redraft league is Carlos Correa. In my opinion he’s more of a second rounder in 2018. Given that this league awards two points for a stolen base, I’d probably be leaning towards Trea Turner over Correa, but that’s my very early estimate. However, I’d likely pass on both and hope to be able to grab Francisco Lindor a round later. Unfortunately for me, he was gone by the end of the second round.
My backup plan for SS was to grab Jonathan Schoop, but the rules for positional eligibility were twenty games played in the previous season. Schoop only played five at SS. In leagues where five is the requirement, I’d be all over him. Instead, I ended up picking Didi Gregorius with the last pick of the ninth round (108 overall). While I’m discussing shortstops, Zack Cozart in the 18th round could end up being a great pick if he stays healthy. I ultimately selected Schoop in the sixth round for my UT spot.
Looking at the first two rounds, are there any notable names missing? I see one. Giancarlo Stanton. While Scott White highlighted this point in his recap of the mock draft, I felt I’d be doing Stanton a disservice by not mentioning his omission. Giancarlo was one of six batters to score more than 600 points last season. I’m not sure I could justify taking Corey Seager or Gary Sanchez over Stanton.
As you can see from above, my first pick ended up being Kris Bryant. Unfortunately his eleven games at OF last year is not enough to qualify for OF this season, but I still felt he offered the best upside of the players on the table. I was going to take Anthony Rizzo, but of course he went one pick earlier. So instead I took another Cub.
Being on the turn, I had the next pick as well. If I said I wasn’t torn over this pick I’d be lying. Unless the player’s name is Clayton Kershaw I do not like drafting a pitcher in the first two (maybe three) rounds. Both Kershaw and Chris Sale were taken in the first round. But guess who was still sitting there. The 2017 AL Cy Young Award winner. Corey Kluber. The same guy that also won the award in 2015. The only category that Sale bested Kluber last year was strikeouts and at 0.5 points per strikeout, Kluber was clearly the stronger points league player. So while I really wanted to take Joey Votto or Freddie Freeman, I selected the second best pitcher in baseball.
Here is my team.
1.12 Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC
2.1 Corey Kluber, SP, CLE
3.12 Brian Dozier, 2B, MIN
4.1 Buster Posey, C, SF
5.12 Edwin Encarnacion, U, CLE
6.1 Jonathan Schoop, 2B, BAL
7.12 Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT
8.1 Christian Yelich, OF, MIA
9.12 Didi Gregorius, SS, NYY
10.1 Nicholas Castellanos, 3B, DET
11.12 Jon Gray, SP, COL
12.1 Shohei Ohtani, SP, Unaffiliated
13.12 Byron Buxton, OF, MIN
14.1 Alex Cobb, SP, TB
15.12 Gio Gonzalez, SP, WAS
16.1 Victor Robles, OF, WAS
17.12 Paul DeJong, 3B, STL
18.1 Brad Hand, RP, SD
19.12 Brent Honeywell, SP, TB
20.1 Willie Calhoun, 2B, TEX
21.12 Mike Minor, SP, KC
I could spend all day writing about everyone’s picks, but I’m currently working on getting my Philips’ hue lights to flash any time my batter hits a home run. After fantasy baseball, smart home gadgets are my second favorite passion. That might be debatable, but I’m not going to get into that right now. We have a whole season (and preseason) to tackle my likes and dislikes, and trust me, I will do so.
I absolutely regret drafting Buster Posey with my fourth round pick. While good ole Buster consistently offers tremendous value at the catcher position, I really really wish I had taken Cody Bellinger. If I’m being honest, I most certainly wasn’t fully prepared for this draft. As a result, a lot of my decisions were off the cuff. Normally I’d have spreadsheet after spreadsheet telling me who to pick next. Some time this preseason I will post a picture of the list of players (by position) that I tape to my kitchen island (aka Command Center) on draft day. My wife just looks at me and shakes her heads.
Twenty-two picks after Posey, I was happy to grab Edwin Encarnacion. Over the last three seasons EE has been a top three first baseman along with Goldschmidt and Rizzo. Ignoring an injury shortened season in 2014, Encarnacion hasn’t scored less than 500 points since 2012.
You can see the rest of my picks above, but before I exit stage left I’d like to talk about one other pick. That would be my 12th round pick. Shohei Ohtani. This pick required commissioner involvement and approval. Since Ohtani is not currently signed by an MLB team he is not in the CBS player pool. However, considering how likely it is that he will be signed, it seemed to me that he should be draftable. When my 12th round pick was up I asked Scott White if he could manually put Ohtani on my team. His initial answer was no, but then proceeded to discuss the topic with some of his peers. Ultimately, it was decided that I could indeed draft Babe Ruth. I mean Shohei Ohtani.
As the 133rd overall pick, he was the 43rd pitcher off the board. I don’t think this is going to be very indicative of his eventual ADP. The biggest factor here is that he wasn’t listed on the draft boards. Had he been there, I am sure he would have been selected earlier than the 12th round. If you can get Ohtani in the 12th round, you will very likely have the steal of the draft. It’s far too early to predict, but given his hype, I can see him being drafted between rounds three and six.
I’m not sure with which MLB team Ohtani will eventually land, but as a lifelong Yankees fan, I’m really hoping Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka are able to convince him to put on the pinstripes. As an avid fantasy player, I’m going to do whatever I can to get him on my team. I tried incredibly hard last year to get CBS and ESPN to add him to their player pools. I even started a Change.org campaign. This was less successful than the Change.org petition started by wife to get me to take out the garbage.
I’m looking forward to another great fantasy baseball season and hope to continue bringing you valued advice (and entertainment).