Even More Reflections on the Rotographs Mock

You’ve probably seen guys like David Wiers, Chris Cwik, and Howard Bender discussing their mock draft teams. And I mean, that’s cool and all, but I just want to talk about my team. Well, sort of — I mainly just want to ramble on about this draft that absconded with six weeks of my life (not full-time, obviously, but the constant iPhone e-mail checking drove everyone around me nuts). For those of you just waking up after a bit of holiday season hibernation, we’re talking about a way-too-early Rotographs mock draft: 12 teams, ESPN rosters, 23 rounds. Eno Sarris covered week-by-week breakdowns (1-56-1011-1516-23) but Cwik has been kind enough to provide the whole thing in a public Google Doc here. So here’s what I was able to cobble together:

Position Player Pick
C Matt Wieters 7.6
1B Billy Butler 4.7
2B Dustin Pedroia 3.6
3B Brett Lawrie 5.6
SS Elvis Andrus 8.7
OF Carlos Gonzalez 1.6
OF Alex Rios 11.6
OF Hunter Pence 13.6
UTIL Ike Davis 10.7
OF Carl Crawford 14.7
3B Pedro Alvarez 16.7
1B Anthony Rizzo 17.6
SS Jed Lowrie 21.6
SP Clayton Kershaw 2.7
SP Adam Wainwright 6.7
SP Roy Halladay 9.6
SP Brett Anderson 12.7
SP Mike Minor 15.6
RP Jason Grilli 18.7
RP Casey Janssen 19.6
BP Jaime Garcia 20.7
BP Clay Buchholz 22.7
BP Carlos Marmol 23.6

Strategy: Honestly, I probably wasn’t as structured heading into the draft as many other drafters. I like to target guys who can contribute in multiple categories early, trying to assess whether or not they are in good run-scoring environments, and then look for single-cat contributors and/or high upside guys late. I lean towards up-the-middle positions where the replacement level is low or dropoff from elite talent is steep early, and pick less scarce positions like first basemen and right fielders late (although I didn’t exactly follow that, as I discuss below). As covered in my relievers piece, bullpens were off limits for me until after pick 15, allowing me to accumulate value at less volatile positions and roll the dice on the magical save stat late. I feel that if I totally flame out draft-wise, there will be plenty of good closers on the wire as the season progresses.

What I liked: It’s tough to get outright steals in a such a competitive draft but there were a few picks I was more happy about than others. I love Roy Halladay in the ninth round. I’ve seen him fall in some early mocks because of last year’s shoulder woes, but he has top 10/15 starting pitcher upside if he recovers even 90% of his pre-2012 rates. I’d even be a buyer in the sixth/seventh round if he is throwing and on track come March — unfortunately, I expect other people will feel the same way, and I expect his draft stock to slowly climb as we get closer to Opening Day.

As some commenters have pointed out, I am beyond content with Anthony Rizzo in the 17th round. In fact, my exact comment to my fellow drafters via e-mail was “I can’t believe I’m taking a third 1B but I’ve been shocked this guy has been on the board past round 12ish so I’ll go “best available” and assume I could always part off Butler/Davis if they get off to a hot start.” Word for word. Chris Cwik mentioned this might be a function of him not having enough at bats to appear on some leaderboards, so beware if you are looking through last year’s rankings when you make your spreadsheets this spring.

Taking Brett Lawrie so early is a bit of a risk, but I was able to hedge him with Pedro Alvarez in the 16th. I’m not sold on Alvarez sustaining all his gains from last year (and even if he does, there are still holes in his fantasy game), but he provides late-round, starter-level insurance if Lawrie doesn’t take another step forward. Jed Lowrie may be nicknamed Mr. Glass, but if you can get a shortstop with the upside of a homer every 20 at bats in the 21st round, you take him. During healthy stretches, he should perform like a top-15 middle infielder option.

What I didn’t like: There are a few things I’d do differently if I had to do it over again; mostly it is a function of who was available later in the draft that I didn’t anticipate. Billy Butler is elite talent, and will likely be eligible at first in many leagues (thanks to some fortuitous starts there down the stretch) but had I known Ike Davis would be kicking around in the 10th and Rizzo in the 17th, I certainly would have passed on him and gone with Curtis Granderson or Felix Hernandez. First base seems deep this year (guys like Yonder Alonso and Brandon Belt are going borderline undrafted in some standard leagues) so I should have stuck to my guns and been more patient at a position with such a high replacement level.

I like Carl Crawford as a bounceback candidate, but I think he can be had even cheaper in many leagues, especially if he’s out for the first month or so recovering from Tommy John. I probably overpaid by a few rounds there. Elvis Andrus is a guy who is steady, but has yet to put up elite fantasy numbers. In hindsight, I panic-bought a little with most shortstops already off the board. Since most drafters already had the position locked down, I might have been better served taking an outfielder there and either waiting a round or two on Andrus or taking two high-upside fliers later like Jean Segura, Alcides Escobar, Josh Rutledge or Andrelton Simmons.

Some guys did a good job snagging high-upside, end-of-draft youngsters like Shelby Miller, Casey Kelly, Mike Zunino and “recovering from injury” players like Brandon Beachy and Danny Duffy. While some (or even all of them) may turn out valueless, you’re essentially panning for gold in the late rounds and should be gambling on guys who can easily be cut early, but also could provide significant return on investment. I was not quite as prepared as my fellow drafters and was forced to settle for more proven veterans coming off down years. Which, I mean — I’m fine with (ex: Lowrie) — but I really like Miller this year!

What else I learned: Every year pitchers seem to be going a bit faster and you need to pounce earlier if you want elite talent. Of course, if you are doing a Yahoo! league with your friends from home, you’ll probably see guys like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander go in the first round. However, for the majority of my more competitive drafts, it’s been traditional to almost play chicken with pitchers, daring someone to pick early and either kick off the run or face the “buying him NOW? Overpay!” taunting in the draft room. However, this year 12 pitchers went in the first 60 selections. That number might not be extraordinarily high, but if you want a top-10 pitcher, you’re going to have to invest more than a fifth round pick on him.

Final thoughts: Most everyone who has ever owned a fantasy team thinks their draft is one of the tops in the league and, of course, I’m no different. I allowed myself to deviate from filling specific positions when what I thought was good value (Halladay, Rizzo, Alvarez) was available on the board and I’m happy about my newfound flexibility. There’s some risk in a couple of the guys I drafted to start, but there’s also some backup plans on the bench who aren’t totally devoid of upside. However, I did underestimate some of the guys I had higher grades on who were available later in the draft and probably overpaid in a few slots. Hopefully that is something a few more mocks and a little more clarity to big league depth charts can solve. My outfield needs Hunter Pence to bounce back and Alex Rios to finally shake his odd-even year curse. But other than that, I think I’m competitive in every category and should have some trade flexibility as the season marches on. And isn’t that really an owner can ask for immediately post-draft?

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There are few things Colin loves more in life than a pitcher with a single-digit BB%. Find him on Twitter @soxczar.

6 Responses to “Even More Reflections on the Rotographs Mock”

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  1. Sarge says:

    I’m not such a big fan of Carlos Gonzalez at that spot in the first round with Cano still there. He’s my pick at that spot if he’s available, or even Votto. While being able to nab Kershaw in the 2nd is going to really solidify your pitching, you could have had a 1-2 combo of Cano and Heyward. Heyward has just as much value in the OF as Cargo, IMHO, and no other 2B is going to come close to Cano.

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  2. tylersnotes says:

    it’s easy to imagine that Kershaw, Verlander, or Strasburg could return far and away more value than HanRam, Reyes, or Longoria. The traditional reason to avoid pitching is A) pitching is deep and B) pitching is risky. i think any format i’m in, i’m going to target having 2 top 20 pitchers by end of round 5.

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  3. Jimbo says:

    Really really like this team. (to me, Cargo/DP vs Cano/Heyward is a coin flip…JHey worries me for some reason and the first duo is more 5-categoryish)

    You could easily walk away with batting average and, if Lawrie takes the 2 spot, runs as well. While your power may be on the low side, you have a couple bench players in Alvarez/Lowrie who could make some of that up. Perfect bench for the team.

    And speaking of power, your only real weak guy is Andrus. Maybe you won’t have anyone approach 40hr, but Wieters/Pedroia/all of your OF should out-produce their positional average. And there’s the upside of Rizzo to boot. (Nothing returns value in a trade more than power bats.)

    Can’t evaluate an entire pitching roster out of the draft, given high turnover rates…but in terms of your core, can’t argue with Kershaw/Waino/Halladay on a 7-man staff.

    I’d take that roster into battle any day.

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  4. David Wiers says:

    You mentioned my name first. I assume I am your favorite. Rizzo is probably my favorite pick of yours. So much ROI there! I kind of wish these rosters were real, just to see how things pan out.

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  5. DrBGiantsfan says:

    I’ll play a little shadow drafting here:

    1.6. Robinson Cano. I’ll agree with the first commenter on this one.
    2.7. Justin Verlander. Personally I’d be a bit leary of Kershaw from a health standpoint. He missed a start or two late last year and there were even whisperings that he might need surgery on the hip. Yikes! Verlander is the surer bet.
    3.6. Yoenis Cespedes. You don’t need Pedroia with Cano already drafted. Cespedes will produce in 5 categories with the possibility of a huge breakout.
    4.7. Felix Hernandez. As you point out, good first basemen are available later. Pitching is half your categories. No harm loading up on great ones if the alternative is offensive production you can get later.
    5.6. Brett Lawrie. This is a bit rich for Lawrie but he’s a solid bet for 20/20 and could go 30/30 for you. Like the pick.
    6.7. Adam Wainwright. Like Waino much better as your 3’rd pitcher than your second.
    7.6 Wieters. I’ve been predicting breakouts for Matt Wieters for so long, I’m done with that so this will be the year it happens. Could consider Wilin Rosario here too.
    8.7. BJ Upton. Was 2 HR’s away from 30/30 last year. I’ll take that over Andrus as you have pointed out you can get similar production at SS much later in the draft from Escobar or possibly Segura.

    I’ll go with your picks the rest of the way. I’d take Segura late instead of Marmol or Crawford. One out of Segura or Lowrie should give you good production at SS.

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  6. Ender says:

    Pitching is about depth, not about studs. I still think it pays to wait on pitching if you are any good at evaluating the mid tier guys. Pitching always carries a higher risk and most likely 5 of the top 10 won’t be worth their value and there is no clear way to know which 5.

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