Mock Draft: AL-Only

In addition to auctions, readers are also looking for more single league stories here on RotoGraphs. With that in mind I participated in a 12-team AL-only mock auction on CBS Sports. I had the third pick and ended up with the following team:

Miguel Cabrera
Justin Verlander
Jon Lester
Jason Bartlett
Nelson Cruz
Matt Wieters
Mike Gonzalez
Howie Kendrick
Adrian Beltre
Nick Swisher
A.J. Pierzynski
Brian Matusz
Chris Tillman
Justin Masterson
Scott Sizemore
J.J. Putz
Matt Joyce
Marc Rzepczynski
Desmond Jennings
Ken Griffey Jr.
Tony Sipp
Billy Hall

For my first pick, I was debating between Cabrera and Mark Teixeira. Normally in a mixed league I would take Teixeira, because I am concerned about a relapse with Cabrera’s drinking problems. But in the only league format I opted for what I consider the higher upside of Cabrera versus the safer pick in Teixeira. I am not sure if it makes sense to go for upside over certainty, but when I was on the clock that was what made me pick Cabrera.

Verlander is a tough one for me. He is a guy that is ending up on a lot of mock draft teams for me and I am not 100 percent sure why. Trying to look at it objectively, I think others are undervaluing him due to his poor 2008 season. But Verlander has delivered Wins and ERA in three of the last four years and if he comes close to repeating his K numbers from 2009, he is definitely a good value. I chose him over Brian Roberts at this pick.

During the draft, I wish I would have focused on outfielders earlier. With CBS requiring five OF, pickings get slim rather quickly. Cruz is another guy who I end up with a lot here in mock draft season but there is a significant dropoff afterwards. It felt very strange picking Swisher in the 10th round, but the HR potential was just too much to pass up, especially considering what was left. Between Joyce and Jennings I figure I have one OF and I just have to hope Hall gets enough playing time all over the diamond to be worthwhile.

Relief pitching seemed like another weakness during the draft, but Gonzalez is a top-12 AL closer and Putz is a #2 RP in the only format. Plus, I really like Sipp as a darkhorse closer candidate in Cleveland should Wood get injured or have another off season. Saves will definitely not be a strength of the team, but I should pick up at least a few points in the category.

The starting pitching is very strong. In hindsight I would have grabbed an OF in round three, knowing how many relatively strong pitchers were left late in the draft. Still, I like having Verlander-Lester at the top of my rotation, which gets the team off to a solid start in four categories. Also, I am a touch concerned about having both Matusz and Tillman but I would prefer that combo over Scott Feldman and Tommy Hunter, both of whom went earlier.

It’s hard to have to have two catchers in any format, but a 12-team AL-only is particularly brutal. I really like the Wieters-Pierzynski duo and when one team is going Brayan Pena and Jason Varitek and another features Alex Avila and Adam Moore, I like it even better. This team also has good starters at each infield position. Beltre has long been a favorite of mine and hopefully he will find hitting in Fenway easier than at Safeco.

Overall, I think this team will be very strong in the non-save pitching categories. Offensively, it should be very good in HR and RBIs and competitive in AVG and R. By far, the weakest category should be SB. Cruz should be good but the only other threat is Jennings and his playing time is uncertain, at best.

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9 Responses to “Mock Draft: AL-Only”

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  1. Jon E says:

    Bartlett might swipe some bags for this team…not just Nelson Cruz.

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    • Brian Joura says:

      Thanks Jon – that’s a good point. Kendrick’s also got a shot at double-digit SB. But unless Jennings makes the team early, this club will not do well in steals without some waiver wire help.

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  2. Rob says:

    I think you mean Matt Joyce, right? Unless you’re hoping for a Mike Joyce comeback.

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  3. Brian Joura says:

    Indeed. It’s fixed now.

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  4. rotofan says:

    At first blush your roster looks middling. I’m in an A.L.-only league (but a real auction, not a draft) and I think you are likely in the bottom half offensively.

    Hall and Griffey are not expected to get many at-bats with the Mariners and what at-bats they do get will likely hurt you in the batting average category and not help much anywhere else.

    Getting Joyce and Jennings may seem like a way to insure one starter in the OF but another real possibility is the Rays play Zobrist in the OF to get Sean Rodriquez in the lineup.

    Kendrick may not get full-time at-bats (again) in a crowded Angels infield.

    I don’t think you can give that many potentially unproductive bats and do well offensively.

    Your starting pitching is strong but it came at the expense of too many things when you can get decent starters later in the draft.

    Just for comparison sake, in my league last year, the sixth place team in HR and RBI’s finished with 207 and 831 and when I look at your roster I see you falling a bit short of that homer mark and well short of the RBI mark. Sixth place in steals was 121 and I don’t see you close to that. Assuming its a 5×5 league with 60 points available offensively, I see you getting between 20 and 30, and more likely closer to the former.

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  5. Brian Joura says:

    The Hall I have is Billy Hall on the Red Sox. He definitely will struggle to get ABs. Do you really project Griffey to get considerably fewer ABs than he did last year? I would be happy with the 320 ABs and the 15 HR that the Fans project for him at FanGraphs.

    Rodriguez could end up getting the starting job but I think that’s far from a given. And I’m not worried about Kendrick losing ABs. If he stays healthy, he’ll be in the lineup.

    Finally, are those numbers for a 12-team only league? Here is RotoWire’s AL-only team in LABR.

    C Joe Mauer 30
    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia 7
    1B Kendry Morales 27
    2B Dustin Pedroia 29
    3B Brandon Inge 8
    SS Derek Jeter 25
    CI Casey Kotchman 6
    MI Alex Gonzalez 3
    OF Grady Sizemore 29
    OF Austin Jackson 6
    OF Ryan Sweeney 10
    OF Desmond Jennings 5
    OF Michael Brantley 5
    U Hideki Matsui 11

    I think my team hits more HR and has more RBIs than this one.

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    • rotofan says:

      My bad on Hall. He’s so far off the radar screen for playing time I forget he was traded to the Red Sox.

      As for Griffey, Dave Cameron projected 300 AB earlier this year, before the Kotchmann trade and I tend to think that’s the upper end.

      I didn’t suggested Rodriguez would get the starting job, but rather, that it’s a possibility and not a remote one.

      The numbers I provided were for a 12-team only league. Just for comparison’s sake, here’s what my team may look like offensively after auction day given the keepers I have and my budget:

      C Wieters $11 (keeper)
      C Moore $1
      1B Morales $6 (keeper)
      3B Longoria $42
      CI Beltre $16
      2B Kinsler $42
      SS Andrus $5 (keeper)
      MI Scutaro $6 (keeper)
      OF Lind $8 (keeper)
      OF Choo $10 (keeper)
      OF Borbon $5 (keeper)
      OF Jackson $1 (keeper)
      OF Adam Jones $25
      DH Delmon Young $18

      That leaves $65 for pitching and I already have as keepers Greinke, Scherzer, Matusz, Hughes and Aardsma for $17 total, which leaves $48, enough to nab a second closer or a top pitcher and fill out the rotation.

      By the way, since I’m in a keeper league, auction prices are inflated.

      I would agree the Rotowire team you displayed may be weaker than your team. There’s no power in the outfield beyond Sizemore and there’s not nearly enough power in the infield to make up for that.

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  6. SF 55 for life says:

    when did carlos santana go?

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  7. Brian Joura says:

    Santana went on the 16th round.

    For those who are curious, here is the link to last year’s LABR results, which corroborates the numbers rotofan quoted above.

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