RotoGraphs Mock Draft Rds 16-23 – AL SP Results

This week we finish our recounting and analysis of the RotoGraphs early mock draft. We now head toward the end game where owners are either just grabbing what’s left to fill an open positional slot or taking on starting pitcher gambles. This is my favorite point of drafts. I no longer have to worry about whether I should select a player immediately or if I can wait to grab him the following round. In these last set of rounds, I usually have a bunch of pitching spots left and have fun drafting a whole bunch of flyers I think have decent breakout potential. Let’s take a look now at which American League starting pitchers were taken, compared to where they went in last year’s RotoGraphs mock.

Player Overall Last Yr
Ryan Dempster 184 N/A
Hiroki Kuroda 186 236
Hisashi Iwakuma 196 N/A
Trevor Bauer 207 N/A
Derek Holland 219 194
Joe Blanton 223 N/A
Alexi Ogando 228 238
Chris Archer 232 N/A
Jason Vargas 248 N/A
Andy Pettitte 257 N/A
Jason Hammel 258 N/A
Clay Buchholz 259 187
Chris Tillman 260 N/A
Bud Norris 263 242
Danny Duffy 269 N/A

Not surprisingly, the majority were not drafted in last year’s mock. I was, however, surprised to see that Ryan Dempster had not been drafted. But then I checked his page and remembered that he was coming off a 4.80 ERA. Of course, his SIERA was right in line with past years so clearly we didn’t do a good enough job of ignoring ERA, which is something I always preach. Though a full year in the American League East is a bit scary, he’s a decent pick this late.

Seriously, is Hiroki Kuroda the most consistently undervalued pitcher? Every single season he posts a low to mid-3.00 ERA with an excellent WHIP and about 160 strikeouts. I’m not sure what it is about him that cause fantasy owners to shy away. Well, maybe it’s his age and the thought that he has to start declining at some point, which is understandable, but he just keeps doing it and has shown no signs of age.

Hisashi Iwakuma was very solid in his MLB debut, posting respectable strikeout and walk rates and inducing tons of ground balls. That ground ball profile means he won’t be affected as much as other, more fly ball prone pitchers. Trevor Bauer doesn’t have a rotation spot at this point and the move to the American League makes it that much tougher to count on him. Obviously, it was late in the draft and it couldn’t hurt to take the gamble, but I would have taken a bunch of other pitchers ahead of him.

If Derek Holland is fully healthy, he could provide a nice profit at this spot. Alexi Ogando could also very well be a nice grab as he returned to the Rangers rotation. However, with his fastball, he should be able to strike out more hitters as a starter than he did in 2011, so that will go a long way into determining how successful he is in his second chance.

Chris Archer was an interesting choice since he has no rotation spot at the moment and it will likely require a trade or injury to get him in. He has dealt with major control issues over his career, though at least it appears he’ll bring a nice strikeout rate. A nice gamble in an AL-Only league, but he has no business being drafted in a shallow 12-team mixed format.

Jason Hammel is my favorite selection from this group, and it isn’t very close. I’m shocked he lasted this long. Sure, it’s easy to look at his injury shortened 2012 and assume it was a fluke. But it wasn’t just his ERA that improved. His skills surged and that was supported by a career best fastball velocity, which also led to his best SwStk%. I’m pretty confident he’ll be a member of all my teams if he continues to be a forgotten man.

I picked up Chris Tillman in a couple of leagues last year after he came up firing 95 mile per hour fastballs. But then his velocity dropped back and his strikeout rate ended up being nothing special. He remains an extreme fly ball pitcher, which is dangerous in that home park. Unless he rediscovers the increased velocity he enjoyed upon promotion, I’m not interested.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Stuck in a slump
Stuck in a slump

I like the Ogando pick, but I think the best values here are going to be Hammel or Norris. I really don’t like Joe Blanton going ahead of them, even despite his inability to walk batters last year, he still posted an average WHIP, his BABIP wasn’t too far out of line from his career numbers, and now he faces a DH in the American league. Maybe the park and defense will save him, but that’s not a gamble I want to make before a lot of those other guys come off the board.