Monday, Chris Cwik introduced a series of columns we’ll be doing on Sunday’s RotoGraphs mock keeper draft by looking at rounds 1-3. I’ll be analyzing rounds 4-6 today; this is the point where strategies started to diverge a little bit with respect to how much risk teams were willing to take on and how much to focus on youth over the need to win in 2012.
Overall: A lot of really savvy youth picks here with guys like Brett Lawrie, Desmond Jennings, Dustin Ackley and Eric Hosmer coming off the board. Jennings was a guy I really wanted, but Niv grabbed him just before I could. This was a pretty common theme of my draft, something I’ll touch on later, probably next week. I should defend or at least explain Mike’s pick: There were some issues with the draft software, and he ended up needing to make a pick rather quickly and having just had Tex picked out from underneath him. Suffice to say, I think if you asked him, he would not value Jimmy Rollins quite that highly going forward.
Best Pick: There’s a lot of good value moving in this round, I love Jennings and Lawrie in this format and Ackley is right there with them. Any of those three could be the best pick, and I expect all three to open the season with in the majors, but given the fact that Lawrie would be the biggest surprise not to open the season with the big club, I’ll give Eno the nod.
Picked Too Early?: I like Zack Greinke just fine, and grabbing him in the fourth round is hardly an unconscionable reach, but given the talent on the board — Stephen Strasburg, Jered Weaver, and Madison Bumgarner were still on the board among others — I feel like he went a little early. A fatal mistake? Hardly. Just a point at which our strategies diverged.
Overall: There are certainly fewer prospects here but still plenty of youth. I took Mike Trout fully expecting him to take a bench spot for most of 2011, but through four rounds I took only MLB players and figured it’d be worth the risk. I actually feel better about this pick now that the draft is over than I did when I took him. The talent pool is deep, and while taking a player who may not help this year meant that I missed out on a few catchers and first baseman — I already had mine anyway — I didn’t miss anyone I couldn’t replace later in the draft. Known your opponents, obviously, but if you’re looking at taking a player like Bryce Harper or Trout in the earlier rounds of a draft, I think it’s a solid strategy.
Best Pick: I was a Matt Moore fan before the playoffs, but his performance against Texas really sold me on him, so I love Erik Hahmann’s pick. In a related story, the Rays are going to be pretty good next year, eh?
Picked Too Early?: Carson may function on a plane unknown to all but a few mortals, but I still don’t like grabbing Paul Goldschmidt this early. Yes, he’s a good, young first baseman and all of the really elite first base options were gone by this point, but there’s nothing that would lead me to believe that he wouldn’t have been available a round or two later. Being almost on the wheel does change the calculation here a bit, but I still think Carson struck too soon.
Overall: Our first real run on pitching, and it comes six rounds into the draft. I’ve been crowing a long time that pitching is incredibly deep right now, and this should help convince you to wait, especially in mixed. I like Noah’s pick of Alex Gordon, but the fact that he won’t have 3B eligibility in 2012 makes me cooler on him.
Best Pick: No question here, Paul Swydan grabbing Bumgarner with the last pick of the sixth round is a steal of a pick. I thought he was gone already when I took Latos, serves me right for being underprepared I suppose, but Swydan cleans up the mess nicely. Since he was on the wheel, he could have turned the screws even more by taking Bumgarner with the first pick of the seventh round instead.
Picked Too Early: Like I said, I like Gordon fine, but I’m less keen on him in the wide world of the outfield than I am if he were still 3B eligible. Shin-Soo Choo is another that I want to say was picked a little too high, but it’s splitting hairs at this point. Jason Heyward and Hunter Pence were the next outfielders taken in round seven and I think you can make a case for any of the three being the best keeper option.
This is the earliest mock I’ve ever done, typically I wait until at least Jan. 1 to start prepping, and it really showed, especially in the early/middle rounds. I just didn’t have a great list of players in my head, and wound up being somewhat beholden to the master list, which is never a great strategy. I ended up with a team I liked, but missed a lot of good values by about half a round. Hopefully you can learn from some of my mistakes and be better prepared for your first drafts 10 or so weeks from now.