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Musings on the Ridiculously Early Mock

If you’ve been following the site over the past few weeks, you’ll know that the RotoGraphs team got together and held a “ridiculously early mock draft.” Our fearless leader, Eno Sarris, published the results of the full 23 round draft each week (1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-23). This was the first time I had ever done a draft without the benefit of a fantasy rankings guide or a custom list of rankings, so it was a brand new experience for me. I’ve compiled some of my thoughts below, in hopes that they might create discussion among the commenters, or just bring about some debates.

Strategy

Since I didn’t have the benefit of drafting with a pre-ranked list of players, I turned to the pages of FanGraphs. For nearly all of my offensive picks, I used the FanGraphs leader board page and sorted by wOBA. I didn’t use wOBA as the absolute when drafting, and made sure I was taking into account factors about the player when making selections. Aside from one pick, which I’ll cover later, I was very satisfied with my team’s offense after the draft. I altered this strategy at the 15th round, after I had already selected my starters. The rest of the way, I tried to look for established names who were injured, or who fell off last season, allowing me to snag Denard Span, Stephen Drew and Justin Morneau pretty late.

For pitchers, I pretty much sorted by FIP. I know xFIP is probably the better indicator of future performance, but I was more comfortable using FIP. One strategy I’ve tried to employ in recent years, which sometimes goes against what many people tell you, is that I try to get one ace pitcher. I’ve tried to wait on pitching in the past, and, while the sometimes works, I find it’s much less of a headache to have at least one guy who you expect to dominate each week. I adjusted around round 16, and started to look for guys who had fallen, or guys coming off injuries. I refuse to take closers early, and ended up with a ton of question marks at the position. Obviously, I went for big upside, taking Ryan Madson and Sergio Santos. Both players will pitch for top-tier teams, so if they reclaim their late-innings role, I’ll be happy. Thankfully, John Axford hung around later than I expected, and I grabbed him.

What happened with player X?

I’ve seen a few comments about players who fell too low that I wanted to address. In the case of Rafael Soriano, we began the draft before he had signed with a team, which is why you’ll notice Drew Storen went way too high. Literally hours after Soriano signed with the Nationals, Alan Harrison drafted him. If we were to re-do the draft today, I would expect Soriano to go a little before where Storen was drafted. Closers, in general, were weird in this draft. I considered Tom Wilhelmsen a couple rounds before he was drafted, and don’t know why I didn’t pull the trigger. Same with Axford, except I ended up snagging him late. Anthony Rizzo was a player that we all forgot about. Since he didn’t receive a ton of at-bats, he wasn’t listed when I was sorting through my list. I can’t speak for the other owners, but I would have, at the very least, taken him instead of B.J. Upton in the ninth round. I also want to point out that this is the second “experts” draft I’ve done where Jayson Werth has plummeted. I expect him to have a nice bounce-back, and think he’s going way too late.

Big risk

I think I may have taken the biggest risk in the draft by selecting Jurickson Profar in the 10th round. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that I waited on a shortstop, but a big chunk is my confidence in his ability to produce. I fully expect him to rank within the top-3 on most prospect lists as spring approaches, and he might even top a few of those lists. I also believe Jon Daniels knows that Profar is an excellent player, and will try and make sure that he receives a lot of playing time. If he’s up within the first month or two, I still think I’ll be alright with the pick. If they aren’t willing to move other players around, I’m in big trouble. I managed to pick up Stephen Drew in the 15th, so he can fill in if Profar begins the year in the minors.

Closing thoughts

Using, basically, wOBA and FIP, I think I came away with a pretty good team. If this were a real league, I would pay close attention to the health of my closers in the coming months, and scour the waiver wire early in the season for potential replacements, particularly if Santos doesn’t get his job back. I also feel like some concerns over a position drying up led to some desperate draft picks. I would not have taken Pablo Sandoval that high if third basemen weren’t going quickly, and I know David Wiers has talked about grabbing Jose Altuve too early, as well.

I could probably keep going, but this article is already too long. Please drop some thoughts/comments below, and let us know if there’s anything you would like to see us cover concerning this draft. With the offseason in full swing, there’s a great opportunity to have some of your questions answered now.

Update: Some of you have been asking for a link to the full draft results. I created a public Google Doc for you, which can be found here.