First mock draft of the offseason

Oct. 2, just one day after the regular season ends, and I’m already mock drafting. Oh boy. Thanks to Mike Muschiano of the Poughkeepsie Journal for the invite.

Now, I didn’t do any kind of preparation for this mock and I didn’t even have a really clear idea what kind of strategy I would employ. I went in very flexible and just wanted to see how the draft played out, to get an early, rough feel for how the market value of players has changed.

This being said, here’s my roster, followed by some comments about my team and about some other selections I found interesting. At the end of the article, you’ll find some thoughts on the importance of mock drafting in general.

| Pos | Player            | Round |
| C   |	Joe Mauer         | R5    |
| 1B  | Carlos Delgado    | R7    |
| 2B  |	Ty Wigginton 	  | R13   |
| SS  |	Michael Young 	  | R10   |
| 3B  |	Miguel Cabrera 	  | R1    |
| CI  |	Adrian Beltre 	  | R11   |
| MI  |	Carlos Guillen 	  | R15   |
| OF  |	Carlos Beltran 	  | R2    |
| OF  |	Carlos Lee 	  | R3    |
| OF  |	Vladimir Guerrero | R4    |
| OF  |	Corey Hart 	  | R6    |
| UT  | Nelson Cruz 	  | R17   |
| SP  |	Edinson Volquez   | R8    |
| SP  |	Javier Vazquez 	  | R9    |
| SP  |	Aaron Harang 	  | R12   |
| SP  |	Wandy Rodriguez   | R14   |
| SP  |	Jonathan Sanchez  | R16   |
| SP  |	Randy Johnson 	  | R18   |
| RP  |	Manny Corpas 	  | R19   |
| RP  |	Huston Street 	  | R20   |
| RP  |	Frank Francisco   | R21   |

Because I’m still in the process of reviewing player seasons, please keep in mind that the following are general thoughts that could change a little down the road.

Right now, though, I like my team a lot. I got six starting pitchers who I believe could be among the top 30 on my final draft board and didn’t take the first until round eight.

I took Miguel Cabrera as my first pick, and I think at pick eight that’s a good selection.

My outfield looks pretty stacked; I was glad to get Carlos Lee in round three, but Vladimir Guerrero in round four was a slight shock.

Joe Mauer in the fifth might have been a bit of a stretch in a one-catcher league.

I’m not sure if I’ll ultimately condone taking Carlos Delgado in the seventh round, but I do like him.

Ty Wigginton continues to be undervalued. I kind of wanted to leave him out there to see how far he’d fall, but there will be plenty of time for that in the coming months.

If Nelson Cruz‘s MLEs were accumulated in the majors, no way does he last this long. Of course, MLEs aren’t quite as good predictors as actual major league stats, but I still think he’s a great pick in round 17 who could be a five category contributor.

With Brian Fuentes likely leaving Colorado, I think there’s a good chance Manny Corpas will be closing in 2009, making him a great end-game pick.

I also believe that the A’s will try to trade Huston Street at some point, and as long as they think he can pitch effectively, the best way to build that trade value is by having him close. He’s my bet to open 2009 pitching the ninth.

Frank Francisco has better skills than C.J. Wilson and did well closing games at the end of the year, and while a free agent might also be an option, in the last round I think he was a solid pick.

Surprise Picks

Pick No. 1: Hanley Ramirez
Round 2: Evan Longoria
Round 2: Tim Lincecum
Round 4: Dustin Pedroia
Round 5: Victor Martinez
Round 5: Joey Votto
Round 5: Francisco Liriano
Round 5: Alexei Ramirez
Round 7: Troy Tulowitzki
Round 8: Chris Davis
Round 8: Derek Jeter
Round 10: Jay Bruce
Round 11: Matt Wieters
Round 11: Pablo Sandoval
Round 11: David Price
Round 14: Mike Pelfrey
Round 14: Milton Bradley
Round 15: Carlos Guillen
Round 17: Miguel Tejada

We see a clear trend of young (often second-year) players getting taken early. I don’t know if this is the best idea, although they’d all need to be analyzed individually, of course.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

Hanley Ramirez went number one over guys like Alex Rodriguez and David Wright. If I received the number one pick, there’s a very real chance I would have taken Hanley, and I’m actually hoping that my final rankings put him number one. The drop-off at shortstop is pretty big, and Hanley helps you in so many ways.

Tim Lincecum in the second round was a shocker, especially with some people thinking he could break down next year (for what it’s worth, I probably wouldn’t have a problem taking him at a reasonable price because evidence is inconclusive that pitchers who throw a lot of innings are at a higher risk of injury). A pitcher in the second round isn’t always a given, and seeing Lincecum there was very interesting.

I was very curious to see where Pedroia ended up, and we see he went in the fourth round. I think he could put up very similar numbers to last year, so I really don’t have much of a problem with the pick. In the second round, well, then I probably would.

Francisco Liriano, I was hoping, would fall into the teens this year, but he managed to get taken earlier than he was going last year. His ADP will be fun to watch this off-season.

Someone’s expecting a bounce back year from Victor Martinez, taking him in round five as the fourth catcher off the board. I’d have a hard time taking him this early.

I know I already covered young guys, but Matt Wieters in the eleventh round was quite unexpected. He’s got talent, but he’s played just one year of professional baseball, accumulated just over 200 at-bats at Double-A, never played at Triple-A, and isn’t guaranteed the starting spot for the Orioles. Seems early to me, especially in a one-catcher league.

Milton Bradley fell to round 14 after a tremendous year. This could be because he wasn’t very high on the Mock Draft Central default rankings (which aren’t completely tailored to 2009 yet being it’s so early in the off-season) and got overlooked. I filled my outfield early and liked Nelson Cruz for my utility spot later, which is why I didn’t pick him up.

Carlos Guillen was no mistake. His value appears to have plummeted. I was the one who took him, but he’s on the list because of how late I got him. I’ll talk about him some more in a few weeks and see how early it would be reasonable to take him. Miguel Tejada is another shortstop whose value fell off the table, and Derek Jeter in round eight was relatively late as well. Troy Tulowitzki, however, went much earlier than I’d expected. People loved going for the upside in this draft, it seems.

Click here if you’d like to see everyone’s picks.

Thoughts on mock drafting in general

Mock drafting is a great practice for everyone to get into. Obviously this is incredibly early and it isn’t necessary to start in October, but mock drafting will benefit you greatly when the time comes for your actual draft. Frequently mock drafting throughout the off-season will give you an idea how player value is changing, more so than simply looking at an Average Draft Position (ADP) report will.

For example, I’d bet that Lincecum’s ADP ends up somewhere around the start of the fourth round. However, there may be great variation in where he is taken. In this draft, he went in the second round because there wasn’t as great of a concern about a breakdown. In a draft full of risk-adverse owners or owners who don’t believe in drafting starters early, however, he could fall to the seventh or eighth round.

Simply looking at his fourth round ADP doesn’t give you this information. By being involved in a number of mock drafts, you may be able to see these trends evolve more clearly.

Once you know the situations in which Lincecum goes in round two, those where he goes in round four, and those where he goes in round seven, you can apply this knowledge to what you know about the owners in your league to estimate how long you could reasonably wait to take him yourself.

If you didn’t do the mock drafting, you might see the raw ADP and take him in round three when you could have waited a full two or three rounds longer. That is huge value you’re giving up.

Concluding thoughts

I’ll be participating in another mock draft on the 20th I believe, so I’ll be sure to check back following the draft and let you know how my drafting habits changed and where some of the players in the “Surprise Picks” section went.

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