Now that the NFL draft is done and we got our football fix, it’s back to baseball.  There are signs that the lockdown is beginning to thaw and that announcements of getting sports back should be following soon.  After two months of mocking there were two drafts last week pitting the mockers against some of the Fantasy Alarm staff.  The Bender Division is composed of 12 teams including myself, Dan Malin, Sean Mitchell, and Ivar Anderson.  We will introduce the rest of the league as I review their teams.  There was a lot of talent in the room and this should be a competitive league.  The rules are basic.  Standard 5x5 roto league, with twice a week lineup changes, trades, and FAAB waivers once a week. Teams are reviewed by draft order.

Here is the draft board:

Strike Back Owner: Michael Lester

Having the first pick of the draft makes starting off easy as you really can’t go wrong with Trout/Acuna/Yelich.  Strike Back took Acuna and continued an assault on stolen bases throughout the draft which left him weak in the power categories.  He added Rafael Devers and Matt Olson in Rounds 2 and 5, but the rest of his offense was concentrated on balanced players with limited power such as Tim Anderson , Victor Robles , Oscar Mercado , Kevin Newman , and Kolten Wong .  He waited until Round 4 to pick up his first pitcher in Lucas Giolito .  Giolito had an exceptional year last year but did fade a bit in the second half.  He filled out his starting staff with José Berríos , Sonny Gray , Jake Odorizzi , Cole Hamels , and Ryan Yarbrough .  The risk here is last year’s career years for Gray and Odorizzi and will they repeat. 

Grade: C

Mitchell-FA Owner: Sean Mitchell

Sean had Mike Trout fall to him with the second pick, and from there went on to build one of the best offenses in the league.  The cost of this was building one of the weakest pitching staffs.  Sean waited until the ninth round to take his first starter in Eduardo Rodríguez and his only reliever was the sixth round pick of Kirby Yates .  He followed up Trout with Bryce Harper , JD Martinez, Aldalberto Mondesi, and Kris Bryant .  Sean will have to rely on starters such as Lance Lynn , Mike Minor , Robbie Ray , and Max Fried .  Overall Sean has a good team, but he will struggle with saves, ERA, and WHIP with this squad. 

Grade: B+

@StatsRUs Owner: Rick Boleto

Rick did an excellent job out of the three spot.  He secured Christian Yelich and then went on to solidify his starting pitching with Jack Flaherty and Zack Greinke in Rounds 2 and 4.  His picks through Round 16 were all solid except he took some risk with picking Will Smith as his first closer.  There were several other closers available with “guaranteed” jobs that I would have preferred in that spot especially as the Braves have said Mark Melancon will begin the season as their closer.  He did follow that pick up with Giovanny Gallegos and Archie Bradley making the pick of Smith less of a risk.  There is little else to critique making his last pick of Yoenis Céspedes a gamble worth taking. 

Grade: A

Kangasman Mafia Owner: Charles Kangas

The Kangasman. The champion of mock drafting. Can he do it when it counts?  Picking fourth is probably one of the most chalk positions to start with.  It is rare that any player but Cody Bellinger is taken here, and that’s who Charles started off with.  He opted for Justin Verlander over Jack Flaherty in Round 2 and followed that with Xander Bogaerts , one of my favorite players for 2020.  In the end, the team is a little weak on offense, and that stems from going back to back closers in Rounds 6 and 7 taking Josh Hader and Roberto Osuna .  He left players such as Nick Castellanos , Tommy Pham , Eddie Rosario , and Giancarlo Stanton on the board to take Osuna.  Some say that getting two solid closers is important, but with the ever-changing closer landscape and the ability to pick up saves via the waiver wire throughout the season, this move could cost him.  The starting staff he built is quite good, and could be one of the best in the league with Verlander, Mike Soroka , Aaron Nola , Zac Gallen and Carlos Martínez, but the weak offense limits this team’s upside. 

Grade: B

Planet 10 Owner: Ivar Anderson

Ivar has been fun to mock with as he employs different strategies each night so when the real thing happened, I had no idea what path he would take in constructing his team.  The first few rounds showed that he was going for a balanced approach as he took Francisco Lindor with the fifth pick followed by Javier Báez , Whit Merrifield , Rhys Hoskins , and Tommy Pham .  I thought Hoskins was a bit of a reach in Round 6, but when I looked at the draft board I saw that the first basemen were flying off the board and Hoskins was one of the few options left at that point.  Max Scherzer and Charlie Morton make a solid foundation to the starting staff.  Ivar is hoping that Frankie Montas and Dinelson Lamet live up to their expectations as his SP3 and SP4.  With Liam Hendricks and Nick Anderson his bullpen should give him enough saves.  Overall, this is a team that is balanced, but not great in any one area. 

Grade: B-

Team 04 Owner: Steven Bateman

Everyone was expecting a pitcher to be taken here with the sixth pick, but Steve threw us a curveball and went with Nolan Arenado .  This pick is interesting as it would be a no brainer if it were last year, but with the likelihood of games not being played at Coors, this could be a bit of reach.  After this, Steve took offense or a closer with 12 of the next 13 picks taking only Clayton Kershaw as a starting pitcher in the fifth round.  There is an opinion out there that you can wait on starting pitching even more with the shortened season, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore starting pitching.  The remainder of his starters include high ERA types like German Márquez (although the move out of Coors may help him), Dylan Bundy , Reynaldo López , and Chris Archer .  I’m not sure if the team can overcome this strategy. 

Grade: C-

Team 03 Owner: Jeffrey Skwierz

Jeff had a choice of Mookie Betts or be the first to take a pitcher.  He opted for Betts getting great value at number seven and continued building his offense with Jose Altuve , Jonathan Villar , Anthony Rendon , Anthony Rizzo , and Nick Castellanos .  He then built a strong pitching base with Yu Darvish , Blake Snell , Brandon Woodruff , and James Paxton . This could turn out to be a tremendous staff if both Snell and Paxton are healthy.  What limits this team are the offensive picks the rest of the way.  There are no standouts and few with any upside.  Andrew Benintendi , Lorenzo Cain , Andrew McCutchen , and Eric Hosmer are all picks that will generate more yawns than excitement.  Overall, this is a good team, but there isn’t much upside and a lot of these players have a better chance at underperforming.

Grade B

Malin-FA Owner: Dan Malin

Dan has shown us over the last two months that there are certain players he likes, and he didn’t disappoint in this draft.  What also was consistent is that the Fantasy Alarm evaluator doesn’t like those players as Dan’s draft was ranked the second worst.  Dan’s pitching is solid and was ranked first in positional strength.  His staff consists of Shane Bieber , Patrick Corbin , Trevor Bauer , Madison Bumgarner , Matthew Boyd , Marcus Stroman , and a Malin favorite Anthony DeSclafani . Projected first in wins, but near the bottom in ERA and WHIP, the pitching may end up being just average if Boyd and Bauer do not improve on last year’s numbers. He has some offensive firepower with Alex Bregman , Pete Alonso (another Malin fave), Manny Machado , Max Muncy , and Joey Gallo , but speed is a word that must not be uttered in his locker room.  This is a team with both strong and weak spots.  In-season management will be key to getting this team into contention. 

Grade B-

Homeschool Hell Owner: Mike Stencel

Mike was a last-minute replacement and had not done a lot of mocks with us.  He showed a lot of disrespect for one of our regular mockers by choosing Trea Turner to the disappointment of the team drafting 12th, but this was the first of many strong offensive picks by Mike.  He will be at the top in steals after adding Mallex Smith and Luis Robert to the team.  The power side of the offense will be led by Freddie Freeman , Yordan Alvarez , Vladimir Guerrero Jr. , and Marcell Ozuna .  His top four starters are all solid but there is a significant drop in talent after that.  Mike’s hopes lie with Robert and Gavin Lux having good years and none of his top four starters getting injured.  A solid team but quality depth is an issue. 

Grade: B-

The House That Ruth Built Owner: Eli Ceasarine

We are at the tenth pick and Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom are still on the board and after the pick they remain there as Eli takes Trevor Story .  I can’t argue with the pick for two reasons.  Story is a four-category stud who is a great pick at this point in the draft but does carry that risk of not playing in Coors.  The other is that I did not get sniped on my target at pick 11.  Eli did snipe me four other times during the draft as he took José Abreu , Kyle Schwarber , Ken Giles , and Jordan Montgomery from the top of my queue.  This is a team that is strong in wins, saves, and strikeouts with Walker Buehler , Luis Castillo , Zach Wheeler, and Giles leading the way.  The problem is that there are no other categories that are strong.  The offense is average for the league and it has little speed.  I see a possible trade of saves for steals in his future. 

Grade: C

Spittoons Owner: Andy Spiteri

The end of the first round and beginning of the second round became quite interesting as Cole and deGrom were both there for the taking.  I had not seen one mock or real draft that either one of them was available this late.  My goal was to get Juan Soto if he fell to me and he had, but do I pass up a chance at deGrom who I would also love to have?  If I took deGrom, odds are Soto would not be there when I picked next.  I opted to take Soto and figured one of the two pitchers would get back to me which is what happened, and I had Gerrit Cole fall into my lap at pick 14.  Getting Cole afforded me the luxury of being able to wait on a second pitcher a round or two longer than I usually do, but then Mike Clevinger fell to me in Round 3.  Do I take him or Austin Meadows ?  Clevinger would be a top five pitcher taken in most drafts if he didn’t injure his knee in February.  By the time the season starts I do not see any reason why he won’t be the same dominating pitcher he was last season so I couldn’t pass him up.  I lost out on Meadows, but George Springer was a good fall back.  Now that I had my top two pitchers loaded, I took offense with my next four picks and then took Taylor Rogers and Hyun-Jin Ryu in Rounds 9 and 10.  At this point I saw I was lacking in steals and just needed to round out my pitching.  In the end, I decided to go after saves and dump steals.  This is a very stout team that should be in contention.  Not many can say they started off their team with Gerrit Cole and Juan Soto this year.

Grade: A-

Chey Town Owner: Cheyanne Bailey

Chey has been a stalwart all year in the Mock Draft Army.  She claims she is relatively new to fantasy baseball but you wouldn’t know it.  Having Chey pick right next to me, especially with two picks before mine, I knew I would get sniped multiple times throughout the draft.  Chey decided to take deGrom over Cole and use her other pick at the turn to take José Ramírez .  The deGrom-Ramirez combination is almost as good as Cole and Soto. Chey was the first to plunge into the catcher market taking JT Realmuto with her sixth pick.  This is a one catcher league so this may or may not be a great strategy. Gary Sánchez went in Round 7 and another catcher wasn’t taken until the 12th round.  Overall, her pitching can have some problems as she followed up deGrom with Jesús Luzardo as her SP2.  Her other starters include Shohei Ohtani , Carlos Carrasco , and David Price all of whom have questions.  Edwin Díaz is her only solid closer so she will struggle a bit for saves.  If the starters come through this could be a very solid team and contend. 

Grade: B+

This was a fun and competitive draft and I believe the league will be that as well.  Thanks to all who participated, especially Mike Stencel for jumping in as a replacement.  Be well and be safe! Hopefully, we get to play this out.