MLB Mock Draft Strategy: ESPN vs. Yahoo!
Chris Bouvier reports on his two most recent mock draft strategies used in Howard Bender's Mock Draft Army this past week.
The 2018 MLB regular season is coming quicker than a line drive back to the pitcher! Too soon? Over the past week, Madison Bumgarner, Chris Sale and Chris Archer have all been victimized by the comebacker. It looks like only MadBum will miss significant time but what a strange turn of events with three prominent aces suffering the same misfortune in such a short time. This significantly lowers the value of Bumgarner in drafts yet to be finished and can also raise the value of a Chris Stratton as he may be as high as second in the rotation for the Giants early on. The ever changing values of players make drafting early much more challenging but if your leagues still haven’t drafted then take a look at what we have for you today.
As you may already know we’ve done all of our mock drafts here at Fantasy Alarm over at RealTime Fantasy Sports as they provided us an easy to use platform over the last several weeks. This week is going to be quite different. In order to be as prepared as possible come draft day we have mock drafted on two other sites to check out their rankings. First, we’ll dive into ESPN and take a look at the differences in player selection between them and RealTime Fantasy Sports. Second, we’ll check out a Yahoo! Sports mock draft and see which players get boosted up or receive a drop using their rankings. The strategy in both of these mock drafts was to simply draft the best all around team possible and analyze differences in the rankings in all of the sites, let’s begin!
ESPN Mock Draft
Before we get into the site specific rankings and such, here’s the core of the team that was drafted.
1B- Paul Goldschmidt
2B- Jonathan Schoop
3B- Rafael Devers
SS- Didi Gregorius
OF- Christian Yelich
OF- Domingo Santana
OF- Jay Bruce
P- Max Scherzer
P- Aaron Nola
P- Jake Arrieta
P- Zack Godley
Starting things off with one of the more controversial picks in 2018 we have a Paul Goldschmidt selection at 13 overall. He’s ranked third at RTS and eleventh on ESPN so we’re happy to land Goldy here. Severino at 36 overall and Yelich at 37 were slight reaches but with the back to back picks in a 12-teamer we wouldn’t be picking again for a while so we got the outfield and pitcher spots started off nicely with a ton of upside. Analyzing their rankings brought a little surprise as well. Severino has a ranking of 39 on ESPN but 27th at RTS. Yelich has a similar difference in ranking but on the other end of the spectrum as he’s ranked 43rd on ESPN and 53rd at RTS.
Early returns on differences between the sites show near full round differences in eight of the top fifty players. With so many fantasy players using site provided rankings, knowing these drastic differences in rankings could provide an edge for you come draft day. Our selection of Jonathan Schoop at 60 overall was solid value as his 58 ranking on both sites show a pretty standard view of his value in 2018. Aaron Nola at 61 would have been almost spot on at RTS as they have him listed at 60 in their rankings. ESPN would likely consider this pick a reach as they have him listed at 74. Expecting a huge year from Nola at Fantasy Alarm puts ESPN’s ranking on the low side and teaming him up with Max Scherzer and Luis Severino has to make our staff the best one drafted so far.
Rounding out this mock draft, here are the remaining selections that had drastic differences in ranking (8 or more spots). Domingo Santana, Didi Gregorius, Zack Godley, Jay Bruce, Ronald Acuna, Yadier Molina, Brandon Morrow, Logan Morrison, Matt Kemp, Cesar Hernandez, Mitch Haniger, Patrick Corbin, Chad Green, Dominic Leone and Matt Harvey. Several of these players have differences of as much as thirty spots so knowing who is lower on certain sites can help you wait on certain positions knowing the depth that is available late.
Having the last pick in drafts forces you to reach a little bit to get the players you want and you have to be okay with that. If you’re strictly living and dying by site specific rankings and you aren’t wavering from that then you may end up unhappy with your team overall. With so many picks going between your selections on the turn you have to go get YOUR guys sometimes. Make sure that when you are mocking you select different draft positions in order to analyze what types of players are available at each spot and at what point you have to reach a little bit. This is just as important in your draft prep as having a strategy in place.
Yahoo! Sports Mock Draft
Leading off the draft with selection number eight, Mookie Betts fell to us here which matches his Yahoo rank exactly and is two spots higher than his RTS ranking of 10. At 17th overall, we selected Freddie Freeman who is just one spot lower on Yahoo and five spots lower on RTS. Through two rounds we haven’t experienced any drastic differences in rank and these two sites look to be much more in sync, however there’s a lot of draft left. Jacob deGrom was the pick at 32 followed by Justin Upton at 41. The Mets ace had a rank of 34 on both Yahoo and RTS so still nothing outrageous here. Upton is the one who finally provides a little bit of an altering opinion with an exact rank of 41 on Yahoo but a 47 on RTS, still not a whole lot to debate here.
Never really being someone who takes closers early, it was too hard to pass up a Craig Kimbrel at 56 overall. His rank of 50 and 52 on Yahoo and RTS show some value as well with this selection. With that being said, Aroldis Chapman at 65 seemed like crazy value in a format that had two SP and RP spots followed by five P spots. Yahoo’s rank of 58 sort of backs this up and RTS has it almost dead on with a rank of 66. Drafting to Yahoo’s rankings was not the strategy and had nothing to do with consideration of players, it’s just to show how it compares to other sites and where we think some of the value escalates or declines with each site. A.J. Pollock was selection number 80. Pollock has obvious risk, however with Yahoo! ranking him at 69 and RTS having him 63rd, this pick looks even better on paper. Hosmer at 89 is a great example of site specific rankings as he’s considered around 80th on Yahoo! and 96th at RTS.
Here are some of the other selections as well as their ranking in the two sites.
Rougned Odor at 102. (Yahoo: 99 ; RTS: 111)
Zack Godley at 111. (Yahoo: 118 ; RTS: 101)
Didi Gregorius at 126. (Yahoo: 114 ; RTS: 118)
Jon Gray at 135. (Yahoo: 157 ; RTS: 170)
Gio Gonzalez at 150. (Yahoo: 149 ; RTS: 135)
Evan Gattis at 159. (Yahoo: 169 ; RTS: 161)
Ozzie Albies at 174. (Yahoo: 179 ; RTS: 132) WOW!
Ozzie Albies is the perfect player for this study as we were able to select him at 174 on Yahoo! – five spots lower than his rankings of 179. If we were drafting on RTS this likely would not be possible as he’s ranked 132nd. This is why if you wanted Albies over at RTS you have to be aware of site specifics forcing you to pull the trigger much earlier. Due to this difference in site rankings, we have ourselves a great steal and insane value at 174 overall.
Mock drafting on ESPN or Yahoo! and then doing your actual draft on Fantrax or CBS is counterproductive. Use the same sites for both for the reasons shown above in this piece. You want to set yourself up to have the greatest understanding of your league and draft outcomes as possible. Consider format differences when looking at rankings as well. RTS uses two catchers, ESPN uses five outfielders, Yahoo! uses two SP and RP spots and then uses five P spots. Consider these things because in RTS, catcher rankings are going to be higher since you start two. In ESPN, outfielders are going to be higher, etc. Try several different platforms and form your own rankings for your draft. Don’t use site rankings as a hard copy for your rankings but consider them as benchmarks for when players are typically going to be taken so you know when you may have to pull the trigger to land a player you really want.