Before we start discussing the mock drafts completed this week, allow me a moment to thank everyone who has been a part of the Mock Draft Army to date. The crew from Fantasy Alarm has been well-represented from Ray Flowers and Rick Wolf to Dave Kerr, Spencer Silva and Jon Impemba. We’ve also seen some outstanding guests such as Steve Gardner from USA Today, Lawr Michaels and Pasko Varnica from Mastersball, Mike Gianella from Baseball Prospectus, Zach Sanders, David Wiers and Jeff Zimmerman from FanGraphs, Dan Schwartz from RotoBanter and assorted representatives from The Fantasy Fix, Razzball and Bleacher Report among others.

We’ve also had a fantastic assortment of those who don’t work in the industry but still live and die by their fantasy baseball teams and together, we’ve completed eight solid mock drafts and established some legitimate ADP rankings. The fact that we’ve just finished the first week of February and have accomplished this much already is a testament to the commitment and desire from everyone involved. I may be organizing the mocks, but this whole project would be a complete failure if not for all of you involved. For that, I cannot thank you enough.

Over the last few weeks we’ve established strong ADP baselines and we now have a solid foundation from which to start analyzing different draft trends we will start using to discuss individual players and which strategies could best serve you under a multitude of different circumstances. While I’ve preached doing multiple mock drafts and mixing up different strategies, I, for the most part, have really been more about drafting the best player available based on composite rankings I’ve taken from a variety of sources right now. In addition to that, save for the very first mock we did, I have stayed true to my belief that offense wins championships, starting pitching is incredibly deep and readily available in the middle to late rounds and elite closers have a seriously underestimated value. I wanted to see how sticking to those beliefs would work while only making minor adjustments based on the flow of the drafts.

Here’s how things turned out…

Mock Draft Army #6

Completed Draft Board (courtesy of Real Time Fantasy Sports)

I drew the 10th slot in a 15-team mixed league roto draft. Not my favorite place to be. There seems to be a definitive top-seven and those elite players have the ability to carry a fantasy team at various points in a season. But none of those guys were slipping to me and when it came to my slot, I really wasn’t in love with anyone. Sure, I could have gone a little off-the-grid, but we’re not there yet in the mock season, so I stayed “conservative” and grabbed Edwin Encarnacion. I hate his injury history and now that he no longer has third base eligibility, to me, he’s less appealing.

From there I stacked my middle infield with the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Jason Kipnis and since few people were taking starting pitching, I grabbed one more position player, outfielder Matt Kemp, and then double-tapped with elite closers with my next two picks. Rounds five, six and seven saw a number of pitchers go, but I still liked who was available enough to grab one more offensive player. After that, though, I grabbed four starters in the next five rounds. It’s a potentially above-average group, but no one you’re going to look at and say wow.  But my closers will help supplement strikeouts and help stabilize my ratios.

The rest of my draft went just okay. Third base gets real ugly, real fast and it’s not a position you want to ignore early on. There were solid middle infield options to be had later on which told me that I probably want to go in a different direction early on. Perhaps more outfield and third base, or even maybe one high-end starter just to play it safe? I’ll have to try out a number of different selections in the future to see, but right now, I’m just not in love with a lot of the high-end middle infielders out there.  I think I’m just better off waiting on them for the time being.

People may criticize the double-tap of elite closers, but if you look at who else was taken in the fifth and sixth rounds, I can’t say that anyone available to me at the time was going to be as valuable to me. I needed them so that I could afford to wait on pitching, and there’s something to be said for grabbing the guys who actually have the strongest job security at a very volatile position.

Overall, I give myself a C+ on the draft. My pitching has some question marks, I’m not in love with my offense as health risks and a need for a rebound is prevalent in my guys and there’s a definite lack of balance without a surplus in one particular area to give me decent trade chips.

As for some thoughts on the rest of the draft…

Clayton Kershaw second overall? Not in my world and especially not in a 15-team league. Look at all that power that comes off the board in the first two rounds. You just can’t pass that up in my opinion.

I’m just not a fan of a second round pick on a catcher. I love Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy as much as the next guy, but I just don’t see a distinctive advantage to selecting one of them in the second round in comparison to Salvador Perez and Evan Gattis going in the eighth.

Why is Michael Brantley going even higher than he was last week? I feel like there are going to be a lot of disappointed owners this year.

Some guys who were somewhat off the radar two weeks ago are now seeing their ADP increase dramatically as more and more people hype them up. Avisail Garcia in the 10th? Adam Eaton in the 13th? Michael Saunders and Steven Souza now in the 15th? I like all of them very much for this season, but as we near Opening Day, their upward trend is going to kill the potential profit you would have received drafting them all a little later.


Mock Draft Army #7

Completed Draft Board (courtesy of Real Time Fantasy Sports)

This time around I was picking fifth but I wanted to go in with a similar mindset to the previous mock with one exception. I wanted to soften up on my stance on closers and see how that played out with the rest of the draft. I wanted to focus on early power, not sweat the middle infield as much, and still hold off on the starting pitching. Picks of Paul Goldschmidt, Ryan Braun and Yoenis Cespedes should give me a nice base in the power stats, and while I said I wouldn’t sweat the middle infield, Jason Kipnis in a rebound season was just too much to pass up. Or at least I thought. In retrospect, I probably should have hit third base instead as again, I got caught up in what was happening in the draft and missed some good opportunities to solidify the hot corner.

Rather than deal with third like I should have, I saw the starting pitching come flying off the board and reacted. I didn’t want to, but I felt like I needed to address what was happening.  Two teams went very heavy on pitching right from the onset and the rest of the field responded by plucking the remaining high-end hurlers and most of the top two tiers of closers off the board by the time my fifth round pick was due. I grabbed Jordan Zimmermann and then Mark Melancon to help out the situation, but I don’t really see either being a huge difference-maker for me. They’re both great guys, but he’s a third-tier starter as my No. 1 and Melancon is probably a low-second/high-third tier closer to have.

Again, not too thrilled with my decision to react that way, but that’s why we mock, people.

The next several rounds proved positive for me though as I went back to the power and grabbed Evan Gattis in the seventh and then Adam LaRoche as my corner infielder in the ninth. Those picks sandwiched a hopefully rebounding Shin-Soo Choo. Lockign down those three allowed me to grab some pitching help. I think Mat Latos stays healthy and thrives in Miami, I got the trendiest of the trendy picks in Carlos Carrasco and added a second closer in Addison Reed. Not to mention pluggin my third base whole with Brett Lawrie and grabbing Avisail Garcia whom I love but as I said above, his ADP is going to likely increase over the next several weeks.

The interesting thing for me is how I was able to grab both Erick Aybar and J.J. hardy late. Shortstop may not be the prettiest position in the world, but grabbing those two in the 15th and 16th rounds should prove to be a solid move.

I’ll give myself a B- for this draft as it’s definitely a better looking offense than the first one and I have a little more confidence in the front end of my rotation. Where I am most flawed, however, is my throwaway in the final three rounds. I need to make better choices than this. Brad Boxberger is a nice play, but other than him, I hate three of my last four selections.

And as I look around the room….

The pitcher-heavy strategy for “Goldschmidt Happens” and “Mo money mo beeitches” did not pay off for either. The former has little to no power and the latter has a horrible outfield and will be looking to deal anyone off his rotation for some legitimate offensive hat.

I love the first five picks for centerfield ballhawk and the first six for Hounds of Justice.  I think ballhawk did a better job later in the draft with selections of Zack Wheeler, Yordano Ventura and Danny Salazar though which, to me, gives his team the edge between the two.

The most interesting strategy goes to John DeSantis of Fantasy Alarm as he double-tapped the elite closers early and then picked up the entire Padres pitching staff. The goal is to have the closers supplement the strikeouts while all keep the ratios down. It may be somewhat of a punt in wins having everyone from the same team, but a wins/saves vulture like Andrew Miller and then going with Danny Duffy and Henderson Alvarez certainly solidifies things. Not a fan of the offense though as Victor Martinez could be a sketchy play early and there are some injury prone guys there looking to play the rebound.

Mock Draft Army #8

Completed Draft Board (courtesy of Real Time Fantasy Sports)

This last mock took place at the exact same time as #7 did, so I opted to sit this one out, look at what everyone else did and add the data to the Mock Draft Army ADP.

At a quick glance though I will mention the following things:

Fewer starters went in the first four rounds, but the fifth and sixth rounds were way overloaded. Big, big pitcher run in the sixth round as eight of the fifteen picks were hurlers. Not to mention, the first closers didn’t come off the board until the fifth round which was a full round behind the other mock draft.

While I said above that I don’t like taking a catcher early, it’s difficult to criticize the way Lawr Michaels opened his draft. The Anthony Rendon and Posey picks look even better when you see how stacked his outfield becomes with his next four selections. Big fan of the pitching staff he put together as well.

There’s probably more to analyze of this draft, but without having interviewed each person or seen the running dialogue in the chat room, I’ll just chalk this up to more ADP data for us to use. Below is the current Mock Draft Army ADP through the group’s first eight drafts. Next week, we’ll start looking at trends developing via ADP comparisons from the numbers from two weeks ago.

I’ll also be trying out some specific strategies which will be written-up as well. For now, enjoy the numbers.