With 2023 MLB spring training games underway, your fantasy baseball draft research should be kicking into high gear. Fantasy Alarm’s free fantasy baseball draft guide is loaded with information from 2023 fantasy baseball player rankings to articles highlighting the effect of the 2023 MLB rule changes on fantasy baseball to a variety of draft strategy articles for every type of fantasy baseball league. We have 2023 fantasy baseball player projections, top 10 sleepers, a slew of 2023 MLB rookie analysis and a regularly updated 2023 MLB Injury Report. But while having all that information at your fingertips in invaluable, there is no better way to put it all together in a fantasy baseball mock draft.
The importance of a quality fantasy baseball mock draft is often overlooked as most people feel the need to have some skin in the game. Research doesn’t seem to be enough for them and, as such, they replace mock drafting with best ball drafts. We certainly don’t want to take away from best ball drafting as they bring about their own excitement, but you should not be drafting a best ball league the same way you would draft in your 12-team rotisserie league. Not only should your draft strategy be different, your roster construction should be as well. After all, there are no fantasy baseball waivers, you can’t make trades and you aren’t even responsible for setting a lineup each week, let alone every day.
Taking part in a legitimate fantasy baseball mock draft is the best way to accomplish your preseason research goals. As you may have read in our Understanding Fantasy Baseball ADP article, I will be resurrecting the Mock Draft Army, so you will have the opportunity to jump into some of those mock drafts and pick the brains of some of the top fantasy baseball analysts out there. For now, the Fantasy Alarm staff got together and did our first of the draft guide so we have a jumping-off point.
Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft
- Participants: The Fantasy Alarm Staff
- League Specs: 12-team, 5x5 rotisserie league with Batting Average instead of OBP
Most times, when people are writing up fantasy baseball mock drafts, they tend to focus on their team, their draft strategy and whether or not employing their strategy actually worked. We will definitely get into that type of a granular look with the more mock drafts we complete and I do have some thoughts from Ray Kuhn which I will share in a moment, but for now, I want to give some broad strokes as to what we are looking at for fantasy baseball drafts in general.
There Is No Consensus 1.01 Pick in Fantasy Baseball
Even just a cursory glance at some of the 2023 fantasy baseball ADP tells you that there is no consensus top pick in fantasy drafts right now. Our ADP page here at Fantasy Alarm gives you an aggregate look across a variety of fantasy baseball websites and you see Aaron Judge atop the list. That coincides with the ADP over at CBS Sports, but if you look at the ADP page for the NFBC, you’ll see Trea Turner up top and if you ask me or my co-host Jim Bowden who our 1.01 is, we’ll say Ronald Acuna.
From there, it seems like it’s a matter of preference as opposed to who is next on the list. Julio Rodríguez, José Ramírez and Kyle Tucker have all found their way into the top-five in drafts I have done. Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto and Yordan Alvarez are also seeing strong consideration up top. And given the first-round depth, you can probably make an argument for any order among the top-10. The important thing is that you have a draft plan and you build it around that first pick. If you take Acuna, JRod or Ramirez, you have guys who fill up all five categories. If you start with Judge or Soto, you need to make sure you grab some speed in these early rounds. If you start with pitching, then you need to make sure you have a plan to build your offense while the rest of the room grabs hitters off the board. The cliche of there being more than one way to skin a cat holds true in fantasy baseball. There is no one way to build your team and that’s the beauty of doing mock drafts. You can test out a variety of strategies and see what works best for you and your goals.
This Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft May Not Be Helpful Regarding Starting Pitching
Something in this particular draft that stands out like a turd in a punchbowl is the lack of starting pitching taken in the first round. Maybe it’s because there are only 12 teams in this draft or maybe it’s because many of us in the industry feel like we can build a quality pitching staff without spending a high draft pick on an ace. But whatever the reasoning is, the fact that Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole fell to where they did in the second round seems a little surprising. You certainly see it pick up in Rounds 4-6, but keep doing mocks to see where most of the fantasy universe resides.
Elite Fantasy Baseball Closers Go Early
It’s not just this draft, but we can look at the fact that Edwin Díaz, Emmanuel Clase and Josh Hader are all off the board before the end of the fourth round as a harbinger of things to come. The closer position is the most volatile in fantasy baseball and there’s a good chance that at least 60-0percent of the players currently listed as their team’s closer will not hold down the job all year. As such, you will see relievers such as Ryan Pressly, Devin Williams and Jordan Romano go earlier than you would like. You can wait on the position, but I also recommend you do grab one who has strong job security early so you don’t get left out in the cold. In this draft, I grabbed Camilo Doval in the eighth round and then used a later pick on Scott Barlow to get a second one. I should have paid more attention to the relievers in the later rounds, because that’s always a good place to find closers-in-waiting.
Drafting Catchers is a Lot Like Drafting Closers
If you are in a league where you only start one catcher, then you really shouldn’t have to worry about the position and if you checked out my most recent article in the New York Post, you’ll see that even in two-catcher leagues, I do not feel like it is necessary to use a second or third-round pick on J.T. Realmuto. Yes, he delivers a solid stat-line but given the size of fantasy baseball rosters, the impact on your squad is far from what it is when you draft, for example, Travis Kelce in fantasy football. I did grab Adley Rutschman in the fifth round, but I would have been just as happy with Willson Contreras in the eighth. From there, if it’s a two-catcher league, you can easily wait on the second guy. Just be conscious of what the rest of your draft room is doing so you don’t miss out and end up with Bo Naylor as a starter.
Watch the Drop-Off in the Outfield Position
We already know that the shortstop position is incredibly deep while other positions like first base, second and third are all pretty top-heavy. It is the same for outfield. Once you get past the top-20, there is a significant drop in overall talent. I grabbed Acuna and Kyle Schwarber pretty early which allowed me to wait on filling out the rest of my outfield, but be carefully you don’t end up like Matt Selz who has Teoscar Hernández from the seventh round and then has to head into the season with the likes of Brandon Nimmo and Seth Brown as his top guys. Colby Conway did a nice job of waiting on the outfield as he took Bryan Reynolds in the seventh, but he was mindful and grabbed Taylor Ward, Kris Bryant and Seiya Suzuki pretty quickly afterwards. When you are using our rankings here or setting up your own, put a mark somewhere so you can see where the talent drop-off occurs at each position.
Those are just some general observations to get you started. If you would like to dive a little deeper, then check out what Ray Kuhn had to say about his draft:
My main intention here was to go in the general direction that the draft took me after the first round. When I am picking in the top half of the draft this year, I am looking for a power/speed combination and when it comes in the form of José Ramírez and fills a scarce position, even better. After that, I was really looking for the best available, and it just happened that I solidified my middle infield next with two more power/speed options as Marcus Semien has really grown on me. While there are a lot of starting pitchers I do like this year, I don't feel the need to gravitate towards a truly top option, and going with Aaron Nola and Luis Castillo to start my rotation feels good while also securing a top closer in Josh Hader.
At that point, I really felt comfortable with the core of my team and instead concentrated on taking players that I liked while making sure that I had enough power. I think Eloy Jiménez could truly outperform his draft slot if he stays healthy, and it's hard to knock Andrés Muñoz as my third closer even when I wasn't looking to take him. The outfield might be a bit weak as I'm banking on a resurgence from Cody Bellinger and continued emergence from Lars Nootbar, but I do feel good here.
We’ll have more on both the Mock Draft Army and our additional staff mock drafts as we move through spring training and get closer to 2023 Opening Day. For now, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in on the Mock Draft Army and enjoy the rest of what the Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide has to offer.
Related Fantasy Baseball Articles:
- Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide Home Page
- MLB Ballpark Factors
- Drafting Stolen Bases
- 2023 Late Round Fantasy Baseball ADP Draft Targets
- MLB Players Affected by the Shift Ban