The Touts participated in a mock draft over Memorial Day weekend, under the guise the stats would begin accruing on Memorial Day. Results can be found HERE.
In full disclosure, there was some confusion whether the format was one or two catchers. Several participants drafted with one catcher in mind, until two catchers was clarified around the 10th round.
Scott Pianowski and Michael Salfino recorded a free podcast about the mock. Please give it a listen HERE.
Below are some observations by the drafters and other Touts. Please feel free to share your comments below.
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I don’t care how effective pitchers were during April and May, getting Corbin Burnes or Gerrit Cole in the second round is an absolute steal.
Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): Interesting to see Mookie Betts not taken in the first five picks. Amazing to note just how well the Tarik Skubal breakout is going. It’s possible he keeps his ERA under 3.00 this season and finds himself being drafted among the top-15 SP next season.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): It’s been a long time since I’ve seen catchers last as long as this in an industry draft. The first catcher went 66th overall — and I’d have much rather had the one who went 11 picks later (Will Smith) — and Adley Rutschman (Round 13) and Alejandro Kirk (Round 16) look like fantastic values, considering what they might deliver the rest of the way.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Re: Tristan’s point on catchers, I don’t know for sure, but at least part of the reason could be confusion with the settings. It was announced the draft would use NFBC rules (hence two catchers), but the clown who set it up didn’t check the settings, which was one catcher. I confirmed we were using two somewhere around Round 12. Shoot, if MLB can change rules in season, so can I. For the record, As I told the drafters, I would never have done the switch if we were playing it out. I also asked them to select one participant to slap me when we’re together next spring in NYC.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): A few random observations: 1) David Bednar was the 7th closer selected and in the 7th round, despite the risk of him losing the closer role in a possible deadline trade away from the Pirates. The recency bias of his sucess outweighs the risk for this group of owners. 2) Jonathan India was selected in the 22nd round, despite him being about 2 weeks away. This shows that owners are very risk averse to currently injured players. 3) Luis Arraez is a 12th round player? Shows just how valuable BA is, and how shallow 3B is. 4) Joey Votto in the 22nd round – No owner here has faith in a 2nd half rebound despite hitting for a 178 wRC+ in his last 11 games.
Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): I waited on catcher because of the settings. Also, I loaded up on guys who were hurt but coming back fairly soon because in a shallow league interim replacements should be alright. I may have guessed wrong on Tyler O’Neill however.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Ariel’s point about injured players was something I thought about a lot in the later rounds. The assumption was an NFBC league, hence seven reserves with no IL. I think drating two or three injured players, with the assumption of getting healthy guys at their position in reserves would have been a strong approach. I only took Sale with that in mind, but wish I went that route with a couple more IL stashes. Afer all, I could drop them if I needed the roster spot.
Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): Hmm. I wasn’t thinking of no IL. With six hurt guys I probably went too far.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): For the record, I wasn’t commenting on Peter’s strategy (his note wasn’t visible when I entered mine), but in a 12-team league, there would have been ample free agents to pick up if needed. One thing I really regret is waiting too long on a third baseman. We went into the season knowing the inventory at the hot corner was terrible — and it got worse. Looking back, I probably should have drafted… You know what? *maybe* I should have jumped Manny Machado or Rafael Devers to 1.07, but I can’t see anyone I “should” have picked. Well, I almost took Bobby Witt Jr. when I took Jose Altuve, but the keystone is also cruddy (but deeper), so maybe that is the mistake… Witt Jr. instead of Altuve. Nah, I prefer Altuve.
Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB): As a participant in the draft itself, I found it very interesting how small smaples from a two month sample had huge effects on certain player and not others. Trevor Story was still a second rounder because he is hot right now while Bryon Buxton didn’t slip much for someone who is ice cold. Pitching also was much more available than I think many predicted in the middle rounds. There were some obvious oversights by the entire league allowing some players to fall way too far. It was a very fun exercise though.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I very much like the SPs in rounds 9-10-11 and with 20/20 hindsight would have liked a strategy to get three SPs in those rounds (like Sheehan and Zola almost did) and put them with a SP from rounds 2-4 and a closer from rounds 5-8 and I would otherwise have 6 bats. From that core, I would then go after a second closer in 12-13 (so 7 bats and 6 pitchers) and then I would get all my remaining bats from there, with 3 pitchers in the last 3 rounds. I especially love Ashby and Helsley in round 21 and might even reach for them in round 20. Feels like a plan, with hindsight being 20/20.
Sara Sanchez (bleedcubbieblue.com, @BCB_Sara): I really interesting how the pitchers moved here. Not surprised to see McClanahan as the third pitcher off the board. I think he’s more than earned that with a fantastic start that looks sustainable. I think this draft shows how power has been more prioritized with the deader ball/humidor environment. 1B HR hitters who people were content to wait on in pre-season drafts definitely (and rightly, in my opinion) got pushed up. Also really interesting to see how closers were prioritized. Job security as a closer has created an artificial value in fantasy baseball for a role that is increasingly obsolete and it’s visible in this draft. A few people have already commented on 3B scarcity and moving players like Devers higher, I agree with that, but for the sake of variety will focus on how little movement there was here at another truly scarce position: C. What does Willson Contreras have to do to gain the fantasy community’s love? Obviously, as the foremost Willson Contreras fan, I partially jest, but only partially. His ADP in 12-teamers at NFBC was 109, here he went…105th despite his best offensive start to the season since his rookie year. Wild. The big movers at catcher in the early rounds were Salvy (down about 5 rounds from ADP) and Varsho (up about a round and ahead of every catcher except Realmuto). I don’t disagree with those moves, but I really think Shelly got a steal with Willson in the 9th round.
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Everyone seems to be competitive, Peter will need some help with health issues. Gardner did a great job with balance and has all categories covered, and his late pitching picks, Schertzer and Baz are a bonus. He’s the team to beat!
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): In light of the heavier concentration of pitchers in the upper rounds of pre-season drafts, interesting to see pitchers, especially SPs, fall to Rs 3-4 while the Touts loaded up on hitting early. Also surprised to see Bryce Harper go so early given the very real injury concern. I also would have expected Judge to go higher than he did, given the paucity of HRs so far, and that Bo Bichette is still a first-rounder despite a continued decline in BA, OBP, Slg, OPS and ISO and a jump in whiffs. OTOH, kudos to Tim McLeod for snabbing 3B Santiago Espinal in the 16th.
Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): I would have liked to see more of a markup at third base given that the position has been every bit as bad as we thought it would be — or worse, even. It’s become a clear example of old-school position scarcity with a sharp distinction between haves and have-nots, and my desire to be among the haves would lead me to draft Manny Machado and Rafael Devers toward the middle of Round 1, behind either Mike Trout or Mookie Betts. Austin Riley is priced appropriately, but Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman and Bobby Witt are about the only other players I trust to make a positive contribution at the position and also seem like bargains considering (especially Arenado).
Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): To be clear, I think this kind of re-draft is a big challenge so kudos to the drafters. That said, I found it interesting that no pitchers went in the first round. None. I also fond it odd that Bryce Harper and his elbow issue was drafted before Aaron Judge who is having (fingers crossed) that big contract year season. Finally, while I understood Hader and Hendriks going in the third round pre-season before roles were set, it is hard for me to justify that much draft capital when Rogers, Diaz etc going 3-4 rounds later. [Actually, to end on a positive note – Gleyber Torres in round 14 will turn out to be the steal of this draft].
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): The classic question with these in-season drafts: how much do you trust the April/May numbers vs. the preseason projections? For pitchers I tend to believe more of the former, while batters I’ll let regression do its thing and lean on the preseason projections. Looks like this room was similar. It was interesting to see early SP darlings Cortes and Wright go in the 6th/7th — seems about right — while early SP duds like Charlie Morton (11th round) and Trevor Rogers (19th round). Fascinating to see a pitcher-less first round. Cole and Burnes belong!
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): Starting pitchers dropping as far as they did is what jumps out, although that’s the biggest difference between a 12-team and 15-team mixer. I thought players like Marcus Semien and Tyler O’Neill would fall even further than they did (although that’s probably based on my bias/frustration about having them in various industry leagues)
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Surprised that 2 closers went as high as round 3. The great Lenny Melnick always told me to never pay for saves. I think this applies, especially in round 3.
Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ): Closer values seem all over the place, maybe due to strategy considerations. But Clay Holmes in rd14 seems like a gift, I’d much prefer him than the (I fear significantly broken) Chapman just a round or two later. Bednar in rd7 and Jansen in Rd12 also very nice values. And Julio Rodriguez seems a couple of rounds too late… he’s barely scratching the surface right now, SBs prop up his value and if he finds the rest of his game in 2nd half (last31 days are exciting!), look out.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): As expected, lots of overvaluing the first quarter of the season. Just based on a quick look, guys who have had strong starts to the season like Aaron Judge, Manny Machado, and Paul Goldschmidt moved into the first (the first 2 names) or second (the latter name) round and moved up significantly from where they were being drafted before the season. These are all veterans with stable performance projections, so I don’t believe their rest of season forecasts should shift much, if at all, based on what they have already done over a small sample.
Andrea Lamont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): I drafted to put together the best team based on the 2022 stats. I felt like it would be a useful way to take a close look at some players who aren’t well known names but putting up good fantasy stats. I was real pleased with my last pick, Adam Cimber, who I was not familiar with until this draft, and pushed me to number one in the standings. I knew we aren’t playing out the season so I don’t see the reason to use projections instead of current stats.