When this guy is your top pick in a mock draft, it helps a whole lot.
Practice makes perfect—even when it doesn't really count.
With fantasy baseball drafts about to start in earnest over the next few weeks, it's important to prepare for the big day. Reading up on the top-150 players this year is one way to do so, as is checking out the position rankings and some key sleepers.
Nothing, though, beats doing a mock draft. That's when a group of like-minded fantasy baseball folks gather over the Interwebs to participate in a process of player procurement, pick by pick, for practice.
The idea is to simulate a real fantasy baseball draft to get a better understanding of trends in roster construction and players' average draft position (ADP).
The point? To learn something while having some fun.
With all of the above in mind, yours truly joined in on a recent mock draft with a bunch of fellow fantasy baseball writers. What follows is a look at how everything shook out.
Before we get to the picks, here's some background.
This mock draft was held on Feb. 20 via Real Time Fantasy Sports and was set up by Howard Bender, the proprietor of RotoBuzzGuy.com and the strict yet self-deprecating general of his so-called Mock Draft Army, a project created to bring fantasy writers and readers together to get a more genuine sense of ADPs.
Here's a list of the nine fantasy writers who participated, in alphabetical order, as well as their site affiliations and Twitter handles:
- Howard Bender, Rotobuzz Guy, @rotobuzzguy
- Jason Catania, Bleacher Report, @JayCat11
- Tim Heaney, KFFL, @Tim_Heaney
- David Kerr, Fantasy Squads, @AskROTObaseball
- Tony Mauriello, Fantasy Trade, 411 @TheTonyM
- Andrew Miller, The Fantasy Fix, @44AMiller
- Michael Pichan, Fantasy Alarm, @FantasyNomad
- Rodric Richenberg, RotoWire, @rdrcrr
- Nick Shlain, RotoWire, @electricsnuff
And here's a rundown of the six readers who joined in to help keep those of us who do this for a living on our toes:
- Tom G.
- Tyler K.
- Shawn L.
- Mark O.
- Byron T.
- Johnny S.
Now, as for the other information you should know, this mock was set up for a make-believe league that uses standard 5x5 rotisserie scoring: BA, R, HR, RBI, SB for hitters; W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV for pitchers.
There's 23 rounds and no bench, which means everyone starts, so you best not get stuck with a schlub in your lineup or rotation.
The lineup positions are as follows: one each for first base, second base, third base, shortstop, middle infield, corner infield and utility; two catchers (as opposed to the standard one); five outfielders; and nine pitchers of any sort (starters and relievers).
Got all that?
To get a real sense of—and a full look at—the draft, here is the final board laid out in all its majestic, color-coded, 15-team, 23-round entirety. Opening that bad boy up is the best way to follow along as we cover each round along with some analysis.
Oh, and yours truly scored the second overall pick, which couldn't have worked out any better, as you're about to find out.
|Andrew Miller||1||Miguel Cabrera||1B/3B|
|Jason Catania||2||Mike Trout||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||3||Paul Goldschmidt||1B|
|Tyler K.||4||Andrew McCutchen||OF|
|Byron T.||5||Chris Davis||1B|
|Mark O.||6||Hanley Ramirez||SS|
|Tim Heaney||7||Carlos Gonzalez||OF|
|Tom G.||8||Robinson Cano||2B|
|Rodric Richenberg||9||Adam Jones||OF|
|Shawn L.||10||Ryan Braun||OF|
|Michael Pichan||11||Bryce Harper||OF|
|Johnny S.||12||Adrian Beltre||3B|
|David Kerr||13||Troy Tulowitzki||SS|
|Nick Shlain||14||Clayton Kershaw||SP|
|Howard Bender||15||Prince Fielder||1B|
My Pick: Mike Trout, OF
With pick No. 2, I was all set to take whichever of Miguel Cabrera or Trout didn't go first overall. Landing the latter helped cover all five categories with elite production while also filling one of five OF spots. It doesn't get any better than that.
It's hard to be critical of any first-round pick in a mock that is 15 teams deep, because if you don't take a guy you want the first time around, there's no guarantee he'll be there in Round 2. Think of this as the Bryce Harper Rule, which is why Michael Pichan grabbed him at No. 11 rather than risking that he would be gone by No. 20.
That said, I thought Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Gonzalez came off the board a few slots early—I want stability with my top player—and Clayton Kershaw and Prince Fielder look like beauts at the back end of the round.
|Howard Bender||16||Jason Kipnis||2B|
|Nick Shlain||17||Jacoby Ellsbury||OF|
|David Kerr||18||Evan Longoria||3B|
|Johnny S.||19||Joey Votto||1B|
|Michael Pichan||20||Carlos Gomez||OF|
|Shawn L.||21||Buster Posey||C/1B|
|Rodric Richenberg||22||Edwin Encarnacion||1B|
|Tom G.||23||David Wright||3B|
|Tim Heaney||24||Alex Rios||OF|
|Mark O.||25||Dustin Pedroia||2B|
|Byron T.||26||Jose Reyes||SS|
|Tyler K.||27||Yasiel Puig||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||28||Jay Bruce||OF|
|Jason Catania||29||Yu Darvish||SP|
|Andrew Miller||30||Giancarlo Stanton||OF|
My Pick: Yu Darvish, SP
Because the position is so darn deep, I wasn't looking to take a pitcher with my second pick, but we reached the point in the draft at the end of Round 2 where no hitter stood out in particular, and landing a player with the potential for a sub-3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 250 strikeouts was hard to pass up. The only downside to this pick is that it more or less forced me to go all out on bats with my next several selections, as you'll see.
While Evan Longoria, Joey Votto and Carlos Gomez were all strong picks at Nos. 18-20, I can't get behind drafting a catcher this early—even one capable of MVP production, like Buster Posey—since you're paying such a steep price and will lose 10-15 games of production by default.
The other choice that struck me as out of place? Alex Rios at No. 24 overall. I'm not a Rios fan, simply because he's prone to seasons of terribleness (see: 2011, 2009). Even though that's not likely to happen in the Rangers dynamic lineup, there were all sorts of players—even among OFs—that I would have taken ahead of him.
|Andrew Miller||31||Jose Bautista||OF|
|Jason Catania||32||Shin-Soo Choo||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||33||Adam Wainwright||SP|
|Tyler K.||34||Freddie Freeman||1B|
|Byron T.||35||Matt Carpenter||2B/3B|
|Mark O.||36||Justin Upton||OF|
|Tim Heaney||37||Albert Pujols||1B|
|Tom G.||38||Jean Segura||SS|
|Rodric Richenberg||39||Ian Desmond||SS|
|Shawn L.||40||Josh Donaldson||3B|
|Michael Pichan||41||Mark Trumbo||1B/OF|
|Johnny S.||42||Yoenis Cespedes||OF|
|David Kerr||43||Matt Holliday||OF|
|Nick Shlain||44||Hunter Pence||OF|
|Howard Bender||45||David Price||SP|
My Pick: Shin-Soo Choo, OF
With my third pick, I took my second Ranger in a row and second outfielder overall. Choo is a perennial 20-20 achiever who should hit for a solid average and score at least 100 runs batting atop the Rangers order. I briefly debated going with Matt Carpenter instead but felt more confident in Choo's proven ability, and I felt like I was on the right track when Carpenter went only three picks later.
This round was heavy on OFs—seven of 15 picks—so there was a run on the position pretty early. Outfield is deep, but it's not that deep, and if you want at least two studs, you'll need to aim to get them by Round 4 in most drafts.
To me, the pick with the most risk here was Josh Donaldson. I'm just not sure what to expect from him in 2014 after his out-of-nowhere breakout year at age 27, and at No. 40 overall, he basically needs to repeat last year's performance for the price to be worthwhile.
|Howard Bender||46||Madison Bumgarner||SP|
|Nick Shlain||47||Jose Fernandez||SP|
|David Kerr||48||Allen Craig||1B/OF|
|Johnny S.||49||Cliff Lee||SP|
|Michael Pichan||50||Max Scherzer||SP|
|Shawn L.||51||Pedro Alvarez||3B|
|Rodric Richenberg||52||Felix Hernandez||SP|
|Tom G.||53||Justin Verlander||SP|
|Tim Heaney||54||Matt Kemp||OF|
|Mark O.||55||Ryan Zimmerman||3B|
|Byron T.||56||Wil Myers||OF|
|Tyler K.||57||Chris Sale||SP|
|Tony Mauriello||58||Stephen Strasburg||SP|
|Jason Catania||59||Eric Hosmer||1B|
|Andrew Miller||60||Carlos Santana||C/1B(/3B)|
My Pick: Eric Hosmer, 1B
In need of my first non-OF hitter, I found Hosmer to be the most attractive given his breakout potential this season coming off a strong second half in 2013. I also like that he's a high-average hitter with 20-25-homer power who also chips in double-digit steals at first base, a spot where speed is traditionally nonexistent.
Got SPs? Nine of the 15 selections in Round 4 were arms, and admittedly, this is where I felt a bit foolish for taking Darvish so early; I really like all of these starters as SP1s, and this round proved that you can wait a bit and still get a staff anchor.
If memory serves me, Matt Kemp was a mis-pick, but we rolled through, so don't read too much into that one. The other choice I didn't get? Pedro Alvarez at No. 51, which is a heck of a lot of stock to put into hoping for another 35-40 home runs given the low average they're tethered to.
|Andrew Miller||61||Anibal Sanchez||SP|
|Jason Catania||62||Elvis Andrus||SS|
|Tony Mauriello||63||Starling Marte||OF|
|Tyler K.||64||David Ortiz||UTIL|
|Byron T.||65||Adrian Gonzalez||1B|
|Mark O.||66||Joe Mauer||C/1B|
|Tim Heaney||67||Wilin Rosario||C|
|Tom G.||68||Alex Gordon||OF|
|Rodric Richenberg||69||Ian Kinsler||2B|
|Shawn L.||70||Zack Greinke||SP|
|Michael Pichan||71||Craig Kimbrel||RP|
|Johnny S.||72||Gio Gonzalez||SP|
|David Kerr||73||Anthony Rizzo||1B|
|Nick Shlain||74||Yadier Molina||C|
|Howard Bender||75||Jason Heyward||OF|
My Pick: Elvis Andrus, SS
Can you tell I like me some Rangers? Andrus is the third member of that club on my roster and the second offensive player. And while I didn't plan on loading up on Rangers, if there's one team to do so with hitters, it would be Texas. Andrus will be elite in both runs scored and stolen bases, and I got him two rounds after Jean Segura and Ian Desmond, two other high-end SS. That's value.
At No. 71, Craig Kimbrel came off the board a bit later than I would have guessed, which makes him much more palatable at this point. I still think you'll need to grab him by pick No. 50 or so in most drafts, though.
The only take I was less than enthused by here was Alex Gordon. He's fine, but I don't quite get the love for a guy who doesn't excel in any single category. If he were to go .270-18-75 with 80 runs and 10 steals, would that be such a surprise—and would it make you all that happy?
|Howard Bender||76||Kyle Seager||3B|
|Nick Shlain||77||Manny Machado||3B|
|David Kerr||78||Brian McCann||C|
|Johnny S.||79||Jayson Werth||OF|
|Michael Pichan||80||Aroldis Chapman||RP|
|Shawn L.||81||Ben Zobrist||2B/SS/OF|
|Rodric Richenberg||82||Carlos Beltran||OF|
|Tom G.||83||Desmond Jennings||OF|
|Tim Heaney||84||Jose Abreu||1B|
|Mark O.||85||Cole Hamels||SP|
|Byron T.||86||Jonathan Lucroy||C|
|Tyler K.||87||Gerrit Cole||SP|
|Tony Mauriello||88||Brett Lawrie||3B|
|Jason Catania||89||Josh Hamilton||OF|
|Andrew Miller||90||Mike Minor||SP|
My Pick: Josh Hamilton, OF
In my defense, I snatched Hamilton prior to the news of his calf strain that's expected to keep him out for two weeks and could cost him the start of the regular season. Regardless, as long as he can stay relatively healthy (again, that might be asking too much now), I like Hamilton to bounce back. Hey, he can't be worse than he was in 2013—can he?
I particularly liked the Jose Abreu decision. Call it a hunch based on what we've seen from other recent Cuban imports (i.e., Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig), but I think Abreu could explode onto the scene in Year 1.
|Andrew Miller||91||Everth Cabrera||SS|
|Jason Catania||92||Pablo Sandoval||3B|
|Tony Mauriello||93||Salvador Perez||C|
|Tyler K.||94||Domonic Brown||OF|
|Byron T.||95||Martin Prado||2B/3B/OF|
|Mark O.||96||Austin Jackson||OF|
|Tim Heaney||97||Matt Cain||SP|
|Tom G.||98||Curtis Granderson||OF|
|Rodric Richenberg||99||Jose Altuve||2B|
|Shawn L.||100||Jordan Zimmermann||SP|
|Michael Pichan||101||Nolan Arenado||3B|
|Johnny S.||102||Julio Teheran||SP|
|David Kerr||103||Jedd Gyorko||2B|
|Nick Shlain||104||Billy Hamilton||OF|
|Howard Bender||105||Michael Cuddyer||OF|
My Pick: Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Drafting a second injury-prone player in a row probably wasn't so savvy in hindsight, but Panda is a when-he-plays-he-hits type. Because 3B was running thin after Kyle Seager, Manny Machado and Brett Lawrie went in the previous round and I had a need at the position, I went for it. Sandoval is also in better shape this year—a contract year, by the way—and he has been great before.
Even with 3B thinning out, Nolan Arenado was a little too much of a reach for my taste at No. 101. Meanwhile, one pick before that, Jordan Zimmermann is fantastic value as a very strong SP2.
Perhaps the biggest mystery in fantasy baseball this year is Billy Hamilton, who could more or less push his owners to the top of the stolen base category by himself—or be back in Triple-A by June. At this stage, that's a gamble worth taking.
|Howard Bender||106||Greg Holland||RP|
|Nick Shlain||107||Xander Bogaerts||SS|
|David Kerr||108||Mat Latos||SP|
|Johnny S.||109||Billy Butler||UTIL|
|Michael Pichan||110||Mike Napoli||1B|
|Shawn L.||111||Andrelton Simmons||SS|
|Rodric Richenberg||112||Kenley Jansen||RP|
|Tom G.||113||Brandon Belt||1B|
|Tim Heaney||114||Koji Uehara||RP|
|Mark O.||115||Matt Moore||SP|
|Byron T.||116||Homer Bailey||SP|
|Tyler K.||117||Chase Headley||3B|
|Tony Mauriello||118||Jurickson Profar||2B|
|Jason Catania||119||Shelby Miller||SP|
|Andrew Miller||120||Carl Crawford||OF|
My Pick: Shelby Miller, SP
Look, just because the Cardinals forgot about Miller last October doesn't mean fantasy owners shouldn't remember him this March. This is a 23-year-old who dominated to the tune of 15 wins, a 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 169 strikeouts in 173.1 innings—and that was as a rookie. With the reins coming off in Year 2, he's a definite SP2 candidate, which is exactly where he fits in my rotation after I took Darvish all the way back in Round 2.
Had Homer Bailey fallen to me—he went three picks earlier—I would have plucked him over Miller, so I endorse that choice.
I can't say the same for Andrelton Simmons or Carl Crawford, neither of whom are needle-movers in fantasy. At least the former might show 20-homer pop at SS, a position that was running low; the latter might be lucky to top 25 steals, and he plays a position where there were still better options.
|Andrew Miller||121||Alex Cobb||SP|
|Jason Catania||122||Matt Wieters||C|
|Tony Mauriello||123||Joe Nathan||RP|
|Tyler K.||124||Evan Gattis||C/OF|
|Byron T.||125||James Shields||SP|
|Mark O.||126||Jon Lester||SP|
|Tim Heaney||127||Aramis Ramirez||3B|
|Tom G.||128||Kris Medlen||SP|
|Rodric Richenberg||129||Shane Victorino||OF|
|Shawn L.||130||Brandon Phillips||2B|
|Michael Pichan||131||Aaron Hill||2B|
|Johnny S.||132||Howie Kendrick||2B|
|David Kerr||133||Starlin Castro||SS|
|Nick Shlain||134||Leonys Martin||OF|
|Howard Bender||135||Trevor Rosenthal||RP|
My Pick: Matt Wieters, C
If there's one lineup that is nearly as fantasy-friendly as that of the Rangers, it's the Orioles'. This being a two-catcher league, I selected the backstop I saw as the last of the second tier at the position. Wieters has his faults, namely batting average, but if he produces what he normally does in home runs over the past three seasons—22 (2011), 23 (2012), 22 (2013)—he'll add some power to my lineup, which I felt was lacking in that category.
How James Shields and Jon Lester lasted until picks 125 and 126 is a mystery to me, as both are SP2s.
I also felt that Shane Victorino, Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill and Starlin Castro—who were all taken within a five-pick stretch in the second half of Round 9—each presented great value where they were selected.
|Howard Bender||136||Wilson Ramos||C|
|Nick Shlain||137||Doug Fister||SP|
|David Kerr||138||Michael Wacha||SP|
|Johnny S.||139||Alfonso Soriano||OF|
|Michael Pichan||140||Danny Salazar||SP|
|Shawn L.||141||Brandon Moss||1B/OF|
|Rodric Richenberg||142||Hisashi Iwakuma||SP|
|Tom G.||143||Victor Martinez||UTIL|
|Tim Heaney||144||Daniel Murphy||2B|
|Mark O.||145||Dexter Fowler||OF|
|Byron T.||146||Francisco Liriano||SP|
|Tyler K.||147||Jeff Samardzija||SP|
|Tony Mauriello||148||Glen Perkins||RP|
|Jason Catania||149||Chase Utley||2B|
|Andrew Miller||150||J.J. Hardy||SS|
My Pick: Chase Utley, 2B
After Brandon Phillips, Aaron Hill and Howie Kendrick got popped in succession last round, and Daniel Murphy went five picks before mine in this round, I knew I wanted Utley, who I deemed as far and away the best 2B still out there—and frankly, better than some of the aforementioned players. He's old (35) and an injury-risk, but if he can give me 130-140 games, he'll find a way to hit .270-.280 with 15-plus home runs and double-digit steals. To round out my infield, I'll take it.
As we enter the middle rounds of the draft, many of the picks are either need- or upside-based. To that end, I like just about all of these takes, particularly Doug Fister, Michael Wacha, Danny Salazar, Glen Perkins and J.J. Hardy.
If there's one to call out, it would probably be Dexter Fowler, who always seems to show flashes of brilliance before ultimately disappointing his owner.
|Andrew Miller||151||Will Venable||OF|
|Jason Catania||152||Jhonny Peralta||SS|
|Tony Mauriello||153||Hyun-Jin Ryu||SP|
|Tyler K.||154||Anthony Rendon||2B|
|Byron T.||155||Patrick Corbin||SP|
|Mark O.||156||Christian Yelich||OF|
|Tim Heaney||157||Andrew Cashner||SP|
|Tom G.||158||Jed Lowrie||2B/SS|
|Rodric Richenberg||159||Sonny Gray||SP|
|Shawn L.||160||Darin Ruf||1B/OF|
|Michael Pichan||161||Matt Adams||1B|
|Johnny S.||162||Jered Weaver||SP|
|David Kerr||163||Johnny Cueto||SP|
|Nick Shlain||164||Coco Crisp||OF|
|Howard Bender||165||Ben Revere||OF|
My Pick: Jhonny Peralta, SS
In a round with plenty of youngsters who possess upside (i.e. Anthony Rendon, Christian Yelich, Sonny Gray) but are also unproven over full seasons, I went the safe route with Peralta, who provides the added benefit of filling my MI spot and bringing some more power to my lineup. His strong 2013 season was interrupted by the Biogenesis suspension, but he's a great fit in St. Louis, where the lineup should boost his stats.
|Howard Bender||166||Masahiro Tanaka||SP|
|Nick Shlain||167||Michael Brantley||OF|
|David Kerr||168||Sergio Romo||RP|
|Johnny S.||169||Alexei Ramirez||SS|
|Michael Pichan||170||Brad Miller||SS|
|Shawn L.||171||Adam Lind||1B|
|Rodric Richenberg||172||Kendrys Morales||1B|
|Tom G.||173||Norichika Aoki||OF|
|Tim Heaney||174||Asdrubal Cabrera||SS|
|Mark O.||175||CC Sabathia||SP|
|Byron T.||176||Lance Lynn||SP|
|Tyler K.||177||Ryan Howard||1B|
|Tony Mauriello||178||B.J. Upton||OF|
|Jason Catania||179||Mark Teixeira||1B|
|Andrew Miller||180||Justin Masterson||SP|
My Pick: Mark Teixeira, 1B
In hindsight, I should have taken Masahiro Tanaka with my last pick (Peralta), simply because No. 166 seems really, really low for what could be an SP2. Plus, I'd had Tanaka queued up for a few rounds already and just never pulled the trigger.
Instead, I settled for Teixeira, on the hopes that he can have a healthy 2014 and replicate something close to 25 home runs and 80-90 RBI. Again, my search for power continues.
|Andrew Miller||181||Neil Walker||2B|
|Jason Catania||182||Nelson Cruz||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||183||Yan Gomes||C|
|Tyler K.||184||Jimmy Rollins||SS|
|Byron T.||185||C.J. Wilson||SP|
|Mark O.||186||Rafael Soriano||RP|
|Tim Heaney||187||Marco Estrada||SP|
|Tom G.||188||Will Middlebrooks||3B|
|Rodric Richenberg||189||David Robertson||RP|
|Shawn L.||190||Addison Reed||RP|
|Michael Pichan||191||Corey Kluber||SP|
|Johnny S.||192||Miguel Montero||C|
|David Kerr||193||Grant Balfour||RP|
|Nick Shlain||194||Chris Carter||1B/OF|
|Howard Bender||195||Oswaldo Arcia||OF|
My Pick: Nelson Cruz, OF
As I said, I was on a quest for power during this portion of the draft, and Cruz—who actually was still a free agent at the time, which is possibly part of the reason I got him this late—is always a threat for 25-30 home runs. Now that he's an Oriole, he'll also get to keep hitting amid a potent lineup in a hitter-friendly ballpark.
|Howard Bender||196||Todd Frazier||3B|
|Nick Shlain||197||Steve Cishek||RP|
|David Kerr||198||Casey Janssen||RP|
|Johnny S.||199||A.J. Pierzynski||C|
|Michael Pichan||200||Michael Bourn||OF|
|Shawn L.||201||Jason Castro||C|
|Rodric Richenberg||202||Alejandro De Aza||OF|
|Tom G.||203||Ernesto Frieri||RP|
|Tim Heaney||204||Jason Grilli||RP|
|Mark O.||205||Nick Swisher||1B/OF|
|Byron T.||206||Brett Gardner||OF|
|Tyler K.||207||Khris Dvis||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||208||Matt Dominguez||3B|
|Jason Catania||209||Jonathan Papelbon||RP|
|Andrew Miller||210||Justin Morneau||1B|
My Pick: Jonathan Papelbon, RP
I took my first closer, who just so happened to be the fifth one selected in Round 14 alone. Papelbon is not the top-tier stopper he was two or three years ago, but he's still good for 30 saves with a respectable ERA and good WHIP. Even if he's traded midseason, Papelbon is likely to remain in the ninth inning for his new team. I prefer him to the other four RPs that went ahead of him because he still gets it done and has the least chance of losing the gig.
|Andrew Miller||211||Ivan Nova||SP|
|Jason Catania||212||Yovani Gallardo||SP|
|Tony Mauriello||213||Tony Cingrani||SP|
|Tyler K.||214||Jim Johnson||RP|
|Byron T.||215||Michael Pineda||SP|
|Mark O.||216||Nate Jones||RP|
|Tim Heaney||217||R.A. Dickey||SP|
|Tom G.||218||Jarrod Parker||SP|
|Rodric Richenberg||219||Chris Johnson||3B|
|Shawn L.||220||Clay Buchholz||SP|
|Michael Pichan||221||Brandon Beachy||SP|
|Johnny S.||222||Fernando Rodney||RP|
|David Kerr||223||Torii Hunter||OF|
|Nick Shlain||224||Jonathan Villar||SS|
|Howard Bender||225||Alcides Escobar||SS|
My Pick: Yovani Gallardo, SP
I was one of 11 owners to add an arm in this round, so it's pretty clear just how readily available—and how deep—pitching is, especially when you can score a hurler who still has a great shot at 170-plus strikeouts in Gallardo this late. He was shaky in the first half before settling in (3.09 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) over the second half of 2013, and he's also only 28, by the way. I would have liked a better SP3, but I think he can regain that status during certain stretches.
|Howard Bender||226||Hiroki Kuroda||SP|
|Nick Shlain||227||Omar Infante||2B|
|David Kerr||228||Avisail Garcia||OF|
|Johnny S.||229||Huston Street||RP|
|Michael Pichan||230||Brian Dozier||2B|
|Shawn L.||231||Matt Garza||SP|
|Rodric Richenberg||232||Josh Reddick||OF|
|Tom G.||233||George Springer||OF|
|Tim Heaney||234||Kole Calhoun||OF|
|Mark O.||235||Tim Lincecum||SP|
|Byron T.||236||Rex Brothers||RP|
|Tyler K.||237||Taijuan Walker||SP|
|Tony Mauriello||238||Cameron Maybin||OF|
|Jason Catania||239||Chris Tillman||SP|
|Andrew Miller||240||Adam Eaton||OF|
My Pick: Chris Tillman, SP
Tillman pitched a bit over his head and got a little lucky in 2013, but he still won 16 games and sported a 3.71 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and struck out 179 batters over more than 200 innings. Even with regression factored in, there's room for him to approximate those digits, which makes him a solid fourth starter in a league that is—reminder!—15 teams deep.
|Andrew Miller||241||Adam LaRoche||1B|
|Jason Catania||242||Neftali Feliz||RP|
|Tony Mauriello||243||Emilio Bonifacio||2B/OF|
|Tyler K.||244||A.J. Burnett||SP|
|Byron T.||245||Jim Henderson||RP|
|Mark O.||246||Mike Zunino||C|
|Tim Heaney||247||Erick Aybar||SS|
|Tom G.||248||Zack Wheeler||SP|
|Rodric Richenberg||249||Chris Archer||SP|
|Shawn L.||250||A.J. Griffin||RP|
|Michael Pichan||251||Marlon Byrd||OF|
|Johnny S.||252||Danny Farquhar||RP|
|David Kerr||253||Ian Kennedy||SP|
|Nick Shlain||254||Bobby Parnell||RP|
|Howard Bender||255||Josh Johnson||SP|
My Pick: Neftali Feliz, RP
Nothing against Feliz, who is my second closer to help me stay competitive in the saves category, but this was an almost instantaneous case of buyer's remorse. I was eyeing Zack Wheeler, a breakout candidate in his second year, to continue bolstering my rotation, and when I took my eye off him and turned my gaze instead toward Feliz, Wheeler went six slots later.
|Howard Bender||256||Devin Mesoraco||C|
|Nick Shlain||257||Bartolo Colon||SP|
|David Kerr||258||David Freese||3B|
|Johnny S.||259||Mitch Moreland||1B|
|Michael Pichan||260||Welington Castillo||C|
|Shawn L.||261||Edward Mujica||RP|
|Rodric Richenberg||262||Corey Hart||OF|
|Tom G.||263||Scott Kazmir||SP|
|Tim Heaney||264||Carlos Ruiz||C|
|Mark O.||265||Nick Markakis||OF|
|Byron T.||266||Jarrod Saltalamacchia||C|
|Tyler K.||267||Travis d'Arnaud||C|
|Tony Mauriello||268||Zack Cozart||SS|
|Jason Catania||269||Yasmani Grandal||C|
|Andrew Miller||270||Russell Martin||C|
My Pick: Yasmani Grandal, C
I had been hoping that Devin Mesoraco would drop all the way down to my pick—he had been in my queue for a while—but those hopes were dashed as soon as Round 18 started. Good thing was, in a round where five catchers went before I was on the clock, I was still able to land Grandal, who was next on my list after Mesoraco, at the end of the round.
Grandal struggled through a suspension and injury in 2013, but this is a 25-year-old former first-round draft pick with a capable bat from both sides. As my second catcher, it is a worthy gamble to believe that something clicks for him in 2014.
|Andrew Miller||271||Rick Porcello||SP|
|Jason Catania||272||Colby Rasmus||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||273||Cody Allen||RP|
|Tyler K.||274||Stephen Drew||SS|
|Byron T.||275||Junior Lake||OF|
|Mark O.||276||Melky Cabrera||OF|
|Tim Heaney||277||Drew Smyly||SP|
|Tom G.||278||Ricky Nolasco||SP|
|Rodric Richenberg||279||Alex Avila||C|
|Shawn L.||280||Daniel Nava||OF|
|Michael Pichan||281||Dan Haren||SP|
|Johnny S.||282||Ubaldo Jimenez||SP|
|David Kerr||283||Cody Asche||3B|
|Nick Shlain||284||Jose Veras||RP|
|Howard Bender||285||Tommy Hunter||RP|
My Pick: Colby Rasmus, OF
Rasmus may never live up to expectations that were set for him when he was a consensus top-10 prospect several years ago, but he has shown a knack for hitting the ball out of the park. In a year shortened by injury, the 27-year-old smacked 22 homers in only 458 plate appearances in 2013. His batting average could be .275 or .235, but 25 home runs and 70-plus runs and RBI are attainable.
|Howard Bender||286||Alexander Guerrero||2B|
|Nick Shlain||287||Jon Niese||SP|
|David Kerr||288||Peter Bourjos||OF|
|Johnny S.||289||DJ LeMahieu||2B|
|Michael Pichan||290||Nick Castellanos||3B|
|Shawn L.||291||Kelly Johnson||2B/3B/OF|
|Rodric Richenberg||292||Hank Conger||C|
|Tom G.||293||A.J. Ellis||C|
|Tim Heaney||294||Dan Straily||SP|
|Mark O.||295||Nick Franklin||2B|
|Byron T.||296||Dayan Viciedo||OF|
|Tyler K.||297||Mike Morse||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||298||Denard Span||OF|
|Jason Catania||299||John Lackey||SP|
|Andrew Miller||300||Luke Gregerson||RP|
My Pick: John Lackey, SP
Here is more proof that quality starting pitchers can be had very, very late. Heck, even I don't trust the 35-year-old Lackey to stay healthy and/or repeat his comeback-campaign success (3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.7 K/9 in 2013), but at pick No. 299 overall, I'm perfectly OK with giving him a chance.
|Andrew Miller||301||Joaquin Benoit||RP|
|Jason Catania||302||Jose Quintana||SP|
|Tony Mauriello||303||Tyson Ross||SP|
|Tyler K.||304||Alex Wood||SP|
|Byron T.||305||Jose Iglesias||3B/SS|
|Mark O.||306||Mike Moustakas||3B|
|Tim Heaney||307||Angel Pagan||OF|
|Tom G.||308||John Axford||RP|
|Rodric Richenberg||309||Jake Peavy||SP|
|Shawn L.||310||Oscar Taveras||OF|
|Michael Pichan||311||Josmil Pinto||C|
|Johnny S.||312||Mark Melancon||RP|
|David Kerr||313||Ervin Santana||SP|
|Nick Shlain||314||Dillon Gee||SP|
|Howard Bender||315||Carlos Quentin||OF|
My Pick: Jose Quintana, SP
This 25-year-old might have had the best season you didn't hear a lick about last year: 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 164 strikeouts over 200 innings. How often do you find such numbers from someone picked in Round 21?
|Howard Bender||316||Tim Hudson||SP|
|Nick Shlain||317||James Loney||1B|
|David Kerr||318||Wade Miley||SP|
|Johnny S.||319||Chris Denorfia||OF|
|Michael Pichan||320||Felix Doubront||SP|
|Shawn L.||321||Chris Perez||RP|
|Rodric Richenberg||322||Jhoulys Chacin||SP|
|Tom G.||323||Dioner Navarro||C|
|Tim Heaney||324||Yordano Ventura||SP|
|Mark O.||325||Jaime Garcia||SP|
|Byron T.||326||Rajai Davis||OF|
|Tyler K.||327||Al Alburquerque||RP|
|Tony Mauriello||328||Ryan Cook||RP|
|Jason Catania||329||Joakim Soria||RP|
|Andrew Miller||330||Gerardo Parra||OF|
My Pick: Joakim Soria, RP
In MLB, there are 30 teams, so in a fantasy league with 15 teams, basic arithmetic says that each owner should have two closers. Of course, it doesn't all break down quite so neatly, but I figured that between Feliz and Soria, I have the Rangers final three outs locked up. That should help cover my bases by ensuring that, along with Papelbon, I have a realistic shot at 60 saves—enough to keep me at least in the middle of the pack in that category.
|Andrew Miller||331||Hector Santiago||SP|
|Jason Catania||332||Andre Ethier||OF|
|Tony Mauriello||333||Eric Young Jr.||OF|
|Tyler K.||334||Wily Peralta||SP|
|Byron T.||335||Jackie Bradley Jr.||OF|
|Mark O.||336||Tyler Skaggs||SP|
|Tim Heaney||337||A.J. Pollock||OF|
|Tom G.||338||LaTroy Hawkins||RP|
|Rodric RichenbergS||339||Kyle Lohse||SP|
|Shawn L.||340||Travis Wood||SP|
|Michael Pichan||341||Brandon Morrow||SP|
|Johnny S.||342||Jose Tabata||OF|
|David Kerr||343||John Jaso||C|
|Nick Shlain||344||Ryan Doumit||C/OF|
|Howard Bender||345||Brian Roberts||2B|
My Pick: Andre Ethier, OF
With Matt Kemp's recovery taking forever after he's undergone about 14 surgical procedures in the past two years (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating—but only a bit), I'm betting that Ethier sees plenty of playing time in center for a very deep Dodgers lineup. Of course, he could also be traded, which would give him a clearer path toward producing his usual .270-.280 average with homers in the mid-teens and sufficient totals in both runs and RBI. Having him as my utility player won't hurt and just might help.
The strongest aspect of my team is unquestionably my outfield, headed by my top-two position player picks in Trout and Choo. If Hamilton can get and stay healthy enough to make amends for a brutal 2013, then this group will do damage, particularly with 25-homer threats Cruz and Rasmus in the OF4 and OF5 spots.
There's also quite a lot of stolen-base potential, what with Trout, Andrus, Choo and Hosmer likely to be above-average in the category for their respective positions, and with Utley capable of chipping in 10-15, too.
On the pitching side, strikeouts should be easy to come by, thanks to Darvish and his 225-250 or so at the top, along with a likely 170-plus from Miller and perhaps one or two of Gallardo, Tillman, Lackey and/or Quintana. Even if those last four fall short of that mark, they all should reach 150 as long as they make most of their starts.
The most glaring problem? Injury issues. Rostering hitters like Utley, Sandoval, Teixeira, Hamilton and Cruz, as well as arms like Feliz, Lackey and Soria, is putting a lot of faith in their ability to ward off the DL this season, at least for extended periods.
That concern is bound to come with the territory when you go after proven players coming off rough seasons due to injury, which isn't a bad approach for unearthing value in a draft, as long as a few of them return to form. For example, imagine how much better my infield will look if Teixeira cracks the back end of the top-10 1Bs or if Sandoval pushes his way near the top-five 3Bs. Both are possible, but even just one happening would be a big lift.
If I were to consider potential trades in the near future, I'd likely be looking to boost the front of my rotation by obtaining another starter to fit in with Miller as an SP2/SP3 and push everyone else down a notch. Given my numerous bounce-back candidates on offense, I'd imagine that once one or two of those prove they are again back on the map, that would help with such an acquisition.
Best Players Who Weren't Drafted
To finish up, here's a brief batch of players I considered picking over the final few rounds but never pulled the trigger on—and neither did anyone else: Adam Dunn, 1B; Justin Smoak, 1B; Kolten Wong, 2B; Dan Uggla, 2B; Dustin Ackley, 2B; Matt Davidson, 3B; Derek Jeter, SS; Chris Owings, SS; Josh Willingham, OF; Ryan Ludwick, OF; Nate Schierholtz, OF; Matt Joyce, OF; Raul Ibanez; OF; Martin Perez, SP; Alexi Ogando, SP; Brett Anderson, SP; Tyler Clippard, RP; Jordan Walden, RP; and Carlos Martinez, RP.
Are you surprised to see any of those names going undrafted? And which of my draft picks do you like/dislike the most? Where would you have made a different choice along the way? Let me know in the comments section.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11