Fantasy Baseball 2022 Mock Draft: Cheatsheet for 12-Team Format
Major League Baseball's abbreviated spring training is going to make things difficult on fantasy players heading into the draft.
Pitching, in particular, could be a significant problem. Some teams have spoken openly about their concerns with having to ramp up their starters for the regular season on a shortened schedule.
This bodes well for hitters, especially early in the season. Since teams are more likely to be reliant on middle relievers to cover a lot of innings, there could be plenty of opportunities for mid-tier position players to perform at levels above their usual skill sets.
As you get set for your fantasy draft, here is a 12-team mock draft cheatsheet to help you prepare for what's going to happen.
2022 1st-Round Fantasy Mock Draft
1. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels
2. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays
4. Trea Turner, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Guardians
6. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
7. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Corbin Burnes, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
10. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
12. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
1. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
2. Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
4. Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians
6. Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
7. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
8. Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
9. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
10. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
11. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
12. Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
13. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
14. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
15. Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros
16. Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
17. Ozzie Albies, Atlanta
18. Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals
19. Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks
20. Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
21. Matt Olson, Atlanta
22. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
23. Pete Alonso, New York Mets
24. Corey Seager, Texas Rangers
25. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
The top three position players should be set in stone. Shohei Ohtani's combined value as a hitter and pitcher makes him the top player on the board. The reigning American League MVP ranked fifth in MLB in fantasy points last season (568.5), per CBS Sports.
Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are in a close race for the No. 2 spot. Soto gets an edge only because he has a longer track record of dominance. His worst OPS in a season was .923 in 2018, when he was a 19-year-old rookie.
At 22, Guerrero established himself as a superstar last year. He led the AL in on-base percentage (.401), slugging percentage (.601) and tied for the MLB lead in homers (48).
Toronto's lineup gives Guerrero an opportunity for more RBI than Washington's will give Soto, but the latter's ability to get on base should allow him to surpass the 100-runs-scored total for the third time in the past four seasons.
One name not included on this top-25 list is Fernando Tatis Jr. The San Diego Padres superstar could miss up to three months after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured wrist he suffered during the offseason.
Potentially sitting out half of the season significantly affects Tatis' overall value, but if any player in MLB is capable of catching fire for 75-80 games, it's him. The two-time Silver Slugger winner had 17 homers and 45 RBI in 59 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
If Tatis is still on the board in the sixth or seventh round, that would be tremendous value for you to draft him at that point.
1. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
2. Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers
3. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
4. Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Max Scherzer, New York Mets
6. Brandon Woodruff, Milwaukee Brewers
7. Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
8. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
9. Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians
10. Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins
11. Julio Urias, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
13. Robbie Ray, Seattle Mariners
14. Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers
15. Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies
16. Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays
17. Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds
18. Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox
19. Jose Berrios, Toronto Blue Jays
20. Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants
21. Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
22. Max Fried, Atlanta
23. Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres
24. Charlie Morton, Atlanta
25. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
In a volatile pitching market, Gerrit Cole remains the gold standard for all starters in both reality and the fantasy world. The New York Yankees ace has a 2.85 ERA, 0.988 WHIP and 939 strikeouts in 667 innings since the start of 2018.
Cole dealt with a hamstring injury late last season, but it didn't result in a stint on the injured list. However, he did struggle down the stretch with a 7.64 ERA over his final three starts of the regular season.
Since it was a hamstring issue, as opposed to something related to his pitching arm, there's no reason to be concerned about Cole. He's going to be on the shortlist of best pitchers in MLB this season.
Corbin Burnes is the safest bet to be the No. 1 pitcher in the NL this season. The right-hander has a 2.34 ERA. 0.96 WHIP and averages 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 40 appearances since the start of 2020.
Walker Buehler is a close second among NL starters behind Burnes. He hasn't been quite as dominant as the Milwaukee Brewers ace over the past two years, but there's no reason to scoff at a 2.62 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 41 starts since 2020.
There are some injury issues to keep an eye on before draft time. St. Louis Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty told reporters Sunday he had been diagnosed with bursitis and had a pre-existing superior labrum anterior posterior tear in his right labrum.
Flaherty won't throw for two weeks and is going to begin the season on the injured list. Until it becomes clear that he will be able to pitch in games, it's hard to invest a draft pick in the 26-year-old right-hander.
Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler was able to throw a bullpen session of 35 pitches Sunday after missing time with an illness. He told reporters that he's "a little bit behind" where he would normally be for the start of the season, but is "on a good path now."
The good news is that Wheeler's first bullpen of the spring went well after he experienced shoulder soreness in December while going through his offseason throwing program.
There doesn't seem to be any concern about Wheeler heading into the season. He may not pitch on Opening Day, but as long as he makes it through camp without issue, the Phillies should be able to get him out there at some point during the first week of the regular season.
1. Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
2. Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians
3. Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
4. Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays
5. Raisel Iglesias, Los Angeles Angels
6. Edwin Diaz, New York Mets
7. Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
8. Blake Treinen, Los Angeles Dodgers
9. Ryan Pressly, Houston Astros
10. Kenley Jansen, Atlanta
11. Corey Knebel, Philadelphia Phillies
12. Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals
13. Craig Kimbrel, Chicago White Sox
14. Taylor Rogers, Minnesota Twins
15. Mark Melancon, Arizona Diamondbacks
After a pedestrian 2020 season with a 3.79 ERA, albeit in only 19 innings, Josh Hader had an excellent return to form last year. He posted a career-low 1.23 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 58.2 innings.
The Brewers changed how they used Hader by often limiting him to one inning per appearance—he averaged less than one inning per game played in 2021 (58.2 innings in 60 appearances).
This seems to be how the team will use Hader going forward. Manager Craig Counsell announced before the start of last year's playoffs that he wouldn't increase his closer's usage, even though the Brewers lost Devin Williams to a fractured hand.
Sure enough, Hader only pitched one inning in each of his two appearances against Atlanta in the NLDS.
Pitching just one inning at a time limits Hader's upside compared to when he was throwing 75-80 innings in 2018-19, but he's been so consistently dominant over the course of his career that it doesn't prevent him from being the No. 1 fantasy reliever going into 2022.
In the No. 2 spot, Emmanuel Clase is slightly ahead of Liam Hendriks only because of age.
Hendriks is 33 with 603 innings between the regular season and playoffs under his belt. He does seem to be getting better with age, with the Chicago White Sox closer having the highest average fastball velocity of his career (97.7 mph) in 2021, per FanGraphs.
But Hendriks is also coming off a season in which he posted the lowest batting average on balls in play of his career (.252). His home run-to-fly-ball ratio (15.1 percent) was the highest of his career.
Given the volatile nature of relief pitching, Hendriks' age and some of his underlying stats, it will be difficult for him to have another year like the 2.54 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 113 strikeouts in 71 innings campaign he enjoyed in 2021.
Clase, on the other hand, is only 24 and is starting to come into his own. The right-hander is not a strikeout machine yet (74 in 69.2 innings last season), though he did have the highest average fastball velocity of any reliever in MLB (100.3 mph), per FanGraphs.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona had Clase and James Karinchak split closing duties early last season. Clase won the job based on his performance, and Karinchak imploded in the second half (7.88 ERA).
Clase will start this season as the team's full-time closer. Cleveland is good enough to be competitive and win games that will give him plenty of save opportunities.
There's no wrong way to approach things with Clase or Hendriks in the draft. It's just easier to prefer the younger player with less mileage on his arm.