Here I was kind of looking forward to a short hiatus from the world of fantasy baseball. Those six months, or really eight months when adding in the draft prep period, are so intense that by the time it’s all over I’m more than ready for the season to be over, that is until about mid-January when I can’t wait for it to start again. In fact, I’ve never even done a mock draft before mid-January.
Maybe I take mock drafts a bit too seriously, but I just wasn’t ready. Well, this year I decided to break my rule after being invited by Derek VanRiper of Roto Sports Inc. to take part in an NFBC style expert mock. 15 teams, 30-man rosters, hey why not? Then when I learned that fellow Mastersballer Lawr Michaels would be a participant, well, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse! This would be the deepest mock draft I’ve ever been a part of, and by far the earliest. So what did I do to prepare?
I printed out a set of rankings just to have the names in front of me on one page. In a 450-player draft, this was a must. My strategy? Nothing too complicated. I’d follow a best available player approach while paying attention to position scarcity. I know a lot of people like to try out radical strategies in mock drafts, but for the most part I’m not one of them, particularly this early in the offseason. An added twist in a November draft is the free agent factor. With a number of high-impact players destined to change teams, it’s tougher to predict their 2012 performance level, so I was forced to ignore this altogether. I chose the #6 draft position as I generally prefer to be in the middle rather than having to constantly reach for players, but in retrospect I’m now thinking that the more teams in the league, the more it pays off to be at the wheel as you’re more likely to get the players you really want. Scroll further down for my thoughts on the first 15 rounds, and see Mock Draft Central for the full draft.
Best Value: Hanley Ramirez – Round 2 (Overall Pick #16)
My season-long frustration with Hanley has been well-documented, but 16th overall is outstanding value for a 27-year-old five-category shortstop. I can’t help but think that injuries played a major role in Ramirez’s nightmare 2011 season and am willing to give him another chance.
Biggest Reach: Carlos Santana – Round 2 (Overall Pick #29)
I get it, Carlos carries loads of upside, but 29th pick is an awfully high price to pay for a guy with barely over a year of big league experience under his belt. The 27 homers were great but he hit .239. .239! Perhaps even more telling, Brian McCann went 17 picks later.
Best Value: Jose Valverde – Round 10 (Overall Pick #149)
I know that many owners subscribe to the “Wait to draft your closers” theory, but I was shocked that Valverde was available here. Sure, he makes the ninth inning quite interesting at times but almost always gets the job done. Oh yeah, he’s coming off a season in which he converted all 49 of his save chances.
Biggest Reach: Logan Morrison – Round 7 (Overall Pick #94)
Plenty of candidates here but I’ll go with Morrison, who hit for a lousy average last year while displaying a lot more pop than he did in the Minors. Even if he bats .275 with 25 homers over a full 2012 season, this would be a so-so pick.
Best Value: Adam Wainwright – Round 13 (Overall Pick #184)
A risk well worth taking. All reports say that Wainwright will be 100 percent by the start of spring training, and while he might not return to ace form immediately, at this price the reward is huge.
Biggest Reach: Chase Headley – Round 12 (Overall Pick #166)
It’s really hard to criticize any pick at this stage of the draft but this seemed a bit too early for Headley, who offers minimal power at a position where you’d like to get 20 or so homers.
All in all, I think I did a decent job in this ultra-challenging mock draft. I’m not overly thrilled, but then again I’m rarely satisfied with my early mock draft teams, so this shouldn’t come as a shock.
My Favorite Pick: Jeremy Hellickson (Round 10)
The kid’s for real. Just check out the stats, which look even better when we consider that he pitches in the AL East. The strikeout rate was surprisingly low but the 24-year-old has plenty of time to improve in that area.
My Least Favorite Pick: Aramis Ramirez (Round 4)
I was focused on addressing the somewhat weak 3B position with this pick but probably should’ve waited a round and taken Brett Lawrie. A-Ram is old and injury-prone and a move away from the Friendly Confines will only hurt his overall value.
OK, there you have it. I’m officially done with mock drafts until 2012…I think.