Name one situation in life where it’s OK to be unprepared.
If you’re stumped by this question, I bet you haven’t participated in a slow mock draft. Every season, I kick off the fantasy baseball draft prep process by participating in at least one of these, and I’ve always found them to be quite helpful. Yeah, yeah, yeah, each draft has its own unique element, but it’s always nice to get an idea as to which “sleepers” aren’t really sleepers since everyone else knows that they’re sleepers which actually might make them a bit overvalued which actually might make the non-sleepers a bit undervalued, well, you get the gist.
But, let’s get back to the whole unprepared thing. The beauty of the slow mock draft is that you can actually do some thorough research in between your picks. Better yet, you can even do some research while you’re “on the clock.” You might drive your fellow owners crazy by doing this, but hey, it’s within the rules. Think of it as an untimed open-book test. What’s not to like?
So, as promised last week, here are the full results of our recently completed 15-team mixed league slow mock draft. While we are at it, let’s run through each of my 23 picks.
1.12 Prince Fielder (1B): I was a little surprised to see Prince fall this far but Joe Sheehan’s aggressive Buster Posey selection at 1.10 combined with Jason Collette’s decision to snag Giancarlo Stanton enabled me to draft Fielder, who in light of the Ryan Braun hoopla, is arguably the safest fantasy option outside of Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano. Prince’s late-season power surge gives me confidence that he’ll hit more than 30 home runs this year, and if you’re looking for durability, Fielder is your guy. He’s missed a combined 13 games over his seven full big league seasons.
2.4 Justin Upton (OF1): I’m pouncing on J-Up if I can get him at any sort of discount. To me, 19th pick is a discount. How many other 25-year-olds can be labeled enormous busts after batting .280 with 17 homers, 18 steals and 107 runs scored while battling a nagging thumb injury?
3.12 Matt Holliday (OF2): Holliday vs. Jay Bruce was a toss-up but I opted for the dependable, high average hitter over the budding young star who could hit 40 homers but might bat .250. Remember that average is an underrated category, but Holliday does come with some health concerns, so a strong case can be made for Bruce. And guess who was taken with the next pick? Yep, Jay Bruce.
4.4 Jimmy Rollins (SS): My first reach of the draft, but when you pick near the wheel, reaches are inevitable. J-Roll has been a favorite of mine over the years but I understand why many are skeptical about him for 2013. He’s getting old, the AVG is nothing special and maybe he’ll run a little less now. But give me a shortstop who can very realistically hit 18-20 homers, steal 25-30 bases and score 100-plus runs and I’ll gladly take him. I was considering Ian Desmond here but figured that Rollins was a little safer, and there was no way he would be around for my next turn.
5.12 Ian Desmond (MI): Now this wasn’t planned at all. The fact that Desmond was still available at this point means that Rollins probably would’ve still been available which means that I probably would’ve been better off drafting Ben Zobrist or even Craig Kimbrel at 4.4. Oh well. I liked the idea of taking another power/speed contributor here and love the Rollins/Desmond MI duo.
6.4 Jonathan Papelbon (CL1): I always try to get one closer from the elite group and since I wasn’t going to pick again for awhile, I felt that now was the time to grab the Phillies’ stopper.
7.12 Desmond Jennings (OF3): One of my favorite picks of the entire draft. The batting average might be mediocre but we’re talking about 15-20 homers, 35-40 steals and 90-100 runs. I was shocked that he was still around at this stage, and the Upton/Holliday/Jennings OF trio looks awfully good, at least on paper.
8.4 Dan Haren (SP1): I probably could have waited another round for Haren, but it was time to draft my first SP and I’m very high on him as a bounce back candidate. He was one of the few pitchers still on the board who offered ace-level upside.
9.12 Hiroki Kuroda (SP2): Proved last year that he can succeed in the AL East. More like a #3 than a #2 as there’s no guarantee he can duplicate last season’s 167 K’s, but he’s a pretty safe bet to again put up quality ratios.
10.4 Will Middlebrooks (3B): The 3B position is very deep this year and I had targeted Middlebrooks as a player who I’d be content with at this point in the draft. Give me a choice between Headley in the 4th, Sandoval in the 5th or Middlebrooks in the 10th and I’ll choose Middlebrooks every time.
11.12 Dan Uggla (2B): Needed a starting second baseman badly and no other available keyston guy offered the same level of upside as Uggla. There’s a chance he will be just as disappointing in 2013 as he was in 2012, but there’s also a chance he will bat .250 with 30 homers. That would be nice!
12.4 Anibal Sanchez (SP3): Move to AL didn’t phase him. A solid mid-rotation SP who doesn’t come with a whole lot of risk. The other offenses in the AL Central aren’t great and he’ll be pitching in a favorable ballpark.
13.12 Huston Street (CL2): The most reliable closer still available. If only he can stay healthy.
14.4 Ryan Doumit (C1): Not expecting 18 homers again but still an above average fantasy backstop who won’t be catching every day. And that’s always a plus.
15.12 Jason Kubel (OF4): Much like Rollins, he’s a longtime personal favorite as he always seems to be underrated. After a stellar start to 2012, Kubel fell off a cliff in the second half. But take a look at the end of season numbers and they’re good enough for a #3 OF in a deep mixed league. And I have him as my #4.
16.4 Shaun Marcum (SP4): Injury risk but the reward is substantial. Marcum will have the benefit of pitching his home games at spacious Citi Field and I love to target starting pitchers with consistently low walk rates.
17.12 Edwin Jackson (SP5): A couple of disastrous September outings ballooned his final ERA to 4.03, but otherwise E-Jax was fairly consistent last year. I needed to add more depth to my staff and Jackson, Beckett and Hughes were the three most attractive starters still out there. I don’t trust Beckett and picking Jackson over Hughes was basically an NL Central vs. AL East decision.
18.4 Brandon Belt (CI): Not an ideal starting CI but taking Adam Dunn was out of the question with one average killer, Dan Uggla, already on my roster. I thought about Yonder Alonso here but figured that Belt had the higher ceiling.
19.12 Jon Jay (OF5): Jay adds a little more speed to my squad while helping out in batting average. A solid fifth outfielder.
20.4 Cody Ross (UTIL): It’s a little weird to own both Kubel and Ross but the Justin Upton trade opens the door for Ross to get everyday at-bats and I’ll be targeting him as a cheap source of power. Playing half of his games at Chase Field, 25 homers shouldn’t be a problem.
21.12 Frank Francisco (CL3): Note that the pick was made prior to Francisco’s latest injury setback. This could turn out to be a waste, as I wouldn’t be surprised if Bobby Parnell opens the season as the Mets’ closer and never looks back.
22.4 Chris Iannetta (C2): Iannetta heads into the season as the clear-cut starting backstop for the Halos and offers 20-homer potential, albeit with a woeful batting average.
23.12 Johan Santana (SP6): Remember when he was a first-rounder? Hopefully, he can rebound from whatever went wrong immediately following that no-hitter.
I came into this slow mock draft completely unprepared. I came out of it completely prepared…prepared to do more studying.