Mock drafts are supposed to be a time for experimentation. At least that’s what I’m told. But more often than not, I don’t listen, instead opting to treat mocks like the real thing. After all, isn’t that the best way to be prepared? Perhaps, but trying out different strategies isn’t a bad idea either, as you want to be ready to calmly take a detour if necessary. I really need to take a more spontaneous approach. Maybe next time.
Wait, where was I? Oh, well, we’re past the halfway point of the 23-round draft and there are plenty of players still on the board who, according to the rankings in The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014 Professional Edition (worth the purchase, by the way), should not be. Let’s take a look at some of these guys.
Erick Aybar (SS Rank: 11)
I know Aybar is a favorite of fellow Mastersballer Lawr Michaels, and who knows, maybe Erick will eventually find his way on Lawr’s roster. Coming off a down year that saw his batting average drop by 19 points and his OPS fall by 57 points but his K/BB ratio remain virtually the same, Aybar is an attractive low cost option in deeper mixed leagues should you choose to wait on filling your starting shortstop slot. The 30-year-old will contribute enough in the average, runs and steals departments to deliver a positive return on your mid-round investment.
Michael Brantley (OF Rank: 25)
There’s nothing spectacular about Brantley’s career stat line, but he does everything well enough to carry a decent amount of fantasy value. The analysis on Brantley in the magazine cites his potential to improve across the board as he’s still only 26 years of age, and that might be true. But I want a lot more out of my #2 OF than 12 homers, 20 steals and a .285 average, and that’s factoring in some improvement. I’ll have to side with the mockers on this one. I won’t be considering Brantley for at least another few rounds. I’ve got more important areas of need.
Nelson Cruz (OF Rank: 31)
The high probability that Cruz will not be a Ranger in 2014 no doubt has something to do with him still being available, as he will no longer benefit from an extreme hitter’s park. But I consider Cruz the kind of player that has “anywhere power.” He actually hit more home runs on the road than at home last season, and if not for the PED suspension, could have set a career high in homers. I’d be thrilled to own Cruz as my #3 OF and would have already drafted him had I not taken Alfonso Soriano in the 11th round.
Clay Buchholz (SP Rank: 31)
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Buchholz. Too injury-prone, not enough strikeouts and too inconsistent from year to year. But, even I have to give him credit for last season’s much improved 7.98 K/9 rate to go along with the 1.74 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, even if it covered only 16 starts. One of these days, I might change my tune on Buchholz, as for the most part, he’s pitched extremely well when healthy, but I’m not at that point yet. From a pure stats perspective, Buchholz should have been drafted a long time ago, but clearly I’m not the only one who is down on Clay.
Scott Kazmir (SP Rank: 38)
This one is simple. Kazmir is ranked too high in the magazine. Yeah, he’s fresh off a major resurrection in 2013 and Oakland is surely a favorable landing spot for him, but he still allowed more than a hit per inning last season and continued to have trouble keeping his pitch count at a reasonable level, making it through seven innings in just five of his 29 starts. The strikeouts are nice, but they come at a significant downside considering his recent track record, both on-field related and health related. #3 SP in a 15-teamer? I don’t think so. When will Kazmir get taken in this mock? I have no idea. But I’m staying far away.
Even though mock drafts are supposed to be a time for experimentation.