Having worked my way through a good ten mocks now, I am getting a pretty good feel for both the player pool this year, as well as how others view player value.
Mind you, I am not talking ADP here, although I suppose folks who draft using ADP in my mocks do tend to draft Chris Davis in the fifth or sixth round, every time.
But, rather than thinking of this in terms of ADP, I prefer to use the exercise as a test to try different drafting schemes, but also to get a gauge of how the rest of the players value guys I like. Certainly by this time there are a handful of players from both leagues that I think will turn a profit at a moderate price while my fellow drafters feel differently, so I am getting an idea about when I can get players, and even validating what I think they should cost in an auction format.
So far, though, I have noticed a collection of players that always seem to fall to the bottom rounds, and in 12-team formats, sometimes these guys are not taken at all. So, the question now--at least to me--becomes is this a mistake or not?
Well, let's look at a few of them:
Tim Lincecum: Timmy has now had three years in a row that were as bad as the three prior were good. Lincecum's name has not been uttered in any mock, anywhere, and truth is that probably makes sense. In fact, save an NL-only format, with a reserve list, he is an afterthought. By the way, Matt Cain has similarly been ignored in 12-team mocks, as has Ryan Vogelsong, as long as we are picking on the Giants.
As an additional thought--and as something I have noted before, I saw a lot of pitches thrown by Cain and Lincecum over the past six years, and the reality to me is hitters have adjusted to them, but not the inverse. More than that, neither pitcher looks confident when an at-bat is on the line. Whereas a few years ago, with a 3-2 count and a couple on, and a pair of outs, both Tim and Matt would bear down and challenge, I just don't see "put away" in the eyes or look of either pitcher. I do hope they get their mojo back, but for now if someone is going to gamble, let it be someone else.
Mark Buehrle: I write this every year. Talk about no respect, like Lincecum, Buehrle has not been whispered anywhere. It is true the southpaw doesn't strike out a lot of batters, but, he is as dependable as they come as a fifth or sixth starter. Over his 15-year career, Buehrle averages 13 wins, a 3.71 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP over 31 starts and 202.3 frames. It is true his mean whiffs are just 125, but Buehrle is stable like just about no other arm.
Chris Tillman: Todd and I got Tillman on our FSTA squad (15-team, 29 player roster), grabbing him in the 26th round. I drafted the Oriole in a 15-team mock Thursday in the 19th round, and maybe owners are disappointed after Tillman won 16 games in 2013. Truth is, in many ways, Tillman's 2014 was better, as he lowered his ERA (from 3.71 to 3.34), even though his wins were down (by three) and whiffs (by 29) over one fewer inning. Much of this is rooted in the 7-5, 4.11, 1.394 mark Tillman had over 118.3 first half innings, but for the second half, he was 6-1, 2.33, with a 1.011 WHIP over 89 frames. And, he is still just 27. Load up atop your rotation, and flesh it out with Tillman and Buehrle, and I suspect you will not regret it.
Joe Panik: The Giants second sacker has not been selected in any mock as of yet, 12-team, or 15-team. Again, Todd and I got him as a late selection in the FSTA (pick #24) which is rugged for a kid who hit .305-1-18 with 31 runs over half a season, first time through. Panik will play every day, and though he will not give a lot of power, he can hit 35 doubles for he is a line drive hitter. And, should you be in a deeper format, and need some average to offset Chris Carter or Lucas Duda, Panik is a great choice.
Marcus Semien: Same as Panik. For some reason, the Bay Area middle infielders get little or no respect, for Brett Lawrie, Jed Lowrie (OK, he is a former Athletic), Panik and Semien got no mention by anyone but me over the past three weeks. Semien will be the starting shortstop in Oakland, and I am betting that going out every day, knowing he will get the nod will stabilize him into a .270-14-65-15 middle infielder. That is pretty good.
Fernando Rodney: Even in the 15-team mocks I have done, Rodney has gone undrafted. In my 12-team leagues, Rodney has been a late choice along with Joe Nathan, which is just crazy. Both are the closers, and between them they saved 83 games last year. Yet, folks would rather gamble on Ken Giles? Fine with me.
Brandon Belt/Eric Hosmer: Both are being drafted around the 15th or 16th round of 12-team leagues, as a corner (I got Belt in the 13th of a 15-team), which might jibe with the disappointment both have generated after dangling all that promise before us. Belt, now 27, was hurt much of last year, and Hosmer simply disappointed, at least until the postseason (note he is 26). I think they will both come into their own this year.