Mock Draft: Experiment #4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Saturday, 28 February 2015 12:45

Rules: Snake, 12 teams, NL-only, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

After several dozen mixed league mock drafts, Fantasy Alarm’s Mock Draft Army held National League and American League only mocks this week. See the nearby article by Lawr on the same topic. Single league drafts are tough, especially NL ones. NL does not have a sufficient number of hitters with a full-time job to fill a team roster. At least AL has the DH. Not so in NL.

In my opinion, the issue of playing time is an important one. No at-bats, no points. It’s as a simple as that. You must avoid being stuck with the reserves in the last rounds. But that’s easier said than done. Sure, you could pounce on those free agents who pop up along the season. There is plenty of pitching turn-over to draft with that in mind, but getting home runs is much harder.

What’s one to do? One solution is to have your real draft as close as possible to the beginning of the season when position battles are mostly resolved. That still does not solve the main problem. With 12 teams, each with 23 players, a lineup requiring two catchers and, if you choose so, three closers, problems abound.

It turns out that the key preparation for an NL-only league is the end game. I know, it is much less fun than dreaming about the top tier players. Experts keep reminding us that we lose with an injury to the first pick and that we win with the bottom portion of the draft. NL-only leagues help you prepare for the later rounds. You ought to know, say, who is going to have more at-bats, Chris Coghlan or Chris Denorfia? Is there a fourth outfielder lurking in the dugout ready to take over a full-time job? Where will injuries strike? How to do that?

I suggest starting with MLB team’s active rosters. Follow by consulting Mastersball’s Color Coded Tiers spreadsheet. This spreadsheet, ideally intended for auctions, distinguishes players with a positive dollar value from the players who are marked as reserves. End by prioritizing the players based on the AB at-bats ( column F) and NL 5x5 (column AA) of the Hitters and Pitchers Projections spreadsheets even if your draft uses the snake method.

Here are a few additional items to consider:

  • Catchers: Will you pick two primary catchers, one primary and one backup, or refuse to pay for the catchers and select two back-ups at the end of the draft? I go with a primary/back-up strategy meaning that I must be prepared to know who the potentially valid secondary catchers are.
  • Closers: Same considerations. I like to anchor my team with one top tier closer and draft the remaining two at the very end, that is, in Rounds 22 and 23. I figured that by doing so I have solved the dilemma of the last rounds when others pick from the bottom of the pile.

It did not work in this particular mock draft. By Round 17, it was already slim pickings. See the draft result HERE. I had the first pick. Is Travis Ishikawa going to help my team? I doubt it.

I must say that this mock draft was an excellent preparation tool for the CBS Analyst NL-only auction league. My goal was; a) do not exceed Color Coded Tiers by more than $1, b) get one top tier closer and c) have enough money to avoid being stuck with $1 part-time players at the end of the draft. My highest paid player is Craig Kimbrel at $25. It worked as far as we can tell this early in the season. What do you think? Check out the league HERE.

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 March 2015 14:01
Mock Draft: Experiment #3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 18:48

Mock Draft held on 2/9

Rules: Auction, 12 teams, mixed league, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

I prefer auction to snake draft. When this opportunity from Rotoworld came, I accepted the invitation immediately. Auction mock drafts are few and far between, probably because they are time consuming and the auction software is complex. If you have never drafted via auction, a mock would be a great way to start. Do not worry about running out of money. Auction draft software will not let you; $1 is dedicated to each undrafted slot.

Strategy: Never pay more than $30 for any one player; have a 75%/25% ratio hitters/pitchers budget.

   That said, I was willing to go up to $45 for Mike Trout; he went for $50. Never mind Trout. However, while $50 may seem too much to me, getting a star like Trout at any price may be a valid strategy. In a league with 12 teams and a full complement of players to draw from, the end of the draft is going to have bargains, that is, players who could be picked up for $1 or $2.

Objective: verify conclusions reached by participating in other mock drafts. That is, spend maximum money on a top C, SS, 1B and 3B and one or two OFs. The lack of top tier CI guys was confirmed by Todd and Lawr when they picked Anthony Rizzo at FSTA (see their article on the topic). Spending 25% of the budget on pitching may seem excessive in a 12-team league, but you do not want to be left picking up from the bottom of the pile and end up ruining your team’s ERA and WHIP.

My team:

C - Buster Posey - $30

C - Carlos Ruiz - $1

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $20

2B - Aaron Hill - $1

3B - Adrian Beltre - $30

SS - Ian Desmond - $26

CI - Mark Teixeira - $2

MI - Erick Aybar - $5

OF - Jacoby Ellsbury - $24

OF - George Springer - $26

OF - Nelson Cruz - $15

OF - Coco Crisp - $4

OF – Khris Davis - $5

U - Chris Carter - $4

P - Jeff Samardzija - $14

P - Carlos Carrasco - $9

P - Trevor Rosenthal - $6

P - Cody Allen - $7

P - Cliff Lee  - $8

P - Anibal Sanchez - $7

P - Jacob deGrom - $7

P - Tyler Clippard - $3

P - Hyun-jin Ryu - $6

    Objectives were met, with $67 total spent on pitching and the planned maximum $30 on Posey and Beltre. The apparent bargains of Coco Crisp ($4), Khris Davis ($5) and Chris Carter ($4) told me that one could wait on respectable outfielders in a 12-team league. At that price, these three players are going to return a profit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 22:26
Mock Draft: Experiment #2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Friday, 06 February 2015 14:48

Mock Draft held on 2/4

Rules: Snake, 15 teams, mixed league, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

Strategy: Get Clayton Kershaw in the first round

  I must say that I am not fond of getting a pitcher this early, especially in the second spot. Paul Goldschmidt or Andrew McCutchen would have been preferable. However, having committed to experiment with the early Kershaw strategy, I took this opportunity to go for it. I may not get another chance. Up to now, Kershaw has been typically the fourth or fifth pick overall.

  The biggest dilemma when drafting Kershaw in the first round is how many rounds one should wait before acquiring the next pitcher. In my opinion, when to get the second hurler should depend on the players the other teams select. This particular draft was pitcher heavy, as ten top starters were gone by the end of round four. When Jeff Samardzija became the 21st pitcher to go off the table, I decided to jump back in, and in round six, I drafted Julio Teheran. Overall, my team’s pitching is competitive. You can see the results of the draft HERE.

  Has spending my first round pick on Kershaw affected my hitting? I think so. A couple of observations: the first is about catchers, the second about corner infielders. I was eyeing Buster Posey in the second round. When he went two spots before me, I selected Jonathan Lucroy, the next best catcher. Lucroy’s projected overall performance in a standard 5x5 Roto league is similar to Posey’s, so I was OK with it. But, who and when to pick depends on how a draft is going. In this particular one, catchers were selected late. It appears that only Posey is highly regarded. Beyond him, one could delay drafting catchers until the fourth or later rounds.

  Which brings me to the CI’s. Third tier CI's are plentiful, but the top tier ones are scarce. After missing on Goldschmidt in round one due to drafting Kershaw, a better alternative to Lucroy in round two would have been to grab the next best available 1B, which in this case was Freddie Freeman.

  The nearby article written by Perry about his NFBC draft confirms the above observations.

  In conclusion, the early mock drafts that I participated in this season told me that we should not delay picking pitching as some of us have done in the past. It appears that a safe strategy would be to acquire a top pitcher in the third round. Then continue by getting the next one in the sixth. That said, it all depends on the flow of the draft, but all things remaining equal, that’s what I will attempt to do in my next snake mock draft.

  I want to thank Howard Bender from Fantasy Alarm and his Mock Draft Army for organizing the mocks. Should you be interested in joining, please refer to my article posted on this blog on January 20.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 08:46
Mock Draft: Experiment #1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 17:32

   Mock Draft was held on 1/27. Snake, 12 teams, mixed league, 5x5 Roto

   I am not a big fan of a mixed league with only 12 teams. Nevertheless, being this my first mock draft of the season, it has helped me ease into 2015.

   It is our objective to use each mock draft as an experiment and then report the results in this column. A word about experiments: in order to be valid, an experiment ought to test the real waters and not be bizarre. For example, if you have the first overall pick, you should always pick Trout. Anything else would be crazy. As far as a 12-team mixed league, delaying to draft a pitcher is a valid strategy this season. Rumors are that pitching is abundant. We set out to verify this theory with this mock draft. An alternative strategy would be to pick Clayton Kershaw immediately and then wait several rounds before getting the next pitcher.

   I had the 10th pick and since Kershaw was gone by my turn, I decided to get hitters the first six rounds.

   In the seventh round, I picked the next best pitcher according to the Mastersball projections, which was Sonny Gray. I followed that in the eighth round with Hisashi Iwakuma. The draft results are HERE

Take a look at the spreadsheet. The mere fact that 17 of the 24 spots of the last two rounds went to pitching tells me that indeed a mixed league with only 12 teams has plenty of reasonably good hurlers.

That being said, how good is my team’s pitching staff (my team was #10)? Looking at the draft results makes me wonder if it would have been better to pick a pitcher in the fourth round instead of getting Hunter Pence. After all, several valid outfielders were left on the table. In my opinion, the way Lawr drafted was the most appropriate for this league: two hitters followed by one pitcher, repeat (see team #12). Another personal observation: I do not think that getting Kershaw in the first round worked well (see team #7). What do you think? Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 19:21
Mock Drafts – 2015 Season PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 15:05

In the 2015 edition of BaseballHQ’s Baseball Forecaster & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics, Lord Zola wrote that “the more mock drafts you do, the better you are at assembling your fantasy baseball squad” and that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

I am not going to add to this well expressed sentiment.

Disclosure: Last year, we experienced problems filling the draft rooms because we limited the participation to Mastersball readers.

This season, we have teamed with Fantasy Alarm ( to expand the field of participants. Howard Bender of Fantasy Alarm is the mock draft organizer. His list already has over 100 names. If you are interested in participating, send an e-mail to Howard at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Identify yourself as a Mastersball reader and ask him to put you on his distribution list.

Howard runs multiple mock drafts per week and fills the draft room half with writers/broadcasters/experts and the other half with super-eager readers like you. Once you are on his distribution list, you will receive an e-mail at the start of the week informing you of the mock drafts scheduled for that week. If you're interested in taking part that week, please reply to him and let him know which draft works best for you. Mock drafts will be held whenever possible, likely two or three times a week. They are not locked into any specific times but will try to accommodate different time zones and schedules.

If you join a mock draft, please, do not abandon it halfway and do not put your team on auto-pick. Also, if you signed up at the beginning of the week and your real life rudely interferes with your fantasy one, please, inform Howard immediately to remove your name from the draft room. Send me an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it should you have any questions about mock drafts.

Mastersball staff will join several drafts. To test the waters, our plan is to use different strategies, e.g.:

  • next best player as per Mastersball projections
  • pick Clayton Kershaw first
  • wait on pitchers
  • use scarcity method

   and so on. After each mock draft, we will publish in this column the results with comments, observations and recommendations.

   Do not procrastinate. The time to get ready for the 2015 season is now.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:37
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