FantasyBaseball365.com Expert Mock Draft (February 21, 2011)
On February 21, 2011, I participated in another fantasy baseball expert mock draft hosted by Charlie Saponara of FantasyBaseball365.com. This was a standard 5 x 5 mixed Roto league format (you know, the format where Carl Crawford is revered as the next messiah). The other expert participants included Andrew Holm of MillionDollarSleeper.com, Matt Dewoskin of FantasyPros911.com, Tyler Becker of TheFantasyFix.com, Bryan Curley of BaseballProf.com, Ivar Anderson of FGD.net, Justin Occhionero of TheFantasyGeek.com, Josh Shepardson of HardballTimes.com, Eric Yeomans of mister52pickup.wordpress.com, Dave Gawron of RotoExperts.com, and a representative of FantasyBaseballHotStove.com. The results of this mock draft will be published in the FantasyBaseball365 draft guide, so be sure to look out for that.
The draft started with Andrew Holm selecting Hanley Ramirez as the first overall pick. This was the first mock draft I have seen in a couple years where Albert Pujols was not the first overall pick. I do understand the rationale behind this. If you are concerned about position scarcity, then this makes a lot of sense because shortstop is very thin and Ramirez produces significantly in all five categories. Plus, first base is extremely deep in talent so Andrew could easily find a suitable fit later on. Personally, I would take Pujols first under any circumstances. That being said, he was selected second overall. I had the third pick, and for a split second I thought Pujols might fall to me if Matt Dewoskin joined the shortstop bandwagon and selected Troy Tulowitzki. But it wasn’t to be as Pujols went off the board. I then selected Miguel Cabrera third overall. Despite his alcohol problems (I will not be hitching any rides home from him after my team meetings), Cabrera is arguably the second best hitter in baseball behind Pujols. He hits for a very high average, is reaching his peak years in terms of power, and is always a lock for 115-120 RBI’s. Assuming he is sober and not in rehab, I expect another big year from Cabrera. Next went Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, and Carlos Gonzalez. None of these picks were surprising as Tulowitzki is clearly the next best available shortstop and the only other with elite status going into 2011 (meaning he is as good as a lock for a monster season, not that he is a member of Continental Airlines One Pass program). Longoria is a step above David Wright as the top third baseman, which is a position that uncharacteristically lacks depth and star power. CarGo is coming off a monster break-out season and fresh off of a new long-term contract extension. He is not even in his prime yet and is already established as one of the best fantasy options in the game. Next went Ryan Braun, David Wright and Adrian Gonzalez. Braun has officially commanded the respect of being considered a lock for achieving certain statistics every season. He is entering his prime years and should have no problems once again reaching .300, 30 HR, and 110 RBI. He also scores runs and can steal bases, so he is arguably one of the top two or three outfield options. Wright is just below Longoria at third base and is coming off a season that saw his power return. He should put up good numbers despite having problems hitting the ball out of Citi Field. Remember, he does play 81 games on the road. A-Gone was a little surprising here ahead of Joey Votto and Mark Teixeira. He put up great numbers in a pitchers’ park in San Diego and without any protection in the lineup. Now he is in the haven of Fenway Park and surrounded by stars, so it is logical to translate his historical numbers into a tremendous season. However, I think there are safer options with more upside that should have been considered before A-Gone. Finishing up the first round were Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira. These three went pretty much where they should have gone. Votto is coming off an MVP season, and Cano has emerged as the prominent choice at second base in fantasy baseball. Teixeira is coming back from a relatively disappointing 2010 that saw his season end with an ugly hamstring injury in the playoffs. Despite his likely usual slow start, he should be back to where his career numbers are with a .290 batting average, 35 HR, and 120 RBI.
If anyone wants a copy of the whole draft board, please send me an email at email@example.com. Rather than go through each pick of every round, I will now give a review and analysis of my picks. If you have questions about a specific player that was either drafted by me or not, you can email me about that as well.
1st Round: Miguel Cabrera-1B-DET. What is not to like about the Pujols-esque Cabrera? Assuming he works out his drinking problem and is healthy, he is a lock for his normal numbers, which seem to be increasing over the years as he enters his prime. Cabrera is one of those rare hitters, like Pujols, who can hit for tremendous power and also maintain a prolific batting average. He now has Victor Martinez hitting in the lineup, so hopefully he sees more pitches to hit. Regardless, I don’t think there is any pitch that Cabrera can’t find a way to hit.
2nd Round: Jose Reyes-SS-NYM. Being a Mets’ fan, I have mixed emotions about this. Reyes is clearly loaded with talent and natural ability that could make him a top 3 pick like he was a couple years ago. But a myriad of injuries have kept him off the field for significant time since 2009. Now he is entering a contract year and appears to be fully recovered from his leg maladies and thyroid issues. But there is something about Reyes that seems to hold him back from being elevated to the next level of greatness. He is worth a second round pick here, especially with the lack of depth at the position and his potential for significant contribution in batting average, runs and stolen bases.
3rd Round: Tim Lincecum-SP-SF. When an ace pitcher of this caliber falls in my lap in the third round, I will jump at the opportunity to grab him. Lincecum had a sub-par year in comparison to his previous Cy Young seasons, but he clearly became a better pitcher as he helped lead the Giants to the World Series championship. He has thrown a lot of innings in his short career, so there is some risk involved with taking a pitcher of his slight build and all of that mileage. But he has proven to be a durable workhorse and there is no reason to think he won’t put up 18 wins with a 3.00 ERA and 200+ strikeouts.
4th Round: Brandon Phillips-2B-CIN. I really like Phillips this year as a top candidate to bounce back after a mediocre 2010 season. He has 30-30 capabilities in a high octane Cincinnati offense and plays a premium position where the drop-off after him is significant. He has shown some maturity and will be looked upon to help lead the Reds and their young offensive stars. Phillips will likely bat cleanup or somewhere in the middle of the order to break up Votto and Bruce, so look for lots of run scoring and RBI chances this season. He also plays in a bandbox so returning to 30+ homeruns is realistic.
5th Round: Justin Morneau-1B-MIN. The former AL MVP is coming back after a concussion ended his season last July. His slow recovery which lingered into February has caused many people to question his ability to return to his old self. I am a believer because Morneau possesses all of the tools necessary to ascend into the elite category at first base. While I already have Cabrera, it was too hard to pass on Morneau to fill my utility spot and offer significant production in batting average, homeruns and RBI’s.
6th Round: Jayson Werth-OF-WAS. While the Washington Nationals were the laughingstock of baseball for giving Werth a ridiculous contract (see my article about this at http://fantasyjudgment.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/nationals-will-not-get-their-moneys-werth/), he should still provide good value as a sixth round pick here and as my first outfielder. Werth will be the focal point of the Nationals’ lineup, and barring injury, he should still be good for .275, 25 HR, and 85 RBI. His impact will seem minimized because he is on a terrible team, but those are essentially his career averages over the last three years when he has stayed healthy.
7th Round: Cole Hamels-SP-PHI. Despite my hatred for the Phillies, there is no denying the ridiculous starting rotation they have which includes Hamels as their #4. He has grown into a very good pitcher after maturing from his 2009 World Series debacle. Coming into a contract year, Hamels will have the benefit of pitching against other teams’ back end of the rotation starters which should increase his win total. He should easily keep his ERA in the low 3.00′s and reaching 200 strikeouts is not beyond the realm of possibility. I like him a lot as my #2 pitcher behind Lincecum.
8th Round: Heath Bell-RP-SD. While Bell doesn’t have as a cool a beard as Brian Wilson, he is arguably the best closer in baseball right now. All indications are that the Padres want to lock him up to a contract extension, so he is pitching with extra motivation to justify that. Because the Padres have surprisingly good pitching and no offense, they are in close games all the time which bodes well for Bell getting save opportunities. He strikes out batters at a tremendous rate and should keep his WHIP at or below 1.00.
9th Round: Curtis Granderson-OF-NYY. The Grandy Man is entering his second season in the Bronx and is set to take his game to another level. You could see at the end of 2010 and in the playoffs that he finally figured it out. He will likely hit down at the bottom of the Yankees’ potent batting lineup which means he could see lots of RBI chances. But with the deep order they have, he will also score a fair share of runs, especially if they let him steal bases like he used to. He won’t hit for a high average, but he will produce in every other category.
10th Round: Tim Hudson-SP-ATL. I have always been a Tim Hudson fan, so I didn’t hesitate to take the ace of the Braves staff. He proved last year that he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery as he won 17 games and had an ERA well under 3.00. I would look for much of the same this season from Hudson, who doesn’t have the ability to strike many hitters out, but knows how to win games and not give up runs.
11th Round: Carlos Lee-OF-HOU. I was accused of taking El Caballo too early in another mock draft, so I tested out that theory and it paid off here. Lee is coming off of a very poor 2010 season that saw his batting average and power numbers decrease significantly. However, I think he is a prime candidate to have a huge bounceback season. He is only 34 and has always hovered around .300 with 30+ homeruns and close to 100 RBI. The Astros don’t have a great offense so he will have to carry the load, which I think he will be able to do.
12th Round: Scott Rolen-3B-CIN. As I said before, third base is not a very deep position in terms of fantasy options. That being said, I decided to hold off on drafting a third baseman until later because none of the available options warranted such a pick at the time. I felt the time was right to take Rolen here despite his injury risks. He had one of his best and healthiest seasons last year, so maybe he can replicate that again this year. He is the other right-handed bat in the middle of the Reds’ order, so hopefully his pairing with Brandon Phillips could lead to some magic for me.
13th Round: Carlos Beltran-OF-NYM. Keep in mind, this is my fourth outfielder before making any judgments. Beltran is in the last year of his contract with the Mets, and is also trying to prove he is completely healthy so he can secure another long-term contract next winter. The rumor is that Terry Collins may move Beltran to right field to decrease the running he would have to do. This bodes well for Beltran who is no longer much of a contributor in terms of stolen bases, but he can still hit a ton when healthy. He is playing for dollars, and we all remember how he did the last time he was playing for a contract in 2004.
14th Round: Brett Myers-SP-HOU. Myers was a pleasant surprise for Houston in 2010 as he led the Astros rotation all year. His performance earned him a contract extension and now he is out to prove last year was no fluke. Myers has always been a talented pitcher who could never put it all together. Now he seems like a pitcher who can win 15 games and strike out 200+ people every year. Plus he can play mind games with opponents, much like he did when he stuck his tongue out at Jayson Werth leading off second base and then Werth got picked off during an intentional walk.
15th Round: Brad Lidge-RP-PHI. In sticking with my Phillies and ex-Phillies players, I grabbed Lidge as my second closer. I am a believer in Lidge that he is more of the second half of 2010 version as opposed to the first half. Lidge was lights out at the end of 2010 and should be in great position to save 40 games this year with the quality of Philadelphia’s starting rotation and the propensity for the offense to keep them in close games.
16th Round: Jorge Posada-C-NYY. My strategy with catchers has always been to wait until the end to take one, except for Mike Piazza in his prime. Here, Posada fell off of everyone’s radar because he is going to be a full-time DH this season. Without the rigors of catching, Posada will be able to stay healthy and in the lineup everyday with his still productive bat. Barring injuries, Posada can still be counted on for .275, 15 homeruns and 70 RBI. Those are fine numbers for a catcher, especially one taken in the 16th round.
17th Round: Javier Vazquez-SP-FLA. After proving for a second time that he cannot pitch for the Yankees, Vazquez signed as a free agent with the Marlins to provide a solid duo with Josh Johnson. Vazquez has always been a better National League pitcher, and now back in the NL East, he will get to face some lineups that swing at everything. He may not win 15 games because the Marlins’ offense looks anemic and the bullpen is questionable. But he should have no problem striking out 200 batters and keeping his ERA under 4.00.
18th Round: Lance Berkman-1B-STL. In keeping with the 2003 All-Stars, I took Berkman with the same belief that he was a big bounceback candidate as well. He was marred with injuries last year until Houston traded him to the Yankees before the trade deadline. While he struggled mightily down the stretch as the Yankees’ primary DH, he picked it up in the playoffs and was arguably the Yankees most consistent hitter in the postseason. Now he is in St. Louis with a starting job in the outfield and hitting behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. If he can stay healthy and regain his power stroke, Berkman could be a steal at this point in the draft.
19th Round: Angel Pagan-OF-NYM. With the rumors of Carlos Beltran moving to right field, that means that Angel Pagan would be shifting to center field. Pagan had a very solid 2010 season which marked the first time he has had an extended period of time playing everyday. Pagan showed he can hit any type of pitching and had some great extra base hit power using the caverous gaps at Citi Field to become Mr. Triple. He is also a big time stolen base threat and should continue running as he hits in between Jose Reyes and David Wright.
20th Round: Johnny Cueto-SP-CIN. I was surprised to see him down here so late, so I grabbed him while I could. Cueto is a solid pitcher who has loads of potential. He just needs to learn how to pitch first and the rest will fall into place. He has increased his win total and decreased his ERA in each of his first three seasons. I look for continued progress, especially with the Reds being able to provide consistent run support and having a solid back end of the bullpen with Francisco Cordero and Aroldis Chapman.
21st Round: John Lackey-SP-BOS. After shedding twenty pounds, Lackey enters camp this year in better shape with the hopes of living up to the enormous contract he signed last year. Lackey’s debut with Boston was underwhelming at best as he battled injuries and ineffectiveness. But Lackey is a proven workhorse who knows how to win games and strike people out. He should receive ample run support and will also have the benefit of facing opposing teams’ number 3 or 4 starter. I expect 15 wins with a 3.50 ERA and 175 strikeouts in Lackey’s sophomore season in Boston.
22nd Round: Reid Brignac-SS-TB. These next two picks were hunches and gambles on young Tampa Bay infielders. Brignac showed some pop last year with 8 homeruns and 45 RBI in limited playing time. He should have the chance to play more this season in a lineup that now features Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to go along with Longoria and B.J. Upton. For a MI option, I could have done worse than this in the second to last round. I would not be surprised to see Brignac hit well and be used as trade bait later on.
23rd Round: Sean Rodriguez-2B-TB. Much of the same said about Brignac can be said about Rodriguez, who has more upside and potential than his teammate. Rodriguez should get the bulk of the playing time at second base, which could be a huge deal if he performs well at that thin position. Rodriguez also showed some pop in his bat in limited playing time. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and learn to be more patient. There is no reason he can’t hit .280 if he matures. All in all, I was satsified to land such a player with upside and a starting job in the last round.
And there you have it. Please feel free to send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, post them on Facebook at www.goo.gl/xF0pt, or find us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment. If you want a copy of the draft board, just let me know.