Are you mocking me?

So I guess I’m next in line to talk about the THT Fantasy mock draft and my team. Instead of going pick by pick, I’m going to address this in more of a narrative-based way. I have to say that my first observation is that I was not nearly prepared enough had I been having to participate in a real draft with fellow “experts” at this time. Is that obvious from the team I drafted? I don’t know; I’ll let you be the judge of that.

For what it’s worth, the Mock Draft Central projected standings had my team mid-pack. Due to how it counts the bench, I think I was shortchanged a bit because my “bench” consists of pitchers who would be playing regularly, who are per-inning K-monsters and big helps in the rate stats, areas in which the tool projected me as weak.

So, here’s my team:

C: Brian McCann (5 – 56)
C: Joe Mauer (6 – 65)
1B: Justin Morneau (11 – 128)
2B: Robinson Cano (1 – 8)
SS Erick Aybar (14 – 152)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman (4 – 41)
CI: Gaby Sanchez (17 – 200)
MI: Ryan Roberts (13 – 137)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez (2 – 17)
OF: Carl Crawford (3 – 32)
OF: Jayson Werth (9 -104)
OF: Lucas Duda (20 – 233)
OF: Andres Torres (23 – 272)
DH (UTIL): David Ortiz (10 – 113)
BN: Casey McGehee (24 – 281)

P: Tommy Hanson (7 – 80)
P: Mat Latos (8 – 89)
P: Ervin Santana (14 – 161)
P: Wandy Rodriguez (18 – 209)
P: Jhoulys Chacin (19 – 233)
P: Johan Santana (21 – 248)
P: Ryan Madson (15 – 176)
P: Andrew Bailey (16 – 185)
P: Matt Capps (22 – 257)
BN: David Robertson (25 – 296)
BN: Tyler Clippard (26 – 305)

And, here are the full draft results.

You waited a long time to grab a pitcher

I was the second-to-last drafter to select a starting pitcher. Only Brad Johnson waited longer, selecting his ace in the same round as I chose mine but a few picks later, as per the snake format. Given that dynamic, I think I actually assembled a fair competitive rotation without investing too much. I certainly could struggle for wins, but I don’t advocate drafting for wins too much anyway.

I thought I supplemented my middling rotation well by taking two closers who should help with the rates and then fortifying the K-potential and rate stats of my team further by adding Robertson and Clippard in the last rounds. Madson, Bailey, Robertson, and Clippard should combine for 260-plus innings of 2.00-ish ERA, 1.15-ish WHIP and 280-plus strikeouts. This certainly helps a staff that may lack a true ace.

If Latos and Hanson are fantastic, as they might be, I actually could make out really well on pitching. I’m optimistic about Ervin Santana as well. And, if Johan Santana can provide anything, that would be great. At pick No. 248, I had to be willing to find out.

That’s fine, but stop pretending you also don’t have Matt Capps on your team

Okay, guilty as charged. I’ll muster lukewarm four-sided defense of this though.

One, I’ve written before about how I feel it’s important to have more than your “fair share” of closers. Going from two to three closers in a league that averages 2.5 closers per team attacks the standings at a leverage point. Therefore, if I get some saves from him, those saves will have direct impact on the standings and ensure that I stay in the top half of the standings. So, having a third closer is more important than who that actual closer is.

Two, Capps was the last remaining closer with a designated job heading into the season. Refer back to (1) as to why it I thought it was important to draft him there.

Three, unless Joel Zumaya can prove his health, the Twins bullpen doesn’t look to have many other “closer types,” so I’m not sure there are great candidates to challenge Capps for his job even if he falters.

Four, the rest of my relief corps will compensate for any poor rate stats Capps may post.

You have a lot of players who need to rebound from last season

Why, yes, I do. I put my money where my mouth is. I often claim that I prefer betting on established talent to bounce back than on less proven younger players to live up to the hype or make the leap. Mauer, Morneau, Zimmerman, Crawford, Werth, Torres, Latos, Hanson, Santana, Capps and McGehee are all players I’m betting on bouncing back from either injury of disappointing performance.

Do I think all of these players will rebound to their vintage form? Of course not. Some will bounce back all the way, some will bounce back part of the way, and some will founder again. But I don’t need most of these players to bounce back all the way to draw value from most of these picks.

I can buy that argument for most of your picks, but Justin Morneau?

I didn’t think it was THAT early to gamble on Morneau, but many in the draft room did. My selection of Mourneau was really a double-down on the risk/reward proposition. I did not have a first baseman on my roster—note, first base isn’t as deep as many think it is—and he (and Kendrys Morales) seemed to be the only two players left who had the potential to produce big-time numbers at a position most rely on heavily for fantasy production.

I figured if Morneau bounces back, I get a big reward. If he falls, how different is the production I’d get at that point from the expected production of the next crop of first sackers? In fact, there were only four first basemen selected between Mourneau and Sanchez, two of whom were Morales and Mark Trumbo, neither of whom have guaranteed jobs.

So while I did risk the opportunity cost of that pick at another position, I think that sequence actually improves the overall range of possible outcomes for me at first base. Sanchez could just as easily return No. 128 value and Morneau No. 200. That would work out fine, too. I also have Big Papi at my DH/Util spot, who helps shoulder the classic first base-production archetype load, as well.

What about the two-ace catcher move; did you plan that?

Not really, but I saw the opportunity and wanted to try it. My normal strategy in two-catcher leagues is to get both of my starters in about rounds nine–14, looking for wherever I think I see value in acquiring two catchers in roughly the No. 8-16 ranks at the position—one guy toward the back end of the first distribution and the second toward the front end of the second go-around of options.

Here, I thought McCann would have gone sooner than he did, so I decided to pounce. Then I told myself that Mauer could be a huge steal in a two-catcher league if he’s healthy and my second catcher, so I decided I would take the plunge if he stuck around for my next pick, and he did. This gives me a big-time positional advantage, which is more important in a two-catcher league because the back-end players are really questionable.

Further, it’s not as if there were so many players with ceilings higher than Mauer’s when I took him anyway. The two other options I strongly considered were Brandon Phillips and Kevin Youkilis. But in a mock scenario, I really want to see how this strategy would work out.

So, how do you think it did work out?

Not so bad. I don’t think I sacrificed my first pitcher there because both Latos and Hanson were in my group of the next five or so best pitchers out there, and I got both of them anyhow.

Where I think I did sacrifice is in my outfield. I’m known for building real strong outfields early in my regular leagues—sometimes I feel like I shoot myself in the foot by doing this because I often wind up not drafting my outfield sleepers because I fill so many of those spots with studs early on.

This time the pendulum swung a bit too far in the other direction. The back end of my outfield is weak, especially if Morneau is not just bad but hurt again, and I have to press Duda into first-base/corner-infielder duty.

I guess the lesson here is that with other drafters as savvy as the ones in this mock, it’s not so easy to pull solid outfield sleepers/values late in drafts. There were a number of outfield picks between me taking Werth in Round Nine and Duda in Round 20 that made me think, “Maybe I should have taken that guy here instead.” Perhaps the one that made me kick myself most was Paul’s pick of Chris B. Young in Round 12.

Any concluding thoughts?

I think I assembled a team that is unlikely to bottom out. I don’t think there’s as much risk on this team as last season’s performance from some of its members might indicate. If a few things go right, this team could be pretty dangerous. Those are the teams I like to assemble—likely not to bottom out, a contender if more things go right than wrong, and a downright problem if most things go right!

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  1. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I guess Morneau might make an appearance in that column. You know, it’s funny – sometimes you FEEL like it’s later in the draft than it actually is. It FELT late enough that Morneau would be a good gamble, but maybe it wasn’t.

  2. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Also, this draft was done before the stronger speculation that Crawford would be starting the season on the DL. There were some questions, but they seem to have intensified since – though nothing is confirmed even now.

  3. Brad Johnson said...

    That guy for me was Clay Buccholz. I thought he was being overlooked and picked him, then realized there were still several slightly better pitchers available.

    That mistake was purely based on not having a personal board in place. On Yahoo’s UI, that pick doesn’t happen.

    I find that I have trouble thinking about snake drafts after two years of basically eschewing them. My only snake is a somewhat imperfect linear weights league (no decimals, which adds up over a full season), so the draft board is extremely unique and can differ wildly person-to-person.

  4. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I just want to clear something up, the Chris Young pick that I wish I made was made by Michael Stein, not Paul Singman. My bad.

  5. Drewcorb said...

    I mostly just wanted to comment so you know that there are readers besides THT contributors.

    Also, I think the lineup is a little soft on power.  There are some good BA guys, but if I’m holding off of the big hitters I’d try to get some stud pitchers.  I see about 3-4 pitchers that I wouldn’t be surprised to drop somewhere through the season.

    Good commentary on your strategy to aim for undervalued veterans.  That was interesting to read.  After seeing the team, I don’t think I’ll do that strategy.  But it was definitely helpful to see your thought process.

  6. JoeC said...

    A friend and I looked over this draft and we both came to the independent conclusion that Brad had assembled the best team.

    His pitching is well-balanced, as well as his power and speed on offense. He has a hole at third base (Gamel!) and the Bryce Harper pick is weird for a non-keeper league, but overall, best team to Brad.

  7. Pochucker said...

    No offense to anyone but my opinion is 99% of mock drafts are a “mockery” . To many times “experts” are either trying to show different strategies , trying to show how smart they are by reaching for unknowns/unprovens or are simply unprepared or uninterested,doing favor,nothing riding on it etc etc.
      The worst was one I saw recently by “expert” whose strategy was to go in with nothing but his “mind”—great.
      Amateur mocks are even worse—incompetence abounds. The secret is know your league and know tendincies of owners you are playing against

  8. JoeC said...

    Sure, but if I’m gonna trust any mock draft, it’s gonna be a THT mock draft. These guys know what they’re doing and they do it more than you or I. smile

  9. Brad Johnson said...

    I like this JoeC guy.

    Personally, I can’t say I’m entirely pleased with my team. There were a couple of mistakes, both intentional and accidental, that could have been easily avoided. In order for my team to be the best, you have to ignore the DH slot (which is what I did, I pretended it was UTIL).

    Pochucker does have some good points. An amateur mock will rarely teach you anything. And indeed, if you know the guys you’re playing against, you should do well executing your strategy. Whether or not your strategy is wise and effective is another matter.

    This wasn’t a perfect draft, our THT League draft will probably teach you more about the lay of the land, but I can tell you that nobody was messing around in there or taking things lightly. We were all trying our damnedest to draft the best team possible. I learned a lot from sitting in on it.

    My personal prep was light. I don’t have any leagues that look anything like the one we drafted so I didn’t see the benefit of doing a full prep. I came in with my personal lists by position by tier and waited for patterns to emerge. I think I acquitted myself nicely although my team has a lot more upside than certainty.

  10. JoeC said...

    Haha! Is this a case of “flattery will get you everywhere”? wink

    Mr. Johnson, are you too going to write an article analyzing this mock draft? I would be interested to hear your (expanded) thoughts on why you picked who you did in each round.

  11. Brad Johnson said...

    It’s 80% done as we speak, but it has very little why in it. It’s more about what I learned about ranking players, reaching, and participating in drafts with other experts.

    I’ll be happy to answer any “Why’s” in the comments. Expect it sometime in the middle of next week (you’re hearing that before the editors smile)

  12. Derek Ambrosino said...

    I tend not to enter drafts with much paperwork, in general. A list of the players – especially closers and relevant back-ups for each team – is pretty much enough for me, in most cases. In fact, I think that many of us – despite how much prep we bring to the table – have largely internalized the process by the time we’ve done much of our reading and after years of doing this.

    I actually share PoChucker’s opinion to a substantial degree. In this case, the exercise is a springboard to discuss differing strategies and views on different players. I may have experimented a bit here with the 2-catcher ace move, but it’s certainly not something unprecedented or unjustifiable on its merits. That is, I was doing any thing just for the hell of it.

    It think one of the keys to appreciating my team is that you can’t look at many of the players on my roster in terms of what they “should have been” or “could be.” Those disappointments are in the past, and those players have been somewhat repriced according. Rather, you have to look at each team, and player on each team, in terms of what each player has to do to justify/profit from the pick.

    For example, look at Jayson Werth. Granted, he was quite bad last year. But, I took him as basically the 30th OF off the board. Last year’s 30th ranked OF was Torii Hunter, who posted a line of .264/80/23/83/5. Werth does not have to regain vintage Philly form to make good here, he just has to rebound some. And,that’s the way a lot of my team is constructed.

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