Did you know we had a mock draft?

When I participate in an expert draft, I am contractually obligated to write about it. Astute readers may have noticed that Derek Ambrosino, Michael Stein, Ben Pritchett, and Nick Fleder already fulfilled their obligations.

Since it is customary, I will open with a very brief rundown of my final product. We can discuss things more in depth in the comments.

C. Mike Napoli – 4/37
C. Miguel Montero – 10/109
1B. Prince Fielder – 2/13
2B. Chase Utley – 5/61
SS. Starlin Castro – 3/36
3B. Mat Gamel – 23/276
CI. Michael Morse – 5/60
MI. Ben Zobrist – 8/85
OF. Curtis Granderson – 1/12
OF. Bryce Harper – 15/180
OF. Matt Joyce – 16/181
OF. Dexter Fowler – 17/204
OF. Jose Tabata – 18/205
DH. Jim Thome – 25/301
P. Matt Moore – 7/84
P. Jordan Zimmermann – 9/108
P. Anibal Sanchez – 12/133
P. Chris Sale – 13/156
P. Clay Buchholz – 14/157
P. Erik Bedard – 20/229
P. Jonathan Papelbon – 11/132
P. Grant Balfour – 21/252
P. Javy Guerra – 22/253
BN. Chipper Jones – 24/277
BN. Nolan Reimold – 25/300
BN. Nyjer Morgan – 19/228 (whoops)

The league featured some notable peculiarities that tripped up my general strategy. We’re dealing with a very small, three man bench. In a traditional, five bench player environment, I would have liked to add one more utility infielder, another outfielder (in place of Morgan, more on that in a moment), and an elite set up man or two.

In terms of structural rules, we were forced to select a DH rather than a UTIL. I ignored that particular imperative (hence the Thome choice). There was no IP limit in place, but Derek said something about pretending it was 1600 innings so that’s what I drafted. Typically, I draft only four starters I love and fill in the blanks later. In this case, I would have drafted a position player rather than Clay Buchholz.

My biggest mistake of the draft was Morgan. The selection was an error between the user (me) and the draft interface. Bedard was highlighted on my wish list and thus I thought he was the name in my cue. The reason Morgan had been clicked on in the first place is because I was investigating last round picks while waiting for my turn. Unfortunately, I clicked the draft button and wound up with Morgan rather than Bedard. I no longer remember who I wanted to pair with Bedard on that particular turn.

If you want to talk more generally about my team, I’ll be happy to discuss in comments land.

Lessons from the turn

I chose to draft from the turn. I was the third owner to sign up and only slots one and two had been taken. The reason for my choice was twofold, to challenge myself and to practice. My only snake draft is a linear weights, keeper league where I will be picking twelfth.

Practicing from the turn in serious mocks can be very informative because there is absolutely no temptation to wait on a player. The lesson of the offseason from multiple outlets has been to draft based on your board, not ADP. Most THT readers are going to be in above average leagues and the more competitive a league is, the less that ADP should inform our decisions.

One example from my list—I came very close to selecting Pablo Sandoval in the third round turn. That pick would have been before Ryan Zimmerman, Adrian Beltre, and Alex Rodriguez. All three players tend to be unanimously ranked above Sandoval, but I lean towards preferring Sandoval. The Giants lineup is a little fugly, which will hurt his runs and RBI totals, but I love his combination of batting average and power for a standard league. I ended up with Starlin Castro and Mike Napoli with those picks.

This is not to say that I necessarily project Sandoval to have better stats than Zimmerman, but I do prefer to roster Sandoval for a variety of reasons.* At that point in the draft, I knew that if I did not pick a third baseman, catcher, or shortstop, that I would be waiting a long time to finish filling out that position. I was more comfortable with my backup plan of Mat Gamel and Chipper Jones (which I nailed, whether you agree with it or not) than my backup plans at shortstop (Mike Aviles) or catcher (Ramon Hernandez).

*I can see the question marks above your heads, let’s talk about this in the comments.

This transitions nicely to my lesson about reaching. I reached early and often in this draft and I feel pretty good about the results. I plucked Chase Utley, Matt Moore, Chris Sale, Bryce Harper, Dexter Fowler, and Jose Tabata off the draft tree before they were fully ripe.

Those reaches fall into convenient buckets. Utley is the formerly elite player who has been relegated to the second or third tier by injuries. He called my dad about two weeks ago and told him he was going to have a great season (literally, this happened), so I figured I’d bite. That’s not the most analytical explanation, but Utley is also my favorite player and has the potential to return first round production if he can stay healthy (an admittedly unlikely ‘if’).

Moore, Sale, and Harper are all hyped, unproven youngsters with incredible skill sets. Harper is probably the pick people disagree with the most, I sandwiched that pick between Nick’s choice of Lorenzo Cain and my choice of Matt Joyce. Other outfielders selected around that time include Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Yeonis Cespedes, Angel Pagan, Mike Trout, and Michael Brantley. Harper might debut at any time, but his floor is comparable to most of those players and his ceiling made him a favorable choice to me.

Fowler and Tabata fall in the team need bucket—in this case, speed. My team lacked bonafide burners, Curtis Granderson and Ben Zobrist were the main providers in that category. With Fowler and Tabata (especially the latter), I put my team in the position to be one waiver move away from competing in steals.

The last major lesson I learned is more of a theory. It goes something like this—the more informed a league is, the less prone it is to position runs. Closer and catcher are the two most common positions to be drafted “too early.”

No true run on closers ever occurred. Dave picked the first closer, Craig Kimbrel, in round six. He struck again in round nine with a (baffling) Drew Storen pick. I picked the third closer, Jonathan Papelbon in the 11th round – a position where he is rarely available. Two more closers went in the 11th including another to Dave. Dave selected a FOURTH closer in the 12th, and Josh picked the first non-closer reliever – Kenley Jansen. A pseudo-run started in the middle of the 15th through the 16th round, but that’s so late in the draft that they might have been value picks.

Catcher picks were scattered throughout the draft with most owners waiting until the late rounds to address the position. This might have been because a lot of those owners play one catcher leagues and didn’t care to adjust their strategy, or it might have been several smart owners agreeing that it often doesn’t make sense to fight over a weak position. Why fight for table scraps at one table when there’s an untouched cake at another?

This concludes today’s lessons. What do you think I should have learned?

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  1. Shane Meredith said...

    As commissioner of your other snake draft keeper league, I’ve been waiting patiently for this article so that I can use it to my advantage on draft day. grin

    While the two leagues are fairly dissimilar in structure and scoring, there were a few tidbits I may be able to use against you. Now if only I could get Jody to write an article. grin

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Good luck finding actionable information in there…given that my first pick will probably be a good 30+ picks into the draft, I’m going to be doing a lot of scrounging. I think a lot of the better guys I picked in this league will be kept in ours.

  3. Brad Johnson said...

    I just looked at that roster for the first time since the end of the season. Jesus Christ. I forgot what a cluster that keeper situation is. How am I supposed to pick four of Verlander, Halladay, Lee, Moore, Ellsbury, and Lawrie? Not to mention several other names that other owners would consider like Pedroia, Wainwright, Gordon, Ackley, Montero, Trout, and Josh Johnson.

  4. Shane Meredith said...

    Yes, I feel so bad for you. Perhaps you should forgo all the mental anguish and just select four random players from your roster. It would be a lot less stress for you in the long run.

  5. Brad Johnson said...

    Says the guy with Bautista, Pujols, Hanley, Sandoval, CarGo, Hamels, and Pineda.

    I think you’re doing alright with your keeper depth, although you have a tough decision to make on Hanley.

  6. Dingbat said...

    Interesting that you commented on the general patience with the catcher position, when you seemed to be the exception to that trend.  Napoli at the 37th pick I can see, but once you had him locked up, you could have waited later than the 10th round to pick your 2nd catcher.  Your team might have been better off with Ichiro/Beltran/Bourjos and Ramos rather than Montero and Joyce.

  7. Brad Johnson said...

    It’s a matter of my own personal strengths and weaknesses. In 12 team formats, I always stockpile large quantities of R/RBI with my late picks and by playing waiver match ups. What my team often stumbles over is batting average and to a lesser extent, power.

    I have Sandoval posting the highest average of that quartet – Oliver agrees, although by a much narrower margin than I’m expecting.

    In the power department, Sandoval’s output is the one I have the least uncertainty over, even though Beltre and A-Rod could easily out slug him.

    Ultimately, there are certain circumstances where I would take any of those four players over the others. However, those circumstances are informed by later picks. In my case, I find it easier to build a team around Sandoval. I don’t expect that condition would hold for many.

    I hope that was semi-coherent, I whipped it together quickly at work.

  8. Brad Johnson said...


    That may be the case, and it’s something I would look into further if I had more leagues like this one. I actually had no intention of picking a 2nd catcher before the end game, but Montero was near the top of my list.

    In my experience, finding outfielders can be done outside of the draft, so I tend to neglect the position a little bit aside from finding a couple anchors.

    I didn’t even draft a full outfield in this draft. Joyce is a 70% start, Fowler and Tabata are probably 50-65% starts, who knows what I’m getting out of Reimold and Harper, and like I said, Morgan should be somebody else – let’s call him Mike Carp. That’s another platoon guy.

    And if that’s sounding pretty awful, keep in mind I also have Morse and Zobrist available so I have the entire position player universe at my disposal to find an OF.

  9. Brad Johnson said...

    I should probably mention this. I know a lot of the readers want to see a very scientific approach to fantasy, but I’m not terribly interested in that.

    There is merit to a purely analytical approach to fantasy sports and it’s certainly easier to learn from that perspective, but there is also a pseudo-art which I find much more compelling.

    Basically, I could go pure quant, but it bores me. So you can expect a certain amount of inklings and hunches to show up in my strategies. They’ve treated me well in recent years – I won 3 of 4 leagues in 2011, 1 of 3 in 2010 (also finished 2nd and 3rd), and 2 of 3 in 2009.

  10. Dingbat said...

    Thanks for your response.  That makes a lot of sense in terms of drafting OFs around your playing style.  I just think that after the elite catchers (and even with them), there’s just too much risk that a catcher is going to crash and burn to really invest much in them.  Of course, I’m speaking as someone who drafted Soto in 2011, Miguel Montero in 2010, and Ryan Doumit in 2009 (all in Rounds 9-11), so I’ve been burned plenty.

  11. Brad Johnson said...

    Typically, I draft either a Josh Willingham/Pablo Sandoval (C eligible but plays a different position) or I grab a guy who will contribute later in the season (drafted Santana and Posey in 2010).

    I usually let catcher sort itself out and rarely take a mid-rounds catcher. I’m either going to address it early or go risky late.

    This year, the pick would probably be Montero.

  12. Will H. said...

    So at the game we went to you told me you didn’t share the Zim(nn) love… glad to see you took him way higher than I’m keeping him in Shane’s league!

    Speaking of Nats, I guess I am the only one to fulfill your prediction of hate. Clearly you’re good at your “overreaches” in general, but A) despite their terrible outfield situation, I’d be shocked if Harper played more than 2/3 of a season, and B) I’d also be stunned if he adjusted soon enough to make the totality of the remaining games a valuable contribution (e.g. it took him awhile to adjust to AA, and he hasn’t even tried AAA, let along the Majors, yet). I know 15th round isn’t at all early, but it is still where you build your base, and few GP + marginal early production isn’t what I’d consider a base guy… (though I get the irony that I’m keeping him in the aforementioned league as a 16th pick, but that is a keeper league).

  13. Brad Johnson said...

    It’s a pick I would rethink, but it felt like the right time to get reachy in that draft.

    Consider me a Zimmermann convert. I’m still not as high on him as you, but he’s great rotation glue. And considering my staff ace here is Moore, I’m clearly going with a high variance rotation.

  14. Eric said...

    Any chance the entire draft could be posted somewhere?  I like to look at entire mocks instead of just one team…

  15. OaktownSteve said...

    I totally get the Sandoval team.  The value of any player during a draft or auction is tied to several factors:  the remaining player pool, the composition of your roster, the composition of the other teams roster and the strategic plan you’ve formulated for how you’re going to design your team to win your particular league (using it’s particular rule set).  It’s pointless to talk about a player having a certain absolute value without that context.

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