THT & Friends mock draft (Part 1: value picks)by Nick Fleder
February 13, 2013
Fellas: We all know "sleeper" and "steal" are fluid traits, and that a qualifier in February can see his sneaky status evaporate in March. As draft season progresses into mid-February, though, average positions tend to take shape, and I think where we selected our guys in the THT & Friends draft is be a pretty good indicator of current stock price. Thoughts? Who do you think qualifies on your own roster?
This being an expert mock draft, it didn’t surprise me that I scanned the draft results and identified more picks I liked than those I didn’t. In discussing “value picks,” I’d probably divide that term into two categories: one being more along the lines of known quantities acquired “on sale,” and the other being the risky picks that hold very attractive value propositions at their price points.
From my own picks, I think a selection that fits the definition of the former is my pick of Justin Verlander (Round 2, Pick 11). Verlander comes off two top-10 seasons. As reticent as I am to pony up for elite starting pitching, I think he’s basically earned first round consideration in standard leagues. So, to get him a full round later seems like a legitimate value. On the riskier-props-bought-low side of things, one of my favorite picks is David Freese (15.11). It seems like there’s a lot of room for profit where with little room for bust.
Maybe this is a symptom of an expert league mock, but there was a notable lack of value picks in my opinion. There were two players who I thought absolutely should not have been available when I selected them—Ian Desmond (6.6) and Melky Cabrera (10.6).
Regression is inevitable, but Cabrera is still well-positioned to contribute elite performance in batting average and runs scored with solid performance in home runs and RBI. Desmond may not be as valuable as I expect, but the ability to provide home runs and stolen bases from a weak middle infield class really helps to hold my roster together.
I agree with the sentiment that it is difficult to get many real value picks doing a mock draft with fellow experts. To that extent, I think I my three guys who represent prime value for where they were selected are Tim Lincecum (10.1), Dexter Fowler (15.12) and Juan Pierre (27.12).
Regarding Lincecum: Chalk his horrendous year up to fatigue, injury, or whatever else. He was awful and was eventually banished to the bullpen, but he thrived there in the playoffs. Now that he has seen teammate Matt Cain get a huge contract extension, Lincecum is motivated to earn his big dollars after collecting two Cy Young awards earlier in his career.
Fowler, meanwhile, will be the magical age of 27 by Opening Day and is coming off a season where he hit .300. As he enters his prime, he will continue to get stronger and turn those extra base hits into long balls over the fence. Amazingly, the player with the best value I drafted was the final pick of the whole draft—Juan Pierre. He will be playing every day and leading off for the Marlins, making him a (health-contingent) lock for 30-40 stolen bases and at least 75 runs scored.
Karl de Vries
For me, fantasy drafts are not unlike bouts of heavy drinking: Whirlwind decisions are made in the blink of an eye, bad judgment is not uncommon, and there's the possibility that you'll wake up with someone whose name you didn't know when the night began. But while there's plenty to criticize about my draft—we'll talk about that some other time—I did make a few picks that I think will stand up to scrutiny, particularly, a couple of Padres.
I'll need to see another season of stud output from Chase Headley (6.3) before I'm completely sold on him as a top-tier third baseman, but I figure he's a strong sixth-round pick given the expectation of at least a 20-15 season and five-category production. Given the position's lack of five-category options—and the uncertainty of guys like Brett Lawrie, Pedro Alvarez and Mike Moustakas, the third basemen who were drafted afterwards—I'm confident Headley will stand up as a decent pick.
And yes, I know Yasmani Grandal (26.3) will be persona non grata for the season's first two months thanks to a PED violation, but still, we're talking about a primo prospect who banged out eight home runs in 226 plate appearances last year—all while playing his home games at Petco Park. For a 26th round pick, he can sit on my bench until he can join Buster Posey in my catching battery sometime in late May.
I agree with the sentiment that it is much easier to exploit value in a non-writers league, where owners are likely to follow the pre-set draft list much more stringently. In a draft where most of the participants create their own rankings, however, value is both less predictable and usually less frequent, which makes entering the draft with a more agnostic, open-minded approach seem practical, as opposed to a scripted outline denoting where I plan to take certain players.
On my team, I was most pleased with Roy Halladay (8.9) and David Ortiz (10.9), neither of whom I would have had highlighted as must-have players prior to the draft. Though Halliday missed time due to injury and posted sub-par numbers in 2012, he is perennially drafted as a top-three pitcher. His dip in velocity is concerning, but to get him outside the first 90 picks is still a risk that I am extremely comfortable taking.
Ortiz is never a player I feel comfortable taking, due to his age and positional inflexibility, but, by any mathematical measurement, he almost always ends up as one of the best values relative to draft position without vastly outperforming his projected stat line. I will begrudgingly take Ortiz here in nearly any draft and thank myself later.
Usually, you’d look to the young talent to define your roster upside: Maybe you’ll get someone late who blossoms into a 20-homer guy (say, Brandon Belt at 24.6) or a flamethrower with entirely untapped All-Star potential (perhaps Shelby Miller at 23.8). Rarely does it come in the form of a once-MVP under the age of 30 who plays a hard-to-fill-with-quality second base, as it did with me in Dustin Pedroia (4.8). We’re talking a guy with a lifetime .311 batting average, who thrice has reached 100 runs scored and has once gone 20/20. I’ll take him behind Jason Kipnis (a batting average liability with downside from last year’s steal totals) and Allen Craig (even more an injury question mark) any day of the week.
How about the best pick of the draft overall?
Carlos Gomez (22.2) is sure to get ample love here, but I’m not convinced his emergence was real; it’s worth finding out, though, at that price tag.
For those unfamiliar with Mock Draft Central, it can be a bit of a challenge to keep track of everybody who is available. I was using my Fantasy Pros rankings (still incomplete) as a rough draft board, and Gomez was so far up my board that I lost track of him in the early-teens. For those trying to do the math at home, I have him ranked immediately behind where Austin Jackson (8.7) was selected. It's worth noting that I have (perhaps bullishly) projected Gomez to bat at the top of the order for most of the season.
He nearly put together a 20/40 season in 2012 in just 452 plate appearances, and his per plate appearance numbers from the two seasons prior indicate that such a line would be no fluke given just a few more opportunities.
Let's continue this tomorrow, eh?
Nick can be reached for questions, comments, or concerns via email: nick.fleder AT gmail DOT com.
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