January marks the beginning of a new year and the start of fantasy baseball season around the Cafe. With the holidays over, some of the Cafe’s best and most experienced got together for an early mock. Though many of us didn’t have completed rankings and were forced to wing it on some picks, we feel like we got a general idea of how drafts will turn out and had a ton of fun in the process. Now that my projections and rankings are mostly complete, I decided to go back and do a review of my picks and what I felt were the best and worst picks of each round. I went through the first 20 rounds before it starting getting to a point where it didn’t make much sense picking best and worst picks from the dredges of people’s sleepers. Remember this is a 14 team draft so guys look like they’re going a earlier than they really are in a 12 team league. Hopefully the draft and commentary helps some of you as you prepare for the new season. You can see all the cafe mocks here and my projections and rankings here.
My Pick: Prince Fielder. This was before Fielder signed on with Detroit, and I still like the pick with that knowledge. Fielder’s massive power will play anywhere and batting behind one of the best hitters in baseball won’t hurt. I was debating between Fielder and Ellsbury with this pick, but I feel like there is a pretty big drop-off after the top six stud first basemen. I couldn’t be sure Teixeira would make his way around to me so I went with Fielder who I deem to be a safer pick.
Best Pick: Not really a standout option, as I feel like this will be a pretty standard first round. I do like Carlos Gonzalez a lot and was hoping I’d get him with my pick. I also like that raiders_umpire reached over Bautista and Kemp to grab Tulowitzki. I think getting Tulo this year will be a huge leg up on the competition as shortstop is ridiculously bad and the only other “elite” options are kind of risky picks in Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes.
Worst Pick: Again, pretty standard. It’s hard to make a bad pick in the first round. Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Upton went a little sooner than I would have taken them, but that’s really just a minor quibble.
My Pick: Ian Kinsler. I absolutely love Kinsler, at least when he’s on the field. The risk with Kinsler will always be the injury bug. When he’s on the field he combines speed and power to put up some of the best numbers you can get from a middle infielder. Last year was one of his best seasons yet as he put up both the highest walk rate and lowest strikeout rate of his career. Despite that, his average was severely depressed by a .243 BABIP. His expected BABIP says he deserved a lot better and when that regresses, we should see his average climb back up, possibly into the .280s. It’s probably a bit much to expect another 700+ plate appearances, but anywhere from 600-650 should put him in the 25 homerun, 25 stolen base range which would make him a very valuable fantasy commodity.
Best Pick: Mark Teixeira. Again the second round went pretty much as I expected. I like the Teixeira pick if only because I didn’t expect him to get back to my pick in the second. If I had thought I would be able to get him there, I probably would have gone Ellsbury in the first. He continues to put up huge power numbers and counting stats in one of the best lineups in baseball, and like Kinsler, has underperformed his expected BABIPs pretty significantly the last two years. If that finally starts to even out, his average should climb back to the mid-.270s.
Worst Pick: I wouldn’t have taken Mike Stanton as early as he went, but I hardly think it’s a bad pick and there really isn’t anything else that remotely qualifies.
My Pick: Zack Greinke. My fifth ranked starting pitcher this year and I was pretty happy to get him 39th overall. I think there’s a decent drop off in hitting between the second and third rounds, and I don’t see a huge difference between the first and second tier pitchers. As such, I’ll be by-passing that first tier of pitchers going in the second round in order to grab a bat and wait until the Lee, Greinke, Lincecum, and Sabathia territory to grab my ace.
Best Pick: Ryan Braun. Pretty good spot to take a chance on Braun, who would return massive value should his suspension be overturned. Even with the suspension I have him at .322-74-23-75-18, which when combined with a waiver wire replacement could still outproduce guys like Holliday, McCutchen, and Pence who are all being taken in a similar spot.
Worst Pick: Starlin Castro. The only saving grace for this pick is how ridiculously bad shortstop is this year. Castro should hit for good average, but he doesn’t have a ton of power and his poor stolen base success rate doesn’t bode well for getting many attempts with stat-man Theo Epstein now pulling the strings. He should still put up pretty good numbers for a shortstop hitting in the middle of the Cubs’ lineup, but it’s going to be tough for him to put up stats that justify a mid-third round pick.
My Pick: Kevin Youkilis. I wasn’t too happy with my options at this point. One of my main strategies when drafting is to avoid picking the best players in each tier. My goal is to pick the players with large drop-offs between them and the next best available position. By waiting to grab those players, I am able to draft players with a similar value as higher ranked players (in the same tier) as late as possible. With this pick, it seemed to be that I’d be picking from the top of almost any positional tier and that’s not a spot I like to be in. Because of this I decided that I’d draft from a positional tier that I felt would be most likely to run out before it got to my pick again. With the shallowness of third base this year, I felt like there was a good chance that the next tier would run out before my fifth round pick. The two that stood out were the super injury-prone third-basemen: Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez. In retrospective I think I would rather have taken Rodriguez, but both players are very similar in that they’re pretty much guaranteed to put up good numbers while they’re playing, but are also pretty much guaranteed to miss time due to injuries.
Best Pick: Brandon Phillips. Keeping with my strategy to draft from the bottom of tiers, I see quite a drop-off after Phillips at second base and thus I quite like the pick there. His 30-30 and even 20-20 seasons are probably a thing of the past, but he still provides quite a bit of value as a good five-category contributor who hits at the front end of a very potent line-up.
Worst Pick: Elvis Andrus. I just don’t see the point of drafting Andrus here when the manager in question already had drafted Starlin Castro. He’s practically a black-hole in two categories and most of his value is tied to him playing shortstop. With a shortstop already on the roster, Andrus slides into the middle infield position where his value is severely stunted. Another problem I have with the pick is that there is just better pure value out there than Andrus in the fourth round.
My Pick: Shane Victorino. I didn’t want to get too far into the draft without an outfielder seeing as how we start five of them. Victorino is a solid contributor across the board without much downside or risk. Definitely a guy worth a late fifth round pick, especially in a 14-team league.
Best Pick: Mike Napoli. If Napoli continues to go this late (58th overall) then I’ll be drafting him in pretty much every league. He put up an absolutely monster season and I expect he should see more playing time in 2012 which could cancel out any expected regression. He shouldn’t be expected to put up another batting average like he did last year, but a catcher with 30-homerun power in the middle of a great Rangers’ line up holds a ton of value.
Worst Pick: Victor Martinez. lolz.
My Pick: Corey Hart. I was very happy to grab Hart here as I’m expecting pretty big things from him in 2012. After missing some time in the first half, Hart put up some monster numbers after the break, going .296-54-18-41-5 in the second half. While he won’t have Fielder to drive him in, and Braun may miss a third of the season, Hart shouldn’t have too much of a problem driving in runs from the middle part of the order. Another five category contributor, and I feel like I have a pretty balanced offense so far.
Best Pick: Michael Young. Great positional eligibilty, great consistency, great line up, and great drop-offs after him at second and third base. Definitely solid value in the sixth round.
Worst Pick: Buster Posey. Ugh, I love me some Buster, but there are quite a few comparable catchers on the board that all carry less risk than a guy who missed most of the season due to a severe injury. Matt Wieters, Miguel Montero, Joe Mauer, and Alex Avila are all guys with similar value who went up to three rounds later.
My Pick: Miguel Montero. Two catcher league and I really wanted to make sure I got a guy from this tier. The drop off from Montero and Avila to the next tier of catchers is pretty huge and I didn’t want to end up with two scrap-heap catchers.
Best Pick: Madison Bumgarner. Sure I’m a huge Giants homer, but I absolutely love Bumgarner this year. In 2011 he put up the fourth best FIP and seventh best xFIP of all qualified starters. He also showed excellent command with a 4.15 K/BB as a 21 year old. I have him aggressively ranked as the 10th overall starter this year, and as the 20th off the board in the seventh round, he should provide significant value.
Worst Pick: Carlos Beltran. Pretty high pick for a guy who probably won’t stay healthy enough to reach 20 homeruns and has no more running game. If he stays healthy all season it’s a fine pick, but hoping for that is quite a stretch and he really doesn’t have a ton of upside anymore. There are quite a few less risk, higher reward guys left that I would take over Beltran.
My Pick: Josh Beckett. Beckett had a big comeback year after a 2010 filled with injuries and bad luck. While he most likely won’t see many more sub-3.00 ERA seasons, he should provide solid ratios to go along with a good number of strikeouts. With the Red Sox line up behind him it’s fair to project quite a few wins as well, making him a solid number two starter to go along with Greinke.
Best Pick: Jayson Werth. It’d be hard for Werth not to bounce back next year after his disastrous first year in Washington where he still almost went 20-20. His batting average should bounce back a bit into the .260 range so he’ll provide solid four-category contribution without hurting you too bad in the fifth. I actually feel like there’s a pretty big drop off at outfield after Werth, so he’s definitely a guy I’ll be targetting this year.
Worst Pick: Dee Gordon. Yikes, probably the worst pick in the draft so far by a decent margin. I’m not sure he would have been on anyone else’s radar for awhile yet. He’s basically a one-category guy who will provide a decent amount of runs, but is basically a black hole in two categories as well. I know shortstop is shallow, but there are about eight more shortstops available that I’d take over him, with two of them not going until the 16th and 18th rounds.
My Pick: Matt Garza. I actually Garza ranked above quite a few of the pitchers already taken. The switch to the National League was a succesfull one for Garza, who put up career numbers across the board that were all supported by his peripheral stats. Garza should put up very similar numbers to Beckett, with less injury risk and less potential for wins as the Cubs’ offense looks pretty weak. The draft is reaching a point where the elite strikeout guys are running out, and grabbing Garza here helps provide my staff with about 600 strikeouts from my top three guys. Not too shabby out of a third, an eighth, and a ninth round picks.
Best Pick: Matt Garza. The first time I’ve used my own pick. I simply like Garza quite a bit more than anyone else taken this round and more than a handful of the pitchers that were taken in the late eighth and early ninth.
Worst Pick: Dustin Ackley. Ackley is one of those guys who seems like a better real life prospect than fantasy prospect. While he may reach double digit homeruns and stolen bases, I don’t see much more than that. His run and RBI totals will be stunted by the weak Mariners’ line up and he’ll probably won’t provide much help in average. He’s a guy that won’t really hurt you in any category, but that’s not the type of guy you should be aiming for this until late in the draft. Similar to Dee Gordon, there are about six second basemen I’d take before Ackley, and they don’t run out until the sixteenth round.
My Pick: Derek Jeter. Shortstop was running pretty thin and I figured it was time to jump on Jeter. His first half was a little scary and though he’s that he’s at the point in his career where he could completely collapse, I’m willing to take that risk after he hit .331 in the second half with big run and RBI totals. He’s still hitting in the Yankee line up, and at the least he should provide a lot of runs with a good average. Not many other shortstops left can provide that kind of production.
Best Pick: David Ortiz. Weird to pick a UTIL only player, but he gets this spot almost by default as this might be my least favorite round in the entire draft. The pitchers taken this round were probably all in the right area, but almost every position player taken seemed overdrafted. With a middle infield, corner infield, and five outfield slots, keeping the utility slot open isn’t as important as it might be in shallower leagues. Ortiz could put up the best pure stats of anyone taken in the last couple of rounds and it seems like that’s enough to make it worth the poor positional eligibility.
Worst Pick: Mike Moustakas. He could break out and make me look like a fool, but this seems like quite a reach for a guy who didn’t show much in his first stint in the majors. He’s still only 23 and has plenty of time to develop, but I think it’s a year early to be targeting him at this point in the draft. I can see the desire to get a third basemen with potential as the position was running thin at this point, but I feel like he could have been had later and there were still a handful of guys with similar value on the board.
My Pick: Nick Markakis. Another five category guy and I have him higher on my board than about 10 outfielders that were already taken. He’s not what I would call a sexy pick, but he’s reliable and pretty consistent and could easily provide more then 11th round value. As long as he recovers from his abdominal surgery by opening day, I’m pretty happy with him as a third outfielder at this point in the draft.
Best Pick: Gio Gonzalez. Elite strikeout guy with solid ratios and improving command moving from the American League to the National League? Sign me up. Gio is everything I hoped Jonathan Sanchez would become, and should provide quite a return for a 12th round pick. Any more improvements in command and he could easily turn into a top 20 or even top 15 guy. This draft was done before I did my pitcher projections, and now that they’re done I think I’d feel comfortable with Gonzalez as early as the eighth round.
Worst Pick: Aaron Hill. Ew.
My Pick: Brian Wilson. My first closer in the 12th round and he has some of the best job security in baseball. Injury is about the only way Wilson would lose his job, and though it was something he dealt with in 2011, he should be fully healthy in 2012. Wilson has been known to pitch through injury so there’s a good chance that his horrid walk rate was do in part to that. While his ratios probably won’t blow you away like a lot of other closers, he should continue to rack up strike outs and there’s quite a bit of value in a closer who gets as many save opportunities and has as much job security as Wilson.
Best Pick: Yu Darvish. I see a pretty big drop-off among starting pitchers after those that went in the 11th round and that makes this a prime time to take a shot on Yarvish. He’s a high risk, high reward would could outperform quite a few of the pitchers taken in front of him and this is as good as a point as any to take that risk and draft him. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to pitching every fifth day, using a larger ball, and facing major league pitching, but even with those hurdles, it’s clear he has talent.
Worst Pick: Mark Trumbo. I would think this pick was fine if there wasn’t so much uncertainty about Trumbo’s playing time heading into next year. Unless the Angels decide to give Trumbo a shot at thirdbase (which would make this a pretty awesome pick), they have three guys all vying for time as the team’s designated hitter role. The team is going to have to find a way to get Trumbo, Morales, and Abreu playing time and with Pujols at first, and a full outfield, Trumbo’s chances at a full time role look pretty slim. As we get into spring training we should get an idea of the Angels’ plans and get a better handle of how Trumbo will be used thus and his fantasy value.
My Pick: Joakim Soria. Back to back closer picks in the twelfth and thirteenth round and I quickly have one of the best closer duos in the draft. Like Wilson, Soria dealt with some injuries last year, but he still put up solid peripherals and his high ERA seems to have been caused by an unlucky hit rate, strand rate, and homerun rate. As those numbers regress we should see his ratios come back to a more acceptable level which would likely put Soria right back into the top 10.
Best Pick: Wandy Rodriguez. He may have a AAA team for run support (like, almost literally), but wins are a finicky stat and he’s one of the last starters left who will contribute quite a bit in all three categories that he can control. There’s a pretty good chance that he’s traded at some point this season, and it’s unlikely that such a thing would hurt his value. The prospect of moving out of Minute Maid Park and onto a team that will provide offensive support should only improve Wandy’s draft stock.
Worst Pick: David Freese. Only two people in the draft at this point didn’t have a third baseman, meaning a guy like Freese wasn’t in very high demand. It’s not that he was too bad of a pick here value-wise, just that with a couple comparable third basemen left and nobody in need of one, it wasn’t a necessary to take Freese at this point.
My Pick: Tim Hudson. He’ll turn 37 half way through the season, but he’s never been a big strikeout guy, but there’s no reason to think he won’t keep putting up very good ratios. With a solid Braves’ line up behind him, there’s no reason he shouldn’t get back into the 14-15 win range again, making him a solid three category guy and a good match with my top three high strikeout starters.
Best Pick: Meh. A lot of pitchers went in this round and nobody really stands out as a good pick. I think it was a pretty standard round all around.
Worst Pick: Adam Dunn. Someone is gonna take a shot at Dunn at some point, I just doubt it’ll be me. He’s only eligible at first base and will absolutely crush your average and provide no speed. He should still hit a decent number of home runs, but his average means he’ll probably post pretty pathetic run and RBI numbers despite that. Even assuming he regresses back toward his career numbers, he’s not a guy I want to own this year.
My Pick: Torii Hunter. I really feel like Hunter falling this late is a severe case of ageism. Sure he’s getting old and doesn’t have a huge ceiling anymore, but he’s consistent and is probably hitting clean up in a pretty good line up. That alone should provide a good amount of value from RBIs and runs, and he still has 20 home run power with decent speed and average. He won’t light the world on fire, but as a fourth outfielder in the fifteenth round I’m glad to have him.
Best Pick: Torii Hunter. Only the second time I’ve picked my own guy, and I just really like Hunter at this point in the draft. Now that I’ve done my outfield rankings, I actually have him ranked over quite a few outfielders who were already taken. It’s not easy to find a guy with across the board production this deep in the draft.
Worst Pick: Gordan Beckham. I know he’s a middle infielder, but I see almost no upside with this pick. He doesn’t hit for average, or much power, and has very little speed. I might take a shot at him in the last round, but there are quite a few other second basemen (and even some shortstops) that I’d prefer over Beckham, especially in the fifteenth round.
My Pick: Ryan Roberts. My favorite thing about Ryan Roberts this year is the dual second and third base eligibility. With my second and third base roster spots being held by Kinsler and Youkilis, having a guy with Roberts’ eligibility can be pretty valuable. He’ll probably do a bit of damage with his average, but I could see mid-teen home run and stolen base totals with decent counting stats depending on where he hits in the Diamondbacks’ line up. I’m not expecting anything spectacular, but his eligibility makes him a pretty solid pick this late.
Best Pick: Martin Prado. With how shallow third base is looking this year, it’s surprising that he was still around this late. His value mostly lies in a very good batting average, but he has mid-teen power as well and should put up decent counting stats hitting second in the Atlanta line up. Considering there were comparable or worse third basemen who went multiple rounds earlier, Prado could provide pretty good value at this point in the draft.
Worst Pick: Mike Adams. We’re really getting to the point where I have to stretch to find bad picks. I’m not necessarily opposed to taking elite relievers at this point, but there are still guys with closer jobs out there and Adams is the first non-closer reliever that has been drafted so far. The main problem I have with is that due to the move from the NL to the AL and from an insane pitcher’s park to a park that greatly favors hitters. With these factors in play I’m not sure Adams is the elite middle reliever he has been in the past and I think there are better options out there if you want to go that route. Of course Nathan could get hurt again or be ineffective and Adams could take over his job and have a huge season, and I’ll have to come back and edit this so I don’t look like such a fool.
My Pick: Chris Heisey. I made this pick right after the Reds signed Ryan Ludwick and I hadn’t heard about the signing yet. Still, Heisey has pretty big power potential at a time in the draft where power is running thin. His average won’t help much but he has a bit of speed and he’s hitting in a great park and in a pretty good line up. His value definitely took a hit as it looks like he’ll have to share time with Ludwick, but given enough playing time he could provide a ton of value for a 17th round pick. Both Heisey and Ludwick are right handed hitters, so there’s no real platoon there, though the Reds might feel that Heisey’s struggles against lefties so far (in a small sample) is a real problem. His backward platoon splits have him with very good numbers against righties, so he should still see the majority of playing time even with Ludwick on the roster.
Best Pick: Chris Sale and Daniel Bard. Both these guys are similar picks in that they have put up great numbers as relief pitchers in their careers thus far and are both being moved to their respective rotations. Both guys will have inning caps going into the season which stunts their value a bit, but they should be decently quality innings with good strikeout rates. This makes them more value in inning cap leagues, but they’re worth a late round pick in pretty much any league and can be dropped for a waiver wire replacement if their teams shut them down at some point late in the season.
Worst Pick: Grady Sizemore. People will take fliers on him with the hope that he can get back to being even a fraction of his pre-injury self, but I just don’t see it. His average will kill you, injuries have sapped his power and speed, and the majority of the season he’ll probably be taking up a DL slot on your roster. He’s probably worth grabbing at some point, but there are still a ton of outfielders I’d rather have here in the draft.
My Pick: Gavin Floyd. Even though his ERA doesn’t show it, Floyd has actually gotten better since his 2008 where he put up a 3.84 and somehow managed 17 wins. He has under-performed his peripherals the last three years and is a pretty good bet to get back to a sub-4.00 ERA if his luck evens out. He strikes out a decent number of batters and should put up solid numbers across the board and is a great fifth starters in a 14 team league.
Best Pick: John Danks and Gavin Floyd. I prefer Danks slightly more than Floyd, but I have the two White Sox pitchers projected for very similar stats. Starters that can produce in all four categories are hard to find at this point in the draft and these are two guys that can do it.
Worst Pick: Yonder Alonso. As a catcher in Cincinnati I would have loved him with this pick. As an outfielder in Petco? Not so much. Alonso has plenty of potential, but I don’t see a ton of value this year in what is most likely going to be a part-time role in the most pitcher-friendly park in the majors on an offense that doesn’t score runs. I could see taking a shot a few rounds later, but I think there are guys available with more defined roles and in better positions to contribute to a fantasy team.
My Pick: Jason Bay. Nineteen round? Sure he’s been pretty bad the last couple of years, but he’s still only two years removed from a monster season where he hit 36 home runs. I wouldn’t expect him to come anywhere near those numbers again, especially at Citi Field and in the Mets’ line up, but I think he’s a very good bet to surpass 19th round value in a 14 team league. Other than a freak injury in 2010, 2011 was the first year Bay missed any significant amount of time due to injury. Good health along with the walls moving in at Citi, could mean a bounce-back season for Bay in 2012.
Best Pick: Jason Bay. By default because none of the other guys drafted this round are anywhere near my radar.
Worst Pick: Meh.
My Pick: Kurt Suzuki. Needed a second catcher, Suzuki was the best catcher left in my rankings, and I actually have him ranked higher than a lot of catchers that already went.
Best Pick: Roy Oswalt, Ricky Nolasco, Ted Lilly. My 53rd, 54th, and 56th ranked starters respectively and they’re still around in the 20th round. Boy, pitching is deep this year.
Worst pick: I’m done, most of these picks are filler and personal sleepers and it’s hard to have a bad one.
Best of the Rest: Michael Brantley, J.D. Martinez, Ryan Vogelsong, Seth Smith, Chipper Jones, Nolan Reimold.
Michael Marinakis is a 26-year-old Giants' fan who took 2011 off from fantasy baseball to bask in the glory of the World Series victory. He's now back in the game and looking forward to another year of baseball obsession. You can find him on the forums where he posts as GiantsFan14.
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