Draft Strategy: Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 1-5

RotoBaller Richie Smith helps you prepare for your fantasy baseball drafts by taking part in a mock draft and analyzing the best and worst picks of each round. Need draft help? Look no further!

Richie Smith - RotoBaller


Mock Draft Analysis Rounds 1-5

I recently completed my first mock draft of the season. I definitely recommend that everyone who plays fantasy baseball participate in at least one mock draft prior to their real draft, and if you can do a mock draft where you’re able to draft in the same slot as you will be drafting for real (for example, by setting the options in the Draft Wizard), that’s even better.

This is Part One of my three-part series, during which I will be breaking down the draft through the first 15 rounds. Today, I’ll be examining the first five rounds, Tuesday rounds 6-10, and rounds 11-15 on Thursday. In this 12 team, 5x5 category snake draft, I was randomly slotted into the third overall pick. Let’s get into it!


Round 1

(1) Team Temple - Miguel Cabrera 3B
(2) Team Zeka - Mike Trout CF
(3) Team Smith - Paul Goldschmidt 1B
(4) Team Boudreau - Andrew McCutchen CF
(5) Team Baker - Carlos Gonzalez LF
(6) Team Ford - Hanley Ramirez SS
(7) Team Del - Chris Davis 1B
(8) Team wertz - Prince Fielder 1B
(9) Team Jenkins - Jacoby Ellsbury CF
(10) Team Falcone - Clayton Kershaw SP
(11) Team Neitzel - Edwin Encarnacion 1B
(12) Team Ruffo - Ryan Braun LF

My pick: Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks. I was generally happy with my position in the third spot, because once you get past the top three picks this year, I believe that the next handful of players are all pretty much the same value. So if I don’t have a top three pick where I know I can get Trout, Cabrera or Goldschmidt, I’d much rather have a pick that’s later in the first round. Goldschmidt is the best overall first baseman, and I think there are far more productive outfielders than first basemen, which is why I went Goldy over McCutchen. He’s a great player to build my fantasy team around.

Other observations: Nothing too outlandish here. I’m fine with Cabrera over Trout first overall, especially given that the 3B position gets scarce very quickly, although I personally would go with Trout. It was interesting to see Prince Fielder go at number eight. This might be a pick or two too high for him, as I’ve seen drafts in which he has dropped all the way to the middle of the second round. But he’s in for a monster season with the move to Texas, and with both Goldschmidt and Davis off the board already, I think the pick is OK if you want to go for a 1B at #8. I also like the Braun pick at 12. It feels like people have taken the steroid stuff too far. This guy is still an elite hitter (he was a top three pick just last year), and he should produce this season.


Round 2

(13) Team Ruffo - Adam Jones CF
(14) Team Neitzel - Robinson Cano 2B
(15) Team Falcone - Adrian Beltre 3B
(16) Team Jenkins - Troy Tulowitzki SS
(17) Team wertz - Yu Darvish SP
(18) Team Del - Evan Longoria 3B
(19) Team Ford - David Wright 3B
(20) Team Baker - Bryce Harper LF
(21) Team Boudreau - Carlos Gomez CF
(22) Team Smith - Joey Votto 1B
(23) Team Zeka - Dustin Pedroia 2B
(24) Team Temple - Adam Wainwright SP

My pick: Joey Votto, Reds. In the first two rounds, I am a big proponent of taking the best position player available, regardless of his position or filling needs. That was the case with my second pick. At the end of the second round, I was quite pleased to see Votto still on the board, and I gladly took him, despite my first-round pick having been a 1B. Most leagues play with a UTIL or a CI position, and so I could plug Goldschmidt and Votto into the lineup with no issue (obviously, if your league does not play with those other positions, you probably shouldn't take a second 1B if you were in my situation). Votto’s power numbers may never consistently get to the 30+ HR level that we thought they might have a couple years ago, but he hits for a superb average, gets on base and scores a ton of runs. Additionally, having two of the top five first basemen could definitely be used to my advantage in the league.

Other observations: Again, nothing too crazy going on in this round. I’ve seen Adrian Beltre go in the first round in many expert drafts, so to get him in the second round I think is a great pick. He is as consistent as they come at the 3B position, and with Fielder now hitting behind him in the Rangers’ lineup, he should continue to mash. Cano is a clear cut 1st rounder in many drafts, so he's nice value as well. I do think #23 is a bit too early for Pedroia. He’s a great player, but a better real-life player than fantasy player. He does a lot of things well, but no one thing spectacularly. Also, given Team Zeka’s draft position, he could have waited another four picks and likely still been able to pick up Pedroia with his third round pick.


Round 3

(25) Team Temple - Cliff Lee SP
(26) Team Zeka - Freddie Freeman 1B
(27) Team Smith - Jason Kipnis 2B
(28) Team Boudreau - Ian Desmond SS
(29) Team Baker - Stephen Strasburg SP
(30) Team Ford - Shin-Soo Choo CF
(31) Team Del - Jay Bruce RF
(32) Team wertz - Yasiel Puig RF
(33) Team Jenkins - Felix Hernandez SP
(34) Team Falcone - Giancarlo Stanton RF
(35) Team Neitzel - Alex Rios RF
(36) Team Ruffo - Jose Reyes SS

My pick: Jason Kipnis, Indians. At this point in drafts, after you’ve got your two cornerstone players, it’s OK to start thinking about position scarcity and filling needs. I was contemplating either Kipnis or Desmond with this pick, but I ultimately went with Kipnis. In hindsight, I may have gone with Desmond because he is a 20/20 machine-- the SS position gets scary after the top few are gone and 2B isn’t nearly as shallow as it’s perceived to be. Either one would have been fine, so I was still happy with Kipnis. I would have taken Kipnis over Pedroia at the 2B position anyway, so needless to say, I was glad that Kipnis was still there with my pick in the third round. Despite Kipnis’s awful April in 2013, he still finished with really good numbers, and should have another great year in Cleveland.

Other observations: I’m not sure what to make of the Puig pick. I know 30 is around his ADP, but I keep going back and forth about what my expectations are. I think he’ll be good, but top-10 OF good? I’m not sure. If you take away his first 100 at-bats last year, when he hit .436, 7 HR, 16 RBI, and 19 R, his numbers were fairly pedestrian. Buyer beware…  If Stanton stays healthy, which is a huge “if”, he’ll be really good value at the end of the third round. Reyes is also a tricky proposition, as I think his body is not built for playing on the tough artificial turf. But he should be a top SS if he can play a full season.


Round 4

(37) Team Ruffo - Ian Kinsler 2B
(38) Team Neitzel - Max Scherzer SP
(39) Team Falcone - Elvis Andrus SS
(40) Team Jenkins - David Price SP
(41) Team wertz - Buster Posey C
(42) Team Del - Jose Bautista RF
(43) Team Ford - Adrian Gonzalez 1B
(44) Team Baker - Craig Kimbrel RP
(45) Team Boudreau - Hunter Pence RF
(46) Team Smith - Madison Bumgarner SP
(47) Team Zeka - Chris Sale SP
(48) Team Temple - Justin Upton LF

My pick: Madison Bumgarner, Giants. With my first three position players locked in, I began to consider pitching, especially since at the end of the fourth round, I didn’t see any huge difference makers left at the position spots. I'd been eyeing Bautista, and if he was still available at my pick, I would have taken him in a heartbeat, but unfortunately he went a few spots ahead of me. So I grabbed Bumgarner, who is a stud on the mound and a superb option to man the front end of my fantasy rotation. He’s thrown 200+ innings in each of his first three full seasons in the league, and I think he’ll be in the NL Cy Young discussion this year. I was also considering Chris Sale, who went right after my pick, as I didn’t see much difference between the two lefties. But when talking about starting pitching, I always use NL over AL as the tiebreaker, so I went with Bumgarner.

I was contemplating Upton at this spot, but he’s a very streaky hitter, and I wouldn’t want to deal with that on a weekly basis. He’s more valuable in roto leagues than head-to-head formats, since you know his numbers will be there at the end of the year.

Other observations: A daily double of my two biggest fantasy baseball pet peeves! First, the fourth round is way too early for a RP. I don’t care that it’s Kimbrel, who is hands-down the best closer in the game. The position is too volatile, and you can get 90% of Kimbrel’s value significantly later on in the draft. Unless you are in a 20-team league or have to start five RP or something crazy like that, do yourself a favor and hold off on a RP until after you’ve set up the majority of your team.

Secondly, similarly, the fourth round is way too early to select a catcher. I wrote about this, among other things, in my article about draft strategies, but it’s worth repeating: catchers equal fantasy football tight ends, in that they are all the same, except Buster Posey is nowhere near the difference maker that Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski is. Like Kimbrel, you can get 80-90% of Posey’s value much later in the draft-- to say nothing of the fact that catchers rarely play close to 162 games, and most will likely take one of every five or six games off, at least. I want to be one of the last teams in my league to draft a catcher.

Selections in the fourth round are vital to building the core of your team. Do not waste those crucial picks on players where the value many rounds later will be almost as good.


Round 5

(49) Team Temple - Eric Hosmer 1B
(50) Team Zeka - Ryan Zimmerman 3B
(51) Team Smith - Jose Fernandez SP
(52) Team Boudreau - David Ortiz DH
(53) Team Baker - Yoenis Cespedes LF
(54) Team Ford - Albert Pujols 1B
(55) Team Del - Matt Carpenter 2B
(56) Team wertz - Aroldis Chapman RP
(57) Team Jenkins - Yadier Molina C
(58) Team Falcone - Ben Zobrist 2B
(59) Team Neitzel - Josh Donaldson 3B
(60) Team Ruffo - Justin Verlander SP

My pick: Jose Fernandez, Marlins. My line of thinking going into the fifth round was similar to what it was at the end of the fourth, which makes sense because my picks were close together. I didn’t see any position player at this spot who I wouldn’t be able to get comparable value on if I waited another round or two. So I decided to go SP again. Fernandez’s rookie year was spectacular, and he should only get better moving forward as he polishes up a bit. Sure, the wins may not be there all the time given how putrid the Marlins are, but wins are somewhat hit-or-miss anyway, so I don’t think it’s a big deal (see Stephen Strasburg’s and David Price’s low 2013 win totals of eight and ten, respectively). Having Bumgarner and Fernandez at the top of my rotation is as good of a one-two punch as you can get.

Other observations: Pujols going in the middle of the fifth feels right to me. I could see someone taking a flier on him in the fourth round, but coming off such a hobbling injury and being a year older, I think he needs to prove that he's still an elite hitter before his ADP of around 50 moves back up the board. Justin Verlander with the last selection of this round (60th overall) is a fantastic pick, in my opinion. I think he will have a mini-bounceback year (his 2013 really wasn’t that bad, relatively speaking), and again put up ace-like numbers.

So to recap, here’s my team after five rounds:

1(3).  Paul Goldschmidt- 1B

2(22).  Joey Votto- UTL

3(27). Jason Kipnis- 2B

4(46). Madison Bumgarner- SP

5(51). Jose Fernandez- SP


I think this puts me in a really good position to move into the middle rounds of the draft. Check back on Tuesday to see how rounds 6-10 turned out!

Week 8 Waiver Wire & FAAB Bids