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RotoBaller Early Mock Draft Analysis (Rounds 1-2)

I know what you are probably thinking as you click this link, who is doing fantasy baseball drafts in October and November?! Well, the answer to that is 10 Rotoballer Fantasy Baseball enthusiasts who are already longing for the long hot days of summer and the return of everyday baseball.

This is the first of many staff mock drafts that you will see appearing on the site over the coming months. Today I am going to be breaking down the first two rounds to look at early strategies and who might be surprise first rounders this season. I will also be looking at where feels like the right place to take the first pitcher and who it should be.

If you have any questions, comments or just want to tell me how wrong I am, feel free to Tweet meĀ @benrolfe15

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Early 2019 Mock Results

Click table to see enlarged view


Round 1

1.01 Mookie Betts, OF, BOS

1.02 Mike Trout, OF, LAA

It was no surprise to see Mookie Betts and Mike Trout go off the board with the first two picks. I was hoping one of them would fall to three, but it was not to be. I could have easily made a case for either of these guys as the first overall pick. However, with Betts being in the slightly better offense and coming off a monster .346 batting average this is the way I would have gone with pick #1.

If this was an OBP league, I would have leaned to Trout, because despite Betts superior average Trout had a higher OBP at .460 and has been over .400 each of the last three years. Even in a standard league, if you want a sure-fire cannot miss pick at #1, then Trout is probably your guy, but Betts might just offer that slightly higher ceiling in that standard format.

1.03 Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, CLE

1.04 Francisco Lindor, SS, CLE

This was another either/or for me with the number three pick. I very very nearly leaned to Lindor for the shortstop eligibility and later in the draft I kind of wish I had. Ramirez had the advantage in steals last season and had a plus .300 batting average more recently, so he is perhaps the slightly safer pick. However, as much as improved as the shortstop position is I found myself scrambling later in the draft and for that reason, I wish I had gone Lindor at three. If Ramirez is eligible at second base in your league, then that might just swing the pendulum back his way but if not then I would now lean Lindor.

1.05 Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL

1.06 Manny Machado, 3B/SS, FA

It is always going to be hard to ignore Arenado while he plays baseball in Colorado. The boost that park gives takes him from being very good to being one of the absolute elite. He can help you in four categories, and he never seems to miss time recently. The lack of steals should not concern you because there are not many five categories studs outside the top four.

Machado was a little bit of a reach in my opinion given the uncertainty of where he plays baseball next year. However, I have already discussed locking up shortstop early and the benefit that brings. There is a good chance picking in the six spot that none of Machado, Turner or Bregman are going to be available in round two. Therefore, I have no issue if you want to gamble on where Machado lands, lock up shortstop and get really solid four category production.

1.07 Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU

1.08 Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI

There are two things that stand out about this pair of hitters. Firstly, their struggles at times in 2018 are great evidence for why the safety Trout brings should make him the number one overall pick. Both of these guys have been discussed in that #1 spot in recent years and have had struggles. Secondly, this is a story of lost stolen bases. Altuve's steals nearly halved from 2017 to 2018, and that is a major loss. Of all the declines he had last season that one concerns me the most. The numbers are there to suggest it was maybe injury and bad luck which brought down the home runs, runs and RBI. However, generally, players decide whether to steal or not and the fact those numbers are down worries me. Again injuries may play a part, but if it is a philosophy change from Altuve and the team, then he loses quite a lot of value. This pick sort of splits what he could be. If he gets everything clicking and steals his bases, then he is a top-five selection. If he does not, then he is closer to being a second-round selection.

Goldschmidt also saw his steals drop off for a second year running and that is enough to drop him from top three contention to back end of the first round. He got there in a weird way, but the rest of the numbers are fairly similar, so it is just the difference between a five-category contributor and a four-category guy that means this is not the bargain you might have thought a year ago.

1.09 JD Martinez, OF, BOS

1.10 Christian Yelich, OF, MIL

I think this is a bargain for Martinez. He is essentially Arenado in terms of production, and he is arguably in a better offense. If he were DH-only, then I would see him going down here, but for me, he should have been the pick at six. I can see why scarcity of the middle infield was valued first, but he definitely should have been above Goldschmidt.

If Yelich repeats 2018's numbers in 2019, then we will be talking about him with Trout and Betts next year. He had a monster year, and power was the big differentiation mark for him from the past. Now the question is whether that is a park effect or an aberration. If it was a park effect, then we could very easily be seeing this as a tremendous value by the end of 2019. I love this pick and Yelich is the reason why I want to pick in the back half of the first round in 2019.


Round 2

The young infielders

I love pairing Alex Bregman with Yelich to give such an incredibly balanced start to a draft. It really allows you to go anywhere in the rest of the draft and means you are not chasing statistics in the next few rounds. The same goes for getting Trea Turner to pair with Martinez. You have the power, and now you have the steals without taking a zero in the power column.

Towards the back end of the second round was Javier Baez. He has a lower floor than either Turner or Bregman, and we have only really seen him do it all once. However, locking up your middle infield with Lindor and Baez is a fantastic way to start your draft and means you will have a better middle infield than anyone else in the draft and follows the Major League model of building strong up the middle.

The outfield run

We had a run on outfielders in the middle of the second round. Hopefully, Harper continues his yo-yo effect of the last few years with his batting average so we can see him climb back over .300. If he does, then you are probably getting first-round numbers in the middle of the second round. If he doesn't, then at least you are unlikely to have a complete bust.

Aaron Judge and Ronald Acuna have some similarities. Both have a lot of swing-and-miss in their game, but both have a ton of talent. Both can put up per game numbers equivalent to a first round pick, but as with any young player, there is a chance the bottom falls out somewhat. Combining Judge and Altuve could be a great pair if Altuve gives you the steals and Judge the power. Grabbing Acuna when you have Arenado is a great case of adding incredible ceiling to superb safety.

We end with Charlie Blackmon who saw some decline last year. At 32 age is against him bouncing back but things were not wildly out of whack last season, so it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he bounces back. If he does, then you have a nice little five-category contributor in the middle of the second round.

The first pitcher!

I could not believe Max Scherzer fell to me at this spot! I was actually looking at the Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Jacob deGrom group but happily gobbled him up when he got to me. Your strategy at pitcher should depend on the size of the league. In 10-team leagues, my strategy is to get a couple of really good ones early, grab some nice upside in the middle and then stream at the bottom end, because in shallow leagues there is a lot of pitching depth throughout the season. In the same vein, in 10-team leagues, you can often find contributing hitters on the waiver wire during the season. This draft played perfectly into my hands, but I am not sure I would be this lucky again. However, if this was Sale in this spot, I would still have taken a pitcher here. I would actually have taken Scherzer with pick 11 if I had been able to get Yelich at 10.

The elder statesmen

Both of these pics are absolutely fine ways to end the round. Stanton has the incredible upside but even what he did last year is more than enough on the swing. I am not sure I want to start my draft with two outfielders, but the ceiling of Stanton in New York means I understand why you would do it.

Freeman is frankly a little boring but that is not a bad thing. You can feel fairly safe with what you are getting, but unfortunately, the power is now a little underwhelming. However, first base is really ugly once it gets a little deeper, so I understand wanting this safety to combine with the also safe option of Trout.


The Final Word

I love some of the pairs in these two rounds. Yelich and Martinez could be the steals of the draft that late in the first round, as could Scherzer. Acuna and Judge perhaps have the biggest bust potential just simply because of their strikeout rate. However, their upside means they are worth the second-round gamble. The lesson for me here is that there is a lot of value in locking up shortstop at some point in these two rounds. I would not reach for any of them, but if you are between two players, then the positional element is a nice tiebreaker.

More 2019 MLB Advice and Analysis