January Expert Mock Draft Analysis - Rounds 2-4

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The 2018 MLB season is drawing closer and here at RotoBaller, it is draft season! 12 of our esteemed writers did a 23-round mock draft this past week and now we are here to analyze the draft results. The mock draft was for a traditional 5X5 league, with the only real curveball being that the league was a two-catcher format. These were the owners in draft order: Chris Zolli, Harris Yudin, Troy Klauder, Kevin Luchansky, Pierre Camus, Max Petrie, Nick Mariano, Max Brill, Connor McEleney, Kyle Bishop, Mario Hernandez, and Andrew Le.

This article will take a look at the 2nd-4th rounds of this week's mock draft. While the first round is usually relatively predictable, value starts to be found as the draft moves into the second and third rounds and owners start to form their strategies for the draft. Owners can also get sucked into draft trends (like a run of pitchers or first basemen), but it is important to make sure that you are getting your most valuable players early in the draft. Staying true to your draft strategy is important and will help you win your fantasy league!

On to the analysis! To start with a breakdown of Round 1, click here. You can also see the full draft results here, which took place on RT Sports.

Editor's Note: Our friends at RT Sports have best ball leagues with no in-season management. Just draft your team, and that's it! Use your phone for this casual draft by getting emails or texts when you're on the clock. Sign Up Now!

 

RotoBaller Mock Draft Results - Rounds 2-4

 
Round 2

After the first round was pretty much as cut and paste as could be with ADP (Trea Turner being taken third overall was the only surprise), owners worked to build their roster in the second round. Four owners opted for the more balanced option of picking a pitcher and hitter with their two picks and pitchers were drafted seventh and eighth in this round, with Corey Kluber going to Max Petrie and Chris Sale going to Pierre. This comes after Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer went in the first round and shows that there is a firm stable of top pitchers in the league.

The other eight owners have two batters on their team and the turn picks for Andrew Le (Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant) provide the most balanced duo and also the tandem with the highest upside. Even though Bryant struggled a bit in 2017, seeing a dip in home runs and RBI, he improved his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage, slashing .295/.409/.537. The Cubs will work to get more runners on base in front of Bryant, but his skill set (with 1B/3B/OF eligiblity in some formats) will still make him a first round talent in the second round. Bryant has seen his OPS rise in each of his three full seasons, most impressively seeing his strikeouts drop from 199 in 2015 to just 128 last season. If he continues to be a .400 OBP player like 2017, and regains the power that saw him hit 39 home runs in his MVP 2016 season, Bryant will easily hit his value related to ADP.

Both of the big sluggers in the Bronx went near the front of the second round (Stanton 14th to Mario and Judge 18th to Nick), showing that their power and RBI can fuel a team. Jose Ramirez and Freddie Freeman also went in this round, showing the value of not only being a quality player, but also a quality player with positional eligibility. Bounce-back candidates Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson also went near the end of the round (22nd for Rizzo and 24th for Donaldson) and each player looks to regain their MVP status.

 

Round 3

By the third round of a draft, most owners have a good grasp on the team that they are trying to build. Five of the 12 teams in this mock draft opted against picking a pitcher in the first three rounds of the draft, with Andrew Le sticking out once again for the balanced attack that he is building. He added A.J. Pollock in this round, giving him three players that will likely have 70 home runs and 50 stolen bases combined in 2018. Harris also had an interesting start to the draft, as he picked Brian Dozier this round, giving him three middle infielders (he drafted Jose Altuve and Corey Seager) and cornering the market at an offensively challenged position like 2B.

This is also where we see the top free agent, J.D. Martinez, come off the board with the 27th pick. While he has yet to pick a team in free agency, Martinez is coming off of a prolific 2017 season, in which he hit 45 home runs in just 119 games. Fantasy owners will salivate over those power numbers, but Martinez has also only played 239 games over the last two seasons and has only played more than 123 games in one season (2015). That might be a bit too risky for some owners, but Martinez has shown that he is one of the top power hitters in baseball when he is on the field, posting a .900 OPS in three of the last four seasons. He has also posted a .300 batting average over that time period, showing that he is not just a power hitter.

The three starting pitchers that went this round showed the most that came off of the board thus far, but each (Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Noah Syndergaard) have their issues. Bumgarner and Syndergaard missed a majority of the 2017 season, but it may be just too tough to look away from the injury problems and scoop them up as your SP1. MadBum, 2017 aside, has been one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball. Bumgarner only made 17 starts last season after an ATV injury and was only 4-9 with a 3.32 ERA for the season, the second-worst ERA of his career. That being the case, the Giants are considerably better on offense with the additions of Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, putting Bumgarner in a better spot for wins, and the 28-year-old had made at least 31 starts in each of his previous six seasons. Strasburg is the healthiest of this group, but still has only made 75 starts over the last three seasons and topped 30 starts twice in his career.

 

Round 4

As we move to the fourth round, the most noticeable thing is that Kevin Luchansky and Troy Klauder have yet to pick a pitcher. Kevin opened the draft by going with Nolan Arenado, George Springer, Francisco Lindor, and Khris Davis, a strong base of power hitters. While Davis is not the most mainstream of power hitters, he does have 85 home runs over the last two seasons, tallying 100 or more RBI in each season. His .247 batting average over the last three seasons is less than ideal, but he can crush the ball and also scored 91 runs in 2017. Troy went with Anthony Rendon this round, adding him to Trea Turner, Anthony Rizzo, and J.D. Martinez. Rendon is a nice addition to the team with a mini-Nationals stack with Turner and, while I would not advocate having too many players from one team, having a top of the lineup and middle of the order bat for a productive offense never hurts.

Chris and Mario became the first two owners to have two starting pitchers this round, as Mario drafted Zack Greinke (adding him to Max Scherzer) and Chris drafted Jacob deGrom right after drafting Madison Bumgarner last round. It is a good strategy to load up on safer starting pitchers early and, while I might have stretched a bit by getting two pitchers within my first four picks, deGrom presented the best value on the board and gave me the opportunity to have two potential SP1. It is all about optimizing value and maintaining roster balance, so having two pitchers that are relatively safe for 30+ starts this early is a good safety blanket.

Dee Gordon went 40th in this draft, but his combination of speed and the addition of outfield eligibility may see him be a sleeper for the top-25. It may be tough for him to crack the ceiling of the upper tier of players, but the Mariners have a bevy of good run producers in Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager and the combination with Jean Segura at the top of the lineup will give Gordon the opportunity for stolen base attempts as well. Gordon is a safe bet to lead the American League in stolen bases (Whit Merrifield led the league in steals with 34 last season and Gordon has had at least 58 in three of the last four seasons) and it would not be wild to predict that he leads the league in runs scored as well. If he can post an average near his .308 from 2017, that is very good value.

 

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