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Fantasy Baseball: #2EarlyMock, Rounds 11 - 20

As I mentioned last week, I'm one of more than 100 fantasy analysts participating in this year's #2EarlyMock. It’s been a fun way to run out the clock on a 2018 season that has been forgettable for me in terms of both my personal fantasy performance and the IRL collapse of my preferred team. As fate would have it, I made my 20th round selection shortly before it was time to start writing this column.

If you're curious as to how other analysts are approaching their drafts, a tip of the cap to Smada, who is tracking all nine drafts in a Google spreadsheet which you can access here.

To reiterate: These are standard set-ups (12-team mixed, 5x5). I drew the ninth pick in league #2. Below you'll find my choices in rounds 11 – 20. For reference, I've included each players' ADP across all nine mocks.

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My #2Early Picks

11.129 Mallex Smith, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (111.1 ADP)

I intended to take Jose Peraza here; he would have nicely addressed my lack of speed and a shortstop. Alas, Al Melchior snapped him up in the prior round. Instead, I went outfielder for the fourth time in six picks in opting for Smith. He’s third in the majors this season with 37 steals, within shouting distance of Trea Turner (43) and Whit Merrifield (41) despite logging significantly fewer plate appearances than either of those players.

12.136 Daniel Murphy, 1B/2B, Chicago Cubs (108 ADP)

Murph still sitting out there at this point in the draft was a surprise. It took a couple of weeks for him to get his groove back after missing most of the first half while recovering from knee surgery but peep his numbers from July 1 onward: .312/.351/.492, 12 HR, 70 R+BI, 3 SB in 71 games. That’s close to his 2016-17 performance. The ability to plug him in at either MI or CI also factored into my thinking; having that flexibility in the middle rounds allows for easier adaptation to the flow of the draft.

13.153 Yu Darvish, SP, Chicago Cubs (141.3 ADP)

Another Cub at a discount. Darvish’s first season in Chicago didn’t go well, as injuries limited him to eight starts and ugly ratios (4.95/1.43). He’s expected to be fine for the start of the 2019 campaign, though, and since he joined MLB in 2012, only three qualified starters have run a higher K% than his 29.5% - Jose Fernandez (RIP), Max Scherzer, and Chris Sale. This injury discount feels rather steep and I’d be surprised to see him last this long in many drafts next spring. If this is the going rate, I expect to own a lot of shares and would suggest that you follow suit.

14.160 Willy Adames, 2B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays (180.8 ADP)

My first significant reach of the mock, according to ADP. I still didn’t have a shortstop and the pickings were growing slim as Andrelton Simmons was the 13th SS off the board a few picks earlier. This is a bet on Adames’ pedigree and his second-half performance (.297/.379/.438, 7 HR, 57 R+BI, 5 SB in 55 games), and one I wasn’t confident I’d have the chance to make if I waited until the next round.

15.177 Brandon Morrow, RP, Chicago Cubs (189.6 ADP)

The 15th ushered in our second reliever run of the past three rounds –four straight RP was picked in the 13th, and five straight in this round. I was happy to get Morrow just after that run ended, especially since I’d rather have him than either Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, or Will Smith who were all taken in that stretch of picks. Morrow ran a 1.47 ERA and converted 22 of his 24 save opportunities before injury cut his season short.

16.184 Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals (184.5 ADP)

Over the past five seasons, here’s how Perez ranks among catchers: second in plate appearances, second in home runs, third in runs, second in RBI. He’s the only backstop in baseball to eclipse the 20 HR mark in each of the last four years. Even if this year’s depressed BABIP is the new normal and he’s only a .240 hitter going forward (I doubt it, and so does Statcast) that’s playable considering his counting stats and position.

17.201 Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres (194.3 ADP)

He played sparingly and inconsistently in the first half, but Renfroe’s 18 home runs after the break hint at breakout potential for next season. For your consideration:

Renfroe, 2017-18 (age 25-26 seasons): 909 PA, .239/.289/.483, 51 HR, 102 R, 125 RBI
Khris Davis, 2014-15 (age 27-28 seasons): 989 PA, .245/.309/.478, 49 HR, 124 R, 135 RBI

18.208 Rick Porcello, SP, Boston Red Sox (171.1 ADP)

Porcello is one of just three pitchers to win at least 50 games over the past three seasons (the others are Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer) and one of only five to pitch at least 600 innings (Kluber and Scherzer again, plus Justin Verlander and Chris Sale). He’ll strike out close to a batter per inning as well. The ratios aren’t spectacular, but they’re playable. Plenty of upside plays left, not nearly as many dependable arms on the board after pick 200.

19.225 Carlos Santana, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies (181.6 ADP)

Speaking of dependable, you can pretty much pencil Santana in for 150 games, 20 – 25 HR, and 160 R+BI. The average is more prone to fluctuation, and this year’s .226 didn’t endear him to anyone. Still, at nearly four full rounds below his ADP, sign me up.

20.232 Ramon Laureano, OF, Oakland Athletics (213.3 ADP)

Having loaded up on “safe” assets to this point, I’m ready to throw some darts in the late rounds. Laureano’s MLB sample is small at just 45 games, but he’s been impressive: .295/.364/.486 with five homers and seven steals. Include his time in the minors this season and he’s got 19 HR and 18 SB to his credit in just 109 games. The average is at least somewhat propped up by a .384 BABIP, but even a drop into the .260 range would be palatable with the pop/speed combo Laureano can offer. He’s also a great defensive center fielder, which bodes well for his odds of playing every day next year.

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