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Industry Mock: Rapid Reactions and Lessons Learned

On Thursday night we at RotoBaller hosted an industry mock draft with some cool people from RotoGraphs, the NY Post, BaseballHQ, RotoExperts, SportingNews, Baseball Prospectus, TheFantasyFix, We Talk Fantasy Sports, and of course we had our own cohort of RotoBaller reps.

There will more on the draft as a whole, be on the lookout for that with the full draft board and the picks in order, but for now I wanted to speak on my own experience.

The format of the league was a 12 team 5x5 roto redraft. The draft was a 23 rounder with 2 Cs, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5 OF, UTIL, 3 SP, 2 RP, 4 P, and zero bench spots. Here's a sneak peek at the squad:


I was blessed with the seventh pick, which is the same pick I had in our first mock draft of the season back in January. I went with Carlos Correa then, so I wanted to do something different. Why not deviate as much as possible? I took Clayton Kershaw when he was still available for me, and all of a sudden I didn't recognize the man in the mirror.

I had never really done a serious draft before where I took Kershaw, and I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about (read: I wanted to see how bad it’d be to miss out on the first round bats). Here's what followed.

The resulting team I put together does feel like it’s missing that clear offensive anchor, though I was able to get Jose Bautista in the second (A.J. Pollock would’ve been solid too) and from there I rattled off three outfielders that I thought could help build a foundation in lieu of that big power bat. Pollock's all-around game is really great but I wanted the bombs that I figured I needed to make up for with the Kershaw selection.

The crop of starting pitchers that were available from rounds 3-6 were pretty sick (Max Scherzer was selected in Round 2), with 17 of them going during that stretch. Now as the room would have it, out of those 17, Zack Greinke was the 14th one to go (to me, of course). I’m not bullish on Greinke after an absurd year that he cannot hope to replicate, but he far above the 16th SP in my book so I had to pounce.

The next point of interest occurred right after my Greinke selection, as the non-Correa shortstops started to go. Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager were all gone in the 10 picks between my 5th and 6th round selections.

This meant I was faced with the decision to take Troy Tulowitzki or commit to the waiting game on SS. I took him. He’s still second in my SS ranks despite my overall feelings towards the shortstop pool, and I was already off the rails for this draft with Kershaw in tow, so why not live a little.

I continued to unravel my usual strategy for some bizarro-Nick type when I took Craig Kimbrel in Round 8, and Kyle was quick to tell the room how I had just submitted an article about not taking a closer in early, or even middle, rounds. Welp, you can read that on March 9th, but for now try this on for size. I went on to pick up Huston Street in Round 17 and Jake McGee in Round 19, for the record. This was an experiment okay?

If this were a real league, I would be disappointed in myself. I would not want to take Kershaw in the first round AND take a reliever before at least Round 15 or so. Plenty of closers were still kicking around in Round 20 and beyond. I won’t say that this draft means I’ll never take someone early, but it really doesn’t sell me on it.

I'll be honest though, I don't hate this team at all. In fact, when we ran it through FantasyPros afterwards they pegged me as having the second best team (anchored by pitching, of course). I just don't like leaving a draft with average or below-average hitting thanks to how difficult it can be to really pull ahead with that. I'd probably need to make a trade or get very fortunate with the waiver wire to really pull ahead and win the league. I will say that I saw this unfolding and decided to make sure I got power bats when I could. Speed is my team's biggest weakness, but I've found that to be the easiest category to find midseason on the wire.

So here are my main takeaways from this draft:

  • I do not want to take Clayton Kershaw in the first round.
  • I do want to take two pitchers in the first seven rounds or so.
  • I do not want to take one of those elite closers early on, as even nabbing Kimbrel “late” in Round 8 felt wrong, nor do I want to take a second-tier RP around Round 10-12.
  • Evan Longoria is the last 3B I’m really comfortable taking, as I really started to freak out when I saw the player pool behind him (Mike Moustakas is fine, but I don’t like fine)…
  • …But 1B is supremely deep, and as such CI is not something you need to press.
  • In two-catcher leagues you’re going to want to spend at least a 12th rounder or so on your first, but then can wait a looong time before filling in that second slot. James McCann was the only catcher taken that I wouldn’t want, and that was in the very last round.

Some notable undrafted guys: Adam Lind, Byung ho Park, Steven Souza Jr., Joe Panik, Jayson Werth, Denard Span, Pablo Sandoval, Alex Wood, Edinson Volquez, Marco Estrada (proud of you all), and Carter Capps (Dr. James Andrews is the reddest of flags).

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