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One Last Mock! ADP Values and Reaches

As the sun prepares to rise on the 2020 MLB season (I'm all about hopeful metaphors these days), it also marks the end of draft season for fantasy baseball. This weekend will see a flurry of activity from fantasy league owners trying to figure out how to properly value players amid a global pandemic. Good luck with that.

We at RotoBaller have been doing our part to help during the entire, painfully long offseason. This includes constantly updated rankings, specifically detailed analysis on how to approach the shortened season, and key sleepers to target. Of course, there are all the other goodies included in our Draft Kit too.

All of this went into practice as the RotoBaller staff conducted one final mock draft for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. The idea wasn't to focus on roster construction but to look for ADP outliers. Many players have seen their value shift dramatically in recent days. Let's see who climbed or fell the most in our analysts' eyes.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Final 2020 Mock Draft Board


The New IL

This exercise would be futile if we didn't address the obvious situation. Many Major League players have tested positive for coronavirus and have either been placed on the Injured List or not reported to camp. Since MLB clubs inexplicably don't have to identify whether a player has COVID or not, we are left to guess in many cases. Thankfully, some key names are already known. Here are the main players relevant to 12-team leagues or smaller that have been confirmed to have COVID.

Player Team Position Pick NFBC ADP
Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves 1B 34 26
Charlie Blackmon Colorado Rockies OF 47 63
Tommy Pham San Diego Padres OF 72 96
Tyler Glasnow Tampa Bay Rays SP/RP 74 69
Kenley Jansen Los Angeles Dodgers RP 85 84
Yoan Moncada Chicago White Sox 3B 87 70
Joey Gallo Texas Rangers OF 96 100
Aroldis Chapman New York Yankees RP 98 78
DJ LeMahieu New York Yankees 1B/2B 108 72
Jesus Luzardo Oakland A's SP 118 105
Eduardo Rodriguez Boston Red Sox SP 125 167
Miguel Sano Minnesota Twins 1B/3B 154 126
Will Smith Atlanta Braves RP 160 185
Scott Kingery Philadelphia Phillies 2B/3B/SS/OF 173 168
Salvador Perez Kansas City Royals C 216 162

In some cases, our analysts' views of a player reflected that of high-stakes players. A player who was diagnosed early on and is expected to return in time for the season with little setback, such as Scott Kingery, will see a negligible effect. Players who tested positive more recently, such as Aroldis Chapman, may see a bigger drop on draft day.


Early-Round Positional Breakdown

Unsurprisingly, there were few surprises in the first couple of rounds. Mike Trout going fourth actually feels early to me based on playing time concerns. Fernando Tatis Jr. as a first-rounder probably doesn't happen in most 12-team leagues, but Scott "The King" Engel wanted his guy at the turn since he knew he'd be long gone by the end of round three.

I stuck by my rankings and grabbed Gerrit Cole at sixth overall before following up with Jack Flaherty in round three and Patrick Corbin in round six. Starting pitchers went at a rate equivalent to NFBC ADP over the past two weeks, with nine SP selected within the first 30 picks and 15 SP selected within the first 50 picks.

Relievers were not an emphasis, as only Josh Hader and Kirby Yates were targeted by our participants. The fact that this league used SV+HLD (as all season-long leagues playing in 2020 should) didn't particularly skew the results other than later on when setup men like Emilio Pagan, Drew Pomeranz, Matt Barnes, and Dellin Betances were picked.

Here is the positional breakdown after the first 50 picks:

Position # Selected
SP 15
OF 11
SS 6
3B 6
2B 6
1B 3
RP 2
DH 1
C 0


Draft Reaches Relative to ADP

Pete Alonso was taken at 22 overall, which is 11 spots higher than his NFBC ADP and 12 spots higher than our RotoBaller consensus rankings. Around this range, the focus is typically on grabbing the few remaining aces. Case in point - in this round, five pitchers were taken. Perhaps Alonso would have been available in another round, but the fact that Freddie Freeman is on IL makes an already-thin first base position even thinner, which could explain this pick. Any hitter who relies primarily on the long ball is at risk of being a bust, especially in this 60-game season where the separation in categories won't be as pronounced.

Charlie Blackmon is usually a rock-solid source of average, power, runs, and RBI. The speed is gone, so we can't call him an all-category contributor anymore, unfortunately. ATC projects him to steal exactly one base this year. The real issue with Blackmon is that he was one of the first MLB stars to be officially diagnosed with COVID. That has left him out of summer camp and landed him on the IL. The good news is that he has been cleared to resume playing and has been training on his own, which has brought optimism that he will be ready for Opening Day. That could make Blackmon a sneaky bargain, but that is only if he is taken around or after his ADP of 63. Before the season was suspended, Blackmon was being selected around pick 42 on average, so maybe we should view Blackmon in a different light.

Jorge Soler has lived just outside the top 100 in terms of ADP all offseason. Scott claimed him at pick 71, reaching about 30 spots to grab the Cuban slugger. While Soler broke out in his age-27 season with 48 HR, 117 RBI, and a .922 OPS, he is the type of hitter that should draw red flags in a shortened season. He still has high swing-and-miss tendencies, posting a 13.2% Swinging Strike rate in 2019. He won't post a high-enough average to carry him through a slump or prolonged power surge, if one should occur. Soler did increase his xSLG as the year went on, not slumping or trailing off in the second half with his power numbers except for a slight dip versus offspeed pitches.

It's possible that pitchers feed him fewer fastballs but that alone isn't reason to fade him. The concern that a short season makes him less valuable based on a pronounced advantage in one category is the concern. Coming off a career year, Soler still has the talent to be among the HR leaders but the risk of a fall-off is too real to reach for him this soon.

Our man Kev made a point of grabbing the pitcher version of Shohei Ohtani with the 113th pick. I know this because during the draft he accidentally made a different pick and wanted to roll it back to get Ohtani instead. He probably could have waited a round or two, as his current ADP sits at 130. Ohtani did benefit from the delay in order to fully recover from UCL surgery, which means we could see him taken closer to his March ADP of 115. Truth be told, he might have been better off forsaking the pick altogether.

Ohtani is always going to be on an innings/start limit based on his usage. He joins a six-man rotation and will not be stretched out in order to preserve his health and bat. As far as performance, he has the stuff to be a frontline starter but just won't put up the counting stats to do so in fantasy. Nicklaus Gaut shows Ohtani to be one of the most overpriced pitchers when comparing ADP to ATC Projections. In particular, the fact that this mock was set for QS instead of wins might hurt Ohtani's stock, unless you are optimistic that he will be left in for six innings or more each time out.


Draft Bargains Relative to ADP

Lucas Giolito made an incredible turnaround from 2018 to 2019, cutting his ERA by more than two and a half runs while doubling his strikeout rate to 32.3%, good for fourth among qualified starters. Everything in his profile suggests he is now a frontline starting pitcher and second-tier fantasy SP, but there is still skepticism. Ariel Cohen recently told me that he does not view Giolito as the type of player he would target early on based on his ADP, nor will he take a step forward to full-fledged ace status. He may have been pleased to see Giolito taken with the 60th pick instead then, a full 15 spots lower than he's going in NFBC. Giolito also feels safer than Trevor Bauer or Mike Soroka, who were taken immediately after him.

If Pete Alonso went so early, why did Matt Olson go so late? He's seen his ADP climb to 49 as the fourth first baseman in NFBC. In our mock, he was there at 69 as the eighth 1B-eligible player off the board. This is probably truer to his actual value. Olson has tremendous power and could still be growing as a hitter, but he only hit .267 last year and scored 73 runs despite hitting in the heart of the A's lineup. Fantasy owners have been reaching for him as a top-50 player but our analysts did well to let him slide. He's a safe asset to secure before the talent level really drops off at the position, although I still don't understand why Josh Bell is being taken even later. I mean, the Pirates can't be that bad can they?

The optimism around Aaron Judge keeps growing. There is no doubt that the long delay has allowed him to rest and recover. Yankee fans can't be more stoked to see him taking BP these days. Can't say I blame them.

Of course, just as we get word that he might be ready for Opening Day, Judge woke up with neck stiffness and was held out of the most recent intrasquad game. Judge says he will keep playing the game hard, which is what you want to hear as a fan but also not what you want to hear as a fantasy owner. Judge, like his brittle teammate Giancarlo Stanton, will always be at risk for injury. If he falls outside the top 75 like he did in this draft, pull the trigger and hope for the best.

Tim Anderson at 121 seems criminal. The reigning AL batting champ is usually a slam-dunk top-100 pick, going at 89 overall in NFBC these days. Sure, he's not a fan of the walk and may see regression in his .399 BABIP, but he also brings power and speed to the table and is a legit five-cat contributor who could see a sharp drop from last year and still bat over .300. In fact, his profile compares favorably to Fernando Tatis Jr., who is a top-20 pick everywhere.

Fernando Tatis Jr. 227 11 35 29 19 64 9 0.275 0.342 0.504 0.846 17.5
Tim Anderson 226 7 31 26 8 51 8 0.278 0.307 0.445 0.752 95.7

Tatis has more power, but aside from a couple of HR, their roto profile is eerily similar. In points leagues, obviously Anderson takes a big step back due to his lesser plate discipline. In 5x5 leagues, the discount for Anderson seems worth waiting on. Plus, he looks to be in midseason form already, launching three homers in intrasquad games this past week. Let people keep doubting him and take advantage.

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