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Re-Drafting The 2012 Fantasy Baseball First-Year Player Draft - Mookie Betts, Gerrit Cole, Francisco Lindor, Yoenis Cespedes, and more

This is the third edition of a series here at RotoBaller from Benjamin Chase. The series explores previous First-Year Player Drafts and re-drafts those FYPDs with the information we've received since from drafted players and international signees that would have been eligible.

This series shows that often the top guys in FYPD drafts remain the top players years removed from the draft, but in most cases, players who were not even considered in the first round of FYPDs emerge as the top talent in a class. We will also take a look back at top draft picks and international free agents that ended up being "busts" in drafts.

To look back, here are links to the 2010 re-draft piece and the 2011 re-draft piece. As in previous pieces, this will cover 20 picks, then also mention some players who were also in contention at the back of the FYPD along with some busts.

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2012 FYPD Redraft

1. Mookie Betts, SS, Boston Red Sox

Okay, we can all admit it. When the Boston Red Sox drafted a 5'9" (generously) infielder out of high school in Tennessee in the fifth round, no one, except for the DEEPEST of dynasty leagues, saw Mookie Betts go at all in their FYPD. He had one game after being drafted at the complex level, and then in 2012, he spent the entire year in short-season ball, hitting .267 with no home runs and just nine extra base hits.

Betts exploded into national consciousness the next season, however, jumping up both A-ball levels as a 20-year-old. He reached the majors the next season for enough time that he wasn't able to ever be ranked as a top-50 prospect in an end-of-season list.

Betts quite literally ranks No. 1 in every single roto category among 2012 FYPD hitters, and for good measure, he's also the top guy in bWAR. Easily the top guy here.

2. Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins

Oh, what we lost. Fernandez was selected by the Marlins with the 14th overall selection out of high school in Tampa. He lept through the minor leagues, dominating hitters so badly in A-ball in 2012 that the Marlins put him in the Opening Day rotation in 2013 without a game in Double-A or Triple-A.

Though injury wiped away essentially one full season from his record, Fernandez was viewed as one of the best pitchers in the entire game in 2016 when he lost his life in a boating accident. He was second in the majors in strikeouts at the time of the accident in just his age-23 season.

Even with relievers included and no inning minimum, Fernandez ranked as having the best WHIP and second-best ERA among all pitchers eligible in 2012.

3. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Guardians

While he may not have been at the absolute top of FYPD draft boards, Lindor was certainly a first-round selection after Cleveland picked him eighth overall in the 2011 draft out of high school in Florida. Lindor jumped through the minors, but ended up spending nearly two full seasons in the upper minors before making his pro debut in 2015.

Lindor has become well-known for his smile and jovial attitude on the field. He's also been incredibly valuable as a fantasy asset, with a .274/.341/.473 slash in more than 1,200 career MLB games, along with 215 home runs and 156 steals.

His all-around play has Lindor ranked second in steals and RBI among 2012 FYPD players, and in the top five in average, homers, and runs as well, ranking second in bWAR behind Betts.

4. Marcus Semien, SS, Chicago White Sox

We get our first collegian draft pick in this re-draft, despite the 2011 draft being highly-thought-of for its collegiate depth. Semien was not one of those highly-regarded prospects coming into the draft, as the shortstop was drafted out of Cal-Berkeley in the sixth round by the White Sox and then traded before the 2015 season to Oakland in a deal that moved Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa to the Pale Hose after playing 85 games for Chicago.

Semien established himself as an impressive offensive force in Oakland, bouncing around the infield to find a defensive home. He was traded to Toronto before the 2021 season and responded with an incredible year that resulted in 45 home runs before signing as a free agent with Texas and leading off for the World Series champions this year.

5. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

The top overall selection in the 2011 draft out of UCLA, Cole was considered among a group of four elite arms at the top of the draft. Only one other will be mentioned in this re-draft. Cole moved quickly through the Pirates system, spending most of 2013 with the big league club.

He then had up-and-down performances for the next four seasons with the Pirates before they traded him to the Houston Astros, where he would be one of the game's best starters for two seasons before the New York Yankees, who attempted to draft him out of high school, signed him to a free agent contract that was topped just this offseason.

Cole has finished in the top five of Cy Young voting six times, finally bringing home his first trophy in 2023. He could be a legitimate contender to win 300 games -- and maybe one of the last.

6. Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers

One of two highly-regarded international players who were signed to go directly to the major league club, Darvish signed a six-year deal to come to the MLB with the Rangers after being one of the most dominant pitchers in Japan over seven seasons. He had Tommy John surgery that knocked him out for all of 2015 and half of 2016, but he was a notable part of the 2017 Dodgers World Series rotation after a midseason trade.

The Chicago Cubs signed him to a free agent deal for the 2018 season, and he was traded to the Padres for a significant package of prospects before the 2021 season. He was given an extension by San Diego that will take him through his age-41 season.

Darvish has the second-most wins and strikeouts of all pitchers from this class, though he's settled in as more of a workhorse starter than an elite ace pitcher -- even though he does have his flashes.

7. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

Springer put up elite numbers with UConn in order to be drafted 11th overall in the 2011 draft. The Astros knew Springer had speed and the ability to cover ground in the outfield, but his first minor league season gave an immediate display of his future power, as he smacked 55 extra-base hits before bombing 37 home runs in 2013 in the upper minors for Houston.

The outfielder made his big league debut in 2014, and he was one of the catalysts behind a dominant Astros team in the late 2010s, winning the World Series MVP in 2017. He signed as a free agent with Toronto before the 2021 season. His 242 home runs rank him second among players in this draft.

8. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

When the Rockies took Story with the 45th overall selection in the 2011 draft out of high school in Texas, they had one of the elite shortstops in the game at the major league level in Troy Tulowitzki headed toward another Gold Glove and a 30-homer, 100-RBI season. Needless to say, they were able to be patient with Story.

Finally breaking through in 2016 in the majors, Story spent four seasons putting any offensive numbers Tulo had put up to shame before nagging injuries that he frequently played through began to affect him. The Red Sox signed him before the 2022 season as a free agent and have received 137 total games out of Story with an 86 OPS+, but his production for a number of years at shortstop with the Rockies was a dream for fantasy owners.

9. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals

Highly-regarded as the most MLB-ready bat in the 2011 draft, Rendon was selected sixth overall by the Nationals out of Rice. He was up to the majors less than two years after being drafted and made such an impression that the Nationals moved franchise icon Ryan Zimmerman off the hot corner in favor of Rendon.

From 2014-2019, Rendon was one of the elite players in the league, with an OPS+ of 129 on a .293/.374/.501 slash line. He was a driving force behind the 2019 World Series champion Nationals, leading the majors in RBI that season. However, he then signed with the Angels as a free agent, and from 2021-2023, he's totaled just 148 games due to frequent injuries.

10. Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics

Gray had pedigree, coming from Vanderbilt, so his selection 18th overall by the A's wasn't tremendously surprising. His minor league performance left many wondering what sort of major league pitcher he'd be, though, as he struck out just 237 over 292 1/3 minor league innings before joining Oakland's rotation in 2013.

Gray has become a very dependable starter who can strikeout roughly a batter per inning after getting himself settled into the majors, ranking third among this list in both wins and strikeouts.

11. Kyle Hendricks, SP, Texas Rangers

A guy who certainly was not drafted in FYPD drafts was righty Kyle Hendricks, who Texas selected in the eighth round out of Dartmouth. The Rangers traded him midway through the 2012 season to Chicago to acquire Ryan Dempster, and the Cubs liked what they saw, as he jumped through their minor league system and was up to the majors in less than two years.

Without electric stuff, Hendricks has always been a guy who relied on excellent control to put up strong stats, but nearly 1,450 innings of mid-3 ERA and 1.15 WHIP is a strong resume from any FYPD pitcher.

12. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

One of the most electric players in the 2011 draft was a Puerto Rican infielder by the name of Javier Baez, selected ninth overall by the Cubs out of high school in Florida. A defensive master, Baez hit plenty in his minor league time, including a monster 2013 season that saw him crush 37 home runs and 34 doubles while stealing 20 bases across High-A and Double-A.

Baez struggled to crack a full-time role with the Cubs, getting full-time at-bats, but among 4-5 positions his first four years in the MLB before an impressive 2019 once he became the starting shortstop on the North Side. He had a 30-homer season and was excellent defensively in 2021, but after signing a free agent deal with the Tigers, his numbers have gone belly-up, slashing .230/.273/.361 over 280 games with Detroit, good (or bad?) for a 77 OPS+.

13. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics

Frequently taken with the top overall selection in 2012 FYPD drafts, Cespedes created quite a stir with his flashy online videos as MLB teams were recruiting him. He even inspired a popular podcast name because of the family pig roast he showed in one of his flamboyant videos.

Once he got to the majors, Cespedes hit the ground running, hitting 23 home runs in 2012 as a rookie and becoming a frequent competitor in the Home Run Derby during All-Star break. He had his best year in 2015 after he had been traded twice. He split that season with Detroit and the New York Mets, hitting 35 homers and driving in 105. Cespedes fell victim to a Yogi Berra quip as he "got old young" and was out of baseball before he was 35.

14. Luis Castillo, SP, San Francisco Giants

Normally when a prospect is involved in four trades before he makes his MLB debut, it's because teams really don't know what to do with him. Early on, that may have been true of Castillo as his big arm but lacking command led to him being sent to Miami in 2014 by San Francisco. However, he had established himself as a flame-throwing starter in the Marlins' system before a botched trade with San Diego due to questionable medical records led to him being traded both to the Padres and back to the Marlins within a three-day period.

Castillo was moved the next offseason to Cincinnati and made his pro debut with the Reds that year. Since, the now-31-year-old starter has tossed more than 1,000 big league innings, striking out 26.5% of all hitters he faces. He's emerged as a consistent, reliable starter as well, tying for the league lead in starts in 2023.

15. Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays took a chance on the lanky prep lefty from Washington state with the 52nd selection in the 2011 draft. As they do with most pitching prospects, the Rays were very patient with Snell as he worked to iron out command issues. When he was on, however, he was one of the best pitchers in the minors, as evidenced in 2015 when he jumped from High-A to Triple-A with a 1.41 ERA over 134 innings, striking out 163.

His MLB career has been similar to his minor league time, though, as he's had a pair of elite seasons, both of which ended in Cy Young Awards, a trio of average to above-average seasons, and a trio of below-average seasons. Snell has also only given his fantasy owners more than 130 innings twice -- both Cy Young seasons.

16. Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets

Not an area well-known for producing elite prep talent, the Mets snagged Nimmo with the 13th overall selection in 2011 out of high school in Wyoming. While some may say that Nimmo never stuck out as a prospect, he simply did what he's done at every level -- take walks, score runs, and play gritty baseball whether that's on the bases or in the field.

Nimmo didn't rank in the top-five of any roto category among his fellow 2012 FYPD draftees, but he was a rare player who finished in the top 25 of all five categories. He's now coming off arguably his best fantasy season in his first year of a new contract with the Mets, so he could have plenty left in the tank.

17. Trevor Bauer, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

An enigmatic player coming out of UCLA, Bauer was selected third overall by the Diamondbacks in the draft, two spots behind teammate Cole. He was in the majors by the end of the 2012 season, though neither that nor his 2013 short stint with Cleveland after he was traded went very well.

While Snell has had a mix of above-average seasons and a few below-average ones to go with his two elite seasons, Bauer has two elite seasons and a lot of "meh" on his resume, despite what the huge contract with the Dodgers may have indicated. He had a 4.39 ERA outside of two seasons before signing with the Dodgers when his off-field activities led to an indefinite leave from the MLB. He's not pitched in the majors in two seasons.

18.  Kolten Wong, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

The Hawaii native played for the University of Hawaii and was the 22nd overall selection by the Cardinals in the 2011 draft. He worked his way up the system quickly, making his pro debut in 2013 and taking over the second base job full-time in 2014.

While Wong never put up elite numbers, he was the sort of guy that worked very well in a middle infield slot of a fantasy team, never putting up huge HR/SB numbers but also contributing something across the board each season. He ranks in the top 20 of every roto category among his fellow draftees.

19. Ken Giles, RP, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies drafted Giles in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of community college in Arizona. He was always viewed as a reliever in the minor leagues, making his debut in 2014 with an incredible rookie year that saw him post a 1.18 ERA and strikeout 64 over 45 2/3 innings, earning a top-five finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting that season.

He went on to be a consistent source of double-digit saves for the next five years, though he could go through struggles with his command that led to him being hittable at times. He has the second-most saves of anyone from this draft class, along with a career 2.71 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and a 33.3% strikeout rate in his career -- certainly a very valuable reliever in fantasy until injuries stalled his career in 2020.

20. Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

Pillar was so far off the radar before the 2011 draft that the round he was selected in doesn't even exist anymore. Pillar was selected in the 32nd round by the Blue Jays out of Cal State-Dominguez Hills. For what it's worth, when he made his MLB debut in 2013, he was the sixth player from that college to make the majors in the history of the school, with the most prominent alum prior to Pillar either utility infielder Craig Grebeck or reliever Eric Plunk.

Pillar took over a starting role for the Blue Jays in 2015 and was an elite defender who offered strong numbers for a third/fourth outfielder in fantasy for a six-year stretch from 2015-2020. His production dropped off notably in 2021, but he's still a very serviceable fourth outfielder in the majors, as he showed with Atlanta in 2023.

Others in consideration: Chris Bassitt, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Clevinger, Teoscar Hernandez, German Marquez, Joe Musgrove.

Potential busts: Josh Bell, Dylan Bundy, Wei-Yin Chen, Danny Hultzen, Bubba Starling.



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Top 300 Early Fantasy Football Best Ball Rankings for 2024 (Pre-NFL Draft)

Hey, RotoBallers! While it feels like the NFL season just ended, it's never too early to start preparing for your upcoming fantasy football drafts. Fantasy managers are already preparing for 2024 by drafting in best ball leagues. Today, we will review our NFL team's early 2024 fantasy football best ball rankings for the top 300 fantasy... Read More


Brian Thomas Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Rounds 1, 2, 3 Predictions (Post Stefon Diggs Trade)

The better part of free agency is done. While we continue to watch the depth pieces trickle through on smaller deals, the lion’s share of noteworthy moves are behind us. That is usually a sign that another mock draft is needed. In this mock, I will dive three rounds deep. I will factor in A... Read More


2024 Dynasty Startup Blueprint - FFPC Draft Strategies and More

There's nothing quite like the feel of a new dynasty startup and the anticipation of your incoming draft slot as you decide which players you want to make up the cornerstone of your roster for years to come. While we still have to wait four months for some live NFL action, the good news about... Read More


Malik Nabers - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

2024 NFL Mock Draft: First-Rounder with Trades

The 2024 NFL Draft is less than 10 days away. Yet, the next several days will feel like a lifetime for NFL Draft fans. While everyone wants to discuss the quarterback class and the first few picks, the NFL Draft doesn’t end after the first round. This year’s draft class will have several impact players... Read More