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RotoBaller's Industry Experts Mock Draft - The King's Perspective


At RotoBaller, we recently assembled a group of fantasy baseball experts to take part in the RotoBaller Friends and Family Expert Mock Draft.

Our participants came from all over the industry, representing a host of various sites such as:

Here is my take on how things went. Check out the full draft board at RealTime Fantasy Sports: rtsports.com/rotoballer

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Expert Mock Recap

As a new RotoBaller, I was very excited to jump into my first mock draft as a member of the team. It was a 12-team 5x5 Roto style against some formidable industry names.

First of all, there was Nando Di Fino of the Athletic. Not only is he maybe the nicest guy on the planet, but he is the master of identifying the deep sleeper. I think he scouts kids on little league fields on the weekends. Then you have Ray Flowers, who I believe invented sabermetrics. Todd Zola is known as “The Lord” in fantasy baseball inner circles. Tim Heaney smiles a lot and is really friendly, then slits your throat at the draft table. Howard Bender sounds like Henry Hill of GoodFellas when you listen to him on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Take one of his guys and I might get whacked. Plus, there were my new RotoBaller teammates. Great, Real Talk Raph can make fun of my picks in front of a national radio audience now...

But I was ready and confident. Like Jacob deGrom does so well, as I have often observed while I have covered him throughout his career, I shut out the distractions and focus on doing what I always do. I always tell readers I let the draft “come to me.” I am always poised, going with the flow and not getting emotional. I treat a mock just as I would a real draft. It’s the way I have always operated and I owe it to the RotoBaller community to invest the picks the same as I would if I was playing for a lot of money. If we were competing for a lot of cash, though, I would not want to be up against Vlad Sedler.

Strategically, I just wanted to take the best offensive player available at No. 9 overall and then focus mainly on building out the core of my offensive group in the first few rounds. I did want to sprinkle in some top-level starting pitchers, but closers could wait, as I have often been successful in acquiring them later on or during the season. Grabbing speed at key spots throughout the draft would also be a primary focus.

 

The Breakdown

You can see the full board right here. I do not have Jose Altuve in my first nine and he went three spots ahead of me. I was hoping Christian Yelich would slip to me at nine. I know much has been made of his elevated BABIP and HR/FB rate last year, but he is one of the best pure hitters in the game and he never seemed to be content in Miami. Yelich was always seemingly “bearing it” in his Marlins days from my past observations on the MLB beat, and he almost seemed happy-go-lucky in comparison in Milwaukee. Even with an expected dip in production, the across-the-board totals are still worthy of a top-10 pick.

But Nando took Yelich one spot ahead of me, and may send me a note when he reads this, he is that kinda guy. So I went with Ronald Acuna Jr., who produced amazing numbers in just 433 at-bats in 2018. It will be his first season in the majors this year, so opponents will find some holes in his game. But Acuna will adjust back and I am definitely expecting 30/25 production with some impressive RBI totals.

Once Chris Sale went off the board at the beginning of the second round, the “Big Three” of Max Scherzer, deGrom and Sale were gone, and I needed simply to take the best starter available when it was my turn in round two. Thankfully, that was Corey Kluber. So I had my anchor hitter and pitcher and knew it would be a long wait until my next pick. I was very happy to land Andrew Benintendi for a safe 20-20 floor, and he is still improving. I love the combination of peace of mind and some possible upside he gave me at that point in the draft.

I was considering a starting pitcher in the next round with very strong consideration for Noah Syndergaard to pair with Kluber. I get the sense from him that Syndergaard believes he has not delivered his best seasons yet, and he wants to prove that. But I just could not pass on Anthony Rizzo in the fourth round. His current ADP is 34.49.

Once I had three prime hitters, I knew I had to bulk up on starters, and Zack Greinke was an ultra-safe pick to me in the fifth. Mike Clevinger was my sixth rounder and I really believe in him. Once he cut down on the walks and adjusted his arsenal last year I was very impressed, and I almost see Clevinger as a luxury as my SP3.

I may have been a little earlier than some on Miguel Andujar in the seventh. His batting average may fall a bit this year, but he has a natural and dangerous swing that should keep his counting numbers in line with last season. I picked Mallex Smith before his recent injury, but I don’t see him missing much regular season time; if you can get him beyond the eighth round right now, go for it. I believe Smith really matured as a player last season, and now he may have found a real home in Seattle. The ardent fans in the Pacific Northwest may take to him as a fan favorite when he displays his all-out style.

I always want one standout closer or the best I can get in the ninth or 10th round, then a middle round guy and some late fliers. I grabbed Aroldis Chapman to lead my relief crew in the ninth, but then stayed away from the bullpen until the 17th, when I selected Arodys Vizcaino. Will Smith was a late pick, and Wily Peralta was my final pick overall, but I really feel good about Hunter Strickland to re-emerge with my Round 24 selection. With three late choices at closer, one or two are bound to get the job done.

I was nearly stunned to get Nicholas Castellanos in Round 12, when you consider he has an ADP of 80.24 and is a top-20 fantasy outfielder. I was not comfortable with my Cesar Hernandez pick in Round 16, as maybe I got too antsy for some more speed at that point. Kyle Freeland as my fourth starting pitcher in Round 11 made me shake my head in awe. A quality pitcher from Colorado? I still cannot believe it.

Joey Wendle was one of my favorite late-round picks for some speed and maybe even a little pop. And also proved I should have waited on Hernandez. I threw the Avisail Garcia dart in Round 26. If he can stay healthy I can get decent production from him. He’s been noted to me in the past as a guy who does not take the best mental approach to the game. But the MLB insider who tipped me off to that did note Garcia’s natural skills can still lead to quality production. If Garcia stays healthy he might provide respectable output in Tampa Bay.

Overall, I felt I adjusted well to the flow of the draft and gave RotoBaller readers a solid map of my outlooks and valuations so far. But there is a lot more mocking and rolling to be done, so I will be reporting back from the draft rooms in the near future.

 

Scott Engel has joined RotoBaller as a featured contributor as he builds on 20-plus years in the fantasy sports industry. “The King” is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s (FSWA) Hall of Fame.

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