2017 Fantasy Baseball: Mock Draft

This is just a few picks on how I’d go to start off a draft. I find doing this helpful (even for myself) because at the start of the draft there’s less factors that go into making a pick. I’ve always been told to just pick the best player on the board in the first round and I agree with that. Why would you want to start your team with anything less than what you feel is the best? Part of that is planning though, that way when someone feels Trea Turner is actually the third best guy and you have the fourth pick, you’re prepared to deal with the extra player on the board that you thought would be taken. I try not to worry too much about position in the first few rounds unless it’s a shallow position where there’s only 4-5 guys worth drafting. Watching for drop-offs, getting value, and filling your needs takes up a lot more time at the end of the draft. So here’s my one man mock draft of how I’d draft the draft, and basically the order I’d take guys. It’s important to take into account track record, stats, projections, and SGPs when thinking about this. I’ll treat this like it has 12 teams and we can do the first two rounds before you have to think more deeply.

Source: Tim Warner/Getty Images North America

  1. Mike Trout– Trout has been the top fantasy player since 2012 cumulatively and though he might not have been the best every year, he was either the best or near it. He’s the consensus number one and the people have it right. He’s the safest pick and already a future hall of famer. He’s going to put up big numbers and if you can get him at one you’re in shape.
  2. Clayton Kershaw– Kershaw actually leads my SGP projections just because the gap between him and the average pitcher is basically equal to the gap between New York to Los Angeles. There’s a good argument he could be the first pick, but he’s likely not going to there because the market tends to go for the big bats in the first rounds more than pitchers, leaving more of a talent pool for pitching in the fourth round and beyond. Kershaw is still arguably the best fantasy player. He was the top pitcher despite getting hurt for the first time in his career and missing a ton of time.
  3. Mookie Betts– Betts put up Trout-like numbers last year. It wasn’t like Harper like slugging numbers, it was a balanced game that always causes guys to go up near the top of the draft. You might see him go at two and he’s the best position player behind Trout, just with less of a track record. Betts is young and only going to get better at this point with his power growing. Everything points to him being able to repeat and that he’s the game’s youngest new superstar and that gives him fantasy value through the roof.
  4. Kris Bryant– Bryant is the first big slugger to go in draft. I truly think he will hit 40 homers in 2017 and he’s already one of the best hitters in baseball. He gives you all-around production, especially for someone who puts up slugger type numbers. Also, he will have outfield eligibility, which means you can snag another good third baseman if you want and be able to more with your offense. He won MVP last year and he’s just entering his prime, his swing, line-up, and park make him another safe bet for fantasy points galore.
  5. Jose Altuve– Altuve offered a little bit of everything last season and he’s shown that he’s going to steal and hit for average. He’s the perfect guy to start your fantasy team around too because he’s going to drive your batting average up, so you can pick some sluggers that might have trouble with average later and your team average won’t be hurt, or you’ll just get the upper hand in that category. The power really pushed him up here from a late first rounder and it’s really hard to find a flaw in his fantasy game. He’s the perfect number five after the superstars are off the board.
  6. Paul GoldschmidtAlbert Pujols used to sit atop of the ADP every season, now according to the NFBC ADP available on Hosted Stats Goldy sits at 5.88, the top first baseman. He has new skills that first baseman didn’t used to have like speed and ability to hit for a good average (some first baseman did have this). He’s due for another good season and he’s still young. He’s another one of those middle of the round guys who will help your team and is one of the best all-around hitters in the game.
  7. Trea Turner-Turner only got to play a few months of the season, so his numbers prorated to 162 game season much like Gary Sanchez’s are off the charts. It’s unrealistic to expect that, but think about 2006-10 Hanley Ramirez and you pretty much have what Turner should be. Ramirez regularly wen in the top five but since Turner didn’t play a full season he’s going lower. Next year, with a proven record he can go in the top five. His speed and power aren’t going away and he’s a really good pick if you get a lower first rounder.
  8. Nolan Arenado– He might benefit a bit from Coors Field, but the power is real and really who cares? Even if he benefits his homers don’t count for less than anyone else’s. He has put up numbers that rival some of the ones put up in the middle of last decade by Ortiz, Howard and Pujols.
  9. Josh Donaldson– He followed up his MVP season with another powerful season where he again threatened for the MVP. He’s actually similar to Arenado and Machado looking at Bill James Similarity score. He’s another middle of the order power hitter that will put up the monster MVP numbers in Rogers Centre.
  10. Manny Machado– You could argue that Machado should go ahead of Donaldson and/or Arenado and you wouldn’t be wrong, it’s all a matter of opinion, taste, and how you absorb certain information. To me Machado has had monster seasons already, just not ones that were quite at the others (though he’s very close to Donaldson) levels. He’s still really good, just with a little less power. I’d gladly take him in the first round of draft. There’s still a chance he’s getting better and move up still.
  11. Bryce Harper– Harper is coming off a really disappointing season after winning MVP, but it really sounds like he had some injury issues. He’s going to bounce back and him being on the board at the end of the first round or beginning of the second could be a blessing in disguise as he starts to slug again and puts up some serious power numbers to be jealous of. He can just flat out hit the baseball well when he’s at full health.
  12. Miguel Cabrera– He’s not the same Triple Crown Miggy, but he is still putting up big numbers. Miggy is still worth a late first rounder and he’s still won four batting titles since 2011. He hasn’t hit below .313 since 2008. In a full season he hasn’t hit less than 25 homers in a season since 2003. He can be the big slugger you need to start your fantasy team and at the end of the first round, he’s likely your best option for big stats.
  13. Corey Seager-Seager jumped onto the scene after having an impressive cup of coffee in 2015. He solidified himself as an MVP candidate and true leader at a tough position. You could argue he’s still better than Trea Turner, but regardless he’s worth a pick here, especially if you’re going back-to-back and want to get some good offense going.
  14. Anthony Rizzo-Rizzo might even go higher than this, and he’s worth that pick. He’s another slugger and honestly in years past I’d say he’s a first rounder, but in 2017 with so many good first baseman and the fact we are seeing lots of stars come up, Rizzo might fall to the middle teens and he’s a great value here.
  15. Carlos Correa– Some might call his 2016 disappointing because he didn’t hit for quite as much power and average as they expected, but he’s young and still got talent. He’s going to out-do his 2016 campaign and he will provide middle of the order slugger numbers at the shortstop position for you. He’s got the most power potential of all the top shortstops.
  16. Max Scherzer– Max is the next best pitcher after Kershaw, normally this is where I’d say Jose Fernandez should go, but Max is the next best now. He gets strikeouts and he’s won two of the last three years’ worth of Cy Young awards. He has a low ERA and he’s right in the middle of his dominant run as a pitcher. He’s a great pick in the second round to be the ace of your staff. The fact he has a knuckle issue is something to watch.
  17. Joey Votto– Votto is a high floor pick and is about as safe as anyone for being a great hitter. He has power and his track record is amazing to say the least. He has all the traits to be a great hitter every season. He’s worth a selection in the second round and as long as he has power, he will be an early pick.
  18. Charlie Blackmon-Blackmon might even be worth more but his steals were down last season. He’s shown that he can be a five tool player over the last two seasons though and he plays in Colorado which is a big plus. I wouldn’t go too high on him because of the power spike because he never reached 20 before, but he has 30-30 potential and having a guy like him or Marte on your team racks up fantasy points.
  19. Freddie Freeman– Freeman really solidified himself as a star in the second half of last season. He went off and ended up winning people fantasy league by leading their offense with his power surge and ability to make everything drop in for a hit. He will regress some, but he’s now established himself as a top fantasy option now.
  20. Edwin Encarnacion– He’s consistent like I said in the first base rankings piece and he’s the best bet for 40 homers in 2017. Changing homes may have some effect on his power, but he’s a slugger and at the end of the second round, he’s good value for his power. His lack of average hurts him and puts him behind Freeman and Votto but Edwin is the next best thing, especially if you’re trying to pack power.
  21. Starling Marte– Marte is basically Blackmon with less power. I trust his breakout was real and I personally think he has a higher floor and he will steal more than Blackmon, so it’s buyer’s choice on picking between them. I think Marte could lead the league in steals and had he been healthy in the second half, we might be talking about the top outfielder not named Betts or Trout. His power might improve too.
  22. Chris Sale– Sale is another pitcher like Scherzer with a high strikeout, low ERA, dominant peripheral background. What hurts Sale is that he pitches in the AL, so his ERA and WHIP are understandably higher, but fantasy doesn’t give handicaps to guys in the AL. You should never chase wins, but now that he’s going to get run support, he’s scary good and a guy anyone in your league would want as their ace.
  23. Xander Bogaerts– He’s shown that he’s the king of being the best hitter at shortstop. He increased his power and now his ADP being in the mid-20s seems like a fair value. It’s good to grab a shortstop early, especially because if you miss out on the top crop now, you’re facing a steep downfall.
  24. Madison Bumgarner– I keep seeing star and scrub approach as a better idea for pitchers, as does this Baseball HQ (https://www.baseballhq.com/stars-and-scrubs-or-spread-risk-which-better) article suggests. So you need to get yourself an ace early. My approach is usually to wait until round four or five to grab a pitcher, but now I think if you can get one in round two or three and then a couple more before round ten then you’re drafting a valued, balanced roster. Bumgarner has been Kershaw-lite as he hasn’t had an ERA over 3 since 2011. He also is generating more swings and misses putting himself up as one of the best pitchers available.
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