Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Tips for a pitching-heavy strategy

If loading up on pitching in the early rounds of a fantasy baseball draft is your strategy, this is the mock for you. Get more tips and advice for your cheat sheet ahead of the 2017 baseball season.

We're close to the fantasy baseball season, and as we said last week in ourmock draft analysis, there's no rule on how early you can start getting your draft cheat sheet and strategy ready for the2017 season.

We're here to help with tips and our thoughts on rankings and average draft position (ADP) based on our experiences in Howard Bender's "Mock Draft Army" exercises.Bender isone ofFantasy Alarm's top fantasy writers,and his series of weekly mock drafts allows us to try different strategies in different formats, which prepares us for whatever comes our way in real drafts!

MORE:Fantasy Alarm 2017 Draft Guide

In this mock, I drafted from the No. 7 spot of a 12-team, standard setup and was shocked to see some of the names falling to me in the various rounds. I decided to utilize a “pitching-heavy” strategy that I often deploy when drafting from the middle in a head-to-head format. On the offensive side, my targeting of Coors Field has remained steady through three industry mocks to this point. You can see thefull mock draft results here.

Fantasy baseball mock draft results

1.7 - Nolan Arenado (3B, COL)

In my third industry mock draft, this is the furthest that I have seen Arenado fall. The Rockies third baseman has led the NLin homers and RBIs each of the past two seasonsand is one of maybe two or three players that could be a worthy top-overall pick aside from Mike Trout.

2.6 (18th) - Max Scherzer (SP, WAS)

Like Arenado, this is the latest that I have seen Scherzer go in a draft so far this year. The two-time Cy Young winner will turn 33 in late-July, but he has yet to show even the slightest sign of declining stuff. Scherzer was simply sensational across 23 starts from the beginning of last June through the end of the 2016 regular season, posting a 2.44 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 over 155.0 innings. Do not anticipate him remaining on the board past pick 15 in most drafts.

2017 RANKINGS:
Catcher| First| Second| Third| Shortstop| Outfield| Starter|Closer

3.7 (31st) - Trevor Story (SS, COL)

Story was on a torrid home run pace before a thumb injury, that ultimately required surgery, ended his rookie campaign after just 97 games. The young slugger belted 27 roundtrippers and posted a strong .909 OPS across 415 plate appearances during his first season in the bigs. The recent news out of Colorado is that Story is fully recovered and ready to go, so If he lasts beyond the first 25 or 30 picks, I will be targeting him for sure.

4.6 (42nd) - Johnny Cueto (SP, SF)

I am always an advocate of grabbing a couple of “ace” caliber hurlers to fortify my pitching staff, especially in head-to-head formats, in which the potential to dominate as many categories as possible is ideal. Cueto is not quite an elite fantasy starter in my humble opinion, but he is just barely shy of it. He had an excellent first season in San Francisco last year, and I fully expect an encore performance in 2017. Cueto has worked at least 212.0 innings in four of the past five seasons, posting an impressive 2.61 ERA across 129 starts while donning an NLuniform during that span. He is definitely a viable top-50 target this draft season.

5.7 (55th) - Carlos Martinez (SP, STL)

This is where I made the decision to go all in on starting pitching. Martinez lived up to the hype and broke out in 2015 at age 23. He followed that up with another strong campaign this past year, increasing his innings from 179.2 to 195.1 while maintaining an ERA just slightly above 3.00. Martinez has supplanted Adam Wainwright as the Cardinals’ aceand is close to reaching that status in the fantasy world.

6.6 (66th) - Billy Hamilton (OF, CIN)

The players remaining on the board for my sixth- and seventh-round picks justify the decision to go pitching heavy in the early stages of this mock draft. Hamilton is worth going at least 10 spots higher than this in my view. The fleet-footed centerfielder has swiped 56, 57, and 58 bags respectively over the past three seasons, and though many are still asking when the big breakout might come, I say that it did in the second half of 2016. After the All-Star break last summer, Hamilton posted a .369 OBP with 36 steals and 32 runs scored over 45 games. If he can pick up where he left off, 80 runs and 80 stolen bases is not out of the question, possibly even more in one or both categories.

7.7 (79th) - Buster Posey (C, SF)

As was the case with Arenado and Scherzer, it was surprising to see Posey still on the board this late. The four-time All-Star’s ADP around the fantasy baseball spectrum is currently about 30 spots higher than this, so I consider the selection a huge bargain. Posey’s “down year” of 2016 still saw him put up a .288/.362/.434 slash line with 14 homers, 33 doubles, 80 RBI and 82 runs scored. Unlike some other catchers who receive plenty of routine days off, Posey often just slides to first base when he needs a respite from catching duties. That in itself further increases his fantasy value at the position, as he has averaged 609 plate appearances across the past five seasons.

FANTASY SLEEPERS:
Each team|Catcher|First|Second| Third|Short|Outfield|Pitcher

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