MLB opening day and, for most, fantasy baseball drafts are just around the corner. For those in the fantasy sports industry, mock drafts, and even some of the real ones, have been going on for several weeks already. Personally, I will continue the mock draft exercises likely into late-March in order to stay up to date on current trends and perfect my draft strategy.
For my fellow fantasy baseball enthusiasts in search of tips and advice, I will provide some thoughts on rankings and average draft position (ADP) based on my experiences in Howard Bender's "Mock Draft Army" exercises.
Bender's 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! You can check out more of his great work over at Fantasy Alarm.
In this mock, I was drafting from the fourth spot in a 12-team, standard setup and proceeded to test the “wait on pitching” strategy. It can certainly be a bit nerve racking to enter the seventh round without a single hurler on your roster, but sometimes it works out quite well. Let’s take a look at how it went for me in this particular field. You can check out thefull mock draft resultshere.
Fantasy baseball mock draft results
1.4 - Paul Goldschmidt (1B, ARI)
After Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado, I would select Goldschmidt as high as No. 3 in virtually any mixed format. The four-time All-Star did see his home runs fall from 33 in 2015 to 24 in '16, but he set new career highs in steals (32) and runs (106) while still driving in 95 and posting a .297/.411/.489 slash line. You simply cannot match Goldy’s all-around skills at first base.
2.9 (#21) - Corey Seager (SS, LAD)
Seager displayed some of his potential with the bat across 27 games for the Dodgers in 2015 before completely taking the league by storm in '16. Headed into his age-23 season, he has already earned second-round status in mixed formats following an NLRookie of the Year campaign that saw him post an excellent .308/.365/.512 slash line with 26 homers, 40 doubles and 105 runs scores.
3.4 (#28) - Robinson Cano (2B, SEA)
Cano greatly disappointed fantasy owners during one of the weakest offensive stretches of his career in the first half of 2015. However, since the Midsummer Classic that year, the seven-time All-Star been swinging one of the most potent bats in the game. Cano blasted a career-high 39 home runs last season, and though he likely will not repeat that, you can expect him to be a strong four-category contributor once again.
4.9 (#45) - Ian Desmond (OF, COL)
A new addition for the Rockies, Desmond brings a proven track record of production to Coors Field. Last season in Texas while playing solely in the outfield for the first time, Desmond put up his fourth 20-20 season in the past five years. He is expected to make the transition to first base in Colorado, making him a fourth- or fifth-round target for me.
5.4 (#52) - Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL)
Gone are the days of Gonzalez being a fantasy first-rounder, but the veteran outfielder can still mash. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Cargo has posted an .859 OPS with 65 homers and 67 doubles while playing 153 and 150 games, respectively. Do not sleep on Gonzalez just because his stolen bases have disappeared.
6.9 (#69) - Jonathan Lucroy (C, TEX)
Lucroy was having yet another solid campaign in Milwaukee before being traded to Texas in a deadline deal. The veteran backstop hit just .276 in Texas after putting up a .299 mark over 95 games in Milwaukee last year, but that is where the negatives end. Across 168 plate appearances for the Rangers, Lucroy slugged .539 with 11 roundtrippers and 31 RBIs. He will now get the chance to spend an entire season in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup.
Now to take alook at the starting pitchers that I selected to anchor my staff:
7.4 (#76) - Masahiro Tanaka (SP, NYY)
Tanaka has certainly had his durability issues since coming to the States in 2014, but he did reach 199.2 innings in '16 after working just 136.1 and 154.0, respectively, over the previous two seasons. Across his 31 starts last year, Tanaka rather quietly put together a terrific campaign, going 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 4.58 K/BB ratio. He may not quite be a fantasy ace, but he is a nice No. 2.
12.9 (#141) - Tanner Roark (SP, WAS)
Roark is one of the best bargains you can find among starting pitchers according to current ADP trends. I will gladly have him as an SP3, or in this case a No. 2, in most any league. The 30-year-old righty made 31 starts in 2014 and 33 (34 games) in '16, putting up a sub-3.00 ERA in both of those years. With a career 6.6 K/9 in the majors, Roark is nowhere close to an elite source of strikeouts, but it is important to note that he whiffed a career-high 172 batters (7.4 K/9) last season.
14.9 (#165) - Sean Manaea (SP, OAK)
Manaea did not have a great start to his MLB career, as he surrendered 16 earned runs across his first 12.2 innings in the show last April and May. After those struggles during his first three starts with the A’s, Manaea displayed the talent that landed him as MLB.com’s No. 68 prospect headed into 2016 by turning in a 3.14 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 over 132.0 innings. He has the skills and the home park to deliver for fantasy owners in '17.