Sure, March Madness may be sweeping the country, but that’s just a reminder that MLB’s Opening Day is approaching quickly. It’s prime time for fantasy baseball drafts, and SI.com is here to help you prepare.
Members of the SI.com fantasy baseball league conducted a mock draft for a 10-team, 6x6, mixed head-to-head league. The positions: one catcher, one first baseman, one second baseman, one shortstop, one third baseman, one utility player, three outfielders, five starting pitchers and three relief pitchers, with five bench spots and two DL spots. (For this mock draft, we only drafted one of the available bench spots.) Here, we present each round of the draft, and below, each owner gives a self-assessment, observations and more.
1. Ben Glicksman
2. Jeremy Woo
3. Tom Mantzouranis
4. Bette Marston
5. Colin Becht
6. David Kaye
7. Gary Gramling
8. Jon Tayler
9. Bobby Clay
10. Eric Single
• Ben Glicksman: Mike Trout, Chris Davis, JD Martinez, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Upton, Robinson Cano, Gregory Polanco, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Aroldis Chapman, Maikel Franco, Yu Darvish, Zach Britton, Devin Mesoraco, Jake Odorizzi, Yordano Ventura, Jung Ho Kang, Dexter Fowler. My strategy was to load up on power bats in the early rounds and then target high-upside starters later. Picking Mike Trout No. 1 overall was a no-brainer, and I was happy to grab Robinson Cano with the final pick of the sixth. I may have reached a bit for Devin Mesoraco—he took only 45 at-bats last year before undergoing season-ending hip surgery—but if he can come close to replicating his 2014 stats (25 home runs, 80 RBIs), he’ll provide value at the catcher position. I also couldn’t stay away from Yu Darvish; he is a major risk coming back from Tommy John surgery, but he has the stuff to rack up 175-plus strikeouts even in limited action.
• Jeremy Woo: Bryce Harper, Jose Abreu, Dee Gordon, Troy Tulowitzki, Lorenzo Cain, Dallas Keuchel, Adam Jones, Tyson Ross, David Peralta, Jordan Zimmermann, Lance McCullers, Ken Giles, Evan Longoria, Jose Quintana, Andrew Miller, Christian Yelich, Salvador Perez, Arodys Vizcaino. I came away fairly happy with this team, going offense-heavy early as tends to be my preferred approach. I wanted to address middle infield early, and was pretty pleased getting Gordon back at the turn. Tulo, as always, is a dice roll with injury, but I’ll take even 130–140 games from him in that lineup and go home happy. My bats came out well-rounded, and I thought Peralta and Perez were good value picks. As far as pitching goes, in the past I’ve had success waiting even longer than I did to take a starter. But bottom line, just blending the bankable types (Zimmermann, Quintana) with the right upside guys (Ross, McCullers) tends to work well. Guys always pop up by midseason if you stay active. And for that reason, per the old adage, never pay for saves. That variance was why I was fine with leasing Miller for a month—remember that literally any late-round closer could be waiver fodder in three weeks with the wrong breaks.
• Tom Mantzouranis: Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Altuve, Starling Marte, Jacob DeGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Matt Harvey, Yasiel Puig, Corey Dickerson, Anthony Rendon, Raisel Iglesias, Russell Martin, Cody Allen, Jorge Soler, Brad Boxberger, Byung-ho Park, Collin McHugh, Scott Kazmir, Ketel Marte. Every year, I battle with how early to draft my starting pitchers, telling myself I’m going to wait and load up on second-tier guys instead of chasing the elites. And every year, I get antsy and wind up splurging on a guy in the top 20 picks. This draft, I finally got it right. By waiting, I was able to pick up three top-25 hitters and still get a lot of very solid pitching in rounds 4–6 (seriously, how did Matt Harvey last that long?!?!). Adding one of my favorite sleepers, Raisel Iglesias, in the 10th round was just gravy. This strategy came at the expense of my hitting overall, especially at the mid-rounds, but I’m confident enough that between my three first-rounders and some strategic sleepers (Puig, Park and Marte) I’ll get enough hitting to make my strategy successful.
• Bette Marston: Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, George Springer, Carlos Gomez, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer, Matt Carpenter, Adrian Gonzalez, Francisco Lindor, Francisco Liriano, Michael Wacha, Addison Russell, Hector Rondon, Jonathan Papelbon, John Lackey, Dellin Betances, Yan Gomes, Joc Pederson. The No. 4 spot is tricky this season, since the first three players off the board are practically a given. But I feel comfortable taking Josh Donaldson, since I think he’ll come close to replicating his 2015 MVP season. I told myself that I wasn’t going to draft pitchers before the seventh round, but I zoned in on Carlos Carrasco in the fifth, and when he got snatched up before me, I got nervous and snagged Corey Kluber to anchor my staff. Unfortunately, I missed out on some guys I had my eye on (the aforementioned Carrasco, Kyle Schwarber), but I didn’t waste time getting Archer or Russell, two players highlighted on my cheat sheet.
• Colin Becht: Anthony Rizzo, Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer, Miguel Sano, Carlos Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Brian Dozier, Jacoby Ellsbury, Albert Pujols, Trevor Rosenthal, Garrett Richards, Ian Desmond, Drew Smyly, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jeff Samardzija, Francisco Rodriguez, Kole Calhoun, Steven Vogt. I’m happy with how my draft worked out for the value I got in starting pitching. Scherzer in the third and Strasburg in the sixth both have the potential to give higher returns than their draft placement. And I’m excited about Samardzija as a possible sleeper pick in the 15th. A return to the National League, and in the pitcher-friendly confines of AT&T Park to boot, spells rebound year. My position players have solid pop, with the possibility of 20+ home run seasons nearly across the board. My first three position players drafted are all in their early-to-mid 20s, so I’m hoping for even bigger numbers than they’ve already produced so far.
• David Kaye: Nolan Arenado, Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole, Ryan Braun, Noah Syndergaard, Prince Fielder, Michael Brantley, Danny Salazar, Adrian Beltre, Mark Melancon, Curtis Granderson, Huston Street, Brandon Crawford, Ben Zobrist, James Shields, Patrick Corbin. Miguel Cabrera is no longer 3B-eligible and he showed the first-ever sign of wear and tear in his 13-year career with a calf strain last season, but his .338 batting average still led the majors. I didn’t mind taking Buster Posey, the clear-cut No. 1 catcher at a position with no depth, a little early. Expect young guns Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole, Noah Syndergaard and Danny Salazar to all move up in SP rankings by season’s end. My 15th-round pick, Brandon Crawford, led all shortstops in RBI last season despite a weak finish, and Ben Zobrist’s 2B/OF eligibility makes him a steal in the 16th round.
• Gary Gramling: Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock, Joey Votto, Nelson Cruz, Sonny Gray, David Price, Ian Kinsler, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp, Masahiro Tanaka, David Robertson, Shelby Miller, Jonathan Lucroy, Shawn Tolleson, Steven Matz, Drew Storen, Shin-Soo Choo. I subscribe to the old adage: Get hitting that wins, get pitching that survives. I always assume I can play waiver wire and matchups well enough to make up for a mediocre staff at the end of draft day. As far as specific picks go, I was stunned that Jonathan Lucroy was still on the board in the 14th (so stunned that I would have taken him two rounds earlier had I not missed him on my cheat sheet). Tanaka is a bit scary. Ditto Drew Storen; I’ll have to be a waiver-wire ninja in case Roberto Osuna fends him off for the Jays’ closer job.
• Jon Tayler: Kris Bryant, Edwin Encarnacion, Jake Arrieta, Yoenis Cespedes,Jason Kipnis, Xander Bogaerts, Marcus Stroman, Hunter Pence, Travis d’Arnaud, Jeurys Familia, Carlos Martinez, Randal Grichuk, Byron Buxton, A.J. Ramos, Luis Severino, Alex Rodriguez, Kolten Wong, Lucas Giolito. My strategy was pretty straightforward: Lock up a top-five player at every position, fill in the rest of the roster with young, high-upside players (and Alex Rodriguez). The result? A lot of power in the lineup and some high-strikeout (albeit high-variance) pitchers in the rotation
• Bobby Clay: Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, Charlie Blackmon, Todd Frazier, Felix Hernandez, Eric Hosmer, Adam Wainwright, Johnny Cueto, Kenley Jansen, Brian McCann, David Ortiz, Rougned Odor, Billy Hamilton, Michael Pineda, Sean Doolittle, Michael Conforto, Elvis Andrus, Jake McGee. While the hitting on this team may be a bit questionable, there’s no doubt that—barring injury, of course)—this pitching staff will dominate (or, at least serve for some trade fodder). Kershaw is the only pitcher worth drafting in the first round, and honestly, getting him with the No. 12 pick was a bargain. And Ortiz may be old, but he’ll certainly give this team a needed hitting boost.
• Eric Single: Carlos Correa, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Zack Greinke, Jason Heyward, Kyle Seager, Adam Eaton, Kyle Schwarber, Wade Davis, Craig Kimbrel, Brett Gardner, Carlos Rodon, DJ LeMahieu, Billy Burns, Julio Teheran, Taijuan Walker, Carlos Santana, Glen Perkins. My goal every time my swing turn came up was to dictate how the board would fall to me 18 picks down the line as much as I could. To do that, I tried to put some pressure on the positions the average owner often waits on, first grabbing Sale and Greinke back-to-back, then landing Davis and Kimbrel in succession. My biggest depth concerns are at first base (whose top players were all off the board by my first pick) and starting pitcher (which can be a dice-roll in even the best of times), but I hope being proactive about things like steals and average helps counteract my middling return in the more glamorous categories.