Fantasy Baseball: Pitchers fell far in this 12-team Roto Mock and I anchored my staff with two aces

Happy Wednesday everyone! I had a tough time mustering up the exclamation mark because it’s not exactly a joyous day for baseball fans everywhere. Regardless of who you feel deserves the blame, there’s no denying it’s a net loss for baseball fans everywhere that the season will not be starting on time and we will have canceled games. That was the news from Wednesday and below we’ll dive into how Scott White believes it should impact your Fantasy Baseball seasons – from draft prep to draft planning and more.

But the focus of today’s newsletter is another mock draft, because let’s be honest – mocks are fun and help us escape MLB’s lockout. I jumped into this 12-team Rotisserie scoring mock (and I’ll be a mainstay moving forward) and it featured the entire Fantasy Baseball Today crew. Frank and Co. recapped the draft live in a two-part podcast you can find on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast page, and they also held a live recap on YouTube. You can find that and watch along here.

One thing you’ll hear a lot of if you check out the YouTube recap is mentions of my name! While I’m flattered, though not entirely sure they were meant to be flattering, I want to nip this in the bud and say no, I was not trying to troll Scott White. Yes, I did take some of his favorite value picks – in rounds earlier than consensus – but they all played a role in a much larger strategy of mine. I will go over that strategy, why I could not pass up the value on certain Scott White favorites and more below in my draft recap. We’ll also dive into an overall recap of the Roto mock with some key takeaways from Scott himself. Finally, we’ll dive into Scott’s reaction piece to the latest lockout news with his advice on how you should approach your 2022 Fantasy Baseball season.

Of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify. Catch up now for a more detailed look at ADP risers and fallers you need to know about plus Scott’s top-50 keepers heading into the 2022 season – for everyone in keeper leagues.

Last night I participated in my first of what will be many to come mock drafts with industry experts and the FBT crew. Keep in mind, I have spent the last two months reading thought pieces, rankings, sleepers, busts and a slew of compelling cases for what appear to be a sizable number of misvalued players by ADP. So when you see my final team – one that includes a slew of names who have also been featured as value plays by one Scott White – just know that I was not trolling him! I was simply seeing the player pool in the same way. And I have never been one to wait on drafting players based on their deflated ADP. If I feel a player is the best available for what I need at that time of the draft (position or category), I will select that player rather than wait for someone else to jump ahead of me.

With that said, I entered this draft with a very specific strategy. I wanted to build a roster that was hitter heavy with my early assets (something I find uber important in Roto scoring formats) and backed up by one ace starting pitcher plus a slew of flyer pitchers I like to beat their ADP. Earlier this offseason, Chirs Towers talked a bit about this starter strategy – and I’ve even heard it coined the “hero” or “anchor” starting pitcher strategy. Similar to the hero-RB strategy in Fantasy Football, it relies on drafting one of the top players at the position to anchor your staff but avoiding investing other major assets at what is arguably the most volatile position in Fantasy Baseball.

I’ll be honest, my pitcher strategy was at least in some way influenced by the line I took in 2021 drafts – early and often at starting pitcher. That plan led me astray with early investments in players like Kenta Maeda and Luis Castillo.

On the hitter side, my plan was also somewhat influenced by my mistakes in 2021 drafts. Last season, I was all about drafting speed. I wanted my early-round hitters to at least contribute something in the stolen bases category – double digits was the goal. I also wanted the potential category winners and wound up drafting Adalberto Mondesi in all but one league. That included a salary cap draft too and one league where I drafted him at the Round 2/3 turn (prior to his first of many injuries). I do not think I’ll ever quit Mondesi until I get my “big reward” (isn’t that why we all keep coming back to him) – and I was one pick away from drafting him again in this league – but that would have gone against my strategy entirely.

My strategy on the hitter side was to load up on players who contribute in the following categories: home runs, RBI, runs. I also wanted one or two stolen base guys to balance me out and pick me up a few points in that category. As for batting average, well I did not exactly plan it this way, but I ended up with a very walk-heavy team – specifically among my top hitter assets. That won’t exactly help me in this format.

And yes – before you troll me – I realize that the strategy of attacking those three categories and not using key assets on hitters whose ADP is buoyed by their ability to contribute something in the stolen base category is eerily similar to what Scott has preached this draft season. But again, this is me saying it – I am NOT trolling Scott. (Now though, in every future draft, I am ultimately tempted to purposely troll him and take his favorite picks one round earlier than ADP).

One more thing to note about this mock: We drafted as if there is no bench and just the starters. However, the assumption I had is to approach this as if this were a league with a bench and free agency in season. Therefore, I took a swing at my MI spot in the third-to-last round with one of the most fun prospects in Fantasy Baseball rather than draft a replacement-type MI I can find similar or better production from via waivers.

My team from the No. 9 overall spot:

  • Round 1: Bryce Harper, OF
  • Round 2: Jacob deGrom, SP
  • Round 3: Robbie Ray, SP
  • Round 4: George Springer, OF
  • Round 5: Jose Altuve, 2B
  • Round 6: Nolan Arenado, 3B
  • Round 7: Kyle Schwarber, OF
  • Round 8: Cody Bellinger, OF
  • Round 9: Joey Votto, 1B
  • Round 10: Shane McClanahan, SP
  • Round 11: Nelson Cruz, DH
  • Round 12: Chris Taylor, SS
  • Round 13: Craig Kimbrel, RP
  • Round 14: Adam Wainwright, SP
  • Round 15: Luke Voit, 1B
  • Round 16: Camilo Doval, RP
  • Round 17: Noah Syndergaard, SP
  • Round 18: Myles Straw, OF
  • Round 19: Carlos Carasco, SP
  • Round 20: Zack Greinke, SP
  • Round 21: Oneil Cruz, SS
  • Round 22: Yadier Molina, C
  • Round 23: Max Stassi, C

My favorite pick: It wouldn’t be a mock draft recap if I didn’t love a lot of my own picks at value! While I’m not super high on Straw, to get him this late in a Roto mock is value and I felt the same about a slew of the older SPs and batters I selected. I could go with Bellinger here, but that is more of a gut feeling that he still has league-winning upside (I’m buying into all the coach speak!). Instead, I’m going to go with Nelson Cruz here. The production Cruz provides me in Round 11 is unparalleled to the hitters being selected around him. Age and the fact that drafting him impedes one’s flexibility caused his free fall, but I had no trouble filling my roster after already having a DH in Round 11. His consistent production outweighs either concern.

My biggest regret: Drafting Craig Kimbrel in the 13th round. It’s not that I necessarily see Kimbrel being a bust. I think we’ll see more of the same from him and it’s very likely he’ll be traded to a team where he can rack up saves in 2022, but my strategy going into this thing was to not pay up for saves and then I kind of panicked when I did not like any of the hitter value at positions I needed or some of the starters still available.

My favorite pick by another manager: Scott White taking Jo Adell in the back half of the 13th round. Adell has breakout appeal, has demonstrated league-winning traits at the minor league level and is currently buried in ADP based on a ridiculously small sample size at the MLB level.

My scarcity-based pick (that I also sort of regret): Grabbing Nolan Arenado in Round 6 is not the type of pick that will kill my team, but it was made almost entirely because I did not want to miss out on what I perceived to be a big tier drop at 3B. I’m not worried about Arenado contributing for me in the three major counting stat categories, but he will hurt my already suspect batting average. Plus, there were 3B I ultimately liked in the later rounds at my pick and I easily filled my corner infielder with a first basemen I believe to be a high-upside play.

My most controversial pick by ADP: Grabbing Kyle Schwarber in Round 7 puts me at least two rounds ahead of his ADP and where he is typically drafted in even the most Schwarber-friendly drafts. I do not regret it though. And for this one, yes, I will sit here and admit that the compelling case Scott made for Schwarber in his 16 undervalued players column did sell me on trying to draft him everywhere I can.

Why I broke strategy in Round 3: I went in expecting to roll with one anchor SP, but when I got to Round 3, the highest-ranked player on my board was Robbie Ray so I did not hesitate. I’m a big-time believer in the changes Ray made to his game in 2021 and I think moving over to Seattle will only help his numbers. Sure, he won’t have the same lineup protection, but he’ll benefit from a home park that fits his skill set perfectly. Ray’s kryptonite is and always has been the fly ball. There’s maybe one or two parks in the MLB where fly balls go to die more than often than in Seattle.

Scott’s key takeaways from the draft

  • Ronald Acuna looks like he’s becoming a routine first-rounder again even as he rehabilitates a torn ACL. His upside is second only to Fernando Tatis in this format, but even by his own estimate, he’s not expected back until May. He figures to move up a spot for every week of the season that’s canceled.
  • It’s getting rarer to see Rafael Devers last beyond the Round 1-2 turn as the scarcities at third base become better known. I’ve been adamant about taking Freddie Freeman ahead of him up until now, but I’m beginning to wonder how long it will take Freeman to sign with a team after the lockout is lifted. Is it possible he’s not ready for the start of the season?
  • I never had a chance at Salvador Perez in this one. At 29 overall, it’s the earliest I’ve seen him go. I’m not letting him past me in Round 4, but early Round 3 is passing up on top-tier talent elsewhere.
  • Even in a 12-team league, the closer markup persists. with Josh Hader going 34th overall and Liam Hendriks going 37th. Folks, just because we can not identify all the saves sources right now does not mean they will not exist. Someone in your league is getting those saves, so in the end, the advantage Hader, Hendriks or any other early-round closer gives you won’t justify the cost.

For more key takeaways from Scott plus his thoughts on his overall approach, strategy and how things turned out in this draft, check out his mock review here.

How to approach a shortened season

Last night we got the sad news – the MLB is canceling games. How many? We do not know for sure what the final number will be just yet, but Scott took a deep dive into the lockout news and what it means for your Fantasy Baseball season. He broke down how you should conduct your league draft, what this means for drafting the closer position, injury-prone players and more. You can find his breakdown here.

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