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Expert Mock Draft

by Drew Silva
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Back in late December, we brought together some our favorite analysts in the fantasy baseball industry for this standard 12-team mock draft. The best way to prepare for a fantasy draft is to participate in a fantasy draft. Trends change, positions lose and gain depth and new names create new surprises. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so find your draft slot and imitate away. Or learn from our mistakes.

 

This draft was based on a 5x5 scoring format with the following roster spots: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, UTIL, UTIL, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P. There were also four bench spots.

 

1. D.J. Short, Rotoworld

2. Dan Szymborski, ESPN

3. Drew Silva, Rotoworld

4. Ray Flowers, SiriusXM

5. Tim Heaney, USA Today

6. Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus

7. David Shovein, Rotoworld

8. Seth Trachtman, Rotoworld

9. Paul Sporer, FanGraphs

10. Ryan Boyer, Rotoworld

11. Steve Gardner, USA Today

12. Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs

 

Round One

 

1.1 Mike Trout, OF, Angels

1.2 Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals

1.3 Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

1.4 Carlos Correa, SS, Astros   

1.5 Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs

1.6 Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers

1.7 Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles

1.8 Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

1.9 Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays

1.10 Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates

1.11 Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins

1.12 Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

 

These are the names you’re going to see in the first round of most drafts, though probably in a somewhat different order. Correa at fourth overall can be called a reach, but it’s also hard to completely knock the pick. He is a 21-year-old at a position where high-level production is scarce, and he registered an .857 OPS with 22 homers, 68 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 99 games last season as a rookie. The sky is the limit for this kid.

 

Round Two

 

2.13 Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers

2.14 Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs

2.15 Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox

2.16 Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox

2.17 Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins

2.18 A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks

2.19 Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies

2.20 George Springer, OF, Astros

2.21 Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays

2.22 Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays

2.23 Jake Arrieta, SP, Cubs

2.24 Joey Votto, 1B, Reds

 

Big bats got a ton of love in this second round, and that’s going to be standard for most drafts this spring. Power is no longer something you stumble into, and first base is not as deep as it has been in years past. Guys like Cabrera, Abreu, Encarnacion, Bautista and Votto carry massive weight for their home run and RBI potential. Also notable in this round: Arrieta becomes the second starting pitcher off the board after Kershaw, who went sixth overall.

 

Round Three

 

3.25 Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals

3.26 Buster Posey, C, Giants

3.27 Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants

3.28 Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

3.29 J.D. Martinez, OF, Tigers

3.30 Chris Sale, SP, White Sox

3.31 Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Blue Jays

3.32 Adam Jones, OF, Orioles

3.33 Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins

3.34 Zack Greinke, SP, Diamondbacks

3.35 Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox

3.36 David Price, SP, Red Sox

 

Scherzer quickly becomes the third starting pitcher off the board. He hit a few bumps in the second half of 2015, but the strikeouts, durability and the pitcher-friendly home park put him right up in the top tier with Kershaw and Arrieta. Scherzer’s selection set off a run on starters, with everyone wanting to grab an ace. You’ll see that in expert drafts often. Fernandez is the wild card here given his recent injury history and swirling trade talk.

 

Round Four

 

4.37 Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers

4.38 Jacob deGrom, SP, Mets

4.39 Kyle Schwarber, OF, Cubs

4.40 Gerrit Cole, SP, Pirates

4.41 Corey Kluber, SP, Indians

4.42 Robinson Cano, 2B, Mariners

4.43 Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals

4.44 Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals

4.45 Chris Davis, 1B, Free Agent

4.46 Todd Frazier, 3B, White Sox

4.47 Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros

4.48 Miguel Sano, DH, Twins

 

There was some new blood in the fourth round, with both Schwarber and Sano falling off the board. There’s some risk in drafting young sluggers this high -- the sophomore slump can be a real thing -- but you have to take risks to win a season-spanning fantasy baseball league. You have to identify elite performers before they become elite performers. Schwarber and Sano both look capable of enjoying full-on breakout campaigns in 2016.

 

Round Five

 

5.49 Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

5.50 Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians

5.51 Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Free Agent

5.52 Carlos Gomez, OF, Astros

5.53 Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners

5.54 Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins

5.55 Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals

5.56 Prince Fielder, DH, Rangers

5.57 Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

5.58 Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies

5.59 Jason Heyward, OF, Cubs

5.60 Noah Syndergaard, SP, Mets

 

The selection of Lindor stands out here. Is he really a top-50 guy? The early returns in 2015 were outstanding, but he is still thought of as a glove-first shortstop with a developing bat, even after posting an .835 OPS (122 OPS+) with 12 homers and 12 stolen bases in 99 games as a rookie. Lindor had a .729 OPS and seven home runs in 97 games at Triple-A between 2014-2015. This might be a case of reading too much into position scarcity. Regression is likely coming.

 

Round Six

 

6.61 Justin Upton, OF, Free Agent

6.62 Chris Archer, SP, Rays

6.63 Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians

6.64 Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers

6.65 Jon Lester, SP, Cubs

6.66 Nelson Cruz, OF, Mariners

6.67 Michael Brantley, OF, Indians

6.68 Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners

6.69 Matt Kemp, OF, Padres

6.70 Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians

6.71 Matt Carpenter, 3B, Cardinals

6.72 Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers

 

Corey Seager going 64th overall brings us back to the Lindor pick at 50th overall. Seager was a far more productive hitter in the minors than Lindor and registered an excellent set of numbers over a small sample size (98 at-bats) with the Dodgers in 2015. Seager would seem to have the higher fantasy upside both short-term and long-term, but Lindor did his thing over 390 at-bats as a rookie with the Indians. Strap on that well-worn amateur scouting hat.

 

Round Seven

 

7.73 Rougned Odor, 2B, Rangers

7.74 Sonny Gray, SP, Athletics

7.75 Carlos Martinez, SP, Cardinals

7.76 Danny Salazar, SP, Indians

7.77 Craig Kimbrel, RP, Red Sox

7.78 Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves

7.79 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers

7.80 Corey Dickerson, OF, Dodgers

7.81 Wade Davis, RP, Royals

7.82 Ian Kinsler, 2B, Tigers

7.83 Adam Eaton, OF, White Sox

7.84 Andrew Miller, RP, Yankees

 

Kimbrel is the first closer selected in this draft, at 77th overall. He’ll be earning saves in 2016 on what should be a very good Red Sox team and the potential for 100 strikeouts is there. Kimbrel’s selection started a parade of closers, which is something that happens in every snake draft. This is a year where we probably won’t see a consensus number one at the position across the minds of various fantasy baseball writers. Wade Davis looks pretty good at 81st overall.

 

Round Eight

 

8.85 Jose Reyes, SS, Rockies

8.86 Johnny Cueto, SP, Giants

8.87 Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers

8.88 Michael Wacha, SP, Cardinals

8.89 Tyson Ross, SP, Padres

8.90 Adam Wainwright, SP, Cardinals

8.91 David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox

8.92 Cole Hamels, SP, Rangers

8.93 Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies

8.94 Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels

8.95 Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins

8.96 Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Yankees

 

Cueto’s selection ushers us into a different tier of starting pitchers. Cueto had a very up-and-down second half with the Royals in 2015, posting a 4.76 ERA in 81 1/3 innings, and the $130 million deal he got from the Giants in December does not explain those struggles away. Wacha faded last year after battling a shoulder injury in 2014, and Wainwright lost basically all of 2015 to a torn Achilles. It’s impossible to avoid this kind of uncertainty.

 

Round Nine

 

9.97 Jeurys Familia, RP, Mets

9.98 Ken Giles, RP, Astros

9.99 Trevor Rosenthal, RP, Cardinals

9.100 Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays

9.101 Ian Desmond, SS, Free Agent

9.102 Hunter Pence, OF, Giants

9.103 Billy Hamilton, OF, Reds

9.104 Zach Britton, RP, Orioles

9.105 Garrett Richards, SP, Angels

9.106 Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels

9.107 Aroldis Chapman, RP, Yankees

9.108 Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates

 

Three straight closers to open the ninth round. Familia was lethal for the National League-champion Mets in 2015, Giles has shifted his talents from the rebuilding Phillies to the hard-charging ‘Stros and Rosenthal is a flamethrower on a Cardinals team that is always challenging for 90-plus wins. Britton also got his name called here in the ninth round after a terrific 2015.

 

Round 10

 

10.109 Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees

10.110 Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals

10.111 Evan Longoria, 3B, Rays

10.112 Cody Allen, RP, Indians

10.113 Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers

10.114 Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers

10.115 Mark Melancon, RP, Pirates

10.116 Francisco Liriano, SP, Pirates

10.117 Dellin Betances, RP, Yankees

10.118 Addison Russell, 2B, Cubs

10.119 Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals

10.120 Jake Odorizzi, SP, Rays

 

The 2015 season brought serious drops in stock for Wong, Puig and Lucroy, who all came off the board here in the 10th round. Wong is a dynamic talent at a position where multi-category production can be hard to find, but he had a brutal second half last year, and the Cardinals brought in Jedd Gyorko to possibly platoon with him at second base in 2016. Puig has battled hamstring and off-field issues, and Lucroy is not the MVP candidate you are looking for. Betances was chosen before the Yankees traded for Aroldis Chapman.

 

Round 11

 

11.121 Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees

11.122 Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs

11.123 Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Tigers

11.124 Yordano Ventura, SP, Royals

11.125 Khris Davis, OF, Brewers

11.126 Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants

11.127 Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Rangers

11.128 Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers

11.129 Ben Zobrist, 2B, Cubs

11.130 Luis Severino, SP, Yankees

11.131 Billy Burns, OF, Athletics

11.132 David Robertson, RP, White Sox

 

It’s good to have Darvish back in the fantasy mix, though an 11th-round selection might be a tad aggressive. He had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March and probably won’t join the Rangers’ rotation until early May. Even then, it takes some starting pitchers over 15 months to get back near full strength. Severino showed the stuff of an emerging ace last year with the Yankees, producing a 2.89 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings at age 21.

 

Round 12

 

12.133 Mark Trumbo, OF, Orioles

12.134 Jung Ho Kang, 3B, Pirates

12.135 David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks

12.136 Hanley Ramirez, OF, Red Sox

12.137 Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers

12.138 Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers

12.139 Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox

12.140 Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox

12.141 Hector Rondon, RP, Cubs

12.142 Steven Matz, SP, Mets

12.143 Jeff Samardzija, SP, Giants

12.144 Roberto Osuna, RP, Blue Jays

 

Kang might have been a top-100 or even top-75 guy this year if he hadn’t suffered that nasty leg injury last September. He was batting .310 with a .913 OPS and 11 home runs in 54 second-half games with the Pirates while proving capable at shortstop and third base. Kang had 40 home runs and 117 RBI in 117 games with the Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization in 2014. He is expected to be ready in late April or early May.

 

Round 13

 

13.145 Brian McCann, C, Yankees

13.146 Huston Street, RP, Angels

13.147 Evan Gattis, DH, Astros

13.148 Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox

13.149 Shawn Tolleson, RP, Rangers

13.150 Carter Capps, RP, Marlins

13.151 Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Tigers

13.152 Daniel Murphy, 2B, Nationals

13.153 Dexter Fowler, OF, Free Agent

13.154 Lance McCullers, SP, Astros

13.155 A.J. Ramos, RP, Marlins

13.156 Lucas Giolito, SP, Nationals

 

Capps becomes the first setup man taken in this draft, falling off the board before his closer (Ramos). This league doesn’t award points for holds, but there are non-closers who can contribute via strikeouts, WHIP and ERA. Capps used his funky jump-delivery to register a 1.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 58/7 K/BB over 31 innings in 2015. You can imagine the value he might provide if he nears 75-80 innings this season.

 

Round 14

 

14.157 Julio Urias, SP, Dodgers

14.158 Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants

14.159 Brad Boxberger, RP, Rays

14.160 Julio Teheran, SP, Braves

14.161 Glen Perkins, RP, Twins

14.162 Curtis Granderson, OF, Mets

14.163 Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, Mariners

14.164 Jay Bruce, OF, Reds

14.165 Shelby Miller, SP, Diamondbacks

14.167 Russell Martin, C, Blue Jays

14.168 DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies

 

Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs was very bold with his back-to-back selections of baseball’s top two pitching prospects: Giolito as the final pick of the 13th and Urias as the opening pick of the 14th. These are elite arm talents, but neither will be in the majors on Opening Day. Zimmerman is gambling that they will both continue to force the quick rise. Taking one gamble like that is good drafting, but taking two on the same turn is scary.

 

Round 15

 

15.169 Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cardinals

15.170 John Lackey, SP, Cubs

15.171 Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians

15.172 James Shields, SP, Padres

15.173 Byron Buxton, OF, Twins

15.174 Taijuan Walker, SP, Mariners

15.175 Drew Smyly, SP, Rays

15.176 Sean Doolittle, RP, Athletics

15.177 Raisel Iglesias, SP, Reds

15.178 Patrick Corbin, SP, Diamondbacks

15.179 Collin McHugh, SP, Astros

15.180 Jarrod Dyson, OF, Royals

 

Most fantasy baseball writers have great love for top prospects -- they’re easy to dream on -- and so it came as a mild surprise that Buxton lasted this long on the draft board. He had a dreadful .209/.250/.326 slash line over 46 games with the Twins in 2015, but the 22-year-old center fielder was a stud in the minor leagues with great speed and growing pop. Buxton’s disappointing first cup of coffee has turned him into a post-hype fantasy sleeper.

 

Round 16

 

16.181 Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Reds

16.182 Travis d’Arnaud, C, Mets

16.183 Kendrys Morales, DH, Royals

16.184 Kevin Pillar, OF, Blue Jays

16.185 Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers

16.186 Drew Storen, RP, Nationals

16.187 Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Nationals

16.188 Michael Pineda, SP, Yankees

16.189 Alex Gordon, OF, Free Agent

16.190 Andrew Heaney, SP, Angels

16.191 Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals

16.192 Gio Gonzalez, SP, Nationals

 

Buxton was the post-hype fantasy sleeper in Round 15, and Pederson fills that role in Round 16. Pederson registered an .850 OPS and 20 home runs in the first half of 2015 and then put on a show in the MLB Home Run Derby, but the young center fielder batted .155/.316/.275 with five home runs over his final 53 regular-season games, and he did not manage a hit in the playoffs. Fatigue is the easy scapegoat. He should be better at managing it in his second full year.

 

Round 17

 

17.193 Starlin Castro, SS, Yankees

17.194 Kenta Maeda, SP, Free Agent

17.195 Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals

17.196 Kevin Gausman, SP, Orioles

17.197 Joe Ross, SP, Nationals

17.198 David Wright, 3B, Mets

17.199 Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Free Agent

17.200 Matt Wieters, C, Orioles

17.201 Yasmani Grandal, C Dodgers

17.202 Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals

17.203 Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies

17.204 Byung-ho Park, 1B, Twins

 

Garcia and Gausman are a couple of low-risk, high-upside starting pitchers for 2016, just barely cracking the top 200 in this draft. Garcia tallied 10 wins alongside a 2.43 ERA in 20 starts for the Cardinals last summer before stumbling in his one postseason outing. If his health cooperates and he can make 30 regular-season starts in 2016, we’re talking crazy value. Gausman is a great talent with a ton of experience for his age. He seems to be on the cusp of taking that next step.

 

Round 18

 

18.205 Salvador Perez, C, Royals

18.206 Lucas Duda, 1B, Mets

18.207 Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Red Sox

18.208 Randal Grichuk, OF, Cardinals

18.209 Stephen Piscotty, OF, Cardinals

18.210 Steve Cishek, RP, Mariners

18.211 Yan Gomes, C, Indians

18.212 Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds

18.213 Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants

18.214 Marco Estrada, SP, Blue Jays

18.215 Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees

18.216 Alex Wood, SP, Dodgers

 

Waiting on a catcher is typically the move in a 10-team or 12-team one-catcher league. It’s a relatively deep position with a lot of similar hitters. Perez is a workhorse for the defending World Series-champion Royals and he slugged a career-high 21 home runs in 2015. Gomes fell off from his breakout 2014, but an early-season knee injury carries much of the blame and he’ll bring a clean bill of health into 2016. Mesoraco is over his hip issues and should get back to mashing. They’re all great values in the 18th round.

 

Round 19

 

19.217 Michael Conforto, OF, Mets

19.218 Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pirates

19.219 Brandon Maurer, RP, Padres

19.220 Blake Swihart, C, Red Sox

19.221 Trea Turner, SS, Nationals

19.222 Ketel Marte, SS, Mariners

19.223 Victor Martinez, DH, Tigers

19.224 Ender Inciarte, OF, Braves

19.225 Justin Bour, 1B, Marlins

19.226 Scott Kazmir, SP, Free Agent

19.227 Jimmy Nelson, SP, Brewers

19.228 Neil Walker, 2B, Mets

 

Maurer is the final closer to come off the board in this draft, and he’s not even necessarily locked into the Padres’ ninth-inning role. If you’re in a league with people who have good knowledge of bullpen depth charts, you’re probably going to have to do some reaching to secure your team ample saves on draft day. Closer roles will of course change hands throughout the year, but you don’t want to have to count on winning multiple waiver-wire scrambles.

 

Round 20

 

20.229 Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers

20.230 Stephen Vogt, C, Athletics

20.231 Daniel Norris, SP, Tigers

20.232 Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers

20.233 Jason Hammel, SP, Cubs

20.234 Joe Mauer, 1B, Twins

20.235 Delino DeShields, OF, Rangers

20.236 Matt Moore, SP, Rays

20.237 Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals

20.238 Rusney Castillo, OF, Red Sox

20.239 J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies

20.240 Erasmo Ramirez, SP, Rays

 

Another good value at catcher here is Vogt, who posted a .783 OPS (114 OPS+), 18 home runs and 71 RBI in 136 games last season for the A’s. He had a monstrous first half, earning an American League All-Star nod, before groin troubles took away some of that spark during the stretch run. Vogt is expected to be 100 percent entering spring training and should see everyday-like playing time between catcher, DH and first base.

 

Round 21

 

21.241 Adam Lind, 1B, Mariners

21.242 Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees

21.243 Brett Lawrie, 2B, White Sox

21.244 Javier Baez, SS, Cubs

21.245 Wil Myers, OF, Padres

21.246 Alex Rodriguez, DH, Yankees

21.247 Avisail Garcia, OF, White Sox

21.248 Jose Berrios, SP, Twins

21.249 Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Orioles

21.250 A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros

21.251 Nathan Eovaldi, SP, Yankees

21.252 Robbie Ray, SP, Diamondbacks

 

It’s not common in this “post-steroid” era for a guy coming off a 33-homer season to be available in the 21st round of a 12-team fantasy baseball draft, but A-Rod turns 41 years old in July and is a good bet for significant regression. Rodriguez’ advanced age makes him a walking injury concern, and he is not going to be available for use at any position but utility and first base in leagues with standard lineup rules. Most of the names here are late-round fliers.

 

Round 22

 

22.253 Rich Hill, SP, Athletics

22.254 Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds

22.255 Tyler Duffey, SP, Twins

22.256 Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics

22.257 Will Smith, RP, Brewers

22.258 Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers

22.259 Jerad Eickhoff, SP, Phillies

22.260 Michael Fiers, SP, Astros

22.261 Joey Gallo, OF, Rangers

22.262 Nathan Karns, SP, Mariners

22.263 Adam Warren, SP, Cubs

22.264 Kyle Hendricks, SP, Cubs

 

The flier-taking continues here in the final round, with a mix of past-prime veterans, injury-bugged players and prospects. Ryu fits the injury-bugged label, coming off a lost 2015 but carrying a clean bill of health into 2016. He’ll be asked to handle a large load for the Dodgers, who lost Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks in the offseason. Gallo is a special young power hitter but doesn’t have a clear path to playing time in Texas.

Drew Silva

Drew Silva is a longtime baseball writer and editor for Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter.