As one of our own holiday traditions, we like to take a breather from our families and loved ones in late December to gather in the draft room over at Mock Draft Central (www.mockdraftcentral.com) and begin our upcoming season's preparation with an NFBC-style mock draft. There are, obviously, a few caveats to understand with respect to the early draft date such as still-pending player movement and late-round sleepers who will have been "outed" closer to the start of the season and go much higher in a March draft than one in December. But a draft such as this should be used as a guideline as opposed to gospel. By drafting now, we are helping to create the actual ADP numbers you will be using and provide you with base thoughts from which trends will develop when additional news becomes available closer to your actual draft date. Using this as your "square one" will enable you to track draft outliers, risers and fallers, and, of course, where in your draft you are most likely to find your better values.
Similar to last year, we asked questions specifically tailored to each participant's draft.
Editor's Note: Keep in mind that this draft took place before several offseason events transpired such as: Michael Bourn signing with Cleveland and Chris Carpenter announcing he wouldn't pitch in 2013. Take the draft results grid with the appropriate grain of salt, and consider the analysis of the participants to be the more valuable information here. We'll have additional mock drafts posted on the site before Opening Day.
|Round||Todd Zola - Mastersball||Tim Heaney - KFFL||Howard Bender - RotoWire||Scott Pianowski - Yahoo!||Ray Flowers - Baseball Guys||Round|
|R1 »||OF Ryan Braun||3B Miguel Cabrera||OF Mike Trout||2B Robinson Cano||OF Andrew McCutchen||» R1|
|R2 «||OF Curtis Granderson||2B Dustin Pedroia||SP Felix Hernandez||SP Clayton Kershaw||OF Jose Bautista||« R2|
|R3 »||OF Jacoby Ellsbury||OF Jason Heyward||OF Michael Bourn||1B Edwin Encarnacion||3B Brett Lawrie||» R3|
|R4 «||SS Jimmy Rollins||1B Allen Craig||2B Dan Uggla||3B Pablo Sandoval||1B Freddie Freeman||« R4|
|R5 »||C Victor Martinez||SS Ian Desmond||SP Matt Cain||C Carlos Santana||OF B.J. Upton||» R5|
|R6 «||SP Yu Darvish||SP Matt Moore||3B Mike Moustakas||2B Danny Espinosa||C Miguel Montero||« R6|
|R7 »||SP Gio Gonzalez||1B Ike Davis||1B Adam Dunn||OF Nelson Cruz||OF Austin Jackson||» R7|
|R8 «||1B Paul Konerko||OF Shane Victorino||C Brian McCann||OF Martin Prado||SP Yovani Gallardo||« R8|
|R9 »||2B Neil Walker||C Jesus Montero||OF Mark Trumbo||OF Melky Cabrera||SP James Shields||» R9|
|R10 «||RP Jason Motte||C Jonathan Lucroy||SP Dan Haren||SP Matt Garza||SP Tim Lincecum||« R10|
|R11 »||3B Kyle Seager||SP Ian Kennedy||3B Michael Young||SP Jon Lester||SS J.J. Hardy||» R11|
|R12 «||OF Ichiro Suzuki||RP J.J. Putz||RP Rafael Betancourt||SS Stephen Drew||RP Joe Nathan||« R12|
|R13 »||SP C.J. Wilson||SP Jeff Samardzija||RP Jim Johnson||OF Carlos Gomez||OF Drew Stubbs||» R13|
|R14 «||SS Josh Rutledge||SS Jean Segura||OF Cameron Maybin||SP Ryan Vogelsong||3B Kevin Youkilis||« R14|
|R15 »||SP Anibal Sanchez||RP Tom Wilhelmsen||SP Jeremy Hellickson||RP Joel Hanrahan||SP Doug Fister||» R15|
|R16 «||SP Wandy Rodriguez||3B Trevor Plouffe||SS Jurickson Profar||OF Denard Span||C Alex Avila||« R16|
|R17 »||RP Rafael Soriano||SP Lance Lynn||C Ryan Hanigan||SP Francisco Liriano||SP Tim Hudson||» R17|
|R18 «||C J.P. Arencibia||OF Ryan Ludwick||OF Jeff Francoeur||OF Tyler Colvin||SS Everth Cabrera||« R18|
|R19 »||OF Colby Rasmus||OF Peter Bourjos||SP Bud Norris||RP Carlos Marmol||SP Ricky Romero||» R19|
|R20 «||3B Alex Rodriguez||1B Justin Morneau||1B Carlos Pena||SP James McDonald||RP Bruce Rondon||« R20|
|R21 »||OF Juan Pierre||SP Shaun Marcum||RP Ivan Nova||C Russell Martin||RP Sean Marshall||» R21|
|R22 «||OF Justin Maxwell||SP Jason Hammel||2B Chris Getz||SS Jhonny Peralta||1B Mark Reynolds||« R22|
|R23 »||RP Vinnie Pestano||SS Hiroyuki Nakajima||SP Jake Odorizzi||SP Jeremy Guthrie||SP Brandon McCarthy||» R23|
|R24 «||SP Alex Cobb||SP Hyun-Jin Ryu||SP Andy Pettitte||1B Justin Smoak||OF Emilio Bonifacio||« R24|
|R25 »||SP Drew Smyly||SP Tevor Bauer||1B Yonder Alonso||C A.J. Ellis||2B Jemile Weeks||» R25|
|R26 «||1B Brett Wallace||C Mike Zunino||OF Jonny Gomes||OF Nate McLouth||RP Frank Francisco||« R26|
|R27 »||3B Lonnie Chisenhall||OF Brett Jackson||RP Joakim Soria||SP Ricky Nolasco||RP Bobby Parnell||» R27|
|R28 «||SP Clayton Richard||RP Brian Wilson||2B Johnny Giavotella||SP Ubaldo Jimenez||3B Chris Johnson||« R28|
|R29 »||RP Tyson Ross||SP Erasmo Ramirez||OF Raul Ibanez||SP Bronson Arroyo||OF Vernon Wells||» R29|
||SS Jed Lowrie
||RP David Robertson
||SP Joe Kelly
||OF Darin Mastroianni
||SP Joe Blanton
|Round||Peter Kreutzer - AskRotoMan||John Halpin - FOX Sports||Steve Gardner - USA Today||Eno Sarris - FanGraphs||Jeff Erickson – RotoWire||Round|
|R1 »||1B Joey Votto||OF Matt Kemp||1B Albert Pujols||2B Ian Kinsler||OF Carlos Gonzalez||» R1|
|R2 «||SP Justin Verlander||2B Ben Zobrist||SS Jose Reyes||3B Evan Longoria||C Buster Posey||« R2|
|R3 »||OF Adam Jones||2B Jason Kipnis||OF Matt Holliday||OF Bryce Harper||3B Ryan Zimmerman||» R3|
|R4 «||SP Jered Weaver||C Joe Mauer||3B Aramis Ramirez||OF Yoenis Cespedes||1B Paul Goldschmidt||« R4|
|R5 »||3B Chase Headley||SP Brandon Morrow||C Matt Wieters||SS Asdrubal Cabrera||SP Cole Hamels||» R5|
|R6 «||OF Shin-Soo Choo||SP Chris Sale||SP CC Sabathia||2B Jose Altuve||SP Cliff Lee||« R6|
|R7 »||OF Alex Gordon||1B Adam LaRoche||OF Dexter Fowler||SP Roy Halladay||1B Anthony Rizzo||» R7|
|R8 «||SS Alcides Escobar||OF Carlos Beltran||SP R.A. Dickey||SP Adam Wainwright||SP Johnny Cueto||« R8|
|R9 »||2B Howie Kendrick||3B Will Middlebrooks||OF Michael Cuddyer||1B Eric Hosmer||SS Erick Aybar||» R9|
|R10 «||OF Hunter Pence||SP Jordan Zimmermann||SP Aroldis Chapman||SP Mat Latos||OF Josh Reddick||« R10|
|R11 »||OF Brett Gardner||OF Carl Crawford||3B David Freese||C A.J. Pierzynski||2B Daniel Murphy||» R11|
|R12 «||RP Huston Street||SP Josh Johnson||SP Brett Anderson||SP Jarrod Parker||OF Logan Morrison||« R12|
|R13 »||SP Jonathon Niese||RP Jonathan Broxton||RP Mariano Rivera||OF Starling Marte||RP Sergio Romo||» R13|
|R14 «||SP Chris Tillman||OF Angel Pagan||2B Marco Scutaro||3B Todd Frazier||RP Grant Balfour||« R14|
|R15 »||3B Pedro Alvarez||2B Dustin Ackley||SP A.J. Burnett||RP Addison Reed||OF Alejandro DeAza||» R15|
|R16 «||OF Dayan Viciedo||1B Brandon Belt||RP Greg Holland||RP Brandon League||SP Marco Estrada||« R16|
|R17 »||RP Steve Cishek||SP Tommy Hanson||RP Kenley Jansen||SP Mike Minor||RP Kyuji Fujikawa||» R17|
|R18 «||C Jarrod Saltalamacchia||OF Chris Young||C Robert Brantly||RP Ryan Madson||OF Jason Kubel||« R18|
|R19 »||SP Matt Harrison||C Carlos Ruiz||OF Michael Brantley||C Welington Castillo||C Travis DArnaud||» R19|
|R20 «||SS Zack Cozart||OF Matt Joyce||1B Garrett Jones||OF Travis Snider||3B Matt Carpenter||« R20|
|R21 »||C Yasmani Grandal||SP Phil Hughes||SP Kyle Lohse||1B Adam Lind||3B Chris Nelson||» R21|
|R22 «||RP Glen Perkins||RP Tyler Clippard||SP Cory Luebke||OF Nolan Reimold||2B Omar Infante||« R22|
|R23 »||C Geovany Soto||SP Brandon Beachy||3B Ryan Roberts||SP Johan Santana||SP Scott Feldman||» R23|
|R24 «||SP A.J. Griffin||RP Jose Veras||OF Jon Jay||OF Justin Ruggiano||SP Scott Baker||« R24|
|R25 »||SP Ted Lilly||OF Cody Ross||1B Brandon Moss||SS Billy Hamilton||SP Tom Milone||» R25|
|R26 «||SP Patrick Corbin||SP Julio Teheran||SP Ervin Santana||SP Dan Straily||OF Leonys Martin||« R26|
|R27 »||1B Matt Adams||C Ryan Lavarnway||SS Rafael Furcal||C Devin Mesoraco||1B Chris Carter||» R27|
|R28 «||SP Justin Masterson||2B Kelly Johnson||OF Lucas Duda||SP Dan Hudson||SP Tyler Skaggs||« R28|
|R29 »||3B Mike Olt||SP Zach Britton||SP Michael Fiers||OF Ryan Kalish||RP Al Alburquerque||» R29|
||OF Andy Dirks
||SP Jarred Cosart
||3B Jordan Pacheco
||SP Danny Duffy
||SP Edinson Volquez
|Round||Greg Ambrosius - NFBC||Steve Moyer – RotoWire||Tom Kephart - BaseballHQ||Eric Karabell - ESPN||Round|
|R1 »||OF Josh Hamilton||OF Mike Stanton||1B Prince Fielder||3B David Wright||» R1|
|R2 «||SS Troy Tulowitzki||SS Hanley Ramirez||3B Adrian Beltre||OF Justin Upton||« R2|
|R3 »||SP Stephen Strasburg||SS Starlin Castro||OF Jay Bruce||SS Elvis Andrus||» R3|
|R4 «||2B Brandon Phillips||1B Billy Butler||SP David Price||1B Adrian Gonzalez||« R4|
|R5 »||OF Desmond Jennings||C Yadier Molina||2B Aaron Hill||1B Mark Teixeira||» R5|
|R6 «||C Wilin Rosario||C Mike Napoli||1B Corey Hart||SP Zack Greinke||« R6|
|R7 »||RP Craig Kimbrel||2B Rickie Weeks||C Salvador Perez||DH David Ortiz||» R7|
|R8 «||SP Madison Bumgarner||SS Derek Jeter||OF Alex Rios||2B Chase Utley||« R8|
|R9 »||SP Kris Medlen||OF Nick Swisher||SS Alexei Ramirez||OF Josh Willingham||» R9|
|R10 «||1B Ryan Howard||OF Ben Revere||SP Max Scherzer||OF Andre Ethier||« R10|
|R11 »||1B Chris Davis||OF Mike Morse||OF Nick Markakis||RP Jonathan Papelbon||» R11|
|R12 «||RP Drew Storen||OF Alfonso Soriano||1B Kendrys Morales||RP Fernando Rodney||« R12|
|R13 »||3B Manny Machado||OF Rajai Davis||OF Coco Crisp||SP Josh Beckett||» R13|
|R14 «||OF Jayson Werth||RP Chris Perez||SP Homer Bailey||SP Hiroki Kuroda||« R14|
|R15 »||C Ryan Doumit||SP Jake Peavy||OF Norichika Aoki||SP Ryan Dempster||» R15|
|R16 «||SP Matt Harvey||RP John Axford||RP Casey Janssen||SP Derek Holland||« R16|
|R17 »||OF Lorenzo Cain||SP Edwin Jackson||3B Jeff Keppinger||SP Wade Miley||» R17|
|R18 «||SP Chris Carpenter||SP Hisashi Iwakuma||SP Trevor Cahill||OF Torii Hunter||« R18|
|R19 »||OF Wil Myers||RP Trevor Rosenthal||OF Carlos Quentin||SP Clay Buchholz||» R19|
|R20 «||OF Adam Eaton||SP Jaime Garcia||SP Alexi Ogando||RP Jason Grilli||« R20|
|R21 »||SP Shelby Miller||SP Chris Capuano||C Wilson Ramos||OF Domonic Brown||» R21|
|R22 «||2B Gordon Beckham||OF Darin Ruf||RP Ernesto Frieri||C Tyler Flowers||« R22|
|R23 »||SS Andrelton Simmons||SP Dillon Gee||OF Oscar Taveras||SS Dee Gordon||» R23|
|R24 «||SP Jason Vargas||SS Yunel Escobar||SP Jeff Niemann||SP Wade Davis||« R24|
|R25 »||OF Michael Saunders||SP Chad Billingsley||SP Colby Lewis||RP Jose Valverde||» R25|
|R26 «||SP Mark Buehrle||OF Jason Bay||SP Gavin Floyd||SP Andrew Cashner||« R26|
|R27 »||2B Jedd Gyorko||OF Avisail Garcia||OF Will Venable||OF Jerry Sands||» R27|
|R28 «||OF Delmon Young||1B David Cooper||RP Brett Myers||SP Jacob Turner||« R28|
|R29 »||SP Wei-Yen Chen||SP Casey Kelly||SP Jake Arrieta||2B Scott Sizemore||» R29|
|R30 «||SP Dylan Bundy||SP Luke Hochevar||OF David Murphy||C John Jaso||« R30|
Q & A Responses:
Todd Zola (Mastersball.com)
While most were concerned with filling out their middle infield and third base early, you went with an outfielder in each of your first three picks. Is depth in the outfield more of a concern for you than the traditionally scarce positions? Based on how you filled out those other spots later in the draft, would you start out the same way again?
Position scarcity is a myth, it simply does not exist. By reaching for a perceived scarce player, you're leaving stats on the table. The earlier you reach, the more you leave. If the flow of the draft has an outfielder as the best available player, I will not hesitate to take him. That said, the late stage of a draft usually has more decent outfielders than other positions available, so I do want to have a couple of outfield spots and my utility open to take advantage.
My corners are Paul Konerko, Kyle Seager and either Lonnie Chisenhall or Brett Wallace with A-Rod waiting in the winds. Obviously this is not the strongest unit, but I will look to upgrade the CI spot in-season if Chisenhall or Wallace struggle. My middle infield is Neil Walker, Jimmy Rollins and Josh Rutledge with Jed Lowrie as support. What's not to like? Starters with some nice upside in Rutledge. With V-Mart and J.P. Arencibia at catcher, I'm not giving anything up there. I was still able to pick two of my favorite late-round outfield speculations in Colby Rasmus and Justin Maxwell, so yeah, I'd do it the same way.
The pick you seemed to celebrate most during the draft was your selection of Kyle Seager in the 11th round. Do you see additional growth on the horizon and how much do you see the fences being moved in at Safeco helping his home splits?
Sure, the fences will not hurt, but Seager is a line drive machine and line drives will play anywhere. I see growth in the area of his contact rate, which is amplified since Seager hits so many line drives. He's also going to give some quiet steals, which may increase as he gets on base more.
You grabbed Jason Motte in the 10th round to make him just the second closer off the board. While he bumped up his strikeout rate and was finally able to hold the job in which he struggled the two years prior, he also saw an increase in the number of home runs he allowed and HR/FB. What changes in him do you see that say that he is not only going to hold the job in St. Louis all year, but be worthy of such a high draft choice amongst the rest of the MLB closers out there?
If Motte gave up two fewer homers, dropping his HR/9 from 1.13 to 0.88, would there be any concern? While home runs allowed are obviously not a completely unlucky event, there is an element of chance involved. A gust of wind here, a trajectory five feet towards center there and nine homers becomes seven. The driving force behind the pick was a repeat of an outstanding BB/9 while not giving anything back in the way of strikeouts, in fact improving in the area. In short, the outstanding walk and strikeout rates trump what I expect to be an outlier in Motte's 2012 home-run rate.
Tim Heaney (KFFL.com)
You seemed both surprised and excited that Dustin Pedroia was available to you at the tail-end of the second round. Why do you think he was passed over by nearly everyone else?
I think the trio of elite pitchers to fall in Round 2 helped. Maybe others don't view the second-base class as harshly as I do, but landing one of Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Pedroia will be a positional scarcity coup in 2013. I shudder at the keystone volatility in the middle tiers. Pedroia's "down year" still showed his five-category studliness. Maybe the fractured finger he's resting - among the increasing dings he's had over the last few years - is scaring some off, but I think it's that the fantasy community just needs to remember Pedroia's stability as an early-round asset. A lengthy injury history hasn't stopped people from banking on Kinsler.
Matt Moore was a highly touted pitcher last year and went higher than most thought he would. You took him even higher this season, the sixth round as your first pitcher, despite his struggles with command and a strikeout rate lower than most expected. Why do you expect so much growth in his second season?
Admittedly, this was somewhat of a statement pick. R.A. Dickey, Roy Halladay and Yu Darvish were among those available. Moore should jump into the top-10 (mixed) starters this year, though: A bumpy final month erased three filled with immense progress last year, which included increased aggressiveness and more curveballs. And those K's...His workload was handled properly, and his walk rate won't be as big of an issue this year. Any Rays pitcher with this much talent deserves confidence. I merely wanted to emphasize it for readers' knowledge.
The offseason reports on Justin Morneau have been pretty glowing and you snagged him down in the 20th round. How much higher do you see him going in drafts the closer we get to the start of the 2013 season?
Hopefully, not much, for those seeking value. But even if he were to crawl up to, say, Round 15, Morneau, in a healthy offseason, remains a solid buy in an already deep first-base class. This isn't saying he'll show his MVP form again, but creeping closer to it will lead to a bigger payoff. More power should come. I find it funny that there was more confidence last year to take the chance when his head was fuzzy.
Howard Bender (RotoWire.com, FanGraphs.com, FantasyAlarm.com, FantasyBaseballBuzz.com)
You took Dan Uggla at 4.12 – what in his profile makes you confident that he will rebound from a disappointing 2012?
When it comes to a feast or famine hitter like Uggla, I have a difficult time buying into the abrupt drop-off in power and declaring him as done. Yes, skills diminish with age, but similarly to Adam Dunn, I believe there is more to it than just a spike in strikeouts and a drop in ISO. He had eight home runs through the first two months of the season and was well on his way to hit at his normal pace, but in early June he was hit with a pitch on the ankle of his right foot, his plant foot, and suddenly began to struggle despite remaining in the lineup on a regular basis. Could it have affected him? Definitely. There was also the pitch that hit him in the head in mid-to-late July. Though he passed his concussion tests, there is still a certain degree of ill-effect that lingers. When August came and he was healthy again, he began to hit for power and cut back on his strikeouts and in September, though he didn't hit for as much power, he posted a .282 average for the month with a season-high 25.8-percent line drive rate. I think with an offseason to get healthy and clear his mind, a return to the 30-home run plateau is more than likely.
Jeremy Hellickson showed impressive strikeout numbers in the minors, are you projecting a leap forward from him in that category this season?
I don't know how much of a leap forward Hellickson will take here in his third full season, but I do see improvement on the horizon. The increased usage of his curve and a better developed cutter seemed to help him keep hitters off-balance more last season and we saw a slight increase in K/9 between his first two years. He also saw an increase in his strikeout rate with men on base and men in scoring position. As he matures and grows more confident in his stuff, he'll be able to harness that pressure-cooker mentality and use it to dominate hitters at all times.
Are there any of your late-round picks (Round 20 or later) than you intend to own in all of your leagues this season? If so, who and why?
I actually like Carlos Pena in the 20th round as I'm not ready to close the book on him just yet. Sure, the average will be trouble, but he'll be staying in the all-too-familiar AL and gets to call that bandbox in Houston his home. While I obviously don't see him returning to that 35-40 home run level, getting 25-30 home runs from a corner infielder that late in the draft should prove to be a solid value in most of my deeper leagues. I will also probably pick up Jonny Gomes late in most leagues as a plug-and-play option as Red Sox manager John Farrell said that he'll give Gomes every opportunity to play daily. Though he might still end up in his usual platoon, that .894 OPS against left-handed pitching will certainly come in handy in leagues with daily roster moves giving me a strong power return for a 26th-round pick.
Scott Pianowski (Yahoo Fantasy Sports)
As a third-round pick and the fourth first baseman off the board, you seem fairly confident in Edwin Encarnacion's ability to continue to hit for similar power. Do you see any regression coming this season and do you think he still finishes the year as a top five first baseman?
I'll admit I partially screwed up the Encarnacion pick, thinking he also had third-base eligibility (which the site reflected). My E-5 there. Nonetheless, because the Encarnacion breakout dates back to the second half of 2011 (when he had an .887 OPS), I'm inclined to treat him as a fairly safe play.
Given his status as a prospect years ago and his tremendous second-half breakout in 2012, were you surprised to see Carlos Gomez fall to you in the 13th round, and if so, what was your justification for drafting Melky Cabrera, a substantial risk given his suspension last year, four rounds earlier.
I like players who can fill multiple categories, and if they do that without dominating in one area, I think they're often underrated. No one can say how much PEDs helped Cabrera's 2012 season, but I don't think he was without significant skills before science took over. On Gomez, I think we're looking at Mike Cameron 2.0, a power-speed guy who will be worth carrying despite a low average. A few walks aside, the comparison works. Gomez's outstanding defense will keep him in the lineup through the inevitable slumps.
Through the first nine rounds of the draft, your draft balance, position-wise was better than anyone else, with both corners, the middle infield, a catcher, a top-flight starter and three outfielders drafted. Is this a typical strategy for you when drafting and if so, why?
My initial goal was to attack the infield, since I consider the outfield and pitcher positions to be very deep (meanwhile, the depth is spotty at second, short and third, and not overwhelming at first base, either). I generally don't look for early catchers, but sometimes I make an exception if the league requires two and it's a deep, knowledgeable group of owners.
Ray Flowers (SiriusXM Fantasy, BaseballGuys.com, RotoWire.com)
Perhaps the power has developed as he has matured, but with a reduced walk rate, an increase in strikeouts, an abnormally high BABIP in 2012 and a declining 62.5% stolen base success rate, can you please defend your selection of Andrew McCutchen as the fifth overall pick?
It was CarGo or McCutchen with my first pick since I prefer to target five-category guys at the top of drafts. Gonzalez struggles on the road (career .735 OPS), and his next season with 150 games played will be his first, so I went with McCutchen, although he likely won't improve on his 2012 efforts, and it's certainly fair to question if he's a legit .300-plus hitter, but he's one of five in baseball who has 50 homers and 40 steals the past two years and he's increased his homer and RBI marks in each of his four seasons. McCutchen is an elite option, and I'll gladly take a repeat of his average effort the past two seasons (.294-27-93-97-22).
You didn't address the middle infield until the 11th round and actually didn't draft your second baseman until the 25th. Knowing people's thoughts on position scarcity, was this a strategy coming in or just a product of others drafting the position so early?
People focus way too much on position scarcity. Production is production. I'm not passing on a 20/20 outfielder because I don't have a second baseman. It's not that simple, but the fact is that people often pass over better performers because of a perceived lack of talent at another position. That said, I totally blew it with my second sacker. My only excuse is that every time I targeted a guy he was taken right before I was ready to roster that player (Daniel Murphy, Marco Scutaro, Dustin Ackley, Jeff Keppinger, Omar Infante, Gordon Beckham). I decided, multiple times, that it simply wasn't worth reaching on an inferior talent at second over a better player at another position because in the end I was going to be left with an inferior option anyway. My hope is that Emilio Bonifacio plays enough second base to qualify there at some point in 2013 and that he brings his elite speed game to the position.
How surprised were you to see Tim Lincecum fall to the 10th round? Do you think this is where he'll go during most offseason drafts? What are your expectations of him this year?
I watched every Lincecum start last year. His problem all year long was location. He'd lock in and dominate for three innings, and then he couldn't locate his pitches within 12 inches of the target for an inning. It was vexing. Yes, his heater is down two mph, but people seem to forget that he still struck out more than a batter per inning last season. He still causes as many swing and misses as nearly any hurler in the game – his stuff is flat out filthy. The key? He needs to bring his walk rate under control and keep the ball down in the zone to help lower his homer allowed mark as well. I wouldn't want Lincecum to be my No. 1 SP, but if he's sitting there in the 10th round, and you've already rostered an arm or two, he's well worth the risk as people seem to forget that he is just a year removed from a 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 220 strikeouts.
Peter Kreutzer (AskRotoMan.com)
How locked in on Joey Votto were you for your first pick or did you anticipate someone from the top five to fall to you?
My plan for the draft was to use my roto dollar values from the Fantasy Baseball Guide as my list. What I did in the early rounds was simply take the guy on top of the list who hadn't been taken. Call it best player available. I had Votto ranked fifth and he fell to me, as it were.
How important is position scarcity to you as you opted to wait until the eighth round for your first middle infielder and didn't touch a catcher until round 18?
Since my root values are for deep leagues there is no position scarcity adjustment. The result was people kept taking middle infielders and catchers ahead of me, sometimes well ahead of me, and I ended up with starting pitchers atop my queue that I knew I didn't want before I added more hitters. At that point I started adjusting within the round and eventually got some middle of the diamond defenders. I usually draft with position scarcity forefront, and this exercise tells me that there really is no need to reach. There are players out there. By the way, my selection of Geovany Soto was an accident, an autopick while I was saying goodbye to my family after the holidays. Wilson Ramos was the catcher I wanted there.
Given last season's totals, were you surprised to see Chase Headley available in the fifth round and what do you expect from him in 2013?
I have Headley ranked 48th and took him with the 54th pick, so I wasn't shocked and I was glad to get him there. As for next year, when faced with something that is inexplicable I split the difference. So my baseline for Headley is about 20 homers and a .280 BA. My hope is that with closer fences at home the homers will keep coming, but players who go on such a hot streak usually can't sustain it.
John Halpin (FoxSports.com)
You grabbed Jason Kipnis in the third round, making him the fourth second baseman off the board. Obviously you aren't concerned with his drop-off in the second half of last year...why?
It was his first full season in the majors, and I wonder if his neck issues bothered him more than we knew in August and September. Kipnis was terrific in the first half, and even after factoring in the second, the power-speed numbers were strong. Other than Bryce Harper, none of the players who went soon after Kipnis are making me have much buyer's remorse.
You addressed the middle infield and your top catcher with three of your first four picks. Safe to say that position scarcity is important to you?
In most mixed-league drafts - even a 14-teamer like this one - I tend to grab premium positions early and wait on pitchers. However, I reached on Ben Zobrist in the second round. I would have been better off with a bigger bat such as Jason Heyward, Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion.
With reports that Carl Crawford will be ready for Opening Day after having Tommy John surgery last year, how much of a bargain do you see him as after taking him with the seventh pick of the 11th round?
I really liked that pick. If he plays 130 games, it's very likely that he'll return strong value from that spot.
Steve Gardner (USAToday.com)
Last year R.A. Dickey had an ADP of 223. You took him at 105 in this draft. Given his amazing season last year, do you see him coming to you at a discount still? How do you see the move to Toronto and the AL East affecting his numbers?
I was pleasantly surprised that Dickey fell to me at that spot in the draft. Maybe I'm a little too attached to him after having him on a couple teams last season, but I don't think Dickey is in for a huge stat correction this season. We can usually assume that players' track records are a fair representation of what they are and what they can be … but when there are outside factors such as Dickey mastering the knuckleball and being able to throw it harder than anyone else, then it opens up the possibility of a new performance level. I don't think he duplicates his strikeout rate from 2012, but the AL East will have a harder time adjusting to him than he will adjusting to the AL East.
Can you explain why you think Aroldis Chapman's strikeout rate will be enough to overcome a potential innings cap this year and be worthy of a 10th-round selection?
First of all, we're assuming that he sticks in the starting rotation. (If he doesn't, then he'll certainly be a huge asset as a closer.) Chapman does have experience as a starter in Cuba, so it's not something that's foreign to him. He was incredibly dominant last season (122 strikeouts in 71.2 IP) and even if he does have an innings cap, those should be extremely productive innings. It's also important to remember that if he is shut down toward the end of the regular season, it won't be as if I have to take a zero at that spot the rest of the way. I'll still be able to move someone into his active spot on my roster. If I've built a deep enough staff, his replacement won't hurt me too badly.
You finished the draft with three closers on your roster - one who is 43 and coming off a serious knee injury, one who only held the job for the final two months of the season and the third who was shut down due to heart troubles. Given the usual volatility at the closer position, do you think you're taking too much of a risk investing so much in them?
It's amazing what Mariano Rivera has done over the course of his career. It seems like we're always waiting for him to break down or lose his effectiveness...and we're always proven wrong. Consistency is the one thing you value most in evaluating players' fantasy value – and Rivera has shown that time and time again. Perhaps an injury could be the one thing that changes the Rivera model, but I'm comfortable betting on him to continue doing what he does – throw his cutter that everyone knows is coming, and no one has been able to figure out how to hit.
As for taking Jansen, I don't really worry about whether or not he'll end up replacing Brandon League as the closer. His skills (like Chapman's) are going to result in a ton of strikeouts, and give me a positive return on my investment. If he takes over as closer (and I think he will eventually), the saves he gets could be one of those unexpected boosts that helps win leagues like this. If not, I'll fish around on the waiver wire and try to find more saves elsewhere.
Eno Sarris (FanGraphs.com)
Given Ian Kinsler's drop-off in 2012, what were your reasons for taking him in the first round, ninth overall?
My reasons for picking Kinsler in the first round have a lot to do with the way the top-50 works out. Some time in the second round, the attention often goes to pitchers, and that's too early for me. Third base has a nice group of non-elite guys that I knew I could get in the second and third (as I did, with Evan Longoria in the second). There are plenty of outfielders and first basemen. Shortstop is a problem, but unless Troy Tulowitzki is healthy this year, there won't be much separation from the pack by the elite guys. If Kinsler bounces back at all, a .260/25/25 second baseman can create that separation from the pack in what is turning out to be one of the worst positions in fantasy baseball this year. The bottom of the second-base crowd put the fear into me, really, and I'm fully able to admit that this pick may have been reactionary.
Todd Zola said he almost took Eric Hosmer at the start of the ninth round. Were you surprised to get him where you did or was it right where you expected? What are your thoughts on a rebound season?
I was eyeing Eric Hosmer for a round or two. I mentioned this pick on Twitter and was asked if I was still drinking the Kool-Aid on him, and I'd say yes and no. My idea of his upside is more muted after that freshman campaign -- he hit so many groundballs that he began to look like Billy Butler. Then again, if Butler could steal 10 bags he'd be more valuable. So I'm penciling in Hosmer for a good batting average, more than 20 home runs, and 10 stolen bases. Around the ninth round, that made a ton of sense for my team.
You had all three middle infield spots locked in within your first six picks. Is that an area you always recommend addressing early in drafts?
I may have gone overboard on the middle infield thing, but yes, it's important to me. I don't want Marco Scutaro on any of my teams this year, as nice of a find as he was for the Giants in real life ball. Getting power and speed on the infield, and hunting for bargains among starting pitchers and outfielders -- that's still working for me, all these years later.
Jeff Erickson (RotoWire.com)
You mentioned that drafting three starters within your first eight picks was something you haven't done in quite some time. Was that something this draft in particular dictated or is it something you felt needed to be done for this season?
I just thought that was where the value was at the time. Upon reflection, I'm not so sure - there were plenty of other pitchers I liked a few rounds later that could have accomplished close to what I got for Cueto in the eighth. Don't get me wrong - I like Cueto and think he was a bargain at that spot, and it's not necessarily a mistake to even go with three pitchers this early. But at the same time, it provides a different challenge in building your roster.
You said on a few occasions during the draft that you should have waited longer on Marco Estrada? Where do you see him normally going in drafts this year and why the reach in this one?
I like Estrada quite a bit (143:29 K:BB in 138.1 innings last year), but it also was pretty apparent that I could have gotten him two rounds later, maybe longer. It's not an egregious error - it's hard to be that wrong with pick No. 215 - but there's always a compromise you have to make when selecting a player, and maybe I would have gotten someone on a higher tier elsewhere had I waited.
There doesn't seem to be much speed on your roster. Was that intentional or are you concerned about how you will compete in that category during the season?
It wasn't by design, but then again, there always seems to be some help in leagues with this format in the stolen base category. Looking over the last couple of years, among the speed guys that you could have gotten from the waiver wire include Ben Revere, Jarrod Dyson, Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco. I'll probably draft one extra speed guy by March, but this wouldn't have troubled me greatly. Also, my team has a couple of hidden speed sources, starting with Leonys Martin, who could win the Rangers' center field job, or at least a significant part of it. Paul Goldschmidt actually stole 18 bases last year, too.
Greg Ambrosius (NFBC.Stats.com)
Three of your first four picks (and possibly even all four) are considered serious injury risks and have consistently missed time over the last few seasons. Is that something you think about when drafting or do you chalk up injuries as fluke occurrences and just go by the numbers/projections?
Injuries are a concern with every pick, but you can't run away from players who have been injured in the past. Every season is a new season. Tulowitzki is still just 28 years old and an elite player at a weak hitting position. I believe he will bounce back this year. Hamilton is 31 and capable of putting up huge numbers even if he plays in 140 or fewer games. Strasburg certainly looked fully recovered from Tommy John surgery last season and is more than capable of pitching 200-plus innings and being an elite ace for my staff. Plus at pick 39, he was easily one of the best bargains of the first three rounds. I'm trying to win this league, not finish in the top half, so it's time to roll the dice and gamble on top-tier players, even if injuries have been in their pasts.
Given the number of high-upside youngsters on your roster and how early some were drafted, is it safe to assume that you prefer youth and upside to a proven track record? Why?
When you draft this early in the offseason, youngsters go later than they will closer to Opening Day. Guys like Adam Eaton, Shelby Miller, Wil Myers and Andrelton Simmons were all going to be drafted in this league, but I chose to jump on them a round or two earlier because I believe their values will continue to rise as folks learn more and more about their playing time in 2013. I don't think I overvalued any of these prospects and I think all will perform well this season. I also like the upside of other youngsters like Desmond Jennings, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey and Lorenzo Cain, and was more than happy to land all of them. I want players who will perform above expectations because what happened in the past doesn't help my team a bit today.
Similar question as last year -- How does this draft compare with some of the NFBC mocks that you've participated in and/or witnessed already?
Starting pitching goes much earlier in NFBC drafts than in any industry draft, especially early in the season. NFBC owners have learned that to win a league title and an overall title you need one or two aces to really anchor those pitching categories. I was surprised in this draft how late top SPs went -- Stephen Strasburg has an ADP of 12 in the NFBC, for instance -- and was happy to fill out my staff with some solid upside guys. Closers also go later in these drafts than in the NFBC. For instance, I got Craig Kimbrel with the 95th pick in this draft, whereas his ADP in the NFBC is 47. I'll gladly take him to anchor my bullpen.
Steve Moyer (defending LABR champion)
You didn't draft your first pitcher until the 14th round and your first starter was selected in the 15th round. Is this a common strategy for you and how has it worked overall?
To be honest, I don't play in any start-over draft leagues. Everything I play in is an auction, so I can't tell you how well it has worked. It just seems silly to me to draft pitchers anytime earlier than after the offense, when there are so many pitchers available and they're so much less predictable than hitters. My staff has a puncher's chance of being as good as anybody's and certainly could be good enough to complement the offense as much as it needs to.
Within your first eight picks, you had all of your middle infield, a third baseman and two catchers. Safe to say that position scarcity is a big concern for you when drafting?
Again, it just seems logical. If you wait until late on infielders and catchers, you're bound to roster mediocrities. Wait until late on outfielders and pitchers and there are still plenty of good guys left. Believe me, I understand the flaws these guys have, but my last two outfielders were sabermetric pariah Alfonso Soriano (32/108) and Rajai Davis (no fewer than 34 steals the past four years).
Giancarlo Stanton's power potential puts him as your first-round selection but is there any concern that the rest of his production will be insufficient for his draft position given the lack of legitimate quality in the surrounding lineup? He was also quite vocal with his disappointment in the team's offseason moves. Do you see that hurting him mentally this year?
I see a 23-year-old guy who hit 37 homers, led all of baseball in slugging, and was hurt for a decent chunk of the season. Barring disastrous injury, I consider 2012 his floor for 2013. Unfortunately, I won't get him in my auction leagues. Others will see what I see and pay too much.
Tom Kephart (BaseballHQ.com)
You finished the draft without a bona fide full-time closer on your roster. Was that intentional heading into the draft or was it an in-draft decision based on where most closers were taken?
As to closers, no clear plan other than to follow my personal adage of never taking a closer too early. Kimbrel lasted a long time, until late in the seventh round, and had he still been available when I picked, I might have taken him. I was looking at him and Perez, and when he went a couple picks ahead of me it made my seventh-round decision for me. Had Ambrosius not taken him there, I would have taken him at 7.13, or if Karabell had passed on him, for sure at 8.2. So he was going to be one of my two picks there.
Janssen is currently the Blue Jays' closer, and did very well in the role in 2012. Frieri figures to open the season closing for the Angels since Madson is coming off TJS. They will probably wind up splitting the saves over course of the season, with Madson replacing Frieri at some point, but I expect Frieri to contribute double-digit saves. Both Frieri and Janssen are closer-worthy quality relievers. Closers have proven to be very fungible in recent seasons and there are probably fewer legitimate top closers now than at any other time in recent memory. There are a pile of relievers less skilled than Janssen and Frieri who were drafted ahead of them.
Through the first 10 rounds of the draft, you seemed to have the most balance as far as positions go. Do you feel like you may have passed on a better player in order to fill an early position need?
As to my picks by round, I was trying to accumulate as much power as possible early, and then take best available value. That is not to say I was ignoring positions, because I was taking that into account to some extent. The balance you note is primarily fortuitous, not by design.
In Round 1, I was prepared to take Stanton, but when Moyer picked him on the 12th pick, I took Fielder on the 13th. I was happy with Fielder as a value pick there as I had him ranked in the top-10. I put great emphasis on getting high-batting average power hitters early in the draft, if at all possible, and Fielder fits the bill. It also helps that Fielder is very durable, so no injury concerns there.
When it flipped back to me in Round 2, I was torn between Beltre as a high-average power hitter who filled the semi-scarce third-base position, and Pedroia, an excellent across-the-board contributor to fill the semi-scarce second-base position. I consider catcher and shortstop scarce positions, second and third semi-scarce.
I preferred Beltre for two reasons. First, because I wanted the extra power he gave me vis-a-vis Pedroia. Second, because I thought it would be easier to find a second baseman I liked in the upcoming rounds than a third baseman I liked in those rounds.
After I took Beltre, I thought there were several unexpected oddball picks in Rounds 2 and 3. That meant by time I picked at back end of Round 3, there were four players I really liked available, so I knew I would get two of them. Those four players were Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Billy Butler and David Price. I also thought Cole Hamels was strong value there, but I had Price ranked clearly ahead of Hamels, and there was no way I would ever consider taking two starters so early.
Had I not already covered the corners with Fielder and Beltre, I might have taken Butler ahead of Bruce. I really like Butler's four-category contributions. But since I already had two cornermen, I decided to go with an outfielder. I took Bruce over Cespedes because I wanted the power, plus Bruce is more established than Cespedes since Cespedes has only one MLB season under his belt. I really like Cespedes' across-the-board contributions, but I went with the superior power in Bruce. Bruce is coming off back-to-back 30-plus HR seasons at age 25 (he will turn 26 in April), and has 40-homer potential. He might be a slight batting average liability, but he combined with Fielder and Beltre to give me strong power base to start the draft, and Fielder and Beltre have high batting averages, so I could absorb Bruce's mediocre average potential.
I was stunned that Price, Butler and Cespedes were all still available when I picked in Round 4. It was tough to pass on two hitters I really liked in Cespedes and Butler to take Price, but I thought he was best value available, and was concerned with what might be there among starters when I got to pick again 26 picks down the road. So I was very happy to have what I thought were three great values in Fielder, Beltre and Price, plus a booming power bat with even more upside in Bruce, after four rounds.
I thought Aaron Hill was a steal at back end of Round 5 (5.13, pick 69 overall). I had Hill ranked well ahead of several middle infielders who were already taken, and he fit nicely as a potential across-the-board contributor who plays in a great ballpark for hitters.
I took Hart in Round 6 to continue to build my power base, and it helped that he is a dual first base/outfield qualifier, giving me positional flexibility. I was slotting him at corner infield, but knew I could move him to outfield if necessary. In Hart's case, I took the most reliable among top remaining power threats, and thought I again got good value.
I took Salvador Perez as last remaining top-tier catcher in Round 7. This feeds into your question, but I really like Perez. With great contact [skills], above-average power, and that he's still young and developing as a hitter, there is a lot of upside. Injury history is only concern with him. Took him once Kimbrel was off the board.
I was stunned Alex Rios was still available in Round 8. I know he is very inconsistent, and he has burned me in the past, but I thought I was getting Round 5 or Round 6 value with him in Round 8, so he was too good to pass up. That was just a "best player available" pick with no concern whatsoever for position.
In Round 9, I had been targeting Alexei Ramirez as my shortstop, and was fortunate he was still there for me. I considered taking Ramirez in Round 8, but noticed there were still some other shortstops who others might prefer to Ramirez available, so I decided to roll dice on the better all-around player Rios, and hope Ramirez would last. I'm happy he did. Ramirez is a very reliable, little-bit-of-everything type player. I saw real talent gap at shortstop after Ramirez, and did not really like the remaining options.
My Round 10 pick Scherzer was another case of too much value to pass up. I was really surprised he was still available and had him ranked well above several pitchers who were taken previously. I had no plan to take two pitchers by end of 10 rounds, but as with Price, I saw a clear drop-off among pitchers after Scherzer. So I could not pass on him.
Eric Karabell (ESPN.com)
You started a major closer run with your selections of Jonathan Papelbon and Fernando Rodney on the turn between Rounds 11 and 12. How important is it to you to draft closers given the volatility at the position each year?
It's not important at all to me to acquire top-shelf closers, but we were way past the top-100 and knew I wasn't picking again for a while. I'm usually the guy waiting longer to take the Todd Jones types – oh, how I miss him – but there's so much starting pitching depth, and my offense was in good shape, so I decided to wait. Plus, it was December; sleeper closer situations will be changing in the next few months, so at least I have two secure options.
Is the end of the seventh round where you would normally expect David Ortiz to go? Does his limited position eligibility concern you at all?
It seems to me Ortiz is annually underrated, and while clogging one's utility slot early is generally not recommended, offense is down across the board so get the power while you can. Ortiz was on his way to a terrific 2012 season, and I expect he'll be elite again in 2013. I'd rather have the 30 home runs than worry about the flexibility, and if I have to select him a few rounds earlier than most would suspect, I'm fine with that.
Now that he's back in the NL West for the full season, do you expect Adrian Gonzalez to go back to the slugger he was before Boston or has the shoulder surgery potentially sapped too much of his power?
I don't expect Gonzalez to hit for elite power, but as he showed in 2012 he's a good bet for safe batting average and plenty of RBI opportunities, and I didn't see many others capable of high-end offensive statistics when I chose him. The man hit 40 home runs in San Diego, he's certainly capable, when healthy, of hitting at least 30 in Los Angeles. Frankly, I thought he was a bargain where I chose him.