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Mock Draft: Results From Our 14-Team Mixed League Draft

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

The Participants:

Tristan Cockcroft -
Tim Heaney -
Eric Karabell -
Michael Salfino - Yahoo Fantasy Sports
Derek VanRiper -
John Halpin -
Brian Walton -
Peter Kreutzer -
Jeff Erickson -
Dan Roemhild - Mock Draft Central
Grey Albright -
Nelson Sousa -
Todd Zola -
Nick Minnix -

League Parameters:

Mixed League, 14 teams (the size of an individual World Championship of Fantasy Baseball (WCOFB) league), 5x5 categories, 23-man roster, 20-game requirement to qualify at a position. Each team drafts 14 hitters and nine pitchers.

The Draft:

As with last year's magazine, the mock draft was held in December, using the draft room at Mock Draft Central ( The early draft date produces a number of constraints, the most
obvious being that some of the offseason movement of players hadn't been completed, though this wasn't as big an issue as in previous years. Among the free agents still available at the time of the draft included Adrian Beltre, Derrek Lee and Rafael Soriano (who remains a free agent at press time). Zack Greinke was still a Royal, and Matt Garza was still a Ray. The positive aspect of such an early draft date though is that industry group-think, to the extent that it exists, doesn't usually set in until spring training. There's a much wider variance on where a player "should" slot, and I think that's a good thing, as it allows the mock draft to do a better job of illustrating each expert's take on the player pool. Take these caveats in mind when you review the results. Use this as a guide to the relative values of players in your league. After the draft, we asked each participant to answer the following questions.

1. Tell us about your team - what was your strategy? What picks were interesting to you and why? If you were to play this season out, what would be your biggest concern about your team heading into the season?

John Halpin: My plans were to take the best players available without getting too caught up in positional scarcity, and to wait on closers. I got J.J. Putz as the 12th or 13th closer off the board, and think he can have a big year. My most interesting pick was definitely Jose Bautista in the fourth round (51st overall). I still don't think anyone knows what to make of him, but at that spot he was absolutely worth it. Third base is pretty shallow, anyway. My biggest concern would be power. If Bautista is the second coming of Brady Anderson, then I'll have Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun followed mostly by a bunch of 15-20 homer guys.

Tim Heaney: My strategy was to acquire a strong infield and one or two stud starting pitchers, depending on value; after, I'd then fill in my outfield and closer spots, along with other value picks, before settling on late-round catchers. It worked overall. Grabbing the likes of Zack Greinke in Round 7 and Shane Victorino in Round 9 paid off for me bolstering other areas first. My biggest concern would probably be power and the stability of my first base and corner infield spots. Passing on Adam Dunn, the surest remaining bet for homers, in the third round was probably a mistake given the long turn. Carlos Pena's batting average is a bane to batting averages, and it was a reach for me because he was the best of the rest at that point. I also took risks in drafting saves, but you'll see why I'm not upset about that.

Nelson Sousa: My strategy going in was to get 100 HR and 100 SB with my first four picks or come as close as possible. I also think 3B is a very weak position this year so I was definitely locked in on David Wright or A-Rod (30-35 HR/15-20 SB) with my first pick. After 4 picks - A-Rod (35 HR/2 0SB), Mark Teixeira (35 HR), Jimmy Rollins (15 HR/35 SB), Andrew McCutchen (15 HR/40 SB) - I believe I have reached my goal. My most interesting pick was Matt Wieters. As a seventh-round pick and my #1 catcher, he has to produce. There were safer options, but in terms of upside he is by himself at the catcher position. My biggest concern is my team's age and potential of breakdown. I have a lot of seasoned veterans, but they have some injury risk because of age. I need A-Rod, Rollins and Jason Bay to stay healthy this year.

Michael Salfino: Since opinions are far more variable on pitchers than on hitters, I wait to draft pitchers. I don't think I've ever taken four in a row, though, but that's where the value was to my eye at the time. Shaun Marcum is interesting. He was one of the leaders in swing and miss percentage last year and now moves to the NL where he should push 200 Ks with a ratio quite low due to his expert control. Playing this out, I'd have to trade some speed for power. Also, the catching situation is very dicey. I need a Jesus Montero trade or for him to clearly emerge as the Yankees best option at DH given Jorge Posada's declining skills. Alternatively, Russell Martin could get hurt again or just be terrible (likely). I was flailing when I took Jesus Flores, but he's a good hitter coming off a great winter and the other options were totally uninspiring. I think getting two good catchers in a league like this is very important, but they were drafted far earlier throughout the draft than I had anticipated.

Eric Karabell: I really like this team. After taking Miguel Cabrera third, I looked for bargains, players that inexplicably slipped, and there were more than a few, as I thought Felix Hernandez, Justin Upton, Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter all fell too far. Later I was able to get a few players off tough seasons, like Aaron Hill, Francisco Cordero and especially forgotten first basemen Lance Berkman and Derrek Lee in rounds 15 and 16. Talk about value! I think I've got the stats covered with this team, except saves, and it's a good mix of young and old, some durable options, enough batting average and some upside choices.

Nick Minnix: My strategy was to draft highly productive players in the infield early, target sources of stolen bases in the outfield and make opportune investments in pitchers (which usually means "wait"). I'm sure mixed drafters can wait a little longer to take Jhoulys Chacin than I did, but think the growth and understanding he demonstrated in the final couple of months of 2010 are signs of much bigger things for this talented righty. Before last year, I believed that Reid Brignac was in a sense the next Ben Zobrist, only better. I think drafters are going to be happy with what they can get where they can get it. My biggest concern is a lack of home run power. I have only a few stable sources of it, and several potential others could easily fail.

Derek VanRiper: The greatest concern I have with my roster is the injury risk I took on in the early rounds. As great as Troy Tulowitzki has become, he's also missed significant time in two of the last three seasons. Nelson Cruz (Round 3) and Aramis Ramirez (Round 6) have battled their share of injuries as well. I think the pool of starting pitching is deeper than ever this year, but Roy Halladay fell to me at 24th overall and I simply couldn't pass him up at that stage. From there, I focused on collecting the best bats available (regardless of position) through my next five picks before focusing more on filling particular holes. As it turned out, this team has an overwhelming amount of power, but could struggle in the stolen-base department. This roster would require the fine tuning of an early season trade or two in order to balance out the categorical production better.

Todd Zola: I like to use my early picks to set up my later picks both in terms of positions and categories. I won't sacrifice production for scarcity, but tie definitely goes to middle infield and the hot corner. That said, I actually failed to adhere to this, reaching for Chase Utley and Ryan Zimmerman. My biggest concern, however, is the absence of an established starting pitcher anchor, as I waited one round too long to draft my anchor and was burned by the run preceding my selection of David Price.

2. What observations do you have about the player pool this year? How did it affect your draft? If this wasn't your first draft for this season, have you noticed any trends so far?

Grey Albright: I have one observation about the player pool this year. The outfield is kiddie pool shallow. "Hey, I'll wait until the sixth round to jump head first into the outfield pool. Ow! I just cracked my head on the pool floor and now some guy named Brad is giving me mouth to mouth." Where's all the 30-homer outfielders? Where's the potential 30/30 outfielders? Where are the sleepers? Am I drafting Lorenzo Cain as a sleeper? Maybe, but the fact that Dayton Moore likes him scares the Beetlejuice out of me. I ended up with Colby Rasmus as my first outfielder and that's not how I like to roll. I enjoy Rasmus' 25/15 potential, but he's no sure thing and Tony La Russa might shank him while he's sleeping. After I drafted Rasmus, I tried to overcompensate by grabbing two more outfielders fairly quickly - Adam Lind and Carlos Quentin. I like their bounce back potential, but again they're not sure things. So, just when you thought there were no third basemen to draft, there goes the outfield too.

Jeff Erickson: While shortstop is a scarce position, that scarcity is mostly concentrated at the top. After Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki, there's a pretty significant dropoff to Jose Reyes, and then another drop down to the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter, Elvis Andrus and Alexei Ramirez. In previous mock drafts, I found myself chasing those players earlier than I would have liked and not liking what it did to my roster. However, there are a number of shortstops available in the mid-to-late rounds that should return positive value, and second base is actually pretty deep this year. Given that I was drafting ninth and wouldn't have a shot at Hanley or Tulo, I decided to experiment with a "best available" approach and not worry about positional scarcity in the early rounds, and see what comes at the middle infield slots and at catcher. I'm not unhappy with the results, though my team tends to skew older than most of the teams in the league.

Tim Heaney: Closers went at bargain prices. The first stopper was taken near the end of the eighth round. This has been a notable trend for industry mocks I've done this year. Looks like my strategy from the last few years might even net me one of the more top-notch options! Also, I kicked myself after drafting Brandon Phillips when there were a slew of valuable keystoners to have later on - note for the spring. This made my dissing of Adam Dunn that much more painful. If you ignore the shortstop and third base pools early on, you'll be left behind.

Peter Kreutzer: My theory was that 3B, SS and C are scarce positions this year, and that there is a lot of depth at pitcher. I took Carlos Marmol fairly early because of his strikeouts, knowing that taking starters later was going to cost me the top strikeout guys, but I actually ended up with decent strikeout pitchers anyway. I took three 3B, hoping to stick someone, though the last player taken was Chris Johnson, a risky 3B who could be just fine. 3B is really a problem in NL only leagues, but not so bad in mixed. Having taken an outfielder in the first round, I went for catchers the next two rounds, getting two of the big four. While Matt Wieters and Carlos Santana are good bets this year, there is a big dropoff after Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann and Buster Posey.

Eric Karabell: The lack of viable third base options becomes apparent rather quickly, which is why I felt compelled to take Casey McGehee in round 8, when I'm pretty sure Casey McGehee is not worth an eighth round pick. Hey, the next pick was Pablo Sandoval! Three of the four infield positions are scarce, so I didn't feel so bad taking Derek Jeter and Ben Zobrist, even if neither gets back to 2009 production. At the time of this draft there were also many unsettled closer situations, so by the time you read this, some relief picks might look odd. Who knows, if Heath Bell gets moved, my Luke Gregerson pick could even look wise.

Nick Minnix: The draft devaluation of saves has been in the making for a few years. It looks like it's reaching a new low, but at some point it has to be creating a buying opportunity that's too good to pass up. That could easily be this year. Leveraging what elite relievers bring against the risk of injury and what the loss of a large contributor in one category means to your team isn't a science. But, whatever your strategy has been, at the point when all or nearly all relievers are still on the board and you have given yourself what you deem is a more stable roster because you have avoided a closer here or there, the potential to gain a sizable advantage in a category that still counts the same as all the others is too tempting. I wonder how much position scarcity Troy Tulowitzki plays a part in the early drafting of second basemen. In mixed leagues, it seems so deep. I'd never feel pressed to consider one of the highly rated options I wasn't comfortable with if I missed one that I was targeting. The shortstop and third base pools don't provide the same sort of comfort.

Derek VanRiper: Starting pitching is deep and third base is very shallow. Getting Aramis Ramirez in the sixth round was a high-risk, high-reward gamble based on his production after the All-Star break. Elite closers of last year (particularly Jonathan Papelbon and Jonathan Broxton) have experienced significant tumbles down the draft board -- J.J. Putz was selected ahead of Broxton, for example. Looking back at the roster, I went a little bit too offense heavy with five straight hitters in the Round 3-7 range. The second-tier pitchers available in those rounds can generate ace value, especially Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Tommy Hanson.

Todd Zola: The most noticeable player pool observation is what a cesspool the third-base position is this season, after you get by the top tier. Something interesting, which speaks against relying heavily on scarcity is that there are a bunch of players coming off poor seasons, at different positions but especially middle infield, so you can build a strong foundation with outfield and first base early, then take some speculative shots later.

3. It's early in the draft season, so we don't have much if any ADP to refer to - we *are* the ADP. But come February and March, we'll start to get some data that's representative of the draft pool. Do you use ADP's at all? How so?

Brian Walton: I readily admit that I use ADPs as a reference tool in certain leagues, especially when I am not familiar with the other owners. ADPs can prove to be a good surrogate for how league-mates may act on draft day. One thing I am pretty sure of is that others aren't using my list. For that reason and without an idea of what others might be doing, I could find myself taking a player a bit too early. Of course, no one wants to wait a pick too long for a coveted player, either. Even in preparing for an auction league draft, an interesting effort is to look at ADP trends. Players rising or falling at an unusual pace are good candidates to be overbid or underbid on during an auction. There are often reasons for the shift, which may be a good warning or reminder to adjust one's own values. Either way, ADP is as helpful as any indicator out there of how the other owners as a group may be picking. After all, not everyone is drafting against their brother-in-law - the guy who has to own every member of the Yankees each season. Every bit of intelligence can be useful when trying to gain an edge. ADP has value even when you don't use it for your own picks.

Tim Heaney: There's a small utility for ADP, but it's more of a loose guideline. More importantly, you must weigh your own observations more heavily than data extracted from the masses. Acknowledge whose ranking will change due to recent developments - an injury, a roster move, or the like. Note your leaguemates' trends as much as possible. If you don't have a history of drafting against them, consider the knowledge of your opponents. Oh, and throw the draft position list to the side when you hit the middle tiers; boost your sleepers.

Eric Karabell: I like to view ADP and see how players are being evaluated by others, look for weekly trends on risers and fallers, and I admit it can come into play on my selections if I think one of my sleepers will not last much longer. Some people draft mostly off ADP, assuming it's always correct. I tend to look at ADP a bit more when I am picking first or last, because you've got consecutive picks and then a long wait. In general, though, ADP can become a bit stale by mid-March. If you want a player before he generally gets selected, hey, go for it.

Nick Minnix: If you don't use ADP at all, you're not making use of an available tool. Can you get by? Can you win? Certainly. But why not use it? Overly relying on ADP can be a dreadful mistake, but ADP can give you a better idea of where to target a player versus where you value him. It doesn't mean that you can't go against the ADP "recommendation." It can work for you in a number of ways. You may know how ADP figures compare to the feelings of people in your league. Maybe someone in your league drafts based solely on ADP. Maybe most of your mates have never bothered with it. More information is always better, so long as you use it well. Just keep in mind that the number of ADP sources is growing, and the deeper you go, the more ADP goes out the window.

Dan Roemhild: Since I handle the day-to-day operations of Mock Draft Central, I'd say that I have a more personal bond with Average Draft Position than most - while other experts would certainly trump me in scouting and live game exposure. Spending my day locked behind my beloved MegaDesk, I've got ADP stats up on one of my monitors more often than not. Unfortunately, in magazine drafts, ADP is of minimal value - the sample size is too small, and the data hasn't had enough time to normalize to an accurate representation of particular trends. However, since we're lucky enough to host quite a few other expert drafts on Mock Draft Central, I used the compiled Expert Draft ADP stats to give me a baseline cheatsheet heading into this draft. As we gather more data throughout the preseason, we can get into some standard deviations and confidence intervals - that's where us stats geeks really start having some fun. I use ADP in a two-fold approach, borderline rocket science (not really). Beyond using the data to identify some good/bad value picks and flag particular rising/falling movements, I like to put some concrete numbers on position scarcity and establish my positional tiers. Sure, everyone may be well aware that the 3B crop isn't quite as deep as 1B, but it never hurts to actually quantify the difference. Seven 1B currently rank in the top-20 ADP, and will likely be selected in the first two rounds. Compare that with 3B and SS, and you'd have to expand it all the way to the top-100 before you'll reach that number. The gap between the top tier of catchers and the fifth overall backstop is over four full rounds (47.72 to 98.91). Again, the results may not be mindblowing, as the average fantasy player is probably already aware of these basic concepts. But having solid numbers to back up your assumptions might save you a round or two on certain picks, and really increase the overall strength of your drafting strategy.

Derek VanRiper: I've always felt that ADP is more useful when used to determine the differences in value between players at the same position. That is, the order of the selections and the gap between Jimmy Rollins and Stephen Drew (more than 30 picks) compared to the one between Rafael Furcal and Starlin Castro (15 picks) are more valuable to me than knowing when specifically the players tend to come off the board overall (i.e. Round 3). Every draft is going to have its own unique trends and nuances, industry leagues can accelerate the selection of players from scarce positions or potential breakout candidates, which makes Expert ADP reports more valuable as an actual guide for when owners should be comfortable taking a chance on a particular player.

Round Tristan Cockroft Tim Heaney Eric Karabell Mike Salfino Derek VanRiper John Halpin Brian Walton Round
R1 Albert Pujols Hanley Ramirez Miguel Cabrera Carlos Gonzalez Troy Tulowitzki Ryan Braun Robinson Cano R1
R2 Tim Lincecum Kevin Youkilis Felix Hernandez Jason Heyward Roy Halladay Prince Fielder Matt Holliday R2
R3 Dustin Pedroia Brandon Phillips Justin Upton Rickie Weeks Nelson Cruz Alexis Rios Victor Martinez R3
R4 Jayson Werth Andre Ethier Ichiro Suzuki Jacoby Ellsbury Adam Dunn Jose Bautista Justin Morneau R4
R5 Josh Johnson Dan Haren Derek Jeter Grady Sizemore Jay Bruce Francisco Liriano Michael Young R5
R6 Tommy Hanson Carlos Pena Chris Carpenter Kelly Johnson Aramis Ramirez Carlos Santana Alexei Ramirez R6
R7 Delmon Young Zack Greinke Ben Zobrist Carlos Lee Michael Stanton Jered Weaver Roy Oswalt R7
R8 Joakim Soria Pablo Sandoval Casey McGehee Clay Buchholz Gordon Beckham Mat Latos Vernon Wells R8
R9 Chris Young Shane Victorino Aaron Hill Jonathan Sanchez Ricky Romero Howie Kendrick Michael Bourn R9
R10 Philip Hughes Huston Street Jorge Posada Brett Anderson Jonathan Papelbon Nick Markakis Max Scherzer R10
R11 Placido Polanco Ryan Dempster Nick Swisher Shaun Marcum Wandy Rodriguez Ian Desmond Francisco Rodriguez R11
R12 Chris Perez Asdrubal Cabrera Francisco Cordero Jonathan Broxton Tyler Colvin J.J. Putz Brandon Morrow R12
R13 Marco Scutaro Jason Kubel Tim Hudson Matt Thornton Jose Valverde Madison Bumgarner John Axford R13
R14 Ike Davis Dexter Fowler Domonic Brown Desmond Jennings Carlos Ruiz Gaby Sanchez Dan Hudson R14
R15 Alex Gonzalez Jose Tabata Lance Berkman Jose Lopez Jorge De La Rosa Angel Pagan Austin Jackson R15
R16 Jaime Garcia Joel Hanrahan Derrek Lee Jesus Montero Drew Storen Brian Matusz Kevin Slowey R16
R17 Rajai Davis Craig Kimbrel C.J. Wilson Frank Francisco Julio Borbon John Jaso Freddie Freeman R17
R18 Johan Santana Evan Meek Mitch Moreland Justin Smoak Jed Lowrie Leo Nunez Omar Infante R18
R19 Hideki Matsui Bud Norris Travis Wood Miguel Tejada A.J. Burnett Yunel Escobar Miguel Olivo R19
R20 Jarrod Saltalamacchia Yorvit Torrealba A.J. Pierzynski Ty Wigginton Magglio Ordonez Matt LaPorta Raul Ibanez R20
R21 Ryan Doumit Derek Holland Luke Gregerson Jason Frasor Carlos Carrasco Franklin Gutierrez Jonny Venters R21
R22 Josh Willingham Will Venable Rick Porcello Anibal Sanchez Alex Avila Brandon Webb Jake Peavy R22
R23 Scott Baker Rod Barajas J.A. Happ Jesus Flores Juan Miranda Brandon League Manny Ramirez R23
Round Peter Kreutzer Jeff Erickson Dan Roemhild Grey Albright Nelson Sousa Todd Zola Nick Minnix Round
R1 Carl Crawford Joey Votto Evan Longoria David Wright Alex Rodriguez Chase Utley Adrian Gonzalez R1
R2 Joe Mauer Matt Kemp Josh Hamilton Ryan Howard Mark Teixeira Ryan Zimmerman Jose Reyes R2
R3 Brian McCann Adam Wainwright Buster Posey Ian Kinsler Jimmy Rollins Shin-Soo Choo Cliff Lee R3
R4 Adrian Beltre CC Sabathia Ubaldo Jimenez Jon Lester Andrew McCutchen Kendry Morales Dan Uggla R4
R5 Hunter Pence B.J. Upton Clayton Kershaw Elvis Andrus Justin Verlander David Price Martin Prado R5
R6 Paul Konerko Billy Butler Yovani Gallardo Colby Rasmus Cole Hamels Stephen Drew Curtis Granderson R6
R7 Brian Roberts Pedro Alvarez Chone Figgins Geovany Soto Matt Wieters Chad Billingsley Matt Cain R7
R8 Rafael Furcal Mariano Rivera Michael Napoli Adam Lind Torii Hunter Corey Hart Miguel Montero R8
R9 Carlos Marmol Starlin Castro Aubrey Huff Javier Vazquez Jason Bay Rafael Soriano Heath Bell R9
R10 Ian Stewart Drew Stubbs Mark Reynolds Neftali Feliz Brian Wilson Kurt Suzuki Denard Span R10
R11 Adam Jones Chris Iannetta Andrew Bailey Carlos Quentin Josh Beckett Ted Lilly Matt Garza R11
R12 Gio Gonzalez John Danks Brett Gardner Colby Lewis Trevor Cahill Carlos Beltran Juan Pierre R12
R13 Wade Davis Neil Walker Mike Aviles David Aardsma Adam LaRoche Ervin Santana Jhoulys Chacin R13
R14 Brett Myers Vladimir Guerrero Michael Cuddyer Hiroki Kuroda Bobby Abreu David Ortiz Travis Snider R14
R15 Ricky Nolasco Ryan Franklin James Shields Johnny Cueto John Lackey Yadier Molina Reid Brignac R15
R16 Alfonso Soriano Jeremy Hellickson Juan Uribe Logan Morrison Brad Lidge Sean Rodriguez Joe Nathan R16
R17 Scott Rolen Gavin Floyd Aroldis Chapman Andres Torres James Loney Jordan Zimmermann Edinson Volquez R17
R18 Ryan Theriot Edwin Jackson Ryan Ludwick Matt Lindstrom Russell Martin Chase Headley Matt Capps R18
R19 Homer Bailey Dan Bard Ian Kennedy J.P. Arencibia Tsuyoshi Nishioka James McDonald John Buck R19
R20 Koji Uehara Cliff Pennington Tyler Clippard Alcides Escobar Chris Sale Coco Crisp Kevin Gregg R20
R21 Brandon Lyon Luke Scott Clayton Richard Nyjer Morgan Carlos Zambrano Jonathon Niese Chris Coghlan R21
R22 Lorenzo Cain J.D. Drew Danny Espinosa Kris Medlen Alex Gordon Aaron Harang Brandon Belt R22
R23 Jair Jurrjens Ryan Hanigan David DeJesus Brandon Allen Jhonny Peralta Cameron Maybin Chris Johnson R23