With Spring Training about to begin a few days, we will collectively immerse ourselves in baseball goings-on with fervor and passion more than ever.
Naturally, that passion extends itself to fantasy baseball and the impending drafts we will all partake of in the next month or so. So, what better way to get revved up for the fantasy baseball season and prepare yourself for drafts than by participating in mock drafts?
With that in mind, I just participated in my first mock draft of the season.
I participated in a 10-team, head-to-head mixed league complete with 22 rounds. In this league you start one catcher, one 1B, one 2B, one SS, one 3B, three outfielders, one utility player and seven pitchers with a bench consisting of six players.
The following is the recap of my draft selections. I lucked into the first pick. I had an easy selection from the start, but after that, a lot of critical thinking went into shaping my roster.
Round One: Pick One- Albert Pujols
To me, this was a slam dunk. Pujols is a model of consistency and contributes beastly numbers across the board. I won’t worry about any complacency now that he signed his big contract. Dude’s a machine. No need for concern.
Round Two: Pick 20- Jacoby Ellsbury
With this pick, I wanted some versatility and someone who can do many things well (with an eye on stolen bases). Mission accomplished. Now fully healthy and entering his prime, I love Ellsbury’s prospects for another banner year.
Round Three: Pick 21- Robinson Cano
My next strategy was to nab an elite hitter at a position of scarcity. Cano is also in his prime and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Round Four: Pick 40- David Price
I eventually needed to get a pitcher and if I didn’t select one with my back-to-back picks here, I would have been starting my staff with a mid-tier hurler. So, I went out and selected one of the sure things in the draft in Price. I could have selected pitchers like Chris Carpenter, James Shields and C.J. Wilson, but I think Price’s upside was the tipping point for me. BTW, premium pitching was never going to be my calling card and that was cemented with some fool picking a pitcher with each of his first seven picks. (ed. Note-maybe he was experimenting? I do that all the time)
Round Five: Pick 41- Andrew McCutchen
With this pick I wanted to avoid picking for a certain position and sought another player who can contribute across the board. Also, I think McCutchen is primed for a phenomenal season.
Round Six: Pick 60- Starlin Castro
At this point I wanted to address another position lacking in depth and select the best option there. With Castro, I am confident in knowing I have one of the more steady and reliable options at shortstop. I am, though, a bit worried about his off-the field issues.
Round Seven: Pick 61- David Wright
There was no way I was going to last seven rounds without nabbing a third baseman, and I think I got a good bounce-back sleeper here in Wright. With the fences being altered at CitiField and with him looking to prove doubters wrong, I expect Wright to have more than a respectable season.
Round Eight: Pick 80- Madison Bumgarner
I needed to go back to the pitching well before the talent becomes barren. I may be putting too many eggs in one basket here, but I love Bumgarner’s promise over guys like Jaime Garcia, Tommy Hanson and Michael Pineda.
Round Nine: Pick 81 Matt Wieters
Although I don’t mind passing on catchers until later on in the draft, I felt if I didn’t nab Wieters here he would be gone before I picked again. I pounced on him as I truly believe Wieters has the chance to be this year’s top producer at catcher. I could be reaching here.
Round 10: Pick 100- Nelson Cruz
I was astonished to find Cruz still available. Sure, he has some injury concerns, but the guy can mash when he is on the field. At this point, he is well worth the risk.
Round 11: Pick 101- Brandon Beachy
Chalk up this selection due to a man-crush, as I absolutely love Beachy. The man was incredibly unlucky in 2011. He has a staggering strikeout rate and terrific control. He should blossom in 2012.
Round 12: Pick 120- J.J. Putz
I wait as long as possible to nab closers since it’s such a volatile position. Between injuries and poor performance, you can find many gems off the waiver wire if need be. But I waited long enough and was a bit surprised that Putz (who notched 45 saves with a 2.17 ERA) was still available. I think this is a solid pick.
Round 13: Pick 121- Eric Hosmer
At this juncture I wanted to secure my starting offensive lineup by selecting the player with the most upside for my utility spot. Well, promise be thy name with Hosmer.
Round 14: Pick 140- Jordan Zimmerman
With my offensive lineup complete, I needed to bolster the staff and did not waver in selecting Zimmerman here. Zimmerman is now two years removed from Tommy John surgery and he looks ready for a career year.
Round 15: Pick 141- Johnny Cueto
While not flashy with the strikeout numbers, Cueto has been rock solid and he is coming off a fine 2011 campaign. I think 2012 could be an even bigger year for Cueto.
Round 16: Pick 160- Joakim Soria
While Soria struggled a bit in 2011, he has the skill set and makeup to have a good bounce back season. With the selection of Soria, my staff and starting lineup is now complete.
Round 17: Pick 161- Gaby Sanchez
While his 2011 second half swoon is worrisome, he was an All Star last year and if he can put two good halves together I’ll be good here.
Round 18: Pick 180- Drew Stubbs
No one is going to love Stubbs’ propensity for striking out a ton and crippling teams with his paltry batting average. However, the guy has both pop and speed. I’m perfectly fine grabbing Stubbs this late,
Round 19: Pick 181- Alexei Ramirez
At one point I needed to grab some middle infield reserves and Ramirez’ name screamed, ‘pick me!’ Ramirez is not great at one particular thing, but is decent across the board.
Round 20: Pick 200- Bud Norris
With three hitters already on my bench I needed to add pitching depth. I took a flier here on Norris. While he won’t win much in Houston, he can rack up the K’s.
Round 21: Pick 201- Jon Niese
Although Niese has broken down the last two seasons, he still possess above-average stuff and here’s to hoping he can put together a full season.
Round 22: Pick 220- Danny Espinosa
I wanted to have backups at both shortstop and second base, so I went ahead and selected Espinosa here. Espinosa can at least hit a few bombs. For the last pick, I can do a lot worse.
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