With the All-Star break here, fantasy baseball owners have a moment to catch their breath. For me, it’s a chance to look back and wonder what it would be like to start over (if only).
Needless to say and as usual, there are some surprises through the first half of the season. With the magic of my time machine, I’m able to go back and redraft my fantasy baseball teams.
Reviewing Average Draft Position data from the beginning of the year, I decide whether or not each player is worthy of another pick this time around, and if not who I would draft instead. This is a 12-team standard 5×5 roto league using a snake style draft.
I will start with Round 1 and in a second article run through Round 2. Here we go!
Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft Round 1
1. Mike Trout Preseason ADP #1, Mike Trout
What can you say about Mike Trout that hasn’t already been said? Last year he finished 4th in MVP voting, his worst since 2012. He’s already a 2x MVP and a seven time all-star. His offensive numbers this year are slightly ahead of his MVP years. He’s still running and even more staggering, he’s getting walked more than he’s striking out (79 walks to 78 strikeouts as of July 10). To have that much power and still take that many walks brings flashbacks to Barry Bonds. He is on the trajectory to be Bonds’ equal if not pass him. Trout is still, no doubt, the unanimous number one pick overall.
2. Mookie Betts Preseason ADP #2, Jose Altuve
I really went back and forth with this between Altuve and Betts. I ultimately went with Betts for one reason – power. Betts has 22 home runs to Altuve’s nine and scored 11 more runs. The difference between the two in RBI and batting average is negligible.
Betts is the second best fantasy outfielder in the game. Altuve is the best fantasy option at second base. In the end, I leaned to the power from Betts with everything else almost being a wash. You can’t really go wrong with either player.
3. Jose Altuve Preseason ADP #3, Nolan Arenado
As mentioned above, I think it’s a true toss-up between Betts and Altuve for the second best offensive player in the game right now. Altuve is going to score runs, hit for average and steal bases. Arenado will definitely hit for more power and will drive in more runs but I still can’t get the “Coors factor” out of my head. Playing 81 games in Denver is definitely an asset to Arenado and I don’t think the Rockies lineup is as deep as the Astros. To me, this was why I’d take Altuve over Arenado the second time around.
4. Nolan Arenado Preseason ADP #4, Trea Turner
Like Betts and Altuve, I really struggled to pick Arenado over Manny Machado. Their stats are almost identical.
The key difference is runs. Arenado plays for a team currently winning ball games. Machado simply doesn’t have much of anything on the Baltimore Orioles to help him, especially in the runs category. Neither one of them are going to steal bases. The one factor you could figure in is position. Machado has both third and shortstop eligibility while Arenado would only have third. Otherwise, it’s a toss-up.
5. Manny Machado Preseason ADP #5, Clayton Kershaw
It wasn’t the year to pay up for baseball’s consensus top pitcher with back issues limiting him to 69 innings to date. Kershaw is an easy exclude from my re-do first round.
Even though Machado has third base and shortstop eligibility, I still drafted Arenado ahead of him. That said, I love Machado’s passion for the game and the numbers he puts up are fantastic. His team, quite frankly, stinks. The very real possibility still exists that Machado will get traded to a contending team, where he’d have protection around him and pushing his fantasy value higher. Right now, he’s the only threat in the Orioles lineup and the league knows it.
6. Jose Ramirez Preseason ADP #6, Bryce Harper
Ah, Mr. Harper. At the beginning of the season I wrote Harper isn’t worthy of a first round pick and I’ve turned out to be right. Insert pat on the back here. Harper started out on fire but has cooled considerably since May and finds not only himself, by the Washington Nationals in a tailspin.
Enter Jose Ramirez who has been as consistent as he was last year. He isn’t flashy but can flat out hit. His 24 home runs are fourth in MLB and he’s driven in 59 runs. The thing that makes Ramirez appealing is the fact he gets to pad his stats against the worst division in baseball – the AL Central. Facing the “staffs” of the Twins, Tigers, White Sox and Royals is like an all-state varsity player facing a JV squad.
7. J.D. Martinez Preseason ADP #7, Paul Goldschmidt
Although Goldy has been hitting the cover off the ball the past couple of weeks, Martinez is exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed. He leads the majors in home runs with 28 and RBI with 77. Oh, and he’s also hitting a solid .331. Playing DH primarily allows Martinez to stay healthy, which was a concern when he hit the free agent market this past off season. You know with the lineup Boston can run out there, as long as he stays healthy, he’s going to continue to put up huge numbers and I think may be a Top 12-15 player overall next year.
8. Francisco Lindor Preseason ADP #8, Giancarlo Stanton
The hype before the season was Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton possibly hitting 100 home runs combined. There is no doubt that Stanton has held up his end of the power but its feast or famine with him. He’s struck out 122 times and to put that in perspective, the league leader is Yoan Moncada with 126.
We’ve talked the left side of the infield most of this early draft but arguably the best shortstop out there may indeed by Francisco Lindor. He checks all the boxes as far as offense goes: runs, avg, rbi, home runs, and stolen bases. As with Jose Ramirez, he plays the horrible AL Central. The Indians are going to continue to run away with the division and Lindor will definitely get his.
9. Luis Severino Preseason ADP #9, Charlie Blackmon
Blackmon signed a big contract extension with the Colorado Rockies in the off-season. His numbers aren’t bad but not near what they had been the past couple of years. At the beginning of the year, you’d definitely take Blackmon but not now.
Severino has been the best pitcher in the American League and if it weren’t for Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher in baseball this year. He’s fourth in the majors with 123.1 innings, first in wins, seventh in strikeouts, and tied for third in WAR with 5.1. With the Yankees offense and the bullpen behind him (Robertson, Greene and Chapman) he is going to win his fair share of games. I have to admit, I had deGrom down but the fact that the Mets stink and the Yankees don’t made me pick Severino.
10. Max Scherzer Preseason ADP #10, Mookie Betts
I have already moved Betts up to number two in this fantasy baseball mock draft, so I’ll go ahead and focus on why Mad Max would be the 10th overall pick. He simply is doing Max things again this year. His record is 11-5 and he leads the league in innings pitched (127.2) and strikeouts (177). He also is sporting a 2.33 ERA. He has about 13 starts left which will possibly allow him to reach 300 strikeouts.
I had Scherzer rated ahead of Kershaw, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber at the beginning of the year and if it weren’t for Severino’s wins, he’d be a pick ahead of where he is now.
11. Aaron Judge Preseason ADP #11, Max Scherzer
We’re getting down to the end of the first round and looking at it from a fantasy standpoint, you have to start asking yourself what your strategy is. Is it hitter/hitter, pitcher/hitter, or pitcher/pitcher? With Sale, Kluber and Justin Verlander all still available, I think you need to go with a hitter and that hitter is Aaron Judge.
I thought Judge would take a step back after his break out season last year but that hasn’t been the case. He’s hit 25 home runs, driven in 60 and putting up a solid .281 batting average. He’s also nabbed six bags. Not bad for a power hitter of Judge’s capability. To get Judge with the 11th pick and able to get a stud starting pitcher is the best case at this point.
12. Corey Kluber Preseason ADP #12, Chris Sale
Please understand that this was honestly a coin flip. Sale has established himself as one of the top five pitchers in the game. He’s on pace for over 200+ strikeouts again this year and will undoubtedly get 15-18 wins.
The turning point for me though taking Kluber over Sale is two-fold. One, the Indians’ AL Central division is terrible and Kluber can add to his dominance facing those horrible teams. Sale gets to face the Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, but he also has to face the New York Yankees, a minus in Sale’s column.
Two, Kluber is a control freak. He’s walked only 15 hitters this season. Sale has allowed twice as many, which is still good, but, twice as many. In the AL Central a few extra base runners is not a big deal. In the AL East, it could be the difference between a win and a loss.
So there you have it. The pre-All Star Game “do over” fantasy baseball draft. Undoubtedly, there will be some disagreement but that is completely fine. Make your case in the comments. Next time, round two.
I really thought that the Minnesota Twins had a shot to be in the Wild Card mix this year. Boy was I wrong. I drank the Kool-Aid and now have a tummy ache because of it. I’m a sucker for a feel good story though so if the Twins aren’t going to make it, I’d like to see the Seattle Mariners finally get back to the playoffs.
Not since 2001 have the M’s played post-season baseball, and they’ve had really good talent in the organization but hasn’t got them over the hump; namely King Felix.
Felix Hernandez has given everything he possibly can/could to the M’s and hasn’t sniffed the post-season. He’s finally in a position where there is some light at the end of the tunnel. General Manager Jerry DiPoto has master minded trade after trade trying to give the Emerald City another shot at playoff redemption. Good luck to the M’s and King Felix. Hopefully this is your year.