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Fantasy baseball mock draft: Picking last and punting pitching

Mocking a 15-team fantasy baseball draft with the last pick...and ignoring pitching.

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Look, Pete isn’t the only one with mock draft chops here at Fake Teams. And given the MLB restart, yours truly is allowing himself at least one league where I absolutely punt the fire out of pitching. It’s my natural inclination anyway, and in such a short season I think it makes more sense now than in any other.

Anyway, since practice makes perfect I thought I’d share a mock draft effort with the masses. Think two-catcher format, standard 5x5 scoring. No distinction with pitchers, you just have to start nine of them.

Rounds 1-10

1.15: 3B Jose Ramirez, CLE - A no-brainer at the end of Round 1, representing the safest power/speed combo on the board. It really, really hurt to pass on Max Scherzer at this juncture...but this is a zero pitching team, remember? For what it’s worth, the last pick seems like the last place (pun intended) you want to be when employing this strategy. If I were drafting like normal, I’d definitely have grabbed Scherzer with one of my picks.

2.01: OF Starling Marte, ARZ - I went with Marte over Fernando Tatis Jr., due mostly to Marte’s track record and superior floor. That, and the relative depth at the shortstop position, which is just absurd. I personally think outfield dries up sneaky quick in 2020.

3.15: 2B Keston Hiura, MLW - He’s aggressive, sure. But he hits the snot out of the ball (97th percentile hard hit rate, 90th percentile exit velocity) and has some speed (51st percentile) to boot. He was 9-for-12 on the basepaths last year, for reference. Add in the surrounding lineup and the home park...I’m sold.

4.01: 3B/SS Manny Machado, SD - Not quite the speed asset I’d typically look for here, but given that this team already has Ramirez and Marte, speed isn’t something I’m overly concerned about chasing. Machado is one of the more underrated assets in fantasy baseball. I’ll gladly take this power production. Still only 28 years old, and one of the few players who continues to crush 30 bombs every year. Since 2015: 35, 37, 33, 37, and 32 are the totals. Sure, his run and RBI counts were down last year...but who doesn’t think his team context in San Diego is improved for 2020? Fernando Tatis Jr. healthy, Tommy Pham in the two-hole, a DH to aid in Wil Myers staying healthy, the further arrival of Trent Grisham and Francisco Mejia...there’s a lot to like with this team.

5.15: OF Victor Robles, WAS - There were boppers like Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos on the board, but I’m a sucker for speed and Robles has it in spades—95th percentile, to be exact. He’s not in camp yet, but he’s expected to return on Thursday, July 16th.

6.01: 1B Jose Abreu, CWS - First base falls off of a cliff after the top eight or so, and I’m having none of missing out on what could be a monster season for Abreu. He’s a power guy who is a batting average plus, playing for a fearsome White Sox lineup. Don’t overthink things.

7.15 - OF Luis Robert, CWS - Robert at 105 overall is a surprise, but I suppose the FantasyPros rankers aren’t as high on him as other members of the industry. I’ll take it.

8.01: 2B/3B Mike Moustakas, CIN - At pick 106, a lot of the speed I like to target has begun to dry up. Moustakas looked like the safest power play on the board, and he couldn’t have landed in a better spot than the Great American Ball Park after leaving hitter-friendly Miller Field.

9:15: OF Bryan Reynolds, PIT - He’s one half of my turn here, as I want his batting average floor to offset my next pick. His .296 xBA last year ranked inside the top 6% of the league. Once you consider that he’ll bat in one of the top two spots of the order for Pittsburgh, this pick is a no-brainer.

10.01: 2B/OF Cavan Biggio, TOR - 136 overall might seem early to some, but not to me. The power/speed combo is awesome, as Biggio gave us a 26/20 season in 2018 at the Double-A level. And last year at Triple-A he had six homers and five steals over 43 games. In his ensuing 100-game stint in the bigs, he added 16 homers and 14 steals—so 22 homers and 19 steals in all for last year. He’s projected to bat second for a loaded Blue Jays offense, where his extreme patience (16.5% walk rate, 35.9% swing rate) should pay dividends. I love this guy in 2020.

Rounds 11-20

11.15: 2B/3B/SS/OF Scott Kingery, PHI - The power/speed combo and multi-eligibility are to die for.

12.01: C Salvador Perez, KC - I really wanted to go ahead and grab a starter here. Mike Minor and Lance McCullers were on the board. But I’m holding true to building all my hitters first. I want to see how just how ugly the pitching looks if I do.

13.15: 2B/SS/OF Garrett Hampson, COL

Will the Rockies play him every day? I don’t know. But last year’s Sept/Oct stretch was awesome. In 23 games, he popped five homers, stole nine bases, and slashed .318/.368/.534. He can play the infield or the outfield, which (theoretically) increases his chances of playing time. Worth a shot.

14.01: C Carson Kelly, ARZ

One of my favorite plays at catcher, Kelly popped 18 homers in only 111 games last year. His .247 xBA pretty much matched his actual .245 mark, but a tiny rebound here wouldn’t surprise me given last year’s .214 BABIP against right-handed pitching.

15.15: SP Joe Musgrove, PIT - He’s a fine mix of floor and upside as my first starting pitcher. He struck out seven hitters over five innings this past Monday (7/14) and that comes on the heels of finishing off last Sept/Oct with a 32.8% strikeout rate (only 16 innings, but still).

16.01: RP A.J. Puk, OAK - He’s fully healed, but has some concerns regarding workload. Still, 2020 is the perfect season to be ignoring workload concerns.

17.15: SP/RP Adrian Houser, MLW - He generated a lot of ground balls (53.4%) and still had an above-average 25.3% K-rate in 2019.

18.01: RP Josh James, HOU - He’s got more upside than a guy like Jose Urquidy (who hasn’t yet reported to camp and just hit the injured list). James has reportedly already worked up to 75-80 pitches, so he should be ready from the jump.

19.15: RP Hunter Harvey, BAL - Taking a chance on a closer. And even if he’s not in the role, it’s possible he’s a boost in ratios and strikeouts.

20.01: SP Dylan Cease, CWS - He’s a former top prosect, and his team just added a stud catcher in Yasmani Grandal to support him (and the rest of that pitching staff).

Rounds 21-30

21.15 RP Wade Davis, COL

Hey, it’s his job to lose. Last year was injury-riddled, and this spring he’s righted the ship a bit. The Rockies have said his leash will be short, but playing for right now is underrated, too. Cheap starting closers are my jam.

22.01: SP/RP Kevin Gausman, SF

Nice home park...why not?

23.15: OF Domingo Santana, CLE

I know, he’s not a pitcher. But he’s a helluva bench bat.

24.01: SS Willy Adames, TB

I made this pick for Yancy Eaton.

25.15 - SP Spencer Turnbull, DET

Turnbull does a lot of things well. He popped up ages ago in a starting pitcher sleeper dive that I did.

26.01: SP Matt Shoemaker, TOR

A concrete switch to greater use of his splitter last year could carry over into 2020 and make Shoemaker a screaming value. He may have some tough matchups out of the gate (Yankees, Sox?) and if so you can scoop him up off of waivers if he’s dropped in your league.

27.15: RP Matt Magill, SEA

Hey look...another starting closer!

28.01: SP Forrest Whitley, HOU

At pick 406, who the heck cares? Urquidy’s absence may open the door, and while Whitley may not start from the get-go it’s very possible we see him prior to the season’s end. There aren’t many guys with upside to be had late.

29.15: OF Kyle Lewis, SEA

He’s hitting bombs in Spring Training 2.0 after hitting bombs last September. Don’t overthink it.

30.01: 2B/SS Brendan Rodgers, COL -

A sweet way to hedge with Garrett Hampson. Who knows who actually gets the playing time bump in Colorado? And he’s an easy one to churn-and-burn if it looks like he won’t be used.

What say you all? How’s this pitching staff look to you? And is the offense good enough to have warranted punting all that pitching? Here’s the link to the results, if it still works. Not sure how long these things last...