The holiday season is right around the corner, so what does that mean? Baseball? That’s right! The 114th annual Baseball Winter Meetings start this week in Nashville.
Representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball teams come together to conduct business, whether it’s multiple teams trying to iron out a potential trade, or making the big splash and landing a top free agent.
It is a day that General Managers live for. The gears start turning in their collective minds as they seek any transaction that will improve their chances of getting to the “Fall Classic.” Are we going all out and trying to collect the pieces necessary to reach the World Series? Or are we focusing on a long-term rebuilding project? Luckily, us Fantasy players don’t have to deal with the stress and pressure that comes with being a real-life GM, but we sure as heck share the same perks.
With the Winter Meetings underway, not like that has stopped blockbuster deals from happening anyway, now is as good as a time for us to start preparing for the 2016 season. So why not throw together a mock draft, as a dozen of Fantasy Baseball experts recently entered the “War Room” to tout who they believe will help them capture a championship in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball season.
I have the enviable task of running through the experts’ shortened 10-round mock draft. To follow along and receive more insight on the mindset of these experts during the draft process, here is the Draft Article.
Fantasy Baseball Expert Mock Draft Rundown
We start off the mock draft with an expected Top 3 of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt. These three are all stud options and can be interchangeable in the order they are drafted, but I like “Goldy” the most. Goldschmidt is a first basemen that does everything! Trout and Harper seemed to shy away from the running game in 2014, while Goldschmidt stole a career-high 21 bases.
The 2015 A.L. Rookie of the Year, Carlos Correa followed up the trio at the No. 4 selection. The 21-year old has only played in 99 Major League games, but exploded on the scene in 2015:
|Carlos Correa 2015 Stats|
This is not to say that this is a pick that comes with no risk. You have many players with years of a proven track record on the board, but with the state of the shortstop position in Fantasy, Correa may give his owners a significant disparity over the rest of the pack.
Other highlights from the first round included two third baseman, not named Kris Bryant, going at the No. 6 and 7 spots. I actually would prefer Bryant to both Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, but both of these young superstars had a power surge and finished with 35 and 42 home runs, respectively. They both put up amazing seasons, which will be hard to duplicate, so expect a down-tick in those power numbers.
Almost at the end of the first round, Buster Posey was selected. This may sound hypocritical to my thoughts on the shortstop position, but I think catcher is a position that should always be waited on. Posey is certainly worthy of a high pick, being the elite option at his position, but there are many catchers later in the draft that can produce at a level where the final numbers will not be that far off from Posey.
The heavy hitters start off the second round, and you arguably can’t do any better than the 3-4 duo of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. I believe both are the second-best options at their position, and I envision them putting up even better numbers. The Cubs will build off their amazing 2015 and these two will be at the focal point of another run.
In the middle of the second round, Mookie Betts was selected off the board. Despite being a die-hard New York Yankees fan, Betts is one of my favorite players to watch and easily one of the most exciting outfielders in the game. Mookie struggled a bit in the beginning of 2015, but even in his struggles, he continued to provide value in some semblance. He slashed .328/.420/.577 in the final month of the 2015 campaign, and as long as he doesn’t injure himself making spectacular robberies in the outfield, Betts will fill all five categories. I would not be surprised if he finishes second in Fantasy value behind Trout after it is all said and done.
Then with the final pick of the second round, another five-category outfielder, Charlie Blackmon was selected. However, I am not sold on Blackmon just yet and even though he has performed well over the last couple of years, I don’t view him as a Top 25 player. The argument against Blackmon is definitely one that has been used before and that is the fact that he plays half of his games in Coors Field. Is the “Coors Field Effect” still in play though? Let’s take a look a Blackmon’s career splits:
|Charlie Blackmon Career Splits|
I think Blackmon is a fine player, but he would need to put together a better performance on the road before considering him this early in a draft.
On the turn, Max Scherzer was the second pitcher taken in this mock draft. Scherzer had another magnificent season himself, but the Washington Nationals did not live up to expectations in 2015. Scherzer was only able to win 14 games, his lowest mark since 2010, as the Nationals struggled to provide their ace with offense, scoring almost a half a run lower than the league average of 4.56 runs of support per nine innings. In any case, Scherzer is one of the best in the game. He threw two no-hitters, including what is considered one of the best pitching performances of all-time, striking out 17 Mets for his second no-hitter in his final start of the 2015 season. With the Nationals out to prove that they are worthy, Scherzer should have a shot to reach 20 wins again and is a steal with the 25th selection in this mock draft.
Over the rest of the third round, a few outfielders and a couple more starters were selected. The speedy Dee Gordon became the next second basemen chosen, but I’m not too sure we are going to see him repeat winning the batting title. The 50+ steals will remain, but I’ve never been a fan of paying a premium for steals, especially when there are a couple of second basemen coming up that are capable of stealing 15+ bags and also providing some power.
I also thought Matt Carpenter in the third was a bit of a stretch. The third baseman is an elite producer in the runs category at the top of the St. Louis Cardinals lineup, but his power numbers last year seem to be an outlier. Carpenter was the owner of only 25 career home runs in three full-time seasons, but mashed 28 in 2015. Until I see a repeat performance, I would be inclined to stay away from considering Carpenter in 2016 and go with Todd Frazier or Kyle Seager at this spot.
The fourth round saw the race for arms begin, as almost half of the picks were starting pitchers. I expect all five of these starters to have an excellent 2016, and we now know the landing spot for two of those pitchers. David Price and Zack Greinke are now richer, both signing long-term deals north of $200 million for the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively. An interesting factoid is that both men have enjoyed success in their new home ballparks. Price is 6-1 in 11 games started at Fenway Park, sporting a pristine ERA of 1.95, while Greinke is 6-2 in 10 starts at Chase Field.
One of the really intriguing picks in the fourth round was the selection of Dodgers’ top prospect, Corey Seager. If this was a keeper/dynasty league, Seager in the fourth round would be highway robbery, but in a re-draft situation, this seems way too early. A September call-up in 2015, Seager hit .337 in his month with the big club. The risk with taking Seager this early is sample size, as he just has 113 plate appearances in his major league career. Shortstop is a weak position though and Seager is primed to enter as the Opening Day starter. Seager may easily be able to live up to his billing as he slashed .307/.368/.523 in four minor-league seasons. If there are no struggles when the league adjusts to Seager, his talent could turn this premature pick into a beneficial selection.
It took us until the fifth round, but finally the first closer, Aroldis Chapman, was taken. The strikeouts this flamethrower provides makes him an excellent No. 1 option for a Fantasy bullpen. Even though last year was his low mark, Chapman has converted an average of over 36 saves since being appointed the closer role in Cincinnati.
The middle of the round featured a cluster of second basemen; Anthony Rendon, Robinson Cano and Jason Kipnis, scooped up by the experts. Rendon was riddled with injuries for the 2015 season and never seemed to recapture what he had a year earlier when he stuffed the stat sheet in all five disciplines. Cano seemed to be going through the motions and only had two homers by the time July rolled around, and Kipnis stole just a dozen bags, the fewest in a season where he played at least 129 games. Looking to 2016, I would bet Cano will finally get back to an elite level and would be the player I would take first out of the three. In the second half of 2015, Cano hit .331 and crushed 15 dingers, so while he will most likely never turn the clock back to his days in the Bronx and hit 30 bombs, Cano is a good bet for a 80/20/80/.300 line.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my continued analysis as I wrap up the last half of this expert mock draft and decide who crafted the best team. I will also discuss some names that I was surprised to see left out of the Top 10 rounds.
- Early 2016 Fantasy Baseball Expert Mock Draft Rundown – Part 2 - December 13, 2015
- Week 14 Defense Rankings Reaction: Patriot Games - December 10, 2015
- Early 2016 Fantasy Baseball Expert Mock Draft Rundown – Part 1 - December 7, 2015