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Pitchers and catchers will report starting tomorrow and the 2016 Fantasy Baseball season is officially underway. Hosted by Fantasy Alarm’s Howard Bender, the Mock Draft Army calls upon experts and industry fans to join together in one place.

In the field of Fantasy Baseball a legitimate mock draft, one with 12 owners completing all 23 rounds, may be the best tool to truly prepare for a mock draft. Whether doing it the day before your draft, or the first day you finally begin your Fantasy Baseball draft prep, be sure to follow Howard Bender on Twitter @rotobuzzguy.

The first round of ADP calculations have been made, which you can see on Fantasy Alarm, and a few surprises certainly made the cut.

I personally participated in one of the first mock drafts for the Mock Draft Army, and came away with a very intriguing strategy. Although perhaps not a strategy I will completely utilize in my upcoming drafts, it definitely gave me a legitimate idea for where guys were falling, and how my team might shake out, should I adopt such strategy.

A brief rundown of how the mock drafts work. I have participated in two, 12-team and 15-team Mixed League, general starting lineups, with 14 total hitters, 2 catchers and 9 pitchers (no bench spots) for a total of 23 rounds. The Mock Draft Army does also offer various drafts with NL-Only and AL-Only options.

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Deep Impact

One of the most difficult tasks in breaking down a 15-team mock draft comes with how deep the player pool goes. A majority of Mixed Leagues will likely fall between 12 and 14 teams, but that actually gives you the opportunity to get familiar with more names, and a wider variety of “sleepers.”

In addition to that, though, comparing a deep league with a more conventional league, a deep league shows the players being drafted simply because of position needs, whether than those drafted right around 250 because that’s where they fall, not because that’s where their position becomes a necessity.

For instance, if Pablo Sandoval is drafted around the 18th round of a 12-team league, is that because the owner needed a third baseman, or because “Kung Fu Panda” actually ranks in the top-250. Comparing a 12-team league with a 15-team league can help your determination. If Sandoval’s ADP jumps up around the 15th, or if it remains around 18 then you can understand that it’s more position than actual value. The more mock drafts you do, or you evaluate, can help you determine those answers.

My Team

As noted earlier, I took a bit of an unusual approach for myself. Seeing that it was a two catcher league, I saw Buster Posey fall to me in the second round. Despite my stance that Posey is not deserving of a second round selection, I bent my beliefs considering the 15-team league. Since this was actually pick 25 (right in between a second and third round pick in a more conventional league), I decided to take Posey with the idea of possibly getting Kyle Schwarber in the third.

My “idea” came to fruition, and once I grabbed arguably the two best catchers, I had plenty of power with Stanton, Posey, Schwarber as my first three picks, and felt pitching still had plenty out there.

Although my strategy paid off in my opinion, as I feel really good about my team, which can be seen through this link RTsports.com, it’s obviously all dependent on how things break. I ended up landing Syndergaard with Cano 4-5, then Wainwright and Desmond 6-7, leading to a crazy weak corner infield led by Eric Hosmer.

The sudden weaknesses at the corner infield position may be perhaps my greatest acknowledgement from my first mock draft.

The Rest

By the second pick in the second round, eight corner infielders had already been selected. As I have made clear throughout my writing for So Called Fantasy Experts, I will not draft position early on, and instead focus on production. While some may argue I drafted position with Buster Posey, which looking back I kind of agree. Given my corner infield deficiency, I probably would select Edwin Encarnacion, but I mainly did that with the hope of cornering the catcher market with my third pick.

Aside from the corner infield market, A.J. Pollock really intrigued me by going seventh overall, but I don’t know that I’m prepared to call it a reach. If the Diamondbacks had changed managers in the offseason, I would question Pollock’s, or even Goldschmidt’s, ability to repeat the stolen bases. Seeing how Chip Hale returns for a second season, Pollock’s 39 stolen bases may be repeatable, in which case he could very easily repeat his 2015.

Looking past the first round, I have paid close attention to a couple trends. First, those under investigation for domestic violence. What am I finding? Jose Reyes will either be a huge bargain, or Aroldis Chapman will be a major bust. I realize Reyes’ allegation may be a little more substantial, but I personally feel they will both meet a similar fate in the end, when it comes to MLB penalties. With that said, when Reyes may be going in the first two rounds of a 15-team league, looking ahead to a full season in Colorado, he instead is falling to the late fifth. Meanwhile, Chapman still finds himself going just behind Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen, despite facing a potential suspension and a crowded bullpen with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances.

Then there are those coming off dreadful 2015 campaigns that don’t seem too impacted in regards to their ADP as much as anticipated.

When I’m selecting a player in the fifth round, I still need at least three categories, whether it’s a 12-team league or 20-team league. Meaning, Billy Hamilton could have the ceiling to steal 200 bases, but he will not land on my roster. Hamilton batted .226 with 28 RBI, 56 Runs and 57 stolen bases last season, yet still finds himself in the fifth round. Perhaps a stretch, but these numbers kind of translate to a rich man’s Adam Dunn, who went undrafted towards the end of his career (obviously subbing power for speed).

My conclusion, more than likely neither will be on any of my rosters. Despite the potential bargain, I can’t find myself looking at either player facing suspension, unless I know what it is prior to my draft. As for Hamilton, I don’t see the appeal to reach for him in the fifth, when Ben Revere falls to the seventh or eighth round in some drafts.

Don’t miss your opportunity for the ultimate, FREE, prep work. To get a true idea of ADP, rankings and projections as you prepare for your upcoming drafts, don’t miss your chance to participate in 2016’s Mock Draft Army.

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Patrick Wallace

A native of St. Louis, Patrick works as Video Production and PR Coordinator with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Patrick earned his Bachelors from Mizzou in 2011, where he also did play-by-play for Missouri Softball. In addition to contributing to SoCalledFantasyExperts in Baseball and Football, Patrick also contributes to FantasyPros.com and has done some work with DraftValet.com.
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