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The Market Report: RotoAuthority Mock Draft Analysis

On Friday night five of the writers here took part in a mock draft with seven other random guys, two of whom earned the chance to compete against Tim Dierkes and myself in the RotoAuthority League. It's not often you get the opportunity to participate in a mock draft in which all of the owners try their hardest until the very end, so this was certainly a delightful experience for me. At any rate, full draft results can be found here, but I'd like to point out some interesting trends as well as a few picks that stood out to me.

Draft Trends

1. Elite catchers available at a discount

This may stem from the fact that default leagues in ESPN only use one catcher, so the pre-draft rankings value catchers accordingly. The fact remains, however, that the top catchers  all went a tad later than they should have gone in a two-catcher league. After my colleague Mark Polishuk took Buster Posey 33rd, he doubled-down with Joe Mauer at 57, a tremendous value to me. Along those lines, Carlos Santana (63), Wilin Rosario (66), Brian McCann (72), and Yadier Molina (76) all look like bargains to me. 

2. Everyone has a favorite #3 SP

Over the first 100 picks, just about every starting pitcher taken has a track record. Once  we all felt content with a pair of anchors, though, we really began to swing for the fences. Alex Cobb (105), Gerrit Cole (106), Danny Salazar (127), Andrew Cashner (132), Sonny Gray (133), Shelby Miller (134), and Michael Wacha (138) were all drafted around this time. I'd bet one of these guys makes the leap to elite territory by season's end, but it's anyone's guess as to which one.

3. Overreaction to spring training injuries

While others were drafting their pitching sleeper du jour, a couple of my fellow writers were capitalizing on overreaction to recent news. I'm on record that I think Matt Kemp is overvalued this spring, but that's certainly not the case if he falls nearly 100 picks from his ADP. Tim Dierkes wisely scooped up Kemp in Round 11; at that pricetag, the Dodgers outfielder could play 130 games and still turn a profit. Similarly, the news on Cole Hamels is certainly a tad worrisome. Even so, I think the rest of us made a mistake in letting my colleague Alex Steers McCrum grab him at pick 140.

4. There's always a closer run

I was actually very impressed with the patience displayed this by group of mock drafters. Fellow writer Luckey Helms took Craig Kimbrel 45th and then Aroldis Chapman 69th, a strategy I very much support. After that, however, no closer was selected until I couldn't pass on Kenley Jansen at pick 90. In the 13th round, though, the inevitable closer run ensued, as 16 closers were selected over a span of 50 picks. Like it or not, there's a certain level of comfort that a fantasy owner attains by walking away from a draft with three legitimate closers. Plan accordingly.

5. If you wait too long on an infield position, you might be screwed

I don't think the purpose of this writeup is to discuss my squad, but there was one takeaway for me that I will keep in my mind during my upcoming drafts. I crave value, and I made an effort to draft the best player on my board regardless of position as much as possible. The problem in doing so, however, is that most fantasy owners overvalue scarcity to a certain extent. Accordingly, if you don't get in on the infield positions, you may miss out on one of them entirely. Case in point, I certainly don't consider myself to be bullish on Xander Bogaerts, but I didn't have a third baseman in Round 16. While I still had several other players ahead of him on my board, I frankly had no choice but to select the Red Sox rookie. In today's Roto game, there's something to be said for building an offense inside-out, starting with your infield and then patiently waiting for value to emerge in the outfield.

Interesting Picks

The first pick to trigger some comments in the chat box during the draft was writer Mark Polishuk's selection of Ian Desmond at 16th overall, ahead of other shortstops like Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes. At the time, I felt it was a little crazy; the more I've thought about it, though, the more reasonable it looks to me. Let's face it: the elite shortstops are all risky. While Desmond may not possess the upside of Hanley or Tulo, he certainly has a higher floor.

The outset of Round 7 brought us two of the fantasy community's most discussed players this spring, Jose Abreu and Billy Hamilton, with consecutive picks. I'm mostly a believer in Abreu, but his ADP seems to rise as each day passes. There's a chance this is Miguel Cabrera-lite, but let's keep in mind there could be an adjustment period. Meanwhile, Billy Hamilton is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward pick. In fact, for as long as I've played fantasy baseball, I don't remember any player with such a wide gap between floor and ceiling. There's a chance he's a career pinch runner; then again, there's also a chance he's a perennial first round pick. I won't be drafting him in Round 7; if you're the type of fantasy player who sees no difference between finishing second and coming in last, though, then drafting Billy Hamilton is a must.

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