Zach Steinhorn of MLB.com's Fantasy 411 invited Nick and me to the blog's early mock draft, a 15-teamer.
HR with flaws ... HR nonetheless
Oh, mocks, our bastion of experimentation, which is doubly true when you're drafting for 2014 when 2013's playoffs haven't yet concluded. All of these pick 'em parties should come with the details that are revealed here so the practice can also educate. Participants must properly explain context of why they picked so-and-so and not that other guy.
Comparing these to March activities is a fun way to reflect the changing marketplace. I'm one to alter my perspective -- if not on specific players, on how to read the board -- over time, though my opinion on commodities doesn't typically change without extreme circumstances. I just have an easier time knowing where to place them among my competitors' demands as spring approaches.
Anyway, the 14 luminaries against whom I competed gave a good measure of how the landscape stands heading into the "offseason" of fantasy.
I fell into Pick 11 of 15, a dead spot in terms of stability, and I took a route that I wouldn't have expected in recent years. We carried on for five rounds:
01.11: Adam Jones, OF, BAL
His low walk rate bugs me, and he's not an entrenched 20-steal guy, but he can improve both. He's just 28 years old. Even if he's reached his peak (I don't think he's maxed out just yet), his power and established accompanying stats elevate him above the fringe first-round options here.
02.05: Alex Rios, OF, TEX
I'm buying the consolidation of Alex Rios' skills, even if his swipes level off next year. He enjoyed hitting in Arlington -- who doesn't? -- and, as has been noted by several participants in this draft at one point, he's shedding the every-other-year label, thanks to alterations of both his mechanics and psyche. His age doesn't scare me yet. I considered Jacoby Ellsbury last round but passed knowing I likely could nab a more balanced line in the second stanza from someone who puts the ball in play nearly as often. In Jones and Rios, I've pieced together two power-speed threats at the most insurable offensive position.
03.11: Shin-Soo Choo, OF, FA but hoping CIN
The CI lot ... carbon copies of tepid or flawed players. I'm not ready to take a SP yet. I thought about taking my brother in Paleo, but man, despite how spritely I've run for the last 1.5 years, I'm not sure if Hunter Pence can swipe 22 bags again.
Alas, someone around his age that has rattled off 20-plus thefts and 16-plus homers in each of his last four full seasons is Shin-Soo Choo. I'm aware that wherever he signs may sway the runs or homers column, but fun fact: 11 of Choo's 21 taters this past year came when he wasn't playing in GABP. (I also now have 3 outfielders through 3 rounds. Times have changed).
04.05: Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX
Had Trumbo all lined up. Thanks, Todd [Zola].
Other corner infield options still bore me. There's one other MI that intrigues me, but I'll continue with my power-speed game. I don't want to bank on such potential from middle and late-rounders. Though he took a stats dip and might be leaving Arlington, as long as Kinsler is wearing a Rangers uniform, I'll value him here. Ask me again in March, though.
05.11: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT
It's approaching my wheelhouse for pitching, but not just yet. I'll tolerate Alvarez's plate-discipline flaws at Pick 71 because he arguably holds the best established power left. I would've taken Mark Trumbo last round had he been available. I'll repeat that philosophy for someone with eligibility at a position with numerous intriguing fliers left but, in my opinion, drops off in tangible offerings after Alvarez. Expect 30ish homers. Pray to the cruel fantasy deities for a .250 BA. Celebrate anything above that. Time to build up BA in my subsequent picks!
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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