2018 Too Early MLB Mock Drafts

Posted on 2017-10-30 14:35 by Ray Flowers

 

RAY FLOWERS      

 

It’s October of 2017. We’re trying to predict April of 2018. It’s not easy to do that. We don’t know who will be hurt. We don’t know who is hurt now that will recover. We don’t know which rookies will have a shot at Opening Day Rosters. We don’t know where free agents will sign. We don’t know anything about so many bullpens.

Justin Mason, champion of BARF, invited me to participate in an extremely early mock draft for the 2018 season. It’s far too early to be doing a draft like this. We can all agree on that, right? Regardless, it sounded like fun, and I thought to myself – what the heck. This way I can have something to write about, but better yet, I can get some early ass data into your hands regarding how the experts are evaluating players for 2018... in 2017.

THE LEAGUE

15-team mixed league

14 hitters, 9 pitchers in starting lineup

3 bench players

Draft Dates: Last week of September to 19th of October (slow draft)

THE PARTICIPANTS
 

Pick

Analyst

Site

1

Michael Waterloo

Roto Experts

2

Walter McMichael

Lenny Melnick Fantasy Sports

3

Chuck Anderson

Friends with Fantasy Benefits

4

Andrea LaMont

Lenny Melnick Fantasy Sports

5

Ray Flowers

Guru Elite

6

Jeff Zimmerman

Rotographs

7

Rob Silver

2016 NFBC Champion

8

Steve Gardner

USA Today

9

Tim Heaney

Rotowire

10

Scott Bogman

In This League

11

Ben Brenneis

Friends with Fantasy Benefits

12

Seth Klein

Razzball

13

Justin Mason

Friends with Fantasy Benefits/Fangraphs

14

Ralph Lifshitz

Razzball

15

Brant Chesser

Baseball HQ

 

Here is a link to the ADP that Justin put together after the three mock drafts.

MY TEAM

* () round drafted.
I had the 5th overall selection


C: Travis d’Arnaud (21), Kurt Suzuki (26)
1B: Jose Abreu (3)
2B: Robinson Cano (5)
3B: Nolan Arenado (1)
SS: Corey Seager (2)
MI: Franklin Barreto (23)
CI: Miguel Cabrera (7)
OF: Christian Yelich (4), Khris Davis (6), Jay Bruce (9), Brad Zimmer (10), Keon Broxton (16)
UT: Matt Carpenter (8)

PITCHERS: Sonny Gray (11), Lance Lynn (12), Jameson Taillon (13), Julio Teheran (14), Gio Gonzalez (15), Chris Devenski (17), Alex Cobb (18), Arodys Vizcaino (19), Shane Greene (20)

BENCH: Lewis Brinson (22), Carson Fulmer (24), Willie Calhoun (25)


WHAT WAS I THINKING?

It’s early October.

Reread the intro for this piece.

There is so much that we simply have no idea about at this point.

Given that, I still had a plan (you know by now that I would, right?).

I was going to bludgeon everyone in this league with copious amounts of offense. Pick after pick, round after round, it was going to be offensive performers that I could trust to produce. Looking at my first nine selections – the plan was executed perfectly.

Arenado is as much a lock to go .285-40-125 as anyone in the game.

Seager is a .300-25-80-100 guy if healthy. He’s an elite shortstop option.

Abreu is the only player in baseball who has gone .290-25-100 the last four seasons. His average effort over 162 games is .301-33-108-87.

Yelich the last two seasons has produced an average line of .290-20-90-89-13. He’s bankable.

Cano is aging, but you can’t sit there and make a legitimate argument that he can’t go .280-20-90 next season. If you do, I’m not listening to it.

Davis has remarkably hit .247 each of the past three seasons, and the last two years his average effort is .247-43-106-88. His power bat is pretty much elite.

I’m not sure about the back of Cabrera, no one really is, but at the cost of a 7th round selection in a 15-team league, I was willing to take a chance on a guy I think is one of the 10 best right-handed hitters of all time. He will be a very interesting player to watch next spring.

Carpenter will qualify at first base for sure. Check your league rules as he appeared in 13 games at second and 16 at third base as well so he might have tri-position eligibility next season. Even in his down season he still hit 23 homers, scored 91 times and had a .384 OBP. Oh yeah, his .835 OPS was just two points off his career mark.

Bruce hit 31 homers with 101 RBI, 82 runs and a .832 OPS. Only once since 2011 has he failed to hit 26 homers with 87 RBI. He’s money... and is always cheaper than he should be. Always.

Zimmer and Broxton have faults, but the majority of my team, high on stability and power, lacked much on the base paths (other than Yelich). That’s why I targeted the two outfielders I did to round out my crew in the outfield. They could both steal 20 bases, potentially more, and in today’s game there’s a lot of value in that. Both men have the ability to hit 20 homers as well.

I had hoped to grab Ahmed Rosario in round 18. He was taken seven selections before it was my turn to draft. That one hurt a bit. As a result, my middle infielder ended up being Barreto who you can read about below.

As for the catchers, pretty standard stuff there, but with my smoking offense I wasn’t in need of a home run. d’Arnaud is 28 years old and coming off a 16 homer, .443 SLG season in 348 at-bats for the Mets. There might be a stronger season in him, if he could just stay healthy (which he seemingly cannot). If not, a repeat of last season is acceptable. Suzuki is coming off his best season in a long career (.283/.351/.536 with 19 homers). He’s not repeating that line, but a solid second catcher at no cost is possible. Chose him over Chris Iannetta in a coin flip.

I grabbed Brinson in the 22nd, an excellent pull at that point. He’s got 20/20 talent, and he should get a chance to show it in ’18. This also gives me a duo of young outfielders, and the relatively inexperienced Broxton, to round out my final two outfield spots – Zimmer, Broxton & Brinson.

In the 23rd round I was going with Jorge Alfaro or Barreto. With the choice of Alfaro the pick before me, the decision was made for me - Barreto. The youngster hit only .197 in 25 games with the Athletics, but Barreto also hit .290-15-54-63 with 15 steals in 111 games at Triple-A. He was a top-50 prospect in baseball last season, and has the look of a future all-star in the fantasy game at shortstop.

My final bat was Calhoun. A second baseman who has learned to pay the outfield, Calhoun is a banging prospect. The youngster crushed it at Triple-A batting .300/.355/.572 leading to a .927 OPS over 128 games. In those 128 outings Calhoun hit 31 bombs with 93 RBI and 80 runs scored, a season after going 27-88-75 in 132 games at Double-A. It’s extremely early, but 500 plate appearances next season could bring a bounty of production.

Let’s talk pitching.

How did my staff turn out given that I took 10 hitters before looking for an arm? You’re gonna say blah. I’m gonna say... it’s perfectly fine. Look, we all know that arms break on a daily basis. Why waste early picks on that?

Gray isn’t a big innings guy, but he had a 3.55 ERA, 1.21 WHIP an a 8.48 K/9 rate.

Lynn had a 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 153 strikeouts in 186.1 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.

Taillon’s ratios were terrible (4.44 ERA, 1.48 WHIP), but he upped his K/9 rate from 7.36 to 8.42, and his 1.71 GB/FB ratio is still impressive. I’m chalking up his late season struggles to his ill health.

Teheran’s ratios where terrible (4.49 ERA, 1.37 WHIP), but he’s still just 26 years old and has thrown 185 innings in 5-straight seasons with at least 150 strikeouts each campaign.

Gonzalez pitched over his head with the 2.96 ERA, but he reached 200-innings for the first time since 2011 and had a four year best in strikeouts at 188. He won’t repeat the ratios for sure, but he’s still a solid depth arm.

I really wanted to grab Dellin Betances in the 16th round, but he went eight picks before I was on the clock. I wanted to pair him with the guy I ended up taking in the 17th round – Devenski. The duo would have given me massive numbers over about 15-170 innings. As it sits, I ended up with the Astros hurler who has averaged 95 innings over two seasons with six wins, three saves, a 2.38 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 9.71 strikeouts per nine (the mark was 11.16 in 2017). He’s been tremendous in two seasons. He and Betances would have produced the numbers of an SP2 at worst. At worst. Oh well.

Cobb returned from Tommy John surgery throwing 179.1 innings with a 3.66 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. The strikeout rate wasn’t at previous levels, the 6.4 per nine mark is a bit scary given my normal M/O for arms, but at this point of the draft he’s a solid addition. At least he and Lynn have recently had TJ Surgery, so hopefully both won’t have elbow issues in 2018.

Even though I waited, I’m happy with Devenski, Vizcaino and Greene as my three relievers. At this point of the calendar, once the top-10 closers were off the board, it’s a relative free-for-all at the position. Vizcaino took over the closing duties in Atlanta late in the year, had success, and is arbitration eligible. He should open the year as the Braves closer. The 26 year old righty had a 2.83 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 64 strikeouts in 57.1 innings and 14 saves in ‘17. He also had better than a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Greene is arbitration eligible and it seems unlikely that the Tigers are going to sign a free agent closer. Greene had 14 holds, nine saves, a 2.66 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP with 73 strikeouts over 67.2 innings. In 2017. The only ding in his game is the walk (a massive 4.52 BB/9). Of course, about four hours after I selected him the news broke that the Tigers could deal Greene this offseason. Tis the deal when doing a draft this early. Have to think he will be a setup man if dealt.

Fulmer was my shot at a starting pitcher with little big-league experience. He should have a chance to make the White Sox rotation next season out of camp. The former 1st round selection entered the 2017 season as a top-75 overall prospect according Baseball America and MLB.com before struggling to the tune of a 5.79 ERA and 1.56 WHIP over 25 starts at Triple-A. Walks are an issue, but he has the talent to be a solid end of the rotation arm for the Sox in ’18.