TDG Roundtable: Observations from the Too Early Mock
Every week on Fridays/whenever we get to them, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week’s roundtable topic is observations from the TDG Too Early Dynasty Mock #TDG2EarlyDyno. Check out the hashtag on Twitter or see the link here for full results.
Keaton O. DeRocher (@TheSpokenKeats)
I thought it was interesting to see how the top picks played out, after having talked about it for a couple of months in various leagues and chats. This was such a hot topic on Twitter during the season that we did a roundtable on it a few weeks ago and got a mix of answers for who would go 1.1. Seeing it now play out in a draft scenario was interesting. The top four went 1. Soto, 2. Acuna, 3. Tatis and 4. Trout. All four players got votes for going #1 in our roundtable and it was interesting to see in the round table Brett Cook said he would still take Trout #1, and then when he actually got 1st pick in the mock he switched it up and took Soto. I think that just shows how fluid the top of the draft is now, something it hasn’t been true essentially since Trout made his way into the league.
Patrick Magnus (@thegreenmagnus)
My biggest takeaway from the draft thus far is that there are plenty of valuable players to be drafted later than usual due to the shortened season. Recency bias seems to be in full effect. Listen, you’re welcome to put however much weight you want on what will most likely be the most unique baseball season we’ll ever experience. However, I went into this draft and will go into our rankings not looking to change too many players’ values. So, for instance, seeing Bieber go off the board before Gerrit Cole? Sure, I’ll just help myself to what was a fairly unanimous consensus number 1 dynasty pitcher last year (I acknowledge and see you, Degrom stans).
Then at pick 40, I noticed that our 15th ranked overall player on our most recent Top 500, Nolan Arenado, was still hanging around! So I snagged him too. Ketel Marte at 81? Sure. Gary Sanchez at pick 201?! YES PLEASE. Now, hey, maybe I should be putting more into the recent concerns over these players. I’m not here to imply that the way I valued players was without mistakes (see my pitching staff after Cole). However, I felt more comfortable taking those risks later in the draft, not within the first few rounds. Anyway, if you can avoid recency bias there are plenty of potential deals to find within drafts. Then again, we’ll see what people are thinking come spring.
Ken Balderston (@KenInToronto)
I had a suspicion that catcher could be an area of value, but I may have underestimated everyone’s appetite. My strategy at the position in a 30 team weekly H2H league was to draft a catcher who would play five games a week rather than get stuck with someone who would be in a platoon situation. It’s a simple expectation that getting more plate appearances than your opponent would give you an advantage, not to mention there are starting catchers in the majors who return negative offensive value. I drafted Joey Bart at pick #147, which I felt was a decent value in a 15 team dynasty league, let alone our 30 team format. I felt that despite his rough first taste of the big leagues in 2020, Bart should solidify that position for some time, and I was also keen to make my squad a bit younger.
The other player I was looking at taking there was Willson Contreras, who ended up going two full rounds later at pick #208. Sean Murphy, another great option, went #229, Yasmani Grandal #225, Gary Sanchez #201, and Mitch Garver #367. As the draft played out, it became clear there were a few who wanted to fill the catcher spot early, and there were many others who were happy to wait. I feel those who waited till the end of the bottom of the ‘solid’ catching tier did well, and that those who missed out could have multiple weeks of negative production from that slot. So while I don’t regret the Bart pick, I do think there were some better values to be had a little bit later.
Ben Sanders (@HPBenSanders)
When Shane Bieber was available to me at the 18th overall pick, I didn’t hesitate to grab him. I did begin to question myself a bit afterwards, however. Was I making a good strategic move by being the first to take a pitcher? Can I still build a decent offense in a 30-team league when I won’t get my first bat until pick 43?
In hindsight, I’d take Bieber again. I didn’t see a clear standout bat at that spot, and caught up enough offensively by adding Corey Seager, Matt Chapman and Will Smith in the next three rounds. Aside from my mistake of not grabbing a solid veteran No. 4 SP in the 15th round, I like my draft a lot. But my team alone doesn’t answer the philosophical question of how viable a first-round pitcher pick is in a 30-teamer. Four others went down the same path – how did it work for them?
Patrick Magnus took Gerrit Cole at 21, and may have ended up with the best win-now team in the draft. He was able to take bats with seven of his next eight picks and still have a competent staff. Shawn snagged Jacob deGrom at 25, and quickly built a balanced offense with Adalberto Mondesi followed by three power-hitting outfielders.
Keaton DeRocher took Jack Flaherty at 22 and though I don’t like the value on some of the players (Amed Rosario 99th in an OBP league?), it’s a well-constructed team overall. I had the opposite take on Ken Balderston’s team, which started with Walker Buehler at 27 – love a lot of the picks individually, but with four SP in the first nine rounds, the offense just seems a bit lacking.
Overall, I don’t think first-round SP in this type of league is a bad idea at all, just as long as it’s followed with a few rounds of solid hitting picks.
Every time I draft a dynasty roster, my goal is to thread the needle between winning now and winning later. In this draft I found success drafting a number of players who haven’t quite proven themselves as MLB talents, but have debuted for big league clubs and are on the fringes of prospect eligibility.
I spent four of my first seven picks on a young core of Alec Bohm, Ryan Mountcastle, Nick Madrigal and Nate Lowe. On the pitching side, I was able to draft Dane Dunning at pick 299. I feel as if he’s cut from the same mold. Aside from Lowe, I feel wonderful about the values of each of these players. (While I love Lowe’s talent, his role with Tampa concerns me enough to lament my aggressiveness.) Are they slam dunks? No, and each has much to prove. But what I do like is the pedigree, opportunity, and quality of their respective debuts or cups of coffee. Additionally, they have nothing left to prove in the minors. Some part of me felt like they were each in a grey area where they’re not quite prospects, but not quite MLB’ers and so for that reason I was able to get nice value on each.
Conversely, I get the sense that I might be viewed as too aggressive going after each of these unprovens when I did. Bohm in the 3rd, for example, over Gallo, Ozuna, May, Olson, Chapman, etc. was a fairly gung-ho. However, as this is a dynasty, I feel good about my squad’s ability to compete next year, and over the next five seasons simply because I nabbed a core of young guys who are ready to play.
Taylor Case (@TCasesLoaded)
Now that we’re 20 rounds and over 600 players into this Dyno draft, it’s definitely clear that there is value to be had in your startup this offseason. Did I cash in on said value? Maybe. Are there still lessons to learn? Sure. Plenty.
With that said, here are four initial, quick-hit observations from the draft so far:
- I may have stretched a little picking Fernando Tatis, Jr. over Mike Trout with the third pick in the draft. However, as I’ll outline later, I’m a sucker for young talent and I’ve seen enough of Tatis to know he’ll be a force to reckon with over the next 8-10 years. Plus, I said I’d take him back in September, and I’m a man of my word.
- Somehow Chris Sale fell to me at pick 5.123. If that’s where he’s going to continue to go in drafts, I’m going to get him in a lot of mocks this offseason.
- Behind Sale, I have Mackenzie Gore (2. 58), Emerson Hancock (9.243), Nick Lodolo (10.298), Jordan Balazovic (12.358), and Dean Kremer (15.423). Like I said, I’m a sucker. If I could re-do one portion of my draft, it might be this all-too-young pitching core. In my opinion, there is oodles of upside for 2022 and beyond, but 2021 could be a little rough. Now please excuse me while I go draft Tucker Davidson.
- There were some awesome starting pitchers with high-level production chosen from 287 to 308:
- Pick 10. 287, Tyler Mahle, (@RossJensen12): I do love me some Tyler Mahle, and especially love all the red on his baseball savant page. Here’s to hoping he cracks the starting rotation and sticks there in 2021.
- Pick 10.294, Mitch Keller, (@ShellyV_643): He hasn’t been great so far, but it feels like thievery to get TDG’s #30 overall prospect with almost the 300th pick in a dyno draft.
- Pick 11.308, Marcus Stroman, (@3cardmonte13): Stroman doesn’t blow anyone away with strikeouts, but is still an extremely stable pick at 308. Still only 29 years old, he’s averaged 29 GS, 173 IP, a 3.86 ERA, 3.80 FIP, and just under one HR per nine innings over the last four seasons.
This has been a ton of fun so far. Lots to be happy about, a lot of great discussion, and lots to learn for the next one.
Phil Barrington (@Barrington_Phil):
If you read any parts of my summer 2020 dynasty draft you would know my dynasty strategy is to win now, always. Having the 29th pick out of 30 makes that much more difficult, but the team I assembled is ready to compete day one. My core first six-round picks were: Manny Machado, Cavan Biggio, Josh Bell, Stephen Strasburg, Eddie Rosario, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Machado might be my favorite fantasy player currently, mainly because he is underrated by the community at-large (same with Bryce Harper, but it seems like the community is coming around on accepting him as he is as he went 12th overall) due to factors I wrote about last month. Biggio brings multi-position eligibility and 20/20 and Bell I expect to bounce back (albeit not to 2019 levels).
I eschew taking prospects for many rounds of first year dynasty drafts, as the farther away we get from the top group, the more uncertainty. In a 30-team league usually a lot of prospects will be drafted, but we only had 5 minor league spots, so I knew I wanted to wait to take my group. I found that 2020 first-year players went lower than expected, outside of the top group, and that is where I looked (Reid Detmers was my first minor leaguer drafted). Hopefully a couple start out hot in the minors and can be moved in-season for win-now pieces.
Also I wanted to load up on good starters, as in this league rosters are set weekly, and then take relievers with my final picks. My starting pitchers are: Strasburg, Ryu, Michael Kopech, Caleb Smith, Jose Urquidy, and Antonio Senzatela, a good group to utilize for Wins, Ks, solid ERA and WHIP.
Reviewing the first four rounds it was impossible to find a bad pick but also a really great one (hence drafting with writers and experts). Thus my favorite thus far (and I was also sniped by four picks) was Ian Happ in round five (pick 146), who gets a nice bump in OBP leagues. My least favorites were Mike Yastrzemski in Round 5 (pick 126) and Andrew Benintendi in Round 6 (pick 167), as they both should be there a couple of rounds later and I do not believe in either producing positive fantasy results in 2021 and beyond to justify those choices.
Bob Osgood (@BobOsgood15):
My biggest takeaway from our early dynasty mock was the value of veteran players with significant track records who were available several rounds later than I would’ve anticipated. While this might go without saying, the #TDG2EarlyDyno draft hammered home the idea of a young core early.
A few of my favorite values over the age of 30 that fell outside of the top three rounds in this 30-team OBP-mock:
Anthony Rizzo (90, Rd. 3-4 turn), Stephen Strasburg (92), George Springer (94), J.D. Martinez (110), Paul Goldschmidt (125), Whit Merrifield (136), Charlie Blackmon (162), Nelson Cruz (186), Tommy Pham (197), Andrew McCutchen (356), and … basically, every catcher.
As Ken outlined above, several catchers ended up with surprising value. As highly as I regard J.T. Realmuto, and believe he presents a tremendous value gain at the position, I wouldn’t have taken him at pick #55 in round two in hindsight. Creating position-by-position lists takes a lot of work and, in redraft formats, sticking to your research and tiers will usually pay off. However, in the early rounds of dynasty drafts, if you’re looking at two players close in value, the player in their early-to-mid 20s is the move even if you have to stray a bit from your rankings (or the rankings of your favorite analyst). High floor veterans on the other side of 30, especially those who struggled in a 60-game sample this year, will fall as a result of the helium behind playoff standouts and rising prospects in the industry.
Jordan “I heart old pitchers” Rosenblum (@RosenJordanBlum):
Writing about aging curves, Clay Davenport, one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus, explains, “the [aging] adjustments for pitchers are considerably more sketchy [than for hitters]; the very idea of a typical aging curve relies on predictable, steady changes in performance, while pitchers tendencies are dominated by essentially unpredictable point impacts, most commonly either injuries or developing a new pitch.” This is a piece of advice that many dynasty baseballers have internalized, leading to memes like TINSTAAP and avoidance of pitching prospects. While anyone sane knows TINSTAAP taken literally is quite an exaggeration, it does contain a shred of truth. For instance, the top two statistical pitching prospects entering 2020, A.J. Puk and Brendan McKay, have both now undergone shoulder surgery–fairly terrifying. Even the consensus #1 pitching prospect, Mackenzie Gore, has experienced diminished velocity, though the Padres maintain the stance that it’s related to mechanical issues and no reason to worry (Forrest Whitley, the former #1 pitching prospect before him, has struggled mightily with a smattering of injuries as well). If one accepts pitcher development is unpredictable then a sensible approach is to target the guys who are already good–veterans. Eventually the upside of a young prospect will be too much to resist, but in our mock the youths went too early, the veterans too late. A few examples: Gore went 58th overall, surrounded by Zac Gallen, Brandon Woodruff, Blake Snell, Corbin Burnes, and Max Fried. Sixto Sanchez and Nate Pearson, neither a picture of perfect health historically, went in the mid-90s overall, and Ian Anderson 117th. Veteran starting pitchers selected in this range or later were Max Scherzer, Mike Clevinger, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Chris Sale. Don’t ignore young pitchers, but don’t try too hard to predict the unpredictable, either, especially when there are established veteran stud options as an alternative, with less development risk.
Paul Monte (@3CardMonte13)
My goal in any mock draft is to draft it as if it was real. I understand the desire to “try” different things out, but I feel like I get to do that every draft because no draft is the same. You will always need to pivot, rarely does a draft go exactly as planned. This draft was different for me for two reasons: this wasn’t a cash league and it was a draft with writers.
Both of those reasons led me to believe that prospects would be overvalued, and people would be making some picks that were reaches to make sure they “got their guy”. I knew I wouldn’t get any of the top 25 prospects and would need to take some high-upside guys later in the draft. Instead, I focused on young guys that may have been on the prospect list a year or two ago but were no longer the shiny new boy everyone covets. I ended up with guys like Jesus Luzardo, Victor Robles, Ryan McMahon, and Clarke Schmidt. My first ten picks were all players under the age of 27, none were prospects. I took Oneil Cruz who has some roadblocks to get through but at pick 413 I was fine taking on the uncertainty. I also added Liover Peguero since you can never have too many Pirate shortstop prospects and a kid I got to see play locally in Tyler Soderstrom.
With 6 picks left I need to add two more prospects and a couple of bats. I do seem a bit light on power and may need to add a veteran with some pop. I’ll also add a couple more starters to try to maximize the two-start opportunities in this weekly league setup. Overall, I’m happy with the draft and feel like it would be competing for several years.
Kyle Brown (@CavghtLooking)
Diving into this mock analysis with no team to draft precluded my bias from rearing its ugly head and allowed me to find a couple of curious fallers. I simply cannot look past Brandon Lowe’s name coming off the board at #79 overall. Lowe made significant gains in both his walk and strikeout rates from his stellar rookie campaign in 2019, blasted more home runs (14) than any other 2B in 2020, and just turned 26! Players like Ozzie Albies, Keston Huira, Cavan Biggio, and Gavin Lux all went 35 picks before Lowe. Considering that he is likely to match or beat most of those players in home runs, OBP, Runs and RBI, I will happily take the discount. He’s not even a zero in the stolen base category. Sure, Lux and Huira could easily outpace Lowe in the future, but I tend to favor reliability over the unknown in the first 100 picks.
The second player that stood out to me is Julio Urias. It feels as if he has been around forever, and yet the kid just turned 24 a couple of months ago. His numbers in 2020 were far from jaw-dropping, but when drafting for a dynasty league I would much prefer Urias to some of the older or riskier names that came off the board before him such as Kyle Hendricks, Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, Sandy Alcantara, Mike Soroka, and Matt Manning. This was supposed to be the year that the kid gloves came off and he was given the chance to be a true blue member of the Dodger rotation. I could easily see him ride these dynamite playoff performances into a breakout campaign in 2021 that skyrockets his value into the stratosphere. All he has to do is figure out how to use his arsenal to generate more whiffs and his entire statcast page will bleed red. Urias’ development is far from complete. Getting him at 165 is a steal.
Bob Cyphers (@FZX_cyph21)
During the early rounds of this mock draft, the biggest takeaway of mine was the order of names off the board at third base. A recent TDG Roundtable entry identified Nolan Arenado as one player many members of the team felt would fall out of the first round of a typical 14-team startup draft, but I’m not sure anyone would have predicted him falling to 40th overall. Even more surprising to me were the names at the same position that went before him, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Manny Machado. I have to wonder if some recency bias goes into favoring Machado here, and I still can see the allure of the 21-year-old Vlad Jr., but it does seem a little disrespectful to someone with Arenado’s career numbers. Now I must admit I contributed to Arenado’s fall by selecting Anthony Rendon over him at pick 33, but I couldn’t pass him up in an OBP league. On a similar note, I was also surprised Alex Bregman lasted until pick 19 in an OBP league (H-Town hate driving down the price?).
Another point of interest from this mock was my selection in the sixth-round which was without a doubt one of, if not the biggest reach, of the draft by selecting Jasson Dominguez 153rd overall. He is only 17 years of age and has yet to make his professional debut, but he is already the top prospect in a stacked Yankees farm system. His age and the obvious number of years away from “The Show” make it certainly a debatable pick so early in a draft and prompted several others to remark they would never take such a flier on such a player. At the same time I heard several others say they had eyes on him and were also contemplating if the time was right so I’m glad I pulled the trigger when I did. His advanced physical frame and highly touted five-tool skill set, including a solid plus hit tool, could easily allow him to advance rapidly through the minor league and make his debut by 2023. To select Dominguez here certainly embodied the “go big or go home” mindset and it would be fun to watch a player like this rise through the ranks knowing he will eventually lead your fantasy team for years to come with a potential .300/30/30 stat line.
Brett Cook (@beautyofgrace32)
One thing that stuck out to me in this mock draft is how some players dropped significantly. We are coming to the end of the weirdest MLB season in the history of the league, and it has shown in our mock draft. Let me just address the elephant in the room. Are we being consistent all across the board in this “pressure cooker” season? Let me explain what I mean. Cody Bellinger was taken 8th overall in this mock after this short season. His OPS dropped almost .250 points and he was more in line to match his 2018 year than his career best 2019. I also understand that he is 25 years old and that this is dynasty, but still, hear me out. Taken 6th overall was Christian Yelich, who, according to statistics, had a worse year than Bellinger this year in pretty much everything but OBP. Once again, I get that he is 28 years old and that is a factor.
I am not throwing shade on anyone in the mock draft, just hear me on this. I passed on the last guy I am mentioning just like others did. Was it warranted though? Only time will tell. I picked Juan Soto, Dominic Smith, Corbin Burnes, and Luis Severino before I picked the last player I am building this argument around. With the 121st pick in the draft, I drafted Jose Altuve who is 30 years old, so older than the other two guys mentioned. One more thing to mention before I proceed is that I am aware that Jose Altuve had worse sabermetrics in comparison to the other two guys this season. At the end of the day they all had bad seasons and Altuve is the oldest of the three, but is this enough justification for how far Altuve dropped? Altuve was bad this year. Scratch that. He was really bad, but so were a lot of stars in this shortened season. Baez dropped about 30 spots in some rankings. Altuve dropped about 80-100 depending on where you get your rankings. What if we are all wrong and this year was a fluke season? My point being that if Bellinger and Yelich are top ten guys with their bad seasons, then, if we are factoring consistency, Altuve still has to be in the top fifty. If you can grab Jose Altuve at 121 you are getting a steal. You may be getting a steal at thirty as well.
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