As I’ve mentioned before, the baseball season never really ends for me. Sure the playoffs are over, but that just means it is time to put both eyes on 2010. With that in mind, I started a mock draft over at the BaseballHQ.com forums (membership required) with 12 other members. It’s a slow mock at the forum that uses the standard 5×5 categories except eliminating AVG and replacing it with OBP. One thing I asked of the participants was their mindset behind the picks. Mock drafts are great tools on their own, but they are even better when you can see where someone is coming from with their picks, especially if it’s a pick you don’t necessarily agree with. I will share the first round with you now. I’m picking 7th in this draft.
1.01 Albert Pujols 1B, STL
I feel the first pick is a no-brainer heading into next season. As HQ readers know, it’s all about reliability in the early rounds. Pujols is not only the most highly skilled player in the MLB player pool, but he’s also the most reliable one. In reference to Ron’s Portfolio 3 Plan, this is a Tier 1 skill set if there ever was one. From a skills perspective, Pujols is money in the bank for a CT% around 90%, a PX around 160, and a BB% around 15%. From a results perspective, this truly unique skill set should once again translate into a Roto line of roughly 0.330 / 40 / 120 / 10 / 120. Enjoy Albert Pujols, HQ readers; we’re unlikely to ever see a better hitter in our lives.
My thoughts: Duh.
1.02 Hanley Ramirez SS, FLA
Big surprise, huh? There are actually a few warning signs here: While many expected the SB to decline as it did, PX also fell from 148 to 130 (145 1st half and 116 in 2nd half). And the BA boost was largely driven by a high h% (38%) as XBA shows (.289).
Still, that drop-off was meager in comparison to how the other top SS performed in 2009. He’s likely to be the best at a scarce position and contribute to all 5 categories (2 years in a row with a bb% >=10%), so he’s my pick.
My thoughts: Again, duh. Pujols and Ramirez are my easy 1-2. If someone wanted to make a case for a few other players after Pujols, I would listen, but I stand by Ramirez as my choice.
1.3 Utley, Chase (2B) PHI
What hip injury/surgery?? Solid 5-cat producer. Great line-up, great stadium.The number of MI, esp. 2B (Cano, Hill, Alexei, Phillips, Rollins and Polonco further down the scale) who’s roto value is driven (at least partially) by batting average who also have low BB% is noteworthy, so a some-what position scarcity pick,esp. in an OBP league. Also there should be alot of top tier 1B and OF there at the end of the 2nd round. And it is too early for a catcher.
Hopefully Mr. November carries on next year.
My thoughts: These first three played out exactly how I ranked the top three. I think Utley is underrated to a degree, amongst his other superstar brethren. There is more power at 2B than I think most realize, but only Utley has a track record of excelling in all five categories.
1.4 Rodriguez, Alex (3B) NYY
Certainty is at a premium for such an early pick and ARod’s return from significant surgery was above expectations. Slipping in many drafts in 09, he made those who ignored him, pay.
In an OBP league, he’s golden — from August til the end of the season, he soared and showed no signs of fatigue, displaying both power and speed in symbiosis with a great eye, on a consistent basis. In a year where there are doubts about his heir apparent, David Wright, ARod’s like fine wine — Wright’s slippage into a weak-hitting basestealer profile, enhances ARod’s value at the top.
Since ARod was able to post solid numbers in a year where all odds were stacked against him (enhanced media scrutiny, scandal, PEDs, major surgery), there is no reason to doubt that ARod will provide his usual output over the course of 2010.
My thoughts: This is the first pick that diverts from my top 12. That doesn’t make it wrong, of course. For one, my top 12 assumes a standard 5×5 league with batting average. And for two, I think things really jumble up 4-10 with little difference between the seven players within that range. I had Matt Kemp there, but I think A-Rod is a fine pick. A-Rod has had an OBP below .392 once since 2000 and it was .375!
1.05 Ryan Braun OF, MLW
Braun provides strong power/speed combination, is in a good lineup, is still young, and though his relatively low walk rate results in OBP fluctuation, his strong XBA indicates that he is likely to be solid in that category, which may be his weakest.
My thoughts: Back on track with top 12 as I had Braun fifth. How ridiculous has this guy been in his first three seasons? He seems to be getting better, which is absurd given how amazing he was during his rookie season. Another stud that does it in all five categories.
1.06 Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
This pick is contrary to the position scarcity or difficult category (speed) approach. However, it seemed to me that the best first round choices left were outfielders and first baseman. I chose Teixeria based on his his consistent high performance for the last 5 years. During this time he has excelled in 4 of our 5 categories and has been extremely reliable which I think is essential for a 1st round pick.
I also like the fact that he is the #3 hitter in the Yankee lineup which should result in numerous opportunities to produce runs.
My thoughts: Big Teix has recently crept into my top 12 with Justin Morneau having some uncertainty surrounding him in 2010. Imagine how scary Teixeira’s season will be if he ever starts off hot and then has his usual torrid summer.
1.07 – Matt Kemp, OF – Los Angeles Dodgers
A budding superstar that contributes massively to four of the five categories we’re using. He’s better in batting average leagues, but he’s hardly a liability with his .350ish OBP. It’s not out of bounds to see him as a 40-40 candidate going forward. That would be the 99th percentile of his potential, but it exists. For now, I’d happily take 30-30 with improved plate discipline taking the OBP up above .360.
My thoughts: Well my thoughts are up there already since this was my pick. I love Kemp. As I mentioned earlier, Kemp is #4 in my top 12, but like I said that is for AVG leagues. I wouldn’t have taken Kemp fourth in this OBP league, but I was pleased to get him at #7.
1.08 – Prince Fielder, 1B – Milwakee Brewers
Compare these 2 5X5(w/obp)
Player A .441 / 47 / 124 / 16 / 135
Player B .409 / 46 / 103 / 2 / 141
Player A is Pujols and Player B is Prince Fielder. IMO Pujols at #1 is a no-brainer but at #8 a guy with the skill set of Prince Fielder is absolutely impossible to pass up. Also given the fact that he has hit 50 homers in 2007 and he’s entering his prime years as he doesn’t turn 26 until May. A 16% bb rate, a .080 eye and a 190 PX are hard to ignore.
My thoughts: I think Fielder has two or three more 50-home run seasons in his career, which is quite a feat when you consider the league leader had 47 in 2009. He just set a career-high in walks, and by extension OBP, with 110. I don’t necessarily understand the comparison w/Pujols here, but it was a good pick.
1.09 – Joe Mauer C- Minnesota Twins
Mauer is 26 and is heading into his prime hitting years. I believe he new found power is for real (28 HR in 2009). With this league using OBP over Avg it does’t hurt his value as Mauer lead MLB in OBP at .444. I believe that gap between Mauer and the #2 C is larger then any other #1 vs. #2 at any position. I am targeting him with this slot in a very similar league, so I appreciate all comments
My thoughts: I’m in the small, but growing camp that likes Mauer as a first rounder next year. There are reasons for caution in drafting him too high, but I think the power holds for the most part (around 25 home runs) while his OBP is game-changing. Despite all the talk about how Mauer is “injury-prone”, he’s managed 521 or better at-bats in three of the last four season. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a perfect range for a catcher. I’ll take another 520 out of Mauer in 2010 with a late first round pick.
1.10 Tim Lincecum, SP – San Francisco
Well I def would have taken Mauer and I’m now looking at some players that all have some type of ?. I hate doing this but I’ll take Tim Lincecum. My reason for this is there are a handful of bats available that I tossed around here and I believe at least one of them will still be available when the choice gets back to me. I’m unsure if Tim will be and honestly believe it really isn’t a reach here.
My thoughts: I don’t take pitchers in the first round, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just my preference to avoid them. Lincecum is the best of the bunch so if you’re going to take one, you might as well grab the best.
1.11 Ryan Howard, 1B PHI
A lot of good choices and fairly equal at this stage of the draft. Locking up a solid HR/RBI contributor seems like a “good idea”. he’s consistent and that lineup around looks solid for another year or two.
My thoughts: He’s a tremendous power producer, but I’d like to see get back to the .425, .392 OBP-levels he had 2006 and 2007 if I’m taking him over a handful of others still on the board.
1.12 Carl Crawford, OF TB
With an “elbow” pick, it’s important not only to see what is available, but see what’s around the corner. I see good HR/RBI guys to be had… but not many rock solid speed options. This is the one.
My thoughts: I love Crawford in 2010. I have him 6th in my top 12. He bounced back from the only down season of his career and I expect more excellence in 2010.
1.13 Miguel Cabrera, 1B DET
The best run-producing option left; one year in the next five, he is going to approach a 10-win season.
My thoughts: I’m not sure how Cabrera lasted this long, but it’s a great pick at 13. I assume the drafter means Wins Above Replacement when he speaks of a 10-win season.