It is now June, and we have yet to see a regular-season game of Major League Baseball. It might seem weird to have a mock draft amid uncertain times and the uncertainty surrounding baseball.

The good news is that there have been ongoing discussions between the MLB owners and the Player’s Association over the last few weeks. While questions remain, we remain hopeful that there will be baseball played in 2020.

At the point of this writing, we have seen the players propose a 114 game season, while the owners countered at 50-60 games. If you split the two numbers, you get roughly 80 games, which many have assumed for a while. Teams expect to be playing at their home stadiums, against other teams in similar geographic locations. It is also reasonably sure that there will be a universal designated hitter. All of these factors will have a significant impact on the way fantasy player will draft their teams. 

We at RotoFanatic held a 12-team, standard 5×5 roto mock draft to evaluate how things have changed over the past few months. The draft consisted of 28 rounds with a standard roto roster of all infield positions, five outfielders, corner and middle infield, one utility, and nine pitcher slots. 

The goal of the draft was to help fantasy baseball players see how particular player’s values have changed with what we now know about baseball. Many of the picks felt similar to what they would have in February or March. 

Certain players saw their values change based on the delayed season. The goal of this breakdown is to hear from a few of our drafters and get their thoughts on how things have changed and how we at RotoFanatic can help you in your upcoming fantasy drafts. 

You can find the link to the draft board: HERE

 

ADP Risers

*All ADPs listed are since May 1st on NFBC

 

Matt Olson: 1B, Oakland Athletics (NFBC ADP: 43.73)

Mock Selection: 25th Overall

 

Olson was selected with the first pick of the third round of our mock, 25th overall. 25th was well above his ADP on NFBC and the min pick of 31 since May 1st. Regardless, Olson has seen an enormous boost in ADP as the last few months have progressed. Looking at Olson’s ADP from the beginning of 2020 draft season, until the COVID shutdown, he was going at an average pick of 57. Olson going at pick 25th in the mock signifies that you believe he is going to do what Pete Alonso did last season. If you believe in breakout potential for Matt Olson for 2020, you will have to pay a pretty penny. 

 – Chris Clegg

Doug made a note during the draft that taking Olson so high was a gamble. I LOVE Olson this year in drafts, but taking him at pick 25 is still a gamble. I usually like to make sure bets for my first three picks, and Olson won’t win you a batting title. That said, he’s better than his ADP indicates.

Dave Funnell

Matt Olson at pick 25 is way too early for a guy whose production could be replicated 80 picks later with a guy like Rhys Hoskins. Doug is a wise fantasy guru, but either he was trying to make a statement with this choice, or he has a Fathead of Matt Olson on his wall at home. 

Michael Govier 

 I don’t see a reason to take Olson that much higher than Pete Alonso. What Alonso did last season is the best-case scenario for Olson, if he could even reach that. Taking Alonso 18 picks later seems like the no brainer value at first base. 

Ryan Venancio

Mid-Tier Starting Pitchers

This mock draft saw mid-tier starting pitchers get a considerable boost in draft value. Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Max Fried, Zac Gallen, James Paxton, and Lance McCullers are all pitchers that saw a bump in the mock. Most of these guys are also seeing a bump in their ADP over the last month. Starting pitching will likely continue to see a boost as drafts continue, and we move closer to baseball season. I want to highlight Jesus Luzardo, who has been a big riser in recent drafts.

 

Jesus Luzardo: SP, Oakland Athletics (NFBC ADP: 73.55)

Mock Selection: 77th Overall

 

 If we’re looking at a much shorter season, Luzardo isn’t much of value in the mid 70’s range. You’d be taking him over the likes of Brandon Woodruff, Mike Soroka, Zac Gallen, James Paxton, etc. I’m not sure that’s a smart choice given we don’t know how deep the Athletics will be willing to let Luzardo go into games. 

– Ryan Venancio

Luzardo is possibly the highest riser in ADP over the last few months. Before the shutdown, he had an average pick of 122. Over the last month, he has been going at an ADP of 73.55. A near 50 pick difference is tremendous. One of the biggest reasons is that Luzardo was an innings-limit pitcher who now could throw equal innings as other starters. One hundred innings might be the max innings pitched if we have an 80 game season, and Luzardo could be right in the mix along with other pitchers. I am a huge fan of Luzardo, but I am not sure that I can get on board at his current ADP.

Why? Because I still do not think Luzardo will be throwing more than five innings a start. Other pitchers going in this range will provide better numbers on a per-start basis. 

Let’s take a look at another player who has a similar ADP as Luzardo over the last month, and that is Zack Greinke. Last season, Greinke started 33 games and pitched 208 innings. Lets cut that in half and say Greinke gets 17 starts in a hypothetical 80 game season. Luzardo also starts regularly and gets equal starts to Greinke. If Greinke averages 6.3 innings per start similar to last year, and Luzardo averages five, Greinke throws 107 innings, and Luzardo ends up at 85. You end up getting 20 percent more production out of Greinke than Luzardo over a full season. With the innings-limit pitchers getting pushed up in drafts, I am less likely to take them, despite my love for Luzardo.

– Chris Clegg

 

ADP Fallers

Blake Snell: SP, Tampa Bay Rays (NFBC ADP: 55.36)

Mock Selection: 54th Overall

 

While the mock draft selection lines up pretty well with Snell’s ADP, he is a player that has trended downward in the last few months. Before the shutdown, Snell was going at an ADP of 37 overall. There are injuries concerns, but after listening to Dr. Stephen Lyman’s session during Pitcher List’s PitchCon conference, I feel much better about Snell. The more important question may be, will Snell play, even if he is healthy and there is a season? He could provide a high return on investment at his ADP if he is healthy and pitches the entire season.

– Chris Clegg

With the news that Snell isn’t’ going to have any restrictions when play starts back, you would think he goes back to his regular ADP. With how fantasy players fear injuries, a drop in ADP is not surprising. Going after Lucas Giolito and Yu Darvish, before Aaron Nola and Jose Berrios, looks about right. 

– Ryan Venancio

Justin Verlander: SP, Houston Astros (NFBC ADP: 20.73)

Mock Selection: 24th Overall

Verlander was the 7th SP off the board at the end of round two. Doug probably gets a bargain at pick 24, even if there is uncertainty for vets used to routines. 

– Michael Govier

Verlander going after Beiber and Clevinger makes him the best starting pitcher value in the draft. Though in recent NFBC leagues, that isn’t the case, he hasn’t dropped since March/April drafts. If players are scared of Verlander in your league, take advantage of the round or so discount. 

– Ryan Venancio

Justin Verlander was arguably one of the most valuable fantasy baseball contributors in 2019. Injury concerns have pushed him down draft boards, going from 13th overall before the pandemic to his 20.73 ADP since May 1st. Verlander has been recovering from groin surgery and a lat strain but will be ready for Opening Day, whenever that day is. 

While the injuries are a concern, Verlander, being the seventh starting pitcher off the board, feels like good value. His strikeout rate has been over 30 percent each of the last two seasons, and he struck out 300 batters last season. Even if his 2019 ERA regresses closer to his 2.95 SIERA, he is still a great value at his ADP. The fear is that father-time could catch up with the 37-year-old Verlander soon. But for now, give me Verlander if he gets to pick 25 or later.

– Chris Clegg

 

Draft Day Bargains

Adalberto Mondesi: SS, Kansas City Royals (NFBC ADP: 36.64)

Mock Selection: 64th Overall

 

Grabbing Mondesi in the 6th round was a robbery. He can lead the league in steals and give you double-digit power, even in a shortened season. I know others are down on him, but speed is expensive, yet Chris got it on sale. 

– Dave Funnell 

I was shocked to see Mondesi available when it came back to my turn in the sixth round. I am not the highest on him, but I could not let him slip any further. Speed is valuable, as shown by Mondesi’s ADP of 36, so you have to take it where you can get it. Mondesi is a guy that can provide half of your fantasy team’s stolen bases without killing you in power. If he falls, take the speed and run!

– Chris Clegg

 

Oscar Mercado: OF, Cleveland Indians (NFBC ADP 107)

Mock Selection: 137th Overall

 

Despite what his boys say, Mike had a good draft, and Oscar Mercado is evidence of that. He had a coming-out party in 2019, and the Indians will run a lot. Mercado will give a similar batting average like last year, but his speed could help win you a league.

– Dave Funnell

 

Will Smith: C, Los Angeles Dodgers (NFBC ADP 175.73)

Mock Selection: 215th Overall

 

While I don’t like to be biased, because I had some bad picks too, I was thrilled that I was able to snag this powerful beast near the end of my draft. He’s just outside the Top 5 of ranked catchers, has the starting job, and is in a great lineup.

– Dave Funnell

 

Luis Robert: OF, Chicago White Sox (NFBC ADP 78)

Mock Selection: 113th Overall

 

Luis Robert, at pick 113, is worth the risk for Chris at that spot. His current ADP is 78 on NFBC. If he steals the equivalent of 30 bases in a full season, then this pick is worth it. His value is much higher in dynasty, but for redraft leagues, this is right about the spot I would take a chance on him. I likely wouldn’t select him before pick 105 in roto, and I’d wait even longer in other formats. Playing for Charlotte in 2019 during his triple-A stint, he hit 16 HR in 47 games after hitting 8 in 56 games at double-A. Those numbers cause me to hesitate because it is a well-known launching pad in the International League. However, he did produce at all three minor league levels. He will eventually be a star, but will he produce at a rate worthy of pick #113 this season?

– Michael Govier

While Robert’s ADP has stayed pretty similar recently to what it was in early draft months, he fell in this mock. I have not been the highest on him for 2020, despite believing he will be a tremendous dynasty asset. When he was available at my pick at 113, I could not let him slip any longer. If just for the steals alone, I felt good about the return on investment he could provide at that pick. If he falls into the 100’s, I think he is a great value.

– Chris Clegg

 

Nelson Cruz, DH, Minnesota Twins (NFBC ADP: 69)

Mock Selection: 94th Overall

 

Even if he is nearly 40 years old, the production is still there. What you are getting from him won’t be all that different from Yordan Alvarez, who is going 60 picks earlier. In a shortened season, his age should not hurt him as much as if it was 162 games.

– Ryan Venancio 

 

Shohei Ohtani, SP/UT, Los Angeles Angels (NFBC ADP: 130): 

Mock Selection: 110th Overall

 

In a daily league, Ohtani is a superstar. You could make the argument he should be taken four to five rounds earlier with the potential of being a top-10 player. The ability to pitch effectively while providing you good hitting stats three to four days a week is infinitely valuable.  

– Ryan Venancio

 

Draft Day Gambles:

 

Aaron Judge: OF, New York Yankees (NFBC ADP 52.36)

Mock Selection: 75th Overall

 

While the pick looks like good value ADP-wise, but there’s no indication that Judge will come back healthy. So far, we’ve heard he could be on track, but there’s nothing definitive.

– Dave Funnell

 

Eloy Jimenez: OF, Chicago White Sox (NFBC ADP: 57.64)

Mock Selection: 40th Overall

 

Eloy Jimenez at pick 40 is another stretch for a guy who might not even bat in the top 6 of the lineup. Mike Carter must know something that we don’t because his ADP is more along the lines of pick 60. Franmil Reyes or Kyle Schwarber can easily replace Jimenez’s stats roughly 80 picks later. 

– Michael Govier 

 

D.J. LeMahieu: 2B, New York Yankees (NFBC ADP 60.27)

Mock Selection: 50th Overall

 

I cannot buy into the D.J. LeMahieu’s 2019 breakout at 31 years old. Before 2019, his career-high in home runs was 15, and that was spending seven seasons in Colorado with Coors Field as his home ballpark. I know Yankee Stadium is a hitter-friendly park, but LeMahieu likely won’t hit more than 20 home runs over a full season again. His home run per fly ball percent was over double his career average. That number should regress closer to his career norm in 2020. His average home run distance was 386 feet was one of the worst in baseball last season. LeMahieu is an excellent source of batting average, being a career .302 hitter. He should also be a great source of runs hitting at the top of the Yankees lineup. I have a hard time justifying a top 60 pick on what I think will be a two category contributor. 

– Chris Clegg

 

Closing Thoughts

As we seemingly get closer to the beginning of a shortened 2020 season, many things will probably be different for a new season. For instance, a universal DH presents an opportunity for additional hitters within games and thus added value. Players like Austin Riley, Shogo Akiyama, and AJ Pollock could all see a bump in value. Riley and Akiyama got drafted, while Pollock found himself on the waiver wire.

With a shortened season in a condensed timeline, we could see a rise in relief pitchers utilized in multi-inning and multi-game situations. Players like Drew Pomeranz, Seth Lugo, and the entire Yankees bullpen all have some value due to an increase in opportunity. 

Finally, rookies or second-year players could have added value due to an expanded roster. Nate Pearson, Alec Bohm, and Dylan Carlson should all get a bump in value. 

We are in unprecedented times. Either way, the upcoming season will be one that will be memorable for a lot of different reasons. 

– Dave Funnell

Thinking back to March 8th as I drafted in my home league, I recall my biggest concern was Willie Calhoun’s jaw. Now, Willie is most likely healed up and ready to swing his bat like a boss. Many fortunes have changed for a host of players since this shutdown took hold. 

Players known to be prone to injury may now benefit from a season that, at maximum, will be 82 games. Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Correa, Adam Eaton, Clayton Kershaw, and Gary Sanchez are just some of the names that don’t have to run out an entire season of increased opportunities for damage. 

Those who found themselves on the IL in the spring now have a new lease on the 2020 season. James Paxton, Eugenio Suarez, Aaron Judge (the Yankees have serious training staff issues), and Shohei Ohtani will be opening day contributors. 

Then, there are the long shots that would not have been ready to contribute to their squads. Mitch Haniger may now be closer to taking the field than he was at the beginning of March. Carlos Rodon had his elbow procedure in May of 2019 and was hoping to be of service for the Sox by July. If there are larger pitching staffs as a result of a lack of off-days, even if he is a reliever, he could be a boost for those of you who play in holds or K-per-9 leagues. 

The same goes for former AL Rookie Of The Year Michael Fulmer. He had Tommy John surgery in March of 2019. He should be ready to contribute for a pitching starved Tigers team that would love for him to thrive so they can ship him out for assets later. 

Even a guy like David Robertson now has a legit closer value for 2020. The Phillies will be in the hunt for the division this year. With their chaotic bullpen, he could be in line for saves with his former Yankee manager Joe Girardi at the helm. 

A lot has changed in March, but as you can see, there are silver linings to this long, drawn-out delay. If a season does take place (the NBA has a deal in principle to gear up at the end of July), the list of players with increased value in this summer sprint may be more profound than we imagined.

– Michael Govier 

Everything has changed since the first round of fantasy baseball draft’s in February and March. Based on what we know, there will be a shortened season. The number of games remains unknown, but it will not be a full 162 game season. Some players who were injured and expected to miss opening day will now be ready at the start of the season. Fantasy baseball will be bizarre this year. 

Here are a few pieces of advice for a shortened season. First, be willing to adapt. Right now, there are so many uncertainties surrounding baseball. As details hopefully continue to unfold, be prepared to adjust your rankings and player evaluations based on what we learn. I hope this mock draft will show you that things have changed, and you may need to adjust during drafts.

My second piece of advice is not to overreact. A shortened season will lead to small samples and cause strange things to happen. Players will go through rough stretches, which will seem magnified because fewer games will be played. Those same players could also get hot at the right time and win you a league. 

This leads me to my last piece of advice; ride the hot streaks. Last season, Aristides Aquino was a league-winning pickup for many players. He seemingly came out of nowhere to hit 19 home runs and steal seven bases in just 56 games. If a player gets hot, grab them and ride the streaks. For the first time, this fantasy season will feel more like a sprint than a marathon.

– Chris Clegg