How does a group of experts, called to do a points league mock draft in the middle of a pandemic with locked-down teams, draw for spots and fill out rosters? By Round 15, picking those sleepers got much harder.
With the start of the 2020 season seemingly right there on the horizon, all I can say is to look around, look around at how lucky we are to have a mock right now. Nine other fantasy pundits were in the draft room where it happened -- all prepared to send a metaphorical, fully armed battalion to remind us of the players whom they love.
In addition to myself, what's their names, man? Tristan H. Cockcroft, Eric Karabell, Kyle Soppe, Pierre Becquey, Todd Zola, Joe Kaiser, Dan Mullen, Ryan Bissell and Lee Singer.
A random draw saw me saddled with the sixth overall pick. Hopefully, no one matches my tactical brilliance as I make my way through the process of assembling my baseball army. I don't know about history, but certainly, you have your eyes on me. Something tells me you will never be satisfied, but I'm pretty sure I'm not throwing away my shot to impress you. Check out the full results of the H2H points mock draft.
The world turned upside down
The first overall pick was Gerrit Cole. Apparently, Tristan believes that in New York you can be a new man. Actually, he'd probably prefer he not be all that new. Matching last year's ratios (2.50 ERA, 0.895 WHIP and 13.8 K/9? That would be enough. Some of the selections here, when compared to the roto format, may seem a bit topsy-turvy. Mike Trout went at No. 9 here after going third overall in Wednesday's roto mock and Pete Alonso dropped to No. 53 from No. 27, because his expected high strikeout total is going to cost him far more dearly in this format. Additionally, you should note that, in addition to Cole, there were three other starting pitchers taken in Round 1, and seven total SPs over the first two rounds (compared to just a pair of first-rounders and five total in the first 20 picks in roto.)
I'm willing to wait for it
With the No. 6 pick, I took Ronald Acuna Jr. because I'm of the mind his contact rate can greatly improve, diminishing any negative impact of his free-swinging ways. Because of the very peculiar nature of the 2020 campaign, and with starting pitchers potentially not working deep enough into games to earn victories, I decided to forego selecting traditional aces and instead lean on guys who may be innings-eaters with potentially easier strengths of schedule. Hence, my rotation has the likes of Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Hendricks and Joe Musgrove. The key here being that not a single one of them will have to face the powerful lineups of the East. And if any (or several) of them stumble? Well, that's why there's a waiver wire. In fantasy baseball, you can always raise a glass to your struggling hurlers' freedom so that "tomorrow there'll be more of us" who get the job done.
Washington on your side
In any 60-game stretch, there are no guarantees. In fact, one of the more frequently bandied about stats from last season is that the Washington Nationals went just 27-33 over the first 60 games of 2019 and, hence, would not have made the playoffs if last year had been a season of similar length. Nevertheless, the Nationals are the defending world champs and should score even more runs per game this season with the universal DH. Man, this team is non-stop! That's why, where I could, I actively selected from Washington's roster. Welcome to the fold Trea Turner, Victor Robles and even Eric Thames, a big beneficiary of Ryan Zimmerman's decision not to play. (I had been expecting to add Howie Kendrick instead, but he was somewhat surprisingly taken in Round 12, which is why I later pivoted to Thames for my late-draft 1B needs.) I also added Sean Doolittle, as I'm expecting the high run support to earn him more than his fair share of wins and saves. It must be nice.
I can't say no to this
Yes, there are players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Cody Bellinger whose very presence at the plate make opposing teams feel outgunned and outmanned. That said, there are a bevy of middle-infield options who rise up in the context of points leagues where the mere act of belting homers isn't in and of itself all that important. I'm of the mindset that loading up on players like Fernando Tatis Jr., Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Tommy Edman (which I did!) is a great way to lay a strong enough foundation to your fantasy lineup, especially when you're seeing other fantasy managers simply playing "following the leader" and responding to runs, rather than sticking to their own personal rankings lists.
What'd I miss?
From Tiger King to murder hornets, 2020 has not been a normal year. There is no more status quo, but the sun comes up and the world still spins -- and you're always going to have players who you like ripped from your clutches a mere pick or two before you're ready to claim them as your own. In this mock, the most heartbreaking times when I heard the dreaded beeping sound notifying me that a queue-list poaching had taken place came at the expense of Shane Bieber, Jose Berrios, Nick Anderson, Matthew Boyd and Wilson Ramos. Awesome. Wow.
... and Miggy
If we were playing a full 162-game slate, then I'd worry about some of the more veteran options potentially having endurance issues. This season's sprint-like nature makes me far more inclined to take a chance on MLB's geriatric set rediscovering their mojo one last time. After all, it's just a 60-game sample. This might be something of a last hurrah for the likes of Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, but I'm banking on at least one of them being able to teach us how to say goodbye with a surprisingly rewarding swan song. In the last five rounds, why not go in this direction, rather than leaning on some 19-year-old diamond in the rough or shiny piece of coal? It's only a matter of time.
The final word
Don't draft Billy Hamilton. I mean it, don't draft Billy Hamilton. There's a million things he hasn't done. Please don't wait. Don't you wait.