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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Pitching in the Last 9 Rounds?

Confession time! This mock draft series is almost completely self-serving.

I’ve been a “baseball guy” since I was writing team previews as a sixth grader. Baseball is my life’s passion.

BUT, as Managing Editor here at FantraxHQ, I edit every piece of content that graces these virtual pages. When football season comes around, like it or not, much of my attention is forced to that side of things and I inevitably lose track of fantasy baseball for much of the second half. I hate this, but it’s just a part of my reality.

So this mock draft series is in large part a way to get myself caught back up, and reacquaint myself with the 2024 player pool.

The good news is that we can all benefit from these mock drafts. I’m going to try out different draft strategies and see how the resulting teams look.

Pitching Last Mock Draft

In this first mock draft I’m going to look at how a team might look if you used all your top picks to build an unstoppable offense, and then used your last nine picks to build a pitching staff that might at least get to the middle of the pack. It’s not a draft strategy I would ever use in a money league, but it’s most definitely going to be a fun exercise.

The Mock Draft Process

To expedite this process I’m going to use the FantasyPros Draft Simulator. It’s a virtual tool that uses the rankings of the top experts in the industry to draft against you. This great free tool lets you complete a mock draft in a matter of minutes and then allows you to analyze the draft in a variety of ways. It also grades your draft and projects the standings based on the rankings and projections of the industry experts.

The simulator also offers draft suggestions during the draft and allows you to see where your team stands in each category as the draft progresses. Wouldn’t it be nice to have these tools available for your actual drafts? Good news, the FantasyPros Draft Assistant allows just that and it can connect to drafts on Fantrax and a number of lesser fantasy sports platforms.

I’ve got a huge ego when it comes to baseball, so I don’t use the draft suggestions much, but this tool does a great job of tracking the player pool and how your team stacks up at any moment in the draft. I don’t care how good you are, the Draft Assistant is an incredibly useful tool.

The Setup

I set this mock draft up as a 12-team mixed 5×5 league with 14 hitters and nine pitchers. I’m old school so I did have two catchers and one utility slot. I also opted to give myself the No. 1 overall pick because I could. If I’m going to build the world’s best offense, of course, I want to start it out with Mr. 40/70 himself.

For this exercise, I used my first 14 picks on hitters and then tried to build as good a pitching staff as possible. Let’s see how it went.

My Roster

Below is the team I was able to build. I won’t bore you with the exact order, but My first pick was that Acuna guy. As you’ll see below my offense was indeed just about as good as you could imagine.

My pitching staff has a ton of risk but it’s also filled with many of the upside arms I’ll be targeting this year.

Javier was a top-25 pitcher as recently as 2022, and Greene and Lodolo have a ton of strikeout upside even if their ballpark means the ratios won’t always be pretty. Pivetta was one of the best pitchers in baseball over the second half of 2023 and it’s certainly possible that he finally learned how to use his considerable talents. Maeda and Cortes should provide stable numbers as long as they can stay healthy.

Maybe the hardest part of this mock draft was trying to get the starting pitchers I liked while also somehow competing in the saves category. In Alverado and Suarez I have two potential closers with high strikeout upside, but they are far from sure things. I might have been better off with this strategy if I just dumped saves and piled on a few more upside arms.

In an ideal world, I don’t draft so much risk on one pitching staff, but in this type of mock draft, I think it was the way to go.

Mock Draft Roster

Position Strengths

The Draft Simulator provides a graphical look at how your team projects at each position. As you would expect, my pitching is a weakness. I also waited too long at shortstop, though I do think Volpe will be better in his second season.

Position Strengths

Projected Standings

Below are the projected standing in the league and how my team might compete in the various categories.

Mock Draft Projected Standings

So, in theory, I built a team that was projected to win this imaginary league. We all know that these projections don’t always live up to reality but this at least hints that such an unorthodox strategy might not be as crazy as we thought.

Position Ranks

Position Ranks

No surprises here. My hitters were the best in the pretend league. Of course, with this strategy, it would be pretty embarrassing if they weren’t. And my pitching isn’t last! Low standards, I know.

Hitting Categories

Hitting Categories

As expected the offense I built would dominate this league. The Draft Simulator did show me two different selections that would have bumped me up even more. Drafting Sean Murphy and Thairo Estrada instead of Salvador Perez and Christopher Morel would have moved me up in stolen bases and batting average if these projections held true.

Even with my super-sized ego, exercises like this can improve my sense of roster construction. Even with this extreme strategy, little decisions can make big differences.

Pitching Categories

Pitching Categories

FantasyPros has hurt my feelings. How dare they say such horrible things about my WHIP and ERA! Of course, this is not too surprising. I’m tempted to go back and do this again and dump the saves and see if a couple more high-upside arms might have gained me five or six points in strikeouts and wins.

I am a sucker for you high-strikeout arms, so maybe I’m delusional, but I do think the pitching staff I built could certainly capture more points than these projections give them. That would take a lot of things to go right though.

Can You Win With a Pitching-Last Strategy?

Would I ever try this strategy in a real league? Probably not but I do think it would be possible to compete in a 12-team league with something close to this. In deeper leagues, it would be harder to build that extreme offense and the pitchers that were available later would have nowhere near the upside I was able to garner in this mock draft.

The problem with extreme strategies like this is that they can fall apart very easily. What if I suffer injuries to two or three of my key hitters? My offense falls closer to the middle of the pack and my pitching doesn’t have the horses to help balance things out.

Mock It Out!

One thing is clear though; you have to use mock drafts as a tool to help you learn the player pool inside and out and to help you improve your sense of roster construction.

Use the FantasyPros Draft Simulator to learn how different draft decisions can affect the standings in a league and then head on over to the Fantrax Mock Draft Lobby to try it out on the very best fantasy sports draft platform in existence!

Then connect the FantasyPros Draft Assistant to your Fantrax Fantasy Baseball League and have your very best season ever.

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