Picks of the litter: MLB.com's mock draft

Picks of the litter: MLB.com's mock draft

In December 2006, the "MLB.com Fantasy 411" crew conducted a three-round Mock Draft for the 2007 season. The participants were made up of six of the show's experts and six of its regulars:

Mike Siano
MLB.com Fantasy 411 Host

Cory Schwartz
MLB.com Director of Stats and Fantasy 411 Host

Vinny Micucci
MLB.com Baseball Today and Fantasy 411 Host

Alex Cushing
MLB.com Fantasy Writer

Joe Sheehan
Baseball Prospectus Senior Writer

Will Carroll
Baseball Prospectus Senior Writer

Jeffrey Ma
Protrade.com Senior Writer

Neighbor Steve
Fantasy 411 Hall of Famer

Mitch "Dr. Stats" Watnik
Fantasy 411 Hall of Famer

Going Postal
Fantasy 411 Hall of Famer

Johnny Archive
Fantasy 411 Hall of Famer

Bruce in GC
Fantasy 411 Hall of Famer

A round-by-round recap with commentary from each manager follows.

ROUND 1

Pick 1, Neighbor: Albert Pujols
Even though he doesn't have the position eligibility for third base that he used to, a big-time track record to put up stud numbers for Phat Albert is the closest thing to a guarantee that there is in Fantasy. He always has the potential for a record-setting year and a Triple Crown run if healthy.

Pick 2, Cushing: Jose Reyes
Reyes took dramatic steps forward in every facet of the game during the 2006 season, going from a pretty face with raw talent to a mature young man with newfound plate patience and power. Oh yeah, he also led the Majors with 64 steals. And he's still just 23 years old.

Pick 3, Watnik: Carlos Beltran
Give me Carlos Beltran. He should be a five-category contributor (his average was relatively iffy last year) and a three-category stud yet again. Assuming he's injury-free, his near-MVP numbers could be MVP-caliber. Plus, having Carlos Delgado, David Wright and Moises Alou behind him and Reyes in scoring position is good news.

Pick 4, Carroll: Joe Mauer
OK, this was a tougher pick than I thought. There were three guys I looked at hard for this, but in the end, I went with positional scarcity over positional flexibility and last year's results. I'm taking Joe Mauer. There's no other catcher and very few hitters with his type of talent. I can get a power-hitting first baseman later -- I hope.

Pick 5, Schwartz: Carl Crawford
It's hard to pass up on my beloved Vladdy here, but Crawford's combination of speed and run production makes him the right choice. He doesn't have the big run totals of many other burners, but he's a consistent .300 hitter and has shown that his power development hasn't been a fluke, either. Just a slight uptick in the walk rate and a more productive lineup could enable him to have a Rickey Henderson-type peak. And since he'll be only 25 on Opening Day, there's plenty of time for him to grow into it.

Statistical Breakdown, First-Round Picks
Pick
Player
Pos.
Average
HR
RBIs
R
SB
1Albert Pujols1B.331491371197
2Jose ReyesSS.300198112264
3Carlos BeltranOF.2754111612718
4Joe MauerC.3471384868
5Carl CrawfordOF.30518778958
6Alex Rodriguez3B.2903512111315
7Alfonso SorianoOF.277469511941
8Chase Utley2B.3093210213115
9Miguel TejadaSS.33024100996
10Lance Berkman1B/OF.31545136953
11Ryan Howard1B.313581491040
12Derek JeterSS.343149711834

Pick 6, Siano: Alex Rodriguez A-Rod at No. 6 is pretty sweet. He didn't live up to his No. 1 or No. 2 overall billing last year, but I don't think he will buckle under the pressure of being sixth. This guy is so capable of a monster year, it's impossible to ignore. His "bad" year of '06 is still worth the risk.

Pick 7, Archive: Alfonso Soriano
Well, my predraft board is done! I had Cushing taking Ian Snell and Siano taking a "Coco" (probably Puffs). Anyway, after considering all offers from teams trying to move up in the draft -- and there were some heated talks -- I would like to proudly announce that the Archivers have reached a multiyear agreement with the '06 Fantasy MVP, shortstop (pokes Siano) ... I mean, outfielder Alfonso Soriano.

Pick 8, Bruce in GC: Chase Utley
With the eighth pick, I'm going to have to take the second baseman who stands out above the rest. This man is a true five-category contributor at a very scarce position. I'll take 28-year-old Chase Cameron Utley. It's hard to pass up on a .300 average, 100-plus runs and RBIs, 30-plus dingers and 15 swipes.

Pick 9, Sheehan: Miguel Tejada
With all of the obvious choices (and Mauer) gone, I'm left choosing among some older guys and guys who generally either steal bases or hit homers. The good news is, I pick again from this pool in a few minutes.

I'll take Miguel Tejada, knowing I'll have to make up the steals later on. If everyone around him is healthy and the lineup does what it should, Miggy could drive in 150 runs like he did in 2005.

Pick 10, Micucci: Lance Berkman
I decided ultimately to take Lance Berkman. My thinking is that here's a guy who will hit over .300 with 40 homers and 130 RBIs in a bandbox in Houston. Although Ryan Howard's numbers are attractive, Philadelphia remains in limbo with a backup bat for him, and Houston added Carlos Lee. If Berkman has those kind of numbers in a poor lineup, imagine if he got some help.

Pick 11, Ma: Ryan Howard
I'm hearing from my good friend Pat Burrell that Howard is determined to be a five-category star this season and has been training with Ty Law's trainer this offseason. His goal is to steal more than 40 bases, so he can get VIP treatment at Jay Z's clubs. Seriously, though, I think Howard is a steal with the 11th pick. Positional scarcity aside, you have to like the reigning NL MVP at age 27 and playing in a complete hitters' park.

Pick 12, Postal: Derek Jeter
I had thought about taking Utley with this pick, but since he's already gone, I will be forced to gamble. With my first pick, I select Derek Jeter. He is 32 but certainly looks to still be in his prime, having played in more than 150 games in nine of the past 10 seasons. His speed/power mix should do just fine.

ROUND 2

Pick 13, Postal: Carlos Lee
With my first pick in the second round, and knowing that I will not select again for 22 more picks, I can't bring myself to pick the Best Pitcher in Baseball, Johan Santana. I need a big bat, and plenty are left on the table -- Vlad, Manny, Papi. I will also pass on my boy David Wright and take C-Lee, who could be an offensive monster in Houston in 2007 if he keeps his weight under 300.

Pick 14, Ma: Johan Santana
Just so much better than the next starting pitcher that he is hard to pass up here.

Pick 15, Micucci: Miguel Cabrera
With one corner infielder already in tow, I will head to the other side and pick Miguel Cabrera. I contemplated what categories I wanted to attack here, and I have decided that Cabrera has a great chance to grab them all. Here is a player who's entering his fifth season in the Majors and will battle for a batting title once again. In addition to the homers and RBIs in a surprisingly talented Marlins lineup, he had a career-high nine steals in 2006. I am hoping that number can be more like 15 this season. For the record, had Santana not gone one pick earlier, I would have taken him, since this is clearly as far down in the draft as he might fall.

Pick 16, Sheehan: Grady Sizemore
Cabrera was actually the other guy I'd narrowed it down to. Sizemore might be a small reach here, but since I took Miggy in the first round, I decided to take a shot on some upside rather than grab one of the older hitters still floating around.

Pick 17, Bruce in GC: Vladimir Guerrero
I'm really surprised to see this guy fall all the way into the second round. I'm going to take Vlad the Impaler. I'll be happy to have his .310 average, 30-plus bombs and 100-plus runs and RBIs. And I'll top off this Guerrero Cake with a smattering of 10-15 steals.

Pick 18, Archive: David Ortiz
My first instinct was to take Derrek Lee, who could be a nice semi-sleeper after his injury-riddled '06 season. However, injuries seem to just keep happening to some players, and for some reason, I feel I should go "safer" here. So give me Big Papi, please.

Pick 19, Siano: Travis Hafner
I'll stay with the DH theme by picking Pronk. My heart told me Manny, but my head said Hafner, who played in one less game than Manny last season but was more productive overall. Love a guy who scores 100 runs, knocks in 117, bats over .300 and hits 42 bombs.

Pick 20, Schwartz: David Wright
Sheehan might think Sizemore is dreamy, but he hasn't seen how the ladies swoon over D-Wright. And what's not to like? He's only 24 but already has back-to-back stellar seasons of power, run production, strong plate discipline and even 15-20 steals. He's a borderline first-round pick, making him a steal this late in the second round. The sky is the limit.

Pick 21, Carroll: Ichiro Suzuki
Maybe this pick won't be as roundly taunted ... Ichiro Suzuki. Like Cal Ripken 15 years ago, Ichiro can singlehandedly anchor your squad. Where Ripken had so many plate appearances that an off year could kill your batting average, Suzuki will allow me to look at someone like Adam Dunn in a later round. Add in the plus steals, and Ichiro's a guy I can't believe is still on the board.

Pick 22, Watnik: Matt Holliday
At pick 22, I get someone who hit 34 dingers with 119 runs, 114 RBIs, a .326 average and double-digit steals in 2006. He may be a slight risk, as his track record isn't as long as, say, Ichiro's, but playing 81 games at Coors Field and his youth make me think that he'll justify my faith.

Pick 23, Cushing: Jason Bay
I can't decide whether I'd rather own the players taken in the second round or the first. My, how the talent level has evened out in the upper echelon. In Bay, here's hoping that a little more Pittsburgh protection in his age-29 season will translate into .300-40-120-15.

Pick 24, Neighbor: Manny Ramirez
Since it's looking like he'll be still hitting behind Big Papi in 2007, I'll take the risk with Manny at, ironically, his No. 24. Even though he's not my favorite player and his health is a concern, he's too much of a value pick to pass up at the end of the second round. He's a great example of how a top player with a concern or two can fall in drafts, and we all know a typical Manny year is .320-35-120, given 500 at-bats. I can't let that potential slip any further. If I didn't have Big Al at first already, I would have taken the reigning American League MVP. But this is the reason I like drafts to be on either March 30 or March 31.

ROUND 3

Pick 25, Neighbor: Hanley Ramirez
At No. 25, I'll take care of my need for speed and a young stud with Hanley Ramirez. He blew away expectations and had a Reyes/Crawford-type rookie year in 2006. Did I mention he's young with a ton of upside? I really liked the way he finished last season, too.

Pick 26, Cushing: Aramis Ramirez
Strange how Manny slipped my mind even though he's one of the top sluggers of the past 10 years. Speaking of Ramirezes, I'll make it a hat trick with Aramis. Another 29-year-old slugger, the Cubs third baseman flashed MVP offense in the second half of 2006, hitting .328 with 22 homers, 67 RBIs and an absurd .653 slugging percentage. How surprised would anyone be if he cranked 45 long balls with a .315 batting average in 2007? The mere thought led me away from cornering the market on steals and shortstops by taking Jimmy Rollins.

Pick 27, Watnik: Jimmy Rollins
For my last glorious pick, I'll take Larry Bowa's favorite shortstop ... Jimmy Rollins, who's averaged more than 120 runs, 17 homers, 35 steals, 70 RBIs over the past three seasons. Does Horacio Ramirez have that kind of track record?

Pick 28, Carroll: Bobby Abreu
I'm going to go with Bobby Abreu. I love the way he fits into the Yankees lineup, and a full season of that can only mean good things. I'm a bit worried about the lack of homers, but there's no more complete player still available.

Pick 29, Schwartz: Mark Teixeira
My options: Derrek Lee, Justin Morneau, Vernon Wells, Michael Young and many more. My choice: Mark Teixeira, who rebounded from a brutal first half last year to put up second-half numbers comparable to those of his 2005 season. Interestingly, he did this without swinging the bat well in home games, but Ameriquest Field is a very favorable offensive environment, so I expect Tex to put together another big season in '07: .285 with 40-plus homers, 110 or more RBIs and 100 or so runs.

Pick 30, Siano: Justin Morneau
To me, it came down to Wells and Morneau, and since I ignored speed by taking Hafner, I'll keep it up by taking Morneau's three steals over Vernon's 17. I still don't have an outfielder, but I feel with A-Rod, Pronk and the reigning AL MVP, I'm loaded for the gun show.

Pick 31, Archive: Michael Young
OK, who would compliment Soriano and Big Papi? How about a batting-champ-type shortstop? Sounds good to me. I'll take Michael Young, please.

Pick 32, Bruce in GC: Vernon Wells
I tend to agree with Cory that outfield is the position with the most scarcity. A standard 12-team league will require 60 outfielders. In 2006, only 32 outfielders hit 20-plus homers and/or had 10-plus stolen bases. I'm going to back up my second-round pick of Vlad with another stud outfielder hitting in the heart of the lineup. Wells just signed an extension, and he's only 28 -- a magical age. I look for Wells to improve on his numbers from 2006 and go for 30-plus homers and 20-plus stolen bases. Give me the double "V" in the outfield. Vernon and Vlad are taking me to the top.

Pick 33, Sheehan: Rafael Furcal
I was hoping to add some speed here, but I just didn't think I could take Rafael Furcal. Still, he's the only speed guy who wouldn't be a joke with this pick. The big bats have pretty much been taken -- Paul Konerko, Garrett Atkins, Andruw Jones and maybe Johnny Damon are the top guys left. I also thought about Brian McCann, who's better than Mauer from a fantasy standpoint.

Argh ... V-W was the last obvious pick.

So Furcal or D-Lee? I'm going to take Furcal, because I think that I can fill the corners and power more easily than I can fill stolen bases and my middle-infielder spot.

Pick 34, Micucci: Jermaine Dye
With my third-round pick, I will select Jermaine Dye. I am very interested to hear what the response on this pick is. Over the past few months, I have had many talks with people about Dye. He is healthy and is going to be only 33 on Opening Day. I do not believe that his numbers from last year are a one-time thing. I feel that if Dye hadn't suffered that leg injury with Oakland, then he would have been considered one of the premier hitters in the league some time ago. He also had seven steals, which I am always aware of, and I'm gradually building them up with my other well-rounded picks in Berkman and Cabrera. Plus, Jermaine is the biggest production bat left on the board, according to 2006 stats.

Pick 35, Ma: Garrett Atkins
So after much debate, I'm ignoring steals and going after the player I consider to be the best remaining guy with legitimate upside. Also, here's a list of leaders in balls hit over 380 feet last season:
1. Atkins: 64
2. Big Papi: 61
3. Howard: 60
4. Sexson: 58
5. Pujols: 57

So, Atkins it is.

Pick 36, Postal: Derrek Lee
I'll take the chance -- D-Lee is my third pick. Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal said Lee has not had any issues with his wrist during offseason workouts, and a possible .300-30-100-100-15 season is great value at No. 36.

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