Sultans of Stats December '17 Slow Mock Draft

2018 is here, and with the new year, it's time to dust this blog off and get to work for the coming baseball season! Work is underway on the 2018 Big Board, which is looking great, but today what I have is a quick recap of the recent slow mock completed last month with members of the SoS community. Thanks to /u/xAcEx for organizing!

If you'd like to skip straight to the full results, including who participated and when each player was picked, those can be found over at CouchManagers. A few quick notes on the format in case readers are unfamiliar with the SoS format:

  • 12 team
  • Hitting
    • Categories: HR/R/RBI/SB/OBP/OPS
    • Lineup: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OFx3, UTILx2
  • Pitching
    • Categories: QS/K/ERA/WHIP/SV/HD
    • Lineup: SPx3, RPx2, Px4

I plugged in the results of our draft into the 2018 Big Board, using my custom projection system (modified steamer), and calculated the resulting player values, roto scores, etc.A few of our drafters were less than attentive and ended up with a number of autopicks. Typically an SoS team will run 2 bench hitters, 6 RP, and as many SP as possible, so for the teams with autopicks I've manually adjusted their rosters a bit, removing sub-replacement-level hitters and adding more RP to balance their rosters.


Anyone can tell you that if you use a draft tool to decide your picks, that tool is going to think your team is the best. So it should come as no surprise that team HarperWallbanger swept this draft according to the Roto score computed by the Big Board. Ace and JohnnyFang put together great teams as well (Johnny in particular would gain ground if he had just one more bench hitter here, likely pushing 100 points or more). Beyond that, there is a big tier between 78-86 pts, and another between 57-61, but everyone took a slightly different route to accumulating those points.

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I'm playing around with a new way to display standings using 'data bars', which you can see below, visually representing each teams' performance in each category. I'll post up rosters below, and you can refer back to here to see overall team projections. Generally speaking, you can see a few strategies here: Brkbowl punted steals (and maybe OBP?) while grabbing a ton of K's/QS's, Kjohnm went steal-heavy (ended up weak in HR), Johnny stacked up a ton of K's and SV's, and Ace also stocked SV's, with elite pitching ratio stats.

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Overall, I'm happy with how my team turned out. I won't go through every pick here, but I'll highlight points of interest.

1.7. Giancarlo Stanton. I really thought about taking Votto here. My top 5 in this format are currently: Trout, Harper, Votto, Stanton, Goldy. I was pretty happy to have my choice between two of them here at 7th. Ultimately I went Stanton, because of the 6 year age difference. He gets a bad rap for being injury prone, but at age 34, I view Votto as a bigger risk. 

2.18. Aaron Judge. Well this wasn't my plan going into the draft, but the idea of a team with both Judge and Stanton seems really fun to me (Sidenote: At the time, Stanton had not yet been traded. So like, this was my idea first, Yankees.). Especially in an OBP/OPS league, these two guys will carry your offense easily. 

3.31. Noah Syndergaard. Last year in SoS, my biggest mistake was getting skunked on the early round SP's, so I was happy to lock up Thor here, the 5th best SP by my projections, and that's with a somewhat conservative 180 IP. In my opinion, top-30 SP's are often heavily over-drafted in SoS, so getting one at/near value is a big win.

4.42. Justin Turner. The discount I've enjoyed exploiting on Turner is evaporating a bit this year. But I have him projected to similar value to Machado, who went 20 picks earlier, thanks to Turner's strong OBP (.385 projected).

5.55. Kenley Jansen. By this point, I didn't want to reach for an SP (14 already taken!) but I was getting some real pitching FOMO. I've decided after this draft that I don't like slow drafts - FOMO after only 4 rounds, seriously?! It moves too slow and I have too much time to overthink. Anyway. I normally don't like being the first to grab a reliever, but this was the right time for Kenley, so I decided to break the seal and grab the best RP in the game.

6.66. Carlos Santana. Perennially undervalued in OBP leagues, because it's hard for people to adjust their thinking from AVG-centric rankings where he's just okay. Carlos Santana is a SoS beast, and usually appears on the rosters of many SoS league winners every year. Not necessarily because he's carrying those teams to the ship (he's great, not elite), but mostly because it's just a smart move. Okay, I'll stop patting myself on the back here and move on.

7.79/8.90. Andrew McCutchen/Christian Yelich. I'll group these two together just to make a quick point. I went with two OF in the first two rounds, but it didn't let that force me off drafting good value at OF if it showed up. People get worried about 'blocking' guys or filling slots, and I think that is generally overblown. Take value! Figure out the roster balance later, and fill your bench based on the spots that ended up weak. You'll end up dropping 20% of these players by mid-May anyway.

I needed some speed at this point, so I grabbed McCutchen who was one of the few 5-category contributors left (I hate picking speed-only guys, so 10sb from Cutch is fine by me). Yelich profiles similarly, with just a bit less power. These are great players to own, slot them in your lineup and worry about other spots. Yelich's R/RBI will suffer if he remains stuck in Miami, but even if he stays, I think Castro/Bour/Realmuto play well enough to keep him afloat there. Cutch and Yelich could actually both end up traded before spring training, so maybe these picks look better by then!

9.103. Rougned Odor. I kind of hated this pick. At this point in the draft, middle infielders were being WAY overdrafted. I can't recommend drafting Odor this high, I just looked at the list of remaining 2B/SS and did not want to run out a replacement-level player at both positions. Rougie gives me some upside assuming he remembers how to hit, and otherwise is a solid bet for 27hr/14sb. At the very least, he's a solid platoon candidate if he doesn't rebound (.200 OBP vLHP last year with just 5hr and 0sb in 170PA).

10.114. Roberto Osuna. FOMO part 2 - I hadn't grabbed another SP yet (28 taken so far), but Osuna was still just sitting out there (6th best RP on my board), so I grabbed him up to help offset the bad ratios I'm going to get from not having a "real #2" SP.

11.127/12.138. Jon Lester/Kyle Hendricks. I finally got back on the SP horse here. In Lester, I have some doubts based on the HR's allowed last year, but he is a solid QS play - a guy that has earned the right to 6+ IP outings, a rare commodity these days. Hendricks is still undervalued by projection systems and underranked as well. He's the 23rd best SP on my board (~80th overall) and a steal at this point in the draft.

13.151. Greg Bird. I had to take Bird at this point, as much as I didn't want to fill my 2nd UTIL slot this early. An injury-riddled '17 has him way undervalued, as he fell way below even the public rankings of him. He's projected as a top-75 overall player in my current board on the strength of a .345 OBP and 34hr.

14.162. Blake Snell. Lots of people got burned by Snell last year, who get blown up and then demoted early in the season. He came back strong though, and from July 24th onward he put up 70+ innings of 3.31 ERA/1.10 WHIP supported by a 15.6% K-BB%. I'll buy that he carries over the improved K-BB skills, along with decent HR- and BABIP-suppression.

15.175. Evan Gattis. Will have C eligibility and Houston has teased that he will be their full time DH. Even with a conservative 475 PA, that's a top-100 hitter.

Beyond this point, I fill out my rotation and bullpen with arms that I find interesting and are all projected well-above their draft slot. Richards and Nelson represent some injury risk, but in this shallower 12-team format, you can afford that on the pitching side. Gohara will probably get more hyped as the season approaches, I think a lot of people were asleep at the wheel late last season and didn't notice that a LHP starter that can throw 100 showed up in ATL. I finally found my SS in Semien, who will get the job done nicely (23 hr/12 sb) for a 21st round pick.

I finish out my roster with Deshields and Peraza, who will hopefully fill playing time gaps for my OF and MI while racking up SB, especially if smartly platooned. As usual, SB's were WAY overpriced in this draft (hello people, you can't just fill your lineup with terrible OBP speedsters in SoS... the SB's are not worth it), so this is what I'm stuck with, unfortunately!

I'll finish this out with the rest of the team's rosters, each player is listed next to their projected $ value (BIGz). Does anything jump out at you here? Any of my picks you loved or hated, or any of my opponents' picks?

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