I've often repeated that the top priority in drafts this year is to get a stud third baseman in Round 2. It's your only surefire shot at one, and the fallback options are so few and far between that you're basically forced to reach. If you don't, you could find yourself without an answer at the position all season. I lived it in enough leagues last year to know.
Of course, there aren't enough stud third basemen for everyone to draft one in Round 2, and the earlier you pick in Round 1, the less assured you are of one making it back to you. Pick first overall, and Manny Machado, Rafael Devers, Austin Riley and Bobby Witt are all out of question. The one saving grace is Nolan Arenado, whose ADP puts him in Round 3, but that doesn't stop someone from taking him earlier.
That's exactly what happened in our latest Head-to-Head categories mock, configured for the standard Yahoo setup. Nick Fox selected Arenado with the ninth pick of Round 2, three picks before me, which left me to play a dangerous game of chicken at the most pivotal position.
And you know what? It went exactly as I feared. Alex Bregman went 19 picks ahead of his ADP. Gunnar Henderson went 34 picks ahead of his ADP. Max Muncy went 62 picks ahead of his ADP. And from that point, my fate was pretty much sealed. My best shot at a third baseman worth getting excited about was at the Round 8-9 turn, where I paired a couple high-strikeout pitchers, Robbie Ray and Chris Sale, after neglecting the position earlier. I had hoped spring sensation Jordan Walker would make it back to me at the Round 10-11 turn. He came within three picks of doing so.
Part of the frustration was that I had to wait 22 picks between each pair of picks, and during one of those stretches (Rounds 14-15), Alec Bohm, Eugenio Suarez, Anthony Rendon and Ke'Bryan Hayes all went off the board before my turn came back up. It was effectively my last chance at a halfway decent third baseman, and at that point, I conceded to taking whatever was left with my final pick. I opted for Brett Baty just in case he wins the Mets job, which probably means I'm resorting to Eduardo Escobar off the waiver wire.
Good thing the rest of my lineup is stacked with enough category standouts that I'll get away with cycling through scrubs at third base, hoping to strike gold at some point. But it's not the optimal way to do things and only reinforces how high of a priority that second-round third baseman is.
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Here's who all took part in the draft:
1) Scott White, CBS Sports (@CBSScottWhite)
2) David Mendelson, Triple Play Fantasy (@DMendy02)
3) JR Fenton, TGFBI participant (@JohnRussell215)
4) Nick Fox, NBC Sports (@CT_FOX)
5) R.J. White, CBS Sports (@rjwhite1)
6) Frank Stampfl, CBS Sports (@Roto_Frank)
7) George Kurtz, Sportsgrid (@GeorgeKurtz)
8) Tim Kanak, Fantasy Aceball (@fantasyaceball)
9) Rob Sherwood, Fantrax (@rob_sherwood)
10) Chris Towers, CBS Sports (@CTowersCBS)
11) Jake Holland, The Toss Up podcast (@jakebaseball17)
12) Raymond Atherton, Fantasy Aceball (@RaymondAtherton)
And here are my five takeaways:
- Why not take the suspense out of it and grab Jose Ramirez No. 1 overall, you ask? Because Aaron Judge might double him up in home runs. You need those category standouts in this format especially because everything is scored a week at a time. If a player provides just a modest amount of something over the course of a season, the distribution from week to week will be totally unpredictable. You want those easy category wins, and I think one of the easiest is home runs, which is why I didn't shy away from drafting Pete Alonso, Jose Altuve, Salvador Perez, Nate Lowe and Christian Walker alongside Judge. The best part is that every home run also comes with a run and at least one RBI.
- Once it became clear I was going the thrifty route at both shortstop and third base, I needed my two utility spots to be as impactful as possible, and so my best decision, I think, was double tapping Lowe and Walker in Rounds 10-11. Each had slipped about 20-30 spots, and having three first basemen in my lineup created some chaos for the rest of the league. It also gave me an imposing power surplus that should make up for those obvious warts. Unlike third base, shortstop should still turn out OK. One of Ezequiel Tovar, Javier Baez and Anthony Volpe will come through.
- Even picking in the middle of Round 2, George Kurtz wasn't willing to risk going without a stud third baseman. He picked Manny Machado seventh overall, which is the earliest I've seen him go. He then paired him with Bo Bichette, which seems like a reasonable enough start. It's not like any of the outfielders he could have taken with that No.7 pick -- Mookie Betts, Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez -- are entirely worry-free.
- After the initial tumult, there's a growing consensus that Carlos Rodon's strained forearm and Joe Musgrove's fractured toe aren't so bad, really. Both went in Round 8 of this draft, at 86th and 91st overall, which isn't so far off from my latest rankings.
- Corbin Carroll continues to fly up draft boards, going 38th overall in this one. Other picks that stood out include Lars Nootbaar (128), Miguel Vargas (158) and Reid Detmers (169). Hard to find a sleeper with this group!