As someone who works in the industry, the biggest tell tale sign that baseball is on its way back is when Scott White and the Fantasy Baseball Today crew are ripping through multiple real and mock drafts per week. That time has come. And let's be honest -- there is no better way to prepare yourself for your own drafts than by comparing and evaluating how the industry is drafting their teams. So today's newsletter will be all about the drafts. It's also going to be about finding this year's Julio Rodriguez and other potential league-winning picks you can make.

We have two drafts to go over -- a 12-team Roto mock and Chris Towers' Tout Wars draft. Both of these drafts couldn't be anything less like the other. Towers' Tout Wars recap dives into a format that gets rid of batting average for on-base percentage, wins for innings pitched and combines saves as a saves plus holds category.

We'll wrap things up below with a little news and notes from the weekend.

H2H Roto Mock

A key takeaway to start

The theme of this draft was simple -- don't wait for ADP to get your guys. In other words, if you feel like the best player available is projected by ADP to come off the board one, or two, or three rounds later -- don't wait for that to come because more times than not you'll miss out. I feel like this is specifically important during the 2023 draft season because in that range where you might normally be able to get away with waiting for your guy -- and drafting a boring but productive player -- there are so few of those boring and productive (safe, high floor) players. 

It's also important to note that we're still fairly early in draft season and ADP can be very unreliable. Use it as more of a grain of salt than pillar in your draft strategy and you'll come away with a roster you feel much better about.

Scott discussed this concept in a more eloquent way:

From Scott: "When you're constantly drafting and immersed in ADP data, you have a clear concept of when your preferred sleepers should go, but nobody was waiting around in this one. Lars Nootbaar went 118th overall (compared to 188th by ADP), Miguel Vargas went 135th (compared to 248th), Jordan Walker went 168th (compared to 228th) and Oscar Colas went 205th (compared to 307th). I like all of those players, but I like them in part because of the discount. I hope it doesn't vanish entirely."

Scott was drafting from the No. 12 spot and had the back to back. Here's how his team played out:

Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Dodgers
Luis Robert, OF, White Sox
J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies
Alek Manoah, SP, Blue Jays
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Mariners
Max Muncy, 2B/3B, Dodgers
Ryan Pressly, RP, Astros
Kenley Jansen, RP, Red Sox
Triston McKenzie, SP, Guardians
Anthony Santander, OF, Orioles
Jeremy Pena, SS, Astros
Tony Gonsolin, SP, Dodgers
Charlie Morton, SP, Braves
Ezequiel Tovar, SS, Rockies
Ketel Marte, 2B, Diamondbacks
Jose Berrios, SP, Blue Jays
Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox
Merril Kelly, SP, Diamondbacks
Miles Mikolas, SP, Cardinals
Brandon Drury, 3B/2B, Angels
Jake Fraley, OF, Reds
Joey Bart, C, Giants

My thoughts

In our last newsletter, I loved Scott's execution and final team. This one I like more than love. I think Scott himself went a bit away from what he has preached this preseason when drafting Freddie Freeman -- a first baseman -- at the 1/2 turn. Ultimately I felt like this left him weak in the outfield -- a position as scarce as third base, second base -- and maybe even scarcer.

I did like how Scott practiced what he preached and made sure to get a few of his favorite sleeper bets including Colas and Tovar. I also am on team Ketel Marte this year -- a player I have no doubt will be on plenty of my rosters given his suppressed ADP after a down 2022 season.

Here are the full results for the draft.

Scott's key takeaways

  • The first two picks in our last 12-team Roto draft, Aaron Judge and Jose Ramirez, were the third and fifth picks in this one. It's not so out of bounds. We're basically seeing the same five players go at the top of every league that uses 5x5 scoring, but the order seems like mostly a matter of preference. I think Judge and Ramirez are the correct top two, but at least Julio Rodriguez and Ronald Acuna, who went with the first two picks in this one, also play a scarce position. The one I'm most reluctant to take is Trea Turner given that high-quality shortstops generally last into the middle rounds.
  • I'd like to go outfield, third base, second base at the start of every draft this year, but that's not so likely picking 12th, where I did. The seven first round-caliber outfielders are almost certainly gone by that point, and while it's not too early to grab whichever third baseman you prefer, pairing him with Mike Trout, the lone outfielder worth taking in Round 2, feels like too much of a reach with, say, Freddie Freeman still on the board. There may come a time, though -- and not too far from now -- when I'm convinced that Fernando Tatis is the better way to go. After all, he'll be picking up outfield eligibility not long after returning from suspension in late April.
  • One oddity in this particular draft is that few of us felt compelled to pay a premium for an ace. I don't just mean in Round 1, which probably goes without saying at this point, but when my turn came to pick at the end of Round 3, four of my top five available players were starting pitchers. That's because Cedric MullinsRandy ArozarenaOzzie AlbiesKyle Schwarber had all pulled into Round 3, which is closer to how I prefer to draft. I'm just not used to so many others mirroring me.
  • Still, I decided to stick to the plan, opting for Luis Robert and J.T. Realmuto with that pair of picks and settled for Alek Manoah as my ace in Round 5. And you know what? I'm still pleased with the way my pitching staff turned out. I find that no matter how much I push the envelope at starting pitcher, that's pretty much always the case. The middle class is so deep, and I love the value of guys like Merrill Kelly and Miles Mikolas, two must-starts from a year ago who lasted to Rounds 19 and 20 this time.

These were the participants so after you click the link to see the mock results make sure you follow them all on Twitter (handles below):

1) B_Don, Razzball (@RazzBDon)  
2) Frank Stampfl, CBS Sports (@Roto_Frank)  
3) Tim Kanak, Fantasy Aceball (@fantasyaceball)   
4) Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus (@MikeGianella)  
5) Michael Waterloo, The Athletic (@MichaelWaterloo)  
6) Tim McLeod, Prospect361
7) Chris Towers, CBS Sports (@CTowersCBS)  
8) Jake Wiener, Prospects1500 (@GatorSosa)
9) JR Fenton, TGFBI participant (@JohnRussell215)  
10) Raymond Atherton, Fantasy Aceball (@RaymondAtherton)
11) Jake Holland, formerly The Toss Up (@jakebaseball17)
12) Scott White, CBS Sports (@CBSScottWhite)

Towers' Tout Wars Draft

It's always vital to adjust your draft strategy to your league's settings and that's exactly what Chris did in his Tout Wars draft. Tout Wars isn't all that different from your typical 12-team Roto league, but there are a few different settings that make a massive difference in how you'd want to craft your roster.

It's a 12-team Rotisserie league with a few twists. We use seven of the 10 standard scoring categories, with the following changes:

  • Instead of batting average, we use on-base percentage.
  • Instead of saves, we use saves-plus-holds.
  • Instead of wins, we use innings pitched.

Here's how Chris' team shook out from the five hole:

1.5Mookie Betts, OF, LAD
2.8Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, SD
3.5Max Scherzer, P, NYM
4.8George Springer, OF, TOR
5.5Justin Verlander, P, NYM
6.8Emmanuel Clase, P, CLE
7.5Oneil Cruz, SS, PIT
8.8Byron Buxton, OF, MIN
9.5Salvador Perez, C, KC
10.8Christian Walker, 1B, ARI
11.5Jorge Polanco, MI, MIN
12.8Nestor Cortes Jr., P, NYY
13.5Chris Sale, P, BOS
14.8Dustin May, P, LAD
15.5Riley Greene, OF, DET
16.8Jesse Winker, OF, MIL
17.5Tyler Glasnow, P, TB
18.8Yandy Diaz, 3B, TB
19.5Grayson Rodriguez, P, BAL
20.8A.J. Minter, P, ATL
21.5Bryan De La Cruz, OF, MIA
22.8Edward Cabrera, P, MIA
23.5Brandon Drury, 3B, LAA
24.8Travis d'Arnaud, C, ATL
25.5James Karinchak, P, CLE
26.8Oswaldo Cabrera, OF, NYY
27.5Luis Garcia, 2B, WSH
28.8Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN
29.5Spencer Steer, CI, CIN

My thoughts

Chris took an aggressive approach in this draft with several high-ceiling investments with injury histories. And I wouldn't expect anything less from Chris, who shares a similar "if you're not first, your last" approach to Fantasy sports. Swinging for upside is our calling card and you don't need all of them to hit when you spread out the gambles across the draft. Having said that, I am concerned with his innings upside and I think his two aces could blow up his entire team if they go down with injuries.

Here's who participated in the draft along with the full results: 

  1. Matt Trussell, Razzball
  2. Sara Sanchez, bleedcubbieblue.com
  3. John Laghezza, The Athletic
  4. Jeff Boggis, Fantasy Football Empire
  5. Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy
  6. Andy Behrens, Yahoo Fantasy Sports
  7. Alex Fast, Pitcher List
  8. Brian Entrekin, Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ
  9. Carlos Marcano, Triple Play Fantasy
  10. Dylan White, Baseball America
  11. Chris Clegg, Pitcher List
  12. Jen Piacenti, Sports Illustrated

And here are the full results of the draft.

News & notes

  • Astros DH Jordan Alvarez has still not progressed to swinging a bat.
  • Phillies 3B Alec Bohm hit his second homer of the spring and could be in line for a potential breakout if the changes he made to his launch angle can stick.
  • White Sox SP Mike Clevinger will not face discipline after an MLB investigation. Additionally, he's voluntarily agreed to evaluations by MLB/MLBPA joint treatment boards and will comply with their recommendations, per ESPN's Jesse Rogers.
  • Cardinals 3B/OF Jordan Walker hit his second and third homers of the spring. He went 4 for 4 with two homers on Saturday.  If you're listening, that's the sound of Walker's ADP screaming upwards.
  • Brewers SP Freddy Peralta struck out two batters over two perfect innings on Saturday.
  • Rangers SP Jacob deGrom is scheduled to face live hitters for the first time this spring on Wednesday.
  • Cubs 2B Nico Hoerner continued to hit in the leadoff spot on Saturday and he racked up one hit -- an RBI triple. IF Hoerner can stick in the leadoff spot, he's an interesting middle infield sleeper.