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Concept #4: Putting It All Into Practice
A few more words before I set you loose on a mock draft hunt.
1) When you mock, you're there to learn, not to party...kinda like what your parents said about college
When you're mocking for the first time, you're getting a gauge on how much you value certain positions.
In my mocks, I've realized how much I value SS. Once I get past the top 7, I think there's a substantial drop off (and I don't like Rollins that much, so that takes it down to 6 guys I'm interested in.) I'm not interested in the next few guys, so the chances are that I may wait a while and take a younger guy or two, hoping that one of them booms this year or I'll hope that someone I'm okay with slips several rounds. Then I'm picking him because he's a good value, not because I'm thrilled to have him (but value is nice too!) Emilio Bonifacio looks pretty good to me in later rounds, so I may look toward him.
If you're paying attention to the categories, you're finding out that you need to consider some categories more than others. For example, you may gravitate more toward big Strikeout pitchers than pitchers with good WHIPs. If you don't realize that in your mocks, you may wind up killing your WHIP in your real draft. Jumping back to the Bonifacio pick, I know he can help me in a category that I'm not drafting well at (Stolen Bases) as well as filling a position I need to fill. That makes him uber-valuable to me if I need a SS. That takes me to the next point.
2) Recognize players that you like later in the draft.
If SS is going quickly in the draft, I don't need to panic and pick a guy just to have one. I know I'll like Bonifacio later on. That makes him more of a priority to keep an eye on later in the draft, but I know that he's my emergency plan at that position. I like to have these guys marked on my rankings. That takes me back to the color system I use, which I described last time.
3) Figure out your strategy
Here's an important thought to consider: When your draft is over, what players will be available that you could still use? It's generally said of free agency that it will be easier to find pitching than hitting. Generally, I think that's accurate, although you can find a position player here and there who break out, but you'll be fighting with everyone else on the waiver wire for them. There's always pitching out there.
The most common draft strategy is probably the “go for hitting early and often” strategy (that's what I subscribe to) because pitching is deep compared to your other positions. Starting Pitching especially levels out late in the draft. That said, there are still plenty of people who will go for pitching early, and they can be successful, but more often than not, offense will be your key to victory. In Head-to-Head leagues, you may consider targeting solid ERA and WHIP guys if you're rock solid in all your offensive categories. Even then, the best ERA and WHIP guys are mostly going to be going early in the draft.
Try some different strategies out in your mocks, see what feels comfortable, and remember to look over your categories after the draft (and during if you can).
4) Your draft day roster is NOT your final answer
Especially in later rounds, you can take a chance or two. Please do so! Go for upside rather than safe picks. To be successful, you will have to stay active throughout the year no matter what. If you draft a questionable player, recognize whether he's a guy you'll be giving a week or two or a month or two to blossom. If you draft SP Adam Wainwright and he isn't great right out of the shoot, I'd think you were nuts for dropping him after 2 starts. Give him time. On the other hand, a guy like SP Bartolo Colon could be replaced in that time if he's looking bad. A bad couple starts is more likely to indicate that Colon might be done, but Wainwright is coming off surgery, and once his command is back, he can easily be an Ace (and if you don't know why, do a little research on pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery.)
5) Drafting trade bait is not such a bad thing
This goes back to those first couple points. Even if you're hurting at SS and C, it's better to get a great player at another position that's getting shallow. So you drafted 2B Cano early and Brandon Phillips is still sitting there in the 6th? Do you have a UT spot to put him in? Yes? Then you can use him. If not, consider taking him anyway if you don't like anyone else around that spot. You can always trade him off after the draft or during the season to a poor soul who needs an upgrade there. They might be able to help you in the same way if your late-round SS or C's don't work out.
Teams that draft “best player available” usually come out well in the end.
6) Have a general idea of what you want to do in your real draft, but don't lock in on one plan
Going in thinking “I'm going to grab an OF in the 1st, a 3B in the 2nd, a middle infielder in the 3rd, etc.” can screw you up. Your player values go out the window. You will have weaknesses in your starting roster after the draft regardless of how you draft, but if you draft intelligently and work with what comes to you, you'll feel confident that your weaknesses won't ruin you.
7) Make mental notes on how you're doing
This is more for future years than for this year, but if you're going to play this game for years to come, this is important. Let's say this year you think that Closers A, B, and C are great and will be terrific this year. This season ends, and all 3 stunk. You can make a mental note that you may not be very good at picking Closers. You may want to go more by-the-book on that position next season.
I'm like this in Fantasy Football. I'm lousy at selecting WR's. I'm great with RB's. So, I make RB's less of a priority early in the draft because I know I can find those later, and I know I should address WR early so that I get a popular one or two.
There are so many more tidbits I'd like to give you, but I think if you stick by this and the stuff we've gone over in previous articles, you should be okay. Have fun. Have faith in your ability to draft. Don't let frustration ruin a draft. Everyone experiences it, but I think I talked enough about that before.
I'll give you a rundown of my own draft next time!
Oh, and this is a personal thing...but have some good pre-draft music to put you in the mood. I like “It's Just a Fantasy” and “You May Be Wrong (But You May Be Right)” by Billy Joel. Puts everything into perspective.
P.S. In case anyone's wondering why I put apostrophes where they aren't needed, such as “Get several SP's,” I know those aren't needed, but my autocorrect keeps getting screwy and I don't want to spend an hour arguing with this computer to fix it. Just in case you were wondering!