Sing it with me! It's the most wonderful day of the year ...
OK, I suppose other family-oriented days represent competition for this honor, but for us fantasy baseballers, draft day ranks among the calendar's highlights. And if we can't have that, we'll take the next-best thing: Mock draft day. Ah, but what follows below is no ordinary mock draft.
We're pleased to present the "One-Man Mock Draft." But this isn't one man selecting players where he'd normally select them, it's one man split into 10 different personalities selecting the players they'd take in each spot. These 10 personalities represent the instincts I have or have ever had as a fantasy baseball owner over the years. The idea is to not only give you a taste of what your actual draft might be like, but it's also to provide a sense of how your strategic self might approach a draft differently, not to mention what your live, draft-day experience might be like. This is us having a little fun as we educate.
First, let's meet the ...
Cast of characters
1. Tristan: Well hi there! You might remember me from such Draft Kit columns as "Kings of Command" or "Secrets of a five-time champ" or, well, this very column you're reading.
2. Puppy Dogs & Rainbows Tristan: He sees the upside in everything. Ev-er-y-thing. For instance, he was sure Corey Patterson was destined for many 30-homer/30-steal years and potential MVPs. He was positive that "this" was the year Rich Harden would finally stay healthy -- for about six straight seasons. Oh, and this guy was the first in line for the midnight showing of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." "This is gonna be AWESOME!"
3. Geeky Tristan: With him, everything's analytical. He's the guy with the six-page cheat sheet of 1,500 players printed in six-point Helvetica type, meticulously ranked to a depth that'd have him prepared if your league spontaneously decided to extend its draft 15 rounds. (And watch out, because he might just propose that!)
4. Party Time Tristan: We're talking wings and beverages ... and the messy cheat sheets that go with them. Just wait until he sees the final 10 picks he made once he started losing track of things.
5. On-The-Go Tristan: He has a million things to do, and 10 minutes to do them. "I can't draft that night." "How long is this draft gonna take?" "Can we set a 10-second clock per pick?" K, gotta go. C ya guys. (Whoosh!)
6. Cocky Tristan: He knows his, um, stuff (that's not his chosen word, by the way). Or at least he acts as if he does. He has a sly grin after making his picks, and you're pretty sure you saw him make a disapproving shake of his head after you made yours.
7. Newbie Tristan: It's his first fantasy baseball draft, and he'd really like for you to explain to him what this whole "FAAB" thing is all about? (Hey newbie, it's the Free-Agent Acquisition Budget. Newbie's reply: You lost me at "Free-Agent.")
8. Homer Tristan: "DE-REK JE-TER!" (Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.) You know the type. He picks players from his favorite team before anyone else in the room would. For me, that team is the New York Yankees. What can I say? I grew up nine miles from Yankee Stadium!
9. Loudmouth Tristan: He's loud, and he's entertaining -- sometimes. The rest of the time it's annoying and slows down the draft. Interesting side characteristic: LOUDMOUTH LIKES TO TYPE WITH THE CAPS-LOCK KEY ON!
10. Lazy Tristan: He shows up at the draft with nothing but a printout of ESPN's 10-team mixed Rotisserie 5x5 cheat sheet ... from Feb. 15. And for a 14-team league (which this draft is not, though as deep as those drafts are, that's probably fortunate for Lazy Tristan). His mantra: "It's OK cause I know the players. Draft prep, schmaft prep."
There you go, one Tristan ... split into 10 different personalities. I'll be presenting a picture of these various Tristans as the draft goes on.
The scene opens in Tristan's basement, with the group of owners gathered around a series of card tables arranged in a U shape. Tristan sits in the middle, with Homer, Lazy, Loudmouth and Newbie to his left, and Geeky, Party Time, Cocky and Puppy Dogs & Rainbows to his right. Puppy Dogs & Rainbows is wearing his New York Mets Gregg Jefferies jersey, bought in 1989 so he could wear it to his first Rotisserie draft that spring. Party Time has a cooler sitting beside his left foot; it's one of those soft-sided coolers rather than the hard plastic type, but it's still decently sized, and full. He already is consuming his first cold beverage (though he's the only one). Newbie looks awfully uncomfortable sitting next to Loudmouth, though he's secretly happy he's not next to Cocky.
Tristan puts 10 slips of paper in a hat and has each owner draw one to determine a draft order. Loudmouth picks his out and looks at it, grunts angrily, then throws the scrap of paper on the ground. He will pick 10th in the first round.
And the draft goes like this:
Tristan: "OK, so here are the ground rules: two minutes per pick, and when the previous pick is announced, I'll reset the clock on my phone. If the timer expires, we'll auto-pick using the highest remaining player in the ESPN rankings. Everyone ready?"
(A few nods, a "yup" or three, and a "Yeah, let's go!" Party Time pops the cap on another one of his favorite beverages and does an air toast.)
Tristan: "Wait, where's On-the-Go?"
Newbie: "I don't know, but I think he said he might have to work late tonight."
Tristan: "OK, well, let's get started and we'll figure it out when we get to his pick."
1.1 (Cocky): Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Cocky: "I win. No need to play this out. Just gimme the cash now."
(He's largely ignored. Loudmouth rolls his eyes.)
1.2 (Homer): Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins
Homer: "The Yankees are totally still getting him when he's 27."
Cocky: "You do know he's pretty much signed for the next quarter-century, right?"
Homer: "They'll trade for him. They can give 'em Tyler Austin, Chase Whitley and maybe another low-level prospect or two. Marlins need depth."
(More eye rolls.)
Newbie: "Wow, no one wanted a Triple Crown winner? Wait, is he hurt?"
Loudmouth: "He's dead."
Newbie: "Wait, really?" (He frantically scrambles through his papers.)
Loudmouth: "No, not really. But he's all yours."
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "Actually not a bad pick."
Newbie: "OK, whew. By the way, On-the-Go's up now."
Tristan: "Someone text him."
(Eighty seconds pass.)
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "All right, he says he's 10 minutes away, and that he wants 'C Go.'"
Tristan: "What? Who?"
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "Oh, I think his phone autocorrected. Hold on ..."
Tristan: "Argh. He must want Carlos Gomez? Let's just give him Gomez."
Loudmouth: "I say we give him CarGo. Serves him right for not being here."
1.6 (On-the-Go): Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers (Loudmouth grunts disapprovingly.)
1.7 (Puppy Dogs & Rainbows): Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox. Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "Forty homers this year, book it!"
1.8 (Geeky): Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays
1.9 (Party Time): Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers
Loudmouth: "DUDE, not cool! See, I hate the 10 spot. Kershaw should've been mine. You guys always rip me off like this."
Tristan: "Uh, you had the No. 2 pick last ye-."
Loudmouth (interrupting): "Fine, I'll beat all you anyway! I'll take ..."
Loudmouth: "Seriously? This early?"
Geeky: "Actually, I'd have preferred Encarnacion, but after you took him, Rizzo became the most sensible pick. Rizzo's power metrics are off the chart; his ground ball rates have made incremental decreases in each of his past five half-seasons coinciding with isolated power gains resulting in a .274 number after the All-Star break last year! Only five players had greater than that, including Jose Bautista, most appropriately."
2.4 (Puppy Dogs & Rainbows): Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies.
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "NL MVP this year."
Newbie: "His team's going to win like 55 games, how's he going to be the MVP? You have to actually win games to be an MVP." (Brief pause.) "Right?"
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows (while he frantically types a text to On-the-Go, who's now up): "He's gonna hit .350, with 35 homers. Totally healthy, just watch!"
(Eighty-nine of On-the-Go's 90 seconds pass.)
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "He wants 'Fields.'" (He looks puzzled. Then his phone beeps again.)
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "Oh wait ... now he says 'king.' I think he wants King Felix."
Loudmouth: "He should get Josh Fields. He said 'Fields!' That's a pick!" (Everyone ignores him.)
2.5 (On the Go): Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
2.6 (Newbie): Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros Newbie: "Wow, I've got a Triple Crown winner and last year's batting champion. This fantasy stuff is awesome!"
2.7 (Tristan): Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers
2.8 (Lazy): Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers
2.9 (Homer): Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Yankees
Party Time: "You could not be more predictable. Wish I was picking after you."
(Party Time reaches into his cooler and fumbles around, followed by the sounds of a paper bag crinkling. He reveals a paper basket of 12 sauce-soaked chicken wings, places it upon the table and begins quickly chomping.)
Cocky (snort-snickering): "Yeah, well, I do pick after him, Party Time. Thanks, Homer, you're a good bud."
Tristan: "Great, my own rankings do me in. All right, I'll take ..."
Puppy Dogs & Rainbows: "Guys, we've got a problem, On-the-Go isn't replying. Hold on a sec ..."
(Puppy Dogs & Rainbows attempts a phone call but gets no response after several seconds. Suddenly On-the-Go bursts through the door, fumbling fiercely to remove his tie and quickly scanning the room for an available seat.)
On the Go: "I'm here! I'm here! Sorry, sorry, am I up? Did you skip me?"
Tristan: "No, but you have 15 more seconds before your timer expires."
On the Go: "All right. Hmm. All riiiiiiiight. Iiiiiiii will taaaaaaaaaaake ... Hmm. ... Yeah, I'll take Rendon!"
Several owners: "Gone already."
On-the-Go: "Ian Desmond!"
Several owners: "Also gone."
On-the-Go: "Carlos Gomez!" (Several audible groans.)
Tristan: "He's gone, and you took him! In the first round! You have three seconds before an auto-pick."
On the Go: "I was parking my car! I can't cross off names and drive at the ..."
Tristan: "TIME! You get ..."
On the Go: "Posey! Posey! I like Posey!"
Geeky: "Little-known fact here, guys: According to the PitchF/X data, Kluber's curveball was worth 21.6 runs above average last season, and that's the second-best mark by anyone during their eight-year data span. And he was one of only five pitchers last season who had two pitches worth at least 12 runs above average! The metrics support a repeat."
Homer: "Geez, more of that?"
Cocky (sarcastically): "Real nice pick. I'm sure his stats are legit."
Loudmouth: "Hey buddy, he'll hit twice as many homers as Brantley, and I got him 10 picks later. And for the second part of win-win picks ..."
Party Time: "Yeeeeaaaaaaah!" (Party Time then emits a loud half-hiccup, half-burp. He takes a sip, then a moment to compose himself, then ...) "Yeeeeaaaaaaah!"
Geeky: "Over Josh Donaldson? That's highly illogical. Donaldson's inner-third plate coverage is effectively unmatched and his power plays in a direction that ..."
Party Time: "Seriously, dude. Stop that!"
4.3 (Geeky): Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
4.4 (Puppy Dogs & Rainbows): Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals
4.5 (On the Go): Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays
4.6 (Newbie): Jon Lester, SP, Cubs. Newbie: "The Cubs love this guy, he's been untouchable this spring. I think the Cubs win the World Series in 2015."
4.7 (Tristan): Chris Sale, SP, White Sox
Tristan: "I wanted to wait on pitching, but I'm sorry, Sale can't slide further than this. Frankly, I'm surprised Geeky didn't take him."
4.8 (Lazy): Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds. Lazy: "I wanted to take Justin Upton here, but you guys are taking all the good pitchers too fast. I feel like I should go ahead and get my ace locked in."
4.9 (Homer): Justin Upton, OF, Padres. Homer: "Thanks for the tip on Upton!"
4.10 (Cocky): Starling Marte, OF, Pirates.
5.1 (Cocky): Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers.
(Party Time then picks up his basket of wings, and extends it beneath Cocky's nose. In the basket are three uneaten wings, drenched in a lake of sauce. Seven drumette and two flat bones are piled off to the side.)
Party Time: "Wing? They're jalapeno garlic parmesan."
Cocky: "Get that out of my face! Dude, strict rules for drafting: No drinking and no greasy foods. You'll get my draft sheets dirty."
(Disappointed, Party Time extends the basket in the others' direction. No takers. He shrugs his shoulders.)
Cocky: "Besides, you deliberately ate all the drumettes first. Uncool, man."
Cocky (snickering): "He paid too much for him in LABR, too."
5.5 (Newbie): Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies
Newbie: "I was reeeeeeaaally tempted to take Albert Pujols there, but ..."
Loudmouth (interrupting): "Guys, stop saying names of available players if you're not taking them!"
Newbie: "Oh, sorry. Anyway, wasn't Gonzalez like the best player in baseball a year or two ago?" (Silence.)
5.6 (On the Go): Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies
5.7 (Puppy Dogs & Rainbows): Matt Kemp, OF, Padres
5.8 (Geeky): Victor Martinez, 1B, Tigers
5.9 (Party Time): Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
5.10 (Loudmouth): Aroldis Chapman, RP, Reds
(The doorbell rings, from upstairs.)
Tristan: Pizza's here! All right, everyone, we'll have 10-minute break, then we'll resume with Loudmouth kicking off Round 6.
Post-pizza break: The early-to-mid rounds
(Round 6 begins, with greasy fingers all around, except Cocky's, of course.)
6.9 (Homer): Jeff Samardzija, SP, White Sox
Newbie: "Why didn't you take Ortiz? He's ranked higher."
Homer: "I'm not picking a Red Sock!"
Geeky: "Actually, the proper singularization of said nickname would still be 'Red Sox.'"
7.9 (Party Time): Alex Cobb, SP, Rays
On-the-Go: "Isn't he hurt?"
Loudmouth: "Shhhhh! That's a pick! He said Cobb, that's his pick!"
Party Time: "Dude, chill."
Loudmouth: "No, you're trying to back out of your pick! You named the player, you got him, that's required to be your pick!"
Party Time: "I actually wasn't trying to back out. I like Cobb."
(Party Time then jumps up to quickly grab another slice before the two picks between his at the turn of the round. He opens the top box to find it empty; moving it aside and opening the next box in the stack, he finds seven of eight slices remaining. He carefully selects one and returns to his seat.
(After seeing Party Time gulp down a particularly large slice, Loudmouth decides he also wants another slice.)
Loudmouth: "Dude, what's with taking a slice from the center of the pie? You're supposed to work your way around the box, not just take the biggest piece from wherever you want! C'mon, pizza etiquette: That's the around-the-world rule!"
Party Time: "Seriously? You're just angry that you're having a bad draft."
Loudmouth: "Hey, I'm not the one who just took a guy whose arm is about to fall off."
9.2 (Homer): Masahiro Tanaka, SP, Yankees
Cocky: "Preeeee-dictable. No, wait, I'm actually surprised by that. I thought all Yankees fans were terrified his elbow's going to pop?"
Homer: "Yes, but I need someone to root for on this team. Plus he looks great this spring. I should know; I've watched every inning of every game."
Tristan: "Now where did Lazy go?"
A few different owners: "Bathroom, I think."
(The 90-second timer rings, then there's silence for another two minutes.)
On-the-Go: "Well, we can't wait here all day ..."
Tristan: "OK, time limit. We'll auto-pick him the highest-ranked guy on the ESPN cheat sheet. Let's see, that's ... "
(Lazy meanders back down the stairs, then flops back into his seat.)
Lazy: "So am I up yet?"
Tristan: "Yeah, you were up like five minutes ago. We had to auto-pick you. You got Christian Yelich."
Lazy: "I wouldn't have taken him! Hold up, guys, can we roll back to my pick?"
Tristan: "We've had three picks since then! All right, all right, fine, but you've got 15 seconds to make another pick. And I'm not telling you the other players picked since your turn."
(Lazy fumbles through his papers, seeking a winner. Fourteen seconds later ...)
Lazy: "You know what, just gimme Yelich. He was the highest-ranked guy on my sheet anyway."
The middle rounds
Round 13 begins: Jonathan Papelbon.
(On-the-Go looks not-so-subtly down at his phone -- for the fourth time in the past 10 minutes. He hurriedly taps his thumbs.)
On-the-Go: "Guys, can we speed this up?"
Loudmouth: "Dude, you've been here like 45 minutes!"
On-the-Go: "A draft does not need to take this long. I have to be somewhere in 20 minutes."
Loudmouth: "Great, Paul Rudd's joined our league." (He gestures in On-the-Go's direction.) "Why don't you take Hideki Matsui, too? Available ... and ... awesome!"
On-the-Go: "Har har. I'm not up yet anyway."
Loudmouth: "Actually, you are, which you'd have known if you unglued your nose from your phone for 10 seconds. Oh, and don't take my pick!"
13.6: Alex Wood, SP/RP, Braves.
Loudmouth: "I hate you."
On-the-Go: "Guys, I really gotta go. Can someone here just fill out the rest of my picks? I got most of them filled already."
Tristan: "You can default to the highest-ranked if you want. I don't recommend it, though."
On the Go: "It'll have to do. Thanks, bye everyone!" (He swiftly exits.)
The highlights of the final rounds
(Party Time begins to get sloppy, selecting Jean Segura, Danny Salazar, Mike Minor, LaTroy Hawkins and Domonic Brown with his final five picks, mainly because he thinks he remembers picking them all in last year's draft. Homer adds Yankees Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia to his team, of course. Cocky makes sure to add Arismendy Alcantara to his team, simply so he can inform the room that he knows the proper pronunciation: air-es-MEN-dee al-CAHN-truh. And the draft's Mr. Irrelevant? Nathan Eovaldi, whom Loudmouth boldly declares, "Steal of the draft." That elicits an "Oh man, I totally forgot about him" from Homer.)
(The group begins to pack up, except for Party Time, who seems to have settled in.)
Cocky: "Any chance I can make a few signings right now, before we go to FAAB?"
Tristan: "Nice try."