If you operate under the belief that Chone Figgins' signing of a minor league contract with the Marlins deserves to have some impact in Fantasy, then the world of NL-only may be for you. Figgins went in the 23rd round in our NL-only 12-team Rotisserie League mock draft on Feb. 14 (yes, we sacrificed free Valentine's Day cupcakes in the office cafeteria to draft players in a league that will not exist beyond this column), sandwiched between Jerry Sands and Jake Westbrook.
Even if you don't intend to play in a league this deep, the NL-only mock (paired with the AL-only mock we did earlier in the week) can give a mixed league drafter a chance to see which players may be just under that mixed league cut-off -- Wellington Castillo, taken in the 13th round, may not be on a lot of radars right now, but seeing his name might cause shallower league drafters to make a mental note. If he gets off to a hot start, you'll probably pounce on him before others, who won't even have Castillo on the radar.
And it goes deeper than Castillo. Much, much deeper, with varying degrees of helpfulness. But in reading the results of NL-only mocks last year, you might have been tipped off to a Kris Medlen, Aroldis Chapman (still just a middle reliever at the start of the year), Bryan LaHair or Allen Craig. To that end, here are some of the more interesting observations from this draft:
• National League pitching is deep. It might be wise to grab an ace early, and then wait until the middle rounds to add some complements. Tim Hudson was drafted in the 14th round, Bronson Arroyo went in the 15th, Ross Detwiler in the 17th and Mark Rodgers was drafted in the 21st. Those four pitchers would have produced a 3.58 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in a combined 712 1/3 innings pitched (we used Baseball Reference to extrapolate Rodgers' underrated 2012 over a full 162-game season) for a Fantasy staff last year, including 513 strikeouts. Throw in an early ace and couple closers, and you have a very competitive staff, made up mostly of later picks that allow an owner to pick up big bats in the earlier rounds.
• Matt Carpenter is not going to last until the 14th round in the next NL-only mock. Word out of St. Louis' camp is that his transition to second base is going smoother than expected, and it's no secret the Cardinals want his bat in the lineup. If he's named the starter, he will have second base eligibility by the end of the season's first week. And there is a huge second base chasm between Danny Espinosa and Daniel Murphy (eighth round) and the next two second baseman taken, Logan Forsythe (11th round) and Darwin Barney (13th round). It would be worth it, in a league that is stretched this thin with starting talent, to just eat the empty spot for a week and wait for Carpenter to get the eligibility. He might even sneak into mixed league consideration with a big spring, as well.
• Speedy Reds minor leaguer Billy Hamilton went in the 14th round, just five picks before San Diego prospect Jedd Gyorko was selected. Cardinals prospects Oscar Taveras, Trevor Rosenthal and Kolten Wong were taken in the 15th, 18th and 19th rounds, respectively, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud went in the 10th and Cubs prospect Jorge Soler was selected in the 20th. Too early on all counts? Not necessarily. They were generally late gambles, and Roto leagues don't punish you as severely as Head-to-Head formats do for having a couple empty/weak spots for the first month. In a Head-to-Head league, these players would probably go at least two or three rounds later.
• In terms of gambles that may pay off, Francisco Liriano -- now under the transformative power of Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage -- went in the 19th round, just before Barry Zito and Clayton Richard. Frank Francisco, who isn't fully healed from elbow surgery but could regain the Mets' closer role by late April, went in the 18th round. Marlins starter Jacob Turner, the 21-year-old forgotten centerpiece of the trade that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit last year, was taken in the 16th round (FUN FACT: in seven starts with the Marlins last year, Turner had a 3.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP). And Johan Santana, who seemed to be a victim of arm fatigue more than a loss of skill in his return from shoulder surgery last year, went in Round 13.
Our drafters were ...
1. Michael Hurcomb, Fantasy Editor
2. Al Melchior, Data Analyst
3. Adam Aizer, Fantasy Video/Podcast Host
4. Jeff Lippman, Fantasy Writer
5. Jeff Tobin, Associate Managing Editor
6. Scott White, Senior Fantasy Writer
7. Chris Towers, Fantasy Writer
8. Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com Senior MLB Blogger
9. Peter Madden, Director, Fantasy Sports
10. Jamey Eisenberg, Senior Fantasy Writer
11. Nando Di Fino, Senior Fantasy Writer
12. Igor Mello, Fantasy Writer
The results of our NL-only mock are below. Please enjoy, and feel free to leave comments on your own favorite picks at the end of the column.
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