For our first Head-to-Head points mock since the calendar flipped to 2021, the first overall pick was Juan Soto.
Is it so much of a stretch, really? Going by points per game, the leader among hitters in this format last year wasn't the usual Mike Trout. It wasn't reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman or his AL counterpart, Jose Abreu. It wasn't Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna or Fernando Tatis. It was Soto, at 4.70.
And it stands to reason. In addition to being a top-shelf hitter who led the majors in both on-base and slugging percentage, he had 41 walks to just 28 strikeouts, the sort of inverted ratio that's known to prop up hitters in a format that scores both walks and strikeouts. It's why Alex Bregman and Anthony Rendon had no chance of slipping past Round 3, like you might see every now and then in a 5x5 league.
Conversely, hitters who excel largely because of stolen bases but are lacking in plate discipline tend to go later in Head-to-Head points leagues, as demonstrated by Luis Robert and Starling Marte lasting to Round 7 and Adalberto Mondesi lasting to Round 11.
This format has also been the one that's tended to favor starting pitching, though it stands out less and less in that way as pitching gains importance across all formats. The run on it began in earnest at the Round 2-3 turn, and we were nearly 30 names into it by the end of Round 6. You'll notice that innings eaters like Kyle Hendricks and Zack Greinke went before ratio darlings like Corbin Burnes and Dinelson Lamet. More than anything from starting pitchers, this format rewards work.
There were a number of oddball picks, like Brian Anderson and Trey Mancini going in Round 8 and Giancarlo Stanton and Jorge Soler going ahead of Nelson Cruz, Yordan Alvarez and J.D. Martinez (we're not use to having so many DH-only types, clearly). But in a format that rewards different things, you have to expect people to venture off the beaten path.
One thing to watch out for: shortstops drafted for utility spots. I thought there were more than enough with early-round upside to go around in a 12-team league, but that kind of upside is an attraction regardless of whether the position is already filled. Had I known that Micah Henry opened his draft with two shortstops or that James Ganey had grabbed a second one along the way, I would have drafted Carlos Correa or Javier Baez as my starter in Round 11 and not gotten stuck with Didi Gregorius. Live and learn.
Here's who took part in this draft:
1) Dan Gilbert, Fantasy Fisticuffs podcast (@DabberDanLit)
2) Nick Mimikos, Stack Attack podcast (@NMimi)
3) Frank Stampfl, CBS Sports (@Roto_Frank)
4) Scott White, CBS Sports (@CBSScottWhite)
5) Chris Mitchell, FantasyData (@CJMitch73)
6) R.J. White, CBS Sports (@rjwhite1)
7) James Ganey, Fantrax (@CubbyNole)
8) Phil Ponebshek, Patton & Company
9) Nick Vanderah, Fantasy Life App (@MiniVan25)
10) Micah Henry, New Life Fantasy (@FantasyCentral1)
11) Chris Towers, CBS Sports (@CTowersCBS)
12) B_Don, Razzball (@RazzBDon)