Starting pitchers have always been in higher demand in Head-to-Head points leagues than in the traditional 5x5 scoring format.
So as the game evolves, with power hitting becoming more widespread and high-end starting pitchers becoming a greater differentiator across all Fantasy Baseball formats as a result, it shouldn't be so shocking to see one go first overall in the format that has always favored them most.
That's exactly what happened in our first Head-to-Head points mock for 2021, a 12-teamer. That it was Gerrit Cole — and not Jacob deGrom or Shane Bieber, who would have been more conventional choices — was indeed surprising, but not that it was a pitcher. Frankly, if you're drafting outside the top five, you shouldn't expect to get any of those three in this format.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to nab one with the seventh pick because of decisions made by others, but Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Juan Soto are the only three hitters I'd put on equal footing with those pitchers in this format.
It would be different in traditional 5x5 scoring, particularly Rotisserie leagues, where you're having to navigate a stolen base shortage and a 14-hitter lineup instead of a nine-hitter lineup, but when you don't have to be so particular about the type of hitter you get and there are oh so many more to go around, the stud pitcher is the way to go. Shoot, you're liable to remake half your lineup off the waiver wire in this format anyway.
I feel like I overdid it in our first mock draft for 2021 — a 12-team Rotisserie — selecting four starting pitchers with my first five picks, but I did it with four of my first six picks in this one (the more appropriate format for such aggression) and was happier with the way it turned out. Actually, I went starting pitcher with five of my first seven picks ... and then again with Picks 10 and 13. Sorry, not sorry.
One curious development is that, amid the demand for starting pitchers, only one went off the board in Round 3. The hitter pool does reach a point where the drop-off is notable and the possibility for first-round production no longer exists, and I think we all made a point to gobble up those remaining few before resuming the arms race. I don't know that I'd put hitters like George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero, J.D. Martinez and Charlie Blackmon on the right side of that ledger, as happened here, but Alex Bregman, Corey Seager, DJ LeMahieu? Absolutely.
Here's who else took part in this one:
1) Frank Stampfl, CBS Sports (@Roto_Frank)
2) Chris Towers, CBS Sports (@CTowersCBS)
3) Garrett Atkins, Fake Teams (@13atkins13)
4) Micah Henry, New Life Fantasy (@FantasyCentral1)
5) Michael Waterloo, The Athletic (@MichaelWaterloo)
6) R.J. White, CBS Sports (@rjwhite1)
7) Scott White, CBS Sports (@CBSScottWhite)
8) Daniel Preciado, Six Man Rotation (@DanJPreciado)
9) David Doak, Roto Joe's (@DaveDoak_70)
10) Chris Mitchell, Fantrax (@CJMitch73)
11) Casey Symonds, lucky reader who got to join in
12) Phil Ponebshek, Patton & Company