The most unconventional of seasons makes for the most unconventional of draft prep.
We enter the offseason not knowing how much of what we've seen we can actually believe, given the small sample of it all, and our first mock draft for 2021 reflects it. A mainstay like J.D. Martinez, who hit .213 in 2020, slipped to Round 7. Same for Javier Baez, who hit .203, and Austin Meadows, who hit .205.
It's later than we're used to seeing them go, sure, but not as late as if they had put up those numbers over a full season
Others got almost a complete pass. Christian Yelich, who hit .205, and Cody Bellinger, who hit .239, both still went in the first round, albeit at the back end instead of the front end. They offer a higher ceiling, of course, and I'm of the belief they went where they should have given that their underlying skills registered as mostly still intact even as the production sagged. But the bottom line is that one-third of a full-length season isn't enough time to smooth over the oddities inherent to a sport where success and failure come in spurts.
Case in point: Jose Altuve, who hit .219 with five home runs during the two-month regular season, got to enjoy a third month because of the playoffs and performed so well, hitting .375 with five home runs, that he still managed to go in Round 4. It's earlier than I would have taken him, but that's also part of the point I want to make. When we all have to use our imagination to fill in the blanks for an incomplete season, we're less likely to arrive at the same place. It might take longer for the groupthink to set in this time around, if it does at all.
As for the other end of the spectrum — i.e., the surprise contributors in the pandemic-shortened season — they met with a healthy dose of skepticism in this first draft. Randy Arozarena, who ended up hitting a combined 17 home runs in 40 games between the regular season and playoffs, went in the middle of Round 10, 116th overall, and Teoscar Hernandez, who homered 16 times in 52 games between the regular season and playoffs, went eight picks later.
Wondering who was responsible for these picks? Meet the crew:
1) Phil Ponebshek, Patton & Company
2) Scott White, CBS Sports (@CBSScottWhite)
3) Adam Aizer, CBS Sports (@AdamAizer)
4) Frank Stampfl, CBS Sports (@Roto_Frank)
5) Michael Dodson, lucky reader who got to join in
6) B_Don, Razzball (@RazzBDon)
7) R.J. White, CBS Sports (@rjwhite1)
8) Jesse Roche, Baseball Prospectus (@jaroche6)
9) Evan Rosenthal, lucky reader who got to join in
10) Micah Henry, New Life Fantasy (@FantasyCentral1)
11) Chris Towers, CBS Sports (@CTowersCBS)
12) Dan Gilbert, Fantasy Fisticuffs podcast (@DabberDanLit)