April 20, 2024

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Fantasy Baseball Today: H2H Categories industry mock draft plus updating lockout and other news

Fantasy Baseball Today: H2H Categories industry mock draft plus updating lockout and other news

Happy Thursday, everyone! The clock is ticking for the MLB and the MLB Players Association to come to an agreement after meeting for the third straight day on Wednesday in Jupiter, FL. We’ll have an update with more on the ongoing negotiations and what they could mean for the regular season below. But the focus of today’s newsletter will be Wednesday’s industry mock draft — key takeaways from the mock that included the entire Fantasy Baseball Today team — Scott White, Frank Stampfl and Chris Towers.

What I found most interesting about this mock was how much impact the scoring and format had on the draft results. This was our first mock with this specific scoring format — head-to-head and categories — and it had a major impact on where players went. For starters, finding stolen bases are tackles with an entirely different approach. 

While it can be argued that stolen bases are made even more important in this format, that may only be true for players who steal a lot of bases rather than those who accumulate between 10-15 over the course of a season. The latter are a lot more valuable in Roto scoring leagues. Scott has advocated for a “zero-stolen base” strategy in 2022 — which is not exactly as it sounds — and a lot more like the “zero RB” counterpart we’ve seen used in Fantasy Football. In a H2H categories format, punting the steals category can pay major dividends — specifically if you build out a strong pitching staff. 

We’ll have a lot more on the mock draft below, but first, let’s get to some news and notes on the lockout and more. 

And of course, as always, you can follow to make sure you get the latest episodes of Fantasy Baseball Today right when they drop on Apple and Spotify

Lockout update

According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, a MLB spokesperson said Wednesday that regular season games will be canceled if an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement isn’t reached by Feb. 28. That gives us just four more days for the two sides to come to an agreement before we have to start worrying about losing games. For a more detailed look at how this impending decision and others will impact the Fantasy Baseball season, your drafts and more, be sure to check back on the Fantasy Baseball main page later today where Towers will be providing a detailed lockout primer. 

Per the spokesperson, “A deadline is a deadline… Missed games are missed games. Salary will not be paid for those games.” 

The expectation is that the MLB doesn’t intend to rewrite the schedule and would simply pick up whenever games begin. The owners seem prepared to extend the lockout into March, which would cancel early-season games. Both sides remain far apart in negotiations on a number of key issues, namely the major-league minimum salary, pre-arbitration bonus pools, MLB Draft lottery slots and competitive balance tax (CBT) thresholds.

Other news and notes

  • Astros SP Lance McCullers Jr. (forearm) is “behind” in his recovery from a forearm strain that he sustained during the 2021 postseason. Per McCullers, while he has resumed throwing, he has yet to throw off a mound. 
  • Rangers 3B prospect Josh Jung underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. This is terrible news considering Jung was one of the most pro-ready prospects in the game and had a chance to make the opening day roster after batting .326/.398/.592 batting line with 19 homers in 78 games last year between his time at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock.

Key takeaways from Scott

  • Kyle Tucker, who’s normally a borderline first-rounder, slipped to the middle of Round 2, behind notables like Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Luis Robert and Jacob deGrom. Apparently, others agree that his 12-15 steals don’t have the same impact a week at a time as they do over a full season in Roto.
  • Liam Hendriks and Josh Hader continue to set a new standard for how early high-end relievers should go, bookending Round 4 in this draft. Interestingly, Raisel Iglesias got stapled to them this time, going with the first pick of Round 5, which then led to Ryan Pressly and Edwin Diaz going a couple picks later. I am not in favor.
  • All of those reliever picks likely contributed to Francisco Lindor slipping to Round 7, which I think is more appropriate than Round 4, where he normally goes. Tim Anderson slid along with him.
  • For more takeaways from Scott and the full draft results, check out the mock recap.

More takeaways

  • Chris brought up an excellent point on the live YouTube recap of the draft: If you’re concerned about drafting a player with an injury history, the shallower rosters and H2H format make supposed injury-prone players a little less scary.
  • Angels DH/SP Shohei Ohtani went off the board at No. 9 overall and a case can be made that he should be the No. 1 overall pick in this format because you can set him in your lineups every day and get his stats as both a pitcher and hitter.
  • Frank was actively looking to avoid the steals category in this format, one of the reasons he avoided Astros OF Kyle Tucker at the end of Round 1. One thing to note if you’re planning to punt steals, it works better in these H2H leagues where there is only one win per week rather than each category tallies a point (EX: 9-1, 8-2). If you’re last in steals, you’re still going to have a chance to win the category in a given week vs. in a Roto scoring format where you’ll finish with the least points in that category.
  • Scott put his money where his mouth is by drafting Orioles OF Cedric Mullins in Round 3. Scott is particularly high on Mullins and leaving every draft with Royals C Salvador Perez, who he ironically regretted not selecting in Round 3.
  • This might be the earliest we’ve EVER seen Towers take a closer. At the end of the fourth round, he selected Brewers RP Josh Hader. We’ve seen him go full drafts without going with a closer, but in this draft, he is rolling with a modified Marmol strategy. This strategy stresses the importance of building a staff with productive relievers. Chris then did something even more unexpected, though in line with his strategy for this specific mock, when he drafted Angels RP Raisel Iglesias right after Hader.

More Draft Prep

  • There are breakouts and sleepers, but what about the players who are being drafted at a notable discount due to recency bias? Those players qualify as post-hype sleepers. Scott’s group of 18 post-hype sleepers includes former top prospects and players with notable upside who the consensus is giving up on far too soon.
  • Towers did an excellent job breaking down why you should be passing on name-brand players with inflated ADPs for these five cheaper alternatives. And then also these five additional value picks.
  • Scott also dove into the best and worst-case scenarios for these 15 potential first-round draft picks. I really enjoyed this one because it gave an excellent perspective on floor vs. ceiling for first-round picks. I’m a believer in prioritizing floor with early-round investments.