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Draft Strategy

Early 2022 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft

by D.J. Short
Updated On: October 18, 2021, 10:37 am ET

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The postseason might be in full swing, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2022 MLB season. With the fantasy baseball season still fresh in our minds, we thought this was a good time to take stock of what we learned and begin to forecast what drafts might look like next spring. Of course, with a deep and talented free agent class, opinions will evolve over time. But we wanted to give it a whirl anyway.

What you’ll see here are the results of a slow mock draft with staff members from NBC Sports EDGE. Full results will be posted over the course of the next several days, starting with Rounds 1 and 2. All participants are listed below.

1) Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino)
2) Seth Trachtman (@sethroto)
3) Colin Henderson (@ColDontLie)
4) Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
5) Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams)
6) Drew Silva (@drewsilv)
7) Dave Shovein (@DaveShovein)
8) George Bissell (@GeorgeBissell)
9) Chris Crawford (@Crawford_MILB)
10) D.J. Short (@djshort)
11) Micah Henry (@FantasyCentral1)
12) Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)

We’re drafting based on 5x5 roto scoring. The mock draft consists of 23 rounds, with 14 position players and nine pitcher spots. The position player breakdown is: 2 C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, UTIL. There’s 20-game eligibility for a player to qualify at a particular position.

Note: Shohei Ohtani will be treated as two separate players for the purpose of this exercise.

Round 1

1.1 - Fernando Tatís Jr., SS/OF
1.2 -  Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B
1.3 -  Juan Soto, OF
1.4 - Trea Turner, 2B/SS
1.5 - Jose Ramirez, 3B
1.6 - Mike Trout, OF
1.7 -  Gerrit Cole, SP
1.8 - Ronald Acuña Jr., OF
1.9 - Bo Bichette, SS
1.10 - Kyle Tucker, OF
1.11Bryce Harper, OF
1.12 - Rafael Devers, 3B

It’s hard to argue against Tatís as the No. 1 overall selection in standard mixed leagues. The shoulder remains a concern, but he offers the most reward of any player on the board. Guerrero has joined Soto among the elite hitters in the game, though they don’t quite offer the five-category ability of the position players you usually find at the top of mixed league drafts. They are still really awesome, though, and they are going to go early. In OBP leagues, Soto should be the No. 1 overall selection.

As of now, Turner might be my choice for the top selection in mixed league drafts. He’s a true five-category dynamo, sporting a .317 average over his last 329 games dating back to the start of the 2019 season. He also boasts a .900 OPS during that time. The power production might fluctuate in Los Angeles, but the lineup should remain strong and Turner is capable of leading the league in steals once again. And he just feels safer than Tatis, if you’re into that.

Ramirez’s batting average is a moving target these days, but he’s an elite power/speed contributor at a shallow position. Just where Trout would be drafted was one of the biggest questions going into this draft, but it’s foolish to underestimate him, like, ever. The other big question was where Acuña would go, as it’s uncertain when exactly he’ll be ready coming off his torn ACL. Fortunately, we’ll have more clarity on that as drafts approach in the spring. Cole was the first pitcher off the board, which makes sense given the questions with deGrom.

Bichette’s approach might be a work in progress, but he checks all the boxes as five-category performer in standard mixed leagues. I chose Tucker over Harper because I think we haven’t seen his peak just yet. Keep in mind that he hit .329 with 25 home runs and a 1.013 OPS over his final 107 games this season. He’s a stud. Get used to it. Devers rounded out the first round as a monster hitter at a shallow position.

Round 2

2.13 - Jacob deGrom, SP
2.14 - Mookie Betts, OF
2.15 - Corbin Burnes, SP
2.16 - Shohei Ohtani, UTIL
2.17 - Luis Robert, OF
2.18 - Walker Buehler, SP
2.19 - Max Scherzer, SP
2.20 - Starling Marte, OF
2.21 - Freddie Freeman 1B
2.22 - Manny Machado, 3B
2.23 - Ozzie Albies, 2B
2.24 - Cedric Mullins, OF

And there’s deGrom. Nobody can say with full confidence that he’ll go into next season healthy, but he was having a historic season this year before going down with his elbow injury. It’s going to be hard to resist him if he falls this far. The same can be said for Betts, who had a subpar year while dealing with a hip injury. There’s first-round ability here if he’s back to normal. My second-round pick was Burnes, who has proven himself as an elite starting pitcher. He’s compiled a 2.34 ERA in 226 2/3 innings dating back to the start of last season. The likely NL Cy Young Award favorite, Burnes led qualified pitchers in ERA, strikeout percentage, whiff rate, and chase rate this year.

If Ohtani was eligible as both a hitter and a pitcher, he almost certainly would have gone in the first round. However, he slides into the second round here, mostly due to his issues with the strikeout and by extension, the impact on his batting average. Robert is a great pick here, as his numbers after returning from the injured list indicated that he could be a first-round talent as soon as next year. Buehler might not have the massive strikeout numbers of other fantasy aces, but he worked very deep into games this year and finds himself in a great situation. Scherzer isn’t going anywhere, even as he moves into his late-30s.

As the second round comes to a close, safety is the operative word. Marte’s speed, even at age-33, should continue to play well regardless of where he lands. It’s hard to imagine Freeman anywhere other than Atlanta, but he’s as steady as it gets at the first base position. Machado didn’t post elite numbers in any category this year, but he did enough everywhere to be a standout at a position without much quality depth in fantasy leagues.

Albies is similar to Bichette in that he puts up some ridiculous numbers despite some warts with his approach. Still, he's one of the elite options at the second base position, so this feels right for him. It was nice to see Mullins get some respect after his remarkable breakthrough season. After giving up switch-hitting, the 27-year-old batted .291/.260/.518 in 159 games while becoming the first ever Orioles player to join the 30-30 club. Call him Sam Beckett because he just made a “Quantum Leap.”