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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. You can find recaps for Rounds 1-2 here, Rounds 3-4 here, Rounds 5-6 here, and Rounds 7-8 here.
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.
9.97 - Emmanuel Clase, RP
9.98 - Jorge Polanco, 2B/SS
9.99 - Aroldis Chapman, RP
9.100 - Yu Darvish, SP
9.101 - Ryan Pressly, RP
9.102 - DJ LeMahieu, 2B/3B
9.103 - Austin Meadows, OF
9.104 - Bobby Witt Jr., SS
9.105 - Mitch Haniger, OF
9.106 - Yasmani Grandal, C
9.107 - Edwin Diaz, RP
9.108 - Craig Kimbrel, RP
After Kenley Jansen and Rasiel Igelsias were selected in the eighth round, we saw five closers come off the board here in the ninth. Most of them fit into the “safe” category, which is pretty much what you are looking for when the start of the 2022 season is still several months away. While everyone was talking about James Karinchak in the spring, Clase burst onto the scene this year with a ridiculous 1.29 ERA and 24 saves in his 51 appearances. Armed with his 100 mph cutter, he spun off a 74/16 K/BB ratio over 69 2/3 innings while holding opposing batters to a .195 batting average and a .481 OPS. Kimbrel raises some eyebrows with the way that he finished the season with the White Sox, but clearly the eighth inning wasn’t for him. The expectation is that Chicago will pick up his option before trading him, so odds are he’ll be considered a top-10 fantasy closer wherever he lands.
Darvish was the only starting pitcher to be selected in this round, as Ryan Boyer is hoping on a return to form at a discount. The veteran right-hander looked like a fantasy ace to begin the year, but there’s no denying that he looked like a different pitcher (5.60 ERA in 19 starts) after MLB gave notice that they were on the lookout for sticky stuff. Still, he missed plenty of bats in that time and his hip was a lingering issue. He’s a fine gamble here. LeMahieu is another rebound candidate after slashing .268/.349/.362 with 10 home runs across 150 games this season. It’s natural to wonder how much the slightly “de-juiced” baseball had to do with it, but he also dealt with a sports hernia which recently required surgery. It’s a lot to ask him to get back to 2019-2020 levels, but it might not take much for him to be worth this ADP.
Marcus Semien, Fernando Tatis Jr., Brandon Lowe, and Max Muncy were the only middle-infielder eligible players who topped Polanco’s 33 homers this past season. Meanwhile, only five MI options bested his 98 RBI. Not bad for a ninth-round pick. Grandal had one of the weirdest seasons in recent memory (more walks than strikeouts, 23 of his 67 hits were home runs), but he’s one of the most bankable fantasy catchers. Meadows was a disappointment this year, mostly due to his lack of success against left-handed pitchers, but his power production keeps him on the map. Last but not least, we finally see Witt selected. I was actually planning to take him before George Bissell got there first. Even if Witt doesn’t make the Opening Day roster for the Royals, we probably won’t have to wait long for his across-the-board potential.
10.109 - Cody Bellinger, OF
10.110 - Charlie Morton, SP
10.111 - C.J. Cron, 1B
10.112 - Blake Snell, SP
10.113 - Daulton Varsho, C
10.114 - Jared Walsh, 1B
10.115 - Ian Anderson, SP
10.116 - Kyle Schwarber, OF
10.117 - Tommy Edman, 2B/OF
10.118 - Dansby Swanson, SS
10.119 - Willson Contreras, C
10.120 - Brendan Rodgers, 2B/SS
My how Bellinger has fallen, though it’s easy to see the upside if you’ve watched him at all this postseason. He’s hitting the ball extremely hard. It’s just a shame that he’s losing first base-eligibility. Speaking of first base, Cron should remain interesting after signing a two-year extension with the Rockies. Walsh just fell short of outfield eligibility here (18 appearances), but he mostly backed up the preseason enthusiasm. However, his struggles against lefties (.170/.208/.357) are a legitimate concern moving forward.
As far as starting pitching from this round, Morton continues to age gracefully while his teammate Anderson provides plenty of reason for excitement going into his age-24 season. It’s just a matter of refining his control. Snell went down in September with a left adductor groin strain, but his adjustment in August was encouraging. Interestingly, Snell was the first pitcher selected by Chris Crawford in this entire draft. The southpaw is certainly capable of outdoing this ADP. Going over to the position player side, the same goes for Schwarber, who might have gone a couple of rounds earlier if he didn’t hurt his hamstring around midseason.
Contreras has been one of the most reliable fantasy catchers in recent years, but Bissell is aiming for young upside once again, this time with Varsho. It’s understandable after he batted .290/.349/.530 with 10 homers, 31 RBI, five steals, and 32 runs scored over 60 games during the second half. His speed could be a game-changer at the catcher position. Speaking of speed, that’s why you draft Edman here, as he went 30-for-35 in stolen base attempts this season even if it came with an underwhelming .262/.308/.387 batting line. Swanson actually took a step back from his 2020 production, but his career-best power numbers keep him on the map at the shortstop position. Rogers was finally healthy enough to show what he could do this season and Coors Field obviously makes him more interesting as a breakout candidate.