Posted: Friday February 25, 2011 5:04PM ; Updated: Friday February 25, 2011 5:13PM
Eric Mack

2011 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft

Story Highlights

In a head-to-head points league, value ace pitchers over sluggers

How the mighty have fallen: A-Rod doesn't go until Round 3

Lack of top closers has teams waiting till late in draft for saves

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Fantasy Baseball 2011
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Failing to know the league rules front-to-back and side-to-side is the No. 1 place where fantasy owners err on draft day.

Don't throw away your entry fee before the season has even begun. Before you study players, study the format.

You have to know whether it is a Rotisserie league with ranked categories (5x5 -- AVG, HR, R, RBI, SB; W, ERA, K, WHIP, SV) or a Head-to-Head points league where all that matters is the total points accumulated in a given period. The differences in those two standard structures can wildly alter how your draft will unfold.

In general, Roto puts more emphasis on rare commodities such as steals or saves. In points leagues it doesn't matter which stats you gather; the goal is just to put together the most points possible.

So, let's point you to the most fundamental difference between Roto and points leagues: Starting pitching. In Rotisserie, pitching matters far less and pitchers go far later in drafts and cheaper in auctions. In points leagues, stud pitchers should get the upper hand.

It is pretty simple to see why. There are just more chances to rack up big numbers for the staff workhorses, especially if your league rewards three points per inning pitched (one point per out recorded). Two-start pitchers in Head-to-Head formats are gold mines, especially aces.

The staff at teamed with some analysts from the fantasy baseball industry in a mock draft Feb. 9. The format was a H2H points-based league with the following scoring categories:

Batting Categories Setting Pitching Categories Setting
1B - Singles 1 point BBI - Walks Issued (Pitchers) -1 point
2B - Doubles 2 points ER - Earned Runs -1 point
3B - Triples 3 points HA - Hits Allowed -1 point
BB - Walks (Batters) 1 point HB - Hit Batsmen -1 point
CS - Caught Stealing -1 point INN - Innings 3 points
HP - Hit by Pitch 1 point K - Strikeouts (Pitcher) .5 points
HR - Home Runs 4 points L - Losses -5 points
KO - Strikeouts (Batter) -0.5 points QS - Quality Starts 3 points
R - Runs 1 point S - Saves 7 points
RBI - Runs Batted In 1 point W - Wins 7 points
SB - Stolen Bases 2 points    

Let's break down what transpired round-by-round, outlining the reaches, steals and notable runs on positions.

Round 1
Pick Player Team
1 Albert Pujols STL Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Hanley Ramirez FLA Eric Mack,
3 Miguel Cabrera DET Ray Flowers,
4 Troy Tulowitzki COL Cliff Corcoran,
5 Joey Votto CIN Joe Lemire,
6 Ryan Braun MIL Ben Reiter,
7 Adrian Gonzalez BOS Michael Beller,
8 Evan Longoria TB Jay Clemons,
9 Carlos Gonzalez COL Alex Beckey,
10 Ryan Zimmerman WAS Lawr Michaels,
11 Roy Halladay PHI Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Felix Hernandez SEA Derek Carty,

This is a fairly standard first round, perhaps even something closer to how a Rotisserie draft might go. Pitchers didn't crack until Halladay at No. 11. In this format last year, Halladay was the No. 1 scorer (698.5) over Albert Pujols (676).

Reach: It is tough to call anyone a reach in Round 1, but it was surprising to see the Red Sox's Gonzalez go No. 7 overall. He is finally in a great ballpark and is slugging for a long-term contract, assuming he doesn't sign one before the start of the season. Warning: Be careful of offseason hype. It is the perception that can overrate reality. Also, Zimmerman isn't a first-rounder on that team and in that ballpark.

Steal: Halladay shouldn't have fallen out of the top five in this format. The Phillies are too good and a healthy Halladay can be the No. 1 scorer in this format again. Wins make a big difference in H2H points leagues.

Round 2
Pick Player Team
1 Tim Lincecum SF Derek Carty,
2 Cliff Lee PHI Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Adam Wainwright STL Lawr Michaels,
4 Robinson Cano NYY Alex Beckey,
5 Ryan Howard PHI Jay Clemons,
6 David Wright NYM Michael Beller,
7 Josh Hamilton TEX Ben Reiter,
8 Carl Crawford BOS Joe Lemire,
9 CC Sabathia NYY Cliff Corcoran,
10 Chase Utley PHI Ray Flowers,
11 Mark Teixeira NYY Eric Mack,
12 Jon Lester BOS Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

[Editor's Note: This mock draft took place before the season-ending injury to Adam Wainwright.] We see the run on starting pitchers here. You will find more differing opinions on how the order of pitchers should go than any other position. It is very important to know how your favorite pitchers slot. There is a lot more ambiguity among them.

Reach: Howard. He is a monster run producer, but he has shown some wear and tear and he costs himself with a high strikeout rate. This is a format that penalizes strikeouts. Howard not only wasn't in the top 17 of fantasy last year, but he wasn't even in the top 45 of hitters -- mostly due to an injury-plagued finish and the Ks.

Steal: Cano. He should be a first-rounder. Twitter fans even thought he should be a candidate to go No. 2 overall. But he should certainly go in the top 10, which is where the previous star of the 2B position, Utley, used to go.

Round 3
Pick Player Team
1 Alex Rodriguez NYY Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Dustin Pedroia BOS Eric Mack,
3 Matt Holliday STL Ray Flowers,
4 Kevin Youkilis BOS Cliff Corcoran,
5 Josh Johnson FLA Joe Lemire,
6 Ubaldo Jimenez COL Ben Reiter,
7 Zack Greinke MIL Michael Beller,
8 Joe Mauer MIN Jay Clemons,
9 Prince Fielder MIL Alex Beckey,
10 Clayton Kershaw LA Lawr Michaels,
11 Shin-Soo Choo CLE Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Andre Ethier LA Derek Carty,

The catcher seal gets cracked in Round 3 as Mauer falls out of Round 1 from a year ago. Rightly so. This is a much better round for Mauer.

Reach: Choo is a strong multi-category pick, but outfielders in points leagues tend to bunch up a whole lot. There tends to be little difference between the Round 3 outfielders and the Round 6 ones in the final numbers. Waiting is usually better after Braun, Gonzalez and Hamilton go off the board.

Steal: A-Rod falls from Round 1 all the way to Round 3. He is still a great run producer and should be more of an early second-round pick.

Round 4
Pick Player Team
1 Ian Kinsler TEX Derek Carty,
2 Jason Heyward ATL Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Justin Verlander DET Lawr Michaels,
4 David Price TB Alex Beckey,
5 Matt Kemp LA Jay Clemons,
6 Jose Reyes NYM Michael Beller,
7 Cole Hamels PHI Ben Reiter,
8 Adam Dunn CHW Joe Lemire,
9 Dan Uggla ATL Cliff Corcoran,
10 Dan Haren ANA Ray Flowers,
11 Victor Martinez DET Eric Mack,
12 Jered Weaver ANA Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

This is a pitcher-heavy round and it should be like that in many formats, Rotisserie included. It is the point where the biggest sluggers are off the board, so the aces have to follow before the middlin' hitters come in.

Reach: Haren is an innings-eater and he should be much better with the Angels for a full season, but he still shouldn't go before the likes of Weaver, Carpenter and Oswalt. Heyward went a little early for a player that hasn't hit 20-plus homers yet or reached 100 RBI. He should get those this season, though.

Steal: Price somehow doesn't get enough love after that huge sophomore season. He is a top 5 starter that went after 12 starting pitchers were already off the board.

Round 5
Pick Player Team
1 Francisco Liriano MIN Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Chris Carpenter STL Eric Mack,
3 Tommy Hanson ATL Ray Flowers,
4 Mat Latos SD Cliff Corcoran,
5 Matt Cain SF Joe Lemire,
6 Buster Posey SF Ben Reiter,
7 Nelson Cruz TEX Michael Beller,
8 Andrew McCutchen PIT Jay Clemons,
9 Roy Oswalt PHI Alex Beckey,
10 Brandon Phillips CIN Lawr Michaels,
11 Kendry Morales ANA Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Brian McCann ATL Derek Carty,

This is usually were the elite closers should start to go. They didn't, curiously. It could be because the top of the closer board is a bit less stagnant than it was been in the Rivera heyday.

Reach: Liriano is a great talent, but he shouldn't go before Carpenter.

Steal: Oswalt could win 20 games in a full healthy season with the Phillies, especially since he will be pitching for a $16 million option to get picked up.

Round 6
Pick Player Team
1 Jose Bautista TOR Derek Carty,
2 Yovani Gallardo MIL Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Mike Napoli TEX Lawr Michaels,
4 Nick Markakis BAL Alex Beckey,
5 Justin Upton ARI Jay Clemons,
6 Rickie Weeks MIL Michael Beller,
7 Justin Morneau MIN Ben Reiter,
8 Adrian Beltre TEX Joe Lemire,
9 Jayson Werth WAS Cliff Corcoran,
10 Jimmy Rollins PHI Ray Flowers,
11 Clay Buchholz BOS Eric Mack,
12 Ichiro Suzuki SEA Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

Still no closer, eh? And we finally see last year's breakthrough homer leader go off the board, Bautista.

Reach: Napoli might have been the reach of the draft. He might not belong in the top 10 of catchers, but he was the fifth catcher off the board here.

Steal: Morneau is a steal with a caveat: He has just started swinging the bat after his latest concussion ending his past season. If he is healthy and falls this far, wow. Spring training should give us plenty of information.

Round 7
Pick Player Team
1 Curtis Granderson NYY Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Jacoby Ellsbury BOS Eric Mack,
3 Chad Billingsley LA Ray Flowers,
4 Paul Konerko CHW Cliff Corcoran,
5 Martin Prado ATL Joe Lemire,
6 Gordon Beckham CHW Ben Reiter,
7 Max Scherzer DET Michael Beller,
8 Wandy Rodriguez HOU Jay Clemons,
9 Carlos Santana CLE Alex Beckey,
10 Nick Swisher NYY Lawr Michaels,
11 Aramis Ramirez CHC Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Derek Jeter NYY Derek Carty,

Still no closers. The differing opinions on pitchers continue and have some arms going that might not have been as sure of picks as the elite closers.

Reach: Beckham should bounce back from an awful season, but his number and resume don't yet justify this high of a pick.

Steal: Ellsbury could be it. He was the No. 2 outfielder in fantasy to Braun in 2009 before a broken rib wiped out his 2010. Remember what was said above about outfielders? There are still some values on the board at that position.

Round 8
Pick Player Team
1 Billy Butler KC Derek Carty,
2 Carlos Marmol CHC Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Stephen Drew ARI Lawr Michaels,
4 Pablo Sandoval SF Alex Beckey,
5 Brandon Morrow TOR Jay Clemons,
6 Shaun Marcum MIL Michael Beller,
7 Elvis Andrus TEX Ben Reiter,
8 Aubrey Huff SF Joe Lemire,
9 Chris Young ARI Cliff Corcoran,
10 Shane Victorino PHI Ray Flowers,
11 Brian Wilson SF Eric Mack,
12 Chone Figgins SEA Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

Finally, closers! Interestingly, Marmol goes before World Series hero Wilson, not to mention Rivera, Papelbon Bell and Feliz.

Reach: Picking Andrus this high is a function of overrating position scarcity in the middle rounds. Don't do it. Overvalue the top few shortstops. After that, punt and scramble late.

Steal: Wilson should be rated the No. 1 closer, and he should probably crack a standard draft well before Round 8.

Round 9
Pick Player Team
1 Alex Rios CHW Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Phil Hughes NYY Eric Mack,
3 Hunter Pence HOU Ray Flowers,
4 Neftali Feliz TEX Cliff Corcoran,
5 Alexei Ramirez CHW Joe Lemire,
6 Pedro Alvarez PIT Ben Reiter,
7 Drew Stubbs CIN Michael Beller,
8 Colby Rasmus STL Jay Clemons,
9 Michael Stanton FLA Alex Beckey,
10 B.J. Upton TB Lawr Michaels,
11 Jay Bruce CIN Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Corey Hart MIL Derek Carty,

There is a justifiable run on outfielders here. Keep that in mind. Start hitting your outfielders before Round 9 if you take the advice above to wait on them after the top trio.

Reach: Alvarez is a great young talent at a position that needs a new superstar, but it would have been advisable to wait a few rounds for him. It still isn't certain he can get his strikeouts in check and hit above .260.

Steal: Perhaps Stanton, another sophomore like Alvarez. Stanton could hit 35-plus homers with 100-plus RBI in his first full season. Not bad value for a late ninth-rounder. He should certainly go before Alvarez.

Round 10
Pick Player Team
1 John Danks CHW Derek Carty,
2 Heath Bell SD Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Daniel Hudson ARI Lawr Michaels,
4 Jeremy Hellickson TB Alex Beckey,
5 Carlos Lee HOU Jay Clemons,
6 Mariano Rivera NYY Michael Beller,
7 Joakim Soria KC Ben Reiter,
8 Josh Beckett BOS Joe Lemire,
9 Madison Bumgarner SF Cliff Corcoran,
10 Ryan Dempster CHC Ray Flowers,
11 Jonathan Papelbon BOS Eric Mack,
12 John Lackey BOS Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

If Round 9 was one for outfielders, Round 10 is one for pitchers, starters and relievers alike.

Reach: Daniel Hudson should not go before Tim Hudson, despite what a great stretch run the sophomore had. He is overrated here. Hellickson and Bumgarner had some moments, too, but they can't go before Beckett, Lackey and, say, 10 other pitchers.

Steal: A lot of people are down on Papelbon, but if there is one player willing to play mercenary and earn a highest-bidder free-agent deal, it has to be Paps.

Round 11
Pick Player Team
1 Michael Young TEX Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Delmon Young MIN Eric Mack,
3 Casey McGehee MIL Ray Flowers,
4 Joe Nathan MIN Cliff Corcoran,
5 John Axford MIL Joe Lemire,
6 Brett Anderson OAK Ben Reiter,
7 Matt Garza CHC Michael Beller,
8 Adam Jones BAL Jay Clemons,
9 Huston Street COL Alex Beckey,
10 Jonathan Sanchez SF Lawr Michaels,
11 Kelly Johnson ARI Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Vernon Wells ANA Derek Carty,

The closers are getting gobbled up faster now. You will want to have your first closer before this time.

Reach: Nathan is potentially great, but you need to see him pitch this spring and go back-to-backs before you draft him in this lofty area. Matt Capps is still slated to be the Twins opening-day closer until Nathan proves otherwise.

Steal: Anderson is an immense talent that could enjoy the breakthrough Cahill had a year ago. He and Cahill should be a pretty good 1-2 punch for the resurgent A's.

Round 12
Pick Player Team
1 Brad Lidge PHI Derek Carty,
2 Geovany Soto CHC Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Denard Span MIN Lawr Michaels,
4 Andrew Bailey OAK Alex Beckey,
5 Brian Roberts BAL Jay Clemons,
6 Carlos Quentin CHW Michael Beller,
7 Trevor Cahill OAK Ben Reiter,
8 Matt Wieters BAL Joe Lemire,
9 Brian Matusz BAL Cliff Corcoran,
10 Kurt Suzuki OAK Ray Flowers,
11 Jaime Garcia STL Eric Mack,
12 Grady Sizemore CLE Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

After this round, a fantasy draft tends to morph into collecting pitchers and outfielders or back-filling the other positions. It is noteworthy Wieters goes in Round 12. That is roughly the round he has gone in each of the past two disappointing years. Maybe this is the year he puts it together.

Reach: Span can be considered one only because he really doesn't stand out in one real category. His scoring gets up there with his regular at-bats, though.

Steal: Suzuki is one of the unsung studs of the catcher position. He gets more of his value by playing a lot and racking up at-bats, but that counts all the same in points leagues. He has been a top-five catcher in scoring, even if his numbers and ceiling aren't as great.

Here is the back half of the draft:

Round 13
Pick Player Team
1 Jason Bay NYM Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Manny Ramirez TB Eric Mack,
3 Jonathan Broxton LA Ray Flowers,
4 Jorge Posada NYY Cliff Corcoran,
5 Torii Hunter ANA Joe Lemire,
6 Carlos Beltran NYM Ben Reiter,
7 Miguel Montero ARI Michael Beller,
8 Colby Lewis TEX Jay Clemons,
9 Mark Reynolds BAL Alex Beckey,
10 Adam LaRoche WAS Lawr Michaels,
11 Ted Lilly LA Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Brett Myers HOU Derek Carty,

Round 14
Pick Player Team
1 Francisco Rodriguez NYM Derek Carty,
2 Ian Desmond WAS Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Francisco Cordero CIN Lawr Michaels,
4 Edinson Volquez CIN Alex Beckey,
5 Ian Kennedy ARI Jay Clemons,
6 David Ortiz BOS Michael Beller,
7 J.J. Putz ARI Ben Reiter,
8 Ricky Romero TOR Joe Lemire,
9 Andres Torres SF Cliff Corcoran,
10 Ricky Nolasco FLA Ray Flowers,
11 Aaron Hill TOR Eric Mack,
12 Chris Perez CLE Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

Round 15
Pick Player Team
1 Carlos Pena CHC Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Tim Hudson ATL Eric Mack,
3 Matt Thornton CHW Ray Flowers,
4 Bobby Abreu ANA Cliff Corcoran,
5 Jose Valverde DET Joe Lemire,
6 Brett Gardner NYY Ben Reiter,
7 Gio Gonzalez OAK Michael Beller,
8 Ryan Franklin STL Jay Clemons,
9 Starlin Castro CHC Alex Beckey,
10 Craig Kimbrel ATL Lawr Michaels,
11 Ben Zobrist TB Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Derrek Lee BAL Derek Carty,

Round 16
Pick Player Team
1 Johnny Cueto CIN Derek Carty,
2 Vladimir Guerrero TEX Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
3 Jason Kubel MIN Lawr Michaels,
4 Dallas Braden OAK Alex Beckey,
5 Leo Nunez FLA Jay Clemons,
6 Kevin Gregg BAL Michael Beller,
7 Adam Lind TOR Ben Reiter,
8 Carlos Zambrano CHC Joe Lemire,
9 Derek Holland TEX Cliff Corcoran,
10 James Shields TB Ray Flowers,
11 Ian Stewart COL Eric Mack,
12 Austin Jackson DET Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

Round 17
Pick Player Team
1 Drew Storen WAS Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 C.J. Wilson TEX Eric Mack,
3 Joel Hanrahan PIT Ray Flowers,
4 Jordan Zimmermann WAS Cliff Corcoran,
5 Fausto Carmona CLE Joe Lemire,
6 Travis Snider TOR Ben Reiter,
7 Michael Cuddyer MIN Michael Beller,
8 Bud Norris HOU Jay Clemons,
9 Aroldis Chapman CIN Alex Beckey,
10 Ervin Santana ANA Lawr Michaels,
11 Anibal Sanchez FLA Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 David Aardsma SEA Derek Carty,

Round 18
Pick Player Team
1 Angel Pagan NYM Derek Carty,
2 Russell Martin NYY Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411*
3 Chris Iannetta COL Lawr Michaels,
4 Jake Peavy CHW Alex Beckey,
5 Jose Tabata PIT Jay Clemons,
6 Javier Vazquez FLA Michael Beller,
7 Jorge De La Rosa COL Ben Reiter,
8 Josh Willingham OAK Joe Lemire,
9 Frank Francisco TOR Cliff Corcoran,
10 Howard Kendrick ANA Ray Flowers,
11 Alfonso Soriano CHC Eric Mack,
12 Neil Walker PIT Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

Round 19
Pick Player Team
1 J.J. Hardy BAL Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Lance Berkman STL Eric Mack,
3 Gavin Floyd CHW Ray Flowers,
4 Domonic Brown PHI Cliff Corcoran,
5 Hiroki Kuroda LA Joe Lemire,
6 Juan Uribe LA Ben Reiter,
7 Octavio Dotel TOR Michael Beller,
8 Michael Bourn HOU Jay Clemons,
9 Jonny Venters ATL Alex Beckey,
10 Asdrubal Cabrera CLE Lawr Michaels,
11 Gaby Sanchez FLA Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411*
12 Edwin Jackson CHW Derek Carty,

Round 20
Pick Player Team
1 Ike Davis NYM Derek Carty,
2 Edwin Encarnacion TOR Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411*
3 Mike Minor ATL Lawr Michaels,
4 Chris Sale CHW Alex Beckey,
5 Marco Scutaro BOS Jay Clemons,
6 Michael Pineda SEA Michael Beller,
7 Freddie Freeman ATL Ben Reiter,
8 Miguel Tejada SF Joe Lemire,
9 Jonathon Niese NYM Cliff Corcoran,
10 Juan Pierre CHW Ray Flowers,
11 Jair Jurrjens ATL Eric Mack,
12 Mike Leake CIN Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal

Round 21
Pick Player Team
1 Nick Hundley SD Nando DiFino, Wall Street Journal
2 Bronson Arroyo CIN Eric Mack,
3 Jhonny Peralta DET Ray Flowers,
4 Scott Rolen CIN Cliff Corcoran,
5 Brandon Lyon HOU Joe Lemire,
6 Brett Cecil TOR Ben Reiter,
7 Scott Baker MIN Michael Beller,
8 Jake McGee TB Jay Clemons,
9 Dexter Fowler COL Alex Beckey,
10 Mitch Moreland TEX Lawr Michaels,
11 James Loney LA Cory Schwartz, Fantasy 411
12 Koji Uehara BAL Derek Carty,

There is not much in the way of surprises here, but the quality depth of the outfielders and pitchers should be noted. There are good values to be had at those positions after the midway point.

It certainly raises the question why anyone should go stud pitchers early. But, finding those mid-round guys that perform like aces isn't an easy thing.

The best advice in this format is to draft pitchers early and often, even if yours truly didn't do that above.

Eric Mack writes bi-weekly for You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.
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