2020 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Heavy Draft Strategies: 1st Pick

by Dave Eddy
2020 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Heavy Draft Strategies

Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Baseball pitching heavy draft strategies article. In this series, I will be tackling (sorry, still have the NFL Draft running through my veins) a variety of different Fantasy Baseball draft strategies for a redraft league.  I will be going pick by pick to give you detailed reasoning for my selection.

A few of us Fantasy Six Pack writers are drafting from different positions in a 12 team league using various Fantasy Baseball draft strategies. I have the first overall pick in these mock drafts, for the first time in my life mind you. We are all using the heavy-hitting and heavy pitching strategies along with a "wildcard strategy".

The second installment of the first pick series will focus on a pitching heavy strategy. The following mock draft will outline an example of how owners can secure a solid pitching staff with the first pick in the draft.

Let's dive into my 2020 Fantasy Baseball pitching heavy draft strategy mock.

For these drafts we are using the following settings:

  • 12 team league
  • Positions - C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OF (5), P (9), UTIL, Bench (5)
  • Scoring - R, HR, RBI, AVG, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

For each draft, we use the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator to create each of these fake teams.

Make sure to check out the strategies for the last pick, the seventh pick, the third pick, and the hitting-heavy strategy.

2020 Fantasy Baseball 1st Pick Draft Strategies

Just like with the hitting heavy strategy where I did not ignore pitching, here I am not going to ignore hitting.  I will, however, place a higher value on arms as I build my team and consider each pick.  I will try to maintain a well balanced and competitive team, just with a stronger focus on ensuring a high-quality pitching staff without sacrificing much hitting.

1.1 Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves

The story here is the same as with my hitting heavy draft.  Whether focusing on hitting or pitching you should be considering Acuna, Trout or Yelich at the very top of the draft.

Considered: Mike Trout, Christian Yelich

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2.12 Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals

As you would expect, this is where my draft starts to take a turn from going hitting heavy.  While there are plenty of tremendous bats available, I have an eye towards solidifying my staff from the beginning of the draft.  With that in mind, there are a few names that really stand out in Strasburg and Flaherty.

As you remember from my comments in the hitting heavy mock, I highly value ERA and WHIP when it comes to pitching.  In the case of deciding here, I consider both of these guys to have similar upside in those categories so the tiebreaker for me becomes K's.  I think Strasburg has the higher upside there so I go that direction with this pick.

Considered: Jack Flaherty, Shane Bieber, Blake Snell

3.1 Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

With the luxury of back to back picks I can either continue to build my pitching staff or turn to add another bat.  Considering my focus on pitching for this draft it is hard to pass on Flaherty.  After considering a few bats I just go ahead and add another great arm to my roster.

Considered: Starling Marte, Javier Baez, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Altuve

4.12 Charlie Morton, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

As will often be the case in this draft, I have debated on the types of bats available compared to the arms I could select.  Though I am going pitching heavy, it does not mean I am avoiding bats by any means.  Previously I went Hiura then Morton on this turn.

With the way the board sits, I have quite a few guys to choose between but ultimately I have back to back picks here.  I decide that Hiura and Morton are still the best two options for this team so I select them again. I go Morton first since this is pitching focused but it doesn't really matter of course.

Considered: Keston Hiura, Kris Bryant, Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Chris Paddack

5.1 Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

See comments for pick 4.12

Considered: Kris Bryant, Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Chris Paddack

6.12 Aroldis Chapman, RP, New York Yankees

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It's always interesting to see which guys fall after going nearly a full two rounds between picks.  While it is obviously fantastic to pick back-to-back, it is typically hard to tell exactly who is going to fall to me.  When looking at the board and deciding on which two players to take, my eye in this draft is, of course, focusing on pitching first.

I am to the point where I am considering the top tier closers for a couple of reasons.  First, it is pitching of course.  Second, they are really going to be helpful in helping me to ensure my ratios are elite.  After considering quite a few options here I can't pass up on getting a great closer so I take my favorite on the board.

Considered: Tommy Pham, Victor Robles, Tyler Glasnow, Nicholas Castellanos, Kenley Jansen, Roberto Osuna

7.1 Victor Robles, OF, Washington Nationals

I have to admit, I was quite tempted to go with Osuna or Jansen here.  It would continue my focus on pitching and give me one hell of an advantage in saves, ERA, and WHIP.  However, building a well-rounded team is still my top priority.  In Robles, I see a guy that I think has the potential to have a true breakout season and gives me those SB's that are going to be elusive after passing on some bats with those types of players to this point.

Considered: Tommy Pham, Tyler Glasnow, Nicholas Castellanos, Kenley Jansen, Roberto Osuna

8.12 Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox

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With the intention of likely taking a bat and an arm for the next couple of turns, my mind is open to a variety of players here.  I still want to focus on my highest priorities of team building, SB, average, ERA, and WHIP.  With all of that in mind, my first of back to back picks is Tim Anderson.  He provides me with 20/20 upside while still hitting in the .280 neighborhood.  I think he is the best power and speed combination left so I take him off the board.

Considered: Nicholas Castellanos, Michael Brantley, Shohei Ohtani, Zack Wheeler, Edwin Diaz

9.1 Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH Los Angeles Angels

Shohei Ohtani could really be a weapon in Fantasy Baseball.  Assuming he is fully healthy, he is both a quality bat and a quality arm.  A very unique player that I feel is a solid addition to my team right now.  Considering he can literally contribute in all scoring categories and will be off the board before I can pick again I pull the trigger.

Considered: Nicholas Castellanos, Michael Brantley, Zack Wheeler, Edwin Diaz

10.12 Edwin Diaz, RP, New York Mets

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Listen, I understand that Edwin Diaz was a disaster last year.  One thing that has always scared me about relievers is their volatility.  Typically I tend to play it very safe with this position.  In this case, I am looking to add a second closer to my pitching staff and a bat with these two picks.

My choice between closers at this point was Diaz and Ken Giles.  While Giles is the safer option as far as ERA and WHIP are concerned, I am taking the upside in Diaz.  He should get more saves and K's but also has the chance to easily beat him out in ERA and WHIP as well.

Considered: Ken Giles

11.1 Oscar Mercado, OF, Cleveland Indians

I am looking at a bat here.  A few names stand out but considering my team building thoughts I am quickly able to narrow the names down to Oscar Mercado, Yuli Gurriel, and David Dahl.  My first thought is to take Dahl because I believe that he has the highest overall upside with the bat.  His injury concerns worry me but I offset them a bit with his uptick from Coors.  But I can't help myself from taking another guy that has 20/20 upside, though not quite the average I would like in Mercado.  Knowing I can get power later in the draft I go with Mercado and his 20 SB potential.

Considered: David Dahl, Yuli Gurriel

12.12 David Price, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

As per my usual trend so far I was intending on taking an arm and a bat on this turn.  As the board comes up for me there are three names that really stand out to me that are available.  Edwin Encarnacion, David Price, and Nick Anderson.  I could argue a lot of ways for any combination of these three guys and be right each time.

As much as I would love to grab a third, and likely final, closer I decide that Anderson is the most likely to fall to me for my next set of picks.  So I stay the course and go with another arm and bat mix here in the hopes that Anderson does indeed fall down to me.  With this pick, Price provides me with nice upside and solid ratios.  Edwin gives me a power bat to go with the lighter bats I have taken to this point.

Considered: Edwin Encarnacion, Nick Anderson

13.1 Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Chicago White Sox

See my comments above about the previous pick

Considered: Nick Anderson

14.12 Khris Davis, DH, Oakland Athletics

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Nick Anderson did not fall to me.  I can't say that I am surprised though.  I would still like to add another quality closer to the mix but everyone on the board feels like too big of a reach here, especially for a luxury pick.  With this pick, I decided that going with a bat makes the most sense for building this team.

Mallex Smith and his 40+ SB's are tempting but I think I am fine in that category after focusing on steals early in the draft.  I think another power bat would best suit me and Khris Davis is still sitting there.  I don't like his average but 35 HR and 100 RBI would be a huge boost for my offense.

Considered: Jean Segura, Mallex Smith, Justin Upton, Alex Colome

15.1 Alex Colome, RP, Chicago White Sox

Two names now stare me in the face, Justin Upton and Alex Colome.  Upton provides me with the biggest relief as far as needs are concerned.  Colome would be the best fit for this draft strategy.  I decide to go with Colome.  This not only gives me the third closer I really wanted, but it also follows my pitching focused strategy and maybe most importantly I think there is a chance Upton might fall to my next set of picks.

Considered: Justin Upton

16.12 Salvador Perez, C. Kansas City Royals

Heading into this pick I have one open pitching position and still need to fill C, 3B, CI, MI, and two OF spots. I have my eye on offense more than ever on this pick.  I love Salvador Perez and think he is a great value being available right now coming off a major injury.

As mentioned before, I approach the catcher position as either taking a guy early or waiting until late in the draft to fill the position.  The other bats I am considering are both shortstops in Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius.  Neither of them really are must-haves for me so I take the plunge and go with Perez a bit earlier than I expected to fill the position.

Considered: Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Masahiro Tanaka

17.1 Didi Gregorius, SS, Philadelphia Phillies (PHI)

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The need for offense has me looking at Segura and Didi again for this pick.  I am really tempted to take Tanaka but there is more than a handful of pitchers that will be available with my next pick that I think it is wise to take another bat here and check the landscape of the board on my next pick to round out my pitching slots.

I could probably flip a coin and be happy here with either bat but after diving into things I come to a clear conclusion.  With a lot of early focus on speed, I opt for the more powerful bat and add Didi to my team.

Considered: Jean Segura, Masahiro Tanaka

18.12 Miguel Andujar, 3B/DH, New York Yankees

Heading into this set of picks I have holes at 3B, CI, two OF spots, and P.  No arms are standing out to me so these picks are going to be offensive.  The most glaring hole to me is at 3B.  None of the guys left are thrilling but I see great value with Miguel Andujar coming off of an injury.  Grabbing a potential top 15 3B at this point, with my needs is an easy choice.

Considered: None

19.1 Andrew McCutchen, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

A need in the outfield prompts me to look for a bat here.  The obvious choice on the board is Andrew McCutchen. With a well-rounded game, he will not hurt me in any category and that is exactly what I need here.

Considered: None

20.12 Adrian Houser, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

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I could go with two more bats here or a combination of a bat and an arm.  Mostly it was going to come down to who on the board at this point.  One arm I couldn't help but notice was Adrian Houser.  I think this guy is an amazing value at this point in the draft.  Going pitching heavy in this mock I quickly move to select this potential breakout pitcher to complete my pitching slots.

Considered: Daniel Murphy, Brendan McKay, Chris Archer

21.1 Daniel Murphy, 1B, Colorado Rockies

A need for a bat leaves me with Daniel Murphy, a guy I have had an eye on for a while now, as the clear cut pick here.  Picking him leaves with me a fully filled team, sans an OF.

Considered: None

22.12 Hunter Renfroe, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

One of these two picks was almost certainly going to be an OF.  That guy was probably going to be a specialist in HR, SB, or average.  The top guy that fits that mold on the board is Hunter Renfroe.  I happily select him to round out my starting spots.

Considered: None

23.1 Renato Nunez, 1B/3B/DH, Baltimore Orioles

Now that all the holes in my lineup are filled, I look at my roster to determine my biggest need. 3B and CI were two of the last places I addressed and bats have been secondary to this point. With that in mind, I look at the board for someone to help in those areas, ideally with a power bat.  I find Renato Nunez and he is an ideal selection here for the purposes of my team. I slot him into an important role on my bench.

Considered: None

24.12 Corey Dickerson, OF, Miami Marlins

Similar to my last pick I am looking for the best fit for my team. My needs are relatively similar except an OF that meets the same criteria as Nunez would be great.  Randal Grichuk and Corey Dickerson are the best options. Though Grichuk provides the better power numbers I am opting to go with Dickerson here because I feel that his average boost is more valuable to my team than the HR numbers Grichuk would give me.

Considered: Randal Grichuk

25.1 Yonny Chirinos, SP/RP, Tampa Bay Rays

With my offense all set I expect my last 3 picks to go back to the pitching well. The best available arms right now are Pablo Lopez and Yonny Chirinos. I like them both and just like in the previous mock I go with Chirinos. It also helps that I expect Lopez to be available when I am back up to pick.

Considered: Pablo Lopez

26.12 Pablo Lopez, SP, Miami Marlins

Pablo Lopez fell do me here so the pick was a no-brainer.

Considered: None

27.1 Josh Lindblom, SP/RP, Milwaukee Brewers

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I really want to round this team out with one final pitcher. Looking at the best overall arm with the biggest upside in my opinion.  Obviously there are a lot of options but considering I am looking for a potential home run I decide to go with Josh Lindblom.

After absolutely dominating the KBO the past couple of years I am happy to take a flier on him. He will certainly not come close to the stats he put up there but he should do much better than his previous time in the big leagues.

Considered: Jeff Samardzija, Anibal Sanchez, Johnny Cueto, Rick Porcello, Julio Teheran, Spencer Turnbull

My roster is as follows:

C - Salvador Perez
1B - Edwin Encarnacion
2B - Keston Hiura
SS - Tim Anderson
3B - Miguel Andujar
CI - Daniel Murphy
MI - Didi Gregorius
OF - Ronald Acuna, Victor Robles, Oscar Mercado, Andrew McCutchen, Hunter Renfroe
UTIL - Khris Davis
P - Stephen Strasburg, Jack Flaherty, Charlie Morton, Aroldis Chapman, Shohei Ohtani, Edwin Diaz, David Price, Alex Colome, Adrian Houser
Bench - Renato Nunez, Corey Dickerson, Yonny Chirinos, Pablo Lopez, Josh Lindblom

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