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With the majority of my roto leagues signaling their solidarity, I’ve found myself enamored with 2018, more so than any other year of my fantasy baseball playing career. There is a point – in most leagues – where the tides of 2017 halt their shifty tendencies. No longer is that seventh place team making a four-spot jump over one weekend; no longer are you running to MLB.com’s shop to buy a shirsey of a player who just tagged three homers for your squad.

In these moments you no longer think of a player like Byron Buxton, Zack Godley, or Hunter Renfroe with wonder for his next two weeks, but instead fix keen eyes on any adjustments that might stick when the new year comes. Figuring out your level of trust with players like this is essentially mock drafting… with yourself… in your own head.

My last two columns on Razzball covered some guesses for hype-laden players and their 2018 ADP (here and here). Natural progression suggests that it’s now time for some mock drafting. Justin Mason of Friends with Fantasy Benefits wrangled some analysts and poof, we currently have FOUR mock drafts running. At the writing of this, each sits different pick intervals, with about 60 spots worth of picks between the freshest and most antique .

Follow the action as it unfolds. Notable participants include…

#1 – ME!, Lawr Michaels, Tim McLeod, Sammy Reid

#2 – Rob Silver, Ray Flowers, Steve Gardner, Ralph Lifshitz (!!!!!!)

#3 – Matt Thompson, Greg Jewett, Al Melchior, Ryan Bloomfield

#4 – Mike Mahar (!!!!!!!), Justin Klein, Doug Thorburn, Derek VanRiper

For the sake of analysis, let’s take the two mocks – #1 and #2 – most even in terms of pace and break down the happenings. Both mocks – at the time – hadn’t seen their 58th player go off the board. For consistency’s sake, I’m only going to talk about the top 55 picks in both drafts. Compare, contrast, comment, critique, praise – it’s all on the table.

Stanton and Turner, Biggest Early Discrepancies 

Last season the first 8-10 picks were chalk; very little room for fantasy’s version of a “hot take” to emerge and shake-up draft boards. If these two mocks are any indication of the March 2018, Trea Turner and Giancarlo Stanton possess varying levels hype.

Stanton went 19th overall in draft #1 and 10th in draft #2. Currently the number two overall player according to our Player Rater, Stanton has so few competitors in terms of home run production it’s laughable. The common knock is health, as 2017 is the second of his last five seasons that has seen him eclipse the 145 games played mark. Injury-prone is a phrase I use so sparingly that you’d expect me to support the late first round price tag, but I once again assume my arbitrator role and remain stuck in the middle. I’m most encouraged by the knowledge that Stanton’s strikeout rate is down to 24%, with a career-low 12.5% swinging strike rate. Even if Stanton does fail to maintain a clean bill of health into next season, the games you have him for will produce one of the most elite “power to peripheral” ratios in the league. While the trio of pure aces – Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer – will have some impact on where Stanton falls to, I’m leaning towards the the higher end of our 10-19th window of selection.

On the flip-side, Turner presents a relatively insane 90-game sample. Ten home runs and 42 bags pushes him above bats like Robinson Cano and Wil Myers who have played 50 games more than the NC state alum. We’re essentially looking at a version of Billy Hamilton who can actually be productive with the bat. I wasn’t too high on Turner last year, partially because I didn’t believe he would run this much and his power would project up into the 20s. With a mulligan because of his injury, I’m rethinking my process on an asset who is one of the few to do more than produce non-zeros in all five hitting categories. Dee Gordon seems entrenched as a late second round pick, and I’d personally scratch and claw for Turner instead, even with Gordon’s improvements. Turner in the middle of the first round seems right to me.

Battling emotions with my Correa selection

Ninth overall is where I took the Astros’ cornerstone. It felt great at the time; Correa’s skillset has always enamored me and filling a middle infield slot early felt great. But then I saw Francisco Lindor go 10-12 spots later in both drafts. The worst feeling in a draft is looking back and saying to yourself, “I like my pick… Oh, wait… I’d rather have the player who went 10 spots after my player…”. I was at a sports statistics symposium yesterday in Boston, MA – shoutout to NESSIS – and one of the presentations detailed why retrospective draft review should have consider not whether you got the best player you could have for that spot, but whether you got your player at the best possible price tag. Waiting on Correa may have been an option.

I’d even go as far as to say Lindor might be ranked ahead of Correa for me in 2018. What is boils down to ties back with the theme of steals I mused through with Turner and Gordon. How confident are we that Correa can be a 10+ stolen base asset going forward. Steals are notoriously tough to predict because their innately a product of motivation and intention – both of which I don’t want to rely on for first round return. Lindor may be boosted by some recency bias, but his combination of skills is one that so often dictates first round value. Instead he’s falling to the middle or late second round. Andrea Lamont’s Goldschmidt-Lindor combo picking out of the four-spot is delectable. I’d trade my Correa-Freeman for that any day of the week.

Early reaches

I plan on having my column next week detail some potential value picks as the drafts proceed past the 100 and 150 overall marks, but for now, let’s highlight two picks that I cocked an eyebrow to. In no way am I ripping said owners for their picks, I simply want to point out a visceral reaction to picks that didn’t look right. I then looked at the stats to see how inept I was acting.

Eduardo Nunez went 55th overall in draft #2. The positives are his cuts in the strikeout department and potential for a 15/35 season with flexible position eligibility. Despite the fact that I rarely draft on positional eligibility – a topic for another day – Nunez is heading into his age 31 season with one season of 135-plus games played. I was skeptical of the former Giant on Andy Singleton and Ralph Lifshitz’s Fantrax Baseball Show during his hot stretch and felt like I was on an island. That value on a player who has an absolute ceiling of present day Whit Merrifield means, at best, you’re getting back the value you paid. At 55 overall in a draft, I cannot wrap my head around that methodology for a player with many knocks outside of a rejuvenation with the Red Sox this season. Somewhere around 100 is a ballpark estimate of where I’d peg him in my ranks. If you’re trying to lock up steals, take Billy Hamilton around 70-80 overall.

Matt Olson at 67 overall is another pick from draft #2 that I was perplexed by. I recently wrote about Olson over on my site BigThreeSports with the acknowledgment that he’s put together a better stretch than even Rhys Hoskins has, but still possesses a hole in his swing (low and in with his extended hands) and an inability to hit left-handed pitching. I preach below that while mock drafting you should go out on a limb with certain players, but the further you go out on a limb the higher the chance that branch breaks. I cannot with confidence say that Olson is free from an eventual platoon with another right-handed first baseman from the Athletics, and neither can I support the 40% HR/FB rate (even though there is a case for saying his can be 5%+ above average). While Olson undoubtedly possess 60-grade power, I’m not convinced he has the ability to produce top-12 first base value. That means I’ll have him outside of the top 110 come draft day – and probably even lower.

Mike Trout shouldn’t have been drafted first overall

Just kidding.

No Pitchers

When I mocked just prior to the season last year, I was pulled into a lot of different analyst draft rooms, with varying takes on players that prepared me for literally any scenario on draft day. But mocking is weird. You’re not actually investing in the player like an NFBC-er does, creating a scenario where it’s most logical to step out of your comfort zone and determine just how early you’d take your sleeper, or if you’re devised “punt steals” strategy is viable. This made me really appreciate what Lawr Michaels does in the few mocks I’ve had the pleasure participating in.

He picks a strategy and goes for it. Making yourself uncomfortable with picking a player in a foreign slot helps solidify values. All with the knowledge that once the mock ends, your investment doesn’t continue. As mock draft #1 progresses for me, I’m staying away from pitchers in hopes of assembling quite possibly the best offense you have ever seen. I’ll then target a few pitchers who I think could fortify a staff that at the end of the day, will inevitably be weak. Despite my wishy-washy attitude with the Correa pick, I have one fan, ! (My squad is Correa, Freeman, Murphy, Cruz).

A few quick hits

 

 

Follow me on Twitter – @LanceBrozdow

Check out all my non-fantasy analysis at BigThreeSports.com

   
  1. Milarky says:
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    Hey Lance, curious for your thoughts. I’m in a dogfight, and the final standings could be decided in the W category. Would you take your shot with 2-starter Snell (BAL, @NYY), or 1-start Bauer (CWS) this week? They’re both on waivers, and I only get one claim per week. Either would be replacing Nova in my starting rotation.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Milarky:
      Man a fight that comes down to Ws is never too fun haha

      That Yankee start for Snell is a little bit ugly, while the BAL one is very nice. Bauer’s start is just as good as that Snell v BAL to me.

      I would go Snell out of purely the chance that he will have two opportunities to get a W, and given how much luck is involved with Ws, I’d rather bet with the bigger sample, even if it’s only one extra game.

  2. nick the dick says:
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    Lance(!!!!!)

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @nick the dick:
      Nick (!!!!!)

      Long time no comment, I’m hurt :'(

      • nick the dick says:
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        @Lance: I suck at Razzball commenting now…i’m a disgrace!

  3. Johnny says:
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    Olson looks like one of those little league guys at Williamsport who is just too big for his field. I am surprised that you think he won’t rank top 12. That means you are putting guys like Edwin over him. I just don’t see it.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Johnny:
      Ha! He does in fact look like the kid who probably isn’t 13 at the LLWS.

      I think there are multiple secanarios where somebody ranks him top 12, I’m just not going to be the analyst that does so.

      Sano will be over Olson for me, absolutely. A lot of signs point to medical issues causing that stretch of deterioration for him. A healthy Sano is a VERY valuable player for fantasy. Top 50 player overall easily. Can you bank on that health? Likely not? But am I more inclined to bank on that than a lefty with bad splits, a 40% HR/FB rate, in a park that doesn’t help power? I’d say so. I like Olson, he hits the ball hard, but i think he industry as a whole is overreacting to what he’s accomplished.

      Myers might be a bit more even with Olson, but still probably ahead for me. He’s a whole different can of worms that I won’t get into. I see that argument much clearer than Olson > Sano at least.

  4. Johnny says:
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    didn’t mean edwin, meant to say Sano and Myers

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Johnny:
      See above

  5. Fred Garvin MP says:
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    Really digging your posts Lance. Thanks for the contributions. The point you made about value is salient. Years ago, I was listening to an interview with Larry Schecter who was preaching the gospel of value. Some serious Jeremy Bentham shit.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Fred Garvin MP:
      Schecter has an unbelievable resume, much respect to him, I bet that interview was great.

      There is a lot of synergy between actual, real life drafts, and fantasy drafts, that I feel may be undercovered in the industry. I might try to dig in a little more, I really liked that concept of looking at your player’s value, as opposed to a restrospective analysis of which guy you didn’t think would break out did, and you should have taken him there.

      This kind of ties back to what I’m talking about with Olson above (if you’re following the prior comments at all). I get somebody might be enamored with the exit velo and power, but at a fifth round price tag, with so little go off of in terms of sample and pitcher adjustment back to this approach, it’s baffling to me.

      Will admit however… I had to google who Jeremy Bentham was hahahahahaha

      Thanks for the kind words too!

  6. Packers says:
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    Great stuff Lance. When I draft I look at my ranks and how many picks will come off the board before my next pick. Then I take the player who I want the most out of that group mostly depending on needs. So I may not take my highest ranked player. For example if Gordon or Hamilton are the only base stealer’s left I know it’s my last chance for a stud in that category. It’s like that with pitching aces as well, do I take one or I tell myself I need to build a staff. Top end closers .the same thing.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Packers:
      Not a bad strategy at all, I know a lot of people who stick to that logic. I tend to lean on a best available strategy, staying relatively blind to positions in the early rounds of a draft, then covering my bases afterwards.

      Many ways to kill a draft!

  7. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    I’m doing the same in my mock. Seeing how long I can go before drafting a pitcher. I’m possibly not going to until round 8 or 9.

    Took Correa at 17, and had similar thoughts about Lindor instead.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz:
      8-9 sounds about where I’m going to jump on a few.

      Correa at 17 is better than Correa at 9 like me though, in the moment I was like, “Nice!” And then my opinions changed after seeing the big picture of how other guys went off the board.

  8. M says:
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    What are you looking at for M.Olson in 2018: .260 80-ish runs & rbi, 25 HRs .330 obp?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @M:
      I’ll give him 30 HR, but it’d be a stretch to say he gets up to .260 with that fly ball and swinging strike rate. BABIP seems artificially low, but that’s because of the insane FB rate.

      .240 / 30 HR / 75 RBI / 75 R is a little bit Eric Thames-y, which is around a 150 overall guy, and probably a 14-16 1B option.

      To get to the 70ish overall he was drafted at he’d have to put together a Jay Bruce-esque .255 / 35 HR / 80 R / 95 RBI, which may not seem insane, but I’m just having trouble seeing the 600 PAs to have chance at the 175 total counting stats on a team like the As.

      I’m the Olson pessimist it seems!

      • M says:
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        @Lance: thanks for the insight! Have him as a $1 keeper so basically anything from your range to mine is value lol

  9. CMUTimmah says:
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    Schoop at 64 is ridiculous value, IMO.

    Hoskins doesn’t last to 42 next year. Especially with the OF eligibility. There’s not 30 players that have a better hitting profile, and only 5 pitchers I’d even consider before Hoskins. Up and coming offense, drafting Phillies guys late is something I plan on doing next year. (Odubel, Altherr, and sleepers will be Alfaro and Kingery if they trend towards starting in the bigs)

    Agree 55 is WAY too high for Nunez. He gets a boost playing in Boston for sure, but he’s more like an 80s guy in the value department. His ceiling isn’t crazy high, but he should be a great source of runs/steals likely leading off in beantown.

    Stanton is always going to scare people away due to his vast injury history, but let them be scared. His injuries have been more freak than trend. Not to mention, we’ve never seen a power hitter of his magnitude hit for a good average like he does since probably Bonds. In points leagues, I can see Stanton being a top 8 player. In category leagues, 10-12 feels about right. Either way, he’s a first round pick, imo.

    Trea Turner’s price tag is probably too rich for my blood when I can draft say… Stanton… but I’ve always hated paying for steals, cause, well, SAGNOF.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @CMUTimmah:
      Appreciate the insight here! Thanks for tossing your comments in, I see the rationale behind all of them bedsides there not being 30 hitters with a better profile than Hoskins.

      There might not be, but that’s with the qualifier of his ~2 month sample. He’s been great, I agree, undeniable, but top 40 for him is just too rich . In a points league I’m more apt to take him, but top 30-40 at first base is an E5/Freeman-esque season. And I don’t think that’s happening next year.

      I think it’s much more viable to put him in that 55+ window, where a lot of 1st basemen fell to last year (Carp, Myers, Abreu). If he never gets to me there in a draft, then I likely won’t own any shares.

  10. joeg414 says:
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    Is Rendon a good keeper for 2018 as a 3rd round pick. Say about 40th overall. 6×6 roto

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @joeg414:
      I assume 6×6 pulls in OBP, it would depend on your other keepers and the value around them, but I like Rendon a lot in that format.

      I think he’ll be right in that late third, early fourth round value.

  11. Frank says:
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    Have bour as a potential keeper where 192 are kept. Would you take bour over Olson And More Specifically For 2018 Who Would You Rather have?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Frank:
      Jeeze – this slipped to the back burner for me, my apologies!

      Right around the same area for me, I’ll take Bour.

  12. Stumanji! says:
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    Keeper question: I’m exploring trade offers for my Hoskins. How would you rank these players with their relative values going forward? 10 team OPS league where keeper price increases by 20% every year (keep forever). Guys get relatively too expensive to keep around 40-50 bucks.
    Hoskins $3
    Bellinger $3
    Judge $3
    Betts $5
    Stanton $29
    Gary Sanchez $3
    Trout $29

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Stumanji!:
      The classic absolutely loaded keeper team right here, well done haha

      I looked at this like five times and honesty had a lot of trouble ranking. You basically have to rank the $3/5 guys very close to each other, all unbelievable values.

      Of those five guys I’d go ($3 to $5 is immaterial to me)….

      Judge
      Betts
      Sanchez
      Bellinger
      Hoskins

      Then you have Trout / Stanton; Trout obviously above, both keepable for sure, even at those prices.

      Mixing the two together is a tough task, but in reading back your question, I feel like you don’t even need me to rank because your questions sits around whether to trade a $3 Hoskins. So with your depth, I would have no problem sending him off, but would ask what you’re getting back, because he’s valuable for sure, especially in an OPS leagues.

      Just cause I love my commenters, I will display some hipocracy and still rank for you…

      Trout $29
      Judge $3
      Betts $5
      Sanchez $3
      Bellinger $3
      Stanton $29
      Hoskins $3

      All close in value, I can see the argument for debating a lot of my ranks above differently.

      Sanchez

      • Stumanji! says:
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        @Lance: Ah, I should have clarified more…I only OWN Hoskins from this group. I’m exploring if any other managers would bite and swap one of those other guys for him…and you confirmed that they’d all be upgrades, although probably longshots to acquire.

        Lots of Phillies fans in the league (myself included) so the hometown bias might play a role. I think the Stanton/Trout proposals are interesting considering the $ values, probably personal preference for each manager depending on keeper strategy.

        I won the league this year, my 5 keepers will be Turner $3, Correa $4, Goldy $28, Scherzer $12, and Hoskins $3…unless I can flip Hoskins.

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