Drafting players who won’t break camp with a team inside 200 overall signals we are ready for the 2018 season. If you have confidence in the draftee, however, then is it safe to say that aggression is warranted?

Over the last three days of NFBC drafts, Scott Kingery’s draft stock has ranged between 178 and 362, with his average owner pulling the trigger in the 24th around. This represents substantial inflation from his January and February draft stock, which sat him outside of the 30th round on average.

In scenarios where spring training confirms the talent and readiness of a prospect, it’s natural, with the lack of major league statistics to form a consensus on a projection, for assets like Kingery to be appealing given the unknown. Sometimes this works out. Remember Kris Bryant and Cody Bellinger?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Let’s follow up on a post of mine from a few weeks ago. Before Spring Training kicked off, I took a quick look at two players – Christian Yelich and Byron Buxton – with differences between Rudy’s Player Rater for 15-team NFBC leagues and NFBC ADP data.

It was easy to get carried away with Yelich and Buxton, but for this version I’ll expand out to four players.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the differentials I’ll be using, feel free to navigate to this google sheet I made and will be using as reference. The NFBC data is from drafts between 2/15/2018 and 3/3/2018, about 100 drafts in total. I’ll reiterate once again that this isn’t exactly a one-for-one comparison, as the numbers I’m using for Rudy’s rankings are purely on ranked dollar-value output, while NFBC data is where the player is actually being drafted. The merit here is highlighting standouts between the two, as opposed to relying on one as the true indicator of a given player (…Rudy’s projections are essentially gospel for me). I’ll also focus on players inside the top 200 overall and those whom Razzball is higher than NFBC ADP on. These should be some of your value targets if you’re a faithful Razzballer.

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Michael Wacha holds a special place in my heart. When Albert Pujols left the Cardinals for the west coast during December of 2011, I partially disowned the player I was most fond of in my childhood; the reason I became a Cardinals fan back in 2001. (Hopefully I didn’t just lose a lot of readers…)

Having a vague understanding of compensatory draft picks, I paid attention to the 2012 MLB Draft. When the 19th pick came up, and St. Louis selected the tall righty from Texas A&M, I associated some of my fleeting distaste for Pujols with the gift given due to his departure. The logic of disowning a player for nothing more than assuming his blind loyalty, which no player should have, in retrospect, was terrible. But the product of my now-distant bitterness was admiration for Wacha.

That affinity soared when he broke out during the 2013 Postseason, mowing through the Pirates and Dodgers before collapsing in Fenway during the final game of the World Series. Wacha then evolved into the low hanging fruit of regression candidates when 2015 finished, fulling that tag a year later when the product didn’t match his peripherals. But an aggregated look at last season stands out for the 26-year-old. A noticeable jump in strikeouts, coupled with usage tinkering, results in an intriguing starting pitcher who lasts into the 20th round of drafts on average.

Rudy has Wacha 175th overall on Razzball’s Player Rater for 15-team NFBC leagues, a solid five rounds ahead of his current NFBC price tag.  Grey is even more aggressive on Wacha, ranking him as a viable SP3, inside his top 40 pitchers and inside his top 125 overall. There is love for Wacha on Razzball and I support the aggression.

It’s hard to think of Wacha without citing his injury history and his ADP may be a tangible result of his unfortunate doctor visits. I alternate my perception of Wacha’s injuries between two categories of thought: development and mechanical.

Development is all eye-test or feel based. I hold a space in my mind, with every young arm, that aging and growth can help mature one’s body out of recurring injuries. Others are simply just injury prone. If that doesn’t quench your thirst for understanding – it shouldn’t – then the folks over on Top Velocity‘s YouTube channel might help.

I’ve cited their expertise multiple times with Ralph on the Razzball Prospect Podcast, and do so again here to fulfill the “mechanical” portion of my thoughts on Wacha’s injuries. One of the things they point out is the lack of engagement in Wacha’s lower half. It might look like he’s driving off his back leg after you observe his toe drag away from the rubber, but that’s a deceptive trick of the eye when you compare his lower half to a pitcher like Noah Syndergaard.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Eno Sarris has departed from Fangraphs. One of my favorite writers in the industry was a dream interview of mine and I spoke with him twice (one; two). He is an inspiration for how I’ve adapted as a writer in this space, taking a clever approach to analysis… and music. [Jay’s Note: And he really knows his beers. Like, more than we all think. He actually filled the hotel bathtub with ice and microbrews and was the beer sommelier the whole night at a Spring Training party with Grey and other industry peeps. I’d say I smelled his hair when he wasn’t looking, but his hair is OMNIPRESENT. If you’re in a 100-foot radius you can’t help but run into it…]

Prior to any of his chats on Fangraphs, he would a link to a song; good, bad, weird, or confusing, your taste didn’t matter. It was there for you to consume. While I won’t do this religiously as the 2018 season nears, for I question where my musical taste falls among our audience of readers, when opportunity presents itself, I act.

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

42 days into the new year and 50 percent of you abandoned your new year’s resolution. Last year, according to sources that don’t exist, our attrition rate on things you shouldn’t need an arbitrary date to commit to, sat around 55 percent. I’m proud of you all for the improvement. Your reward is Grey’s fantastic videos which we’ve embedded into his positional rankings, enjoy!

My resolution was to exercise more. But instead, I’ve opted to toy with semantics and perform more exercises, like the one we’re about to coast through: comparing Razzball’s Player Rater ranked auction values for 15-team NFBC leagues, to NFBC’s average draft position (ADP).

Is this comparing apples to oranges? Kind of. I’d say it’s comparing opples to aranges, which are two fruits I just made up and am sure exist (confirmed). The value here is highlighting who the Player Rater is actually bullish or bearish on, and by how much compared to where they are going in the upper echelon of industry leagues. If our Player Rater has “Player A” – one of my sleepers this year – inside the top 50 in terms of production, but Player A is going outside of the top 100 in NFBC leagues, it might be valuable to look at the dissenting opinions.

Below, my “difference” is calculated by subtracting NFBC’s ADP from the Player Rater’s ranking of the same player based on their total dollar return. Players with positive values mean Razzball is expecting the player to produce more value than NFBC’s ADP is suggesting.

This edition features two outfielders – Christian Yelich and Byron Buxton – who have values that differ between our two sources of information. I plan on publishing multiple versions of this column with different players before the season starts, but if you just can’t wait for more value differentials, take a look at the aggregated list by following this link.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You can travel far and wide across the internet and find any number of statistics touting the thump in Joey Gallo’s bat. It’s legendary power that doesn’t deviate much from players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and J.D. Martinez, no matter how much offseason buzz and the Big Apple may suggest otherwise.

When I started to chop up Gallo’s stats on various parameters, my intentions were simple: consider whether a better version of Gallo could exist.

The idea of adjusting a power hitter’s strikeout rate to foster greater productivity isn’t new and neither is it innovative, but it’s something I always kick around in my head with big bats. I remember watching Kris Bryant on ESPNU (do you remember that thing called cable?) mash for the University of San Diego when I was just a young lad and falling in love with his swing. When he debuted in 2015 with a 30 percent strikeout rate and a .375 BABIP average to buoy his .275 average, I backed off. That was a mistake.

The next year Bryant cut his strikeout rate by over six percent, refining his peripherals into a drastically new hitter. Then he did it again, cutting his swinging-strike rate by another three percent and posting an OBP north of .400 in 2017.  I learned quickly to never doubt Bryant.

We often say to learn from our mistakes, but I’m torn with where to take my affinity for Gallo. On one hand, he’s a different breed of power hitter, with a swing-and-miss problem that I don’t anticipate ever falling below 30 percent. But the pedigree in his bat was once considered similar to Bryant and I love Gallo’s swing for different reasons than Bryant’s. The Cubbie was, and is, compact in his approach. Gallo was, and is, extremely aggressive in coiling his 6-foot-5 body to generate unbelievable bat speed and power, even with some inherent length to his swing.

That length is one reason why we see what I’d like to call “Mount Gallo” below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

O Captain! My Captain! is a poem by the esteemed poet Walt Whitman. According to my go-to source, Wikipedia, it’s a long metaphor about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

This piece of literature in the space of fantasy baseball, can tie, in a very improper sense, to players you’ll consider undraftable due to personal vendettas come 2018. Everybody’s favorite triple crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, is where my mind wanders when thinking of players that fit this criteria. (Sorry Yastrzemski, I’m a millennial.)

Instead of focusing on my terrible metaphors, let’s talk about Cabrera’s rough 2017.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Love is too strong of a word.

like The Los Angeles Angels’ acquisition of shortstop Zack Cozart. As I write this column, it’s the Halos’ most recent power move. Subsequent to winning the lottery with Shohei Ohtani and trading for second baseman Ian Kinsler, while rumors pointed to Mike Moustakas, Billy Eppler zagged towards a more cost-effective option at third base. Rarely, however, is a cost-effective option also the better option. If Cozart ends up as a more productive player than Moustakas in 2018, I won’t be stunned. (Hot take level? Medium).

Think of it like this. You go to Whole Foods with a $20 budget. Instead of buying two pints of $10 ice cream, you purchase four pints of $5 ice cream. Then, you find out the $10 ice cream is actually worse for you than the $5 ice cream. Cozart is the $5 ice cream. Moustakas is the $10 ice cream. (Side note – Haagen Dazs is the best ice cream).

Well, that metaphor and my praise only work if we’re talking real-life value.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The concept is simple: phrase hypothetical scenarios where events that didn’t happen actually did, or events that did happen actually didn’t (I’m already confused). Detailing how these changes – or lack thereof – would have impacted the coming 2018 fantasy baseball season creates some interesting “what ifs”.

What if Giancarlo Stanton didn’t adjust his mechanics?

For anybody with an idea of what Giancarlo Stanton looked like in the box from years prior, his shift from June to July of 2017 was noticeable – very noticeable. While I often find more satisfaction in subtle changes – 2017 Chris Taylor comes to mind – if a change pushes said player into the MVP discussion, I put my particulars aside.

I’ve always found Stanton’s motions in the box exceptionally rhythmic. Flat bat, considerable bat speed, two-handed follow through with a uniquely refined path to contact that creates head-scratching home runs like this one.

Stanton closed off his stance considerably, becoming an aesthetic comp to Adrian Beltre, plus 20 pounds and six inches (of height – get your mind out of the gutter!).  “TewksbaryHitting.com” has a nice breakdown of this evolution, despite having nothing to do with Barry Manilow or whatever a “tewk” is. Their freeze frame gif captures the gradual rotation of Stanton’s upper body prior to the pitch, making his numbers more visible to the pitcher.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A lot of thoughts that make their way around the fantasy baseball industry contain some selection bias. I’m guilty of it all the time. I watch a pitcher dominate in a singular start and begin to sweat, thinking about how my exposure looks across leagues – Luiz Gohara’s September 29th start against the Phillies comes to mind (7 IP, 9 K, 7 baserunners). But this kind of bias implies some misallocated favorability. In Gohara’s case, I didn’t watch his debut start against the Rangers (4 IP, 6 ER, 8 baserunners), or his mediocre final start of 2017 against the Marlins (6 IP, 4 ER, 8 baserunners).

Applying this logic to the World Series produces similar results. Two of seven games were some of the best I’ve seen in awhile; we’ve been spoiled these last few years. Game 7, however, drew the most eyes, but was lackluster at best. I kept waiting for the Dodgers to crawl back and give us 2016’s Game 7 2.0, but my desires were unfullfilled.

Every time a baseball game is played – particularly at such a high level – we can learn something. Taking it in context with what has already happened and how it can affect – negatively or positively – the future is vital. Below let’s blend some World Series looks with in-season recollection and look at two players that stood out to me: Alex Bregman and Joc Pederson.

Please, blog, may I have some more?