With all the innings totals I wish I could accurately project for 2017, two that carry some of the most weight in drafts come from the same team. To say the Dodgers have a plethora of starting pitching would be an understatement. One of the many divergences between baseball and fantasy baseball is the value of depth. The Dodgers have roughly 10 viable starting pitchers from which they can construct their opening day rotation, yet that only creates headaches for fantasy owners trying to figure out projections for arms like the two I’m curious about, Julio Urias and Rich Hill.

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The phrase “I’m excited for Spring Training” is a double edged sword, especially in fantasy baseball. We’re all excited to see the early signs of life on our already drafted fantasy teams, yet there is still a month of emptiness before the actual returns start trickling in. That leaves ample time for overreaction to minor injuries and excessive helium for players who put together a few good at bats.

Although many owners have the discipline to completely neglect the impacts of recency bias during the Spring, some will always fall prey to the hype, and you will feel the resulting impact in the draft room. Sometimes, it may even be good to fall prey to that hype. As we all know, fantasy baseball is often a game of balance. Below I’m going to aggregate my reaction to what has happened in the few games we have seen so far and how, if at all, I have translated these points over to the fantasy section of my baseball mind.

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Your classic 12 team, 25 man roster format, will sift through 300 players in creating the other 11 competitors to conquer for fantasy glory. Once you kick it up a notch to 15 teams, rosters start looking uniquely constructed, especially yours, if you choose to wait a little bit longer on pitching in favor of all the electric bats on display in the top 100 – I’m looking at you Dominic Brown.

I’ve paid extra attention this offseason to some deep starting pitchers, which in early drafts, I have gladly targeted at their current price tags to create some SP depth. These guy are somewhat overlooked, placed in the 300+ sphere in Razzball’s top 500 rankings, and sure to give you heart palpitations come April 2nd and beyond. Why care about them? Well, it really only takes one or two of these guys to hit and you’re staring at a top 40 SP that you paid a Jered Weaver price tag for.

That tag apparently says $3m on it too. Wait, wasn’t that what Dellin Betances got in his horror story arbitration hearing over the weekend? Something seems a bit off. If Randy Levine thinks Betances is surely worth less than $5m, I can’t imagine his thoughts on Jered Weaver.

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Way back in January, when the very first signs of ADP data sprouted out of the ground, I went down the rabbit hole, hoping to catch a glimpse of early signs of value. ADP at that point was more convoluted than forming an expectation for how much Pablo Sandoval would weigh coming into Spring Training, but since it was the only sign we had as to the ‘market’ rate for various players, I utilized it as much as I could.

James Paxton was the poster-boy of my early preseason eyebrow raise. He was going past the 200th overall pick with a maximum just outside of the 11th round. Paxton sits right now with an ADP around 192 overall according to NFBC data, with a max that has ticked up to 109 overall. Grey has Paxton as his 41st ranked starting pitcher and his 162nd overall player. Finally in the process of publishing my personal rankings, Paxton is my 27th overall starting pitcher and my 115th overall player, with still some finagling to bring that up even more if I feel so moved.

What Paxton accomplished last season was nothing short of fascinating. We see mechanical changes in pitchers a lot, but rarely do we see changes that cause such palpable success and subsequent expectations that aren’t afraid to project out that success. Fangraphs did a really nice dive into exactly what Paxton changed and why success followed. Simply put, Paxton reverted to his natural arm slot on the mound, opting to venture away from the ‘over-the-top’ motion he used that we’ve seen cause problems in the past – see Wacha, Michael. This slot helped him hone his command on the inner third of the plate to righties, opening up the outside of the plate to his insanely effective cutter/slider. Eno Sarris breaks this down in the piece linked above.

When I uncovered this story last season, I was wildly intrigued for one reason. A natural arm slot, logically to me, would mean less risk for injury. The DL is something Paxton hasn’t been able to avoid for most of his career, but if there was ever a storyline to give hope for health, I can’t think of a better one than him being more comfortable on the mound…

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Let me take you through the thought process of a writer like myself.

I constantly have thoughts relating to the game of baseball passing through my head. I’m sure many other baseball fanatics can relate. Ideas that have an added layer of intrigue tend to find there way onto my iPhone’s Notes app, to be revisited in a triage-like manner at points later in the day. What I’ve learned is that you can’t force these ideas.

So last Tuesday Grey and I joined a 12-team roto mock draft with the CBS Sports crew and I soon realized two things…

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I’m convinced Grey doesn’t sleep during the offseason as he compiles his rankings for the 2017 season. He’s about halfway there, which makes Bon Jovi proud, but halfway will eventually become full-way as more of his rankings are being churned out as we speak. Being the selfish writer that I am, more rankings means more of Grey’s thoughts to sift through, and more opportunity to unearth a valuable point of view that may be falling through the cracks.

For this first installment of ‘Under the Greydar’, a cloumn executed perfectly in the past by writers like Big Magoo, we turn to the law services of Joc & Cron, LLP for some advice on targets for the coming season. On top of charging me upwards of $500 per hour merely for conversation, they fittingly advised us to take a deeper look at Joc Pederson and C.J. Cron.

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It seems to be a weekly activity for me to genuinely question whether the calendar on my phone is accurate. We’re creeping up on the last week of January and the temperature in the Northeast has convinced me that in some alternate universe, I’ve already drafted my fantasy baseball teams and opening day is right around the corner. Even more terrifying? In this universe, Khris Davis and Chris Davis are actually the same player.

What keeps me sane chronologically, and prevents me from sending my phone back to Apple, is the fact that ADP (average draft position) is continually adjusting, and at a higher frequency as more draft data rolls in.

Instead of boring you to death with simple regurgitation of average draft position data, I decided to pitch the following players based on their minimums and maximums. The highest and lowest they’ve gone in drafts.

Why is this important? Thanks for asking! If you love a player going into a draft, I’m a proponent of looking at this ‘max’ pick and trying to rationalize if you as an owner could possibly take him there. Grey loves Ian Desmond. The max pick Desmond has been drafted at in NFBC leagues is 20th overall. Grey has Desmond 19th in his top 20. Relative to those drafting in NFBC, leagues with the highest correlation to both homelessness and divorce, Grey really does love Desmond.

I look at the minimum and see a slot where any player holds extremely mitigated . Think of this as a standard for guys you don’t like. Even if you say you’re never going to draft a player, if Paul Goldschmidt is sitting on your board at 10th overall, you take him, and invite me to your league in 2018.

Sure, this range can be skewed by outliers, but simply looking at these differences produces a list of players with divisive storylines and some of the better high risk, high reward cases out there. I chose four of the highest min-max variances among the top 300 players. Let’s have some fun!

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