In part one of this little mini series, we looked at all of the catchers and corner infielders that I’ll be relying on once the 2020 season gets underway. As much as I enjoy talking about Yadier Molina and Jose Abreu, those guys aren’t exactly dripping with excitement. They’re high floor foundation pieces who are useful fantasy assets, but aren’t the types of players who will carry a team to a fantasy championship. It’s like going to your local burger joint and ordering a plain cheeseburger – it’s not likely to disappoint, but it won’t be a particularly memorable meal either. Middle infielders and outfielders are the bacon, caramelized onions, and special sauce that can be added to that plain burger to make it exceptional. Sometimes, experimenting with exotic ingredients like spicy peppers can lead to indigestion, but it can also lead to a special, unique experience. And there’s plenty of spice to go around in these groups.

All of these ingredients are represented at second base, shortstop, and in the outfield. Power, speed, average, and counting stats – they can all be found in abundance here. The key is to determine who to target and when to target them. Today, I’ll be sharing the middle infielders that I targeted and ended up drafting across my five NFBC leagues for the 2020 season. I originally intended to cover outfielders as well, but since Magoobot’s self-editing mechanism malfunctioned years ago, there’s only room for the guys up the middle today. There’ll be a whole post dedicated to outfielders in part three.

Just like last week, I’ll be breaking things down by position, briefly discussing my pre-draft strategies followed by a quick analysis of each player that I ended up drafting. Both the 12 team NFBC Online Championship and 15 team NFBC Draft Champions formats require that you start 1 2B, 1 SS, and 1 MI at all times, so that’s something to keep in mind during this exercise. As a quick refresher, each player will be placed into one of the following four categories:

The Studs: These guys are the cream of the crop at their positions. Elite talents with proven track records who project for more of the same in the near future.

Risky Business: These are the high risk, high reward options. There’s elite upside here, but there’s also at least one big red flag in their respective profiles. Could provide high-end production at a bargain rate or leave a gaping hole on your (my) roster.

The Fallback Options: These are the players who you settle for if you miss on your primary targets. Could be boring vets, low ceiling youngsters, or just players who don’t elicit strong feelings one way or another.

The Lottery Tickets: These are the $1 scratch-offs that you play hoping for that $500 million jackpot. Cheap and dripping with upside. These are typically young, unproven players at the MLB level, but it could also be the profile of an injury-prone vet or someone who has struggled at the highest level, but has shown something special at some point in his career.

With all of that boring stuff out of the way, let’s get to it!

Middle Infield (2B/SS)

Strategy: One of the reasons that I focused mainly on high average, reasonably priced sluggers at corner infield, and cheap, middle-of-the-road options at catcher, was so I would have plenty of draft capital to spend up the middle. Shortstop, in particular, is loaded with high-end fantasy options, so grabbing one (if not two) of the top players here is a priority. I see second base as being top heavy this year, but a bit soft in the middle, so the strategy there is to pounce early or wait a bit. Make sure to bank speed from at least two out of the three starting middle infield slots (2B/SS/MI).

The Studs: Francisco Lindor (x3), Ozzie Albies, Adalberto Mondesi, Gleyber Torres

Lindor is a top five overall player on my board, so considering the fact that I drafted out of a middle slot (6-8) in each of my five leagues this year, it’s not too difficult to see how I ended up with him in three leagues. How do I love Frankie? Let me count the ways. Over the last three seasons (2017-19), Lindor has:

  • averaged a 110/34/85/.278/21 batting line
  • been the only player in MLB with at least 30 homers and 15 steals in each season
  • scored the 3rd most runs (329), hit the 10th most homers (103), and has the 16th highest SB total (62) in MLB
  • knocked in as many runs (255 RBI) as Mike Trout

Let’s see… what else can I say? He’s 26 years old, is a switch hitter with no split issues, has one of the lowest K-rates in the game (14.0% career K%), and is durable (avg 702 PA per season since 2016). Power, speed, contact skills, durability, job security, prime age, consistency. And I hear he makes a mean frittata!

If I were to make a short list of players outside of the first round who could make the jump into next year’s elite group, Albies would certainly be on it. In his age 22 season in 2019, Albies produced a 102/24/86/.295/15 line in 702 PA. This was a follow up to his 105/24/72/.261/14 line in his first full MLB season the year prior. His walk rate (5.3% to 7.7%), exit velocity (86.3 to 88.8 mph), and barrel rate (4.7% to 6.6%) all saw substantial improvements, and he’s never had a K-rate over 17% in his short career. Also, his 37 career stolen bases in 45 attempts (82.2% success rate) and 28.6 ft/sec sprint speed (86th percentile in MLB) indicate that he has some SB upside if given the green light more often. Hitting in the second spot in the Braves lineup behind Ronald Acuna Jr. and in front of Freddie Freeman should keep the counting stats flowing in. The one rub in his profile is a .253/.314/.430 career slash line vs right-handed pitching (as opposed to a robust .355/.386/.596 line vs southpaws), but there have been reports that the 23 year old switch-hitter is using the extra offseason time to fine tune his swing mechanics from the left side. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Albies among the fantasy elite in short order.

Mondesi and Torres might be polar opposites as far as fantasy players go, but, ironically enough, they occupy the same space in this exercise. Mondesi is a high ceiling, low floor player due to his durability issues and shaky plate discipline, while Torres is a high floor, medium ceiling player due to his reliable power but lack of speed. Despite playing in only 177 games over the past two seasons, Mondesi’s 75 steals is tied for the 3rd most in MLB during that span. His 23 HR over that same period indicate that he’s not just a speed-only player, but his 28.5% K% suggests that there’s some potential downside from his .268 batting average. Torres has proven himself to be a .270+ hitter, as he’s never hit below that mark in a full season and cut his K% by almost 4% (from 25.2% to 21.4%) from 2018 to 2019, and his 62 HR over the last two years is more than George Springer, Anthony Rendon, and Juan Soto (among many others) in fewer PA than any of those other players. Neither the soon-to-be 24 year old Mondesi nor the 23 year old Torres are without risk, but the impressive skills, pedigrees, and track records indicate that the best is yet to come for these young studs.

Risky Business: Bo Bichette, Tim Anderson (x2)

There’s a whole lot to like about Bichette. He’s performed well at every single level in his professional career, and he slashed .311/.358/.571 in 212 PA with the Blue Jays after being called up last season. His 23.6% K% in the majors represents the only time that he’s been over 20% in his career, and it’s still quite an impressive mark for a 21 year old getting his first taste of big league pitching. Despite stealing only 4 bases as a Blue Jay, he logged plenty of steals throughout his minor league career, including 32 SBs at AA in 2018. So what’s the problem? Bichette’s .273 xBA last season was almost 40 points lower than his actual batting average, and his .472 xSLG was almost 100 points lower. Also, he’s already being drafted like an established high-end fantasy option entering his second season, which is typically full of adjustments for young players. As bright as Bichette’s future appears to be, one needs only to take a peek at the learning curves that 2017 Trevor Story and 2018 Cody Bellinger and Rafael Devers experienced in their respective sophomore seasons to understand the risks involved here.

It’s difficult to categorize Tim Anderson. He’s just shy of the studs category, too good to be a fallback option, and too expensive to be a lottery ticket. So here we are. Calling Anderson a free swinger would be an understatement. Since 2016, his 3.3% BB% is the lowest in MLB among 291 qualified players. Never saw a pitch he didn’t like. And prior to last season, he had a .258/.286/.411 career slash line. That doesn’t sound all that great, does it? So what makes Anderson appealing? Over the last three seasons, he’s hit at least 17 homers and stolen at least 15 bases each year, and he won the AL batting title last season with a .335 average. While another batting title shouldn’t be expected, his xBA last season was .294 and he’s slated to hit near the top of an improved White Sox lineup this year. How does a prorated version of a 90/20/70/.280/20 pace sound? It’s music to my ears (the good AIC/Tool type, not the Justin Bieber type).

The Fallback Options: Jeff McNeil, Jean Segura (x2), Kolten Wong, Kevin Newman, Johan Camargo

The best thing about drafting a player like McNeil isn’t necessarily what he brings to the table (which isn’t insignificant), but what he allows you to do with the rest of your roster. Outside of his low K-rate (13.2% in 2019; 12.1% career), nothing really jumps off the page. Exit velo, launch angle, walk rate, barrels – all hovering around league average. He’s a gap-to-gap hitter without any major weaknesses who projects comfortably as a .300/20/7 type of player. Basically a slightly younger, more versatile (2B/3B/OF eligible) version of Michael Brantley. Are you interested in a player like Mondesi, but concerned about batting average downside and durability issues? Pair him with McNeil (like I did in one league) and you’ve essentially just rostered two Starling Martes. Interested in Joey Gallo’s power but not his potential average draining qualities on your roster? Grab McNeil, and voila! Jose Abreu times two. McNeil isn’t a fantasy superstar, but he has plenty of value from a roster construction standpoint.

Segura burned quite a few fantasy owners last season, myself included. He certainly appeared to have the profile of a .300/20/20 type of player with the potential for 90+ runs scored hitting atop the Phillies loaded lineup, but things didn’t quite work out that way. A .280/12/10 season with meh counting stats is what he produced instead. It was the first time he stole fewer than 20 bases in a season since 2012, and the first time he hit lower than .300 since 2015. The good news is that not much changed in his profile at all. Among all qualified players, Segura had the 6th lowest K-rate (11.8%) in MLB and his average exit velocity actually increased slightly. Sprint speed was down a bit, but still higher than when he stole 22 bases in 2017. He was successful when he decided to run (10 out of 12 in SB attempts); he just ran less often than usual. Last year appeared to represent something close to his floor, and he still ended up as the #177 overall player on the player rater. Entering his age 30 season, the skills that made him a top 60 overall pick just a year ago appear to still be intact. As an added bonus, he’ll be gaining either 2B or 3B eligibility to go with SS, depending on where new skipper Joe Girardi decides to play him this year. Segura didn’t cost a top 150 pick in any of my leagues (and likely still won’t if you’ve yet to draft), which makes him a terrific value.

Entering last season, Wong seemed to have settled into a low-end starter/superutility kind of role after a promising start to his career. In his first two full seasons (2014-15), he averaged a 62/12/52/.257/18 line in 523 PA, flashing solid speed and even a bit of power potential. Over his next three seasons (2016-18), that production took a nosedive to a 45/6/34/.259/7 average line in 393 PA. The power never materialized, the speed disappeared, and his playing time took a hit as well. He looked like nothing more than waiver wire fodder in fantasy moving forward. In his age 28 season in 2019, however, Wong produced a 61/11/59/.285/24 line, which allowed him to finish as the #16 2B and #129 overall player according to the player rater. Not too shabby. The good news is that his plate discipline was very solid (8.6% BB% and 15.1% K%), and not only did his 24 steals finish tied for the 12th most in MLB, but he was a very efficient thief as well (24/28 = 85.7% success rate). The bad news? Just about everything else. His quality of contact wasn’t just bad, it was horrendous. Wong had the 7th lowest average exit velocity in MLB (83.6 mph – just above Dee Gordon) among all qualified players, and his barrel %, hard hit %, and xSLG were all in the bottom 9% of all players as well. While his speed numbers were very solid, his 27.6 ft/sec sprint speed ranked 212th in MLB. He struggled quite a bit against offspeed pitches as well, hitting .206 and slugging .258 on those offerings. That being said, Wong has a very reasonable price tag this year, and has been rumored to be in the leadoff mix for Cards. Could be a sneaky source of runs and steals as a mid-round MI option.

Newman’s profile is actually very similar to Wong’s. Near the bottom of the league in contact authority (exit velo, hard hit %, barrel %. xSLG), but among the league leaders in contact rate (11.7% K% – 6th lowest among qualified players). In fact, his $9.3 value last year was identical to Wong’s. Newman’s 61/12/64/.308/16 line in 531 PA was actually superior to Wong’s on a per-game basis, and it passes the smell test for the most part. He’s slated to hit atop the Pirates lineup, and doesn’t appear to have any competition for playing time. Another solid MI flier at a reasonable price.

The most remarkable thing about Johan Camargo is probably his simulated stats. Seriously, have you see them? 21/6/22/.301/3 in 146 PA through May 7th. Breakout alert! That aside, Camargo is quite unremarkable. His 2019 was a disaster, he has next to no speed (2 SB in 314 career MLB games), and he’s not even guaranteed playing time. What makes him somewhat interesting are the facts that he has a shot to start at 3B (which would give him dual 3B/SS eligibility), he was fairly productive as a 24 year old in 2018 (63/19/76/.272/1 in 524 PA), and he’s typically not even being drafted in 12 team leagues (my lone share is the result of a reserve pick in the DC format). Might be worth a shot as a versatile depth piece.

The Lottery Tickets: Nick Madrigal (x3), Gavin Lux, Dansby Swanson, Myles Straw

SAGNOF alert! If you’re looking for cheap speed from your MI slot (and who isn’t these days), Madrigal and Straw should definitely be on your radar. Madrigal stole 35 bases in 532 PA across three minor league levels last season, and Straw has 180 steals across all levels (including 70 in AA/AAA combined in 2018) in five professional seasons. Madrigal only has Leury Garcia to worry about as competition at 2B, and Straw saw playing time at all three OF positions and both MI positions last season. He has a chance to be the Astros new version of Marwin Gonzalez. Both players are super cheap, especially Straw, who has been going routinely undrafted in 12 team leagues.

Lux has absolutely crushed the upper levels of the minors since 2018 to the tune of a 66/17/46/.316/9 line in 411 PA at AA and a 54/13/39/.392/3 line in 232 PA at AAA. He held his own in his initial cup of coffee with the Dodgers last season, and looks to have the inside track at the lion’s share of playing time at 2B this season. The negatives are that he’s likely to be relegated to the bottom third of that stacked lineup (which will hurt his counting stats), and probably won’t be in the starting lineup every single day. Might be a year or two early here, but the potential rewards outweigh the risks to me.

Swanson is an interesting player. One look at his career numbers (40 HR, 26 SB, .245/.318/.385 slash line in four MLB seasons) is enough to elicit a yawn, but there might be more here. His K and BB rates are roughly league average, but he saw significant spikes in barrel % (from 4.1% to 10.1%), exit velo (86.8 to 89.8 mph), and launch angle (12.9 to 14.2 degrees). He’s routinely among the league leaders in sprint speed as well. Prime age (26 years old) and pedigree (former #1 overall pick) round out the profile of a player who still might have some untapped potential.

 

These are the players who I’ll be relying on up the middle on my teams. Who are you counting on as your double play combos this year?

 
  1. swaggerjackers says:
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    Edman fell in one my leagues so I pulled the trigger there. Do you think his playing time is stable enough in weekly leagues?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Yeah, I think that Edman’s pretty safe. He was an everyday player in the 2nd half, and was one of the best players on the Cards. Fits in nicely at 3B but can play 2B/OF if needed too.

    • baby seal says:
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      100%! Top-5 target for me this year!

  2. Chucky says:
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    First let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Does Tatis scream regression? Are you worried about Story and any other Rox bats if they play away from Coors? Thoughts on two high risk/ reward MI’s in Biggio and Kieboom? Enjoyable read. Thanks.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      I think there will be some regression with Tatis. I mean it’s nearly impossible to repeat a .410 BABIP. That said, his tools are off the charts. Could contend for the #1 overall fantasy player, but I think he’ll be very up and down. Crushed fastballs and struggled mightily on offspeed pitches. You can bet that opposing pitchers will approach him differently this year. Durability issues. Too many issues for a top 20 pick in my book.

      Yes on Story, but his speed will help keep his value up. All Rockies bats would take a hit outside of Coors, especially someone like Blackmon.

      Biggio would interest me more if he wasn’t so all-or-nothing. Crazy high launch angle and K rate. He has power and speed though, and can take a walk, so with a different approach, I can see him making a jump.

      Kieboom is a total wild card. Didn’t see much playing time last year, and didn’t do much of anything when he did play. He has good minor league numbers, and should see playing time with Rendon gone. Costs next to nothing, so might be worth a flier.

      • baby seal says:
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        Want to know a crazy stat? Go search FG leaderboards for all-time single-season BABIP leaders. BABIPs over .400 don’t happen very often (except last year!)

        It’ll blow your mind!

        Biggio: He’s too passive as well. Was bottom of the league in Swing%. Think he also gets lumped in w/ the other guys, because of their pedigree. and his last name / his teammates last names. My theory is that his ADP would be 10-20 spots lower if his last name was “Smith.” Too bad we can’t test this in a parallel universe… Elon Musk, anyone?

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          Oh, I’m aware of the scarcity of .400+ BABIP hitters. I should link you to one of my old stats-centric posts, haha. It’s been a few years though.

          Yeah, agreed on Biggio. The thing with a player like him is that he’s still figuring it out. Has solid tools, just doesn’t know how to properly utilize them yet. And I don’t think he’ll ever be an elite guy, but he should be pretty solid.

  3. 183414 says:
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    Drafted 11 teams in the on line championships, and have 35 m.i.’s, which include 2 shares of Muncy, Moustakas, who both cover 2nd.
    No Lindor anywhere, but agree he’s great. Drafted Story twice early on, as all but 1 of my drafts were.
    Semien 2
    Ketel 1
    Polanco 1
    Escobar 1
    DeJong 2
    Villar 1
    Dubon 3
    Goodrum 3
    Adames 3
    Wong 2
    Amed 1
    Swanson 4
    Tatis 2
    Anderson 3
    Albies 1
    Didi 1
    Newman 3
    Edman 1
    McNeil 1
    Lowe 1

    Only regret are the 4 shares of Madrigal. Drafted him for b. avg./s.b., but such a short season really limits his appeal, as Leurys will be starting the year @2nd, and no guarantee when Madrigal will start, and when he does it’ll be from the 9 hole.

    With a season which will top out at 82 games (likely less), anything is possible.
    Dubon , Adames are both wild cards, but drafting them where I did, doesn’t require that I get even 20th round value from them.
    Wish I had more shares of Ketel, Albies, and Tatis.
    Much more of a sprint this year, so expecting a lot of all or nothing.

    If Mondesi is running like he has the past 2 years, may regret not having him on 1/2 of my teams.
    Expect the unexpected.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      That’s a lot of teams. I find it a pain to set up FAAB bids for 3-4 teams each week (4 this year), let alone that many. Don’t know how you or guys like Heberlig do it.

      I like Story quite a bit, just have him below Lindor. Most of my drafts were before the shutdown too, so that was before factoring in the potential for no games in Colorado. Power and speed will be there regardless. He’d just take a hit in the other three cats if forced to play elsewhere.

      I hear you on Madrigal. Took him for cheap avg/speed, but I agree that he’s less appealing in a shortened season.

      Albies is the guy that I wish I had more shares of. He was only available in the 3rd round for me in one league though, so just ended up with that one share. Was hoping/anticipating more.

      I like Dubon as a lottery ticket. That one could pay off for you.

      The good news is that when someone does something, you’ll likely benefit from it somewhere!

      • baby seal says:
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        Butterfly Effect!

      • 183414 says:
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        Heberlig makes me look like I drafted 2 teams.

    • Really like the big 3 (Tatis, Albies, K. Marte) and Mondesi, Moose and
      Muncy, are all very solid/valuable. Zero shares of Hiura and Altuve leads me to believe prices too high for them? Agree. Anderson and Amed are fine targets and an eye opener on just how many productive options are out there. I do target speed with my MI’s, and there are plenty of bags around. Nice list Andrew

  4. Mark says:
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    I am very interested in what Mondesi can do in a full season. All we have is half seasons. Maybe 2021 will be that year.

    I see 20 homer, 60-70 steal upside.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      For sure. Even in a half season, there’s no reason that a healthy Mondesi couldn’t go 10/30. Will be exciting to see what he can do.

  5. Mark says:
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    Jeff McNeil is also of great interest. This guy could win the battting title and affords many luxuries such as position flex and allowing you to draft low OBP guy. McNeil was strange. He went the first half without power, then exploded late in the season to hit with power.

    I have no idea what McNeil is beyond a high average player that helps you everywhere and does not hurt you. He was suppossed to steal more, but instead has displayed some interesting power.

    Maybe a 20-20 player….? I would love if the Mets had him at 2nd and JD at 3rd rather than Cano anywhere.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      The Mets are stuck with Cano’s contract. They could start phasing him out a bit, but McNeil’s playing time shouldn’t be affected either way. JD might not see full time ABs though.

      McNeil’s been rock solid, but he hasn’t really shown anything extraordinary (other than consistency and contact rate). Maybe the power spike will carry over. Hard to say. Brantley with upside isn’t a bad profile though.

      • baby seal says:
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        How BAD was that trade (and contact now)???!?? Kelenic is going to be a STUD.

        Mets fans gonna be very, very sad.

        That said, I think Cano can bounce back a bit. However, was off him last year bc didn’t think his old man power would hold up in that park. Really, really caps the ceiling on him, IMO.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          I understand why the Mets made that deal, but it’s a horrible one for them. They were expecting dominance from Diaz and at least respectable production from Cano for 2-3 years, and they both sucked last year. And they gave up Kelenic. Just horrible.

  6. Rick Brown says:
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    love the article! Have McMahon on a couple teams. What do you think about him-playing time issues,issues in general if games away from Colorado.
    Thanks,RICK

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Thanks, Rick! It seems like Bud Black likes McMahon, so I think he’ll see plenty of playing time. The bigger issue is his .226/.323/.357 line on the road, so his value could really take a hit if there are no games in Coors this year. Saw a nice power spike in the 2nd half last year, so he could provide a nice boost there.

  7. Wake Up says:
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    Magoo!

    Real high on uh Albies myself.

    Thoughts on Hiura? Too much swing and miss for Watson to stomach? I like him to go 46 and 2.
    But his price was a bit high for where he comes ( that’s what she said)
    Second question …
    Do I care that this reference is totally dated and no longer culturally relevant at all? Not even a little one (that’s what she said)

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Wake!

      I think Hiura will do just fine. Dr. Watson would prescribe a bit more selectivity to cure what ails him in the K department, but there’s a lot to like. Kind of like Torres with more speed, just a lower floor. Plenty of tools, but I don’t know if he’ll go 46 and 2. Might be more of a lateralus move this year.

      There’s nothing dated here at all. Now excuse me for a moment, my Zack Morris phone is ringing…

      • Wake Up says:
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        HAHA

        Time out!!!

  8. Wake Up says:
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    Test669

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Tekashi 1,2

  9. Wake Up says:
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    SHORT?!?!!?!?!?!?!???

  10. krazyivan says:
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    Nice write up!
    I really like how strong my MI is on three teams:
    Turner x2, Anderson x2, Lindor, Bichette. The 2B on those three teams are Altuve, Moustakas and Marte.
    It’s the 4th team that is rough shit all over the middle of the diamond. Segura, Newman and Biggio. While I know this trio won’t outperform any of those other three teams, that can wildly outperform them in value. I got Segura and Newman practically for free and Biggio is still a bargain to me when your talking power/speed players.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Thanks, krazyivan! Looks like you drafted MIs early and often as well. Really strong group you got there. I agree that Segura/Newman/Biggio will be fine on that 4th team if you’re strong elsewhere too. Should give you solid production across the board.

    • baby seal says:
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      This has pretty much been my strategy as well, we have tons of overlap there.

  11. florida jack says:
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    nice work, as usual Magoo, very helpful info

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Thanks, florida jack!

  12. baby seal says:
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    Wow, no baby seal reference this time! Missing a key ingredient from part 1 :-)

    Totally agree on 2B thoughts. I was pounding Albies all draft szn. LOVE him. Finally came around a bit on McNeil, and eventually gained FULL confidence in Edman, so I was able to switch gears there a bit. Was nice to open my 3rd round up to something other than 2B. Felt like the entire draft opened up a lot more once I made that small tweak. FWIW, in my last 2 OC drafts, I went big hitter in round 2 (JDM), where I usually focus on a speed combo instead. Then was able to get Bieber in the third both times, and then focused speed on Robles, Mercado, Edman, as the main targets (got all of them in each draft), and then some other “fill in” guys like your Laureanos, your stud first rounder, and what not.

    Plan was to be OK being a touch lighter on speed than I how I prioritized in early draft szn. Think it worked out pretty good! Also rationalized that have more speed concentration in a shorter szn was OK, than how I’d normally think about it over 162. Prefer the antifragile approach to steals. Dubon and others are some pretty interesting late speed targets too. Swanson can throw in a few. Didn’t have the balls to gamble on Berti this year (think he’s worth it but I’m a pussy!). Think I got caught up a bit too much in the “speed is super scarce” argument, which is true, but ultimately is not worth sacrificing the other categories so much in pursuit of a very volatile and non-correlated category. Our very own 183414, AE, got me to adjust my thinking there. Was great advice! (I hope, haha…)

    Lindor and Bellinger were the two first rounders I got. So we’re still very simpatico, amigo!

    No Story? I had him ranked one spot higher, so got him everywhere all year, but moved Lindor ahead of him when it started becoming less clear if Story would still have the Coors Advantage. I think Lindor is the better player, but Coors gives such a nice floor and ceiling. Story’s rate stats have been better the last two years. That’s the short version of why I veryyyy slightly preferred him. Didn’t hurt that his ADP was higher too!

    Albies and Moncada are probably my top two guys who are mostly likely to be a first rounder that are being drafted outside the top-30 this year. Simpatico again! Edman is my favorite among players currently going after pick-100 to be drafted in the top-50 next year. We can call this graph: Bold Predictions!

    Mondesi is definitely in the Risky Business category for me. But agree with everything you wrote on him. Torres is a stud. Just difficult for me to justify taking a MI that early who doesn’t offer speed. If you aren’t getting speed from MI and OF, then you aren’t getting speed at all! I guess a build of like: Acuna/Yelich, SP, Torres, could work nicely. But 1) Haven’t had a top-3 pick once despite doing 10+ drafts (including best balls), and 2) MI speed argument. Torres is the classic type of guy I throw in the auction bucket: ‘Like the player and would take in an auction, but difficult to justify taking at ADP in a draft’

    Feel like you’re missing a bucket between ‘Studs’ and ‘Risky Business’ – something like – ‘Foundational Pieces,’ ‘Building Blocks,’ or whatever is what I’m thinking. I guess Bo and Timmy are a bitttttt “risky” – but if we’re being honest, these guys are fairly reliable for the power/speed combo you’re buying. Bo definitely carrying a bit more risk w/ his lack of a tack record and higher ADP. Love the talent, no doubt. Just feels like we’re nearly buying the ceiling w/ him now, and I’m not sure the league full had a chance to adjust on him. You can see in his rolling graphs that he finally started to struggle in Sep. But I DO think the guy is a stud any not overly concerned. He’s usually going ahead of ADP in my drafts, too. Great comps on sophomore slumps!!

    Oh yeah, McNeil is tasty! Want to know what’s scarcer than steals, y’all? Someone who hits over .300!

    Missing out on Segura this year. Figured that out a bit too late… mostly because I am prioritizing steals early, as said five thousand words ago, and one other “reason,” if you want to call it that. I have a theory that if you can get something that’s too good to be true (e.g. late steals that don’t hurt you), then it usually is, so at least I have that going for me… which isn’t a whole lot if we’re being honest here. The other thing is staying away from speed guys who are 30+. But that goes out the window when we’re discussing an ADP near 200.

    Wong is a guy I really can’t get behind. See above theory. The lack of homers is just not something I want. He’s just a bad month or two away from going back to waiver wire fodder! Same thing w/ Newman, but I’m definitely more OK w/ him than Wong. Feels like a Seinfeld joke should be inserted somewhere in here: Wong and Newman, c’mon baby seal!

    Camargo is 100% a “lottery ticket.” And not a very good one at that. He’s a DC-only type a guy, IMO. Like your backup’s backup, so you don’t get zeros when the injury fairy comes by to steal all your hopes and dreams.

    Agree on these lotto tickets! Personally think a little higher of Swanson than that, but it’s fair. I like Lux, but the hype is just too high for me, for all the reasons you highlighted. His NFBC ADP is just too much to swallow. I’d rather take a shot on his teammates there, like Turner and Seager.

    Wait, hold the phone, Magoo! I just saw Lux’s ADP went up to 180?? Was routinely going 140-160 in my drafts. That’s nuts! Still think I like Starlin straight up better than a lot of these guys listed. He’s pretty much always my Ultimate Fallback option for MI – or just target Swanson, since usually I have both SS and 2B filled by then. 180 is starting to be a fair price for Lux, though.

    Great article again! Passed the 1K word count on this comment, as promised! Not promising that I’ll do this next time, lolol.

    Later!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Can’t reference you in every post. You’ll get a big seal head and lose your balance!

      Yeah, I really wish I had been able to land Albies in more leagues. Like I mentioned to your buddy above though, he was only available at my 3rd pick in one league. People weren’t letting him fall past 27-28 overall in my leagues.

      I agree with Andrew on the scarcity argument as well. If Oaktown Steve was still frequenting the boards, he’d tell you that I’m a roster construction guy. If speed is scarce, that means that you don’t need as much of it. If you prioritize it too much (especially the guys who are light on power), that means that you have to make up even more ground in the other cats later on. Really lowers the margin for error.

      I have Lindor over Story, so in that 6-8 range where I was consistently drafting out of, it wasn’t an issue. Story’s great though, don’t get me wrong. Even outside of Coors, though he’d obviously take a hit in that scenario.

      Torres wasn’t a specific target of mine; he was just the best player on my board in my DC league at the time. Already had Lindor and grabbed Segura and other speed options later on, so still built the type of offense that I was hoping to. Gotta be flexible sometimes if you want to assemble the best team possible.

      Moncada has a ton of upside, and solid production to boot. Just a bit volatile for my liking based on where he’s been going. I opted for other volatile options in that area of the draft. More on that in part three, haha.

      Yeah, I could definitely add another category for the player breakdowns. To be honest, I was planning on this being a two part series at first (hitting and pitching), but felt like a one or two line blurb on each player wouldn’t be terribly useful or even interesting. So a four parter it is!

      McNeil is definitely the perfect kind of player to balance out a Mondesi or a Gallo. Or even just provide a nice average cushion. That never hurts.

      I haven’t been keeping up on ADP, but that makes sense on Lux. His range of outcomes is pretty wide and he’s likely to hit low in the lineup. Glad to have at least one share though.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! Be sure to check out my outfielder post. It’s where I swing for the fences. Should be nice and polarizing.

  13. baby seal says:
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    Haha, I know, I know, you cannot pump up the baby seal too much. Honestly, it’s for the betterment of everyone here at Razzball — you really are doing God’s Work! ;-)

    Damn, that’s annoying for sure. I was able to routinely get Albies around 30-35. I did take him in the second round of a couple DCs just to make sure I got him. Was like pick ~26. Then I got lucky and Biebs was still there in the third (consistent theme!). That was kind of the idea. Make sure I get the guy I want, then can take whatever SP is left, hoping my favorite (who’s ADP is highest!) would still be there.

    Roster Construction, ftw! Yes, I see that idea now. Think I was especially worried about speed in the DCs, because you *don’t* have the luxury of the wire there. Was also the beginning of draft szn. So that was what was most prevalent on my mind at the time. And then luckily, Andrew got me to adjust my thinking *before* the OCs, so I didn’t have that “issue” there.

    Trying to figure out — how in the future (the next time we’re able to draft in 2027) — I’d maintain my preferred approach of having “antifragile” speed, while still getting enough of it, yet also getting enough power and what-not along the way; and let’s not forget we need pitching! What do you think, or just scrap the antifragile approach, to some extent? Maybe be more OK with later speed? Ditch previous theory to some extent?

    Original draft plan was, as many have discussed, get plus average early, medium speed with each pick, OK to good power and counting stats with those combo guys, and then make up for power and counting stats later with the lower BA guys. Obviously, there are many ways to skin a cat. Still toiling around with what’s the most “optimal” draft strategy… but to be clear, it’s more of puzzle I’m trying to solve for fun – mental masturbation some might call it – not something I’m worked up over.

    Yep on Story. Not *too* worried about him. Just a small tweak later. Also had plenty of shares by then! Maybe the BA isn’t .290 and the counting stats go down because the rest of the lineup isn’t as good either. But the power/speed blend will still be there, and as many have researched, we don’t need our fist round picks to return “value,” just need them to *not* bust.

    Haha, all good on Torres and Moncada, thanks for the thoughts!

    Think everyone appreciates the extra effort and words, at least I do! Haha. Why not? Do we have something better to do right now?? Really enjoying these posts, so keep em coming!

    Agree on balancing out Mondesi. He at least provides something so valuable that it’s worth pairing him. Not so sold on Gallo. In general, I do not like the “balance out” approach to drafting. Especially if that means taking BA sinks in the top-100, which is another hard rule for me. Need +BA early!!

    Feel free to present to me on why the balancing act is a good strategy! It seems too much like, “you can have your cake and eat it too,” again, something that’s too good to be true. My main issue with it is that you are *dramatically* increasing risk across your portfolio (read: roster). One puzzle piece goes down, then suddenly the whole thing starts to fall apart. It’s a bit easier to make up stats if you lose one combo guy, I think. However, I don’t mind pairing SP, just to be clear on that. Think that’s a bit more reasonable since pitchers can have such an outsized impact on SGP, there are so few of them, and fewer starting P spots. Love a Darvish and Hendricks pair, as an example.

    Can’t wait for the next one, thanks!!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Roster construction is one of the most interesting aspects of fantasy to me. There are so many ways to put together a successful team, and even more ways to put together an unsuccessful one. Power heavy, speed and average heavy, pitching heavy, balanced, scarcity, elite relievers, etc. There are always going to be ways to limit your risk and maximize your results, but it comes down to picking the right players. That can make just about any strategy work.

      I always aim to draft a balanced team. If you go into a draft looking to punt something, you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage. Prioritize five category hitters, lean power over speed, don’t neglect average, low whip/high K pitchers – those are some of the basics I typically gravitate towards. I don’t usually pull the trigger on the more volatile/extreme players in the early rounds. Those are the ones that you need to balance out (e.g. Mondesi’s durability and avg issues with McNeil’s high floor/avg). Just used Gallo as another example of that extreme/volatile type of profile, but he wasn’t a target of mine.

      There’s plenty to discuss regarding pitching strategy. You’ll see my take on it in part 4 (teaser!). But I will say that focusing on low whip SPs early on provides flexibility for streaming down the line, so you won’t be seeing any of the high ceiling but volatile top 25-30 SP types (think Giolito, Darvish, Bauer) on my rosters. Their results can vary wildly from year-to-year, and put you in a ratio hole when they’re on a downswing. But you definitely have the right idea to pair a Darvish type with a Hendricks. Definitely lowers the risk there.

      • baby seal says:
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        Right, haha, I totally agree! What I like about overall competitions is how it basically *forces* everyone to build a balanced roster. So you don’t get these jabronis trying to suck up a category or position and messing up the draft (for the most part—there are always exceptions to every rule).

        Nice, this is like a Draft Manifesto! Definitely a lot of things I’ve heard before, and what I ultimately started gravitating towards… took down a few notes to just have it all in one nice succinct place.

        Agree on low WHIP pitchers. I find that is the most “repeatable” skill/stat after K%, which is far and away the most (only really?) reliable stat for pitchers y/y.

        I like Darvish as a SP2 if I am going “heavier” on pitching, but still not ever taking one in the first, which is just sacrileg. However, I still don’t *mind* him as a SP1… just need to grab another guy soon after. My first DC started w/ Darvish, Gray, Lynn, Maeda, Stroman, Yarbro… not too shabby! Wow, haven’t looked at that in a bit lol. Drafting early definitely helps… haha. But that team seems pretty damn light on speed (Xander and Story on the same team, hmmm). Probably why I started shifting my strategy around thereafter. Think my two favorite starts to a staff this year are my last DC: Bieber (R3), Darvish (R4), Montas (R7), Hendricks (R10/11). Then my first OC: Bieber (R3), Castillio (R4), Lynn (R10), Weaver (R17).

        I’m a bit off Giolito too… thought I would be in, but actually have zero shares. Why are you off him, just because it was only a one-year breakout? I have a few other reasons. But his metrics are pretty damn good. So it’s probably not for the reasons you might guess.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          I probably would’ve preferred to do a mini series on draft strategies, but that would be kind of pointless now with all of the uncertainty that still surrounds this season. Talking about players you like and offering up general positional strategies based on the player pool is never a bad thing though.

          Yeah, low whip SPs are always prioritized for me, especially early on. Whip is like batting average in that the players who are true assets in that category don’t stick around long. At least the ones with solid K-rates. It’s kind of like the high average sluggers on the other side. They come off the board early which leaves mostly empty average guys who can be had in the mid-late rounds. The equivalent are the decent whip/low K pitchers. Not terribly interesting for the most part.

          Guys like Darvish are perfectly fine. Those great stuff/iffy command pitchers are tough to predict though. Just look at what Bauer did in 2018 vs last year. I put Darvish and Giolito into that same group. Could be aces or inconsistent SP3/4s. That’s why I prefer a more stable foundation to provide a nice ratio buffer for streaming.

          Giolito’s had one great season, and even that was pretty inconsistent. Started out a bit slow, and then was untouchable from May through mid June. Allowed just 9 ER in 9 starts. Then from June 19th through the end of the season, he allowed 19 HR in 95 innings with an ERA in the mid 4s. Outside of the Ks, I’m not sure what to expect from this guy. Not paying a premium to find out this year.

          • baby seal says:
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            Nice!! SUCH GOOD STUFF IN HERE!!

            Best analogy I’ve ever seen between high K% and low WHIP pitchers vs high HR and good AVG batters. Love it!!!! Added to the notes!

            Agree and nice comp w/ Bauer!

            I hear you on Giolito — those are definitely some of my concerns. Some of his plate discpline metrics were truly elite though. However, that could just be mostly from that untouchable run, so good points there.

            My biggest issue w/ Giolito, outside of the above — that no one talks about — is essentially twofold and they’re related to each other. Then a tertiary reason that is directly related to first two. 1) Increased velo, which had a lot to do with 2) his new mechanics that include short-arming the ball in his windup. Then 3) he got injured at the end of last year and hurt himself again in ST.

            So first of all, I am always concerned w/ any pitcher who shows any sign of injury in ST. Just a hard-and-fast rule. Second, increased velo is a leading indicator of both better performance, and increased chance of injury. That’s just a fact. And finally, most concerning of all, I believe his new mechanics are the direct cause of these injuries. I would not be at all surprised if why he faded was because that motion is not sustainable over 150+ innings in a season. Throwing that many times at your max because you are essentially “muscling” the ball pretty much goes against everything I was ever taught as a young (poor) pitcher.

            What do you think of that?

            Thanks again, man! This has easily been one of my favorite threads on the site!

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              There’s no question that the increased velo helped Giolito last year. Just look at what it did for players like Lynn and Odorizzi, who I might have a few things to say about in part four.

              That’s an interesting theory about his mechanics. I haven’t seen enough of him to form an opinion on that though. Could be for the velo boost, to lessen strain on his arm/elbow, for tunneling purposes, to maximize efficiency, or some combo of the above. And if it’s solely for the velo bump, it could actually increase the strain on his arm. Health is always a huge factor as well.

              Thanks man! Always appreciate the kind words and the thoughtful back and forth.

              • baby seal says:
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                You too! Looking forward to the next one!

  14. Steals always was the place to “give” no matter how “scarce” they are. Everyone is drinking from the same steals well, unless you’ve found one in St Augustine that you are not telling us about. A lot of good stuff in here from you today. I will say be careful to be too Serious 7 about these players…they are after all players not p/e drivers with steady yields to forestall the seasonality nor volatility…

    “Lady, I’m not an athlete. I’m a professional baseball player.”

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Speaking of fountains of youth, Daniel Ponce de Leon pitching all year in Florida will be great for Yadier

      • HA!

        Why does Nestor Cortez all of a sudden seems so appealing?

        He came dancing across the water…

        BLOOD ALONE MOVES THE WHEELS OF HISTORY!!!

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Drinking blood to own the draculas

    • baby seal says:
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      Hahahaha, of course! Thanks Wake!

      It’s really more so, I have a lot of time to think about it now, so why not? Definitely not the type to think about players like stocks, in fact, I don’t think about stocks like many people do anyways! You have to embrace variance, not just in fantasy baseball, but in life. Best we can do is be well prepared.

      Just always looking to evolve my thinking and incorporate new ideas / research, etc. I’m a 100% or 0% kinda guy. I don’t half-ass things. I’ll just lose interest entirely. Be well!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Steals are fun. Vince Coleman! You could just run around the bases at will in RBI Baseball back in the day. Juan Pierre couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield, or reach the cutoff man when he was in the field, but man was he fun to own in fantasy. But yeah, I tend to avoid the rabbits, especially the expensive ones. Not worth the tradeoff.

      My most “fun” team is probably the one that I drafted in the Liss/Del Don OC that I was randomly dumped into just before the shutdown. My starting roster was projected by steamer to steal 167 bases. I felt the need for speed. Might not win, but it’ll be fun to watch it play out. And isn’t that what it’s about, Wake? Isn’t it?

  15. Nick says:
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    Hi Magoo,

    here is my Dynaty IF team:
    1B Abreu
    2B Villar
    SS Lindor
    3B Rendon
    Backups
    1B C.Walker
    3B Urshela
    SS T.Anderson
    SS Amed Rosario

    Let’ me Know :)

    Nick

    • baby seal says:
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      Looks good! You are heavy on SS and light on 2B. Maybe look to make a deal and balance it out? Especially w/ Villar — you don’t want to get holding the bad if he turns into a pumpkin again!

      • baby seal says:
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        *you don’t want to get caught holding the bag

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      Well, you know how I feel about Lindor, Abreu, and Anderson! Rendon is a stud too. If you want a nitpick, you’re lacking a backup at 2B. What were you thinking, Nick? Great group!

      • Nick says:
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        I WAS THINKING “… Brujan

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