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!
Hernan Perez (Max 96, Min 240, Difference of 161 spots) – Although the Brewers are a team with little hope for 2017 (sorry JB, our resident Brewers fan), I have found myself drawn to some of their younger speed/power assets. Perez finished inside the top 100 on most roto valuation lists for 2016, propelled strongly by his 34 stolen bases in under 500 ABs. Steals are a commodity that have become scarcer as the years pass, but you’ll be pleased to know I’m a proponent of the SAGNOF philosophy. Elite power hitters will always be a scarcer commodity than run-first assets, but a blatant disregard for steals in your league will present a steep hill to climb. I’m always drawn to players in the middle rounds of drafts, like Perez who can contribute without the price tag of 6-7th rounders.
Taking Perez 96th overall isn’t too crazy if you expect exactly what he did last season for his near 100 overall finish. That’s a 13HR/34SB season with a .272/.302/.428 slash and sub par counting stats. It doesn’t sound like a top 100 player, but you would be surprised to see who else falls right in that window for 2016 (Tyler Thornburg! Dan Straily!).
Perez is getting knocked due in part to the high K% and lack of OBP skills, but a .281 average in the second half of last year with 15 HR power that will stick makes me a lot more bullish on the Brewers’ third baseman. What we have here is a player with a strong chance to outperform expectations if the steals maintain, 96th overall is admittedly very high, but anything past the 180 overall mark and there is some great value.
Michael Brantley (Max 147, Min 295, Difference of 148 spots) – After four years of 520+ at bats, last season alone made Brantley the figurehead for injury prone outfielders. After four years of 520+ ABs it only takes one tweak for his ADP to take a hit. As evidenced by his max value right around the 12th round, there are clearly still believers out there.
The issue with believing in his health is that you’re probably not his physical therapist. As opposed to an educated gamble on a player’s ceiling, this gamble is a blind one on something we won’t know until he hits the field. I’m talking opening day too. We all know the exorbitant frequency of the phrase ‘best shape of his life’ during Spring Training. The re-conditioning required for a player to go from 12 games played, back to 130+ at any age is a factor I believe there is no logical counter to. If Brantley eclipses 120 games, which I would be surprised to see, I have no problem expecting a 14HR/8SB season with a mid .290s average. The counting stats depend on his place in the Indians’ lineup, one that is solidified for success in its current, Brantley-less state.
At any draft slot this season, Brantley possesses a massive amount of risk, and no matter where you take him you’re assuming that risk. At 147th overall, you’re expecting a full season of production with steals comparable to his 2015. Once he falls past 220 overall, the risk becomes much more tolerable. In your draft, I expect Brantley to go to an owner who loves the look of his team and has no problem with this risk. I was high on Brantley last season, and have learned my lesson with gambling on injuries.
Dellin Betances (Max 73, Min 257, Difference of 184 spots) –
Relievers were the most common position I saw with massive differences between max and min, not a big surprise. As we all know, relievers tend to go in runs during drafts. If you pass on a closer in the back end of the eighth round and you reach for your inhaler as closers fly off the board, Betances can become a nice handcuff sooner than you think. His 73 overall max is likely skewed by either an owner who really likes the Yankees, or one who has lived in a box that didn’t broadcast the Chapman trade. Is it crazy far off from his potential? Not at all. Who was more valuable according to your typical 2016 roto player rater? Gregory Polanco or Tyler Thornburg? The answer is marginally, Tyler Thornburg. His eight wins put him in a tie for third amongst his fellow Brewers. Along with a gorgeous 34% strikeout rate, in roto leagues you were ecstatic to have him hedging your bad starts.
At this point we have to expect a 40% strikeout rate for Betances, which exponentially helps keep your strikeouts fairly even or more than your innings total. I’m evened more inclined to target a guy like Betances if I focus on pitchers with lower strikeout rates, which shouldn’t be a strategy at all, but sometimes you just really like the look of Dallas Keuchel on your team if you chose the name ‘Dallas Buyers Club’.
Any improvement coming? Betances bottomed out with regards to his strand rate last season, as his 68% was nowhere the 85%+ of his two prior seasons. I expect that to rise back to his career average, and the lost saves have a chance to become wins with the new setup role. Shying away from the elite closers means you’ll likely have decisions to make between guys like Jim Johnson and Ryan Madson, yet I’ll find myself leaning on guys like Betances and Thornburg 6’8″ New York Goliath. If the baseball gods are kind and grant him Andrew Miller, or 2014 Jean Machi level wins, we have a player who could finish inside the top 100 overall.
Yoan Moncada (Max 141, Min 343, Difference of 202 spots) –
This guy is my #1 prospect in baseball. The playing time is clearly the crux among deciding where to select him, but I’m more confident in the projectability of how many ABs Moncada will get over how many games Brantley will play. Like a lot of owners, I tend to be a bit risk averse. Whether that gives me confidence to select either is a separate story. It seems like the logical move to keep Moncada down in AAA to extend the White Sox’s control, but I don’t think we’re looking at a Kris Bryant scenario, with a hard date for promotion. My advice for owners who really want Moncada is to actually push your drafts back to late March as much as possible. There is a strong chance reaching will be met with a useless roster spot for a few months. In practice you’re more than likely to run into actual needs for your team, and Moncada will stare at you with AAA stats that unfortunately don’t count.
I’m reverting to prospect drafting theory with Moncada because projecting him out is a very difficult task. At 21 years old, a multitude of things can happen developmentally to help or hurt a talent like this. What I expect is his value to come from steals if/when he hits the majors. His approach at the plate (high K%) won’t be good enough to produce a higher spot in the lineup to produce counting stats, and while I think the power will be there in a few years. I don’t expect him to go 20/20 right out of the gate, but I could see something along the lines of 10/20 if he gets around the 350-400 ABs I hope he will. For now, he’s a flyer who I expect to sit on your bench for an extended period of time. That could all change as we receive more information from White Sox camp in the coming months.
Not too long ago, I was lingering around the comment sections of Razzball, scouring through the usernames that I still laugh at today, in hopes of unearthing a few bits of information that pertained to one of my artfully crafted fantasy baseball teams. Over the last few years, I have devoted almost all my free time to baseball and fantasy baseball coverage. It’s for that reason, I am more than excited to join the likes of Jay, Grey, Rudy, Mike, Smokey, Sky, and the plethora of Razzball authors who have made this site into the elite resource for fantasy coverage it is today. I merely aim to increase that value as much as I can with the insight I have gained from playing and succeeding at this immersive hobby I will refine my skills at, until the end of time. Cheers to 2017, and my first column with Razzball.
You can follow Lance on Twitter, @LanceBrozdow, if you prefer to act like a proper millennial.