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.
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.
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Razzball – 51st overall, 16th OF, $15.6 return
NFBC ADP – 106th overall, 27th OF
Difference of 55 spots
For those that don’t know, there is a big fantasy baseball invitational in the process of drafting (The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational). 15 leagues of 15 teams, for a total of 225 industry minds, and in one of those leagues, I just swiped Puig 111th overall. By Razzball’s projections, this was fantastic value, especially as Puig becomes my third outfielder behind Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna.
His ADP may be bogged down due to the general stigma around the player he is, and while I often recommend drafting players you enjoy rooting for if you’re new to this craft, the projections are telling you to like the player, especially at his price, regardless of intangibles.
A true five-category contributor cresting into the prime age of 27, even if Puig takes a few home runs off his 28 from last year, the approach change he showed could extend even more into 2018. If true, this returns enough value on average to render a minor falloff in pop irrelevant. If you expect both to sustain, he quickly returns top-60 value.
While his simple uptick in walks and drop in strikeouts are self explanatory, the most interesting point is his eight percent drop in his zone swing rate. Intuition would suggest Puig cut his chase rate, which he did, but this patience being the largest change could suggest Puig’s intention of working deeper into counts. While some hitters might target fastballs, Puig’s career success against breaking balls could make him a dangerous hitter on counts where other bats would find themselves with one foot back in the dugout.
Development is never finite. 2018 will remind us of this as ever year prior has.
Razzball – 96th overall, 26th OF, $21.2 return
NFBC ADP – 240th overall, 61st OF
Difference of 144 spots
The theme tethering our first two players is the contribution across categories, even if either doesn’t give you a demonstrable advantage in any one particular stat. Brantley provides an average boost and peripheral contribution that doesn’t look particularly appealing at the end of the season, but in the aggregate returns more that you’d expect.
I’ve always had a tendency to veer away from contact-first profiles with limited surface upside like this, especially in a player with an injury history, but that bit me in the rear end last year when Jose Ramirez posted gaudy numbers. The reason Razzball is boosting Brantley’s value to top-100 territory relates to the extra 25 games attributed to the outfielder over Steamer’s 103-game projection.
The larger issue at play that clouds my estimate of how many games Brantley earns deals with the Indians’ depth. Yandy Diaz can play third, so can stud rookie Francisco Mejia. Either of those decisions would push Jose Ramirez to second base and Jason Kipnis to the outfield. While Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall aren’t exactly dire threats to block Brantley, this compiled creates a mass of question marks that I’d prefer not to deal with.
I’d consider him around the 16-17th round of a 12 teamer, which falls in line more with his ADP that may be suppressed by a combination of my thoughts above.
Razzball – 113th overall, 17th 1B, $14 return
NFBC ADP – 184th overall, 23rd 1B
Difference of 71 spots
Continuing to highlight players I’ve enjoyed rostering as my leagues commence, I paid $19 for Bell in an NL-Only league with the CBS Sports crew. Bell was a player I targeted due to his lineup spot and approach, which I wouldn’t be shocked to see take a step like Puig’s did from 2016 to 2017. This could result in Bell becoming a .280 hitter with 20-25 home run power and opportunity galore on a Pirates team stacked with… hope?
I cite two points of emphasis when discussing Bell: the lack of clear split issues due to his switch-hitting ability and breaking balls. When considering a lot of other big, left-handed bats, averages are bogged down by an inability to produce against southpaws (See – Olson, Matt). Bell is more productive from the left side, but posted near league-neutral numbers versus southpaws from the other batter’s box. Bell has fared well against curveballs, with less success against sliders. I reserve some concern for the effect of a slider increase, but he’s comparable to a large portion of other first baseman after you navigate beyond the top five.
Bell is an extremely polished hitter and once a prospect who was probably overlooked given his lack of defensive ability. Thankfully, the industry hasn’t adopted a defensive metric into standard roto leagues and nobody is threatening his job.
Razzball – 76th overall, 17th SP, $17.8 return
NFBC ADP – 133th overall, 48th SP
Difference of 57 spots
If you navigate through the google sheet I linked in the intro of this column, you’ll notice a lot of the largest discrepancies are position players. Of the 31 players inside Razzball’s top 300 with higher projection ranks than NFBC ADP by more than 100 spots, only one is a starting pitcher (Clayton Richard). Of the 23 players who have an ADP over 60 spots higher than their projection, only three are starting pitchers (Chase Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks).
This leads to a larger theme that I’ve recently become interested in: fantasy owners are valuing starters based on projections better than they ever have (possibly?). That rabbit hole of a topic I’ll leave for another day. For now, I’d like to highlight Shark’s eating habits: innings.
With past injury a general predictor of future injury, it makes that eye-opener duly appealing. While the falloff could be disastrous, and his actual production never jives with his peripherals (*cough* NL Michael Pineda *cough*). Making Samardzija your third starter creates a fantastic blend of floor and ceiling if you split the difference between Razzball’s 76th overall and NFBC’s 113th overall.
I like his tendency to use a slider more than a cutter last year, but am concerned that with the ineffectiveness of his four-seamer. Any adjustment by hitters to counter his slider – hitters will adjust – could neutralize his wider set of skills and force him into adaptation mode once again. The floor of adaptation mode is higher than most because of At&T Park, but it could be a frustrating own if production wavers as it has in the past. I have no problem betting on Samardzija’s peripherals, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable drafting him at the ceiling of his production, which feels like our
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