The excitement for baseball season is getting palpable. Ps and Cs and Hs and all kinds of letters are reporting. We’ve got a real Chicka Chicka Boom Boom situation going on. We continue digging into ranges for values and foibles. Our contributors today are Razzball’s own Keelin Billue and long-time baseball friend Greg Smith. We’ve brought in special seating for Keelin’s 12-foot skeleton frame. We’re working with ADP 31-50 here.
Q. What SP do you want on more of your rosters than any other from this tier?
Keelin: This group has a sea of decorated veteran pitchers, but the 24-year-old Spencer Strider (ADP 31) stands out as a good pick after a literal record-breaking 2022 where he finished with a 2.67 ERA, 131 IP, and 0.99 WHIP.
Greg: The biggest value in this tier is Carlos Rodon. He projects for more strikeouts than all the starters ahead of him in this range, including Spencer Strider near the cutoff at pick 32. Plus, he pitched more innings in 2022 than everyone in that group except for Aaron Nola, so how exactly is Rodon more of an injury risk than Strider, Brandon Woodruff, Shane McClanahan, and Justin Verlander? I hope it’s not bad manners to quote Grey Albright at the RazzTable and say, “Rhetorical!” I’m parched from all this plagiarism. Please pass the Carlos Rodon bath water.
My take: Maybe it’s because I’m the descendant of boomers, but I just can’t get with a pitcher coming into his second season with Strider at his cost. That could be a blind spot, though I also don’t love a guy at this price who falls as the SP 3 or 4 in his rotation. I was Stanning Rodon before it was cool so it warms the cockles of my heart to see him finally figuring things out.
Q. This is one of the last chances to grab steals with a stable profile. Who’s your go-to if you still need to address it?
Greg: I’m all about Ozzie Albies this season. Unless he runs on his hands, the finger injury that derailed his 2022 campaign shouldn’t impact his ability to swipe 15-25 bags in the new stolen base environment. And if he runs on his hands, he’d be hitting with his feet, right? Sorry, Mr. Ohtani, pitching and hitting at an All-Star level is great and all, but this Albies guy is projected to cirque du soleil his way to near 20-20 with a .260 average. We have no choice but to relocate you to the side stage in the MLB’s athletic freakshow.
My take: All good options. Arozarena has become a top 50 staples. Mullins has evolved beyond a one-trick pony. I can’t get Albies on enough teams when the only variable that’s changed is perceived injury risk, which we know is a mental construct for people that can’t poke holes any other way. All this to say, if you ignore speed in this range you might as well slam your hand in a car door.
Keelin: I will be gettin’ jiggy with Will Smith. In 2022, he was in the 88th percentile of xwOBA while Varsho was in the 26th percentile. However, if I wanted a catcher that could pad my stolen bases, Varsho would be welcome on the roster.
Greg: This is like a Choose Your Own Adventure where you might end up impaled on a splintered bat either way. Take Dalton Varsho, turn to page 234, divide that page number by 1000, and find yourself in a pit of despair as deep as Varsho’s .234 career batting average. Take Will Smith, and turn to somewhere between page 15 and 20 because that’s how many stolen bases you might give up by not drafting Varsho. Whichever “adventure” you choose should probably be dictated by the statistical profiles of your first couple picks, but I’m most likely to protect my team’s projected batting average with Smith and source steals from other picks.
My take: Both contestants sniffed out the trap door and answered, “Depends on what you need.” I’m not into Varsho at the price unless you know you’re not going to chase steals anywhere else (but like why wouldn’t you? Did steals hurt you? Leave you stranded in a Des Moines Best Western with nothing but the empty suitcase they came with?).
I have to give the slight edge to Greg Sauce as the overall winner. Keelin will now be required to keep her Home Depot skeleton up through the Easter holidays. We’ll be back with ADP 51-75 next week.