“People ask me what I do when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for Spring” -Rogers Hornsby.
Hello everyone, my name is Matt Striker. Some of you may know me from my time as a professional wrestler and analyst with WWE. Others may know me from shows such as SI Now, Major League Wrestling or Lucha Underground, but at the end of the day no matter if I was being slammed by the Undertaker, thrown around by John Cena or twisted into knots by Kurt Angle, my passion has always been baseball.
Being an avid baseball fan in the world of pro wrestling I was like a man on an island, there were very few around with whom to discuss the intricacies of baseball. Sure, guys had what I like to call “highlight knowledge”, where they can simply regurgitate what they saw on highlights, but I wanted to discuss split stats, pitch selection, batter vs. pitcher matchups, park adjustments, etc. I am of the belief that if you’re wearing a Royals cap you should be able to name at least 5 players on the team , to my dismay I could not find that in the world of Pro Wrestling.
While most wrestlers were mixing protein powders, taking gym selfies and checking their social media, I was building fantasy baseball draft guides, analyzing changes in pitch velocity, spin rotation and looking at lineups etc. (That is probably why I never won many matches.) Needless to say, I began winning and making money in fantasy baseball leagues, especially the ones that featured my fellow wrestlers, but I felt bad-It was like taking candy from a baby.
Now, I am thrilled to be amongst all of you. Finally, I can be comfortable around others that understand the importance of xFIP and wOBA. Even if you’re not a metric head ( I am not ), people like us still know the importance of groundball rate or where a player is situated in a lineup and above all, we know the importance of drafting well in fantasy baseball.
I am sure that many of us have already started our draft prep and after talking with one of the only wrestlers that I know with real baseball knowledge, Richard Holliday , I arrived at a topic for this article on a very interesting draft perspective. By the way, you should try to remember Holliday’s name, he’s 26 yrs old, 6’3″ and currently signed to Major League Wrestling and you will be seeing him on your television – I promise you that- he is the Jo Adell of pro wrestling.
So, today we are analyzing the following : would you rather draft a player at the top or middle of a lineup on a projected 90+ loss team OR a player lower in the order on a team projected to win 90+ games?
I use this strategy a lot, especially in later rounds to find value and maximize my early picks knowing I can get similar value later on in drafts. I think this discussion will really help people. So, let’s get into it.
Most projection sites have a consensus of teams slotted to lose 90 or more games this upcoming season. They are: BAL, MIA, DET, KC and CWS. The consensus 90+ win teams are: CLE, LAD, WSH, NYY, HOU, and BOS.
Let’s look at a lineup like Detroit’s:
There seems to be little fantasy value on this team but someone like Nick Castellanos may be of interest. He is slated to hit high in the order, most likely 3rd, with the protection of Miguel Carbera behind him. Castellanos can be penciled in for approximately 80 R, 24 Hr, 90 RBI, .288 and 146 K’s. Now, let’s compare that with a batter that will hit low in a lineup like the Astros’; Yuli Gurriel.
Gurriel can be penciled in for approximately 69 Rs, 14 HRs, 85 RBI , .285 and strikeout between 50 and 70 times all while hitting in the 6th or 7th hole on an Astros team that may score close to 5 Runs per game. Or maybe have a look at a player such as Rafael Devers, who will most likely hit 6th in a Red Sox lineup that may score over 5 runs a game . Devers can be projected for approximately 71 R 24 HR 74 RBI . 253 and will strikeout about 120-140 times and his hard hit rate deserves a look.
So, whom would you rather draft, Castellanos or Gurriel/Devers ?
Well, if Castellanos has an ADP in the 80’s and Devers ADP is in the 140’s and Gurriel’s ADP is in the 180’s some would say there’s extreme value in waiting for a Gurriel or Devers versus jumping on a Castellanos. You can supplement the slight difference in stats with waiver wire adds. With that 77th-80th pick that you were going to use on Castellanos, you can grab a high end closer and then wait to get very similar Castellanos-like production in the later rounds.
Let’s continue this with a look at the White Sox and Jose Abreu. Abreu has an ADP in the 70- 85 range. Abreu can be penciled in for 73 R, 25 HR, 90 RBI, .284 with around 115K’s, we can use Gurriel here as well but if you’d rather, let’s get really sneaky and look at someone like Tyler White.
IF White gets the at-bats, he will most likely bat low in the order on a great Houston lineup and can be projected for approximately 80 R’s 20 HR’s 90 RBIs and around 115Ks and has ADP in the mid 200’s !
So, do you grab Abreu with your early pick or do you wait and grab a Gurriel in the 180s or a White in the mid 200’s?
With that mid 70’s pick you were going to use on Abreu you can turn around and grab a Jack Flaherty ( who may win you a league ) and then wait and watch while the rest of your league makes their picks and then pounce later on and grab a Gurriel or a White.
Its all about finding which players match up statistically and looking to maximize your draft picks. These are strategies that you should be thinking of in order to get the best value from your draft.
I recommend looking at ADP’s and seeing where you can replicate someone you may take early because they hit higher in the lineup on a lesser team and rethink that pick and go ahead and maximize your team by looking at guys hitting lower in the order in better lineups.
If you have any comments or questions feel free to hit me up : @Matt_Striker_ on Twitter.
I’ll try to answer your questions and may even use your questions/thoughts in the next article. If I do, I’ll be sure to shout you out.
Also, keep an eye out for the SmartBall podcast, hosted by me coming your way very soon. This will be a podcast where we discuss all things baseball, take calls and look at strategies for drafts, season longs, and DFS.
Draft wisely, my friends.