Greetings and welcome to the first installment of the offseason stock report. If you love this silly, fake game as much as I do, you’ve either shined up your 2014 winner’s trophy several times and have shamelessly admired it since the end of the season or have shed many tears over the disappointing fantasy results that you’ve just endured. Either way, it’s time to move on and look forward to the start of the 2015 fantasy baseball season.

In this series, I will attempt to analyze the performances of various players from this past season and project what can be expected from them next season. After digging into all of the underlying peripheral statistics, each player will be deemed either a “buy” or a “sell” depending on whether he can be expected to improve, regress, or maintain his most recent level of production. Much like commodities on the actual stock market, the idea is to buy low on a player that stands to gain value in the near future while selling high on one that is likely to lose value. Of course, players who are already valued highly but appear likely to maintain a high level of production should be targeted, while players who have experienced a sharp decrease in value and appear unlikely to improve upon their current production levels should be avoided.

Without further ado, let’s dig into three of the biggest early round busts from the ’14 season and decide if their disappointing results are a sign of things to come or if a rebound is on the horizon.

Chris Davis: 2013 season – 103/53/138/4/.286, Razzball player value – $38.5; 2014 season – 65/26/72/2/.196, Razzball player value – $8.8

Ouch. Following his monstrous ’13 breakout season, Davis vaulted into the 1st round in the majority of drafts this season, where he became the biggest flop since “The Lone Ranger.” Prime Cecil Fielder-type production was expected and current Adam Dunn-type production occurred. What went wrong?

The biggest change occurred in Davis’ BABIP, which dropped 96 points from .336 in ’13 to .242 in ’14. The infield shifts that opposing teams employed had something to do with that (shift BABIP dropped from .302 to .230) by swallowing up most of the ground balls that he pulled to the right side of the infield. However, his line drive percentage of 24.6% was well above his ’13 number (21.9%) as well as his career number (23.1%) and the league average (20.8%) in that category. In addition, his infield fly ball percentage of 4.3% was well below the league average of 9.6%. All of this data suggests that his .196 batting average was largely a result of bad luck.

Another issue is the drop in average fly ball distance from 308.66 feet in ’13 to 298.04 in ’14. Losing over 10 feet in average distance is fairly significant, but Davis still finished with the 21st highest total in MLB in that statistic, ahead of names like Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz, and Edwin Encarnacion. Going back even further, his 112 HRs over the past three seasons is tied for second in MLB over that span and is 14 more than the player with the 4th highest total (Stanton with 98). Power doesn’t seem to be an issue here.

The third major concern is Davis’ testing positive for the amphetamine Adderall, which resulted in a 25 game suspension near the end of the regular season. While that particular drug is not considered to provide as big of a performance boost as steroids does, it’s obviously a red flag, and is certainly a situation worth monitoring going forward.

Verdict: Davis’ huge ’13 season will almost certainly go down as his career year, but it doesn’t appear to be a complete fluke. His power is very much real, and poor luck played a role in the .242 BABIP (resulting in a .196 BA) that he produced this past season. With little change in his plate discipline and batted ball profile, I believe that Davis will produce something in between what David Ortiz (59/35/104/0/.263 – $18.8) and Chris Carter (68/37/88/5/.227 – $17.5) provided this season, and recommend him as a BUY as early as the 6th round in 12 team redraft leagues next season.

Jason Kipnis: 2013 season – 86/17/84/30/.284, Razzball player value – $23.5; 2014 season – 61/6/41/22/.240, Razzball player value – $3.4

Five category performers have become increasingly rare in fantasy baseball in the post-PED era. Across the 2012-13 seasons, Kipnis was one of four players (Trout, Gomez, and Rios being the others) to average at least 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases while maintaining a .270 batting average. Throw in 86 runs scored and 80 runs batted in per season and he was a true fantasy asset over that time period.

How can a player with this resume get outperformed by the likes of Luis Valbuena and Scooter Gennett this past season? The main reason appears to be the oblique injury that he suffered at the end of April, which caused him to miss almost the entire month of May. Here’s what Kipnis produced before and after the injury occurred:

Pre-injury – 27 GP, 113 PA – 12/3/12/4, .234/.354/.394, .748 OPS

Post-injury – 102 GP, 442 PA – 49/3/29/18, .241/.299/.315, .614 OPS

As you can see, his power basically disappeared after dealing with the oblique issue. His plate discipline tanked as well, going from a 17/16 BB/K ratio pre-injury to 33/84 post-injury.

Another major factor to consider when evaluating Kipnis is his massive platoon splits. Here are his ’14 stats against both right-handed and left-handed pitching:

vs RHP : 374 PA, 50/5/29/16, 41/63 BB/K, .256/.337/.373, .710 OPS

vs LHP : 181 PA, 11/1/12/6, 9/37 BB/K, .208/.256/.244, .500 OPS

The sample size against LHPs is relatively small, but those are concerning numbers nonetheless. However, his career OPS against RHPs from ’12-’13 was .794, while perhaps more importantly, his OPS against LHPs across that same time period was .711, so a healthy Kipnis should be expected to improve upon his ’14 numbers in those areas.

A third and final factor that may have impacted Kipnis’ production is somewhat anecdotal, but seemingly worth mentioning. That story is local beat reporter Terry Pluto’s article which can be read here. Pluto essentially hints that Kipnis’ added off-season bulk, which was intended to add strength and power to his game, served to slow both his bat speed at the plate as well as his foot speed in the field (he was able to steal 22 bases in 25 attempts, so it didn’t seem to affect him on the base paths too much).

Verdict: Kipnis is likely to be a polarizing player heading into next season. Critics will point to his recent platoon splits, mediocre plate discipline, and lack of elite ability as a player who was never really considered to be a top prospect. I choose to view his ’12 and ’13 seasons as a true indicator of what can be expected of him, and remain cautiously optimistic of him as a rebound candidate for next season.

A comp that looks to be a good one for Kipnis is Jimmy Rollins. Similar in size, power, speed, plate discipline, and batted ball profile, Rollins’ production during the ’13 season (65/6/39/22/.252, $5.3) was very similar to Kipnis’ in ’14. J-Roll rebounded to produce a 78/17/55/28/.243 line ($14.7) this season in his age-35 season. Expect a similar 15/25 type of season with an average in the .260 range and solid counting stats from Kipnis in his age-28 season in ‘15. I recommend him as a BUY as a semi-elite option at a shallow 2B position and a borderline top 60 player.

Bryce Harper: 2013 season – 71/20/58/11/.274, Razzball player value – $9.6; 2014 season – 41/13/32/2/.273, Razzball player value – $-3.0

Many people expected Harper to challenge Mike Trout for the unofficial title of “best player in baseball” by this point in his career. He certainly appears to possess all of the skills needed to become the next big superstar – immense power, speed, a cannon for a throwing arm, improving plate discipline. Yet since entering the league in 2012, his offensive production has essentially been equal to that of Chase Headley. When can a Harper breakout be expected?

The answer to that question is not in the immediate future as long as Harper’s durability issues persist. His games played totals have declined in each of his first three seasons, from 139 to 118 to 100. It’s hard for a player to produce when he’s not on the field.

Speaking of production, even when he has been in the lineup, Harper’s stats have taken a turn for the worse. His BB% dropped from 12.3% in ’13 to 9.6% in ’14 while his K% rose from 18.9% to 26.3%, including an alarming spike in his SwStr% from 10.9% to 13.7% (the league average was 9.4% last season). His average fly ball distance fell from 299.23 ft in ’13 (20th best in MLB) to 286.55 ft in ’14 (86th best), resulting in only 13 HRs in 395 PA. His .273 batting average could have been much worse had it not been for an extremely high .352 BABIP. He managed only 2 SBs last season, and 13 total across the last two seasons combined (218 GP). There’s a lot to be concerned about here.

On the plus side, Harper just turned 22 years old in October, which is younger than a significant number of players still working their way through the minor league system, and is barely old enough to order a beer. His already above average power is still developing, and some of the comparable players at a similar age according to baseball reference include Justin Upton, Andruw Jones, Mickey Mantle, Miguel Cabrera, and Adrian Beltre. Pretty good company.

Verdict: Harper’s potential is immense. This is no secret to anybody who has followed the game over the past few seasons. Unfortunately, he hasn’t yet lived up to the hype from a fantasy perspective. In the early rounds, it’s prudent to draft production over potential, and for that reason, I consider Harper to be a SELL as a likely top 30 overall pick in redraft leagues.

Do you agree with these assessments? Think I’m out of my mind? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

 
  1. J-FOH says:
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    *stands up, starts the slow clap*

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: c’mon, you know me. I’d stay standing and tell everyone to go f**k themselves.

        Great work my man.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @J-FOH: Haha, so true. Thanks man.

  2. SteveNZ says:
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    Good job, sir.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @SteveNZ: Thanks, Steve! I appreciate the kind words even though I’m not sure that you’re familiar with the early round bust (not your FCL team, at least).

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @SteveNZ: That’s why it’s a good idea to play in multiple leagues. This team looks solid on paper. It was impossible to predict Fielder’s injury, and 14th overall is right around where I had Harper in my rankings too. I feel your pain with Verlander/Gyorko at the 6th/7th swing (did the same exact thing in the FCL).

          But hey, you killed it with your FCL draft…

  3. Grey

    Grey says:
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    That’s some serious acuity and A) I don’t know how to pronounce that word or B) what it means.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Grey: Thanks! I’m just surprised that I made it through an entire bust article without mentioning Billy Butler.

  4. Mike

    Mike says:
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    Great post Magoo!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Mike: Thanks, Mike! Threw in a J-Roll reference for you.

  5. Kid A says:
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    Smart, succinct, and insightful. You got one of them beautiful minds. Great job Magoo.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Kid A: Thanks, Kid. My mind isn’t quite as beautiful as yours according to the FCL standings. Can’t wait for next year.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: articulation doesn’t equate to higher finishes.

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Kid A: number 4, 7 more to go and the FCL is complete. Jeremy does not count

  6. Militant Vegans says:
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    Nice analysis. Do you think Harper’s BB%, K%, SwStr% numbers are a result of “just figurin’ it out” at the MLB level or do you believe he has potential long-term problems recognizing how teams are trying to get him out?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Militant Vegans: Harper’s durability has been a big issue. He had knee problems after running into the outfield wall in 2013, then played through a thumb injury this past season. It probably affected his power, but his numbers before and after the injury occurred were very similar.

      He struggled against left handed pitching prior to this season, but regressed against righties as he improved his LHP splits. He stopped running this season. Just a lot of question marks. The talent is there, but he’s a very risky fantasy option right now.

  7. J-FOH says:
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    Now that you’re here I have a question for you. You have a pic of Basil Rathbone playing holmes, I’m more of a Peter Cushing guy myself, but what does Big Magoo have to do with that? Is this some weird nickname from childhood? Have a vision problem?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: I really enjoyed Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories when I was younger. I’ve read every single one multiple times over the years. The Rathbone/Bruce team was my favorite tv adaptation of the Holmes and Watson characters (the stories were usually altered in some way or combined together in each movie/show). No really good reason for using that pic. I guess there’s some detective work involved in doing fantasy research. Gotta dig deep sometimes to figure out what’s going on. We’ll go with that.

      I stole my razzball name from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Griffey,_Jr.%27s_Winning_Run

      I owned that game back in the day, and the names that were used were so ridiculous since it didn’t have an MLBPA license to use the real ones. So it’s kinda baseball related. Sort of.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: very cool. You’re the big hurt! I dig the name viper Ramirez. I think my team names for 2015 will come from that game. There are probably some glossary terms in there too.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @J-FOH: Yup, Big Magoo is as ridiculous as any, so I had to use it. Sluggo Steel, Jack Hammer, and Ox Bunyan are a few others that I remember.

      • Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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        @Big Magoo: i didn’t remember this one, but i played the older one a lot.

  8. Swfcdan says:
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    The first two guys listed are my long term keepers in one league….you can tell I didn’t win this year haha. Got both for 12 bucks so that still ain’t bad value right?

    Good names, and agree on them. Think we need more though!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Swfcdan: Twelve bucks for each or for both combined? It all depends on your league settings too. What’s your salary cap? Starting positions? How many keepers? I like Davis and Kipnis to bounce back, but keeper values depend on all of those things (and more).

      Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be writing a post similar to this one in which I evaluate a few of the breakout players from this season in the near future. There’s nothing really planned beyond that. Just giving the regulars a quick breather. If there’s any particular player or topic that you’d be interested in reading about, let me know. Worst case, I’ll give you a quick rundown in the comments.

      • Swfcdan says:
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        @Big Magoo: Nope 12 bucks for each. Still decent value considering, last season would’ve said they were both steals at that price. Standard league settings really, just trying to decide how hard to shop them this offseason (and whether teams will actually be interested).

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Swfcdan: I’d probably just hold for now unless a Vito Corleone-esk owner presents himself and makes you an offer you can’t refuse. You’d be selling low right now, and I expect both guys to be solid fantasy players next season.

  9. Chris says:
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    Any hope for Alex Rios?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Chris: Depends where he ends up playing next year, but Steamer has him down for a 62/12/65/19/.260 batting line at the moment. I’d say that projected average looks a bit low considering his high LD% (23.5 %) and reasonable K% (17.9 %), but everything else looks believable. His power fell off of a cliff last season with only 4 HRs and an average flyball distance of 266.48 ft (243rd in MLB), and that’s not likely to rebound too much in his age-34 season. Speed generally ages poorly as well, but he’s still a plus runner, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 SBs seems reasonable.

  10. de nachos says:
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    Huzzah! *hrrumph hrrumph* I am raising a glass of Backwoods Bastard in your general direction. Numbers and words together. That I read. And enjoyed. Well done.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @de nachos: Backwoods Bastard sounds appropriate to me! Thanks man. I’ll try to throw some more numbers and words together at some point and hope that it works out.

    • J-FOH says:
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      @de nachos: 5 down 6 to go

  11. J-FOH says:
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    Damn. Donaldson to the Jays

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: Crazy. The Jays are going for it. Donaldson’s skill set is perfect for that ballpark, but I’m not sure they have enough pitching right now. If they sign one of Scherzer/Lester/Shields or trade for an SP, then I like the move for them. The A’s are always looking for pieces to move around the chess board later on.

      • Kid A says:
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        @Big Magoo:

        Give me a silver lining, Mags…please…before I make sick all over myself.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Kid A: Are you an A’s fan?

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Big Magoo: how have you not picked up on this. Are celebrating your first post hard in the man cave tonight?

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              @J-FOH: I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, let alone the rooting interests of others.

              • Kid A says:
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                @Big Magoo:

                That’s the nicest way anyone has ever told me to go fuck myself.

                Thanks Maggy!

                • Big Magoo

                  Big Magoo says:
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                  @Kid A: I didn’t mean it like that! Just describing my symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s, most likely.

          • Kid A says:
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            @Big Magoo: Dood, seriously?

              • Kid A says:
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                @Big Magoo:

                Thanks for the link, I’m trying to get dialed on these prospects right now.

                Has got to be such a rush wheeling and dealing out of the front office for these teams.

                Tinker, Tailor,
                Soldier, Sailor,
                Rich Man, Poor Man,
                Beggar Man, Thief.

                Minus the Sailor and the Rich Man, of course.

                • Big Magoo

                  Big Magoo says:
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                  @Kid A: They’re all rich men, despite what the owners-who-cry-wolf would want you to believe. Just a matter of how far they’re willing to cut into their profit margin…

              • J-FOH says:
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                @Big Magoo: a latin born player who has a high k rate and low walk rate. Such a rare breed he is.

                • Big Magoo

                  Big Magoo says:
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                  @J-FOH: You can cut the sarcasm with a knife. He’s only 18 years old…

                  • J-FOH says:
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                    @Big Magoo: you sound like gorilla monsoon

                    • Big Magoo

                      Big Magoo says:
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                      @J-FOH: I was just listening to CM Punk’s recent podcast, actually…

                  • J-FOH says:
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                    @Big Magoo: I know nothing if new wrastling. I.atopped watching in 93

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: but if they are always moving pieces how do they get checkmate?

    • Kid A says:
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      @J-FOH:

      Fucking hell.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Kid A: sorry bro. Buy yourself a double of something and put it on my tab

  12. Wake Up says:
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    Yes, I do think you are slightly out of your mind. This is also why I like you! Pouring eversolittle of my Coronado out in your honor…

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Wake Up: Thanks, Wake! I appreciate the Coronado gesture, but I think you might be a little out of your mind for wasting any of that…

  13. stonepie says:
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    davis i think will rebound but expect his draft position to hinder his potential value. kipnis is in a similar position but i expect him to rebound more given his injuries. also on kipnis’ side is the uninspiring class of 2nd basemen surrounding him. id roll the dice on a kipnis over a proven known commodity like daniel murphy in 2015

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @stonepie: There’s not much ADP data to work with right now, but Davis went 86th overall in the slow expert mock draft that Sky’s currently participating in: http://www.couchmanagers.com/mock_drafts/index.php?draftnum=32299. I love his value at that price. Medium risk, high reward.

      I agree with you on Kipnis. As I mentioned in the post, I expect him to be a 15/25 player with a neutral average next season. That’s quite valuable, especially at 2B.

  14. Kid A says:
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    64th

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Kid A: 65th

      • Kid A says:
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        @Big Magoo: Well now you’re just primping yourself. (66th)

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Kid A: Guilty as charged (67th)

  15. Clint says:
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    I agree w/the labels in redrafts, I’m just trying to figure out where these guys land at their positions as far as keepers go since I have Davis and Harper in my h2h 10 keeper league. I’d bore you with the whole lineup that won me the title despite their minimal efforts but needless to say, I’ll be anxious to see what the Top 100 Keepers look like because my team was pretty good.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Clint: Congrats on the victory, Clint. My drafting advice is generally tailored towards a 12 team 5×5 redraft format. Obviously, H2H and keeper rules change things drastically. I’m still bullish on Harper in keeper formats, but feel that he’ll be overvalued in redraft leagues next season.

  16. Sky

    Sky says:
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    I came, I read, I applaud. Nice work, Magoo!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Sky: Thanks, Sky! I hope you don’t mind, but I posted a link to your slow mock in one of the comments above. There’s practically no ADP data right now, so that mock is one of the few things that might indicate how others value players going into next season. And experts, no less. Nice Avisail pick!

      • Sky

        Sky says:
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        I have nothing to be ashamed of and even if I did, well, that would be my own damn fault. You’re good and thanks RE: Avisail! Pretty sure there won’t be these values when real drafts emerge. There’ll be plenty of separating of the wheat from the chaff by that time.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Sky: Thanks! Yeah, I agree with you about the values. I’d love to be able to get Davis at 86th overall, but if he looks decent during spring training, he’ll probably move up into that 6th round area that I mentioned above.

          • Sky

            Sky says:
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            These are always feel outs. Arrieta/Carrasco after the 10th? Ain’t happenin once all the various rankings come out. They’ll be hyped out of the building by then.

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              @Sky: Agreed. Are you higher on DeGrom than Arrieta/Carrasco or were you just feeling the room out? There’s a lot to like about all three of those guys.

              • Sky

                Sky says:
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                Sooooooooooooo, now I’m getting back to you. There were some guys I had circled at first (Arrieta/Carrasco/McHugh) but I wanted to see where they went so I let them linger a bit. DeGrom WAS Arrieta if I were really drafting.

                • Big Magoo

                  Big Magoo says:
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                  @Sky: I’m glad that I checked off the e-mail notification box!

                  Yeah, I like Arrieta too. He’s looking like a trendy pick for next year though, kind of in the Salazar mold from this past season. He won’t last long in competitive leagues. Carrasco too. Might be able to get McHugh at a reasonable price in some leagues though.

                  You’re on deck. Duda and Gattis are still on the board, but your catcher and utility slots are already filled. Wacha? Pineda? Lynn? Paxton? Andrew Miller? Lots of solid pitching options are still available…

                  • Sky

                    Sky says:
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                    Yeah, have all three of those guys in my keeper and shares across all leagues last year. McHugh went cheapest as I expected. It’s why I’m not keeping him despite having the same price tag as Carrasco/Arrieta. I’d expect Arrieta/Carrasco to sneak up to round 8 max, depending on hype. Round 10 or 11 might be their place, though.

                    We have no bench spots so I either draft an OF or no offense at all. I’m leaning Pollock as my OF5 right now. Like him as a sneaky chance at good all around numbers. Thinking .280-.290 possible with 12-15 HRs and let’s say an outside shot at 25 SB. Good value at this time in the draft. It’s so hard to draft before teams have even stopped most of their trading. Very much a blind go. I’m eyeing Walker/Paxton right now. Never been a Lynn believer and not sure Wacha is my thing either. So much pitching left by the end of this draft, it’s silly. Not a big Pineda guy and I’ll take a shot at Miller if it’s clear there’s no other closers on the board. I don’t personally think he gets the job.

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