What’s good baseball peeps? For those of you not familiar with me, I’m Honcho and I’ve dabbled in fantasy here at Razzball on the football side and helped with DFS a bit. This year, well, I’m jumping into the season-long game. Once we get to opening day, my posts will consist of pitching and hitting streamers based on the results of the Stream-o-Nator and Hitter-Tron each week. Until then I’ll be contributing a bit of everything to help get you primed for the 2017 season. For this particular piece, I’m looking at a few players who I believe are sitting just a tad too high based on Grey’s rankings. Now, before we move on, let me say this: Grey is the best in the business. His rankings are absolutely rock-solid and you’ll be a better fantasy player just by visiting Razzball on the reg. I like to think of Grey as the Mike Trout of fantasy analysts, or better yet, the David Hasselhoff of industry experts. If fantasy baseball was exclusively played in Germany that is. He’s like the Adam Lambert of… ahhh never mind! You get the point. He’s really, really good and this article is not meant to disparage his work in any way. I’m just going to point out a few examples of guys I think should be knocked down a few spots in his rankings. This doesn’t mean I hate the players I’ve listed below, in fact they’ll most likely wind up on a few of my teams in the coming weeks. For example, Grey has Todd Frazier ranked as the 10th best third baseman. Know what? It’s hard to argue against a guy coming off a 40 HR/15 SB type year. But here where I disagree slightly. Frazier, who will turn 32 before the season opens, suffered a 6 point drop in his hard contact percentage last season (31.3%), falling from 37.3% in 2015. His strikeout rate rose to an unsightly 24.5%, which happens to be the highest of his six seasons at the major league level and checks in at fifth worst among qualified third basemen. Perhaps the most frightening item in play here is the mysterious finger injury that suddenly popped up a few weeks ago. He’s scheduled to return to baseball activities on March 1. With all that to digest, it’s hard to imaging Frazier finishing 2017 with a batting average above .240. I still expect he’ll reach 30 HR, but you’ll pay considerably more than you should to obtain his services. Considering what his counter rate is at the moment (5th round NFBC) I’ll gladly take Jake Lamb, Alex Bregman or Jose Ramirez to fill out my CI or 3B position.
Here’s a look at a few players who I believe were ranked while Grey was sipping on grandpa’s cough medicine:
Willson Contreras – He’s entering his age 25 season and that should be enough to rev your engine, but I’m afraid his sexy 2016 debut might inflate his draft stock a bit too much. Look, I’m just trying to keep everyone from being fooled. That’s no fun. Kinda like the time I met this hottie on Christian Mingle. When I showed up to her apartment she had a curiously strong grip and an enormous Adam’s apple. What?! Anyway, here’s the thing on Contreras – yes, he hit 12 HR in 283 plate appearances, but his contact was flat-out inconsistent and his 23.7% strikeout rate was anything but impressive. I’m trigger shy when it comes to players with troublesome peripherals. His ground-ball rate ranked third-highest among the 28 catchers with at least 275 plate appearances in 2016 and according to Statcast, his average exit velocity and batted-ball distance ranked in the bottom third of hitters with at least 160 balls in play last season. So what am I actually saying? Well, I believe Contreras is a valuable catcher, just not a top 5 type of guy. His inconsistent numbers lead me to believe he’s more of a 15 HR/.270 player – not far from Grey’s projection, but I’d rank him behind Sal Perez, Realmuto and Brian McCann and possibly Russell Martin.
Trevor Story – There’s a whole lotta “If’s” involved when discussing Colorado’s dynamic young shortstop. Let’s look at the upside real quick: Home games at Coors Field, hit 27 HRs in just 97 games last year and he finished 2016 with an incredible .567 slugging percentage. With all that said, I’m not sure I can comfortable rank him ahead of Lindor, Bogaerts or Seager. Why you ask? Well, let’s start with his 31.3 percent strikeout rate. Sure, there’s always a chance he can bring that down a bit, but in the event that he stays in the same neighborhood for 2017, we could see a significant decline in his .344 BABIP, which would most likely mean a dip in batting average as well. One last item to touch on with Story, his 23.7 HR/FB rate last year qualifies as elite. Putting him in the same sentence as the top power hitters in today’s game. He may very well prove that he belongs in that zip code, but I’d like to see at least another year of that type of production before I pay a premium rate.
Freddie Freeman – Again, keep in mind this is not an argument against Freeman, it’s more of a list of concerns heading into 2017. I like Freddie, he’s a really good player and I’d wager to say he’s a swell guy to invite to birthday’s and bar mitzvah’s. Anyway, Grey lists him as the fourth ranked first baseman for 2017 and I ‘d rather roll the dice on Edwin Encarnacion or Joey Votto. If you’re feeling lucky you could wait and see if there’s a reduced price on Jose Abreu. That might happen. But…… here’s the deal with Freeman: His 19.9 HR/FB rate was the highest of his career and nearly five percentage points above his career mark, while his BABIP checked in at .375. That will be almost impossible to repeat this year folks. Especially if he continues to swing and miss with the frequency of 2016. His 24.7 strikeout rate was the highest of his career and that alone could make repeating his .302 batting average from last season nearly impossible. Remember he’s only hit over .300 twice in his six major league seasons. Another item worth mentioning is a tiny issue I noticed with left-handed pitchers. He certainly didn’t struggle average wise, as he hit .301 vs LHP opposed to .303 vs righties. The issue here is that he hit just 7 of his home runs vs LHP, plus his K-rate vs lefties was 28% against just 23% vs right-handers. Is this worth making a federal case over? Most likely no. Freeman will be a solid contributor to your team this season. I’m just here to make you think a little.