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.

 
  1. Cheese says:
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    Interesting. I noticed similar trends with Freeman which is definitely causing me to stay away. I also think it’s easier to stay away from Story at the current draft price this year. Show me one more year of that same production and then I’ll be a buyer.

    Great stuff.

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Cheese: Appreciate it

  2. Wil says:
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    Frazier ranking is fair. I’ll buy Contreras and sell story.

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Wil: Fair enough

  3. Lance

    Lance says:
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    Welcome aboard man, looking forward to you work.

    Any mitigation of Freeman hesitancy by assuming Sun Trust Park will play a little bit smaller?

    Heard it’s beneficial to Lefties mostly too. Turner was above avg as a whole offensively, I think, but figured a short(er) porch wouldn’t hurt him.

    Just a thought!

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Lance: Excellent point. Didn’t take that into consideration tbh.

  4. Grey

    Grey says:
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    You come for the king, you best not miss!

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Grey: Let’s be lovers, not fighters.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Okay, deal, haha

  5. Landisimo3 says:
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    Good Stuff Honcho! My keepers are due this Sunday night… 12 team dynasty … we keep 10… my options are :

    Marte
    Braun
    Cutch
    Lemahieu
    Frazier
    Santana
    Kinsler
    K Davis
    Salazar
    Hendricks
    Porcello
    Maeda
    Greinke
    Sanchez
    Chapman
    Britton

    Hard for me to decide on my 10 … What’ya think? Thanks in advance

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Landisimo3: Nice roster! Great job assembling that squad. Here we go: Britton, Chapman, Sanchez, Hendricks, Marte, Cutch, Braun, Frazier, Maeda & Greinke. That was tough! Good luck.

  6. Jake says:
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    Surprised that A.J. Pollock isn’t on this list. Is he still overrated Grey? You nailed it last yr by saying he was but let’s be honest it was a little fluky.

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Jake: I can see your point, but I still believe in a healthy Pollock

  7. Drew says:
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    Opened trade conversations to acquire Freeman in an OPS Dynasty.

    I have no 1B. Thoughts on giving up some combination of McCullers, Dom Smith, AJ Reed, Brendan Rodgers? How many of these would it take to reasonably acquire Freeman? Is it even worth it to try and put something together?

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Drew: Definitely worth trying to acquire FF………I’d offer a Dom & Reed combo. That should be enough.

      • Drew says:
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        @Mike Honcho:

        Other manager wants McCullers in there too. To cover my thinning rotation, I countered with Musgrove and FF for McCullers, Dom, and Reed. Seem fair?

        • Mike Honcho

          Mike Honcho says:
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          @Drew: Good move

  8. Woodrow the Impaler says:
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    Oy Mike…

    I’m defending my flag in a 10 team N.L. only 5×5 keeper league and I’m hoping I could get yr guidance on my final keeper pick?

    I’ve already got Bryant and Blackmon at $17 and $15 respectively but I’m talking myself in and out of a $5 Willson Contreras, $7 Jose Peraza, and $24 Gregory Polanco.

    Appreciate all yr help, brother!

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Woodrow the Impaler: All are tempting keepers, but w/o knowing the exact details of your roster I’d probably lean Peraza. I’m assuming that in a 10 teamer that you can find another C relatively cheap?

  9. Lucas Silva says:
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    Freeman’s BABIP and HR/FB% are high because of the quality of contact he made. Hard contact rate of 43.5% is elite. 29.1 LD% and 40.3 FB% are both excellent. He hits the ball all over the field, so he’s not susceptible to shifts.

    I could careless about the K% if he continues to have one of the best batted ball profiles in the entire league. Admittedly, the .370 BABIP isn’t likely to be repeated, but the 19.9 HR/FB rate is more than attainable for 2017.

    Love me some Freems!

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Lucas Silva: He’ll be a great player this year no doubt, I’m just pointing some items in question out. You make a solid argument, however the FB & FB %s were had a huge jump from his career avg. We’ll see how this plays out.I own him in a couple keepers so obv I’m hoping I’m wrong here lol.

  10. Joeg414 says:
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    What about some under rated players?

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Joeg414: If you scroll back a page or so there’s an ” Under The Greydar” series as well. Terrific stuff from the writers across the board! Thanks for reading!

  11. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    Have you looked at Freedie Freeman’s career BABIP? Don’t, I’ll tell you it’s .341. It’s his skillset, he has an all fields approach and that ultimatley keeps your BABIP higher particulary for a lefty we can’t shift on. Leaves him more holes in the infield and outfield to target.

    While you can look at his 19.9% HR/FB ratio and say that it’s out of whack, but once again his career number is 15.3%. Which means it’s not that out of line. He also is the hard contact king now that David Ortiz retired, as he finished second to Papi with 43.5% number. He’s also #1 in LD%, and a few of those went over the fence. Factor in the improved, and improving lineup, and the fact that he’s 27 all year and entering his power prime, and it’s easy to believe.

    Sorry I love Freddie Freeman. I might as well be his agent.

    • Mike Honcho

      Mike Honcho says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz: All valid points. Thanks for reading my man.

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