Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

What’s the most common phrase you’ve heard this offseason among the fantasy community?

Steals are scarce is one. James Paxton is my sleeper might be another contender – I’m guilty of this one. How about player x is injury prone? This is one that I’ve heard numerous times, and for good reason.

There are a lot of players whom are properly tagged as a risk to not stay on the field. However, I always find myself stepping back from discussion whenever I hear the claim as I determine what the actual standard is for a player being prone to injury.

Razzball Commenter Leagues are open! Play against our contributors and your fellow readers for prizes. Join here!

We have guys, like Bryce Harper, who play like their hair is on fire and are considered by many to be injury prone. Giancarlo Stanton is a player who I wouldn’t say plays with the level of aggression that Harper does, but seems to always come up with an injury to nix him from the 150 game threshold. I would say he is injury prone, but in a different respect.

Then we have have literally every pitcher in baseball who possess some level of injury risk simply due to the motion of throwing a baseball. They’re all susceptible to some sort of ailment at one point or another during the season. It’s why the wait on pitcher club is always accepting members. My apologies to all of you who own shares in David Price and Carlos Carrasco. Just think, it’s not even Opening Day yet!

What about the players caught in limbo with the injury prone tag? I always find myself optimistic in projections for players who are a few missed games away from their injury history moving into any discussion about that player’s future.

Gregory Polanco is one of these guys.

The Pirates’ outfielder received two platelet rich plasma injections early last season, tore up the major leagues for two months, and then fizzled out into a 22 homer, 17 stolen base season with a .258 average. This was  just good enough to make him a top 100 player, but more importantly caused many to wonder what the heck this kids potential is if he’s healthy for an entire year.

Ceiling 

It’s always a tough thing to nail down, for any player.

Mechanical changes and adjustments players make in their career can drastically alter what their ceiling looks like. J.D. Martinez had a ceiling of .250 and a generous 20 home runs for the first three years of his career. All the sudden he makes a few subtle adjustments and that ceiling is somewhere in the realm of 40 home runs.

Gregory Polanco’s ceiling can be debated, but I would peg it somewhere in the 100/30/100/25/.290 range for the 2017 season.

This is with everything falling his way. Health, BABIP, HR/FB%, hard hit %, line drive percentage, the whole package of player dependent and independent results. His 2016 first half doubled would give you 100/24/100/18/.287, although rudimentary, taking a player’s best half and doubling it is a good barometer for what a really good season could look like for any player. I may be a bit bullish on this thought for Polanco, but I don’t think it’s too insane.

If we want to expand our vision past the 2017 season, we run into an even more perplexing range of possibilities. Brett Sayre of Baseball Prospectus is the poster boy for Gregory Polanco long-term love, as he took him 26th overall in a 99 round ‘draft and hold’ with the folks over at Dynasty Guru – of which I own a team as well. Yes, it’s actually 99 rounds. No I am not joking. Yes I am crazy.

It was a bit shocking to see him name off the board so early, but when you look big picture at his prospect pedigree and the mix of skills he has shown at the major league level, I can’t fault Brett for the pick. As Grey mentions in his top 20 outfielders piece, Polanco’s two major league seasons combined lead you to a 22 homer, 27 steal campaign. He’s done both before, just in different years. I’m happy to drool over his skill set for another 500 words but we have more important matters to attend to.

Expectation 

Grey – 77/23/89/24/.262

Me – 80/24/85/17/.265

Fangraph’s Steamer – 76/18/71/19/.265

The real question is would one be happy with a repeat of last season at this high of a price tag? Polanco’s current ADP on NFBC is 64th overall, with a high pick of 40 overall.

For any owner confident in a slight improvement up to our previously discussed ceiling, the answer is probably no. However, Polanco is one of the few players with such parity in his range of outcomes that I’d be happy to insulate my team around the Pirates stud as a modified hedge on his potential.

Kyle Seager is a player I would love to combo with Polanco in a draft. All the Mariners’ third basemen has done in his career is improve, stay on the field, and hit. He’s a player with a very high floor and an attainable ceiling that could offset any volatility Polanco could leave you with.

20/20 is a great expectation for the industry to have on a player like Polanco. This is a good reason why the fifth round price tag is what you’re going to have to pay. Legitimate five-tool fantasy assets are few and far between.

Floor

The easy way to see a player’s floor is simply saying he doesn’t play. That’s a cop out.

Let’s  make it interesting and say Polanco nagging injuries remerge on opening day and he still plays through the entirety of 2017. Weird to think about a scenario where this actually happens, but this doesn’t deviate much from what Polanco’s 2016 second half seemed to be. So what value are we going to see returned?

62/18/68/16/.240

This is a combination of looking at this spotty second half and expanding out to a slightly better average. My confidence in his average sticking is because it’s tough to expect a substantial reversion of the line drive approach that netted him the attractive peripherals we saw in 2016: 25.7% hard hit rate, 24% line drive rate, 14.4% HR/FB%, 91.5% zone contact rate.

The floor we’re looking at above is something along the lines of what Freddy Galvis produced last season, minus a bit of power – 61/20/67/17/.241. Bet you never thought a Polanco-Galvis comparison would emerge when you clicked on this column did you?!

It’s not pretty, but it’s a possibility that needs to be acknowledged. Galvis was still a top 200 player last season with those stats, but you’re digging yourself a hole if your 5th pick is barely a top 200 player.

I’m skeptical of this floor manifesting because  of the change in batted ball profile mentioned above.

Hitting the ball hard a great indicator of success and is a common metric that gets people really excited for the future. We’re not going to wake up in May and see Freddy Galvis atop the exit velocity leaderboard, unless there is substantial change in approach. That, or Mike Trout changes his name.

Polanco made strides to hit more line drives and turned out an extremely attractive batted ball profile that pushes up his average floor higher than we’d think. Exit velocity is also one of the few things a batter controls to a great extent, making an uptick, even during a year of power across the board, more appealing in expecting this floor to be easily exceeded.

I’m a Buyer

So is the combination these three buckets enough to pull the trigger on Polanco before the 5th round has come and gone? I think it is, and Grey would likely agree with me (Polanco is Grey’s 15th OF). But for that decision to be made by an owner on draft day, they’d have to believe strongly that the window between the expectation and ceiling is what you’re going to get. Not the much less valuable window between the expectation and the floor.

I’d consider myself one of those owners. I paid $27 for Polanco in a CBS Expert League NL Only draft and drafted him 50th overall on one of my NFBC teams. The potential has been something I am consistently gravitating towards. My general dislike for the steals centric players like Jonathan Villar and Trea Turner early in drafts has made me more inclined to turn to players like Polanco to solidify some foundation for steals early in roto drafts.

Polanco has all the potential in the world. Here’s to hoping the 2018 offseason doesn’t bring with it the phrase Gregory Polanco is injury prone.

 

 

You can follow Lance on Twitter, @LanceBrozdow, if you prefer to act like a proper millennial.

   
  1. Blackjack says:
    (link)

    A) possible correction:
    “It’s why the wait on pitcher club is always excepting members.”

    Accepting?

    B) thank you for this post. I’m thinking about trading some picks around in my draft in order to line up for Polanco. Think I largely agree with you and that with our draft I like his potential upside more than the “meh” represented in my other options.

  2. Lance

    Lance says:
    (link)

    A) Thanks for the catch, mind works faster than my fingers sometimes!

    B) Polanco is definitely a rewarding guy to place some bets on this year. I would be an advocate of some manipulation to get him on any team, but as always, can’t dig yourself too deep of a hole, so make sure the price is reasonable!

    Thanks for the read!

  3. Jerseyjon says:
    (link)

    So Feldman is apparently the Red’s ace. Where is he on the top 80 pitchers?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Jerseyjon:
      Ehh,

      Ace of a team doesn’t necessarily imply that he stays actually good. I’d say only NL only relevant from a news perspective.

      He doesn’t K anybody, is pitching in baby coors, and isn’t going to win any games. He’ll be lucky if he makes my top 100 when I update my SP ranks.

      In this case, to call on a Grey-ism, Scotty actually doesn’t know.

  4. chris says:
    (link)

    would you keep Polanco in a 12-team mixed, 5×5, $260 league with maximum of 6 keepers per year at $18?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @chris:
      Sure, $18 is fine.

      I would always like to know who else you’re keeping though. Don’t want to lead you astray if you have 6 top 20 guys.

  5. chris says:
    (link)

    can keep 6 out of these…

    david dahl $1
    Gattis $2
    jose rameriez $1
    syndergaard $1
    jackie bradley $1
    jake lamb $1
    matt harvey $2
    duvall $1
    tim anderson $1
    polanco $18
    hunter renfroe $1
    porcello $1
    wade davis $3
    Betances $3
    Urias $2

  6. chris says:
    (link)

    as of today plan is (was)

    syndergaard 1
    anderson 1
    rameriez 1
    JBJ 1
    Dahl 1
    lamb 1

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @chris:
      Yeah, that becomes a bit of a decision now.

      Absolutely on JBJ, Syndergaard, Dahl, Lamb, Ramirez.

      That last one is up in the air for me, I don’t think Tim Anderson is particularly great.

      What’s your format and innings threshold if you’re roto? (I’m leaning Betances depending on your answer)

  7. HH says:
    (link)

    12 team AL only, would you trade Healy($10), Berdrosian ($10) and Victor Martinez ($20) for Gary Sanchez ($1). Thanks!!

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @HH:
      Yes, but it depends a bit on your depth and ability to replace 3B and DH, who you have at C, and I’m assuming these values are heading into your draft?

  8. HH says:
    (link)

    I should’ve mentioned it is a keeper league and these guys have 2 yrs left. I already have k seager and j Ramirez and a deep pool of 3B is available while catchers are thin with Vogt, Castillo and McCann as the top options(2 catcher league). Thanks for the input

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @HH:
      That’s a pretty deep 3B pool for you, which basically makes Healy insignificant. Sanchez at $1 is really nice, even if on the surface it looks like you’re giving up a lot (albeit at rich price tags).

      The thing that’s a little interesting is that you’re mentioning McCann, Vogt, Castillo, who are not throw away players in an AL only in the slightest. Sanchez is good, but I’m not going to be stunned if a guy like Castillo pops more HRs, or McCann puts up a similar season. Difference between Cs isn’t really that big.

  9. Mickey Maloney says:
    (link)

    I took Polanco in the 5th Rd (57 overall) in a 12 team H2H draft. I remember thinking at the time, this is great value. Looking back, I had concerns. I could have had Cruz, Cutch or Villar, but bRely missed on Schwarber, Yelich and Odor. Threw off my game.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Mickey Maloney:
      Non keeper, I’m going Cruz over Polanco, but Villar/Cutch are two guys I’m not particularly bullish on. I don’t mind going Polanco there at all!

  10. Dan S says:
    (link)

    Great post! Polanco is one of my favorite players despite my fantasy nerds ridiculing me and comparing him to Yelich. Some of the homers that Polanco hit last year were mammoth, and he does it so easy. Huge upside if he can avoid the nagging injuries.

    I like him so much so that I traded Springer away for Robles and Price away for Brendan Rodgers in one of my leagues just so I could fit Polanco as one of my 7 keepers.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Dan S:
      Just show them the batted ball data, Polanco’s is much more appealing.

      That’s a comp based off youth and similarity of position. Which is to say, not really a comp at all on anything that actually matters.

      Bold on the trade for Rodgers. He’s got skills, but is a bit of a ways off. Been hearing a bit about that park factor inflating whatever production he had. I’m still high overall on him.

      Re-clarify what you gave up too, little bit confused!

      • Dan S says:
        (link)

        @Lance: It’s a 12 team Head-to-Head league that is 5×5 Cats with OPS instead of average. You get to keep 7 major league players and 5 minors guys. Going into season I had Cabrera, Bogaerts, Trout, Betts, Springer, Polanco, Syndergaard, Lester, Price, and only Devers, Happ, and Dom Smith in minors. So I had to cut down the 9 majors guys to 7. Obv most people would prefer Springer over Polanco but I love the latter so much I traded away Springer for Robles, who I also love. Then was offered Rodgers for either Thor, Lester, or Price, and chose Price.

        • Lance

          Lance says:
          (link)

          @Dan S:
          Ahh I see now!

          You’re pretty stacked, so can’t really critique any of the moves. Overall I like it, especially lucking into Rodgers with the Price elbow saga.

          Springer for Robles is bold too, but if anybody is going to return Springer value in the minor it’s him if the power tool matures.

          • Danny Boy says:
            (link)

            @Lance: Thanks! Can’t wait for our boy Polanco to tear it up this season!

  11. Illuminatty says:
    (link)

    Lance great write up,

    i was curious to get your take on this stragtey, drafting currently 1st in a 10 man h2h points league. I’m thinking of going offense ( OF, 1B, SS ) first 3 picks and then going ( SP, SP ) for picks 40 and 41. If I go ( SP , SP ) I’m thinking of grabbing Y. Darvish, J. Verlander, Arrieta, or Cueto. Which 2 of this pitchers would you combo with each other? Or would you grab one of these possible pitcher and pair them with an offense player, instead of going (SP, SP) go (SP, Hitter)?

    *If my question is confusing I apologize. Thanks for your help.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Illuminatty:
      Malamoney is the resident points league expert on Razz so you might want to try and connect with him for an opinion, but I’m always willing to provide mine…

      10 teamer means that there is going to be some depth and replacement value on the waivers. This makes the elite talent a little bit more important.

      I don’t mind targeting 3 hitters with my first 3 picks in a format like this, but I think I would tend to go 2 bats (Trout & Votto if he falls to 20ish, or another solid OBP bat) and 1 SP, esp with the 1st pick. SPs will probably go a little earlier, but just try to react to where players are going in the draft and build your team off that. Don’t reach down for Verlander or somebody if you see SPs going off the board, get an ace and sit on that, round out hitting while everybody else overpays for SPs.

      I like Darvish more than Verlander, Arrieta, Cueto. Like the Darvish / Cueto combo best, but a little skeptical that Darvish will be there come 40 overall – but again, based off how the draft goes.

  12. Danny Boy says:
    (link)

    Uh Oh…

Comments are closed.