Thursday night marked the beginning of 2017-2018
concussion football season. If your fantasy baseball league lacked waiver activity prior to kickoff, I can only imagine the subsequent days will be as lively as this fan falling asleep in the fourth inning of a Yankees-Red Sox game back in 2015. Those who stick around care; they flaunt their championship around friends, family, pets, significant others, potential significant others – just kidding, please don’t do that – while their league mates consult countless websites wondering whether this stupid kicker, or this other stupid kicker is the better play. Don’t be that friend asking about a kicker, put your time into something more valuable.
Remember in high school when teachers preached earlier time investment for projects leading to better results? This column is the child of benevolence you sat next to who saw the test, and filled your study-less void five minutes prior to the start of the exam. It’s tough to become that kid unless you are a baseball nut like myself, so in the spirit of all that is Razzball, I’ve taken it upon myself to spur some early interest in 2018.
Below you’ll see the following…
- A Full Season Projection – Simple weighted average of that player’s stats as of September 9th, and his Razzball/Steamer rest-of-season projection (Pitchers, Hitters).
- A Player Comparison – I chose a player from 2016 who produced comparable stats, and followed such player up with his 2017 Average Draft Position (ADP) per NFBC leagues (standard roto). Flaws? Compared player might be at a different stage of their career, possess different peripherals, positional eligibility, and much more. The comparison is there to simply show a similar season from the past they match the production of, and a very crude like to that production’s ADP.
- 2018 ADP Guess – Subject to 100% Lance bias.
Potential 2017 Line: 26 HR – 8 SB – 81 R – 101 RBI – .300 Average – 148 Games
2016’s Corey Seager, with better plate discipline (Drafted 22nd overall, mid-late 2nd round pick)
Rendon has the quietest case for the National League’s MVP honors. His season is a classic lesson in patience. Refer to the bottomless pit Dusty Baker’s third baseman posted in the month of April – save his three-homer outburst on the 30th – and sleeping like that Yankees fan I linked above is permissible. Hitters are fickle beasts, and if Rendon did anything in that month, we’d be looking at a .320 hitter with a .600+ slugging percentage Votto-esque discipline. Yeah, he’s that good.
All this makes me wildly intrigued for Rendon’s preliminary 2018 ADP. While some may scoff at the 2016 Corey Seager comparison, on pure statistics alone, it holds up. Rendon is in his prime – 2018 will be his age 28 season – in a fantastic offense for fantasy purposes, and very few knocks on his skillset. He was a fantastic late purchase at the end of the seventh round last year, but a bargain he will be no more. Rendon is shaping up to be a “safe” option with modest upside in the early rounds.
-Projected late 2nd, early 3rd round pick (22-32 overall)-
Potential – well, actual – 2017 line: 89.1 IP – 98 K – 1.07 WHIP – 3.12 ERA – 3.72 FIP
2016’s Drew Pomeranz, with immensely greater intrigue (Drafted 239th overall, 20th round flyer)
Castillo was notified the 6th of September would be the last start of his 2017 campaign, and he spun an eight-inning gem. “Remember, remember the 6th of September” doesn’t flow as well as V for Vendetta’s tagline, but it possesses the same effect. Does he remind me of a – *hot take alert* – more advanced Luis Severino? Yes. Does he also already feel like a 2017’s James Paxton? Absolutely. But even with all the hype I anticipate, there are numerous reasons to believe around this line might be the norm. I’m aiming to draft a column for my site BigThreeSports that highlights how much each of his three pitches stand out, and that will only make me more comfortable targeting him at inflated levels of ADP if my team needs upside.
A comparison case for Castillo was tough to find from a statistical standpoint, but Drew Pomeranz’s stats unfortunately fit the bill. Each possesses significantly different qualities as starters, but the overall result gives a reality check to those with extremely aggressive aspirations. Yes, I understand that sentence clashes with my disclosed comfort drafting Castillo above where his potential production might land him, but sometimes you have to pull the trigger on this level of talent.
-Projected 11-12th round pick, SP3 (132-144 overall)-
Potential 2017 Line: 19 HR – 18 SB – 87 R – 67 RBI – .282 Average – 153 Games
2016’s Francisco Lindor (Drafted 29th overall, mid-3rd round pick)
Bregman has produced fairly similar lines when you conduct the classic “first-half to second-half” split observation. Then you realize 2017 isn’t over, and you probably shouldn’t have abandoned the 23-year-old after a skid that eerily resembled the start to his career in 2016. Bregman is a premier offensive talent playing third fiddle on an Astros team that stuffs the box score like few others. I love players who fall under the radar for reasons of having more elite players above them; Bregman took a presumed “sophomore slump” and strangled the life out of it. Insane bat-to-ball ability came to the surface with his out-of-zone contact rate jumping up 15 percentage points, while his swinging strike rate cut nearly in half compared to 2016. Worry that his value on the basepaths might deteriorate quicker than we may have expected is legitimate, but his bat is good enough to overcome any inherent negatives.
Hesitancy consumed me when considering this Lindor comp for fear of its faults, but the more I looked, it became substantially less brash. Positional eligibility aside, Bregman’s 2017 is very comparable to Lindor’s 2016, and because I’m about to project Bregman’s ADP lower than Lindor circa 2016, I’m guessing there is room for a nice return. My projection below may also just serve as a way to drive down his ADP, to my own benefit.
-Projected late 4th, early 5th round pick (54-64 overall)-
Potential 2017 Line: 24 HR – 2 SB – 69 R – 83 RBI – .263 Average – 140 Games
2016’s Justin Turner, with more swing-and-miss (Drafted 125th overall, mid-10th round pick)
I wish I took a bolder stance on Bell when he was still a prospect; very few bats produced his discipline through the minors, with even fewer possessing the ability to switch-hit. He’s not as good from the right side, but I wouldn’t doubt for as pure a hitter he is, adjustments and implementing those come have come to mind. 2017 brought with it Bell’s ability to drive the ball, and with the present product, I’m not expecting reversion. Bell has some Willie Calhoun qualities to his game – or maybe vice-versa – but the Pirates youngster never came with exactly the same power potential or name value as Calhoun, and rightfully so. Time changes a lot of things, and in this situation, Bell’s value is the benefactor.
Another bullish comparison here with Justin Turner, and I do want to qualify this one by saying Turner’s peripherals at the time were different – in a good way. Do I have immense doubt that Bell can find a balance of his “drive the ball” phase of present, and his discipline of past? Not in the slightest, as a 25-year-old with the ability to adjust, hit for average and power, and still produce great value will always be desired. A recurrent storyline this season dealt with first base’s depth, but looking at 2018’s crop, I see the power potential, but how few I actually trust to repeat such displays is more potent. Trust isn’t a word commonly associated with Bell from my vantage point, but his ADP will be much more appealing than 36-homer Logan Morrisons, and the like.
-Projected 13-14th round pick (156-168 overall)-
Potential 2017 line: 130 IP – 136 K – 1.13 WHIP – 3.21 ERA – 3.45 FIP
2016’s Kenta Maeda, with a less command (Drafted 94th overall, SP2)
One more pitcher to close out our first looks at potential 2018 ADP, Godley – like Bregman – is playing third fiddle on a team, and has a chance to return substantial value if duplication of 2017 is in store. Most intriguing is the righty’s lack of a straight, fourseam fastball; his cutter and sinker create a four-pitch repertoire with movement in nearly every conceivable direction. Commanding everything has been the only real concern through the minors, and while he won’t ever be advanced with said skill, I’d rather appreciate how good his cutter-curve combo has been, than desire what may never come.
If you blend together 2016 and 2017 Maeda – 2016’s stuff, less some command, with 2017’s cutter – the comp to Godley from more than just a statistical standpoint holds some water. Signs of regression might prove legitimate come 2018, but the lack of name value surrounding a pitcher with a stellar 2017 might bake obscurity into his ADP just enough to make him a nice SP4 with room for improvement.
-Projected 14-15th round pick, SP3 (168-180 overall)-
More than happy to talk through and debate any of these thoughts in the comments below. Another version of this post – with more players – is a possibility, so suggestions are welcome as well.
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