Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, whichever is applicable to you. Unless you’ve started your draft prep this week, I’m sure you’ve heard ad nauseam that the SS position is a fantasy abyss of sorts. After re-emphasizing the hollowness of the position, tales of what tomorrow brings shines light on the cold frontier. This narration brings promise and hope, and makes you want to be part of that growth. You now find yourself attaching your name to one of the future stars drawing a line in the sand and staking claim to your guy.
- Team Russell!
- Team Seager!
- Team Correa!
- Team Lindor!
You find it impossible to praise one without criticizing the other. The end result of it all is paying inflated prices for nothing more than the promise of a bright future. For me, no two players have a more inflated price-tag than Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor.
It’s really hard to find fault with Carlos Correa. I really dug deep into the numbers trying to find something to work with, something to nag about. After finding nothing I handed the data over to my wife. If anyone could find something to be critical of, it’d be her. Still, I was left with nothing. The raw stats jump off the page: .279 AVG, 22 HR, 52 Runs, 68 RBI and 14 SB — all over the course of just 99 games. Extrapolate those numbers (something that rarely works out but I’ll do it anyway), and over the course of 162 games you’re looking at a line of .282/36 HR/85 Runs/111 RBI/23 SB. That is Fantasy Superstar type production. If your argument is Correa is slightly overvalued, the underlying numbers don’t provide you with the best support. His BB/K of .51 isn’t problematic. Correa makes contact 81.2% of the time, spreading the ball to all fields, typically with a little authority as his Soft Hit Rate is only 20.1. While his BABIP was .296, given his speed and ground ball tendencies it’s reasonable to expect a slight improvement on batting average moving forward.
So while this puff piece has told you everything that is grand about Carlos Correa, the heart of it is to steer you clear from draft day regret. At this moment Carlos Correa has the price tag of a player coming off the aforementioned 162 game season, not the player with less than 100 MLB games under his belt. In NFBC Drafts the price tag on Correa is that of the 6th overall pick. His high point has been 4th; the low point 15th. If his draft price is in the teens then this discussion is not taking place. The problem is the ADP is going the wrong way as the Correa hype train reaches full throttle. Can we please pump the brakes a little? While I feel the average should remain in the .270-.280 range, I question his pop. A 1.67 GB/FB rate isn’t the typical formula for 30+ HR power.
While Correa does have zing in his bat, his 24.2% HR/FB rate is extremely inflated (league average has fluctuated between 9.4 and 11.4 over the past 10 years). Over the course of his minor league career Correa hit a HR every 45 PA; thus far in his major league career that number is 1 in every 19.6. I also question what potential effect fatigue could have on the 2016 season. Correa played in 158 games last season, but in his three previous seasons he had played in 62, 117, and 50 respectively. Add in the various postseason award circuits and it all makes for a rather short offseason. You also have to wonder how pitchers will change their approach, if at all, in 2016. Last season Correa managed a .69 wFB/C. While this total was still above average it was only good for 65th in baseball. Oddly enough, Correa saw fastballs only 53.5% of the time, ranking 115th in baseball. Perhaps more fastballs could lead to fewer Sliders (wSL/C 2.06 9th) and Changeups (wCH/C 1.47 38th).
Steamer projects Correa to hit .275 with 22 HR/80 Runs/82 RBI/20 SB. While I don’t take the time to make my own projections, I’m confident my slash line would closer resemble this than the aforementioned 162-game extrapolation of his 2015 numbers. If Correa managed to match his Steamer projection it would likely result in a #1 finish at the SS position. The problem for Correa is that his comparison isn’t merely to his peers, but the entire player universe. Consider Donaldson, Arenado, Machado, Rizzo, and so on– by taking Correa, you’re bypassing some of this talent. An Anthony Rendon stat line from 2014 just won’t cut it.
The smear job on Francisco Lindor is much easier. Lindor is currently the 5th rated SS in NFBC drafts and is coming off the board at 64th overall, with a high selection of 41st and a lower bookend of 88th. While Lindor has always been a highly touted prospect, his true drawing card has always been his glove. Lindor posted a .313 AVG with 12 HR, 50 Runs, 51 RBI, and 12 SB in 438 PA. Over the course of a 162 games those numbers would be .313 AVG 20 HR 82 Runs 83 RBI and 20 SB. Very impressive, if only those numbers would stick.
Lindor will draw some walks and live off contact (83.1%). Last season’s .348 BABIP produced the .313 season, but I expect Lindor will more than likely settle into the .260-.270 range this year – closer to what he hit in AA and AAA. While I question 20 HR pop some will flaunt, Lindor has a history of surprising slugging given his 5’11”, 175-lb. frame. Expecting 10-15 bombs per season sounds reasonable. The biggest cause for concern for me is the stolen bases. More specifically, Lindor’s struggles with SB success rates. While Lindor was 12 of 14 during his MLB stint, his Minor League track record is much more questionable. In 2015 at AAA he was 9 of 16. In 2014 from Rookie ball to AAA he was only 30 of 51. While his speed isn’t in question, his history of poor success rates as he climbed the minor league latter could prevent a constant green light. Any type of struggle could move Lindor down the lineup card, putting the respectable run and or RBI totals in Jeopardy.
Steamer projects Lindor to hit .268 with 12 HR, 73 Runs, 62 RBI, and 19 SB. For Lindor, that’s a lackluster stat line, likely middle of the road, and the type of production you can wait on – well past the top 65 picks of the draft. How much past? lets compare Lindor’s streamer numbers to another player who’s projected for similar production.
Player A is Lindor going 61 overall. Player B is Starlin Castro going at 194. A dozen runs and stolen bases is all that separates them, and things could be closer if Castro gets more than the projected 537 at bats. By selecting Lindor your likely passing up on several former top 15-20 players. Anthony Rendon, Adrian Beltre, and Yasiel Puig have all produced at that level in the past, and all have an ADP after Francisco Lindor. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on the potential production just because your shortstop position needs to be filled. You’ll have ample opportunity to fill the position at a fraction of the cost later.
Young, exciting players are simply more fun to own. The calling of the name is followed by pats on the back as congratulatory “good pick” praises fill the room. Filling a position that seems to be limited in regards to impact production. Combine the two and it serves as a lethal fantasy cocktail served in draft rooms across the country. Cloudy eyes, full hearts, will lose.
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