Two Teams for one Half

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. During my early 20’s I was quite the gregarious individual when it came to the social scene. The good times were plentiful, and the bad times helped mold me into who I am today. My running mate was a man named Andy Sheffield. I provided the wits and banter, while Andy provided the boisterous personality that amplified any venue. Those around us leaned heavily upon us two to provide entertainment. With consistency we delivered, leaving a plethora of memories in our path. While the overwhelming majority were positive, our road was not free of potholes.

Think back to March for a moment. You went into your drafts or made keeper decisions based on perceived production. Those players you valued as top-tier talents had either produced at those levels in the past, or displayed the necessary skill to suggest those numbers were attainable. We are now in July; the numerical half-way point has been surpassed, and the celebratory half-way point is next week. As is the case with every season, 2016 has featured its fair share of disappointments in addition to its fair share of surprises. For fantasy teams, your ratio of disappointments to surprises is likely a major determining factor in regards to your place in the standings.

Today I wanted to take the time to honor both the biggest disappointments of the 2016 season along with those who’ve become superstars of sorts. A Tale of Two Teams, if you will: I present to you the 2016 Draft Day Regrets and the 2016 Diamonds In The Rough.

2016 Draft Day Regrets

Catcher – Russell Martin (.223 AVG, 7 HR, 29 Runs, 36 RBI)

I really underestimated how poorly the Catcher position would perform as a whole. Martin was drafted as the 5th Catcher off the board and 130 overall in NFBC drafts. He currently rates 12th among Catchers in Yahoo 5×5 rankings. The .223 average really hurts, and the below average counting stats provide little value.

First Base – Jose Abreu (.263 AVG, 11 HR, 30 Runs, 50 RBI)

Many feared the ground ball hit profile would cut into his 30 HR trend; despite a strong June it would appear that 30 home runs will be a stretch. The 60 run pace is also really low for a player drafted among the Top-25 overall and 4th among first basemen in NFBC draft. Abreu currently ranks 34th among Yahoo qualified 1B in 5×5 scoring.

Second Base – Kolten Wong (.237 AVG, 1 HR, 22 Runs, 10 RBI, 3 SB)

I typically reserve these selections for players who required a hefty price on draft day, but Wong’s 2016 has been too disappointing to ignore. He still managed a Top-150 selection in NFBC draft and was 8th among second basemen ahead of such names as Daniel Murphy, Dustin Pedroia, and Ben Zobrist. Wong currently ranks 63rd among 2B eligible players using standard Yahoo 5×5 scoring.

Third Base – Maikel Franco (.265 AVG, 17 HR, 34 Runs, 49 RBI)

Really a tough break for someone flirting with a 30 HR, 100 RBI season. Honestly, Miguel Sano is the better choice here, but I wanted to avoid selecting players whose lack of production can be related to lost playing time. Third Base has simply been a really deep position this year with superstars such as Donaldson, Arenado, Machado and Bryant combined with the emergence of Jake Lamb and Nick Castellanos. Franco’s ADP of 85th overall and 9th among third basemen suggested many owners were hoping for a 90/90 stat line in runs and RBIs. While the RBIs may be there, it looks like Franco’s supporting cast will cost him in the runs department.

Shortstop – Carlos Correa (.262 AVG, 13 HR, 42 Runs, 52 RBI, 8 SB)

While the overall numbers are fine, Correa’s production only ranks him 11th among shortstop qualified players using standard Yahoo 5×5 scoring. For a player who was taken 1st among his position and 7th overall in NFBC drafts, that production simply isn’t good enough. I won’t say “I told you so”, but I may have mentioned the warning signs back in February.

Outfield – Andrew McCutchen (.238 AVG, 12 HR, 48 Runs, 32 RBI, 2 SB)

Aside from his runs output, McCutchen has disappointed on every level. While I questioned his status as the 4th outfielder and 14th selection overall in NFBC drafts, I never would have expected this washout. The .238 batting average is easily a career worst and 70 points below his combined average the last three seasons. Most worrisome is his career high 24.8% K rate combined with a career low BB rate of 9.2%, which suggests to me that the second half won’t be much better.

Outfield – Justin Upton (.233 AVG, 9 HR, 39 Runs, 38 RBI, 8 SB)

Upton came into the season as the 14th outfielder off the board and 45th player overall in NFBC drafts. Upton currently ranks 66th among outfield eligible players using Yahoo standard 5×5 scoring. Much like McCutchen, career lows in BB% and highs in K% indicate a superstar in peril. Upton improved his K% in June, however his numbers only improved mildly as he posted a .765 OPS, which is his best month of the season, yet still 50 points below his career mark.

Outfield – Carlos Gomez (.223 AVG, 4 HR, 21 Runs, 23 RBI, 8 SB)

Another top 50 overall player in NFBC drafts. Gomez was the 16th outfielder off the board, yet his current ranking among outfield eligible players in standard Yahoo 5×5 is 119th. Like both Upton and McCutchen, strikeouts have been a big problem for Gomez this season. His 31.9% mark is nearly 9% higher than his career mark of 23.1%.

Designated Hitter – Prince Fielder (.217 AVG, 8 HR, 28 Runs, 43 RBI)

Fielder was the first utility only player drafted using NFBC ADP. His 86th overall ranking was a show of faith considering his lack of position eligibility (except on Yahoo). After a lost 2014 season, Fielder rebounded nicely in 2015 posting a .305 average to go with 23 home runs and nearly 100 RBIs. Fielder currently ranks as the 742nd overall player on Yahoo. While I question Yahoo’s ranking system at times, the unmistakable point is Fielder has been atrocious this season.  From a statistical standpoint there is hope moving forward. BABIP and batted ball profiles have yet to be kind to Prince, but at the same time his lack of home runs per fly balls mirror that of 2014 when a neck injury ended his season after 42 games.



Diamond In The Rough Squad

Catcher – Wilson Ramos (.333 AVG, 13 HR, 38 Runs, 47 RBI)

There are currently three Catchers ranked among the Top 200 in Yahoo Standard 5×5; Jonathan Lucroy 156th, Buster Posey 120th, and Wilson Ramos 105th.  Posey’s NFBC ADP was 21st, Lucroy’s 103rd, and Ramos was 231st (16th among Catchers). Off-season eye surgery sure seems to have paid off.

First Base – Wil Myers (.291 AVG, 19 HR, 61 Runs, 59 RBI, 14 SB)

Most of us at one time or another expected Myers to be an impact player. After years and years netting the same results it’s understandable that many finally gave up. Myers was the 18th first baseman and 208th player off the board in NFBC drafts back in March. Myers has finally put it all together this season and the results have netted the top overall 1B ranking in Yahoo standard scoring and he is the 9th rated player overall. While 30/30 may be a stretch your still looking at a solid 100/100 run production season.

Second Base – Daniel Murphy (.346 AVG, 15 HR, 51 Runs, 59 RBI)

Looking back it’s quite amazing how little excitement surrounded Murphy in March. Coming off a historic postseason Murphy was the 10th second baseman off the board in NFBC drafts behind such names as the aforementioned Kolten Wong and DJ LeMahieu. Typically postseason heroics are a huge player builder the following season. Perhaps I was bitter, being a Cubs fan and all, but I too ignored Murphy in 2016 drafts. His production has been good for the 3rd best season among second basemen, 4th among first basemen, and 4th among third basemen. All told, Murphy has been a Top 20 player using Yahoo standard 5×5 scoring.

Third Base – Jake Lamb (.293 AVG, 20 HR, 48 Runs, 61 RBI)

Lamb was nothing more than roster filler in NFBC Drafts. He was the 24th third baseman off the board and 341st overall. Lamb’s 30+ HR and 110+ RBI pace have been good for the 6th best season among third base eligible players in Yahoo standard 5×5 scoring. His 61 RBI rank 3rd among third basemen, and his 20 home runs rank 5th – not bad for a player who still sits upon occasion versus Lefties.

Shortstop – Eduardo Nunez (.321 AVG, 11 HR, 44 Runs, 37 RBI, 20 SB)

Nunez is one of those true Waiver Wire gems. I can envision a preseason scenario in which all of the players mentioned above were targeted in drafts. Ramos and Murphy were likely valued differently by various people, Myers and Lamb likely had hopeful perspective owners. Nunez on the other hand was ignored by all. After all, who would target a utility player who earned a start per week and had offered no extended run of success in his entire big league career?

Even when Nunez earned a full-time job, the skeptics likely ignored the production allowing another uninformed owner pick him up. Ignorance can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Nunez has produced the 4th best season among shortstops. For an idea as to how much of an afterthought Nunez was on draft day: He was the 52nd shortstop off the board in NFBC drafts and the 668th player overall.

Outfield – Jackie Bradley Jr (.293 AVG, 14 HR, 50 Runs, 54 RBI, 15 SB)

Just another example of how we often undersell the potential for improvement. Despite a strong finish to the 2015 season and playing for the Red Sox, JBJ failed to captivate the fantasy community. Bradley was the 77th outfielder off the board and 314th overall player in NFBC drafts. Bradley’s current line is good for 12th among outfielders using standard Yahoo 5×5 scoring.

Outfield – Ian Desmond (.319 AVG, 15 HR, 63 Runs, 54 RBI, 15 SB)

A late signing likely affected his NFBC ADP to some degree. Still, at 31st among outfielders and 107th overall, most expected Desmond’s Nationals production was a thing of the past. While we could argue about the staying power of Desmond, you cannot question the production thus far. Desmond has produced the 3rd-best season among outfielders using Yahoo standard scoring and 5th best season overall with a 25/100/100/25 season in play.

Outfield – Mark Trumbo (.285 AVG, 26 HR, 52 Runs, 64 RBI)

We as fantasy owners need to do a better job of embracing team trends. The Pirates and Cubs have an excellent track record of improving recycled SP. The Orioles are a destination were broken hitters are repaired. Trumbo was a player I was very high on in the preseason, yet somehow I ended up with zero shares. He really seemed to have a big cult following, and those who loved him really loved him, snatching him before I felt confident. Overall, however, Trumbo was just the 43rd outfielder off the board and 164th overall in NFBC drafts. His 40+ home run pace and push for 120 RBIs has him ranked as the 6th best outfielder and 24th player overall.

(I was told I should at least mention Adam Duvall and Melvin Upton; now I have.)

Designated Hitter – Victor Martinez (.313 AVG, 16 HR, 37 Runs, 51 RBI)

While Martinez had dealt with injuries in the past, his production had never really been questioned. Sure, his home run totals had been somewhat inconsistent, but he had always maintained a solid batting average. Last season that was not the case. While injuries limited him to 120 games, his production just wasn’t there. His .245 AVG was nearly 60 points below his career mark, and his 2nd-place finish in the 2014 AL MVP voting looked like an aberration. At 37, not many expected great things in 2016. Martinez was the 4th utility only player taken in NFBC drafts; that mark was good for 267th overall. Martinez has responded with a season very similar to 2014, which has been good for the 95th best player in Yahoo standard 5×5 leagues.

*****

Andy Sheffield was a consistent performer. Night after night you could expect the same effort, and more often than not the same results. Some nights may have been better than others, but the bar was set high. Andy Sheffield was the equivalent of a Superstar player in fantasy. On very rare occasions Andy would slip into his kryptonite… Wild Turkey. If Andy consumed Wild Turkey, the Andy you had become accustomed to no longer existed. The main objective was simply damage control. He once went a full 12 rounds with asphalt wearing nothing but underwear. Blood-splattered clothing and bruised egos made for a long ride home. The next morning we woke up and said nothing; we all knew those types of occasions were outliers.

Fantasy disappointments occur every season. A superstar performing at a non-superstar level is considered an outlier. These types of outliers can be overcome if you have enough Diamond in the Rough performances to absorb the disappointments. It’s a simple equation in fantasy and in life, the good outweighing the bad, needing one to have the other.

 

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Josh Coleman
Father of four SP1 children. Replacement level husband to a top tier wife. I love my family, value my friendships, and spend as much time as possible (too much according to the aforementioned Mrs. Coleman) dedicated to the pursuit, of another Fantasy Championship. I'm the oddball at the bar who prefers Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy Football.