Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. Randall France is truly one of the great philosophers of the 21st Century. Now before you rush to Google this Randall France character; please know if you’re not located near the Southeast Region of West Virginia, you’ve never had the pleasure of learning the ways of the world from one Randall France. His wisdom may be broad, but his messages are always brief and direct. One of my most beloved Randallisms would be his explanation of newfound love: “Love is so exciting when it’s new.” Randall will state as he lays witness to a young couple showing affection from across the way.
Gerrit Cole possesses many things to love. His 6’4”, 230 LB frame puts you in mind of Roger Clemens. He’s a former Top Overall Pick, after going 1st in the 2011 Amateur Draft. With a nice 4 pitch mix and a fastball that has averaged 95.6 MPH during his career, the sky would appear to be the limits. I know fantasy owners have been Cole fans ever since he made his major league debut in 2013. Following his excellent 2015 season, Cole’s ADP coming into this season was that of the 11th starting pitcher and 36th overall in NFBC Drafts.
My issue with Cole had always been the results. Despite having Number One overall makeup his minor league numbers were mixed. Control was an issue in the early stages, and a lack of K totals at the AAA level was a little concerning. As an owner of a career 8.36 K/9 and a K% of 22.6 it’s rather foolish to consider the K numbers to be problematic. Isn’t it realistic. however, to have expected more? Among active starting pitchers, Cole’s career fastball velocity ranks 6th, yet that velocity has netted him the 32nd best K/9 mark along with the 30th best K% mark among SP. So while his numbers have been solid during his career, only 2015 has been Ace like.
Back in April I covered the struggles of Carlos Gomez. As bad as that time was for Gomez, it likely wasn’t the low point of 2016. The lowest point likely came on August 10th when the Astros DFA’d him after hitting .210 with a .594 OPS and establishing himself as perhaps the worst everyday player in baseball. After picking himself up off the scrap heap Gomez resurfaced with the Rangers on August 25th. Since that point Gomez has seemed to be rejuvenated, hitting .289 with a .920 OPS and flashing that skill set fantasy owners love – 8 HR and 5 SB in 32 games. While the numbers have improved, one has to wonder if his fantasy stock will do the same? If early returns are a true indicator then I would suggest the answer is yes. In an early “expert” mock draft, Gomez went in the 9th Round and 105th overall.
A good fantasy shortstop is golden. For years the first round of fantasy drafts has been filled (more often than not) with now flawed shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. From a skill set standpoint or for health concerns reasons players like this really don’t belong in such exquisite company, but because shortstop was perceived to be weak acceptance was given by all.
On the surface Tulowitzki has returned to his rightful spot among the best shortstops in the game. His 24 home runs are the most by him since 2013. For the 2nd consecutive season he has been rather healthy, and this season will mark only the 4th time in his career he will have played in at least 130 games – the first since 2011. Tulowitzki came into the season as the 2nd shortstop off the board and 52nd overall in NFBC drafts. If those owners who selected Tulo 52nd overall were guaranteed the season he has had, each and everyone would have been happy with the Tulo selection.
“Love is so exciting when it’s new.” Is Randall France’s way of rationalizing people’s behavior or questionable judgement when love is in play? Let’s be honest we’ve all been there. The butterflies. the excitement of the unknown, the clean slate that is associated with a new relationship. All the faults and imperfections have yet to surface, and the entire relationship as a whole is a trial by error of sorts. This period may vary by individual, but I have found that the Fantasy Communities “Honeymoon” period is typically longer than the run-of-the-mill relationship. Year after year owners target the same player of player types even despite changes in the market.
Gerrit Cole is a great talent who’s had one excellent season. To the market in general he is viewed as a great talent who’s already an elite option. For me, given the position depth in addition to the talent at the top, I’d prefer to draft a track record rather than talent.
Carlos Gomez was at one time an elite fantasy option. His skill set is that of a 20/20 player who could find himself in a prime position for one of the best lineups in baseball. For three-fourths of the season Carlos Gomez was among the worst players in baseball. His struggles can even be traced back to the second-half of last season. September has reminded me of what he can be in much the same way as his 29.9% K rate for the season has done. The reality moving forward has to be one or the other. I personally lean toward the longer track record of failure.
Tulowitzki’s season in many ways couldn’t have been scripted better. The problem is the landscape of baseball has changed around him. His 25 home runs in 2013 was tops for the position, his 24 this season is good for 5th. His AVG of .257 is only 14th, while his .760 OPS is 11th. Tulowitzki’s offensive game has remained the same, while the leagues numbers have improved around him. Observant fantasy owners will realize the influx of talent at the shortstop position, but many will still see Tulo’s name, they’ll look at his numbers, and they will tell themselves “I need to fill SS.”.
Cole is young, has the Top Prospect makeup, and has managed to have success at the major league level. Gomez and Tulo are both former first round talents. That honor seems to have the same shelf life of a former High School QB down at Jake’s Tavern on a Friday Night. With these three players the new love period is over for me. I’m no longer blinded by the potential pitfalls associated with each. Every player has the potential of two distinct outcomes when it comes to fantasy. These three players have shown us both paths within the last several seasons. For some players this creates profit potential on draft day. For players who still have owners that love them, it creates s draft day ADP with the “What If” already built-in.
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