Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. In the not so distant past I spent my Fall/Winter Saturday’s with a line sheet in one hand and a phone in the other. My time from Noon until the WAC kickoff was dedicated to finding that one game Vegas had simply missed the line on. Every win gave me reason to double up; every loss left me no choice but to get even. On far too many occasions, those Saturday’s left Sunday devoted to getting back to where I was on Friday. As one could surmise, those Sunday’s rarely produced positive gains. Looking back upon those times, it was truly remarkable at just how bad I was at picking winners.
Game totals were a personal favorite of mine. Between line action and totals I always had more confidence in totals. The process was rather simple: close your eyes, pick a score (was that total below (under) or above (over) the set total), and bet accordingly. Naturally my ill-advised methodology more frequently produced losers than winners. One notable run I experienced involved losing three consecutive Under totals due to pick sixes in Overtime. People often reference the warning signs that surround potential problems. That bout of “bad luck” would have set a smarter man straight, but my demise continued.
It’s been several years since I last placed a meaningful bet on a football game, but that is not to say my urge to wager no longer exist. Shortly after I gave up my line sheets, I started making wagers around fantasy baseball. My home league has a live draft, and at the center of the live draft is a dry erase board. On this board our draft wagers are made regarding player performances for the upcoming season. Nearly every one of these wagers are centered around Over/Under regarding varying player evaluations. I say player A hits .300 you say player A hits .280; you set the Over/Under at .290 and make a wager. Several wagers are made over the course of our five-hour draft session, and often times the money dedicated to the board itself surpasses the league winnings.
Today I wanted to take a look at the Top-75 players being taken in NFBC drafts. Most of these players don’t offer much conversation or debate in terms of player performance. I may like Harper over Blackmon or Miggy to Freeman, but I could easily make a compelling argument the other way. Despite this more agreed upon talent tier, some exceptions always apply.
I have identified 12 players whose value I perceive to be noticeably better or worse than their current NFBC ADP. More specifically, I have identified the one area that I feel will ultimately be the deciding factor in determining whose perception is ultimately correct – the consensus NFBC ADP, or those of yours truly.
*Please feel free to enter your Over/Under thoughts in the comment section*
Trea Turner – Over/Under 100 Runs
Five players have been taken 1st overall in NFBC Drafts, and Trea Turner is among them. With an ADP of 10th overall far more people have been extrapolating his 2016 numbers into their projections than factoring in the amount of regression. While I do question the power, the most impactful number to Turners value in 2017 is Runs. Despite the early remarks by Baker, Adam Eaton’s .360 OBP is too good to not be featured near the top of the order. If Turner’s batting average begins to chip away, that 4% walk rate from last season could mean trouble. With veteran options such as last seasons primary two hole hitter, Jayson Werth, I’m not sure A) how long Baker’s leash will be and B) just how open he will be to Turner at the top of the order to begin with.
Noah Syndergaard – Over/Under 200 IP
With an ADP of 18th Overall and 4th among SP, Thor is clearly a highly sought after commodity. Could it be possible that he could still offer plus value? Outside of Kershaw, no SP offers a better skill set than Thor. His 10.68 K/9 was 4th among ERA qualifiers for SP, his 2.11 BB/9 was among the Top-20, and his batted ball profile shifted to a GB lean last season. Last seasons 183.2 IP puts him in line to exceed 200 innings for the first time in his career. Last seasons injury concerns should not be discounted, but if 200 IP can be exceeded you’re looking at the 2nd best SP in fantasy.
Chris Sale – Over/Under 4.00 ERA in April
Anytime a pitchers K/9 drops by more than two, potential owners should take note. When that K/9 drop coincides with diminished velocity, Red Flags should be flying. To compound matters, the pitcher that once shredded a uniform on Throwback Day because he didn’t want to wear it, is going from the second team in a city to perhaps the most angst ridden fan bases in all of sports. How will he respond to a six-run outing in his home debut? If past meltdowns set the precedent then I am really concerned a poor opening could negatively affect his entire season.
Starling Marte – Over/Under 15 HR
At 27th overall, a premium is being paid for a player who has neither scored or drove in 100 runs. I get the speed aspect in fantasy, but I can’t see valuing a player this highly when Eduardo Nunez is coming off a very similar season. In 2014 and 2015, Marte offered up double-digit pop to go with his 30 SB. That HR total fell to nine last season – in a year Freddy Galvis hit 20. Generally I would take the HR trade-off for steals, but Marte isn’t exactly a lock to return to 47. Back issues cut short his 2016 campaign, and over the last three seasons he’s yet to exceed an 80% success rate on SB. I would much rather see a 15 HR bat swiping 30 bags while getting those run and RBI totals into the 170 range. At age 28, that is more the type of Marte I expect to see in 2017.
Xander Bogaerts – Over/Under 695 PA
Bogaerts draft stock is putting me in mind of Michael Young back in the day. He doesn’t offer you one particular elite skill, but the sheer volume alone warrants his current draft price. More patience at the plate and a Fly Ball tilt helped Xander tap into his power potential a little. Yet, as of today, Xander isn’t knocking on the door of 30 HR club, nor does he have the profile of a .380 OBP hitter. With these considerations in mind, Bogaerts is the rare player being selected among the Top-30 that needs to rely on others to produce his value.
In 2015 the Red Sox scored the 4th most runs in baseball; their 2016 total ranked 1st, and in doing so scored 130 more runs. Meanwhile, Bogaerts played in one more game in 2016 but had 65 more PA than in 2015. Gone is Ortiz – replaced by Mitch Moreland. Can we really anticipate another season of good health for Ramirez? Pedroia is another year older. Too many question marks for me to anticipate another 700 PA season for Bogaerts, making his ADP of 27th overall rather suspect.
Trevor Story – Over/Under 25 HR
Last seasons 31.3% K rate in addition to his Minor League struggles have even the most avid Story supporter somewhat concerned. Most will prognosticate 25 home runs with certainty, and batting average projections could be anywhere from .230 to .290. With Coors Field and lack of soft contact, I can buy into a rather safe batting average floor for a 30% K guy. My concerns with Story has more to do with his power.
Story managed 19 HR over 537 plate appearances at AA. In 275 AAA plate appearances Story managed a home run every 27.5 PA; that rate at the major league level was one every 15.37 PA. A fly ball lean that emphasizes pulling the ball is an excellent recipe for power; I just don’t know if it is deserving of the 8th best HR/FB ratio in all of baseball. A .250 AVG with 23 HR is much less appealing than .250 with 30.
Giancarlo Stanton – Over/Under 130 Games
I didn’t come into the 2017 season expecting many shares of Stanton. Honestly I expected his ADP to level off into the High 20’s. Stanton’s current NFBC ADP is 37th overall. I got my first share of him this season at 34th overall. Two weeks later the draft day price tag was 48th overall. I don’t see Stanton approaching .290 again, but the raw power and hard contact seem to make him a safe .250 hitter, and I’m not sure there is a safer 40 HR option if you were guaranteed 150 games played. Perhaps it’s because of my own self interest, but I’m taking the OVER in games played for Stanton in 2017.
Rougned Odor – Over/Under 25 HR
Odor managed to clear the fences 33 times last season. All this despite swinging at 54.3% of all pitches thrown to him. Odor managed to walk a mere 19 times in 150 games and 632 plate appearances. His Contact rate dipped below 80% for the first time in his career and has been in decline since his debut in 2014. One must question just how long pitchers will continue to challenge him if no adjustments are being made?
Despite his clear grip and rip approach pitchers threw the ball in the zone 42.5% of the time last season. The 2015 rate for pitches in the zone was 42.6%. I suppose more front offices are relying on dial-up internet than we think. The lack of walks put both the batting average and run totals at risk, thus leaving Odor’s value dangerously dependent on the home run. The warning signs have been abundant, and those concerns will surface this season.
Dee Gordon – Over/Under 47 SB
Gordon managed to swipe 30 bags last season over 345 plate appearances. As the batting average dipped below .280 (.268) for the first time since 2013, so has his ADP. At 45th overall in ADP – Gordon is going around 20 picks later this season. At age 28, I see no reason to suggest his days as an elite stolen base option are over. Were PED’s the reason for his improved hitting since his Dodger days? While something could be said for that, the fact he spent the majority of the season suspended could just as easily explain the drop in production. What Gordon offers is a decent average, plus run totals, and elite stolen base numbers. That skill set is much more palatable at 47th overall than it is among the Top-30.
Jean Segura – Over/Under 31 SB
I was overly critical of Segura to begin the offseason. Segura manages plenty of contact, plays in a spacious park, and should have a very prominent lineup spot in one of the better lineups in baseball. With that will come some nice run potential along with a steady batting average in the .270-.280 range. Good player, but does a solid run totals and decent average earn him an ADP in the Top-60? The change of venue alone should cut the home run totals into the 10-15 range, thus leaving steals as his only chance at earning a draft date profit. With a stolen base success rate below 80% and a dangerous Mariners lineup, I don’t see them running themselves into outs very often.
Wil Myers – Over/Under 24 SB
The Padres are going nowhere, and Wil Myers is easily their most marketable player. For this very reason I tend to buy into the talks of pushing 40/40. While I don’t think Myers hits 40 HR or believe he swipes 40 bags, I do believe he will commit himself to the journey. With an 82% success rate last season and a team that will likely embrace the aggressive approach in order to generate offense, Wil Myers will once again provide the rare SB stat at 1B.
Kyle Schwarber – Over/Under 10 Games Played at Catcher
With a 76th overall ADP, I may have cheated slightly in my original appraisal. My main issue with Schwarber’s current ADP is the volume of plate appearances could be lacking. Last seasons injury alone would warrant additional rest. Factor in the depth of the Cubs roster and I don’t see a clear path to 575 PA. Last year 39 OF exceeded 575 plate appearances for the season. Anyone know how many Catchers exceeded that total? If you answered two, contact Mr. Finch for your prize. Perhaps an entry into one of our wonderful Reader Leagues.
There is plenty to like with Schwarber, but without catcher eligibility the lack of volume doesn’t warrant his draft price. However, if he earns that eligibility you could easily find yourself with some surplus value with his ADP.
Today line sheets have been replaced by ADP and pages upon pages of notes. From the weekly post on these very pages to the day in and day out commitment of my various leagues, fantasy baseball, in many ways, saved me from my own self-destruction. No longer am I relying on a walk-on kicker to nail a 40 yard field goal as time expires to give Utah State the two-point edge over Colorado State.
Today I’m betting on myself one board bet at a time – putting all this time and effort to work in the hopes of not only winning some league titles, but collecting board bet winnings as well.
If you’re not visiting Fantasy Rundown daily for all your fantasy needs – you’re doing it wrong!