Buyer’s Remorse at Shortstop

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. Every Tuesday, amidst the chaos that is four children in a three bedroom home, my wife carves out her one hour of solitude for the week. For it is on Tuesday when her personal LuLaRoe representative hosts her live show featuring sketchy video work and less than stellar audio. For those unfamiliar with the product, LuLaRoe is the Wall Street version of scrubs-visually stylish with the perfect balance of sexiness and sophistication with pizza and binge drinking comfort. Produced in short print, LuLaRoe provides a truly unique business for each of its representatives and causes its customer base to look beyond just the local offerings.

As my wife sits in the battlefield of our home, amidst Nerf gun battles and duck-face selfies, she is given a limited time to make these tough decisions. With the limited availability of preferred styles combined with the uncertainty of something better coming along, “I kinda like it” becomes must-have, and “I don’t know if that will go with…” becomes “I’ll make it work.”  As fantasy owners, I’m sure we’ve been put in this exact situation more times than we care to admit. Limited top-end talent combined with uncertainty of the remaining options, all while facing a clock moving closer and closer to zero. It all forms the perfect recipe for poor decision making.

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Over the last month, we at the Assembly have released positional rankings for the 2018 season. After the rankings are various questions pertaining to the position as a whole, with the purpose being to convey each analyst’s draft strategy for the position. A common theme, regardless of position, is a analyst’s preference for a certain grouping of players.  How many times have you seen “I want one of my Top __ players at (fill in the position)“? This outlook can be very helpful in establishing a road map for ones draft.

Although many may subscribe to this positional road map, I find myself as more of a value based drafter. I typically don’t focus from a positional standpoint until after the top 100-150 players have been drafted. This isn’t to say I would willingly draft 3 CI and 4 OF during this stage of the draft. However, if the draft price was right, I’d be more apt to have an offense built in this manner rather than making sure I have each of my infield positions filled with top 10 options. Long story short, I’m not a positional scarcity supporter.

For me, positional scarcity can often be accompanied by draft day remorse come August. It’s willingly accepting less production because of a perceived advantage it gives you. If said advantage would actually occur, then perhaps that draft day move would payoff. Far too often, however, unknown or undervalued production will emerge, leaving the perceived advantage simply non-existent. In 2018, no position offers more potential draft day missteps than SHORTshortstop. Below are players being taken among the Top 75 overall who I feel are being overvalued. Aside from Turner, the selection of each is likely being influenced by the positional eligibility of SS. Click Here for current ADP values.

Trea Turner 4th Overall: High Pick 3, Low Pick 10

I have an admitted weakness in properly valuing stolen bases in Roto formats. I would far too often criticize the selection of a Turner of Gordon near the top part of the draft, but I would welcome a one-trick pony such as Hamilton in the fifth. It is because of this newfound appreciation for non-empty speed that I’d rank Turner as my number one shortstop option.

While I’ll accept responsibility for my past transgressions, I’m not willing to make another mistake with the selection of Turner. At fourth overall, you are paying for everything Turner can be. I appreciate the potential for a plus AVG, plus runs contributor, and double-digit pop to go with the 50+ SB. However, at fourth overall, I’m not paying for POTENTIAL. Give me Betts, Kershaw, and Arenado all day long.

Carlos Correa 15th Overall: High Pick 11th, Low Pick 20th

More of the prototypical positional scarcity example than Turner. Aside from the injury-shortened, 109-game season, Correa did a good job of rebuilding his value after a disappointing 2016 season. Youth and obvious talent have me more optimistic for positive earnings than Trea Turner. My issue with Correa is more who he’s being taken ahead of. I’d much rather have Machado at 16th (given the potential move to SS look for Machado to rise up in ADP) and Votto at 17th. Even lower down the ADP, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have Rizzo (26th) and Freeman (23rd) ranked higher.

In addition, at SS alone I find myself to prefer Lindor over Correa, which is why I would certainly not draft Correa toward the high side of his ADP.  Last season’s .315 AVG was aided by a .352 BABIP. A big ground ball lean as a hitter makes me believe 30 home runs may not be an annual event, and just two steals last season combined with lineup placement puts into question the 20/20 talent some projected him to be.

Alex Bregman 34th Overall: High Pick 27th, Low Pick 47th

I really like the talent, and overall I’m really confident that he’s a star in the making — .300 AVG, 20/20, with 180 Run+RBI is certainly a possible outcome. However, I would rather be a season late than a season early. At 34th overall, the aforementioned  statline is exactly what you’re paying for. At this spot in the draft, you’re perhaps giving up on a chance to grab an ace, letting the always consistent production of Jose Abreu (39th) and Brian Dozier (38th) go elsewhere. I just can’t see myself paying a top-50 price tag on someone who has never done it.

Corey Seager 35th Overall: High Pick 30th, Low Pick 50th

Disappointing follow-up to his ROY campaign, Seager managed 22 HR with a .295 batting average over 145 games. While Seager is a talented player, I see him as more polished than toolsy at this point. I think the average will play around the .300 mark, but there’s little stolen base potential to speak of.  The fly ball rate has increased the last three years, which could indicate a 30 HR season is in the works, however with the lack of speed, how much batting average will this eat away? Even if you project 31 HR with a .300 AVG, his Run+RBI the last two seasons have been 177 and 162. While 180-190 is certainly possible, in order for him to make draft day profit, he would have to hit those marks. Once again, because of position, you’re paying full value for the potential.

Elvis Andrus 62nd Overall: High Pick 45th, Low Pick 82nd

For years, Elvis Andrus served as the poster boy for this primus: overvalued simply because he played a position with perceived shortcomings. The season would play out, and come August, Andrus would have underearned and been outperformed by a cast of late round selections. After hitting 35 HR from 2009-2016, Andrus busted out with 20 HR last season. While Andrus has become more of a fly ball hitter (31.5%) than the 22% he produced his first 7 years, his 48.5% ground ball rate doesn’t exactly bold well for an encore.

Last season’s 11.6% HR/FB rate was more than double Andrus’ career mark.  Thanks to those 20 HR, Andrus had both his first 100-run season and first season exceeding 70 RBI. At 62nd overall, Andrus could likely take a little step back from 2017 and earn profit. However, that is not the case should Andrus’ production free fall. Which one isn’t like the other? Ask yourself this question when looking at Andrus’s career marks — history will often repeat itself.

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Every day while getting dressed for work, I look down upon a collection of LuLaRoe clothing. The majority of the collection is featured in my wife’s day-to-day life, stylin and profilin like most could only dream of; my wife’s personality can be easily identified. Not all selections were winners, however. Buried among the personal favorites are remnants of a regretful buyer, a buyer who purchased simply because “What if nothing better comes along?” In fantasy, the consequences are far more severe than a few bucks wasted on a shirt.

One’s title pursuits will not be vanquished with the selection of any of the aforementioned players. In fact, there is a time and place where value could even be found from them. Take note of the listed Low selection, in every case above I would happily accept each of the players at the low point (with the exception of Bregman).  More often than not, the selection of these players will be accompanied by a willingness to settle, a willingness to accept lesser numbers overall, but with it a perceived edge at the position. If that edge proves true, then perhaps success can find you. However, if one unsuspecting player emerges into the top tier, then all positional advantage is lost. If that newfound talent’s owner took a best available approach to begin the draft, then you’re likely screwed, left only with the remnants of where exactly your draft took an unfortunate turn.

 

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Josh Coleman

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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.