First, there was catcher, where I basically told you to avoid catcher full stop. Then there was first base, and I said you could wait on first base until Matt Olson, or even grab a guy like CJ Cron late. Next came second base. I told you Jose Ramirez and Jose Altuve were stars, but you could still wait until the late middle rounds and grab Enrique Hernandez or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Three rounds, three waits.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you guessed I’d tell you to wait on a third baseman . . . you’d be right! Real baseball is, or at least should be, about actual talent. A well-rounded player or an outstanding defender can win a job over a better hitter because they have more talent overall. They bring more to the table. On the other hand, sometimes a bat can be so dominant that a team says “I don’t even care that he hasn’t been a good defender since t-ball… he can hit.” While his defense isn’t nearly that bad, JD Martinez is a prime example of a bat-first player. His overall skill-set lags behind many others, but his bat is elite.
Like I said, real baseball is about talent. Fantasy baseball isn’t. It’s about value. I’m not here to say that JT Realmuto and Freddie Freeman aren’t superstar talents, or that Adalberto Mondesi isn’t exciting. That would be a lie. You could have a very exciting team if you had all three of those names. That said, there are better teams out there. If you can get 80% of a superstar over 50 picks after a superstar was taken, that’s a better value. It allows you to stock up on superstars at thinner positions, knowing there are roughly All-Star level talents still waiting.
So let’s start with some numbers for the last 4 seasons.
|Player||Average||OBP||OPS+||Home Runs||Stolen Bases||Current ADP|
We’ll get back to who these players are. For now, let’s get to some targets and avoids:
Sometimes targets aren’t targets so much as you capitalizing on the mistakes of other people.
Player 1 is Matt Carpenter. The same Matt Carpenter, who on average, is being drafted 30 spots after Player 3. I have ranked Matt Carpenter inside my top 5 available at each of first base, second base and third base this year. Why? Because he’s actually that good. The average isn’t elite, but the patience, the power, and the consistency are. Matt Carpenter gets absolutely no respect for being a smart hitter who can get insanely hot and carry you for weeks. This is 2019 people. Ignore the batting average and look at everything else.
Matt Carpenter is hanging right there with any infielder you can name in every category except batting average and steals. He is a star you can set your watches by. He’ll slump and streak, but at the end of every year you’ll see 20+ home runs with elite walks and runs. I’m not telling you to reach for him. I am saying if he’s sitting there around pick 50 or later, you should grab him so fast that your mouse gives you friction burns.
Player 2 is Josh Donaldson. I know why he’s falling. Everyone is scared he’ll get hurt again. He might. I can’t guarantee anyone stays healthy. On the other hand, it’s a calf injury people. I have never heard of a slugger whose career was permanently derailed by a calf injury. He’s not a speedster, and calf injuries don’t have any lingering effect on power, something Donaldson has plenty of. Even with a mere 8 home runs last year, he has still out-homered the other 2 names in that chart pretty handily. If he’s really not going in the top 90 picks, you can wait your heart out and grab a superstar here – maybe even unleash a maniacal laugh or two at your genius.
As always, the disclaimer. Avoid is a warning label, not a stop sign. Avoid is remembering to put on oven mitts before grabbing something hot from the oven or remembering to read the instructions before assembling. It’s just saying pause, think twice and ask yourself “is this the best value play here”.
Player 3, the mysterious player 3, is Kris Bryant. He’s going 30 spots higher than Matt Carpenter and 60 spots higher than Josh Donaldson, on the difference of 4-5 steals a year and a bit of batting average. I don’t hate Bryant. He’s still a superstar. My point here is two-fold.
- If Kris Bryant is a superstar, so are Matt Carpenter and Josh Donaldson, who can both be gotten later.
- Shoulder woes can affect a hitter for years. I still think Bryant delivers the goods, but there is a chance his power doesn’t come back yet, or ever return to what it once was.
For where Bryant is being drafted, I want certainty. Also, for where Bryant is being drafted, I want to know I’m getting something I can’t get 95% of 60 picks later.
The hope for Andujar is going to be that he is JD Martinez. He can hit. If he hits enough, it offsets most of his defensive shortcomings. That said, I’m throwing him on here for three reasons.
- First, he’s going ahead of Matt Chapman, Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson, Travis Shaw and the like. They can hit too.
- Second, if your league is a keeper or dynasty league, Andujar is going to move off of third base long-term, lessening his value in the process.
- Finally, Andujar’s defense is awful. Fantasy leagues may not count defense, but managers do. If he can’t improve he may sit occasionally. If he slumps, as sophomores often do, he’ll sit more than occasionally.
He honestly might be a star, but he’s boom or bust right now. And while the odds are heavily in favor of boom, with what remains on the board behind him, I’d rather wait.