It’s almost January, and that means we’re inching closer to the start of spring training. There aren’t real drafts out there just yet, but mock draft sites are gearing up, and I thought I’d look at early ADP data for 2017.
Every year, there are breakout candidates due to a strong finish. Some of these players pull off a truly good follow-up, but many fall back to earth. Then there’s the excitement about hot prospects and sophomore seasons, which are even more risky. After being critical, I’ll throw out a few potential “sleepers” in the top-50 who have a good chance of at least breaking even on their cost, if not providing profit. The players’ ADP is in parentheses.
Trea Turner (15) — Everyone loves the elite prospect who delivers in his rookie season. I have no qualms about his long-term value for keeper leagues. Based on 2016. his speed and LD% support a higher BABIP and therefore give him a high floor for batting average. That’s what you’re banking on in 2017 — SB and BA. He also impressed with his power, but it’s really hard to assume he can maintain this HR/FB% when his major league equivalents from 2015-16 don’t support it. Plus, a 32% fly ball rate isn’t going to help him boost his HR output. Again, in the long run he’ll be a great value. But will it all arrive in 2017? Can you really pick him over veteran but still young options like Bumgarner, Bogaerts, or even Votto? Look at how Bogaerts, Correa, and Machado all took steps back in sophomore years (from small to big). Redraft leagues should not be going all-in on unproven talent in the first round.
Giancarlo Stanton (24) — How many times do I have to harp on him as an early pick? At least for 2017, his ADP falls at the end of the second round instead of the early first round. However, he’s still not worth the risk. The two names that follow him in the ADP rankings? Cano and Dozier. I’d much rather have a slugging second baseman to help round out my middle infield. Why risk derailing the core of your team’s early picks by grabbing a guy who can’t stay on the field? I don’t care that he has 40+ or even 50+ HR potential if he can’t stay in the lineup to get there. Plus, considering 2016 was such a home run happy year, being elite in that one category isn’t enough to warrant the risk and the cost.
AJ Pollock (28) — There’s a good chance that Pollock puts up a monster year. There’s also a good chance that he is injured again and/or plays with a bit of rust as he comes back from 2016 elbow and groin issues. I don’t deny his talent, and I think he can come close to repeating 2015 in a future season. That said, his power isn’t elite, and he has a large ground ball tilt — which means he needed a lot of plate appearances to reach 20 HR in 2015. You’re safer plugging in 15 HR for a full season, but his contact rate and speed should keep him valuable in batting average and stolen bases. However, the health issue has to be considered. Does the elbow affect him at all in 2017? Does the groin injury hinder his stolen base chances early on? There’s enough uncertainty for a player who has only had one great season, and to take him in the second or third round is too much risk for me.
Yoenis Cespedes (35) — I know that I pick on Stanton for his health issues, and yet here I am promoting Cespedes, who is coming off a lower AB total in 2016. Yet Cespedes has averaged 546 AB over five years, with 600 AB in two of the last three seasons. Stanton’s average is 421 AB, and the only category where he’s likely to beat Cespedes is HR. As for Cespedes, an improving LD% and better hard hit rate the last two seasons has reassured readers that he has a higher BA floor than his 2013-14 run. The power is steady for two years as well, and in 2016 he’s managed to find patience and greatly improve his BB%. He’s in his prime, he’s comfortable in New York, and he’s a solid bet for earning his pay.
Daniel Murphy (36) — Three years of growth in hard hit rate, fly ball rate, and HR/FB% have supported his breakout. He’s always had a high floor for batting average, and he has legit 20 HR potential with his new approach. His at bats have been a little low the last two years, due to a quad injury and a calf injury (on separate legs), so he’s not a certain SB source as he enters his mid-30s. But it hasn’t really affected his batting ability. The fact that second base is rather deep may help him drop farther in ADP as we near March. However, if his legs are healthy, I could easily see a .300/20/10 year from him, and the Nats will help him out in runs and RBIs as well.
Jonathan Villar (38) — I’m not absolutely crazy about him. However, the major factor to him providing value is his ability to pile up the steals. As stolen bases become rarer than home runs and saves, anyone who has a fair to strong chance at 50+ SB — and who isn’t just a part-time speedster, like Jarrod Dyson — needs to be considered among the top-50 players. There’s a reason people are still overpaying for Billy Hamilton: when he was a rookie, people believed that he could be the next 100 SB player. Entering 2017, Villar is likely to beat Hamilton in BA, HR, and RBI, and he should end up in the top-3 in SB, even if Hamilton takes the crown there. Depending on your league, 150 SB can take the crown in that roto category. Villar alone gets you a third of the way there, so he’s worth a pick in the first four rounds.
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