Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. While this may come as a shock to many of you; the younger version of myself was quite the dork. Long before the local socialite I’d become lived an elementary school kid who loved nothing more than a pair of scissors and a Monday morning paper in the fall. As I eagerly rushed to the odd-shaped box along the roadside, I internally processed exactly how the weekends events would affect the landscape of College Football.
At one point in time you couldn’t watch 20 College Football games on any given Saturday. As if your exposure wasn’t limited enough, of those 3-4 games shown – maybe one would have national appeal. This limited access left a young impressionable kid needing a roadmap to College Football fandom. Stepping into the house after my morning sprint, I picked up my scissors (Because everyone knows you can’t run with scissors.) and turned to the sports page. There I sat snipping away at the most up-to-date version of the AP Top 25.
As a child I thought so much time was devoted to constructing that 2 x 8 reserved spot in the paper. I viewed all rankings as absolute and would refute those who challenged it. Being a bandwagon rider in my youth, there were various points in the early 90’s in which I wore a Miami Hurricanes, Colorado Buffaloes, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Michigan Wolverines sweatshirts within the same month. Today I look back in shame at the wavering loyalties of my youth, but I’ve also come to realize the voters approach to voting was just as wavering.
With the 2017 fantasy season nearly in the books, owners will soon switch their focus from box scores to Top 25 list and beyond. For many, this process has already started. Earlier this week, Justin Mason of Friends With Fantasy Benefits organized four industry Mock drafts going simultaneously. In the grand scheme of things, Mock Drafts are best utilized to try different approaches. In this particular instance the leagues feature a variety of owners – owners who are likely approaching these drafts more ranking eccentric as opposed to implementing a particular strategy.
A large contingency of these owners will take part in forming the consensus rankings that many will use as their draft map. If you’re looking for a leg up in gauging the marketplace, I highly recommend seeking out Mr. Mason on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB, find the links, and follow along as the 2018 draft guide begins to develop.
Taking the four ongoing Mock Drafts into consideration, I wanted to focus solely on the Top 25 selections in each draft. Here are a few of my random thoughts.
Putting the label of ” best ever” is often overused and rarely ever researched properly. Still, I have minimal hesitation in stating that this could be the deepest Top-Tier talent level I can recall.
- The 11-15 range typically feels like a group with solid production, but you don’t necessarily feel as though you’ll end up with at Top-5 player. That wouldn’t appear to be the case this season. Mookie Betts (8/10/10/13), Kris Bryant (17/18/16/13), and Manny Machado (24/14/12/11) all could find themselves in the Top-5.
- Historically 12-20 seems to feature a known commodity coming off a poor year. That certainly isn’t the case with these groups.
- Each and every year a Rookie/Young Player emerges himself into this player pool. Cody Bellinger was among the Top-25 in 3 of 4, but he was no higher than 24th and wasn’t among the Top-30 in the other draft. Rhys Hoskins would seem to have been featured in the past. That’s not the case up to this point.
- Overall most aren’t willing to pay the price that I would for an elite starting pitcher. Clayton Kershaw was the lone SP selected among the Top-10 at 4 and 8 respectively.
- Passing on elite arms could lead to overpaying on the 2nd tier. Examples being Carlos Carrasco at 23rd and Stephen Strasburg at 21. Madison Bumgarner would be my preference among this group (I’ll personally value him as the last among the Top Tier) that would seem to be the market trend as well appearing 2 times at 24th and 25th respectively.
- How much will the value for Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judges change? Stanton was a former star who could hit 60 HR. Judge himself could hit 50. Season’s such as these typically warrant a front end first round selection. Stanton (19/9/10/9) nor Judge (28/NA/21/16) are fitting the mold at this point.. I’m curious to see how much the public will impact the ADP.
- After two years of asking if Charlie Blackmon (6/8/3/7) can repeat it would appear as though most are satisfied with the answer.
My Early Top 25 for 2018
1. Clayton Kershaw: I’ll take the heat again for not selecting Trout. I understand each and every concern regarding Kershaw’s health, but on a start to start basis no one in baseball offers you more of an advantage at a position.
2. Mike Trout: It was really nice to see the return of the stolen bases for Trout. I hate the supporting cast, but the talent alone will provide you with 30/20/.300 +.
3. Bryce Harper: What can I say? I’m the resident Bryce apologist. Ultimately I see him having more MVP type seasons than not. Just buckle up and ride it out.
4. Jose Altuve: The power speed combo is so desirable, but I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t concerned with one or the other disappearing quickly. That decline will wait another year or two.
5. Kris Bryant: Walk rate up, strikeout rate down. He’s having his MVP season minus a few home runs and a bunch of RBI. Supporting cast will only get better. Has a better than average chance of earning top overall player.
6. Paul Goldschmidt: Power, Speed, good ballpark. The best offering at a premier position.
7. Charlie Blackmon: The stolen bases are leaving his game, but you’re still looking at the best hitter in the best hitters park.
8. Max Scherzer: Depending on situation I could see myself taking Scherzer 3-4 spots higher. Elite SP is king for me this season.
9. Mookie Betts: A year removed from being the best fantasy player in the game.
10. Nolan Arenado: Would have minimal hesitation in swapping him with Bryant.
11. Manny Machado: First half struggles are nearly forgotten, at least by me.
12. Corey Kluber: Toss up with Sale for No. 3 SP. Give me the better division and more pitching friendly parks.
13. Anthony Rizzo: Not as talented of hitter as Votto, but Rizzo supporting cast is simply better.
14. Josh Donaldson: I may be pushing the established player card here, but I think you’re still looking at an elite hitter.
15. Joey Votto: Not sure there’s a better pure hitter in baseball.
16. Trea Turner: Could easily be my biggest preseason miss. I failed to properly value the stolen base potential with a little power to go with it. From a roster composition standpoint he should likely be placed higher. I personally tend to find myself targeting a Hamilton type several rounds later.
17. Chris Sale: From one preseason misstep to another. The fragile psyche I projected responded with over 300 K.
18. Giancarlo Stanton: Will be miscast at this spot one way or the other. If healthy he likely finishes among the Top 5-10. If hurt he could be outside the Top 100.
19. Freddie Freeman: Would have been interesting to see how Freeman would have compared to other first basemen over 150 Games.
20. Madison Bumgarner: Just go ahead and put an asterisk sign by 2017 for Bumgarner.
21. Carlos Correa: Not sure about a 30/15 season, but counting stats and position alone provide value.
22. JD Martinez: Similar to Stanton as a full seasons worth of at bats is the lone obstacle in a top-tier ranking.
23. Miguel Sano: Strikeout rate is a concern, but at 25 to begin the season, room for growth exists. If he can simply cut it to 30% you’re looking at .270/40.
24. Jose Ramirez: Huge contact rate provides some BABIP concerns, but otherwise you’re looking at across the board production.
25. Francisco Lindor: I wouldn’t subscribe to the 30 home runs from year to year, but a 20/20 threat with a solid average is all that is needed.
Over time I would analyze my Top-25 clippings, monitoring rankings from week to week. I quickly begin to find certain trends that develop. How often have you seen a team move up 3-5 spots because team 4 vs. team 6 looks much better than team Team 4 vs. Team 10? What about the time-honored tradition of two teams with the same record finishing 5 spots apart in the standings, with the lower ranked team having beat the higher ranked squad. The feeling as though they are making it up as they go along, making it as relevant as possible on a week to week basis.
As much as I’d like to believe my rankings are different, the reality is, they are not. I am not steadfast in the majority of my rankings. I can be manipulated by things such as roster construction, personal preferences, and updated player info. The same holds true for anyone who takes the time to make rankings. The reality of it is simple: at its best, rankings should serve as conversation pieces – a reference point in which you use in altering your own draft day preferences.
Mr. Finch and Co. will begin rolling out their Dynasty and 2018 rankings in due time. Other sites will follow in the same manner. I’m nearly 40, but yet here I am still cutting Top-25 list like it was yesterday. No longer in need of scissors and without the shortness of breath that went along with it. Cut and Paste without the mess… computers can do amazing things.
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