Average Draft Position (ADP) should never be the end-all, be-all when it comes to mapping out your draft. Still, it serves as a top signifier of 'the way the wind is blowing,' as we get closer to Opening Day. Let's be honest, that magazine you bought on the way to the draft room was put together back in late-December. It's missing free agents who signed late. It's missing rookies who've emerged in camp. It's missing all the injuries that have piled up over three months. In other words, it's missing a load of the most important things!
My goal over the next (now) seven weeks (every Wednesday) is to follow the trends and movements, to tell you why a certain player is going up or down, and to give you my take on whether or not it's warranted. Our numbers will come from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, courtesy of their director, Greg Ambrosious.
If there are specific players or positions you would like me to discuss over the coming weeks, just let me know in the 'Comments' section at the end of each column.
This week, I'll hit upon the impact of Brandon Phillips leaving Cincinnati for Atlanta, ADPs that could go up or down depending on spring results, the fallout from Alex Reyes' elbow injury, and a bit on some players you requested I cover this week.
• One Injury, Multiple Repercussions
The Cincinnati Reds have been rebuilding for more than a year now. Johnny Cueto out. Todd Frazier out. Aroldis Chapman out. But, until this past weekend they had failed to find a new home for Brandon Phillips (ADP #288). It not only took a 'yes' from the no-trade-protected Phillips, but it also took an unexpected shoulder injury (courtesy of a car wreck) to Atlanta's presumed second baseman, Sean Rodriguez (ADP #318).
As usual, a single, simple injury led to a cascade of moves and altered perceptions. First, Rodriguez should no longer be a part of most drafts. He is expected to miss at least half the season and there's even the belief he could miss the entire year. Phillips moves from one starting gig to another starting gig, but he's still of little overall interest. He can net you a few thefts (14 last year) and is still good for a 12/70/70 production line, but he no longer does anything that truly moves the needle. That will not change whether he's in Cincy or Atlanta.
But, wait, there are more chips on the move after this trade. The most important development here is that the Reds are now ready to hand their starting second base job to youngster Jose Peraza (ADP #137). He was already seeing an overly-optimistic amount of love before the Phillips trade, but now it's reached a whole new level. In just the first 24 hours of NFBC drafts, Peraza was leaping by as many as 50 spots in drafts. Why? Speed.
As we've discussed in previous columns, stolen bases are at a premium this year. A year ago, Peraza excelled for 21 steals in just 72 games. With health, you could easily predict 40 stolen bases for 22 year-old this year. But, there are some concerns. Peraza is a near-one trick pony. He isn't a power or production threat at all. His full-year batting average may also never top .280 (despite the .324 mark in 241 ABs last year) and it's worth mentioning that he was gunned down nearly in nearly one-third of his base-running attempts (10 times in 31 chances). To select him inside the top-100, Peraza must turn in 40 thefts. He absolutely has the raw tools to do it, but I still feel his questions outweigh his certainties.
A final component is the effect on Atlanta uber-prospect, Ozzie Albies (ADP #449). He's likely listed as a 'SS' in your league, but he's much more likely to earn more chances at '2B' in 2017. For now, the Braves have the more developed Dansby Swanson (ADP #185) in the fold at short. Albies also just turned 20 and needs much more seasoning. My gut tells me that the Phillips tryout lasts until mid-season. If he's showing his full 35 years, I could easily see Albies getting the ring from the big league club. At that point he would be worth attacking, but I can't be convinced that he's worth a 'draft-and-stash' at this point.
• Spring Does Matter ... For Some
Few things are a better guarantee than the fact that you will hear this phrase - 'Spring training numbers don't matter' - at least a hundred times in the next month-plus. Ninety percent of the time it's true. But, as the first official workouts begin in Arizona and Florida this week, there are a handful of guys that have my attention leading up to Opening Day ...
o Raisel Iglesias (ADP #169) - I actually kind of hope that Iglesias does struggle in Reds' camp. Let Drew Storen (ADP #452 ... geez, that's low, too) have the 9th inning and the draft attention that comes with it. That will keep some of the fantasy hounds away from Iglesias who was utterly spectacular out of the bullpen last year. Before getting blitzed for four runs in the final game of last year, the Cuban produced a 1.29 ERA over 49 relief innings. He also averaged a K/inning. He also registered at least six outs in half of his mid-game appearances (Andrew Miller, anyone??). I love the profile and skills. I also like this current cost and hope it steadies (or, even slides) as we near April.
o Pablo Sandoval (ADP #366) - This is not so much an attraction to Sandoval as it is an attraction to players in the Red Sox daily lineup. Even if he's hitting 7th in the lineup, Sandoval could produce. Just look at what Jackie Bradley did at the bottom of the lineup last season (a total of 65 RBIs in 94 games from the 6th and 9th spots in the order). If Sandoval wins the hot corner in camp, he becomes a tasty temptation.
o Devon Travis (ADP #205) - Toronto's starting 2nd-baseman is one of my absolute faves heading into the new year. Admittedly, he can't stay healthy (just 163 total games in two years), but if he has health, he'll have success. I'd like to see a pair of things from Blue Jays' camp ... a healthy Travis with no hiccups and a spot at the top of the batting order, ahead of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Troy Tulowitzki.
o Blake Snell (ADP #235) - Let's see some strike-throwing. Although it may only be for three or four innings at a time, Tampa's resume-packed righty needs to hammer the strike zone in March. He barely showed a hint of control last year (51 freebies handed out in 89 innings) and that kept him from throwing more than six innings in 18 of his 19 starts. His arm and repertoire are both legit. It's a must that he avoid his inner 'Wild Child' this spring.
o Wade Davis (ADP #89) - I'm not convinced he's healthy, so I'm not convinced that he should be the 8th RP going off the board. Davis passed the Cubs' medical team when they traded for him over the winter, but can he make it through camp without raising concerns? If he does pull off the trick and is made available most days, then some of my concerns will calm.
• 'Partial Tear' is a Total Tear for Fantasy
As of this writing, it appears that St. Louis uber-prospect, Alex Reyes (ADP #130), is going to miss all, or a large portion, of 2017. Reports indicate that he has a partially torn UCL and is headed for a second opinion before deciding on whether or not he will undergo Tommy John surgery. Regardless, he's gone from ascending to absolute free fall in a matter of one MRI. For those in re-draft leagues, you can mostly eliminate Reyes from consideration. But, as usual, one domino can alter the path of many other dominoes.
Michael Wacha (ADP #386) is the obvious winner. The hero bloom of a couple of years ago has totally crapped out thanks to a rare shoulder blade ailment that leads to random stress fractures. There's no real 'cure' for the problem so the team has worked on strengthening the area around the shoulder, while also paying closer attention to workload and straining innings. In effect, the team is hoping to massage him through a season of 170+ innings. Entering camp, all appears good and Wacha is in line for a rotation spot. Fantasy-wise, Wacha is most useful for wins because of the stacked offense around him. His ERA should be solid (Busch Stadium will do that for hurlers) and the WHIP OK. Don't go counting on whiffs, though, as he is under 8 K/9 over his last 73 starts. What we have here is a SP6 flier.
If Wacha doesn't hold up, you'll suddenly start to hear more about the likes of Luke Weaver (ADP #325), Marco Gonzalez (ADP n/a), and even closer-turned-who-knows?, Trevor Rosenthal (ADP #490). To me, none of the trio would be of interest outside of the deepest mixed leagues that go into the 400s. Finally, don't be surprised if the Birds make a preseason trade if Wacha shows signs of ill health.
• Ye Ask, Ye Receive
Reader Miguel decided to take me up on my offer located at the top of each column. Last week, he checked in to see if I could provide some quick thoughts on youngsters Keon Broxton (ADP #190), Rafael Devers (ADP #638), and Reyes (Obviously, there's not much more to add on Reyes after the news from Tuesday.)
Devers is a high-end prospect, but I'm very doubtful that Boston turns to him anytime soon. He's crazy young (20) and contenders like Boston don't like turning to such players for an extended time (see Yoan Moncada, last year). The Red Sox will make trades before they play Devers at either 3B or 1B (which could be his major league position). There's just no reason to draft him in March when the earliest we could see him is August, at best.
Broxton, of course, is quite different. He was a force in the back half of '16 with eight round-trippers and 16 steals in 48 games. He also pulled off a .294 average, but that was carried by an insane .425 BABIP. The power-steal combo is great and 15/30 is possible. The issue is that you should expect him to hit near-.250 and he could be even lower. His K-rate is the largest concern. In EIGHT minor league seasons (that number is another concern), Broxton went down on three strikes a grand total of 1,027 times in 873 games. That's incredibly bad and incredibly red flag-raising. Personally, the hype is greater than warranted and his low-average, high-whiff, non-prospect look isn't something I like to invest in.
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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