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) six 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 on the remarkable depth to be found at the hot corner, Matt Wieters' value in a new home, and then finish things off with some answers to your questions from a week ago.
• Have you Heard About Third?
Remarkably, in the history of baseball, only 16 men have been enshrined into Cooperstown as 3rd baseman. That's the lowest number from any of the nine positions. Yes, less than the Catchers' spot (18) and even fewer than the number of Manager's (23) who have received baseball's highest honor.
So perhaps we should call this a 'glory year' for the spot. There are four hot corner men going in the first round of most drafts ... Kris Bryant (ADP #4), Nolan Arenado (ADP #5), Manny Machado (ADP #8), and Josh Donaldson (ADP #12) ... and it's difficult to dispute any of those marks. Each of those four is also a repeat member of 2016's first round. Yet another impressive feature.
After the 'Big Four,' things do slow down for about 4-5 rounds. But, as soon as round 6 rolls around you'll see an explosion of interest in 3B. From around selection #65 and all the way through pick #106, a total of eight third basemen are usually selected. For those in 12-team leagues, you can roughly expect each squad in your league to have their starting third-bagger by the end of round 9.
Speaking to the overall strength of this spot is that the 12th 3B off the board, Evan Longoria (ADP #106) is a man coming off a career-best 36 homers. And this isn't a season where a guy hit a ton of homers, but hit .220. Instead, Tampa's perennial force topped the MLB-average with a .270-plus mark. Oh, and he also tacked on 98 RBIs and 81 runs just for good measure. This isn't a 'breakout' guy ... this is a guy who's done it for years, who offers a lot of stability, and who just turned 30. There's no other position in baseball that features such a strong asset this low in fantasy drafts.
And, there's more. Would you like a 27/90 guy with pick #129? Justin Turner fits the bill. Maybe you're looking for a man who's pounded out 43 total HRs in under 200 career games. Then, you can have Miguel Sano at ADP #116. Oh, and we'll even throw in outfield and infield eligibility with that pick. I'm not done. There are 3B to be found outside the top 300 that can legitimately hit 20 home runs this season ... Travis Shaw (ADP #313), Danny Valencia (ADP #330), and Adonis Garcia (ADP #378), all fit the bill. It wouldn't be silly to believe that any of those three could hit .265 or better, either.
Super at the top. Thick with talent in the middle. Nice upside outside the top-20. Third base is a spot where I'd target a top 8 guy, snag a top-12 guy as more Corner Infielder, and find a bench spot for a guy just outside the top-20. It's just that good. Just don't draft David Wright (ADP #522), please.
• Wieters Moves Down the Beltway
The wait is over! The last big free agent fish has signed. On Tuesday, Matt Wieters (ADP #202) came to a two-year agreement to man the backstop in Washington. This decision and signing came just 36 hours after Nats' GM Mike Rizzo indicated that his team was not interested in Wieters and was fine with their current grouping of catchers. I throw that in there as a friendly reminder that these guys enjoy lying almost as they enjoy winning.
As for Wieters ... he is still a legitimate starting fantasy catcher and should see his ADP sneak easily back into the top 200. In fact, my guess is that he actually will now be selected before the likes of Wellington Castillo (ADP #178) and Yadier Molina (ADP #195) in many drafts. After eight big league years, it's evident that Wieters will never be a great catcher, but he can still be a good one. In the five seasons where he has played at least 120 games, he's averaged exactly 19 homers and more than 70 RBIs. Just three catchers hit those two marks last year and one of them wasn't named Buster Posey (ADP #39) (the list was made up of Wilson Ramos (ADP #249), Jonathan Lucroy (ADP #53), and Russell Martin (ADP #169)).
The move to the National League and a less favorable home yard will likely slow Wieters a bit. Still, to his credit, the former-Camden Yards resident has been a near Xerox on the road and at home throughout his career. There's no more DH spot that allows Wieters to take non-rest 'rest' day, so counting on 135+ games is very iffy. On the low-end of things, he should be near the back-end of the Nats' lineup, but still a good bet to hit over-.250 with a 15/65/55 line. Believe it or not, that's a very serviceable piece of help in two-catcher leagues. I'm slotting him as a top-10 catcher and a top-190 pick leading into the upcoming year.
• My Comments on Your Comments
As always, we close things down by answering a few of your questions and comments from last week's article ...
Andy was wondering about Tampa's Chris Archer (ADP #53) who is one of the rare breeds who can lose 19 games in a season and still be ranked inside the top-15 among all SPs the following year. The spot is mostly warranted in my opinion. His rough first half forever dinged his final numbers and gave his overall line more 'lemon' than it deserved. Archer's unusually high HR rate of the first half (18 in just 110 innings) settled down in the late-summer (12 in his final 91 innings). He's never been what one would term 'home run prone' so that trend should continue. The K-rate (10.4) might dip into the 9's, but he's always been a K-per-inning type of player. He likely won't top a dozen or so wins because the offense around him is still a bit lethargic. Specific to Andy was the question of whether or not Archer is worthy of $22 in an auction keeper league. Unless I'm up against a wall with my other protections and spending, I'd swallow the $22 cost. It's a bit high, but he is still a very, very good SP2 ... right there alongside the Johnny Cueto's (ADP #43), Carlos Carrasco's (ADP #56), and Justin Verlander's (ADP #42) of the world.
Bob asked about the breakout potential of San Diego's Alex Dickerson (ADP #388). The most interesting feature here is a power bat. Right now, the Padres don't have much of it. They have a pair of young outfielders considered to be higher-end than Dickerson in both Hunter Renfroe (ADP #234) and Manuel Margot (ADP #250). I think Renfroe snags the RF job and Margot is probably battling an equally speed-oriented outfielder in Travis Jankowski (ADP #291). In other words, Dickerson has a path to playing time in LF. I think you're mostly hoping for 20 homers with the 26-year old. It's possible that he could also make a difference by pushing his steals total into the mid-teens. The Friars are open to plenty of running and that means everyone will be given a shot to cash in. Dickerson doesn't have a long-term future like Renfroe or Margot, but he's a solid bench selection for a fantasy team looking for outfield depth. At the very least the Padres will give him a ton of chances to stand out in the midst of their rebuilding season.
Finally, Bruce wondered about the aforementioned Renfroe, plus rebound candidate, Domingo Santana (ADP #265). Both guys are actually quite similar. Both possess immense raw power, but that comes with a high rate of swing-and-miss and little interest in drawing a walk. It's not a great mix for stability, but it is a good mix for major hot streaks. So, in other words, be prepared. You may get your 18-24 homers with both, but I'd be surprised if either hits .250. Of the two, I prefer Santana. He has a much better ballpark, usually hits the ball a lot harder, and made strides on the whiff issues last year. He's also gone through much of the learning curve (near 500 career PAs) that Renfroe has yet to encounter (36 career PAs).
Please feel free to send me more requests and I'll do my best to tackle them next week.
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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