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) five 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.
There's plenty to hit on this week ... the Padres laughably weak rotation, the fourth go-around on Byron Buxton, and lineup questions from the Windy City.
• Just Because They're Counting on Them Doesn't Mean That You Should
San Diego has admitted the obvious and is mostly passing on putting up a battle in 2017. Instead, they'll take their losses, develop their youth, and pray for trade deadline and draft day reinforcements. As a plan, it's not a terrible one.
And with the obvious intentions stated, it makes their entire pitching staff a no-man's land for fantasy owners. Here's the run-down of the Padres' options for the starting five ...
o Jered Weaver (ADP #669) - Signed off the scrap heap just a week ago and should be returning there by mid-season. The vet's tricks failed him last season. He still couldn't break a pane of glass (barely topping 86 mph, on average) and hitters were in on his pitch attack as they hit near-.300 with 37 HRs. Even when real-life decent, he's not fantasy-decent.
o Jhoulys Chacin (ADP #513) - He's the owner of a six-pitch repertoire, but all six pitches are weak. He's also the owner of two seasons with more than 145 innings of work ... and, he's had seven tries.
o Clayton Richard (ADP #640) - Sinker after sinker leads to grounder after grounder. He can shut down a team for 6 innings occasionally, but even then getting a decent amount of K's or a chance at a 'W' are difficult items to attain.
o Christian Friedrich (ADP #641) - A chance in the rotation last year ended in disaster as the lefty got pinched for a 5.00 ERA and a WHIP north of 1.40. He could be decent out of the 'pen, but he still wouldn't be roster-worthy.
o Luis Perdomo (ADP #510) - Here's the lone temptation. As a Rule 5 pick a year ago, the then-23 year-old was forced to grow up quickly. He was inconsistent, but he also showed a big arm. If he can limit the bombs (1.4 HR/9), he'd have shot. You could make a case to draft him near the end of an NL-only get-together, but that would be the extent of it.
The good news is that none of these players are getting much love from the community at-large. It's important to keep it that way.
We should make mention that the relief corps in San Diego is a totally different story. Brandon Maurer (ADP #237), Carter Capps (ADP #357), and Brad Hand (ADP #474), all fit as relievers in many league set-up's. If nothing else, they should get plenty of work!
• A Few More Bucks for Buxton
Everyone in fantasy baseball wants the big-time prospect ... until the big-time prospect proves that he isn't immediately going to become a 'Babe Ruth-Ty Cobb-Rickey Henderson' combo. Byron Buxton (ADP #148), like so many before him, has initially come up short. Thus, many owners have given up hope and moved on to greener pastures. Not so fast.
Buxton still sports a remarkably fantasy-friendly power-speed combo that will make up for many ailments. Calling him a 15/30 threat is not hyperbole. His bat doesn't need to even be a total 'click' for him to return excellent value. He can whiff a load (170+ times) and hit .250, yet still be a win for owners. His youth, his September push last year (nine HRs and 17 XBHs), and his starting role make him a very good 4th OF. And, now we have some more good news.
Manager Paul Molitor expressed thoughts this week that he could turn to Buxton as his lead-off man if he earns the spot this spring. In other words, do some hitting and we'll give you more opportunities to hit. Buxton appeared to be ticketed for an 8th or 9th spot in the order before the pronouncement. If he got to the upper-third of the order you'd be talking about another 100-125 plate appearances over the course of the year. That would be a huge upswing to his fantasy value and just the idea of it happening should push you to lift him a bit on your board on in your auction.
I don't expect it to happen on day one, but when all is written in 2017, I do believe Buxton will have twice as many at-bats in the 1, 2, or 3 spots than he does in the 8th and 9th spots of the lineup.
• A Good or Bad Thing?
Speaking of lineups ... Joe Maddon is leaning towards Kyle Schwarber (ADP #77) as his leadoff man. We can all agree that his form and figure don't scream 'top of the order,' but the Cubs have few options after the departure of Dexter Fowler (ADP #192 ... more on him below).
Chicago sees him as an on-base machine who will work an at-bat and force pitch counts to rise. To compare it to the Buxton news item from above, I see this one as having a better chance of holding on for a notable amount of time. There will be days where Schwarber sits versus southpaws, but it's easy to see him netingt 400 PA's from the number-1 spot. That could quickly stretch him above 100 runs scored, but you'll see a corresponding dip in the RBIs. To me, the two things even out for the individual's value, but it will perhaps change your method of attack with other picks. Instead of feeling perfectly fine about your RBIs, you may still need to make sure you get another 70-80 RBI guy somewhere later in your draft.
• Sell or Buy-ez?
Everyone loves the Cubs now, so let's keep it going!
Javier Baez (ADP #118) appears to be on the verge of fantasy success ... except for his lack of a daily job. Maddon has again helped us fantasy players by stating that if everyone stays healthy (admittedly, never a true given) then Baez will struggle for more than 2-3 starts per week. That does not mean he won't play. It just means that he'll have more games with one at-bat and four innings in the field than games of four at-bats and nine innings in the field.
Helping his predicament is the fact that he can play a variety of spots ... 2B, SS, 3B, and the OF. Oftentimes, you'll see the regular 2B, Ben Zobrist (ADP #173) move to LF when a left-hander is on the hill (Schwarber will often sit in those matchups) and that will immediately open up a spot for Baez.
Profile-wise, you're looking at 25-homer bat that can also produce 15-20 steals. And, let me add, that could happen even with just 450 PAs. In leagues where you have to set your lineups weekly and then let them sit, Baez is dangerous. There's just no guarantee of at-bat's from game-to-game. But, in a league with daily lineup changes, I'd be willing to go after the 24-year old. With the opportunity to wait for lineups to be released each day, you're able to work things in your favor. In that case, getting him anywhere from the 8th-10th rounds would be directly up my alley.
• Answers to Your Questions
In the 'Comments' section from last week's article, Brian wondered about what he saw as an under-estimation of Fowler and Kennys Vargas (ADP #453).
I agree with his assessment on both. Fowler is a force of on-base percentage with a near-.370 career mark. On a per-162-games-played basis, he also scores 95 times with 19 SBs, alongside a comfortable .268 career batting average. But, of course, anytime someone uses the ol' 'per-162-games-played' phrase, you should know that's really just code for 'he's good, but injured a lot.' Fowler fits the bill by finishing with under 130 games played in four of the past six years. I truly like him at the top of the Cardinals order and I'm a huge fan of his 190-ish ADP. A great 4th or 5th option for anyone's outfield.
Vargas is an entirely different case. He has no long-term track record (not even 550 career ABs) and has teased before. But, now, the cost is quite small. I've gone on record (via radio) that Vargas is the 30 HR hitter that no one is talking about. I don't think he's much of an overall fantasy asset ... he's just a good provider of power. Even RBIs could be an issue in Minnesota's lineup. In a perfect world, he clubs 30+ with 80 RBIs and hits .260. In a more realistic world, he pops 25, drives in 70, and hits .240. He's absolutely worthy of a pick in the mid-400s.
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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