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) two 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.
For this week ... we'll take a look at the latest beat-up Cleveland Indian, Chicago's commitment to Tim Anderson, and answer some of your questions from the 'Comments' section of previous columns.
• Defending a Title Ain't So Easy
2016 will always go down as a magical year for the Chicago Cubs. Overlooked and mostly forgotten is that the Cleveland Indians had a similar carpet ride to the brink of a title. Although winning it all wouldn't have broken a 108-year drought, it would have been the Tribe's first title since 1948. With the Cubs long journey concluded, the Indians are now sitting on the longest stretch without a World Championship.
2017 is not off to a very good start. On the upside, Michael Brantley (ADP #228) has finally returned to spring play. He notched a couple of hits in his debut on Monday. He's nowhere near out of the woods, but he's at least trending towards health which is much more than can be said for his totally wasted '16.
With one shoulder injury seemingly moving on, another shoulder injury is filling the now-open void. As noted last week, Jason Kipnis (ADP #104 ... already 8 spots lower than just a week ago. That marks a dramatic crash this late in the draft process) has been battling soreness in his joint for well-over a month now. Over the weekend, the team admitted that he was 'at best' 4-6 weeks away from action. In other words, Kipnis is a bad bet for any April work. The crowds are sensing the bad news. In just the most recent NFBC drafts Kipnis sliding all the way outside the top 250. It's a fair skinning.
But, wait, there's more! On the pitching side, perennial injury concern, Carlos Carrasco (ADP #59) has been skipped once because of a tender elbow. Originally, the injury looked to be one that could immediately sideline the 30-year old right-hander. Instead, the Indians are crossing their fingers and hoping he can be back on the spring hill as soon as this weekend. He may actually pull that off, but I would still have my hesitations.
As touched on above, Carrasco is forever battling something, somewhere. He's been playing in the bigs since 2009. And, in all that time he has NEVER hit 185 innings. He missed all of 2012. In his other seven seasons, he has AVERAGED exactly 100 innings. The talent is immense, but he's actually one of the most injury-prone hurlers we have in the game.
Even before this years' latest setback, Carrasco was showing some iffy signs coming into the new year. His K-rate dipped almost 5% last year. His 'hard-hit' percentages and HR/9 also shot up in the wrong direction. And ... his fastball and slider readings also took a dip.
To me, taking him inside the top-75 is a big risk. Moundsmen like Carlos Martinez (ADP #66) and Cole Hamels (ADP #83) are much safer options. Carrasco can be noteworthy when he's on the hump, but you'll be lucky if you get him for more than 20 starts this season.
• Spending Money on the South Side
The Chicago White Sox have started, and are still in the process of, a monumental rebuild. It started with the Chris Sale (ADP #22) and Adam Eaton (ADP #128) being shown the door. Soon to come - Todd Frazier (ADP #77), Jose Quintana (ADP #106), David Robertson (ADP #123), and Jose Abreu (ADP #61). The challenge is to make sure that your 'rebuild' features a foundation, bricks, mortar, and a roof. One of the 'foundations' is now in the fold for the next half-dozen years.
After less than 100 games of major league action, Chicago has handed a 6-year, $25-million deal to shortstop Tim Anderson (ADP #160). Anderson isn't currently mentioned in the same breath as the Correa's, Lindor's, or Seager's of the world, but the White Sox and many in the game see him as an eventual upper-third MLB SS. His speed is elite and he's a certain threat for 30+ steals this year. He caught many off-guard last summer with nine round-trippers in 410 ABs. That may not sound like much, but Anderson had a total of 21 HRs in 1,467 minor league at-bats. If Anderson were to post a 12/40 kind of season in 2017, you're talking about a definite top-8 SS, right now.
But, here's the catch. Can Anderson get on-base enough? When I say 'lead-off hitter,' what do you think of? My guess ... small, fast, table-setter, gets on-base, etc. It's that last part that Anderson struggles with. His .306 OBP of last year is utterly terrible. It's a far cry from even the average MLB hitter. Anderson has got to get that number to .330+. Eventually, it has got to be at least to that point. He did show improvement on his swinging strike rate as last year wore on, so that's a good sign. He should sport high-BABIPs and will try to beat out a ton of grounders.
The good news is the White Sox are now saying, 'Come hell or high water, you're our man. You'll get all the playing time and all the opportunities to show what you got.' That message is a god-send for fantasy players. You can take a chance on this particular youngster because there's no big threat to him losing the job. That's the message we all got with this extension.
I like Anderson's current ADP, but you'll rarely see him on my team. I've found that my drafts play to grabbing a high-end SS in the first 4-5 rounds. Once that's done, Anderson doesn't fit the roster plan. He's a low-end starter and I'd rather wait for a MI who costs way less ... Marcus Semien (ADP #208), Brandon Crawford (ADP #249), and Jose Reyes (ADP #295), all spring to mind.
• Your Questions, My Answers
I was unable to address a few of the reader questions in last week's column. Time to rectify!
Let's start with 'Brian' who was wondering about my thoughts on Jamison Taillon (ADP #153), Lance McCullers (ADP #168), and Vincent Velasquez (ADP #184). They're also going 37th, 41st, and 48th, respectively, among all SPs.
All of these young arms are uber-talented. They all have the backgrounds and pedigree that screams 'success.' But, they also have innings caps and injury histories. Taillon is the most exciting to me. He was a big success in just 104 innings last year. But, health has never been a hallmark. He missed all of 2014 and 2015 before coming back last year. He should be over 150 innings this year and you should expect a solid ERA/WHIP combo with a K/9 near 9. Velasquez is the bottom man on the totem pole. He's never come close to a full year of health and that's no surprise considering his remarkable fastball that can sniff 100. Both he and McCullers will be lucky to total 150 innings this year. Take one of them, but only one.
'Miguel' had a fun question about taking a Colorado lineup stack from the world of DFS and into the world of season-long. It sounds fun in theory, but would probably leave you as a .500 team overall. Here are the home/road team splits for the Rockies in the past three seasons ...
2016 - Coors Field - .304/.369/.516, 6.3 R/game; Everywhere else - .246/.302/.398, 4.2 R/game
2015 - Coors Field - .302/.352/.489, 5.5 R/game; Everywhere else - .228/.277/.375, 3.6 R/game
2014 - Coors Field - .322/.372/.529, 6.2 R/game; Everywhere else - .228/.279/.357, 3.1 R/game
No surprise ... it's dramatic. Throw in the fact that guys like Charlie Blackmon (ADP #16) and Carlos Gonzalez (ADP #65) could be on the move, it's an extremely hot-and-cold approach to building a team. Plus, having to face the staffs of L-A and San Francisco over and over won't help.
Finally, there's this question from 'Andy' ... What to make of Jason Heyward (ADP #257) in '17? Initially, I'm all down for taking Heyward around the 260-spot. He's going to get at least half the season to figure things out and his game is still very, very fantasy friendly. Getting 15 homers, 15 steals, with a .275 average and 75 for both R's and RBIs shouldn't be overly-optimistic. Only nine guys in all of baseball pulled off those five marks last year. And, all nine are going 200 picks before the Cubs' right-fielder. I can totally stomach Heyward as a 5th OF, but would be selecting a 6th OF in the next 3-4 rounds after you get him. If it fails, the loss isn't going to ruin things for you.
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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