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 eight 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, we'll talk about Mike Napoli's value as he moves to Arlington, Chris Carter's big bat in the Big Apple, and the idea of stashing upper-end minor league prospects
• The Nap Trap
Remember the story about Napoli's struggles to get a good nights' sleep? The burly slugger had a severe sleep apnea issue that caused him to miss hundreds and hundreds of hours of sleep each year. A surgical procedure cleared it up and he proceeded to explode in 2016. With sleep, health, and playing time, Napoli went cuckoo with a career-best 34 homers, a career-best 101 RBIs, and a career-best 92 runs. Heading into free agency, the 35-year old had fashioned the classic 'contract push.'
But the 'push' didn't lead to a corresponding 'pull.' Yes, MLB teams everywhere were napping on the slugger. Leading up to this week, Napoli was still without a contract and a team for the new campaign.
Finally, the search is over. Reports indicate that the contending Texas Rangers are reuniting with Napoli (who was a Ranger for two seasons, 2011-12). It's an appropriate move for GM Jon Daniels and crew. Just about the only true question mark in their entire lineup was at 1B. Napoli should stabilize things a bit and has plenty of defensive experience at first base.
But, saying that the Rangers should add Napoli and that fantasy owners should add Napoli are two totally different things. Yes, I would still suggest you nap on Napoli.
Before news of the signing, the vet was going off the board as the 18th 1B, with an overall ADP #225. Based off his immense marks of 2016 that is not a silly spot. And landing at Globe Life Park in Texas is sweet, too, as the yard plays plus-hitter across the board.
Frankly, I see Napoli's HR/RBI/R numbers all going south. Even more importantly, I see his games played going way south. A repeat of 150 games? No way, no how. Before last year's miracle of health, Napoli had averaged a measly 112 games per year for a full decade. That number is sullied a bit by his first few part-time seasons to begin his career, but there's nothing unfair in saying that Napoli is always a good bit for a couple of DL stints each year.
The power is totally legitimate. But, remember, legit power is legitimately everywhere and easy to find in 2017. Heck, we had over 110 hitters club 20 home runs last year! Anytime a wayward player finds a team he sees an uptick in draft rooms. Napoli will see the same slight lift, but I would recommend you stay away from going in before the 220s.
• One Domino Falls and Another Follows
Within hours of Napoli's decision, Chris Carter (ADP #242) came to terms with the New York Yankees. It was a very long wait for the reigning NL home run leader (41) who had to settle for a one-year deal after being let go by Milwaukee.
Straight up, I actually do like Carter a tad more than Napoli. He's younger by a half-dozen years and has a much better track record of health. Unfortunately, just one of my two big concerns are erased ... he has a team. The problem is that the Yankees now have four players battling for two spots. Greg Bird, Matt Holliday, and Tyler Austin will each see their share of chances at both 1B and DH. Carter will be right there with them. He'll likely be out there a good deal against LHPs, but he's never been much of a platoon split. His numbers against hurlers from both sides are just about equal.
Overall, Carter shouldn't have many concerns about reaching 20 homers. He's that much of a power threat. Beyond that, though, you'll have to rely on injuries and hot/cold streaks helping him to extra plate appearances. And, no matter how many actual chances he gets, he'll be hard-pressed to hit above-.230 or drive in more than 80 runners.
• How About the Other Job-Hunters?
While two players have concluded their search, there is at least one other relevant swinger looking for a new batting rack in 2017.
Catcher Matt Wieters (ADP #198) is in a different pool. He's not elite in any one category, but he can still slot you a .250/20/75 line and do it from the catchers' spot. His position makes him attractive even before he finds a team. I would have no qualms getting him as my 2nd catcher in a fantasy league. Wherever he goes (Tampa, Houston, and Milwaukee have all been mentioned as suitors), Wieters will play. He won't be added as a back-up catcher and he can probably do DH/1B work, as well. If he had a team today, he'd be going in the top 175. Without a team, he's still a bargain, especially if you can somehow get him as your 2nd man behind the plate.
Outside of Wieters, Pedro Alvarez (ADP #465), Adam Lind (ADP #501), Doug Fister (ADP #598) are all still looking for a camp team.
• Dash for the 'Stash'
Over the past couple of years there have been some highly successful draft-day stashes that paid off handsomely. In 2015, those who were able to roster Corey Seager until his final month call-up received a nice boost. Last year, many who drafted Trea Turner and still had him hanging around in July received a 2nd-half All-Star. Of course, those were the hits. There were dozens upon dozens of misses.
Yet, that less than 10% chance of finding a rookie difference-maker is still highly enticing to fantasy players everywhere. MLB.com just released their eagerly anticipated top 100 prospects in baseball and many of the names are already attracting fantasy leers and stares. Here is the current ADP of MLB.com's top 10, alongside a path to playing time as I see it. If you want these guys be willing to go even higher than the listed ADP because there's always someone who wants in first and will pay an inflated price to land the supposed 'next star.'
1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston (ADP #134) - Starting LF for the Red Sox
2. Yoan Moncada, 2B, White Sox (ADP #232) - Needs seasoning, mid-season call-up
3. Gleyber Torres, SS, NY Yankees (ADP #628) - Only 20 and behind Didi Gregorious
4. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta (ADP #184) - Starting SS for the Braves
5. Amed Rosario, SS, NY Mets (ADP #639) - At the age of 21, could be up by August
6. Alex Reyes, P, St. Louis (ADP #132) - Expected to break camp as either SP or RP
7. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia (ADP #469) - An infield injury and he'll be up
8. Victor Robles, OF, Washington (ADP #668) - Just 19 and not being counted on for MLB debut this season
9. Tyler Glasnow, P, Pittsburgh (ADP #291) - Should be in the Pirates first 5 to begin the year
10. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh (ADP #515) - Stuck behind a powerhouse trio of Pirate OFs
• Positional Break-down
For those who are just jumping into the fray, here's a look at a positional break-down of the current ADP marks. It's one thing to know when the big names are going off the board, but you should also pay special attention to when the 'starters' are gone at each position. For purposes of simplicity, we'll keep this to what many would term as 'starters' for a typical 12-team league (i.e., two catchers, five outfielders, six starting pitchers, etc.). Note, that for positions such as 1B or 2B, you should understand that many players from those positions will be selected as a CI or a MI, thus, chipping away even more at a positions' depth. Here's a general look of things ...
o Catcher - First off the board - Buster Posey (ADP #37 ... 16 spots lower than last year); Last starter off the board - Austin Hedges (ADP #314)
o 1st Base - First off the board - Paul Goldschmidt (ADP #7); Last starter off the board - Carlos Santana (ADP #121)
o 2nd Base - First off the board - Jose Altuve (ADP #4); Last starter off the board - Jose Peraza (ADP #140)
o 3rd Base - First off the board - Kris Bryant (ADP #3); Last starter off the board - Evan Longoria (ADP #105)
o Shortstop - First off the board - Carlos Correa(ADP #17 ... 10 spots lower than last year); Last starter off the board - Brad Miller (ADP #161 ... It's not the same player, of course, but a year ago, the 12th SS wasn't selected until #240)
o Outfield - First off the board - Mike Trout (ADP #1); Last starter off the board - Manuel Margot (ADP #254)
o Starting Pitcher - First off the board - Clayton Kershaw (ADP #6); Last starter off the board - Dylan Bundy (ADP #276)
o Relief Pitcher - First off the board - Aroldis Chapman (ADP #47); Last starter off the board - Joe Musgrove (ADP #321)
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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