- WASHINGTON NATIONALS
- NL MVP?
- New leadoff man for the Nats
- NEW YORK YANKEES
- Court is in session
- My favorite option for the #5 slot seems to be Aaron Boone's also
- LOS ANGELES ANGELS
- It should be Canning with a K
- They went to Jared
- AROUND THE LEAGUE
Trey Mancini (1B/OF - BAL) - Mancini singled and homered Sunday in his return to baseball from surgery to remove colon cancer prior to the abbreviated 2020 season. Mancini had made great strides on multiple fronts in 2019, continuing to improve his contact rate and exit velocity while cutting his GB rate significantly. Still in the midst of his prime, the combination of the missed season and playing on one of the 5 worst offenses in the majors is likely depressing his value a bit too much. Mancini projects as a top-40 OF and, for us, a 9th round selection...6 rounds earlier than his current ADP. I expect to be selecting him quite a bit this season, not solely because he's undervalued, but also because his health scare last year makes him very easy to root for.
Nolan Arenado (3B - STL) - Getting a handle on what to expect from Nolan Arenado after the move to St. Louis is one of the more important storylines this spring. While the move results in a slightly better supporting cast for the longtime Rockie star, the difference in Arenado's home/road splits over his 8 seasons in Colorado shouldn't be understated. Arenado liked Coors even more than the average player does, as evidenced by wRC+ (which accounts for park factors). Arenado's career wRC+ is 128 at home (meaning that, roughly, he provides production at 28% above a league average rate) and just 108 on the road. Simply using wRC, Arenado has been approximately 50% better at home than on the road in his career. I think everyone understands that the park effect will be detrimental to him to a point, but if these splits follow his career-long trends, he is significantly overvalued right now. Furthermore, Busch Stadium tends to play slightly more pitcher-friendly than neutral (7-8% below average in terms of runs scored). I think it's very possible that Arenado will only be 5-10% more productive than the average MLB 3B this season, and if that's the case, he is nowhere near 3B3 with a 3rd round ADP, but more like 3B10 or 11 with round 8-9 value. Suffice it to say that I see a huge amount of downside with Arenado as a 3rd-round selection, and will happily pass that risk off to another enterprising owner this year.
Lance Lynn (SP - CWS) - Lynn as the SP17 via ADP does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling at all, as his exit velo, soft%, and FB rate have all been trending poorly for more than just last year's small sample size. A very favorable BABIP helped him post an ERA a full run lower than his xFIP, and while the move to the White Sox will likely help from a W standpoint, I still can't see him as a top-25 SP right now. I likely wouldn't consider him prior to round 8 or 9, which means there's virtually no way he will find his way onto a team of mine this season.
Matthew Boyd (SP - DET) - A spring report from me just isn't complete without a Matthew Boyd update. Reports that Boyd battled through hamstring and plantar fascia issues in 2020 go a long way toward explaining why the pitcher from July-September didn't match the pitcher we saw in March, and while it might be throwing good money after bad, I'm probably going all-in here again. Keeping in mind my preferred SP strategy is grabbing 4-5 high-upside/low-floor arms to mix and match for SP slots 3, 4, and 5, Boyd is tremendously undervalued. His chase rate and swinging strike% are excellent, his GB rate has been improving along with his velocity and FB/CH delta, and aside from 2019 his avg exit velos against have been very good. Dallas Keuchel is going 10 rounds earlier than Boyd, and it probably should be the opposite.....I think he's a great late-round target for the back of your rotation.
German Marquez (SP - COL) - Like Michael, I also see some upside here with Marquez. The biggest positives that I see are the steadily increasing velocity and GB rate....3 straight improvements for each. Combined with his solid control and, as Michael mentioned, a swinging strike% that seems further above average than his K rate has been, more results like 2018 seem warranted. I am still on board with Marquez as a solid SP4.
Zach Plesac (SP - CLE) - Plesac is being valued as an SP2 with an ADP in round 6 this spring, coming off a terrific 8 starts in 2020. There were a few tailwinds for him that give me pause for 2021 at that price, however, as a favorable schedule, a 92% strand rate, and a .224 BABIP aren't likely to be replicated. The increased chase rate and swinging strike% were welcome surprises from a guy that wasn't thought to be a big bat-misser, so there is reason for optimism here as well.....I just don't quite trust it yet, and for that reason I feel that he's going about 3 rounds too early on average. There's also the fact that the Indians are no longer likely to be an above-average offensive team, and I see an awful lot of questions for someone being drafted as a top-25 SP.
Byron Buxton (OF - MIN) - I feel like the value on Byron Buxton has been off every season since he came into the league, and the past few years have been on the undervalued side. The key to his value here is going to be whether he keeps running. He was still the second fastest player in the majors from home to 1B last season, behind only Roman Quinn, but the combination of him bulking up about 10 pounds over the winter and his obvious pull/flyball tendencies make me wonder just how much base stealing we will see from him. The exit velo numbers are extremely promising, and despite serious plate discipline issues the contact rates have remained in the low-to-mid 70's....firmly in the "good enough" category. Buxton just turned 27 this winter, right at the age when a lot of hitters put it all together. His current ADP is 138, but I'd be looking at him anytime after pick 100 as a high-upside addition to my OF.
Josh Lindblom (SP - MIL) - Lindblom didn't have a stellar return to the US on the surface, posting a 5.16 ERA over 10 starts, but the bat-missing ability looks pretty solid with a 12.4% swinging strike rate. The BABIP seems awfully high for a pitcher that allows so many flyballs, and the 66% strand rate seems unfortunate as well. I wouldn't be surprised to see Lindblom put up an ERA closer to 4.00 in 2021 with more than a K per inning, something that puts him much closer to the SP5 value that I feel he deserves. He's a borderline top-60 SP for me that isn't even being drafted in the top 100 starters right now.
Ha-Seong Kim (SS - SD) - Ha-Seong Kim is a bit of a gamble to be sure, as his steady progress to stardom in South Korea is the kind of thing that doesn't always translate across the Pacific. That said, he seems to have the tools to be a fantasy star, combining solid contact ability (he walked more than he struck out in 2020) with power and speed (30 HR, 23 SB last season in S. Korea). The range of outcomes here are enormous, but his current ADP in round 14 seems very low for the potential here.....I would probably start looking at him 3-4 rounds earlier. Our projection for him is one of the more aggressive that I've seen (.276 AVG, 18 HR, 17 SB), but it would put him right on the cusp of the top-12 at SS....certainly a viable MI in all formats, and with his contact ability there would seem to be upside from there.
Kenta Maeda (SP - MIN) - I'm a little bit torn here, because I do like Maeda quite a bit, and I love the fact that Minnesota is actually letting him pitch a little, compared to his handling by the Dodgers anyway. His control is fantastic, the GB rate and hard contact moved hugely in the right direction, and the chase and swinging strike rates were astronomical. There are just a couple issues here that prevent me from valuing him as a 4th round, SP18 type of a player. #1 is the .208 BABIP.....that can't possibly be replicated. Of more concern was the extremely unbalanced schedule that he faced in 2020: 9 of his 11 starts were against an offense in the bottom 8 in the majors. His 2020 performance was so out of line with his prior 4 years in the majors, that you can't help but think it's an outlier.....if he reverts to anything close to his 2016-19 performance, his ADP is multiple rounds too high. I have no problem seeing Maeda as an SP3 that will be a big boost for your staff in WHIP, but at his current ADP I have very little interest. Strasburg is going 1 1/2 rounds later, just for one example of a player I'd be happy waiting for instead of Maeda.