TOP 250 FOR 2018

Well my goal was to finish my projections and rankings before March, and I just barely made it. Take a look at these rankings and let me know what you think in the comments. You can hot me up n twitter @Freezestats. I’ll try to update these weekly if there are injuries, jobs won/lost, etc but only if it seems like a major impact. I want to do posts that compare my rankings to ESPN and Yahoo rankings because I know there are many differences. Stay tuned for those posts coming up in March and I’ll continue some sleeper / bust posts along with interesting player outlooks.

Rank Name Team Pos
1 Mike Trout Angels OF
2 Jose Altuve Astros 2B
3 Trea Turner Nationals SS
4 Mookie Betts Red Sox OF
5 Nolan Arenado Rockies 3B
6 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1B
7 Bryce Harper Nationals OF
8 Giancarlo Stanton Yankees OF
9 Max Scherzer Nationals SP
10 Freddie Freeman Braves 1B/3B
11 Charlie Blackmon Rockies OF
12 Francisco Lindor Indians SS
13 Carlos Correa Astros SS
14 Corey Kluber Indians SP
15 Manny Machado Orioles 3B
16 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP
17 J.D. Martinez Red Sox OF
18 Joey Votto 10 1B
19 Jose Ramirez Indians 2B/3B
20 Anthony Rizzo Cubs 1B/2B
21 Chris Sale Red Sox SP
22 George Springer Astros OF
23 Kris Bryant Cubs 3B
24 Cody Bellinger Dodgers 1B/OF
25 Aaron Judge Yankees OF
26 Gary Sanchez Yankees C
27 Jose Abreu White Sox 1B
28 Alex Bregman Astros 3B/SS
29 Dee Gordon Marlins 2B
30 Josh Donaldson Blue Jays 3B
31 Noah Syndergaard Mets SP
32 Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
33 Nelson Cruz Mariners DH
34 Anthony Rendon Nationals 3B
35 Luis Severino Yankees SP
36 Corey Seager Dodgers SS
37 Carlos Carrasco Indians SP
38 Marcell Ozuna Cardinals OF
39 Andrew Benintendi Red Sox OF
40 Tommy Pham Cardinals OF
41 Jacob DeGrom Mets SP
42 Zack Greinke Diamondbacks SP
43 Justin Turner Dodgers 3B
44 Brian Dozier Twins 2B
45 Justin Verlander Astros SP
46 Rhys Hoskins Phillies 1B/OF
47 Christian Yelich Brewers OF
48 Justin Upton Angels OF
49 Madison Bumganer Giants SP
50 Edwin Encarnacion Indians 1B
51 Yu Darvish Cubs SP
52 Robbie Ray Diamondbacks SP
53 Kenley Jansen Dodgers RP
54 Wil Myers Padres 1B
55 Daniel Murphy Nationals 2B
56 Khris Davis Athletics OF
57 Carlos Martinez Cardinals SP
58 Starling Marte Pirates OF
59 Craig Kimbrel Red Sox RP
60 Aaron Nola PHI SP
61 Lorenzo Cain Brewers OF
62 Yoenis Cespedes Mets OF
63 Elvis Andrus Rangers SS
64 Adrian Beltre Rangers 3B
65 A.J. Pollock Diamondbacks OF
66 Billy Hamilton Reds OF
67 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees SP
68 Chris Archer Rays SP
69 Jose Quintana Cubs SP
70 Aroldis Chapman Yankees RP
71 Byron Buxton Twins OF
72 Eric Hosmer Padres 1B
73 Joey Gallo Rangers
74 Andrew McCutchen Giants OF
75 James Paxton Mariners SP
76 Willson Contreras Cubs C
77 Ozzie Albies Braves 2B
78 Trevor Story Rockies SS
79 Jean Segura Mariners SS
80 Rougned Odor Rangers 2B
81 Jonathan Schoop Orioles 2B
82 Edwin Diaz Mariners RP
83 Chris Taylor Dodgers
84 David Price Red Sox SP
85 Ryan Braun Brewers OF
86 Whit Merrifield Royals 2B/OF
87 Nick Castellanos Tigers 3B
88 Ken Giles Astros RP
89 Miguel Sano Twins 3B
90 Luis Castillo Reds SP
91 Sonny Gray Yankees SP
92 Domingo Santana Brewers OF
93 Shohei Ohtani Angels SP/DH
94 Felipe Rivero Pirates RP
95 Roberto Osuna Blue Jays RP
96 Travis Shaw Brewers 1B/3B
97 Zack Godley Diamondbacks SP
98 Jake Arrieta FA SP
99 Jake Lamb Diamondbacks 3B
100 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 1B
101 Dallas Keuchel Astros SP
102 Robinson Cano Mariners 2B
103 Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF
104 Corey Knebel Brewers RP
105 Gerrit Cole Astros SP
106 Ian Happ Cubs 2B/OF
107 Marcus Stroman Blue Jays SP
108 Carlos Santana Phillies 1B/OF
109 J.T. Realmuto Marlins C
110 Buster Posey Giants C/1B
111 Eddie Rosario Twins OF
112 Ian Desmond Rockies 1B/OF
113 Sean Doolittle Nationals RP
114 Matt Olson Athletics 1B/OF
115 Luke Weaver Cardinals SP
116 Rich Hill Dodgers SP
117 Eduardo Nunez Red Sox
118 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 1B
119 Alex Wood Dodgers SP
120 Raisel Iglesias Reds RP
121 Rafael Devers Red Sox 3B
122 Charlie Morton Astros SP
123 Tim Beckham Orioles SS/2B
124 Jeff Samardzija Giants SP
125 Cody Allen Indians RP
126 Ronald Acuna Braves OF
127 Adam Jones Orioles OF
128 Brad Hand Padres RP
129 Jon Lester Cubs SP
130 Justin Bour Marlins 1B
131 Marcus Semien Athletics SS
132 Danny Duffy Royals SP
133 Michael Fulmer Tigers SP
134 Wade Davis Rockies RP
135 Chase Anderson Brewers SP
136 Xander Bogaerts Red Sox SS
137 Mark Melancon Giants RP
138 Kyle Hendricks Cubs SP
139 Justin Smoak Blue Jays 1B
140 Josh Bell Pirates 1B
141 Willie Calhoun Rangers OF
142 Evan Gattis Houston C
143 Garrett Richards Angels SP
144 Jameson Taillon Pirates SP
145 Ian Kinsler Angels 2B
146 Salvador Perez Royals C
147 Trevor Bauer Indians SP
148 Marwin Gonzalez Astros
149 Jose Berrios Twins SP
150 Eugenio Suarez Reds 3B
151 Brandon Morrow Cubs RP
152 Patrick Corbin Diamondbacks SP
153 Trey Mancini Orioles 1B/OF
154 Evan Longoria Giants 3B
155 Yonder Alonso Indians 1B
156 Johnny Cueto Giants SP
157 DJ LeMahieu Rockies 2B
158 Kevin Kiermaier Rays OF
159 Lance McCullers Astros SP
160 Blake Snell Rays SP
161 Eric Thames Brewers 1B/OF
162 Hector Neris Phillies RP
163 Michael Wacha Cardinals SP
164 Shin-Soo Choo Rangers OF
165 Andrew Miller Indians RP
166 Alex Colome Rays RP
167 Jorge Polanco Twins SS
168 Scooter Gennett Reds
169 Yoan Moncada White Sox 2B/3B
170 Dylan Bundy Orioles SP
171 Avisail Garcia White Sox OF
172 Jose Peraza Reds 2B/SS
173 Zack Cozart Angels SS
174 Jon Gray Rockies SP
175 Mike Clevinger Indians SP
176 Bradley Zimmer Indians OF
177 Arodys Vizcaino Braves RP
178 Jordan Montgomery Yankees SP
179 Dinelson Lamet Padres SP
180 Mark Trumbo Orioles 1B
181 Luiz Gohara Braves SP
182 Blake Treinen Athletics RP
183 Corey Dickerson Pirates OF
184 Brett Gardner Yankees OF
185 Gregory Bird Yankees 1B
186 Hanley Ramirez Red Sox 1B/DH
187 Kyle Seager Mariners 3B
188 Lance Lynn Twins SP
189 Matt Carpenter Cardinals
190 Mitch Haniger Mariners OF
191 Cesar Hernandez Phillies 2B
192 Paul DeJong Cardinals SS/2B
193 Drew Pomeranz Red Sox SP
194 Josh Reddick Astros OF
195 Kelvin Herrera Royals RP
196 Jay Bruce Mets OF/1B
197 Tim Anderson White Sox SS
198 Andrelton Simmons Angels SS
199 Maikel Franco Phillies 3B
200 Orlando Arcia Brewers SS
201 Didi Gregorius Yankees SS
202 Michael Taylor Nationals OF
203 Jeurys Familia Mats RP
204 Chris Davis Orioles 1B
205 Starlin Castro Marlins 2B
206 Delino DeShields Rangers OF
207 Michael Conforto Mets OF
208 Archie Bradley Diamondbacks RP
209 Tanner Roark Nationals SP
210 Aaron Hicks Yankees OF
211 C.J. Cron Rays 1B
212 Brad Brach Orioles RP
213 Javier Baez Cubs 2B/SS
214 Jonathan Villar Brewers 2B
215 Adam Eaton Nationals OF
216 Jacob Faria Rays SP
217 Kyle Schwarber Cubs OF
218 Gio Gonzalez Nationals SP
219 Marco Estrada Blue Jays SP
220 Jackie Bradley Jr. Red Sox OF
221 Shane Greene Tigers RP
222 Aaron Sanchez Blue Jays SP
223 Randal Grichuk Blue Jays OF
224 Brad Peacock Astros SP/RP
225 Dexter Fowler Cardinals OF
226 Odubel Herrera Phillies OF
227 Sean Manaea Athletics SP
228 Jason Kipnis Indians 2B/OF
229 David Peralta Diamondbacks OF
230 Greg Holland RP
231 Todd Frazier Mets 3B
232 Nick Senzel Reds 3B
233 Yulieski Gurriel Astros 1B
234 Jose Martinez Cardinals 1B/OF
235 Matt Chapman Athletics 3B
236 Brandon Belt Giants 1B/OF
237 Mike Mikolas Cardinals SP
238 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B
239 Dan Straily Marlins SP
240 Jack Flaherty Cardinals SP
241 Brad Ziegler Marlins RP
242 Kendrys Morales Blue Jays 1B
243 Max Kepler Twins OF
244 Joe Musgrove Pirates SP
245 Lewis Brinson Marlins OF
246 Ryon Healy Mariners 1B/3B
247 Austin Hays Orioles OF
248 Kevin Pillar Blue Jays OF
249 Dellin Betances Yankees RP
250 Lucas Giolito White Sox SP


Early Fantasy baseball top 25 hitter projections for 2018.  No need to sign up for a membership or pay money.  That would be absurd!  It’s all free here.  I should have 5×5 using OBP projections later in the week.

1 Mike Trout LAA OF 114 40 108 23 0.302
2 Jose Altuve HOU 2B 101 20 86 27 0.316
3 Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 96 32 97 16 0.288
4 Bryce Harper WAS OF 103 34 98 7 0.297
5 Mookie Betts BOS OF 102 27 89 24 0.295
6 Nolan Arenado COL 3B 101 37 115 2 0.293
7 Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 102 47 112 2 0.271
8 Trea Turner WAS SS 110 16 68 58 0.294
9 Carlos Correa HOU SS 94 32 105 10 0.297
10 Charlie Blackmon COL OF 104 30 80 11 0.302
11 Freddie Freeman ATL 1B/3B 101 35 98 7 0.301
12 Francisco Lindor CLE SS 102 27 89 18 0.285
13 Joey Votto CIN 1B 100 30 93 4 0.303
14 Manny Machado BAL 3B 98 35 95 9 0.281
15 J.D. Martinez OF 88 39 102 2 0.286
16 Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B/2B 100 32 103 7 0.274
17 George Springer HOU OF 112 31 86 5 0.285
18 Jose Ramirez CLE 2B/3B 95 23 87 19 0.295
19 Gary Sanchez NYY C 80 33 93 2 0.262
20 Alex Bregman HOU SS/3B 100 26 82 14 0.291
21 Cody Bellinger LAD 1B/OF 89 40 100 9 0.260
22 Aaron Judge NYY OF 95 45 98 8 0.245
23 Kris Bryant CHC 3B/OF 105 31 84 5 0.283
24 Jose Abreu CHW 1B 82 31 98 2 0.288
25 Dee Gordon MIA 2B 93 2 44 57 0.294

I almost had A.J. Pollock inside the top 25 but I docked him about 90 PA due to lingering groin issues the last couple years.  But the upside is huge if he can stay healthy hitting second in the ARI lineup, a 20-30 season is a possibility.  I was also surprised that Rhys Hoskins did not make the list considering how much I love him!  I feel that with all the fly balls his BABIP will be around .260-.270 capping his BA upside and not to mention the Phils offense isn’t going to help him all that much.  Also, Justin Upton got an upgrade staying in LA with Mike Trout.  Hitting behind Trout will provide ample RBI opportunities and should finish close to 30-100 with 10 steals but with BA regression.

Ok, enough about who isn’t on this list.  I was a bit surprised to have Jose Abreu inside the top 25 but he’s been a steady 30-100 hitter since he’s come over from Cuba.  I understand 30-100 isn’t what it used to be, but he’s capable of hitting over .300 with his high contact rate.  Batting average is often overlooked but with the increase in strikeouts batting average’s across the league have dropped and only 25 players hit .300 in both 2016 and 2017.  BA isn’t quite as scarce as steals, but Abreu should be close to top 25-30 in three categories.  He’s a safe, highly productive 3rd rounder.  That being said, if I’m in a keeper or dynasty league, I’m taking Hoskins all day over Abreu.

Gary Sanchez‘s overall projections probably put him in the mid 30s for hitters but his numbers at the catcher position were unmatched in 2017 and I expect more of the same in 2018.  Contreras is my #2 catcher and he might end up with .265-70-25-80 which is solid but you’d have to spend a top 65 pick to get him.

Stanton and J.D. Martinez could move around a bit depending on where they end up.  The rumors of Stanton going to the Giants would be a knock on his fantasy value.  I’m not worried about the park, no park can hold Stanton except maybe center field at the old Polo Grounds.  Martinez on the other hand has been rumored to go to the Red Sox or back to the Diamondbacks which would obviously be great for his value.  I wouldn’t change his projections is that’s where he ends up.

Anyone else you think should be in the top 25?  Who should be left off that I have here?  You can also ask me on twitter @FreezeStats. 


First Base – The Choice Is Yours

As I continue my ADP analysis, we move from one side of the diamond to the other. Today I’m going to discuss four power hitting mystery first baseman. I suppose most first baseman are big-time power threats but that’s beside the point. There are some intriguing names and projections on this list and again I’ll be using ZIPS projections and NFBC ADP for all these players.

1BZIPS Projections    
Player A0.2649634121549
Player B0.2387633882125
Player C0.2407429757200
Player D0.2556225724290

Um, OK so Player A is basically a beast, right? Is it Edwin Encarnacion from 2016? No, but that’s what the projections say. This polarizing figure burst on the scene in August of last year belting 18 home runs in ONLY 50 games. You already know who this is based on ADP and the sentence prior; it’s Rhys Hoskins MFer! I love Rhys but this projection seems out of whack. It’s funny because I love his approach and patience, he’s going to draw walks and his strikeout rate should be at or below average, combine that with a ton of fly balls and hard contact and you’ve got a 40 home run hitter. I have him projected for 37 home runs but I can’t figure out where the 121 RBI are coming from. Cesar Hernandez should be leading off and Carlos Santana takes a lot of walks but it’s not like Mike Trout and Joey Votto are hitting in front of him. Maybe he can reach 100 RBI but I can’t go higher than that, is he worth a top 50 pick? Barely, so GET WITH THIS, but let him come to you.

Player B appears to have similar power numbers to Hoskins but appears to have a major average drain. However, that’s built into the price as his ADP is over 75 spots after Hoskins. I don’t think Player B has a great walk rate either based on the projected run total; that or he hits sixth in a sub-par lineup. Player B actually had a better HR/PA than Hoskins did in 2017. Player B is Oakland’s Matt Olson who blasted an amazing 24 home runs in only 216 plate appearances. Olson will take plenty of walks, hits 45+% fly balls and hits the ball hard. The only he doesn’t do as well as Hoskins is limit strikeouts, that’s where the batting average drop comes into play. He’s never hit for a good average, even in the minors and his park doesn’t play as well for power as Citizens Bank Park in Philly. However, if you miss out on Hoskins early or play in an OBP league, jump in on Olson at his current price and reap the benefits. GET WITH THIS.

Player C basically looks like Olson light, which makes him look like Hoskins extra light and fluffy like Fluffernutter. The good news is that he’s being taken around pick 200, so it’s not like you are spending much to get him. This NL first baseman is also OF eligible and came out like gangbusters early in 2017 looking like Babe Ruth! If that didn’t give this one away, I don’t know what will. Player C is Eric Thames. After killing it in Korea, Thames came back to the States and showed that he belonged. The power is legit evidenced by a 41.5% hard contact rate and a 24.6% HR/F rate last year. However, the strikeouts are high and the contact rate is poor, he also has playing time concerns with the additions of Cain and Yelich pushing Braun to play some first base. Including Broxton, there are six players to fill four positions (3 OF, 1B) and I think Broxton and Thames see the least playing time of the group. Between playing time issues, pitcher’s starting to figure him out, and similar players (like player D below) who are going even later in drafts, I’m out on Thames except maybe in OBP leagues. DON’T GET WITH THIS.

Player D has a pretty solid line considering his ADP is sitting all the way up at 290. Here’s another guy who had a massive breakout near the age of 30. Player D changed his approach like many others by increasing launch angle, hit the ball harder, but sacrificed average and struck out more. His current ADP is unfair because he only signed about two weeks ago. Player D is Logan Morrison. While his strikeout rate increased, it wasn’t a complete killer at 25%. Although when you combine it with a high fly ball rate and slow foot speed, you’re going to be low BABIPs and a low batting average. I’ll take the under on a .255 average but I will take the over on 25 home runs. He should sit firmly in the middle of the Twins lineup and drive in 80-85 runs. As long as the ADP stays below 240, I”m gonna GET WITH THIS.

Third Base – The Choice Is Yours

Moving on the the hot corner, I’ve done the outfielders and shortstops with speed. I’m going in a different direction as the hot corner nearly has the depth of first base and is littered with power bats. We are going to focus on power and run production in this article from third base. This won’t be your high end talent at third baseman, I’ll be digging into players taken outside of 125 overall. These third baseman are your 16+ league starters or CI guys. So, take a look at the mystery players below with ZIPS projections and I’ll do a little dive into the numbers and ADP so we can find out who to get with and who stay away from.

3B Deep LeagueZIPS Projections  
Player A7728960.2713139
Player B8125830.2577192
Player C7525960.2661234
Player D7426870.2449284

Player A looks solid, maybe this guy should be inside the top 100 with those numbers. There’s good and bad with Player A, first the good. The last three seasons he’s averaged 28 HR, 87 RBI, a .264 BA and he’s only 30 years old coming into 2018. Based on those numbers, the projections look good except maybe a little high in BA and run production. Here’s the bad news for this AL corner man, he has increased his K% each of the last three seasons and hit a career low .249 in 2017 fueled by an insane 51.6% FB rate. Increased fly ball rates lead to more HR though, right? Well he hit 27 in 2017 down from 30 in 2016, so no. Player A is steady Kyle Seager. Here’s the problem, he’s selling out for power increasing his FB% by 10% but not actually improving on the power numbers. It’s impossible to hit for a high average with an over 50% FB rate, just ask Matt Carpenter and Joey Gallo. Therefore, I disagree with ZIPS high average (for Seager) along with the 28 HR. For me, it’s one or the other. He either hits 28 HR with a .245 BA or he hits .270 with 23 HR. The run production is too high as well, he’ll end up around 80-85 RBI. For me at this price, I’m saying DON’T GET WITH THIS.

Player B has pretty similar projections to Seager with a lower BA, a few less HR but more steals. He’s being taken 55 spots later so it appears he might be better value than Seager especially with what I believe to be true about Seager. I like Player B, he’s 26-years-old, has increased his power numbers and walk rate for three straight years and is slated to hit fourth in a hitters ballpark. This NL 3B is Eugenio Suarez. I love Suarez, you can read my thoughts on Suarez on FanGraphs Community way back in November. I can’t figure out how he’s only projected for 83 RBI which is basically identical to 2017 except he’ll be hitting fourth directly behind OBP machine Joey Votto and last year he spent over 130 games hitting 5th or 6th. I can easily see 90+ RBI with the 80+ runs. He’s a clone of Seager but 55 picks later and throw in a few extra steals for good measure, I have him ranked higher than Seager. GET WITH THIS.

Based on ZIPS, Player C has incredible value. He’s actually projected for better numbers than Suarez but with no speed and identical projections to Seager with nearly 100 picks between them! To be fair, ZIPS projection is the most favorable for this player especially in the RBI department. This NL third baseman is only 25 but has 2.5 seasons of major league experience. His offensive production has decreased each year and there is risk he could lose his job during the season. Player C is Maikel Franco. It would take great starts to the season from J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery to push Franco to the bench. Personally, I’m torn on Franco. I love the power, age, and contact skills but I hate the crazy high IFFB% and his hard hit contact is not reminiscent of the power hitter. As bad as he was in 2017, he still hit 24 HR and drove in 74 runs. Don’t ask me where ZIPS is getting those RBI numbers because Franco likely isn’t higher than sixth in the order. I don’t believe in the .234 BA last year but .270 might be too high considering the popup issue. I like him at this cost but think he’s more of a .255 25-80 guy until he kicks those his popup problem to the curb. GET WITH THIS, but don’t reach.

Player D has been a steady power source over his career and has averaged 155 games a year since 2013. He’s a bit over the hill but there’s value in a guy who plays everyday and can hit for power. To me, the projections are laughably high. It’s not that I don’t think this mystery player can hit .244 with 9 steals but that’s more of a 75-80% outcome. This third baseman has hit below .235 three of the last four seasons. Player D is Todd Frazier. There’s proven power with Frazier but even that is dwindling. He hits a ton of fly balls and even more popups than Franco. In fact, about 9% of Frazier’s batted balls are popups which as we know are automatic outs. Combine that with his 22% K rate and he’s a guaranteed out 31% of the time. His line drive rate is below average and his speed is basically gone, so a BABIP over .250 isn’t happening. So he’s a .220-.230 hitter like Gallo but without the 50 HR upside. If you’re CI spot is weak and you need power I can see grabbing Frazier but make sure you have some high batting average guys to supplement. Personally, I not touching him. DON’T GET WITH THIS.

Shortstop – The Choice Is Yours

The first article I did for ADP value picks was for outfielders with speed. This one is going to be similar but for shortstops in that most of these options at short will have some speed. As a reminder, I’m using ZIPS projections for 2018 and NFBC ADP for all the players. So how this works is, I display ZIPS projections for four or five similar mystery players at the same position and we figure out whether you should (to quote Black Sheep – The Choice is Yours) “get with this or you can get with that.” Yes, old school rap is the inspiration for this segment. Ok, here’s are the mystery players.

Player A0.2731380522577
Player B0.28811586024131
Player C0.2737574727206
Player D0.25119676111230
Player E0.2599615120236

Based on the projections, Player A looks to be the most productive in terms of run production, has good speed and a little bit of power. The average is fine, but I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why this player’s ADP is up at 77 based on the projections. The 80 runs and 52 RBI tells me this player hits near the top of the lineup. That’s true, this player is slotted to hit second in a solid AL lineup with a couple of notorious veteran run producers hitting behind him. Yup, this is Mean Jean Segura. I actually agree with the power and speed production but can’t understand the low runs and RBI numbers given a full season of at-bats, especially with Cano and Cruz behind him and Dee Gordon in front. The .273 average appears a alittle low as well, Jean has hit .309 the last two years combined and will be 28 this year. His BABIP is high but matches his good speed, high GB% profile. Despite the low projections by ZIPS, I’d expect a .290 AVG with 90+ runs and around 60 RBI along with the power and speed. He’s a clone of Elvis Andrus 20 spots later, GET WITH THIS.

Player B looks a lot like Segura but with very low run production. Interesting, a player like this should hit near the top of the lineup and not at the bottom. The issue appears to be his almost non-existent walk rate (3.7% in 2017) and utility-type role. I may have given him away but if I didn’t he’s also only eligible at shortstop if your league requires 15 or fewer games played at a position. Yup, this veteran is Eduardo Nunez. I would love Nunez more if he wasn’t on Boston. I know that sounds odd because Boston has a stout AF lineup. Normally that’s great for production but Nunez will hit 8th or 9th when he plays. He’ll start at 2nd while Dustin Pedroia is out then fill in as a utility role player. So, 500 PA is going to be tough to get. The other issue is the fact that Boston doesn’t run much. If he was in San Diego for instance, I’d love him because he would start every day and hit first or second in the lineup while running wild. While I’d take a shot on him because Pedroia is going to have trouble staying healthy, he needs another position player to get injured for him to see nearly a full season of ABs. DON’T GET WITH THIS. Unless he slips into the 160-170 range.

Player C
Wow, more steals and even LESS run production than Nunez! He still provides a solid batting average but isn’t taken until after pick 200. This player’s SHIT-uation doesn’t look great. He looks to be slotted near the bottom of the lineup and could possibly be on the strong side of a platoon. However, this 23-year-old NL player clearly has some speed considering the playing time issue. Player C is Jose Peraza, everyone’s favorite speedster sleeper from 2017. Now, everyone is hating even though he’s been handed a starting gig. I understand the risk especially with the news that Nick Senzel is taking reps over at short. While I love Senzel, he isn’t a shortstop and I believe it will take him the first half of the season in the minors to get comfortable with the new position. At that point, Peraza would be a utility player at 2B, SS, and OF. He’s still a good bet to get 500 PA. The high contact rate and speed should give him a .270-ish batting average but you won’t get much power. So if you need speed around pick 200 GET WITH THIS. I don’t love him before pick 200 though.

Player D
Player D is my beau. If you haven’t read a lot of my stuff or follow me on Twitter (plug) you may not know who this guy is. Clearly he the most power out of this group but the least amount of speed. His run production is second to Segura but I actually think it’s a joke. My projections for this AL LEAD-OFF hitter are 22 HR, 14 SB with 80+ runs and 60 RBI. Player D is Marcus Semien. How ZIPS projects 67 runs from a lead-off hitter, I have no idea. Also, Semien stole 12 bases (yes it was a career high) last year but in less than 90 games and is now projected for only 11? The power is legit as well, his full-season projection for home runs last year was 19 BUT he missed significant time with a wrist injury which sapped his power upon his return in July and August. It’s all good though because he clubbed five HR in September to prove the wrist is no longer an issue. Did I mention that he’ll be 27 this year and already has a season where he hit 27 home runs? I didn’t? Oh, well he does and he’s being drafted as the 20th ranked shortstop. GET WITH THIS ALL DAY!

Player E
Being draft six picks behind my boy is Player E. The numbers here aren’t too bad as projected by ZIPS. He’s one HR shy of a 10-20 season with a near .260 BA. This is an NL SS with elite talent defensively and well above average speed. He basically going to be given the job because of his defense but needs some work offensively and there are veterans there to take his spot if he falters. Player E is Amed Rosario, previously the Mets’ number one prospect in 2017. Rosario had an awful debut hitting .248 with an atrocious .271 OBP and K-BB rate of 27%! Yes, you read that right. After last season, I did not like Rosario coming into 2018; I worry about the plate discipline and I’m not sure the power shows up this year. He also needs to get on base to steal and he will be batting at the bottom of the lineup, so he won’t have a ton of opportunities. I do think he will be a solid hitter in a few years something like .275-15-25, but not now. DON’T GET WITH THIS!

Outfield – Speed

This is a new feature I’m doing for the month of March since draft season is in full swing. I’m comparing similar players at the same position using ZIPS Projections. The feature is called “The Choice is Yours.”For those of you who were either born in the 90s (or later) may not be familiar with the Hip Hop group Black Sheep or the song The Choice is Yours. Go ahead and give it a go, the lyrics are often giving you the option to either “get with this or you can get with that.” Of course, I’ll reveal the players in the table below and also give my personal analysis and thoughts on each player. So without further ado, I give you group of five relatively similar outfielders whose primary asset is speed.

ZIPS Projections      
Player A0.2781165522851
Player B0.2831476592268
Player C0.291989482291
Player D0.23415605625200
Player E0.2448722133210

Clearly, players A, B, and C are the most complete in terms of all-around talent with high batting averages 9-14 HR power and 20+ steals. Players D and E while don’t hit for a very good average, still provide similar power numbers and as much or more speed than the first three. The difference is you can wait 110 to 150 picks later to grab them. So who are these mystery players? Remember ZIPS is a little bit conservative with their projections and I’ll be sure to let you know where my projections are for each player after I reveal them.

Based on the ADP, you probably can figure out that Player A is Starling Marte. If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m not touching his this year. He was busted with PEDs last year and his 19 HR season back in 2015 seems to be an outlier. I know power wasn’t likely the reason Marte was taking PEDS, but it may have helped him stay on the field, now at age 29, without PEDs (probably), and coming off a year where is hard contact was a career low 26% and his soft contact at an even higher rate at a whopping 29%, I don’t think he hits more than 10 HRs this year. I have him at 9 HR in about 135 games. I wrote a sleeper post about him back in December, the ADP has come down since, but not far enough. Don’t get with this.

On to Player B, I believe this player provides the most value in terms of fantasy this year. He’s 31 and has got a new team this year where his home park is a significant upgrade from where he was in 2017. Ok, so that gave it away, it’s Lorenzo Cain. Cain has played 133 or more games in three of the last four season and 103 games in 2016. Cain has never stolen 30 bases in a year but here is a look at his 162 game averages since 2014: .300 AVG 14 HR and 30 steals. He’s now going to a team that has added Yelich and is looking to contend in 2018. Craig Counsell, the Manager, is known for his aggressiveness on the base paths and Miller Park is one of the most hitter-friendly in the league. In my opinion, both HR and SB projections by ZIPS are low, I have him around 16-18 HR and 28 steals for 2018 and should much more value than Marte this year. Get with this

Player C has a little less power but the highest projected batting average and run total. Based on this information, he must hit in one of the top two spots in the lineup. My projections are very similar to what Zips projects, and I think his ADP is about right (maybe a touch high). Player C is Ender Inciarte. Inciarte won’t provide the power upside that some of the other players on this list can provide, in fact, I think 12 HR might be somewhat of a ceiling for Inciarte. However, the high contact rate and speed will keep his batting average high and run total up hitting in front of Ozzie Albies (probably) and Freddie Freeman. He doesn’t profile as a player with elite speed either so I can’t see him reaching 30 steals. So the upside is limited but certainly has one of the safer floors in this group. Get with this (kind of), but don’t reach, I like him after pick 100.

Player D is projected for the lowest batting average from this group but also the most home runs. His current ADP is at 200, so the low batting average is baked into the price. Would you believe me if I told you that Player D had the third highest sprint speed in the majors last year behind only Byron Buxton and Billy Hamilton and one spot ahead of Dee Gordon! Well, I guess clicking the link gave this one away. Bradley Zimmer is not only a great athlete, he’s also 6’5″ and 220 pounds. He’s like a leaner more athletic Kris Bryant. I’m really just kidding with that comparison, Bryant and Zimmer are very different as ballplayers, they only have similar body types. Ok, so the K rate is terrible and his contact rates don’t lead to much optimism but Zimmer had shown patience in the minors so I expect his OBP to improve; combine that with a high GB%, elite sprint speed, and above average hard-hit rate. These abilities should lead to an improved OBP and a good amount of SB opportunities. His elite defense will keep him on the field, an OBP around .325 is possible and I could see 35+ attempts over the course of an entire season. Don’t sleep on his power either, 20 HR upside is in his bat down the road. Get with this.

Player E looks a lot like Zimmer but with more speed and less power. What’s confusing to me is how ZIPS projects him for 72 runs but a measly 21 RBI! How is that even possible? It sounds like a strong-side platoon leadoff hitter. if you haven’t guessed this player yet, you will after this comment; he was sixth in sprint speed in 2017. Yes sir, the son of one of my favorite childhood speedsters Delino DeShields. Jr. profile is almost identical to Sr. except he’s a little shorter and a little thicker. Jr. strikes out too much to have a good batting average but his patience will keep him on base and hopefully in the lineup. His defense should keep him in the lineup as well, but there is the risk for a platoon here but even with only 440 PA in 2017, he still stole 29 bases. The risk after pick 200 is going to be there for almost any player but if you need 30-40 steal upside at this point in the draft, then Get with this.


Mitch Haniger – Sleeper Post

Mitch Haniger was a popular sleeper going into 2017 when he was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Mariners.  He settled in nicely slotting in the two hole for the 21 games of the season hitting .342 with 4 HRs and 2 steals.  An oblique injury late in April caused him to miss nearly two months with a return to the lineup in mid-June.  It seemed to sap some of his power as he hit only three HRs through July.  Sure enough June and July is were he posted his lowest hard contact rates. He missed more time in August with a facial laceration before getting hot in September hitting seven dingers and stealing 2 bases.  Overall it was a bit of a lost year but the start and finish were encouraging and he’ll entering his age 27 season.

What’s interesting to me is that in the minors Haniger had solid K and BB rates but in the majors his 22.7% K and 7.6% BB rate left me wondering what was going on.  His O-Swing% was 24.7, Z-Contact% 88.6, and SwStr% 8.7.  All of those are quite a bit better than league average but the K rate and BB rate are just below average.  I’m expecting improvements in both BB and Ks meaning higher OBP and more balls in play.

In the past, Haniger hit well over 40% of the balls in the air but sat at 36.7% in 2017.  Now this may have helped his BABIP but in this day and age I think he goes back to his flyball ways and it’s possible that his injury changed his approach as well.  The elevated BABIP might drop but his power should improve as long as he can continue to elevate his pulled contact. His hard contact on fly balls is nearly 45% and his HR/FB on pulled fly balls was 48% last year!

He doesn’t have elite speed by any means but could easily steal 10 bases in 2018.  The additional walks will help.  His final numbers will come down to health and where he hits in the lineup. As of now  Roster Resource has him slotted in the six spot which I thinkis about right. The addition of Dee Gordon moves him down so his run total will suffer but his RBI numbers should be very good with Cano, Cruz, and Seager hitting in front of him.   I’ll take my chances with his current ADP per NFBC sitting at 210 overall around guys like Avisail Garcia and Odubel Herrera.  In a standard 12 team league, that’s around a fourth OF so he doesn’t cost much.

For 2018 I’ll give Haniger: .271/.343 24 HRs, 9 steals, 75 runs, 86 RBI
Remember, he was a hyped sleeper going into to 2017 and now he enters his prime at age 27, only injuries derailed what should have been a top 100 overall season in 2017.

Luiz Gohara Sleeper Post

Gohara is a large young man who turned only 21 in July of 2017.  What I mean by large is this:

He’s listed at 6-3 210 pounds LOL. Maybe when he was drafted back in 2013 at the age of 17. He’s easily 260 now. But so what, look at Sabathia and the ageless Bartolo Colon. Ok, enough about how large this man is, this is about his talents.

The Braves minor league system is absolutely stacked! Gohara is a top five prospect in the Braves system that includes Ronald Acuna and I’ve seen him ranked as high as second in the system. Gohara came up late in 2017 and threw 29.1 innings. Of all the rookie pitchers that will be called up in 2018, I think he might be the most valuable for fantasy. A couple rough outings skewed his numbers but the fact that he struck out over a batter per inning, walked less than 2.5/9 and only gave up two HRs tells me a lot. He also was unlucky with a .366 BABIP against and a 62% LOB. His small sample shows a low 35% ground ball rate but looking at his profile you’ll see that he’s consistently had ground ball rates around 50% which is huge if you combine that with swing and miss stuff. Speaking of swing and miss.

Looking at his pitch mix and let me tell you this guy throw gas. He averaged 97 mph on his fastball and has a wipe-out slider. He’s got plus stuff, above average command and went from high A ball into the majors all in 2017. I wouldn’t worry too much about workload because he threw 153 innings across the four levels last year.

The question is will he earn a rotation spot or start the year in Triple-A to be called up in June. The Braves did make a move to acquire Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir from the Dodgers. Talk about reliable starters, do you know how many innings these two pitchers threw the last two seasons combined? Nope, lower, keep going, 268 innings! That’s an average of 67 innings pitched per year. I believe he’s earned a spot but I’ll split the difference and say he gets 25 starts in the majors in 2017. Here are my 2018 projections: 10 Wins, 3.75 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 153 Ks in 145 IP. His ADP is around 260 to 275 overall, so he’s always my last round flier in shallow leagues.

Dallas Keuchel – 2018 Fantasy Outlook

Dallas Keuchel turned in a Solid bounce back campaign in 2017 after a down year in 2016. The 2015 Cy Young Award Winner did miss some time last year (two DL stints for a neck issue) but came back strong to finish with a 2.90 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 145.2 innings. The overall Ks were not great at 125 but that was offset by 14 wins. Unfortunately wins are the most difficult category to predict but luck is on your side when you have the offense of the Astros behind you.

Let’s talk about why Dallas will be overrated in 2018. His surface numbers look much closer to his 2015 Cy Young season numbers but I’d argue he’s closer to the guy he was in 2016. First, his K rate is nearly identical, 7.71 in 2016 and 7.72 in 2017 and his BB rate actually went up in 2017 to 2.90 from 2.57. Let’s look at BABIP which was a career low at .256 in 2017, his previous low was in 2015 at .269. Now, to be fair you can’t just say well a pitcher’s BABIP against is below the league average of .300, so he’s going to suppress because Keuchel does induce a lot of weak contact. So while I think he’s similar to Kyle Hendricks in this regard, I think a BABIP around .280 seems more comfortable. Along with the weak contact I love that he leads the league in ground ball rate at 66% and in turn limits home runs in an era where everyone and their great aunt Clare is hitting balls 425 feet. Wait, is this a LOVE post or a bust post, I’m getting confused.  

Take a look at the graph showing ERA, FIP, and BABIP.  BABIP and ERA basically are in line with each other with the exception of 2012 (partial year).  And his FIP had improved every year from 2012 – 2015 but in 2016 and 2017 it’s leveled off in the high 3s. The ERA stayed low and the BABIP stayed with it. As mentioned earlier, I expect that BABIP to bounce back up and the ERA will go with it. Also look at HR/FB which shot up in 2017 and now his margin for error is minimal with Keuchel, a few less GB and a few more HR with a rising BB rate = 4+ ERA and limited K upside.

I can’t deny that Keuchel is a good major league pitcher but I’m looking at his numbers regressing and I haven’t even mentioned his LOB % of nearly 80%! I do think his Ks will go up near 8.0/9 due to the fact that he does have a very good sinker/slider combo and mixes his pitchers very well. However, another issue arises when I look at his zone% which was only 37% and while he does get hitters to chase those pitches out of the zone over 32% of the time, I think hitters are going to start to be a little more patient with Keuchel and you’ve already seen some that with the increased walk rate. So I don’t expect a decrease in walk rate back to his career numbers.

Typically the margin for error with a pitcher that doesn’t have overpowering stuff (90 mph on his fastball) is so slim (Shady) a slight adjustment takes Keuchel from a 3.00 ERA guy to a 4.00 ERA guy. So to recap, Keuchel needs to do the following perfect to be successful: locate all pitches, get ahead in the count, get hitters to chase, suppress HRs, and get weak contact/ground balls. I don’t doubt he has the ability to perform on some of those tasks, but I’m betting he under performs on his projections especially since he’s had trouble staying healthy (he’averaged under 157 IP the last two seasons).

Projections for 2018: 170 IP, 13 Wins, 3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 154 Ks

His early ADPs are around 64 overall, going as the 17th SP off the board. I’d rather have Aaron Nola, Jose Quintana, and Masahiro Tanaka among others.