Almost two weeks into the 2017 baseball season and the view of each clubs bullpen is starting to become clear…unless you’re the Oakland A’s. Even as some closer roles are still undecided, it’s becoming clear who is in line to get holds for each team.
You’ll probably notice a few teams have several players on this list, and that’s because the teams that have had the most close ballgames will have the most holds (seems obvious enough). So you’ll see a team like the Rockies have several guys on this list as they’ve been in 6 games won by less than 2 runs so far this season.
It’s the end of the opening week of baseball and it’s been lovely. Roto teams are busy projecting their finish on a weeks worth of stats, and head-to-head teams are flexing their muscles trying to win that first match-up.
If you find yourself behind headed into this weekend and need some help to squeak out a victory in a few pitching categories, we’ve got your back! Take a look at these match-ups happening over the weekend.
Here we are, just days away from the greatest day of the year, in my opinion. Opening day! Where every team starts back at square one, and dreams of October are still alive for each and every team. Opening day also serves as the official green flag for everyone’s fantasy leagues.
I will start with the caveat: Spring Training stats mean nothing. Less than nothing. I can’t tell you how many times someone has looked great in the spring and plays terribly once the season starts. We don’t base things off Spring Training numbers, but they can confirm suspicions we have about a player. They can also give you an idea of which way that player is trending based on the clubhouse talk given from their managers and GMs. So let’s take one more quick look at a few players who have been trending up or down since spring training started.
If there’s one thing any fantasy owner hates, it’s uncertainty, whether It be uncertainty about playing time, being able to duplicate last years performance, or the need for a breakout campaign, uncertainty can kill your best laid plans, and your ultimate goal of a fantasy championship. So waht I want to do for you is highlight 5 players who I feel who so much uncertainty around them, that there’s no way I can advise taking them anywhere near their ADP.
Steals are interesting in fantasy baseball. People love them, almost to their own detriment. It’s a blast to watch a guy like Billy Hamilton steal 5 bases in a game and cause so much chaos on the base-paths. However, it’s my contention that you don’t draft steals. Let me clarify that a bit more, you don’t draft ONLY for steals. I’ll never own Billy Hamilton because all he can do is steal bases and it’s really easy to find those either very late in the draft, or on the waiver wire. I’m not saying don’t draft a 20/20 or 30/30 guy. I’m saying don’t draft a guy with a TOP 100 pick who has 50+ steal potential and nothing else.
There’s another aspect of the stolen bases that I think is worth talking about, getting stolen bases from power positions where stolen bases are rare. First base, Third base, and Catcher. Paul Goldschmidt is fantastic at the plate, but his value is even higher when you consider he steals bases too. He’s had season totals of 18, 15, 21, and 32! 32 stolen bases from your first basemen!? That kind of speed production from first base allows you to focus on an outfielder with great power & no speed, or a infielder with plus hitting tools but no speed. Essentially, it provides you flexibility within your lineup to take players that are less attractive to the public at-large. I’m going to highlight some sneaky-fast players at each position for you to target. I’m going to try to keep the majority these guys out of the Top 100, but in some cases (Wil Meyers) I can’t – they have to be mentioned.
Last week we highlighted several hitters who had both positive and negative value using Steamer projections based on where they’re currently being drafted on Yahoo & ESPN. In case you missed the article you can find it here, but the data is simple. I took the Yahoo ADP & the ESPN ADP and I created an average number between them. I used the Steamer projections to find out how closely their ADP reflected their projected performance.
So I took the same formula and tried to identify pitchers that would over or under perform their ADPs and I found a few good candidates. The one trend I noticed during this was the Steamer really expects young pitchers to continue to improve, conversely the Yahoo & ESPN rankings typically haven’t kept up with (or factored in) their relative year-to-year improvements. Here’s what I found…
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
Y! & ESPN AVG
TFR Top 200 Ranking
-35.5 OH KING FELIX! Say it ain’t so! Steamer is projecting Felix to under perform all of our rankings. Just nothing to like about the downward trend from last year. His walks were up, Ks were down, and ERA ballooned to a full run and a half above his career-average. This will be his age-31 season, which is incredible to think about since when he began pitching in this league in 2005 he was 19 year old, and for a long-time Felix seemed ageless. Just a kid out there dealing. Maybe time is finally catching up to the King.
I see the math and I see the numbers, but you’ve got to have some zen-like focus to not reach for Felix in the 9th round. Let’s all start now by practicing our meditation and hopefully by draft day we can pass on the King.
Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies
Y! & ESPN AVG
TFR Top 200 Ranking
+46.5. Everyone saw his potential last year when he had 185Ks over 168 innings. Everyone still wants to stay away from Gray simply because he pitches at Coors, and it’s that fallacy that you’re going to take advantage of when you draft him. He actually pitches better at Coors (7-2, 4.30 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.1 K/9) than he does when he is away (3-8, 4.91, 1.40 WHIP, 9.7 K/9). Pull the trigger on Jon Gray. He’s going to outperform his current draft slot, and he’s going to have plenty of run support. I’m a believer, Coors Curse be damned.
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
Y! & ESPN AVG
TFR Top 200 Ranking
+49. I’ll admit it, I love the guy. My TFR Rank is even above the Steamer projection and I still don’t care. I think he’s a stud. I may have him higher than Streamer, but the point is Yahoo and ESPN have him way under valued. Nola has near-ace potential if he can keep it all together. He was rolling along nicely last year until a rough June & July were followed by a season-ending injury. He’s back, he’s healthy, and I think we can assuming he’ll pitch well in what may be one of the softer divisions in baseball. I expect big things, and you can expect to get him at a discount.
Julio Urias, LA Dodgers
Y! & ESPN AVG
TFR Top 200 Ranking
+40. This is another example of Yahoo really skewing the rankings. They have Urias over 100 spots behind the ESPN and TFR rankings. Streamer projects Urias to be generally where ESPN and our TFR ranks have him slotted. Hater in the house, Yahoo.
Much like the player who started this section, Felix Hernandez, Urias pitched in the majors last year in his age-19 season. That’s a statement that not many pitchers can make and should tell you everything you need to know about his talent-level. He more than held his own against at the major-league level last year (5-2, 3.39 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 84Ks in 77IP) and should have a much longer leash to pitch deeper into games. The talent is there, and I’m buying in every Yahoo league I’m in. Thanks for the 8 round discount.
It’s staggering how different draft room rankings can be, and if you’re not going to take advantage of it, someone else will. Someone like me. Fantasy sports is Darwinism at it’s finest. The strong survive and the weak get rolled. Keep your eyes open looking for those edges to exploit, because sometimes that one edge will make all the difference. Agree? Disagree? Either way, you can complain/compliment here: @TheMayor_FBB
(Note from the Editor: As we continue to ramp up for the 2017 fantasy baseball season, we are still seeking writers. If you think you may be interested please click here for more details)
Depending upon where you draft, what websites you read, or which magazines you’ve picked up in the last 3 months you could have seen several different sets of MLB Fantasy Rankings. If you’re drafting on one of the two biggest fantasy baseball sites, Yahoo or ESPN, you could see drastically different values between their official rankings, which are used as the default for your draft room. In fact, some players may be downright different.
Case & point is Kyle Schwarber, who is able to play catcher in Yahoo leagues, but not in ESPN leagues. That makes a HUGE difference on where you draft Schwarber. While that is a positional issue, what if there was some way we could exploit the actual rankings differential between these multiple sources?
Lucky for us, WE CAN, with a bit of elbow grease. Steamer basically does this. They take a look at the Yahoo Ranking, and the NFBC Ranking to make a composite. Then Steamer runs its prediction model for 2017 stats, and then gives each player their own ranking. Then they compare the two and give us the difference between how their predictive models rated it versus how the big sites rated them. With these predictive models, we can see where the big sites are failing to realize value, and we can capitalize on our opponents by taking these players ahead of them.
I’m going to focus on just the ESPN & Y! rankings and make a composite of their rankings. To be completely transparent, I’m going to post my TFR Top 200 Ranking in a column as well. Let’s see if there’s some rankings bias that can be easily seen. This week I am going to focus on hitters that you can exploit with this method, and then I will show off pitchers you can exploit at a later time.
The team of writers have finished their first set of preseason rankings for the 2017 fantasy baseball season. By using the links below you can view their top 200 or simply view position by position. If you have any questions as always please find us on Twitter @Fantasyreport_
As we continue the roll out of our pre seaason rankings, today the staff at The Fantasy Report unveil their top 90 Outfielder rankings. As always if you have any questions feel free to reach us on Twitter @Fantasy Report_