Hey everyone, back at it this Tuesday with our final pre-season closer rankings. A few things have changed over the past month and a lot has stayed the same. The closer competitions in Washington and Colorado became a tad bit more clear, but both situations are still fluid. I listed two new names for each team as their respective closer, but again, that can still change over the next week. The Angels are the third team to see a new name at the top of their closer depth chart, following the injury to Huston Street.
TIER 1: Nothing Compares 2 U
1. Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)—Grant Dayton, Pedro Baez
2. Aroldis Chapman (New York Yankees)—Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard
3. Edwin Diaz (Seattle Mariners)—Nick Vincent, Evan Scribner
4. Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles)—Brad Brach, Mychal Givens
5. Ken Giles (Houston Astros)—Luke Gregerson, Will Harris
We’re nearly done with our Bold Predictions, with Ben Pernick up with his ten for the season ahead. Baseball is a crazy sport, and part of what makes it so fun to watch is how hard it is to predict. So if you’re going to take up the fool’s errand of prognosticating the future, why not have fun with it and go all out? I do believe all these predictions are real possibilities, that just need the right circumstance and a little luck to come to fruition. Enjoy!
1. Byung-Ho Park makes a triumphant return, smacking 30+ longballs with a .240 AVG
I’m still gung-ho for Byung-Ho Park, and not just because he’s having a strong spring (but that does actually matter, since he can parlay this into playing time. He really improved his strikeout rate after a rough April, and he was 11th in the MLB in flyball/line drive exit velocity, and his late season slump was due to injury. But what’s sexiest is his rank as 2nd best Barrel/Batted Ball% in baseball, and a 97.1 mph exit velocity on flyballs and liners. In other words, the power is massive, so if he can stay healthy even slightly improve his contact & plate discipline, he could be a power beast. For this to happen though, he’ll have to beat out Kennys Vargas, who the organization likes, (since barring injury, Joe Mauer is not going anywhere). But Vargas has a spotty track record and has been below the Mendoza line in Spring Training, so the window of opportunity is there for Byung-Ho to Park balls in the outfield seats.
We’re under a week away from the start of the regular season and we still have bold predictions to discuss, today with our prospect expert Nic Gardiner taking the spotlight.
1. Gregory Polanco ends the year a top 15 hitter
Gregory Polanco was hitting the cover off the ball during the first half of 2016. Through his first 92 games, he had a .287/.361/.506/.867 with a .328 BABIP Line. In the last 52 games, his line was .206/.249/.386/.635 with a .225 BABIP Line. His career BABIP is .298, so he was extremely unlucky in the second half. His ISO has improved every year and was .205 last year. He has worked extremely hard on his conditioning this winter and looks huge. I was scared that it might take away from the SB department but he has already swiped 3 bags in only 13 At Bats this spring. 30 HRs and 20 SB is a legit possibility.
We follow our Top 150 Dynasty Hitters, Top 100 Dynasty Pitchers, and our Top 50 Dynasty Relief Pitchers with our Top 300 Overall Dynasty Players rankings! I’ve made some adjustment after Spring Training and further research to a handful of players. These ranking take into account proneness to injury, longevity, position scarcity, age, league, potential, home ballpark, and category scoring potential. 10-team leagues with moderately sized bench slots should focus on the top 150, while 12-team+ leagues should dip all the way down the list for future stars and solid producers. We will follow these players closely throughout the season to prepare for our Mid-Season Dynasty Update Rankings. Enjoy the list!
1. Mike Trout (24, OF, Los Angeles Angels)
2. Bryce Harper (24, OF, Washington Nationals)
3. Kris Bryant (25, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs)
4. Mookie Betts (24, OF, Boston Red Sox)
5. Carlos Correa (22, SS, Houston Astros)
6. Manny Machado (24, SS/3B, Baltimore Orioles)
7. Nolan Arenado (25, 3B, Colorado Rockies)
8. Corey Seager (22, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers)
2016 was a flat out awesome year for Baseball. The game experienced an unprecedented, process driven, offensive resurgence. We saw captivating returns to glory from established stars like Justin Verlander, and Robinson Cano. 8 of the 10 best players, according to WAR, were youngsters under the age of 27. Including four sophomores in Kris Bryant, Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Francisco Lindor. The playoffs ushered in a potentially revolutionary approach to bullpen usage. And then, of course, the oldest narrative in baseball came to a glorious close in one of the most captivating game sevens in World Series history. It was a hell of a year. Here’s a few things that could make 2017 just as awesome as I review my ten bold predictions for the season ahead.
1. “RIP Bill” James Paxton wins AL Cy Young
The Pitcher List writing staff has an uninhibited obsession with James Paxton. You’ve heard about it on the podcast. You’ve read about it on the site in pieces like in Ian Post’s gif breakdown. Recently in our group chat prospect guru Nic Gardiner claimed Pax was worthy of a 6th round pick in our current 12 team H2H slow draft. Now I’m coming out of the Paxton Appreciation Closet and calling him this year’s AL Cy. It’s getting steamy in here. ICYMI, this is largely why we’re all stoked on King James (Oh, I’m sorry. Have I spoken too soon?)
It’s time for some more bold predictions as I move away from talking exclusively about relievers for the sole time this season. In a sport where failing 7 times out of 10 can get you in the Hall of Fame, I’d be pretty ecstatic with that success rate on these predictions. I’ll admit some of these are much more bold than others, and some may just be foolish so don’t take them too literally.
1. Andrew Benintendi will be the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year AND be the most valuable Red Sox outfielder in fantasy baseball
Coming out of the gate swinging with this hot take. I love Mookie Betts, but Andrew Benintendi just showed so much in his limited time in Boston last year. His plate approach is so advanced at this stage of his career and he can do a little bit of everything. I’m predicting Benintendi finishes in the 20/20 club, a .300 average and a .375 OBP. Betts will finish just under 20/20 with a an average slightly under .300 and an OBP around .350.
When you’re going into your draft, you may be tempted to reach for certain players or wait on certain players. These are ten players I think you should reach for, ten hitters that I believe are being drafted too low. I’ll provide you with where they are currently being drafted, along with where I think they should be drafted.
Note: ADP is from Fantasy Pros and based off a 12-team league.
Robinson Cano (going in mid-3rd, take in 2nd): Robinson Cano proved last year that the past two years were not who he really was. Granted, it’s not like he was terrible the past two years, but the power had dropped significantly. Then, he goes and hits 39 home runs last season and you have to wonder if that’s legit. I believe it is, I think Cano’s figured things back out and is back to being a big power hitter. Now, I don’t think 39 home runs is going to happen again, but I think 25-30 is perfectly reasonable. His HR/FB rate may have elevated last season (19.3%), but it’s honestly not all that far off from his career number of 14.5%. Cano should have a really good average, good power, and a real chance at another 100/100 season, I think he’s worth reaching for.
As the season approaches, your fantasy draft strategy is a necessarily dynamic and dangerously fluid conversation you’re having with yourself. It’s easy to set one’s sights on elite producers and disregard what you could be giving up to land a stud. The truly disciplined fantasy owner must identify the players who are being projected to post drastically better numbers than they realistically may attain and patiently pass on them until the time and value are right. It’s a gamble to wait for the guys you want, but keep opportunity cost in mind before impulsively taking a player earlier than his fantasy value might warrant.
Here is your primer to the 9 batters who are experiencing the most extreme cases of overrating in 2017. To clarify, these are not guys you need to avoid entirely (nearly everyone should be drafted for the right price), but their exploits are being hyped so far and wide that you might need to let a fellow league member use an egregiously early pick on these guys, so that you can swoop in and claim better value at a more competitive cost.
Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds) — Hamilton is the fantasy equivalent of an otherwise mundane word that happens to freakishly fall upon a triple word score square in Scrabble to get you 21 points in a game you’re losing by 60. He will absolutely excel at steals—all while hitting for a pedestrian average, manufacturing paltry run totals, and struggling in the power department. But inexperienced drafters are going to get googly-eyed over his SB numbers and amateurishly take him early, thinking they snagged a valuable weapon. Fantasy baseball success is about affordably loading your arsenal with multifaceted threats while refusing to compromise on versatility. Taking Hamilton as early as his projected ADP (69th according to Fantasy Pros) completely contradicts that objective. He is a total liability in every 5×5 category except steals and even more so if he is taken mid-draft. He’s a real-life asset as a switch hitter who’s intelligently quick on the base path; in Fantasyland you can get more and better for less.