Mark Weston’s Targets and Busts For 2018
(Photo by Stephen Hopson/Icon Sportswire)
Now that we have released our Staff Consensus Overall Top 300 Rankings we can also look at players that had much higher/lower ranks for some of us writers. I know I am personally responsible for some of the more extreme “High” or “Low” rankings shown on the overall top 300. Let’s take a look at a few of them and I will explain why my rankings were so different.
Players I Love
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, Colorado Rockies) – Staff Rank 238 / My Rank 117
Gonzalez has finished a top 20 outfielder every year from 2010 to 2016, excluding only 2014 which was a short season due to injury. We forget how consistently valuable he has been. In 2017 he dealt with some timing issues on his swing which were reportedly fixed late in the season. This matches up with the numbers as in September CarGo was once again a top 20 outfielder. With an ADP around 300 CarGo is a tremendous buy-low opportunity. I’ve even included Gonzalez in my 10 Bold Predictions this year.
Scooter Gennett (2B, Cincinnati Reds) – Staff Rank 217 / My Rank 137
This is simply a case of us knowing that Gennett will regress but not knowing how much regression to expect. You can refer to my previous breakouts article to find my analysis of Gennett’s 2017, but in short I expect a .275 batting average with 20-25 home runs. With plenty of counting stats batting around Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez that line would put Gennett in the 11-14 range of 2B, in the range of where Marwin Gonzalez, Javier Baez, and Robinson Cano finished last year. That’s both baking in regression as well as recognizing genuine improvements Gennett made last year. That area in the 2B ranks falls right into the 125-150 range on the overall rankings.
Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins) – Staff Rank 141 / My Rank 66
I have already dug into Rosario’s 2017 in another previous breakouts piece. In short, the power and batting average are real and given Rosario’s age we should not be surprised by the improvements. His true value is right around Domingo Santana and Andrew McCutchen and should be valued in the low 20’s at the position. This presents a fantastic value pick as Rosario has an ADP right around the Staff Rank of 141. If he can stay healthy Rosario will find himself on most of my lineups for 2018.
Paul DeJong (SS, St. Louis Cardinals) – Staff Rank 196 / My Rank 126
At the risk of sounding like a broken record I am again going to refer you back to a previous article I wrote if you’d like more detail on DeJong’s 2017 season and what can be expected for 2018. I can’t seem to pump DeJong enough. He has tremendous power and his plate discipline is not nearly as bad as people give him credit for. Once again it’s a case of people knowing there will be some regression but not knowing quite how much. DeJong is having an excellent spring and that swing looks fantastic. I’m betting on the biochemist to be one of the leading power producers at shortstop this year.
Players I Hate
Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – Staff Rank 40 / My Rank 103
Hoskins is truly a test of how much the fantasy community is willing to trust sample size. He was never a highly ranked prospect but he absolutely destroyed baseballs over the final two months of 2017. His profile is very extreme with a 45% fly ball rate and a 49% pull rate which means he’s destined for an incredibly low BABIP, regardless of his contact rate. In 2017 we saw the best case Hoskins who walked way above his minor league numbers and everything was going over the fence, and he still only hit .259. If things regress, if pitchers figure him out, or if his HR/FB drops then his batting average starts dropping to .230-.240 very quickly. Look, we know that the HR/FB rate is going to come down, but I don’t trust the batting average to stick at .259 or above. Unless Hoskins lowers the launch angle to a more reasonable level he’s in the same group as Jay Bruce, Matt Olsen, and Greg Bird for me. His final 16 games sported a .135 batting average and I’m guessing there’s a world of disappointment coming.
Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves) – Staff Rank 176 / My Rank 291
I get it, rookie hitters that succeed right away are very tempting. We always want to expect best case scenarios. Fantrax has Albies’ ADP around 115! What makes me nervous is when I see a rookie perform much better in the majors than they did in the minors. Top prospect or not, that should not be happening and when it does I expect regression. Albies improved in just about every single category moving up from AAA. The walk rate went up, the strikeout rate went way down, and the power went up; I know we may have some juiced balls but I’m not buying it lasts. Don’t get me wrong, Albies is a fantastic prospect and I have tons of faith in him long term, but we are just looking at 2018 here. At his draft position you are assuming a lot of risk instead of known quantities going much later like Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez, or Jason Kipnis.
Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – Staff Rank 64 / My Rank 143
Sometimes I think we get too lost in the sabermetrics. Pham shows very nicely with great expected stats and a wonderful batted ball profile. If he goes 20/20 again he will certainly earn the 64 rank. My argument is about the very long injury history for the 30 year old Tommy Pham. He managed to play 153 games between AAA and the majors in 2017. Counting back his previous game totals per season have been 115, 100, 110, 75, 12, 40, 106. So do I expect 150 games from Pham again? Obviously not. I’m expecting 100 games from Pham and that means he falls way down the board. If he didn’t have the upside I’d move him down even more but 143 seems to be the right balance between risk and upside for Pham in my eyes.
Ian Happ (2B/OF, Chicago Cubs) – Staff Rank 159 / My Rank 227
Just like Albies, the staff rank makes me proud of the Pitcher List team being lower than the industry. Happ is going around an ADP of 120. The explanation is pretty simple and I’ve already made the case here. Basically I do not believe Happ has the contact rate to sustain success. It’s a harder argument to stick to every day as Happ is killing it in spring training and is batting lead-off most days for the Cubs, but I’m holding tight. That risk is high enough for me to discount him considerably. Like with Albies, the 2B market is too deep with safe options in the late rounds for me to want to risk a mid-round pick on Happ.
We all seem to recognize that Ray is due for some serious regression. Just as he was unlucky in 2016, he was just as lucky in 2017. Sabermetrics suggest his ERA belongs in the 3.50 to 3.75 range but what concerns me most is the walk rate. Walking nearly 4 BB/9 has led to an average innings per start of 5.8 in 2017. That’s horrendous. Ray will certainly fall short of the 15 wins he produced in 2017. With closer to a 3.70 ERA and 10 wins as well as his elite strikeout rate, his season could look a lot like 2017 Yu Darvish, who was good for #31 among starting pitchers. Thank rank among starters falls right among the 100-125 range overall.