Fantasy Baseball Preseason Prep: March 12, 2017

Fantasy Baseball Preseason Prep: March 12, 2017

March 12, 2017 | article by Michael Waldo in Preseason Prep (450)

Over the last several years, Jake Arrieta’s success has been directly linked to the usage of his cutter. While pitching in Baltimore, Arrieta was discouraged from throwing the pitch thanks to GM Dan Duquette’s bias against the cutter. After he was traded to the Cubs, however, Arrieta’s usage of the pitch jumped up to 28% in 2014 with a great 2.20 wCT/2. He followed up that season with his Cy Young performance in 2015 while maintaining a 29% usage rate with an even better 2.35 wCT/c pitch rating. But something changed in 2016 and with it, so did the results. Jake Arrieta started throwing his cutter less (18% usage rate) and alarmingly, his pitch rating dropped all the way down to 0.01 wCT/c in 2016.

Chicago Cubs:
Jake Arrieta and the Disappearing Cutter

Arrieta struggled with his release point last season, which might explain some of his troubles with the effectiveness of the pitch, and might even help explain some of the command issues he had during the season. The question this spring is going to be how well (and often) he throws his cutter. If he can get the cutter working, there’s no reason to think that the walk rate won’t drop back down and then subequently, the rate stats will also improve to be closer to his 2014/2015 baseline.

Does Javy Baez Deserve a 16th Round ADP?

The hero of the Cubs postseason won’t even open the year as the team’s starting second baseman. Thanks to his plus defensive skills and hot bat in October, Baez pushed Ben Zobrist into the outfield so he could man second base. Unfortunately, the return of Kyle Schwarber will force Baez to start the season on the bench. Given Baez’s multi-positional ability, he should become Joe Maddon’s new “jack-of-all trades”, filling in for players all around the diamond. The big question will be how many at-bats will that type of role generate? In a similar role a season ago, Baez managed to play in 142 games (some via pinch hit), but he still saw 450 plate appearances with 14 home runs, 59 RBIs and 12 SBs. A three year improvement trend in strikeout percentage (41.5% in 2014 to 24% in 2016) along with an equally impressive improvement in contact percentage (57% in 2014 to 72% in 2016) points towards continued development for a player with one of the fastest bat speeds in the major leagues. Unfortunately, his 16th round ADP feels a little high and that’s likely due to the helium left over from the successful playoff run he led the Cubs on in October. I love the player, I’m just not in love with the role he will play and the price tag associated with him.


Kansas City Royals:
Eric Hosmer Flying Under-the-Radar?

Despite setting career highs in both home runs (25) and RBIs (104) in 2016, many saw Eric Hosmer’s performance as a step back last year. While his added power numbers are nice, they came at the expense of 30 batting average points and yet another disappointing 5 stolen bases. After posting three straight seasons with double-digit stolen bases to begin his career, Hosmer has failed to steal more than 7 in any of the last 3 seasons, making it seem like that category will no longer be part of his game moving forward. Hosmer’s home runs were boosting by a 6% jump in HR/FB rate in 2016, but with just a marginal 1.5% increase to his hard hit% year-over-year and virtually no change in his pull %, it seems unlikely that high HR/FB rate will be sustainable. His GB/FB ratio remains really high at 2.38, so it ‘s possible he’ll luck into returning some of those homeruns if he can shift away from his extremely heavy groundball tendencies next year (58%) because while his hard hit % didn’t materially change from previous seasons, it’s still a very strong 34%. Hosmer’s lower runs scored and potentially part of the lower batting average can also be attributed to playing much of the season without adequate protection from Lorenzo Cain or Mike Moustakas. Both of the latter two players are expected to be healthy and starting to begin the year. From a narrative perspective, Hosmer is entering into the final year of control by the Royals, making this the ever-important season before free agency. With extra motivation and a generally down outlook on him by the industry, Hosmer could return value.

Lorenzo Cain – Undervalued Speed

In a season where speed is going for a premium, Lorenzo Cain seems to continue to be undervalued. Before missing nearly a third of the season with a hand injury last year, Lorenzo Cain had banked two straight seasons of 28 stolen bases and even managed to hit 16 home runs to go along with a batting average over .300. We saw regression across nearly all categories in 2016, but the underlying skills remain there to hope for a bounceback. Cain enjoyed a great breakout 2015 campaign after he jumped out with a 9% increase in hard hit rate, but he was mostly able to maintain that in his shorted 2016 season. That’s good news for the continuation of the power numbers and high batting average, but what remains to be seen is if he’ll be able to return to the stolen base levels where he was at in 2014/2015. The injuries he had in 2016 shouldn’t impact those, but he is now on the wrong side of 30 years old and some natural age-related regression to his speed should be anticipated


San Diego Padres:
Carter Capps In The Mix For Saves?

One of the relievers that I wrote about in my closer briefing last week was Carter Capps. “The guy with the crazy delivery” is now a member of the San Diego Padres after spending a year off recovering from Tommy John surgery. Entering camp in 2016, Capps had been viewed as a favorite to be the closer for the Marlins before being diagnosed with a tear in his UCL. Fast forward a year, he’s now a darkhorse candidate to lead San Diego in saves by the time the season is all said and done. He’s still recovering from the surgery, so his workload is still being carefully watched, but the team insists he’s on pace to be ready by opening day. If he proves he’s healthy and as effective as he was pre-injury, he will be the first in line for saves once Brandon Maurer falters (and he will).

Finding Value In the San Diego Outfield:

One of the more intriguing position battles this spring is going to be the centerfield job in San Diego. Scratch that, maybe we should call it the race back from the trainer’s room. The surprising Alex Dickerson and highly touted rookie Manny Margot both entered camp with the possibility of winning a starting outfield job for the Padres. Unfortunately, a back injury to Dickerson and a knee injury to Margot has sidelined both players thus far. The injuries are equally concerning because a back injury to a power hitter like Dickerson has been known to sap power, while a knee injury to a base-stealer than Margot can adversely affect his biggest source of value. Dickerson fared reasonably well in a half season in 2016, slashing .257/.333..455 and showing some promise with 10 homeruns supported by a reasonable 12% HR/FB rate and 34% hard hit rate. His above average 82% contact rate and solid 8% SwStr% also point towards his ability to main the .59 batting EYE from 2016. Meanwhile, rookie centerfield Manny Margot showed plus speed and plus on-base skills in the minor leagues. We need to monitor each player’s injuries in the coming weeks, but whoever wins the job will fall into regular at-bats and consequently, solid value for fantasy leagues.

 

AROUND THE LEAGUE:

Corey Seager (LAD) – The Dodgers star shortstop has already missed a week of action with an injury to his back/oblique and was originally slated to return yesterday. Unfortunately, that return has been pushed back and as of right now, there’s currently no timetable for return. On Friday he was quoted that he had high confidence he would be available for opening day, but obviously the delay in his return is certainly concerning. With the information we currently have available, it’s too soon to start discounting him at the draft table, especially since the elite power/batting average combo that he possess in the middle infield is so rare. Seager’s hard hit rate of 40% remains one of the highest in the league and fully supports his .300+ batting average. He saw a drop in his GB/FB rate from 2.00 in 2015 to 1.58 last season, but if he can continue to lower that number, there’s even more homerun upside from his bat.

Zach Britton (BAL) – Arguably the best closer in the game has been sidelined most of the spring with a strained oblique, but he was able to throw another bullpen session on Friday and looks to be ready to return to game action soon. Britton is being drafted in the early rounds this spring and rightfully so. His 80% groundball rate from a season ago is the best of all-time (since GB% began being tracked) and his above average strikeout rate makes him one of the safest pitchers in all of baseball. He has the highest floor among all closers, but while his ceiling is high, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen each likely have higher ceilings due to 100 strikeout upside.

Matt Harvey (NYM) – Matt Harvey made his second start of the spring, this time lasting three innings. After a tough first outing, Harvey remained a little shaky, allowing 2 hits (one HR), 1 earned run, 1 walk and also struck out a couple of batters. Harvey is still shaking off the rust and seems to be taking it slow ramping back up to his mid-season form. The velocity is still sitting in the low-90’s, which we’d ideally like to see it bounce back into the mid-90’s before we’re totally comfortable deploying him in the regular season. He remains a fascinating player to track this spring.

Daniel Hudson (PIT) – Daniel Hudson looked terrific again on Friday, tossing yet another perfect inning of relief and striking out 3 batters. Hudson is quickly closing the gap between himself and incumbent Tony Watson for the closing gig in Pittsburgh. Since Hudson is a right-hander and Watson is a left-hander, that may further give Hudson another boost. Watson was excellent as a middle reliever last season, but he has struggled in the closing role, so it may be a natural swap for the two relievers. Hudson is a great high upside target in the late rounds of all formats.

Jim Johnson (ATL) – Jim Johnson continued his perfect spring on Friday by keeping the Mets scoreless in an inning pitched. Johnson has done nothing to lose the title of closer heading into the season and it actually makes sense for the Braves to open the year with him in the role. Johnson’s skillset is inferior to that of Arodys Vizcaino, but he could be a valuable trade commodity in the middle of the season if he can manage to be an effective closer. With the team in rebuilding mode, he could bring back a prospect or two and it would make good business sense to try to build his trade value. He’s still in the bottom 5 of my closer rankings, but he’s not a sexy pick and will likely be overlooked in drafts. A save is a save.

Devon Travis (TOR) – The Blue Jays second baseman is still sidelined as he recovers from off-season arthroscopic knee surgery, but earlier this week manager John Gibbons expressed disappointment over the lengthy recovery process saying “I expected him, to be honest, to be a little further along…we’re going to be cautious” to beat writer Ben Nicholson-Smith. We’re getting into crunch time for Travis to return to the field if he’s going to be ready for opening day. He’s been hit with injuries off-and-on in his short career and he’s doing little to shake the “injury-prone” tag this spring. The longer he’s out, the lower the chance he’ll be ready for opening day, but it also means he’ll come at a steeper discount. His .358 BABIP was pretty fortunate when considering his 29% hard hit rate, but the skillset is there for double-digit homeruns and stolen bases at a barren second base position. Look for the .300+ batting average to come down this season, however.

Lucas Duda (NYM) – Lucas Duda hit his first spring home run and 5th his of the spring on Friday. Duda is now battling a sizzling .500 with all hits going for extra-bases. It’s a great start for the first baseman as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2016. The underlying skillset and batted ball profile has always been there for the slugger to be a perennial 30-homerun hitter, but his heavy pull tendences and below average contact rates will continue to weigh on his batting average. Health is the key question here.

Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – It’s been a long wait, but Devin Mesoraco will finally make his spring training debut tomorrow. Mesoraco had a wasted 2016 campaign after a strong 2014 throttled him near the top of the catcher position in last season’s drafts. He’s a decent 2nd catcher flyer option in fantasy leagues, but he’s going to need to prove that his hip can hold up under the stress of a full-season. He certainly holds intriguing upside thanks to his hitter-friendly home ballpark.

Bryce Harper (WAS) – Bryce Harper crushed his 4th spring homerun on Friday. Harper is red-hot this spring as he tries to improve upon his highly disappointing 2016. Currently going near the end of round 1, Harper still has the skills to finish as the top player in fantasy leagues and remains one of my favorite “reaches” (if there is such a thing) in the first round. Battered by an unusually low .264 BABIP (on a 34% hard hit rate, nonetheless), Harper’s batting average plummeted to .243. Look for that to come back up closer to his career .279 mark with an opportunity for even more RBIs and runs scored with an improved Nationals lineup around him. His .92 batting EYE remains elite and helps build confidence that he’s still seeing the ball well, just got a little unlucky.
Lance McCullers (HOU) – Lance McCullers made his spring debut on Thursday and pitched a squeaky clean two innings with three strikeouts and no baserunners allowed. McCullers is recovering from elbow soreness that plagued him in the second half of last season, but he looked to be in mid-season form on Thursday. We love the elite swinging strike rate (13%) paired with his absurd 57% groundball rate. His ADP is primed to skyrocket in the coming weeks and he could quietly become one of the best starting pitchers in the league this year.

 

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Read moreFantasy Baseball Preseason Prep: March 12, 2017

Major League Baseball Fantasy Preseason Prep: March 10th, 2017

Finn Factor Daily MLB Betting Guide: Mets and Giants sellers

March 10, 2017 | article by Nathan Dokken in Preseason Prep (447)

Nathan DokkenLance Lynn missed the entirety of the 2016 season after falling victim to Tommy John surgery. He came back late in the year to toss a handful of innings in the minors, and reported no problems. The Cardinals were hoping to ease Lynn back a little bit, but now without Alex Reyes (also lost to Tommy John surgery) and with a bevy of other question marks in the rotation, the Cards find themselves relying upon Lynn to step back up and be a foundational piece for the upcoming season. Lynn had been stellar for the 2014 and ’15 seasons, posting ERA’s of 2.74 and 3.03 while maintaining a K/9 north of 8. He’s also tossed 175 innings or more in every season he’s played in the majors, but we’ll see exactly how far the Cardinals are willing to push him in his first full year back from surgery. Our projection is for 140 innings, but if the team finds themselves in the thick of the playoff chase I wouldn’t be surprised to see him log more than that. He’s currently going off boards as the 80th starting pitcher on average, with pick 303. He’s going behind the likes of Tyson Ross and David Phelps, which to me is an absolute bargain. He should be able to return you a low-to-mid three’s ERA with around 8 K’s per 9, and while the WHIP is always a bit bloated, he presents a ton of value very late in drafts.

Randal Grichuk said he got frustrated with trying to alter his approach last year to hit for more contact, and late in the year he gave up and went back to his old ways of just having fun and letting it fly in the box. It resulted in more second half home runs (14) than first half (10), but at what cost? His BB/K dropped from 0.32 to 0.12 from the first half to the second while his OPS rose from .712 to .826, his hard contact rate jumping from 33% to an astonishing 48%. That will lead to a ton of homers but I’m sorry, if it comes with a 37% strikeout rate, I’m just not on board. His OBP in 132 games was .289, and as a result he is looking at a spot hitting near the bottom of the order. He’s still young so there’s room for progression in his plate discipline, but judging from what we’ve heard out of him to this point, we should proceed with caution.

Mitch Haniger is an interesting case this year. A 26-year old rookie, Haniger was acquired from the Diamondbacks this offseason along with Jean Segura. It looks like Seattle plans to give him a good long look in the outfield, which is enough to put him on fantasy radars. He has a very nice career minor league line, slashing .290/.370/.490 across 1617 at-bats. A lot of those games were played in very hitter-friendly environments however, and he was getting pretty old for his levels as well. That makes me worry that the numbers are a bit superficial. Nevertheless, he deserves a look in deeper formats as a guy who presents above average power potential (37% hard contact in his 123 plate appearances with Arizona last season) and decent plate discipline (0.44 BB/K).

Jarrod Dyson was shipped over to Seattle from Kansas City in the offseason (Jerry Dipoto was a very busy man this winter). It looks like he’ll be leading off for the Mariners, although it still remains to be seen whether he’ll be the every day leadoff bat or sit against left-handed pitching, as he’s done for the majority of his career. His career wOBA against southpaws is a paltry .269, and while he hit for an uncharacteristicly high .432 wOBA against lefties last year, that comes from an incredibly small sample size of just 29 at-bats, so we hope Dipoto isn’t putting too much stock into that. Our projections are incredibly bullish on Dyson, with him pushing 50 steals in an every day leadoff role. It’s not often we see a 32-year old part-time player suddenly become an every day option, but he’s worth taking a chance on late in drafts. He won’t give you and power at all, and very few RBI, but steals are getting harder to come by each year, and he’s one guy that can give you a Billy Hamilton type of profile at a much, much cheaper price point.

Matt Harvey pitched a bullpen session and reported no issues with his cranky neck, which is a small positive as we slowly trend towards Opening Day. The former ace made his first start after surgery to remove a rib to help his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome several days ago and was touched up for four runs in an inning and two-thirds. He sat 92-94, which is fine for a first start, but we will want to watch closely to make sure his velo is ticking up as Spring Training wears on. He at least struck out three without allowing a walk, but he was hit pretty hard. He’s currently being drafted as the 34th starting pitcher, around the likes of Keuchel, Fulmer, and Roark. If he comes into the season healthy and in better shape than last year (a big if), he can turn a massive profit on that ADP. The downside is that he misses a lot of time again and is generally ineffective, but especially in a shallower league where the starting pitching depth is plentiful, Harvey makes for a terrific upside play.

Jay Bruce went 2-3 in Thursday’s Grapefruit League action, with a home run and a double. Bruce is going to wind up being a roadblock for Michael Conforto this year, much to the chagrin of Conforto’s dynasty owners. The Mets allegedly tried to shop Bruce in the offseason, but were unsuccessful. Corforto is the younger more exciting player, but he’s not so different from Bruce. Neither player is very good against lefties, as Bruce put up just a .289 wOBA against LHP last season and is likely to take a seat when the Mets face lefties this year. He put up 33 HR with 99 RBI last year, which helped offset a mediocre .250 batting average. The power spike was fueled by an increased hard contact rate, which jumped from 35% in 2015 to 38%. His hard contact has risen each of the past three seasons, which combines with a career 45% pull% for upper-20’s home run power. It’s hard to see him pushing 30 again in a platoon role, but he should once again be an asset in HR/RBI. The batting average is suppressed by a high FB% though, which keeps him from being a big upside play.

Sonny Gray will be shut down for the next three weeks due to a moderate lat strain. This is really bad news for those early drafters that snagged Gray is a rebound candidate as they will most likely be without him for the first month or so of the season. His strikeouts have decreased every year since his debut in 2013 and last year was a complete train wreck, battling injuries and regression to the tune of a 5.69 ERA over 117 innings. There was some really bad luck in his profile, including a 17.5% HR/FB rate that was nearly double what he’s allowed in his career, as well as a .319 BABIP that was 41 points over his career average. His strand rate was low as well at 63.9%, nearly 10 points worse than his career average of 72.8%. It wasn’t all bad luck however, as his hard hit rate rose from 25% to over 33%, so a lot of that regression was deserved. His swinging strike rate was also a career low 8%, which is indicative of perhaps an even below league average strikeout rate. Those who haven’t drafted yet would be wise to avoid Gray, because at this point the downward trends and injuries are simply too detrimental.

Jurickson Profar jammed his middle finger during WBC play on Thursday. He was working with Dutch doctors, but the severity of the injury at this point is unknown. It’s unlikely to be anything serious enough to put his Opening Day availability in jeopardy, but it’s something to monitor in the coming days. The former top prospect has fallen on hard times due to a slew of injuries in the past few seasons, and now he’s going to have to work for playing time on a stacked Rangers roster. The playing time is very uncertain, which makes him a tough draft in 10 or 12 team mixed leagues, but in anything deeper than that he’s potentially worth a flier as a bench bat. He’s exhibited very little speed or power though, and last year had a wretched 23.9% hard contact rate. Believe it or not he’s still just 24, so the light could come on at any time, but don’t pay for any sort of breakout.

Andrew Cashner had a setback with his biceps injury and won’t be available for the start of the season. He didn’t make an appearance in Spring Training, and if you needed another reason to avoid Cashner this season, here you go. He had a 5.25 ERA last season over 132 innings, and moving to Texas wasn’t going to help that. His most favorable supporting metric was xFIP, which had him at 4.63 last season, and even with that as a potential outcome he’s a hard guy to want to invest in. His 7.3% swinging strike rate was also the lowest of his career, so there’s just nothing to like here. Tyson Ross is the only name that could potentially be of interest in the fifth starter role for the Rangers, with other names like Dillon Gee, Nick Martinez, and Chi Chi Gonzalez in the running for the role. Ross himself is still a ways away from pitching however, as he recovers from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. This is a situation best avoided altogether.

Zack Greinke was clocked at just 89.5 MPH on his fastball in his Wednesday start against Team Mexico, while mostly sitting at 88. This is concerning because at this point last year he was already touching 93 MPH, although he averaged 91.3 with his fastball overall last year. It’s something that bears monitoring moving forward, because he was hit early and often by Mexico, yielding two runs on six hits in two and two-thirds innings. It’s enough to perhaps push him down behind a couple pitchers in his tier, but Greinke is an incredibly smart pitcher who relies more on sequencing and location rather than velocity. That means that he is more likely to be successful with slightly diminished velocity than a Matt Harvey type of power pitcher, who we saw get crushed when he didn’t have as many ticks on his fastball last year as he used to. Greinke is already coming at a discount after a terrible 2016 campaign in which he posted a 4.37 ERA over 158.2 innings. His K/9 also dipped to 7.6 as his swinging strike rate fell from 12% to 10.4%. It’s still a very good swinging strike rate, so you could see the K% rebound this season, but it’s going to be more important than ever to keep the ball down to avoid giving up home runs like he did last year (1.30 HR/9, career rate 0.87).

Austin Hedges was pulled from Thursday’s Cactus League game due to a sore hamstring. It’s being labeled as a precautionary move, so at this point it doesn’t sound too serious. Hedges has garnered some sleeper praise heading into drafts this year after he had a great Triple-A season in 2016. He hit .326/.353/.597 with 21 home runs in just 82 games after previously being written off as a defense-only catching prospect. He’s worth a late round pick as a second catcher in two-catcher formats, but be cautious with Hedges. He put up those numbers in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, and we’ve seen many a prospect put up outlandish numbers in that league only to come up and disappoint fantasy owners. Catchers especially have a hard time producing upon their first callups (Gary Sanchez being a very notable exception) because they have to worry first and foremost about game planning for the opposing teams and getting in sync with their pitchers. Due to the defense before hitting mentality that you often see with young catchers, I’m looking elsewhere for my second catcher.

Albert Pujols will make his Spring Training debut on Friday. The 37 year old DH has been working his way into game shape after undergoing surgery to repair his chronic plantar fasciitis. By all accounts Pujols will be ready to go on Opening Day, which should have him moving up draft boards as we creep closer to April. He’s going as just the 19th first baseman according to ADP, even after bashing 31 HR and driving in 119 last season. The RBI count will almost certainly come down in a pretty bad Angels lineup, but he’s still posting very nice hard hit rates, sitting at 36.5% last year. He’ll still be slow, and he’ll still have a suppressed BABIP due to that and his 40% fly ball rate which will keep his batting average down, but at his current price, the power will be very useful.

Jose Bautista hit a thrilling three-run homer in the Dominican Republic’s game against Canada on Thursday, finishing 3-4. He’s coming off an injury riddled season that saw him bat just .234 in 517 plate appearances, with a solid but un-Bats like 22 home runs (.217 ISO). He still walked a mammoth 16.8% of the time though, so in OBP and points leagues he continues to get a boost when the power and average is down. There is optimism that he’ll return to previous form this season however, as last year he still managed a tremendous 41% hard contact rate, which when coupled with a 53% pull% should have led to more balls finding the bleachers. The batted ball profile, including an ugly 18% pop-up rate, will always keep the batting average from being a positive for his value, but there’s a very good chance that he turns a profit as the 99th player off the board, outfielder 29.

Byron Buxton has been a trendy sleeper this spring. The Twins have stated that they want him to lead off this year, which is something that will probably (unfortunately) be dictated solely by his Spring Training results. There’s very little in-between with him, he will pretty much either be the leadoff bat or hit ninth in that lineup, but either way it’s impossible to ignore the risk when considering the reward. The upside is a potential 20/20 bat that will set the table for a solid lineup in Minnesota, but the floor is so low that you could see him in Triple-A for half the season. Many will look back to his September where he posted a whopping 1.011 OPS and scream that a breakout is looming, but the truth of the matter is that he was still striking out 33% of the time with a mediocre hard contact rate of 30%. He also profiled as an extreme pull hitter last year, with a pull% of 48%. While that’s going to lead to a few extra home runs, it’s going to kill his BABIP and therefore his OBP. Without the ability to get on base at a decent clip, he won’t get a chance to steal bases or lead off for the Twins. He’s still very young and the chance remains that he could put it all together, but be cautious with him and draft him as more of a lottery ticket rather than someone that could sink your team if he continues to strike out 35% of the time.

Shin Soo Choo had a rough go last year. He played in just 48 games and was dogged by injuries all season. Hope springs eternal however, and at 34 years old, Choo still has a little something left in the tank to give to fantasy owners. Being drafted as the 84th outfielder, Choo presents a choo-choo train full of profit potential. Last year in limited time he was 6-9 in stolen bases, indicating that upwards of 10 over the course of a full season is definitely not out of the question. The Rangers let their guys run, and even Rougned Odor kept getting the green light despite finishing just 14-21 in steals. Choo also posted a massive 43% hard contact rate, and his swinging strike rate and contact rate were all much higher than they’d been over the past few years. The Rangers intend to use his terrific on base ability and will bat him second in that potent lineup, giving him the potential to eclipse 100 runs scored if he can manage to stay on the field for 150 games. He will sit against the occasional lefty and get some veteran rest days, so it’s smart not to get too crazy with projecting him, but he gives you 20/10 potential with a ton of runs and RBI, and at his price point even if he misses a chunk of the season, he isn’t going to kill your team.

Ever since he was drafted in 2014 I’ve been a sucker for Carlos Rodon. Our own Walter Kuberski drafted him in the SiriusXM Hosts League Draft, and it made me so happy that I decided to jot down a few words about Rodon. His end of season numbers didn’t turn out great last year, but that has led to a great buying opportunity in this years drafts. He threw just 165 innings last year due to a DL stint, and in an effort to manage his innings this season he has been brought along slowly in Spring Training. The plan currently is for him to basically get skipped in what would be his first turn in the rotation, which while annoying is hardly a death nail to his fantasy value. Rodon made great strides in his control last year, cutting his walks from 4.59 BB/9 to 2.95. Another huge part of his progression in 2016 was the increased use of a changeup, which he was deploying around 16% of the time over the course of the final two months of the season. That is going to be a huge step up for him in the battle against right-handed hitters, mitigating any platoon splits (RHH hit for a .342 wOBA against him last year). As the 50th starting pitcher off the board on average, Rodon can give you a strikeout per inning and has a shot at reaching his immense upside this season.

 

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Read moreMajor League Baseball Fantasy Preseason Prep: March 10th, 2017