2019 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: The best draft day values on CBS, Yahoo and ESPN
Heath Cummings looks at site-specific ADP for the three major Fantasy Baseball sites and breaks down the best values on each one.
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You can use consensus ADP to get a pretty good idea which players are going to be available where. Generally there isn't a huge difference between that consensus and the site you're drafting on, but the outliers in that regard are where you can make a profit.
Whether it's because of projection discrepancies or analyst's takes, each year there are players who fall way too far on various sites. In this article I'll cover the best ADP buys at the three majors sites. Let's start with everyone's favorite:
This one has a little to do with format. Most of the drafts that go into consensus ADP are categories leagues, and Trea Turner's steals are very valuable in those formats. But it's not like they're worthless in points leagues.
Turner was the No. 13 hitter and the 23rd best player in this format in 2018. Yes, that was in 162 games, but it was also with a BABIP 20 points below his career norm. It was also with 52 steal attempts, which seems relevant when his manager has spoken openly about wanting Turner to run even more.
I wrote in my breakouts column about how Turner has No. 1 overall potential in Roto leagues this year. While he may not realistically be able to reach those heights in points, he could certainly provide first-round value. Instead he's being drafted closer to his floor.
I believe Juan Soto is a value just about everywhere you draft, but especially here. The interesting thing is the points format looks like it suits Soto very well. In his rookie season he posted a 16 percent walk rate, which would have been the fifth best in baseball if he'd had eight more plate appearances. Soto posted an OBP above .400, which is something he did every year in the minor leagues.
Just how good could Soto be? Well, he scored 398.5 Fantasy points last season and didn't make his first start until May 21. Even a modest 150-game pace would have put him at 515.5 Fantasy points, or a top-20 hitter. Soto has the upside to be a legitimate first-round option in 2020, especially if he starts hitting the ball in the air a little more.
As you can probably tell, this section is going to be hitter heavy. Pitchers predictably fly off the board in points league drafts, and it's hard to see any of them as a value. But like Soto, Corey Seager is someone who should probably go higher in a Points league than a Roto league. That's certainly not the case right now.
In 2016 and 2017 combined, Seager posted a .302/.370/.497 slash line and looked like one of the best shortstops in the game. He was a top-six shortstop in both seasons despite missing 17 games in 2017. Injuries have been a concern for him and he has had both Tommy John and hip surgery in the past year. That being said, he's expected to be fully healthy at the start of 2019 and has legitimate top-20 upside near the top of the Dodgers lineup. Whatever re-injury risk there is shouldn't be enough to drop him to the ninth round.
Let's forget about how disappointing Luis Castillo was in 2018 and take a step back. He's a 26-year-old with a career 3.89 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning. Does this sound like a pitcher who should be around at the end of the 12th round? No. Especially not in the pitcher-heavy points format.
Castillo's struggles were real last year and he has struggled this spring, but his stuff (especially that changeup) is too good to let fall this far. You just don't find pitchers with his combination of whiffs, control and propensity to generate ground balls this late in the draft.
Mallex Smith's best format will most likely be categories, but if he gets the leadoff job in Seattle he'll be an absolute steal here in points, pun intended. Once healthy he looks like a .280-plus hitter with 50-steal, 100-run potential. He doesn't strike out often and he should get a ton of plate appearances. While he'll miss the team's first two games in Japan, the Mariners have indicated he'll be ready to go once the team starts play in the States. Don't let the spring injury scare you away from this great value.
Francisco Lindor was a consensus top-four pick before a calf injury scared everyone away. That made sense, especially after what we went through with Josh Donaldson the past two years. But Lindor is only 25 years old and every indication we have from the Indians suggests his recovery is going well. There was even a report that he hasn't yet been ruled out for opening day.
Even if we assume Lindor is going to miss a week or two, it has become increasingly hard to pass on him at the end of the first round. For me, it's all but impossible to pass on him twice. He's one of the few 30-20 threats in baseball, he doesn't strike out and a .300 average is well within the error bar. Count yourself lucky if he's still there for you in the second round.
Miles Mikolas took the league by storm in his first year back from Japan with a league-best 3.6 percent walk rate, a 2.83 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He threw 200 innings, won 18 games, and was one of the best values in all of Fantasy Baseball. It seems like no one believes it was real.
I'll agree his ERA was probably a half a run lower than it should have been. But I also believe his strikeouts are going up, too. Mikolas had a 9.7 percent swinging strike rate in 2018. That isn't good, but it was better than David Price, Rick Porcello and Jon Lester. And they all had a better K% than Mikolas.
I expect another year of 200 innings with excellent control and an improved strikeout rate. He'll have an ERA in the low-3.00s and outperform at least a dozen pitchers being drafted before him on Yahoo.
Each of the past three years, Grandal has hit at least 22 home runs and he's topped 130 runs-plus-RBI in two of those years. Even those numbers justify this ADP, but the move to Miller Park is reason for optimism because he could set career-highs in both categories. There's a big drop-off after Grandal at this position unless Danny Jansen or Francisco Mejia break out, and I'd be happy to spend a 10th-round pick on him. Just don't take him quite as high as my Roto ranking suggests because that ranking is based on our two-catcher format.
Remember when Billy Hamilton was being over-drafted because of his speed and the steals scarcity in baseball? It wasn't very long ago. Well, Hamilton is still fast and steals are even more scarce, yet here he is in the 14th round.
If anything I'm more excited about Hamilton in 2019 because of his new location. The Royals have built their team around speed with Hamilton, Adalberto Mondesi, Whit Merrifield and a bench full of runners. There's little doubt Hamilton is going to have a green light. There's also more room for him to find hits in spacious Kauffman Stadium. According to Fangraphs' Park Factor, Hamilton's new home rates above average for singles, doubles and triples. Great American Ballpark rates average or worse for all three.
The change in scenery provides an opportunity for Hamilton to bounce back to his 2016 form when he hit .260 with 58 steals in 119 games. And now it comes at a discount.
Some players are good values. Others are just steals. Paul DeJong has been a top-180 player each of the past two years in this format despite playing 108 and 115 games. He has a very similar profile to Gleyber Torres, who is being taken 150 spots earlier.
Torres is younger and probably has more upside. He also plays in a better park. But DeJong is slated to hit in the middle of an order that includes Matt Carpenter, Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna. If he stays healthy he's likely to approach 30 home runs and 100 RBI. The ATC projection has him projected for 26 home runs and 147 runs-plus-RBI...in 126 games. Feel free to pass on shortstop early in the draft because DeJong provides one of the best values available.
I could have put Adalberto Mondesi in any of these three sections, but the value was the best on ESPN. It doesn't seem anyone drafting over there has been listening to. In fairness, Scott's article (and the consensus ADP) is mostly based on Mondesi's value in category leagues, and there are a lot of points drafts on ESPN. But how in the world is a 23-year-old who just hit 14 home runs and stole 32 bases in less than half a season available in the 10th round in any format?
There is some risk with Mondesi due to his poor on-base skills, but the Royals are a bad team and we've already talked about how much they want to run. He's currently slated to hit in the top two in the order, and he'd have to be terrible to lose playing time. There's legitimate top-20 upside here, and all he has to do is come close to what he was in the second half last year. If it makes you feel any better, he only stuck out seven times in his first 40 spring plate appearances. Any improvement in contact skills would make Mondesi a star. Take him in the eighth on ESPN just to make sure.
I'm not sure Yu Darvish is ever going to be a borderline ace again, but at this cost you don't need him to be one. He's healthy again and his velocity is back, so it's probably time to remember what Darvish delivers when he's himself. We'll disregard his pre-injury ace status and just look at 2017. That year he struck out 209 hitters in 186 innings while delivering a better-than-average ERA (3.86) and an outstanding WHIP (1.16). He was a top-25 starting pitcher despite winning just 10 games.
Darvish can be a league-winner at his ADP and a savior for a team that focuses on hitting early.
Eloy Jimenez is a player I've drafted a lot regardless of where I'm playing. But he's almost a free space in an ESPN draft. The disparity in hype between him and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes no sense at all, especially now than the latter is injured. Jimenez hit .355 with a .996 OPS in 228 plate appearances at Triple-A last year. He has enormous power potential and above-average plate discipline. He's everything we look for in a future star.
Jimenez will start the year in the minor leagues due to service time issues, but I expect him up in April and I expect him to mash when he gets here.
Shane Bieber's rookie year could look troubling if you just look at the surface. He had a 4.55 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He gave up way too much hard contact and struggled with runners on base. It wasn't good, but there's plenty of room for hope.
Bieber has always had elite control, and that continued in the majors with a 4.7 percent walk rate. He struck out an acceptable number of batters and generated a lot of ground balls. If you do those three things, you're probably going to be good, and his peripherals suggest he should be. Bieber had a 3.23 FIP, a 3.30 xFIP and a 3.45 SIERA. It's not all bad luck, and Alex Chamberlain discussedto be better, but it's certainly the type of underlying skill you want to bet on in the double-digit rounds.
Bieber has top-20 potential, and you don't even have to be creative to see it.
This entire ESPN section has turned into players I like more than the industry, and ESPN drafters like less than any of us. Jesus Luzardo fits that description to a T. The 21-year-old lefty was dominant in the minor leagues last season with a 2.88 ERA and 10.6 K/9. He's generally regarded as the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball and he's been the best pitcher on his own team this spring with 15 Ks and one earned run allowed in 9.2 innings.
The Athletics have a difficult decision to make as to whether Luzardo starts the year in the rotation, but it's hard to imagine he won't be there by May 1. He should have 150 innings in his arm, and should be must-start for as long as he's in the majors.
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