Welcome to the brand new and improved Fantasy Baseball Today newsletter! What you should expect is a good amount of useful information, that you can first use to dominate your drafts and then stay ahead of the competition once the season starts on April 1. For this first edition, we focused a lot of our attention on what actually matters in spring training and then recapping all of the position previews we did.
You'll often hear that spring training stats don't matter and, for the most part, that's correct. The more useful part is how they got there. For example, if Marcus Stroman goes and dominates in his first outing where he's doing different things with his delivery and has a new pitch, you need to know about that! The only time you should take stats at face value throughout spring is for players in a position battle and prospects who have a chance to make the team.
When it comes to our position previews, we've spent the past three weeks analyzing at least 400 players. Who knows the actual number. Nobody said Fantasy baseball was easy. Anyway, think of the recaps we provided on today's podcast as reading the back of a novel. You get everything you need to know in a summarized form. With these summaries, you have each of our strategies and favorite players to target at each position.
Early spring standouts
- Mets SP Marcus Stroman went six up, six down on Tuesday with two strikeouts and he did some fun things with his timing (Johnny Cueto-esque). He also debuted a new split changeup.
- White Sox 1B Andrew Vaughn hit a three-run homer off rookie pitcher Kohei Arihara on Tuesday. He's played two games and hit cleanup in both. The excitement is building, and for good reason here. His NFBC ADP in January was 327 and over the past week it's 280. Both Scott and Chris made the player comp to Pete Alonso. Scott doesn't see any way Vaughn won't be the White Sox DH this season: "There's no one else who can be there. The other candidate is Zach Collins, who is a catcher, and strikes out too much. If it isn't literally on opening day, it will be two weeks after."
- Padres SP Chris Paddack issued two shutout innings with one walk, allowed no hits and he racked up three strikeouts.
- Myles Straw has led off in two of three games for the Astros. Straw stole a base on Tuesday and he's looking like the guy in CF. Straw can be a source of cheap speed at the very end of your drafts, and that has value in Roto leagues specifically. As Scott pointed out, "Straw stole 71 bases one year in the minors. Dusty Baker wants him to hit leadoff. I think as a fifth OF -- a really late-round pick -- I think he's kind of interesting." Meanwhile, Chris threw some cold water on Straw with his player comp of Billy Hamilton.
- Tigers SS Willi Castro is 3-for-5 with two home runs so far.
- Top Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran smashed a home run on Tuesday. Durran is more of a speedster and had 47 steals between High-A and Double-A in 2019. He's a prospect to keep on your radar. Chris pointed out that there are some interesting things to focus on from Duran's minor league profile: "He hit .357 in 2018 with a .910 OPS in 67 games and then the following year he stole 46 bases. The power has not been there for him -- he had eight home runs in 199 games -- that's kind of the big question with him."
- Yankees C Gary Sanchez hit a mammoth home run on Monday. He seemed lean and it looked like his feet were closer together in his batting stance. This is something to keep an eye on as he looks toward a bounceback season.
- If you needed reassurance that Rangers OF Joey Gallo was healthy, he has two home runs in two games.
- Diamondbacks SP Merrill Kelly threw two innings, allowed two earned runs, but also racked up five strikeouts coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome -- he was awesome last year too.
Latest news and notes
- According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, MLB teams will operate alternate sites similar to those used during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, delaying the beginning of the AAA season by at least a month. Triple-A, the highest level of minor league baseball, was scheduled to begin April 6, but games will be pushed back, sources said, to around the same time as AA, High-A and Low-A are expected to start -- the first week of May. The reason they're doing this is due to the proximity to teams' home stadiums and for easier oversight of testing and coronavirus protocols.
- Diamondbacks OF Kole Calhoun is out with a torn meniscus and is likely to miss 4-6 weeks -- maybe longer. Who benefits? Keep an eye on Tim Locastro. He has 26 steals in 145 career games. If you need cheap speed, it won't come much cheaper than Locastro.
- Brewers SP Brandon Woodruff was scratched from his start Monday with back stiffness. He threw a successful bullpen Tuesday and should pitch in a game by Thursday. There's nothing to worry about here.
- Reds OF Nick Castellanos was scratched Tuesday with a sore finger.
Position previews recap
Throughout the past several weeks we've been breaking down each Fantasy position and previewing it -- the strategy for approaching the position in different league formats, sleepers, breakouts, busts and more. In case you missed any of it, we decided to recap each positional breakdown and provide a key takeaway on the overall strategy for approaching the position, our favorite player to target at ADP here, a sleeper there and more.
Chris' strategy doesn't change much in one catcher vs. two-catcher leagues: "I'm still most likely to wait in either format. I think that's the approach that I prefer because there are guys who typically go past 150 or later like Christian Vasquez, Buster Posey and Mitch Garver. Those are a few guys I like."
Scott has a similar strategy but also a catcher he likes to get in every draft: "I like drafting Mitch Garver for the upside because he goes very late and I think he is somebody who can compete for the top spot at the position."
I am finding myself drafting Gary Sanchez. I think the heat has gone a little bit too far. He is one season removed from a 30 home runs and an .841 OPS.
First base strategy
Scott's strategy at first base is pretty specific: "My strategy at first base, especially in Roto leagues, is draft Matt Olson because I feel like he's basically Pete Alonso but goes three or four rounds later -- great value at the position."
Chris is not so sure: "My thing with Matt Olson is that the profile just isn't particularly enticing to me at this point. In terms of the production you're going to get, I think you're going to get similar production from Miguel Sano and Joey Gallo. We just watched Olson hit under .200."
Second base strategy
We all agree on one thing -- the position is very bad. ADP agrees. Only three second basemen are being drafted in the first 60 picks, according to Fantasy Pros.
Chris has a pretty straightforward strategy for approaching the position and it involves two players: "It's probably draft Keston Hiura. If it's not him, it's probably draft Ketel Marte. I think there's a drop-off after the first 11, so I want someone through Mike Moustakas -- but it's usually Hiura or Marte."
Scott says Max Muncy is the second baseman he drafts most often: "30 to 35 homers, a lot of runs, a lot of RBIs -- you know you're going to need to get batting average and steals elsewhere, but that's really good production for a second baseman for not that expensive of a price."
I'm drafting all of the Jose Altuve I can get. I love the price on Altuve this season -- the ADP is 92.4! Honestly, just give me all the Astros because they're all being disrespected.
Third base strategy
Scott usually gets a high-end third baseman: "I love the value of Alex Bregman and Anthony Rendon, and it's very likely you'll get one or the other in Round 4. I think at worst they're going to give you second round production and we've seen both deliver first-round type production before too."
And if he misses out on a stud third baseman? Scott is getting Ke'Bryan Hayes.
And my strategy is very similar. I try to get one of the top seven, and if not, I'm grabbing Hayes or Gio Urshela.
Chris wants to get one of the top six at the position and he is NOT including Nolan Arenado. If not, Chris is going way down the rankings to find his favorite ADP value. "I'll go way down the rankings and grab Rafael Devers. I think he basically had a bad three-week stretch to start last season and then was the normal version of himself."
Chris wants to get one of the top-13 players: "I'm thrilled if I get Dansby Swanson, I'm happy if I get Carlos Correa and if I get any of the guys before that, I'm really happy about it. Really there's just one player I probably won't have any shares of this season, and that's Bo Bichette."
Scott's favorite thing to do is take Corey Seager in Round 3: "I think he might be the best hitter in baseball -- I think he's in the discussion. So to get him in Round 3 after going pitcher, pitcher -- I love being able to do that."
And I'm saying Carlos Correa will be this year's Corey Seager -- you heard it here first!
Scott loves the depth at the position and often waits to draft them: "It's not uncommon for me to not take my first outfielder until Rounds 9 or 10.
Chris finds himself drafting Byron Buxton more than any outfielder: "He's had a lot of injury concerns, but a lot of it has been bad luck. It's been a broken wrist, a concussion -- running into walls. I think his upside is 30 homers and 20 stolen bases. Frankly, I think there's 30/30 upside. He could be the best base stealer in baseball if he wanted to be."
I love drafting Austin Meadows. He was being drafted inside the top 50 last year, he was a top-15 outfielder in 2019 and now you can get him right around pick 100.
Starting pitcher strategy
Chris wants an ace with one of his first-round picks, but in rounds 3-6 he's most likely to focus on hitter and instead finding three or four starting pitchers in the Rounds 6-12 range.
Scott -- and this will be no surprise to FBT fans -- can't fathom waiting that long to assemble the bulk of his pitching staff that way: "The golden rule for me this year is five starting pitchers with my first 10 picks. I have yet to do a draft where I didn't take a SP with either my first or second pick. I have yet to do a draft where I didn't take two SPs with my first four picks. I think that's a must."
Chris also has a favorite starting pitcher to draft this year, -- Ian Anderson.
Scott doesn't really play favorites, but upon further review, he went with Framber Valdez: "You know a lot of groundballs will keep the ERA low and he's going to throw a lot of innings."
It's Chris Paddack for me. He's my Austin Meadows on the pitcher side.
Relief pitcher strategy
Scott has a simple pitcher strategy, and it's to wait: "Don't pay for saves, don't pay face value for really any relief pitcher."
Chris hates the position but he does have a favorite to draft: "I'm there with Trevor Rosenthal."
It's tough to trust who those elite relievers will be because there's a lot of volatility from year to year, and we're all on board with that.