Of Note… Catchers?, Aces? and Arcia…
In depth weekly Fantasy Baseball musings…
by Chuck Anderson
In fantasy baseball circles, it has been chic to bury “positional scarcity” in recent years. Here, I will suggest two scenarios that completely reverse the fortune of the much maligned tactic.
In 20 years of closely following the player pool and projecting players for the last eight, I have never seen Catchers even close to this weak. But that understates the dreary forecast for the position going forward. If you peruse the Catcher rankings, how many players do you see with even the meager upside of a top 20 player at any other position? The Red Sox and Padre Catching prospects of recent years have fizzled. Job splits in Houston and Milwaukee complicate things. Minor League backstops are disappointing down on the farm. Here’s my list of Catchers with decent upside for 2018:
Any option not listed above is virtually cutting your losses. Sanchez is the cream of this list- playing in the AL while being young and powerful. The friendly confines of Yankee Stadium just adds to the chasm between Sanchez and the other backstops. “Positional Scarcity” gives Sanchez a huge boost in value here. But it also boosts this entire list and a few more unlisted players. If you miss on this list, aren’t McCann, Castillo, Gattis and Ramos the only legit chances to redeem some value at Catcher? If you get beyond these guys…you’re punting Catcher, even in one Catcher leagues.
Can guaranteed Ace be viewed as “positional scarcity” for the foreseeable future? The gap between the top tier Starters and the field hasn’t widened…it’s exponentially multiplied. Think of the massive falloffs of Thor, Tanaka, Verlander, Cueto, Hamels, Arrieta, Teheran and others. This is the top tier:
Then the noticeable dropoff hits:
Do you see how quickly we get to pick your poison? Aging, slumping veterans coming off bad years or deep playoff runs are in your future if you don’t pounce on a tip-top option. That is “positional scarcity,” at its essence.
I have rarely, if ever, seen a quicker coming of age than Orlando Arcia, just 22, is displaying right now. The end of ’16 featured a version of the young Shortstop that was uneasy and undiscipline at the plate. His plan at the plate appeared to be not looking too badly overmatched. Take these 2 stat lines below as evidence of a blossoming fantasy asset…
First 55 games (his entire 2016): .219 BA, .631 OPS
Last 55 games of 2017: .322 BA, .819 OPS
That’s growth. His K% has dropped nearly 4%. He is pulling the ball less and using the middle of the field more in ’17. He is a great candidate to move up in the Milwaukee lineup soon. There is 15 HR and 20 SB potential in his profile. The recent Correa injury emphasizes that Shortstop has disappointed as a position in fantasy baseball in 2017; but not this Shortstop.