OF Note…Power Outages, Bogaerts, Braun, Bryant
In depth weekly Fantasy Baseball musings…
by Chuck Anderson
The fantasy baseball world has been rocked by the long ball in 2017. It’s left fantasy owners with the burden of how to gauge players that have seen sudden bursts of power. Do you know how to value Justin Smoak or Matt Olson for 2018? If you do, let me know. But I see a different, less talked about, issue to deal with. What do we do with the guys who disappointed with power this year? I think their values will be deflated greatly on draft day. As usual, I see a mix of caution and buying opportunities on these players. Let’s take a closer look at some players who’ve coasted through the season in sleep mode when it comes to dingers. I’ll even give you a player comp that I think mirrors his value going forward.
Xander Bogaerts- (the new Ian Kinsler) He’s a very good player that has yet to turn 25. But he’s arguably the most perplexing case study in Fantasy. He’s gonna help in multiple categories, but there’s no telling which ones. His 9 HRs is wildly down from 21 in 2016; especially when factoring in the power environment this year. But his jump in Steals mitigates that greatly; close to 20 swipes is worth close to 25 HRs these days. I also love that he’s kept ticking up in walk rate. That is always a good sign. He’s on pace for under 65 RBIs and that should be the harsh reminder that he’s a good value after Round 5 and a terrible value before. Young Middle Infielders are the equivalent of calling “truth” in truth or dare- it could go a lot of ways…but don’t bank on it being good.
Ryan Braun- (2014 Carlos Beltran) No one should even feign surprise at the season the Hebrew Hammer has had. He’s a really good hitter that time and injury is catching up to. He’s still serviceable on the basepaths. And he’s not a zero on power with 17 HRs and counting. But vintage Ryan Braun could’ve hit 50 HRs in this environment. He’s gonna help some in every category while not carrying you in any one column. You can roster Braun proudly in 2018 if the price is right- he’s an elite, use the whole field, hitter. There’s a decent chance he starts getting shipped around in the years to come. And all of this, of course, assumes relative health. If he goes before Bogaerts (Round 5-ish), he’s going too early.
Chris Davis- (Mark Trumbo) I doubt there’s a slugger in the Bigs that will take a bigger hit in value than Davis. But the comp to Trumbo is so accurate… Long, hitchy swings get in funks but still have a decent floor for power. Davis still has 24 HRs this year. But he has seasons of 53, 47 and 38 HRs within the last 4 years. There are few more dangerous picks you can make in Fantasy Baseball than a guy who might not hit .200. But his contract, his home park, his Division and his physique all scream that he’s got one more good power year left as a minimum. Could there be any better time to shoot for the moon than when a player’s value has reached rock bottom? Think Ryan Zimmerman of 2017 with an adp outside the top 200. Or more accurately, think Mark Trumbo of 2017. He was coming off a down year in Homer friendly Arizona when he erupted in Baltimore, of all places. How often do you get to draft a potential 45+ Homer guy as a reserve? I say it’s worth the gamble. If the ball is reverted back to 2013 standards that’s still not the factor that controls Davis’ mammoth power potential. What would that same reversion do to Eric Hosmer going 10 to 12 rounds, or more, earlier?
Kris Bryant- (vintage Ryan Braun) 2017 is going down as the year that Bryant drives in less than 80 Runs. How much of that is Bryan’s fault? His 27 HRs are slightly on the disappointing side when put in context. But a closer look says so many great things about the 25 year old. K rates, Walk rates and OBP are all trending the right way. There is a pure wind variable at Wrigley that just doesn’t exist anywhere else. Think of the talent and durability, not the World Series hangover and dubious luck of 2017. 40 HR potential with 10+ Steals and an OBP over .400 doesn’t grow on trees. I was a year early on touting Bryant the best player in fantasy. If he falls to the middle of round 1, or dare I say- after Aaron Judge, GOBBLE, GOBBLE and GOBBLE him up some more.