FANTASY BASEBALL 2016
YES YOU CANO (ROBINSON CANO)
By Chad Kaplan
Fantasy baseball leagues aren’t usually won at the draft, but they are usually lost there. A bad draft filled with over-ranked players can doom your entire season, no matter how savvy your waiver wire pickups. I’m here to help. Most of you probably have your drafts coming up this week, so here’s a few players I’d draft higher than they are currently going and a few guys I’d never draft at their current ADP.
Players You Must Draft
XANDER BOGAERTS – SS – BOS
Bogaerts is a superstar in the middle of breaking out. Bogaerts was excellent in 2015, finishing the year as the #1 roto shortstop at just 22 years old. He led his position in batting average, OBP, and runs scored, and was second in RBIs. He even stole 10 bases. It wasn’t surprising, as Bogaerts was the consensus #2 prospect in all of baseball entering his rookie year. He has an advanced feel for strike zone well beyond his years (an aptitude some scouts have compared to Joey Votto) and is only going to keep getting better. If he wasn’t already exciting enough, he spent this winter building muscle with the goal of increasing his home run total. He hit one ball this spring off Jared Eickhoff that I think still hasn’t landed. He’s an asset in all 5 categories at a position that looks to be the shallowest this year that I’ve ever seen. I’d be surprised if at this time next year, he wasn’t a first or second round pick.
ROBINSON CANO – 2B – SEA
Cano was a first round pick last season, and deservedly so. He had spent the last decade being the undisputed best second baseman on the planet. But he had a bad first half to 2015, where he hit just .251 with 6 homers, and everyone panicked. PANICKED. Cano responded by hitting .331 with 15 homers in the second half. We know now that he spent that bad first half with a stomach ailment that sapped all his energy, and he was back to his old self once he recovered. So why is Cano going in the fifth round this year? I really don’t understand.
J.D. MARTINEZ – OF – DET
After being released by the Tigers in 2013, Martinez knew he had to make a change. He spent that winter completely overhauling his swing to take advantage of his natural tools. what resulted was a breakout 2014 season that saw career bests in all categories. While some predicted regression in 2015, J.D actually got even better. He hit 38 homers, drove in 102 runs, and led ALL hitters in hard-hit percentage. 42.8% of the balls J.D. hit in 2015 were classified as “hard-hit” by Baseball Info Solutions, beating out even Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, and Mike Trout. This has me believing his numbers are 100% legitimate with possibly room for even more growth. He’ll be getting even more RBI opportunities this season hitting behind a healthy Victor Martinez and the newly-acquired Justin Upton. This is second round talent at a fourth round price.
MATT MOORE – SP – TB
Consider him the ultimate post-hype sleeper. Coming off a stellar 2013 campaign, Moore was high on everyone’s draft boards entering 2014. Unfortunately, he proceeded to tear his UCL and Tommy John surgery had him sidelined for the next 15 months. When he returned near the end of 2015, he was terrible. His command and velocity were gone, and his changeup went from being a dangerous weapon to a batting practice pitch. This is not uncommon in a pitcher’s first season back from Tommy John. But it seems to be enough that everyone’s forgetting about him. But Moore showed up this spring showing improved velocity and his changeup and curveball back to their pre-surgery selves. So far, in 3 spring starts, he’s struck out 11 while walking nobody. Ladies and gentlemen, the real Matt Moore is back.
Trevor Story – SS – Col
He’s a power-hitting shortstop with a starting job at Coors Field. Do I really need to say more?
Players You Must Avoid
FRANCISCO LINDOR – SS – CLE
Lindor was a top prospect mostly for his glove, not his bat. So it was quite the surprise when he hit .313 with 12 homers in 390 at-bats. He’s being drafted like this is what he is, when he never showed this kind of power in the minors. Lindor’s numbers were buoyed by an outrageous .348 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) despite having a fairly low hard-hit percentage. He also benefitted from a higher-than-normal homerun-to-flyball percentage. These numbers should normalize, and Lindor is definitely going to be a good player. But he’s more of a 130th pick than a 72nd.
COREY DICKERSON – OF – TB
This offseason, Dickerson got traded from one of the best ballparks for hitters to one of the worst. This is especially troubling considering Dickerson’s very wide home/road splits which indicate that he owed a ton to his home ballpark. Add that to that it looks like he’s not going to start at all against lefties, and his ADP of 122 looks absolutely ridiculous. Pick up Joc Pederson 5 rounds later instead.
BILLY HAMILTON – OF – CIN
This saddens me to write, as I find Hamilton a joy to watch both in the field and on the bases. But the fact is if Hamilton has proven one thing in the majors, it’s his complete inability to hit the ball. An outfielder with a .287 OBP in his two seasons so far is just not a player will be in the majors much longer, no matter how many bases he steals. I can’t blame the Reds for giving him a shot, as his game-changing speed would have been an awesome asset if he ever showed any ability at all to get on base. But the time for this experiment is almost over, and the Reds know it. He’s going to lose his starting job to Jose Peraza at some point this season, and you don’t want to be left holding the bag when he does.
And I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice. Don’t draft closers higher than the 12th round (or pay more than $10 in an auction league), even the elite guys. There’s much more volatility at this position than any other, in part due to the high injury rate. 10-12 closers will lose their jobs at some point this season and you can always get saves on the waiver wire. That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this article and best of luck in your drafts.