FANTASY BASEBALL 2016
MAN BEAR BEAST (Yasiel Puig)
By Josh Hillinger
I’ve got three underrated players, and three overrated players for your consideration come draft day. Enjoy.
Player MUST Draft
Yasiel Puig – OF – LAD
Puig has all the tools to BEAST: the build, the talent, the excitement, and finally he has the experience. If Puig can turn stay healthy, he could make a push at being the #1 overall player in fantasy baseball. He’s got McCutchen-like talent, with a ceiling to match. He could end up around .310/90r/30hr/100rbi/15sb. And he’s squeezed in there with a balanced Dodger lineup featuring Turner, Gonzalez, and Seager.
Bottom line, if his hamstrings stay healthy, Puig will easily outperform his ADP, and he’s someone you’re going to want in your lineup every day. He’s valued at 59 in Yahoo and 100 in ESPN. If you need to grab in him the 5th, do it. If you can wait til the 6th or 7th, you’ve got a steal, and one heck of a lottery ticket you won’t be sad to cash in.
Lance McCullers – SP – HOU
McCullers got called up early last year after only four starts in Triple-A ball. He went on to make 22 starts for the Astros, striking out 129 batters in 125 innings. He has some control issues, but an insane knuckle-curve ball that lead to a 20% whiff rate. And when his batters do make contact, it results in a groundball 63% of the time. So batters are either striking out or just getting a piece of the top … I’m telling you, his curveball has been compared to Craig Kimbrel’s.
McCullers also has the benefit of pitching in the AL West, with three of the eight worst fantasy parks for batters, and some of the worst offenses. Pitching in front of a good Astros offense, he’s a good bet to rake in the Wins. He’s starting on the DL, which just means an inning limit won’t hurt you as much toward the end of the season. Although he’s slipping to the 14th and 15th round, you can take him as early as the 10th and fit him confidently in as your 3rd or 4th SP.
Trevor Story – SS – COL
Trevor Story is going to be the starting shortstop for the Colorado Rockies. He’s crushing the ball in spring training and will take that momentum back to Coors Field for half the games this season. He’s a flyball hitter who could take the ball over the leftfield wall any at bat. ZiPS has Story going for 18hr/17sb, which means now we’re talking about a potential 20/20 shortstop who’s being drafted in the last three rounds.
He may wind up at the bottom third of the lineup, but The Rockies are an offensive team that will get him at bats. There will be more than enough games where Story bats 2nd in the lineup as well. With Jose Reyes done for the year (The Rockies will buy out his contract after his lengthy suspension), Story will have plenty of time to cement his spot. If his strikeout rate continues to decrease (two years ago he struck out 1/3 of the time, last year he cut that down to 1/4), we could see a potential star you can grab in the 17th round. If you don’t have a SS by the 16th round, just grab him, and start him.
Players to Avoid
Carlos Correa – SS – HOU
The experts seem to think Correa is ready for a 30hr/20sb season. Slow your roll. Correa crushed it in 99 games last season, but 99 games is not a big enough sample size for me to consider taking the sophomore at pick #4. The guy is an athlete, but Correa will absolutely underperform his ADP this season, and once again add fodder to the “Sophomore Slump” mythology.
I like Correa. I like that he’s on the Astros. I like that he gives you power and speed at SS. I’ve taken a SS in the first round many times thanks to Muntradamus’ advice on Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramierez. I’ve taken both on some teams to double my advantage at a typically powerless position (a’la Gronk and Graham in fantasy football). If Correa somehow falls to you late in the 2nd round, sure, go for it. But do not take him in the 1st. He is a risky bet, and the first round is no place for risky bets. You draft Gincarlo Stanton, and you like it!
Matt Harvey – SP – NYM
Matt Harvey is a really good pitcher. Ace material. He came back from Tommy John surgery last season and pitched very well. But I’m telling you right now, you can do better with your 3rd and 4th round picks. Harvey hasn’t hit 200 innings, and I don’t see it happening again. He has a career high 13 wins, and no real proof he can dominate. His K/9 went down, and I just don’t see him winning more than 13 for a team who’s offense is Cespedes, Granderson, Duda (strikeout king), and Neil Walker (new team woes). The so-called experts have him winning 16 at 2.77. I put him at 13 and 3.00.
With Strasburg, Archer, and Syndergaard going in the 4th, King Felix and Dallas Keuchel going in the 5th, Harvey in the third is just too damn high. Matt Harvey… just slightly overrated. Do not target.
Todd Frazier – 3B – CWS
ESPN projecting Todd Frazier to get 100 RBIs this season is a joke. Even with 35 home runs last season, Frazier drove in less than 90. He’s a streaky hitter and wound up batting just .255 last season after a major slump out of the All Star break. I like him in Fenway, but he’s just not worth the 3rd round pick, especially before the likes of Adrian Beltre, Maikel Franco, Jung-Ho Kang, and Munt’s sneaky pick Brett Lawrie. At almost 30 years old, it’s hard to imagine Frazier will develop into anything else.
If Machado or Donaldson fall to you late in the first, grab ‘em. If not, take Beltre in the 7th, Franco in the 8th, Kang in the 18th, or Lawrie in the 20th. Save the 3rd round for a pitching ace.