Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Middle Infield

Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater & now being taken at pick 11 on average. Is that too steep?
Jose Altuve finished the year atop the ESPN Player Rater

In the midst of thinking that middle infield would be a tough position to forecast in 2014, three middle infielders made the top 20 on ESPN’s Player Rater. However, it did not include top-twelve selections Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez. This seems to be carrying over to early ADP’s as people are reacting to the strong performances by Jose Altuve and Anthony Rendon who finished 1st and 17th respectively last season. Early on, each player is being taken in the top 15 in NFBC money drafts. The third player to finish in this company was Dee Gordon, who is not enjoying the early love as his other brethren due to questions of regression. But is Gordon really that much more of a question mark than the other two? That remains to be seen. At first glance, second base seems much deeper than in the past.

Troy Tulowitzki is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits in 2014 bear watching. Home SLG - .748, Road - .447 along with averaging just over 100 Games the past five seasons.
Tulo is still the top drafted SS but his home/road splits from 2014 bear watching

As for shortstop, rankings always begin with Troy Tulowitzki. This is not a knock on Tulo (or maybe it is), but he has averaged just 105.8 games played over the last five seasons. If you select him with eyes wide open, that is fine, but even with less than 100 games in 2014, Tulowitzki still finished 8th on the Player Rater at his position. It seems like Hanley Ramirez falls under the same category, but he will be learning a new position in Boston. HanRam has averaged 121 games over the last five years, but should see a bump in production playing in Boston if he can handle playing the outfield. Add in Jose Reyes and you have an instance in which three of the top four ranked shortstops are a risk for injury. While everyone is an injury risk, the checkered health of this talented trio makes it difficult to draft them since it comes at a cost that is rarely returned. Dee Gordon finished 2014 as the top fantasy shortstop but will not retain eligibility this year. Let’s transition to the average draft positions at second base for 2015 in NFBC money drafts:

2B ADP's

I was a proponent of Jose Altuve last year and enjoyed the returns of owning him in my home AL-only league. While I think he can repeat some of his numbers, it stands to reason that he will regress a little in 2015. Batting average is the hardest statistic to predict so when it is one of the main reasons driving a player’s value, that makes taking him in the first round risky. With the dearth of power in the league, I find it hard to justify taking a base-stealing second baseman in the top 10. I also loved Anthony Rendon as my editor will be happy to tell you (Editor’s note: It’s true, he did). But with Rendon being taken at pick number 14 that again neutralizes his value. I think he is very talented and capable of repeating his numbers in 2015 but his home run tracker lists 12 of his 21 home runs last year as “just enough”. What if half of those do not go over the wall this year? That drops him home runs from 21 to 15 which is worth making note of. Meanwhile, Seattle signed Nelson Cruz for Robinson Cano. This is very important since Cano has had little protection since moving to the Mariners. I think he is due for a big bounce back season and with his ADP slipping into the twenties, now is the time to pounce. Two other players I like this year are Jason Kipnis and Kolten Wong at their present draft spots. Kipnis’ power numbers are limited by an inability to hit fly balls, but all he needs is health to rebound. Wong had a strong finish to 2014 and looks to build upon that this year. Like the blind profile with projections, here are some interesting ones courtesy of Steamer:

Player A: 72 R, 13 HR, 62 RBI, 20 SB, .254/.331/.387
Player B: 56 R, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 19 SB, .245/.295/.392

It is easy to see that player B has a noticeable drop in runs scored and just 9 points in batting average, but he is going to be an interesting player to watch develop. While I prefer player A in drafts, if he is taken ahead of where I want him, player B is an intriguing fallback option. Here is one more comparison:

Player C: 59 R, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 9 SB, .279/.316/.398
Player D: 71 R, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 8 SB, .262/.349/.400
Player E: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, .241/.319/.395

While two of the players above are now teammates, it will be interesting to see how their at bats work out. The third player in the comparison really came on in 2014 and looks to build upon that this year in anonymity since he is not going in the top 200 thus far. Here are the their identities:

Player A: Jason Kipnis
Player B: Arismendy Alcantara
Player C: Scooter Gennett
Player D: Ben Zobrist
Player E: Marcus Semien

Projections do not tell the whole story but when the names are taken out of the process, it allows us to look at them objectively. Other players of note are Chase Utley, Jedd Gyorko, Nick Franklin and Rougned Odor. Second base is not a fantasy gold mine, but it is definitely as deep as it has been in recent memory. Here are the steamer projections of the players taken in the top 200:

2B Steamer Projection Chart

Due to the ADP’s in clear tiers, drafting shortstop will depend on an owner’s preference. Those who want a premium player at a volatile position will be taking Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez or Ian Desmond in the top 30. After that though it is sort of spread out. Only two shortstops are being taken between picks 50-100 but then five go off the board between picks 105 – 138. Almost a whole round lapses then four more shortstops are being selected between picks 150-180 in the NFBC top 200. Here are the players with their ADP’s included:

SS NFBC ADP's

As much as shortstop will be in transition, especially with the move of Hanley Ramirez to the outfield in Boston, there is hope. Continuing the blind profile exercise, here are some interesting ones I found using the Steamer projections:

Player A: 63 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 8 SB, .274/.320/.409
Player B: 66 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 8 SB, .251/.316/.397
Player C: 63 R, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 9 SB, .252/.314/.395

Only one of the above players is being taken inside of the NFBC’s top 200 in money drafts. Showing that while there is depth at shortstop, it seems as though there are many at the same statistical level. Continuing on that theme, here are three more in the same exact circumstance:

Player D: 50 R, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 3 SB, .255/.296/.401
Player E: 64 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 2 SB, .253/.298/.392
Player F: 59 R, 15 HR, 64 RBI, 3 SB, .256/.323/.402

There aren’t many discernible differences in either group. Player A does have a big advantage in batting average which enhances his value but that is also the one statistic with the largest variance. In the second group any one of the three players listed could out-produce the other with a bump in one category. Curious?

Player A: Starlin Castro
Player B: Asdrubel Cabrera
Player C: Brad Miller
Player D: Wilmer Flores
Player E: J.J. Hardy
Player F: Jhonny Peralta

Only Starlin Castro and Jhonny Peralta are being drafted inside the top 200 but I think those picks are better spent on pitchers or players with more upside than guys like Peralta. There are plenty of similar options available. Before I forget, here are the Steamer projections for the shortstops inside the top 200:

SS Steamer Projection Chart

Intriguing undrafted shortstops include Erick Aybar, Chris Owings and Alcides Escobar. I can see a bounce back by Jean Segura who endured a very tough season not only in his adjustments, but personally as well. Danny Santana is due to regress but how much? If he can steal 20 bases and score 80 runs then he still has value. Yes his average will drop to the .270 range but it depends on need. Javier Baez will be a very tough player to own since he will be streaky and may not break out until the second half. I think he is talented but to reach for him at pick 106 would be unwise. There are options if you do your research, just do not wait too long or you will find yourself with Jed Lowrie.

Middle infield will have depth and some value to share this year. I think you can be successful without reaching or paying for career years. It will take patience but early knowledge of how players are being valued helps determine where to get them. Tomorrow I will take a look at the outfield.

If you think there is variance in the middle infield, just wait.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.go.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/ONnSIi (Altuve), http://goo.gl/6cSfy1 (Tulowitzki)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

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Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Corner Infield

Miggy's health will go a long way to determining his value in 2015.
Miggy’s health will go a long way in determining his 2015 value

Early average draft position results are not the bible, but in the midst of preseason rankings it helps to see where players are being selected. There is controversy every year, whether it be concerns over “fat” Mike Trout, where Kershaw will go or Miguel Cabrera’s health. Things have been quiet in Detroit and if the Tigers are indeed going for it this year, Cabrera will play. He proved that by playing hurt throughout September while putting up an epic stat line for the month:

Miguel Cabrera September 2014: 19 R, 8 HR, 18 RBI, .379/.409/.709, 1.118 OPS, 214 wRC+

The concern with Cabrera has gone from whether he should be the top pick to how far he falls in mocks. Early indications seem to suggest it is not as far as I would like, but I have seen him go in mocks as far back as number 8. Is there risk involved? Of course, but if he is on the field for the whole season he’ll be more than fine. Outside of Cabrera, a healthy Paul Goldschmidt and the return of old favorites Prince Fielder and Joey Votto make the position deep once again. In fact, it looks like power at the position can be had throughout. Anthony Rizzo seems primed to take another step forward and is climbing up rankings and draft lists. First base is making a comeback as a position of elite fantasy production.

On the other end of the spectrum is third base. With the loss of Miguel Cabrera and the lack of production top to bottom along with the volatility of the players at the position, it will be a tough sea to navigate this year. In looking at early data, it seems like you’ll have to take a third baseman in the top-100. Otherwise, just fill the position late and hope it pans out. In dealing with corner infielders, it appears most teams will be grabbing from the first base pool but there could be an advantage gained by grabbing two strong third baseman early and thinning the pool for your competitors if you can grab a Josh Donaldson and a Kyle Seager. This means another guy in your league may be forced to roster a Mike Moustakas at third, yuck. Have a plan and if you can force a run, it opens opportunity for you to get what you want. For starters, here are the first baseman taken in the top 200 in money NFBC drafts thus far:

1B NFBC ADP

There has never been a time to get such value on players like Prince Fielder and Joey Votto, but do you want to? If you could see their credentials without the names attached, would that change your mind? With credit to Matthew Berry of ESPN, I love his use of blind analysis to take the name value out of the equation and simply focus on the numbers. I will use Steamer projections as a guide for this exercise:

Player A: 79 R, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 4 SB, .280/.409/.473
Player B: 77 R, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 6 SB, .270/.349/.464

Sure, you are giving up some OBP and a pittance in slugging percentage but are the numbers really that different? Drafters say yes since player A is being drafted on average at pick number 79.85 while player B is outside of the top 200. One more:

Player C: 73 R, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 2 SB, .295/.353/.484
Player D: 81 R, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 1 SB, .282/.380/.483

Player D is going at pick number 69 and player C is being selected on average at pick 166.69, I cannot make this up. I sort of played my hand in the intro to this exercise but here are the players:

Player A: Joey Votto
Player B: Steve Pearce
Player C: Justin Morneau
Player D: Prince Fielder

See what I am saying? If I put those names in front of you without the numbers are you changing how you look at them? Something to think about. Just like with Miguel Cabrera, until he comes out and says he is hampered by the injury and may miss time, I am taking him. If he is there at pick 8, I will be ecstatic. I do like Freddie Freeman and he had an impressive 2014 but have you looked at the lineup surrounding him? There are several other players I like more than most, too. Carlos Santana is one of them. If left alone to play first base after the failed move to third should bounce back this year. He’ll be third base eligible in 2015 too! Adam LaRoche is a forgotten entity as well. He’s in Chicago now, hitting after Jose Abreu and will hit 30 home runs this year. I’ll pass on Joey Votto and Prince Fielder. Let them be someone else’s problem, I just can’t trust either slugger. Here are the top 20 first baseman taken in the first 200 with their Steamer projections included. I highlighted the leaders in the four counting statistical categories as well:

1B Steamer Projections

While first base is getting deeper, third base is as murky as the situation in New York. With the pending return of Alex Rodriguez and his albatross of a contract, the Yankees signed Chase Headley to a four-year pact. If you want to take a chance on A-Rod being a fantasy asset in 2015, be my guest, but I will be watching from afar. Anthony Rendon was a favorite target of mine in 2014 due to his value in drafts but the gig is up. Rendon is going at pick number 14 in the drafts used for this article and that may be too steep a price. Like Carlos Santana, Rendon does have dual eligibility along with Todd Frazier but people may be pushing them up too far. Don’t get me wrong, Rendon has the talent and lineup to be successful but there are warning signs about taking him too soon. He hit 21 home runs in 2014 but 12 of them are rated “just enough” and of those 12, 3 more had “lucky” attached as well. I am not saying he will regress but to plan on more than 18 home runs may be aggressive.

Donaldson and his fantasy value head north with his trade to Toronto.
Donaldson and his fantasy value head north with his trade to Toronto

I think Josh Donaldson’s move to Toronto should allow him to thrive and finish as fantasy’s top third baseman in 2015. However, he is being taken at the end of the second or beginning of the third in NFBC money drafts. This number may climb but if it does not, pounce. Here are what the ADP’s for third baseman look like so far:

3B NFBC ADP

It seems that Evan Longoria is finally being valued correctly, but look at the precipitous drop for David Wright. He is teetering at the edge of the top 100 which means he is finally a value pick. But is this name value again? He is an injury risk but the Mets should have a chance to at least compete for a wild card spot with the pitching depth they have. How about another blind comparison?

Player A: 69 R, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 6 SB, .257/.343/.413
Player B: 67 R, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 9 SB, .275/.347/.432

Not too far apart on value but player B is on the outside of the top 200 even after Martin Prado while player A is David Wright. Player B is his New York counterpart. Yes, Chase Headley. Here are the Steamer projections for the third baseman drafted in the top 200:
3B Steamer Projections

Navigating third base will be interesting but while some values exist, people will be reaching for name value like Evan Longoria and Chris Carpenter. One surprise is Kris Bryant going at pick number 105 without yet being named the starting third baseman for the Cubs. Could he return a profit at this spot? Yes, but that is a fine line to walk. I like Nolan Arenado to take a step forward this year but so does everyone else. Kyle Seager should thrive in the improved Seattle lineup and he was already profiled here. If healthy, Manny Machado is a steal at 148.69. Players outside of the top 200 that I like include Nick Castellanos, Aramis Ramirez and Jake Lamb.

Corner infield is setting itself up for a bounce back in 2015 but there are as many questions as there are locks. Good luck avoiding the land mines. Throw name value out the window and try to see a player for who he really is using the numbers.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, NFBC.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/VEC1jj (Cabrera), http://goo.gl/IBmCX9 (Donaldson)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Catcher & DH

Buster Posey is a world champion & reigning #1 catcher on the Player Rater but he is not worth his ADP
Buster Posey is great but is not worth taking at his current ADP

Draft season is approaching and it seems that we still overthink how to handle catchers. While the production from the position and their ADP’s seem to be coming closer together, there are still owners out there who think that acquiring a top catcher is of the utmost importance. In that, a player like Buster Posey gets drafted too soon. He was the only catcher to crack the top 50 via ESPN’s Player Rater (he finished 49th). He and Jonathan Lucroy were the only two to finish in the top 100 (Lucroy broke out, finishing at 97). Even in two-catcher leagues, I think you can get by owning a top-12 option at the position and waiting until later on in your draft to gamble on a flier type. Devin Mesoraco circa 2014 comes to mind on the flier front.

Due to the declining power numbers in baseball, designated hitters are in transition as well. The top player at the position will be 39 this year and though there seems to be a player who can match Ortiz’s thump, Chris Carter’s batting average leaves something to be desired. 30-homers out of a single player will be rare in 2015, making Carter more valuable than he would have been otherwise. Whether it is the new age of pitching dominance or the emergence of shifts and specialty pitchers, run production will be in demand in fantasy next season. Power is such a scarce commodity that batting averages will likely be ignored if a player can produce 30 home runs. The stigma about a player that hits below .240 and launches 30 bombs is all but gone.

So how do we treat the players and rankings for these positions going forward? I gave my thoughts above about catcher, I try to target a solid top 10-12 catcher and get him at a fair market price whether in auctions or drafts then target a bounce back candidate or younger catcher who could break out later on. If the gamble does not work, there is bound to be someone on the waiver wire I can move on to. If any position in fantasy baseball is related to the kicker in fantasy football, it’s the catcher. Find one with a good chance to get at bats on a solid team and you’re golden. These are your Yan Gomes, Salvador Perez, and Russell Martin types. After that, take a flier or get two of the types above and gamble on upside later in the draft. But to spend a second round pick on a Buster Posey, as good of a real baseball player as he is, just does not make much sense to me.

Following up on my article about the NFBC’s top 200 by ADP, I will list the catchers taken in the top 200 along with their average draft position in the chart:
Catchers ADP Chart
As much as I liked Devin Mesoraco last year, I am shying away from him at the present cost this year. There are too many other players I will be targeting at pick 80. Knowing a catcher rarely makes the top 100 in overall rankings makes it tough to grab one early. Bounce back candidates include Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario and Brian McCann (if he can solve the shift). Stephen Vogt and Carlos Santana lose catcher status in leagues that use 20 games played for eligibility purposes, so that stinks. In an effort to gather statistics, I made a spreadsheet listing their projections by Steamer and CBS:

Catchers Projection Chart 1-6
Catchers Projection Chart 7-13

Two players catch my attention on the chart above; Evan Gattis and Travis d’Arnaud. One is limited by his defense and the other has durability questions. Rumor has it that Gattis will open 2015 as Atlanta’s left fielder now that Justin Upton has been traded to San Diego. This means good things for his value since he will not wear down physically due to the rigors of catching. This should allow him to get 500 at bats. That would be huge since he has hit 43 home runs in 723 career at bats in the majors. If he hits the magic 500 number, that would pace him for 29.74 homers if he maintains his career rates. 30-homer potential out of my catcher slot is something I will definitely be exploring at pick 125.

Travis d’Arnaud also has the ability to be a stealth starting catcher for fantasy owners in 2015, but he has to stay on the field. In the second half of 2014, d’Arnaud slashed .265/.313/.474 while hitting 7 home runs and showed us why he was a top catching prospect. He did appear in 108 games last year and had some bone chips removed in October, so if he is healthy and can stay healthy, then he represents a bargain in 2015.

Speaking of health, Yadier Molina is not even being drafted in the NFBC top 200 so if you like a low double-digit home run hitting catcher that will actually help your batting average then he is your guy. If a team has loaded up on power hitting early, then Molina is a perfect target to balance a team. Another player I like with spotty health issues but burgeoning power is Wilson Ramos. He may break my heart one more time but he can hit 18-20 home runs for Washington while batting .270. Speculate. One more target is Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers. I think he can hit 15 or more home runs for Los Angeles and be a player that is the perfect flier type to pair up with an Evan Gattis. Every draft or auction is different but I think it will pay to wait at catcher.

Since only two designated hitters were taken in the Top 200 NFBC ADP’s it is not too hard to look at them. First here are their projections by Steamer and CBS:

DH Projection Chart

As much as David Ortiz can light up a room and hit home runs, power hitters do not age well. Ortiz has been defying the odds for years. I give him all the credit in the world, but with an ADP in the top 90, I think it is better to let him age on someone else’s team. It’s better to be a year early than a year too late.

Chris Carter does not always make contact, but he has hit 66 HR in 1013 AB's the last two seasons.
Chris Carter does not always make contact, but he has hit 66 HR in 1013 AB’s the last two seasons

Chris Carter will be a polarizing fantasy player since he is the prototypical three outcome kind of guy: a walk, a home run or a strike out. In fact, over his 572 plate appearances in 2014, 48% of his outcomes were one of the above. Carter hit 37 home runs, struck out 182 times and drew 56 walks. But over the second half he slashed a respectable .252/.338/.521. This was fueled by a line drive rate that he cannot maintain for a full season, but the seeds are in place for some growth. Both projections above account for a batting average in the Dunn range, but there is a chance he can hit .240 which increases his value. With the potential for 40 home runs at pick 140, I’ll gamble.

Values are likely to change as all of the sleeper lists and under the radar picks will be coming out, but having a grip on where to take a catcher helps. Don’t be that guy who grabs Posey in the second round to preserve your team’s batting average while other teams are collecting power. It is a precious commodity in fantasy baseball today.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, CBSsports.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/29PPDZ (Posey), http://goo.gl/SwH7RT (Carter)

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Draft Scripts: Early ADP’s

Every live money draft has had one number one pick. The real debates lie in every selection after Mike Trout.
The real debate begins after Mike Trout is selected at 1 overall

Gearing up for fantasy baseball drafts is one of my favorite times of the year. Crunching numbers, ranking players and observing how values fluctuate as the season comes closer is something I really enjoy. I have already been looking at the NFBC ADP available on Nesn.com and there have been interesting developments. But I was even more intrigued by the following tweet today:

While the information available is fascinating, the list that Greg Amrosius kindly posted outlines the top 200 in the money drafts that have already happened. When money is on the line, there will be tougher decisions and the players ranks could provide some early clarity. Processing the top 200 was not easy as I was busy working on spreadsheets, but I modified the 200 players into a more common 12 team format (the NFBC is 15 team league drafts) for the article’s purposes. These are rough estimates and I will follow up tomorrow with the players ranked by position to see what trends show there as well. As for today, I listed the rank of the player, what his average pick selection is and his rank by position in the charts below. After each round or two, I will give my two cents worth on the first top 200 from drafts I have seen this year. If you think you are seeing pitchers early and often, you are correct. Enjoy!

Round 1

That Mike Trout guy is still number one, and he will not be fat this year. He could be a bit weak against pitches up in the zone but he is the only player in the top 12 to go number one in every single draft. I have never been a proponent of taking a pitcher in the first round, but if there is one I would consider it is Clayton Kershaw. Even in an injury riddled season he still produced the goods. There is growing concern around Miguel Cabrera’s ankle and foot surgery but if the Tigers know that they are all in with their window of opportunity closing, he will play through it like he did last September. There are some newcomers in this list with Jose Abreu, Carlos Gomez, Felix Hernandez and Jose Altuve moving into the top 12, but I would only take one at the price listed above; Abreu. Toronto owns the tail end of the first round with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion providing plenty of punch in a lineup that welcomes Josh Donaldson to the fold.

Round 2

There are surprises above with Anthony Rendon and Michael Brantley making huge jumps in early drafts. I was a big proponent of Rendon last year but this may be too rich for my blood. Troy Tulowitzki and a replacement player still make up probably the best shortstop tandem in roto but he comes with risk. At a time where power is in high demand in drafts I will find it difficult to take a player like Adam Jones here but it depends on what is available. Robinson Cano was overpriced in Seattle last year but as the third second baseman, I really love him at 22. While Madison Bumgarner almost single-handedly defeated the Royals, there is a lot of mileage on his arm from last fall, which could cause for some to reach on him. I am waiting.

Round 3

Like Cano, I think the depressed price on Ryan Braun makes him a buy this year. Motivated to prove his detractors wrong and possibly healthy I would rather have a third round Braun over a second round Adam Jones. Pitchers, pitchers everywhere, with four more coming off the board in this round. It is hard to gauge Max Scherzer since some of his value will be determined by where he signs. After A.J. Preller’s wheeling and dealing, there are two Padres in this round with Kemp and Upton. I am not scared by either in Petco this year. Bryce Harper will be a polarizing figure, he is 22 and while he has burned us in the past, this is a good price for him.

Round 4

Projections are all over the place on George Springer but in the fourth round in the mock 200, he could provide first round value. His batting average is not going to be great, but for a player with 30/30 potential, this is a great flier at pick 41.08 overall. Speed is flying off the board here (no pun intended), but Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton may be fighting for the National League stolen base title this year. Carlos Gonzalez, man is he tempting here, but he is made of glass. I go with Springer and take the hit in average for his possible breakout instead of reading that CarGo is out with a tweak or bad finger on a monthly basis. It is an interesting decision, you can take Cueto, Darvish or Wainwright here to anchor your staff, who is it?

Round 5

Two more Rockies outfielders come off the board in Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon. I lean Dickerson here. Last year Albert Pujols was going to fall off but here he is still and somehow I think Miguel Cabrera will do the same this year. Jon Lester had a great 2014 and moving to the NL could help his peripherals, but can he win 15+ with the Cubs this year? In all honesty, the Rockie I am eying the most here is Arenado, I could justify grabbing him ahead of Longoria but there is safety in numbers. Two more closers go off the board here but I am waiting for strikeout upside later, I like Kimbrel and Holland but grab power early and often, pitchers can be had later as you will see.

Round 6

Four more starting pitchers are taken in this round and Matt Harvey is among them. I am tempted to grab him but it is a risk to have him as a number one coming off of Tommy John Surgery and knowing the Mets will protect his innings, but he has had 18 months to rehab and is ready to go. Jeff Samardzija could be a sneaky play in Chicago but I am avoiding Prince Fielder and Yoenis Cespedes. Cole Hamels is nice in this round but really needs a change in scenery to make him a bargain in the sixth.

Round 7

A mini first baseman run happens here following Prince last round with Carlos Santana, Chris Davis and Joey Votto. Gun to my head I will go with Carlos Santana of these three. Crazy? Probably but I am willing to take chances from round seven on. Two Cardinal outfielders are here but if you want safe it is Holliday, upside and playing for a contract, Jason Heyward. I really like him in St. Louis this year.

Round 8

Alex Cobb is a pitcher I like at this point of the draft, especially over James Shields. Josh Harrison had a great year but gambling on a repeat here may be tough to swallow. Wong represents upside and two more closers are off the board. What are fantasy owners going to do with David Wright? I think he is a great value here. While he will not return to his glory days, he has a better track record than Josh Harrison.

Round 9

Speaking of risk, the ninth round brings just that. Kris Bryant has power that is in demand not only in baseball but for fantasy players as well. Javier Baez has all-world power and could swipe 13-15 bags as well, albeit with a .220 average. If Tyson Ross and Jake Arrieta can stay healthy they are good values here, especially Arrieta for me. As a matter of fact, the pitchers in this round are really good targets including Alex Wood, Hisashi Iwakuma and Jacob deGrom. Doubling up early on two aces just doesn’t make sense to me.

Round 10

If the ninth was risky, so is the tenth. Power hitting outfielders who may only hit .250-.260 like J.D. Martinez and Jorge Soler are here, but I prefer them to reaching for Yoenis Cespedes four rounds earlier. Gio Gonzalez was really good in the second half, I mean really good. Speaking of power, if Evan Gattis gets to play left field with catcher eligibility, he can hit 30 home runs. Three more closers go in this round so even though I probably have not taken one yet, the time is nearing.

Round 11

I have seen articles ranking Carlos Carrasco high for this year. But so far in money drafts he is the 30th pitcher selected. Even if he flames out at this price it is easily worth the risk. Speaking of which, Dellin Betances was out of this world good last year. His same age numbers are strikingly similar to his mentor Mariano Rivera, just saying. Definitely taking Gregory Polanco over Wil Myers here. I am very interested to see what Rusney Castillo can do, he will have a better year than fellow Cuban import Yasmany Tomas. Book it.

Round 12

Remember when everyone was so excited by Pablo Sandoval going to Boston? That leaves him as the 12th third baseman selected and while his average and numbers will see a bump, how much will they improve? It seems that people are frightened off by Tanaka’s elbow, and I agree. But if he pitches 20 or more games in this round, he is worth it. Chris Carter hits home runs, takes walks and will not hit much better than .250 but if he can mash 35 long balls, who cares?

Round 13

Why am I not taking Pablo Sandoval in the 12th? Because I can get Manny Machado in the 13th, at least in this top 200. This is a cornucopia of value. Adam LaRoche can hit 30 home runs if he adjusts to DH in Chicago but he will be hitting after Jose Abreu and ahead of Avisail Garcia in a bandbox. Shin-Soo Choo was a consensus top 20 outfielder preseason last year, how soon we forget. Another post hype prospect is Xander Bogaerts who could provide pop at shortstop and flourish this year after some consolidation in 2014.

Round 14 revised

Some outfielders with speed in Brett Gardner, Leonys Martin and Alex Rios come off the board here. Always underrated Howie Kendrick and Justin Morneau, too. I think Hector Rondon is great value this late, he really blossomed in the second half. Jason Motte is a depth signing but Joe Maddon does change closers more than most which can be a worry.

Round 15

Want to know why I am waiting on pitchers? Look no further. Drew Smyly and Zack Wheeler could provide good ratios and strikeouts in round 14. Not to mention Marcus Stroman who could break out this year. His 2014 was not a fluke and with a better defense he is primed to shine in 2015. Avisail Garcia is another target I really like here, the White Sox are going to score runs and he may hit fifth with double-digit home runs and stolen bases.

Round 16 revised

I have yet to give up on Wilson Ramos and I will be lighting a candle for his health. If anyone this year can follow Devin Mesoraco’s power breakthrough of 2014, it is Ramos in 2015. Melky Cabrera will produce in Chicago and could bat second. Speaking of health, Travis d’Arnaud is another catcher with upside if he can stay on the field.

last 8 picks in 200

How can you take Matt Shoemaker over Phil Hughes? His K/BB in the second half was epic and though his wins are neutralized a bit in Minnesota, he is being overlooked. Mike Fiers will also be a popular sleeper target but look at Jose Fernandez. It seems the Marlins are all in and if he can return by July, a half season of Fernandez is better than a whole one from other pitchers. At this point, I would take A.J. Pollock over Josh Hamilton and that is really all you need to know about that.

Tomorrow I will list the players by position and try to formulate a set of tiers based on this early 200 courtesy of Greg Ambrosius of the NFBC. Drafts are coming, I may be crazy, but using all the information we can will help us be right.

Statistical credits: http://nfbcforums.stats.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16344
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/8oFeAz

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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!