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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5 Questions Surrounding Fantasy Baseball ShortStops

The MLB season is upon us which means it is time for the Fantasy Baseball season. We here at the Sports Script want to do everything possible in setting you up for draft day and helping you throughout the season to win a Fantasy Baseball Championship. We are gathering a team of Sports Script writers as well as some special guest to answer 5 key questions about each position for the upcoming 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season. Today we have gathered me (Ricky Valero), Matt Bell and Matt Wincherauk as we are going to take a look at the ShortStop.

5 Questions surrounding Fantasy SS

1 – Which player or players are you targeting?

Matt Bell – This is the one position I seem to struggle at yearly to pin point players. I think you obviously target Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki, but of course they are both injury risks to waste a high pick on. They have a ton of reward if they don’t get hurt for you as both guys are élite players. I wouldn’t mind passing on these guys if you don’t get some value on them and taking a guy like Ian Desmond. He’s hit around .280 for his career and is a threat for 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases just like he did in 2013 again in 2014.

Matt Wincherauk – I’ve always been a huge fan of Troy Tulowitzki, and he’s probably the most sure things when it comes to a short stop. He’s the guy that I’ll be targeting come draft time.

Ricky – Jed Lowrie is someone I really want on all of my teams. In his 1st full season as a Big leaguer, Lowrie impressed hitting .290 with 15 HRs and 75 RBIs. He is currently ranked in the mid-teens on most draft boards and I see him sneaking among the top 8 fantasy SS this season.

2 – Which player are you staying away from?

Matt Bell – This is tough as I don’t see one guy that I would just hate to have on my team in the top of most rankings, so I’m going with Derek Jeter here. The guy is awesome and a hall of fame shortstop, but he’s not someone I want in his final year on my fantasy team. I think some fantasy players this year with go with the sentimental pick and take him this year and I’m not one of those people. Derek Jeter I wish you all the best, but I want to win my fantasy championship!

Matt Wincherauk – I am definitely staying away from Derek Jeter this year, despite him being a sentimental favorite. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy of late, and the production just isn’t there anymore. Some people will take him out of emotion.

Ricky – Jean Segura – His pre and post All-Star stats are a big concern. As you will see below.

Pre All-Star – .325 BA – 54 R – 121 H – 11 HR – 36 RBI – 27 SB
Post All-Star – .241 BA – 20 R – 52 H – 1 HR – 13 RBI – 17 SB

Such a big difference between the two half has put a ton of question surrounding his status for the 2014 season. With really not knowing which Segura I am going to get and him having such a high price in fantasy leagues, I don’t think I will be drafting him this season.

3 – Who is the biggest sleeper heading into 2014?

Matt Bell – The Sleeper at SS that I was going to go with was going to be Starlin Castro as I figure he will have some value this year after a terrible 2013 for his standards, but I decided that seemed to obvious. I’m going to go with a name that not many will be familiar with and that guy is Jonathan Villar. He’s going to be the starting short stop for the Houston Astros and should be batting leadoff. He hit for around .240 last year in 52 games, but was still able to steal 18 bases in that short time. He’s very fast and can be a threat for stolen bases as well as extra base hits.

Matt Wincherauk – My biggest sleeper is one of the best young prospects in baseball, its Xander Bogaerts. He really impressed everyone during the Red Sox run to a World Series Championship, and now he’s looking to blow up in his first full year.

Ricky – Everth Cabrera – Cabrera has yet to play a full season and boy if/when he does he is going to be good. He has huge upside with .280 average, 50+ SBs and 80-85 runs scored as the leadoff man for the Padres.

4 – Which player will be a bust for Fantasy owners?

Matt Bell – The biggest disappointment this year will be those people who wait and grab Jimmy Rollins in the later rounds thinking they’ve got a steal, but in reality they’ve got a 35-year-old shortstop. Rollins is going to be decent, but I don’t think he can be considered a top short stop option anymore and should just be passed on for some of the younger guys below him.

Matt Wincherauk – Jose Reyes is my pick for bust, mostly because the guy can never stay healthy. His first year was a bit of a disappointment, and don’t see things getting better in Toronto.

Ricky – Starlin Castro – One of my favorite guys heading into last season. He was a true bust and really killed all my fantasy teams. A ton of talk surrounding him being a potential “sleeper” this season and bouncing back from the miserable year he had. I just don’t see it happening, he had a low in hits, runs, RBIs, stolen bases, batting average, OBP, SLG and saw a career high in strikeouts. The patients at the plate is concerning and all the “sleeper” talk will make his stock higher than it deserves to be. Stay far away from him this season if you can.

5 – Give a bold prediction for one player.

Matt Bell – The bold prediction for short stop is that we see a breakout season for Castro after his worst year. He will finish in the top 5 of all shortstop and be named to the all-star team for the Cubs.

Matt Wincherauk – Despite the hype around Jean Segura and Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki will be the best shortstop in fantasy baseball. Another 30+ home run, and .300+ average for the best in baseball.

Ricky – Alexei Ramirez will be a top 5 Fantasy Shortstop in 2014. The power loss is a concern but a guy with back to back 20+ stolen bases, scores and has a solid average. Ramirez will step it up this season and Fantasy owners will sit back and enjoy.

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster @mattbell211 & @TheMattyWin and we will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings

MLB season is upon us and Fantasy Baseball is back and better than ever! Over the next few weeks we are planning on getting you ready for any of the upcoming Fantasy drafts that you have. This week we are sending out our initial 2014 rankings that will be updated as Spring Training progresses. The week after we are going to answer 5 questions about each position as well as giving you some insight into some players that we like as well. Matt Bell is joining me today as we rank ShortStop as well as take a look at one guy we like higher than his ADP and one we have lower than his ADP.

2014 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings (as of 02/21/14)

Rank Ricky Valero Matt Bell  
1 Hanley Ramirez Troy Tulowitzki
2 Troy Tulowitzki Hanley Ramirez
3 Ian Desmond Ian Desmond
4 Jose Reyes Jose Reyes
5 Jean Segura Elvis Andrus
6 Elvis Andrus Starlin Castro
7 Starlin Castro Jean Segura
8 Everth Cabrera Everth Cabrera
9 Alexei Ramirez JJ Hardy  
10 Ben Zobrist Alexei Ramirez
11 JJ Hardy Ben Zobrist
12 Jed Lowrie Jonathan Villar
13 Jhonny Peralta Brad Miller
14 Asdrubal Cabrera Jhonny Peralta
15 Andrelton Simmons Asdrubal Cabrera
16 Xander Bogaerts Jed Lowrie
17 Jimmy Rollins Jurickson Profar
18 Erick Aybar Andreltton   Simmons
19 Jonathan Viller Jimmy Rollins
20 Bradley Miller Xander Bogaerts
21 Jurickson Profar Erick Aybar
22 Derek Jeter Alcides Escobar
23 Alcides Escobar Zack Cozard
24 Zack Cozart Derek Jeter
25 Stephen Drew Stephen Drew

Why I ranked (blank) higher than his Current ADP (ADP average comes from the rankings at Fantasypros.com)

Ricky – Alexei Ramirez – Current ADP 14th – I have him ranked 9th – Ramirez RBIs dropped last season in a weak White Sox lineup but saw his batting average, hits, runs and stolen bases increase. Abreu added to this lineup will help Ramirez see some better pitches as well. A solid average, gets on base and steals as well, he will help you all the way around.

Matt Bell – Jonathan Villar is my sleeper in all fantasy leagues this year as I really like what this guy can do. He’s got an ADP of 19th, but is all the way up to the 12th spot in my rankings. He has the potential to steal 35 or more bases this year as he snagged 18 in only 58 games last year. If you miss out on Tulo or Hanley in the 1st few rounds you can always let the SS spot fall to the late rounds and grab Villar who can help in the stolen base category quite a bit.

Why I ranked (blank) lower than his current ADP.

Ricky – Asdrubal Cabrera – Current ADP 11th – I have him ranked 14th – Cabrera is on the downside of his career and honestly don’t believe he is worth a slot on the roster. In 2014, he might only be a one maybe two category guy which is just not good enough for fantasy owners.

Matt Bell – Jean Segura is a little lower in my rankings than most as he’s got an ADP of 4, but in my rankings you will find him down at 7th. I think he’s a going to be a good shortstop, but we’ve only seen him play one full season so far. I want to see more from this young shortstop, before I can rank him ahead of a few guys. I’m also putting him behind Castro who I’m fully expecting to have a bounce back year and I think has a chance to equal his stats with a few more home runs.

In case you missed these, here are my Catcher Rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BY), 1st baseman (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-BZ), 2nd baseman rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-C2) and 3rd Baseman Rankings (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-C7).

If you have any questions about the upcoming Fantasy Baseball season make sure to hope on over to twitter and ask. You can follow me @rickygangster and I will answer any and all questions.

Want to help support the Sports Script? You ever buy anything from Amazon? Just use our link and we get a little kick back to support the site! Sports Script Amazon Link

A.L. All Star Game Lineup

All Star Game

The latest voting numbers for the MLB All Star Game were released over the weekend and the race in the American League is certainly heating up. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is reigning supreme with 4,337,223 votes and on pace to set record numbers for overall votes. Currently Josh Hamilton holds the record for the most All Star votes received at 11,073,744 in the 2012 season. The Baltimore Orioles are making a splash with 4 position players occupying the lead in votes. In the outfield, the battle for the final spot is a close one.

1st Baseman:

Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has a secure spot with 3,960,299 votes, the second most overall votes. Davis is having an impressive season leading the league with 27 homeruns, has 69 RBI’s and is batting a .336 average.  Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers follows Davis in votes with 2,579,031. Fielder has 12 homeruns, 55 RBI’s, and is batting .275.

2nd Baseman:

Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is leading the voting with 3,032, 183 votes. Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox occupies the number 2 spot with 2,135,499. Cano and Pedroia have similar 2013 numbers, Cano with 44 RBI’s and a .278 average, Pedroia with 41 RBI’s and a .305 average, but the real difference comes in the power hitting. Cano has 16 homeruns on the season while Pedroia has 4. Traditionally power hitters draw the most interest from fans.

Shortstop:

While J. J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles still holds the lead in votes, Jhonny Peralta has moved ahead of Elvis Andrus in voting. The more deserving short stop is hard to decipher. Peralta has had a fantastic season thus far, batting .331 with 31 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, and only 4 errors on the year. Of Hardy and Andrus, he has the best fielding percentage. However, Hardy is a power-hitting short stop with 14 HR’s. He has 43 RBI’s and a .270 batting average. Hardy has been on a tear as of late and is the reigning Gold Glove winner. A case can be made for either. Currently, Hardy has 2,788,972 votes compared to Peralta’s 1,838,500.

3rd Baseman:

Miguel Cabrera has comfortably claimed a spot on the All Star team with Manny Machado second in voting with 2,097,804 votes. Cabrera is on pace for another career-defining season with 74 RBI’s, 20 HR’s and a .368 batting average. Machado is having a breakout year and may well be the best overall 3rd baseman in the league; however, he plays the same position as the best pure hitter in baseball. Machado has 64 RBI’s, 12 HR’s, and a .299 batting average in 2013.

Catcher:

Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins holds the starting spot at 2,788,972 votes. Matt Wieters of the Baltimore Orioles is second with 2,068, 032 votes. Mauer should get the spot as he is having a more consistent season at the plate. Wieters has had an under-performing year, hitting .233 with 37 RBI’s and 9 HR’s, but has thrown out 48% of attempted steals. Mauer is hitting .327 with 25 RBI’s and 8 HR’s, while throwing out 40% of attempted steals.

DH:

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox claims the DH spot with 3,247,462 votes (batting .309, 16 HR’s and 55 RBI’s). Lance Berkman of the Texas Rangers is far behind with 1,519, 503 votes. Third in voting is Edwin Encarnacion (1,091,593 votes) of the Toronto Blue Jays who may be more deserving of the spot. While Berkman is hitting .260 with 33 RBI’s and 6 HR’s, Encarnacion is hitting .269 with 59 RBI’s and an impressive 20 HR’s on the year.

Outfield:

With Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels looking secure in the first and second outfield spot, 3,571, 693 and 3,548,195 respectively, there is a 3-way battle for the final spot. Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles holds a slim lead at 1,915,860 votes. Close behind him is Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays with 1,867,367, a lead of only 48,000 votes. This week’s voting update puts him ahead of Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers, who currently has 1,851,657 votes, only 16,000 behind Bautista. If Jones and Markakis both get a spot it will be the first time in Orioles franchise history that outfield teammates are selected and only the 17th time in MLB history.

Pitching:

Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers has a spotless record in the 2013 season at 11-0, an impressive stat even with the support of the Tigers’ strong offensive line-up. He has also struck out 6 or more batters in each of his 15 starts, the fourth longest consecutive streak. Holding batters to a .192 average, 122 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.05, Scherzer is a worthy candidate for starting pitcher. Between Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister, of the Detroit Tigers, AL Manager Jim Leyland has a plethora of options on his own roster. Other candidates for the starting position include Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox. Darvish boasts an incredible 143 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .208 batting average, and has an ERA of 2.95. Buchholz has 81 strikeouts, holds opponents to a .195 batting average, with an ERA of 1.71. However, Buchholz is currently on the 15-day DL making his availability uncertain. In relief, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees should be an easy selection. Already with 26 saves in 2013, 43-year-old Rivera has 634 regular season saves as well as 4 All Star game saves. Rivera is set to retire after this season.

While securing a spot on the All Star roster is not necessarily an indication of stellar performance on the season (see Derek Jeter who managed to accumulate 819,175 votes) we are looking at a crop of the very best representing the American League.

Voting is open until July 4th. Visit MLB.com to cast your ballot.