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!

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Transaction Scripts: Kemp to San Diego; Grandal to LA

Is Kemp's move to San Diego that drastic of a downgrade for fantasy? His career .837 OPS in Petco suggests otherwise
Kemp’s career .837 OPS at Petco suggests he’ll be just fine in San Diego

Things are fast moving places like Los Angeles. So, in an effort to continue restructuring their roster, the Dodger brass have freed up some space in their outfield by moving the mercurial Matt Kemp to the division rival Padres in return for catcher Yasmani Grandal along with minor league pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. While this move is definitely about money it is also about the Dodgers addressing a need behind the dish.

Eflin is essentially going to be the return for Jimmy Rollins, which is probably why the Dodgers wanted him involved. It’s obvious that they needed to shore up their infield defense and Rollins definitely helps them do that.

Matt Kemp is a Padre

As the fantasy pundits are lining up to jump off the Matt Kemp bandwagon, I am actually intrigued by this trade. Not only has Kemp played in Petco but if his surgically repaired shoulder can stay glued together he may not fall as far as people are forecasting. I realize that the ballpark effects do not favor Kemp in this move as Dodger stadium is rated as a 100 for right-handed hitters while Petco is only rated a 91. Over the last 3 years Kemp’s homers have an average true distance of 404.3 feet, average standard distance of 398.2 feet and average speed off the bat of 102.3 MPH. Here is an overlay of Kemp’s 25 home runs from 2014 with Petco Park:

Kemp Petco Overlay 2014
While the fantasy community was going to be split on what type of year Kemp was going to have based on his splits from 2014, one thing is clear, he was a beast in the second half. San Diego has a hard time luring free agent hitters to sign because the ballpark can suppress power numbers. But in a time when power numbers are at a premium, this seems like a good chance to take. First, here are Kemp’s 2014 splits:

Matt Kemp 1H: 86 G, 38 R, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, .269/.330/.430
Matt Kemp 2H:
64 G, 39 R, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 3 SB, .309/.365/.606

It’s obvious that Kemp will be hard pressed to replicate that second half over a full season but what if he is changing as a hitter? Because of the injuries it is apparent that the 30/30 days are over for him but that shouldn’t be a problem as long as he can be a 25 home run and 8 steal player. He is only 30 years old. For fun I wanted to see what his career numbers at Petco looked like:

Matt Kemp vs. San Diego: 123 G, 61 R, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB, .296/.358/.479
Matt Kemp in Petco: 59 G, 28 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 8 SB, .322/.372/.495

The former MVP runner up has a career slash line of .292/.349/.495 and when you look at that in comparison to his numbers in Petco, they are almost in line. But Kemp will play half of his games on the road, no? I also wanted to take a little time and run his average numbers from the last 3 seasons even though his injury shortened 2013 is involved. Even with that factored in, his slash lines from 2012 through 2014 are .282/.349/.493. If we use 2012 and 2014 to average his counting stats they look like this: 76 runs, 24 home runs, 79 RBI and 9 steals. Taking that into perspective and knowing his 2014 second half is an outlier is this projection really that bad?

Matt Kemp 2015: 150 G, 80 R, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 9 SB, .288/.345/.480

If people are not going to buy any stock on Matt Kemp so be it, he’ll be cheaper for us.

Dodgers add Grandal, Wieland and Eflin (for now)

Grandal may lose sleeper status but do not forget his 15 HR and .781 OPS as a left handed hitter
Grandal may lose sleeper status but do not forget his 15 HR and .781 OPS as a left-handed hitter

Prior to the Dodgers adding Yasmani Grandal I was starting to target him as a sleeper for 2015. Now that his arrival in Los Angeles may take that option away, it bears looking at why he is being acquired to play as the left-handed bat in a platoon with A.J. Ellis. Taking a look at Grandal’s 2014 numbers they seem innocent enough:

Yasmani Grandal 2014: 128 G, 47 R, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB, .225/.327/.401

Kind of standard for a second catcher in an NL-only league or deeper mixed as his power is enticing. But looking deeper there is a reason that he should only play as a left-handed bat:

Grandal as L vs RHP: 303 AB, 15 HR, 43 RBI, .241/.329/.452
Grandal as R vs LHP:
74 AB, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .162/.323/.189

Since he can be on the positive side of a platoon and in a lineup more prone to generate runs and RBI opportunity, Grandal stands to benefit. He is only 26 years old and may be approaching his peak, offensively speaking. In 2014 his standard true distance for home runs was 400.5 feet and the speed off of his bat was an impressive 104.1 MPH. Here are his home runs with an overlay of Dodger Stadium:

Grandal overlay in LA
Better than that, he was showing progress in the second half slashing .242/.356/.440 as opposed to .210/.299/.364 prior. In his 58 games after the All Star break, Grandal hit 8 home runs and drove in 30. If he is going to play in a straight platoon, Grandal is a player to target at catcher late in auctions or drafts for a run at 18-20 home runs before he is a known entity.

Joe Wieland is one of the pitchers to come over in the Kemp trade with a strong minor league pedigree but also the victim of Tommy John Surgery in 2012. Featuring an above average curveball and changeup, Wieland has an impressive 5.2 K:BB in 476 innings in the minors. His fastball sits at 92 MPH and has been very hittable in the majors with a batting average against of .330 in his time with the Padres but his curve’s BAA is .222 and his changeup is only .188. Since he is still building up his innings due to the surgery and minor elbow complications last year, Wieland only logged 50 innings last year. Like Andrew Heaney yesterday, it is not yet known if Wieland is wanted by the Dodgers or if he is a piece they will move in a future trade.

According to most reports, it appears that Zach Eflin is the player to be named to make Jimmy Rollins a Dodger so he will be moving to Philadelphia. He is only 20 years old but won 10 games in high A last year with 93 strikeouts in 128 innings. His fastball touches 95 but his changeup is a work in progress. Moving to the Phillies may help him get the call up to the big club a bit quicker then if he were with another organization.

Since the Padres were dealing from strength to address a need, this was a deal they had to make. They get the power hitting corner outfielder that they have been unable to attract and Yasmani Grandal gets the chance to hit in a deeper lineup. While Kemp may see a slight drop in his counting stats, the fact that many are going to avoid him creates a unique buying opportunity on a player that is not done yet.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/PkC3na (Kemp),  http://goo.gl/rxDnkm (Grandal)

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!

Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank Catchers

Did you know this guy is the best daily catcher vs. LHP?
Did you know Norris is the best daily catcher vs. LHP?

As the daily fantasy game continues to evolve and gain popularity, the research and advantages to using advanced statistics have made year-long gamers better as well. It is hard to ignore the impact that the daily game has had within the fantasy sports industry. With that in mind I wanted to follow up my second half rankings series with a look at how players are stack by applying splits to the equation. Oakland has been a lead on the value of splits and platoons and their catchers this year are a prime example. Instead of using just one catcher they use John Jaso, Derek Norris and even Stephen Vogt (a catcher by trade because of his bat) which has been a very useful group in fantasy baseball. For example, in a league with daily transactions here is the Oakland platoon versus the highest drafted catcher Buster Posey:

Buster Posey 2014 Stats: 38 R, 11 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB .278/.339/.427

Oakland catchers 2014: 54 R, 13 HR, 59 RBI, 4 SB .302/.380/.479

To be fair to Posey, it is hard for an individual to beat a team but the stats I am using are to prove a point. The Oakland stats are only from when their players are at catcher and not DH so it does not skew the overall counting numbers. But as more and more teams see this it will involve more clubs exploiting platoons and more importantly splits. So if you are a daily “degenerate” as many of the daily fantasy players refer to themselves as, here is what their knowledge of splits using advanced statistics can teach us. First here is a glossary of the stats I will be using:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

Below I will list the top ten catchers for each split, versus left-handed and right-handed pitching. These lists are important when formulating what players to target on a daily basis moving forward. After listing each top ten in the five categories above, I will average out their finishes for the top ten list against each split.

Catchers versus Left-Handed Pitchers (minimum of 50 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Derek Norris .447
2. Carlos Ruiz .427
3. Chris Iannetta .420
4. Brian McCann .400
5. Jonathan Lucroy .399
6. Yan Gomes .397
7. Wilin Rosario .396
8. Devin Mesoraco .377
9. Buster Posey .369
10. Rene Rivera.363

ISO:
1. Wilin Rosario .338
2. Rene Rivera .304
3. David Ross .288
4. Chris Iannetta .253
5. Derek Norris .233
6. Brian McCann .213
7. Mike Zunino .208
8. Jonathan Lucroy .202
9. Devin Mesoraco .196
10. Yan Gomes .194

OPS:
1. Derek Norris 1.039
2. Chris Iannetta .968
3. Carlos Ruiz .964
4. Wilin Rosario .931
5. Jonathan Lucroy .928
6. Yan Gomes .924
7. Brian McCann .914
8. Devin Mesoraco .884
9. Rene Rivera .842
10. Buster Posey .840

AB/HR:
1. Wilin Rosario 11.8
2. David Ross 13
3. Rene Rivera 14
4. Chris Iannetta 16.6
5. Derek Norris 17.2
6. Robinson Chirinos 19
7. Brian McCann 22.3
8. Tyler Flowers 24
9. Mike Zunino 24
10. Yan Gomes 24.5

wRC+: (100 is league average)
1. Derek Norris 193
2. Carlos Ruiz 176
3. Chris Iannetta 176
4. Yan Gomes 158
5. Jonathan Lucroy 155
6. Brian McCann 154
7. Buster Posey 143
8. Wilin Rosario 139
9. Devin Mesoraco 138
10. Rene Rivera 137

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above:
1. Derek Norris – 86 AB, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 360/446/593
2. Chris Iannetta – 83 AB, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 313/402/566
3. Wilin Rosario – 71 AB, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 282/311/620
4. Carlos Ruiz – 48 AB, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 313/484/479
5. Brian McCann – 89 AB, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 326/375/539
6. Jonathan Lucroy – 94 AB, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 330/396/532
7. Rene Rivera – 56 AB, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 250/288/554
8. Yan Gomes – 98 AB, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 347/383/541
9. David Ross – 52 AB, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 231/317/519
10. Devin Mesoraco – 51 AB, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 294/393/490

The top three players in the rankings make great targets against left-handed starters in daily play. While their prices vary, each is solid across the board. I am shocked by how well Brian McCann is doing against lefties. Is there less of a shift or does he stay in longer? Definitely a shock but his numbers suggest it is not a fluke this year. Yan Gomes has been hot and will see his price rise but he is worth the gamble. In the lower price range, David Ross is a boom or bust proposition and I only suggest using him against a weak lefty, but Rene Rivera is an interesting and inexpensive option in San Diego. With another home run today off Mike Minor he is worth a look when in the lineup against southpaws.

Catchers versus Right Handed Pitchers (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Stephen Vogt .411
2. Devin Mesoraco .409
3. Russell Martin .393
4. Jonathan Lucroy .384
5. John Jaso .379
6. Carlos Santana .359
7. Evan Gattis .358
8. Miguel Montero .355
9. Salvador Perez .355
10. Derek Norris .346

ISO:
1. Devin Mesoraco .310
2. Carlos Santana .235
3. Evan Gattis .231
4. Yasmani Grandal .210
5. John Jaso .201
6. Mike Zunino .199
7. Jonathan Lucroy .192
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia .188
9. Yan Gomes .176
10. Robinson Chirinos .175

OPS:
1. Devin Mesoraco .948
2. Stephen Vogt .942
3. Jonathan Lucroy .879
4. Russell Martin .875
5. John Jaso .868
6. Evan Gattis .829
7. Miguel Montero .817
8. Salvador Perez .809
9. Carlos Santana .802
10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia .774

AB/HR:
1. Carlos Santana 15.8
2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia 22.6
3. Yan Gomes 24.6
4. Jonathan Lucroy 25.1
5. Miguel Montero 25.2
6. Robinson Chirinos 25.7
7. Salvador Perez 27.6
8. Jason Castro 27.8
9. John Jaso 28.6
10. Alex Avila 30

wRC+:
1. Stephen Vogt 168
2. Devin Mesoraco 162
3. Russell Martin 155
4. John Jaso 146
5. Jonathan Lucroy 144
6. Carlos Santana 132
7. Evan Gattis 129
8. Salvador Perez 126
9. Miguel Montero 123
10. Derek Norris 123

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above:
1. Devin Mesoraco
2. Jonathan Lucroy
3. Carlos Santana
4. Stephen Vogt
5. John Jaso
6. Russell Martin
7. Evan Gattis
8. Miguel Montero
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
10. Salvador Perez

Carlos is not number 1 against righties yet, but he is closing fast after a huge weekend in KC
Carlos is not #1 against right-handers yet, but he is closing in fast after a huge weekend in Kansas City

It is apparent that the Oakland theme is not a mistake. With Derek Norris placing first overall in regards to facing left-handed pitching and both Stephen Vogt and John Jaso in the top five versus righties, they are on to something here. It is imperative to see who the A’s are facing and to use one of their catchers in both DFS leagues and year-long ones. The values of Jaso and Vogt are on the rise as Coco Crisp is likely headed for another DL stint as they batted in the top two spots of the lineup today. Carlos Santana had a weekend for the ages but no longer has catcher eligibility on Fan Duel. He does maintain it on other sites, however. He is on a meteoric tear right now and his prices will be adjusted. I had him as a target last week in my second half preview and if you got him this week, great job. Jonathan Lucroy is a model of consistency but his being ranked higher against right-handed pitching than left-handed surprised me. Speaking of Lucroy, only he and Devin Mesoraco made both lists pointing to their values going forward. This is only a piece of the puzzle but if you play daily or have been interested, I hope these lists help you identify players to target in that landscape.

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

Statistical credits: BrooksBaseball.net, Fangraphs.com, Yahoo.com, MiLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/Ql5pGi (Norris), http://goo.gl/bygAKS (Santana)

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/17 (Late)

Who is excited baseball is back????? I know I am which also means that Daily Fantasy Baseball is back as well. I really enjoy DFS Baseball as it keeps you even more involved and keeps you up to date with guys you normally wouldn’t care about.

Another solid day over at Fan Duel, I hope you have been following along and been making some $$$.

Well everything I am going to bring you my lineup in which I am playing over at FanDuel.com – Which if you haven’t joined just click this link here: http://partners.fanduel.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_3360b_2

I am going to bring you the lineup I feel is the best for you to bring home some $$$ for the day. Early on we are fighting the guessing game but riding some of the guys hot bats to start the season.

The Sports Script Fan Duel MLB Lineup for 04/17

lineup

Here are a few reasons why I like these matchups.

James Shields vs. Houston Astros – SHIELDS vs. THE ASTROS!!!!!!

Evan Longoria vs. CC Sabathia – hitting .396 (21/53) with 6 2Bs, 6 HRs, 13 RBIs & 12 BBs

DJ LeMahieu vs. Ian Kennedy – hitting .417 (5/12) with 3 2Bs, 3 RBIs & a BB

Ryan Braun vs. Edinson Volquez – hitting .355 (11/31) with a 2B, a HR, 3 RBIs & 5 BBs

Don’t forget to tune into the Fantasy Forecaster each and every Wednesday at 9 PM EST here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/foryourconsideration or download the show on iTunes by clicking the link here. https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-sports-script/id850876078?mt=2