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The Keeper Corner #234-220

The preseason projections hit their first super star.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Keeper Corner #234-220

We hit some big names from the preseason projections.

Today we hit a talented cluster.  These players were all valued under $4.50, but a few of them had great peripherals, were recently high profile prospects, or had a history of flashing tools.  This list is the beginning of the fun players showing up.  All of them had question marks coming into 2015, but if you can nail guys from this group, you created your own luck.

#234 Rafael Soriano, RP, FA

$3.54, 58K, 3 W, 27 SV, 3.30 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, 3.055 K/BB

Soriano waited to sign later in the year, and was slow to reach the bigs.  He suffered a shoulder injury and only pitched 5.2 innings.  Next season he'll be 36 years old, and window of being a fantasy closer has shut.

#233 Kyle Lohse, SP, MIL

$3.55, 127 K, 11W, 3.784 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, 3.024 K/BB

Lohse was the leagues punching bag all season.  He was bad enough that he pitched too few innings to qualify for the ERA title, but if he had his 1.71 HR/9 would have been the worst in baseball. He's hitting free agency, and is 37 years old.  This may be the end of the line for him.

#232 Curtis Granderson, OF, NYM

$3.65, 77R, 23 HR, 65 RBI, 10 SB, .231 AVG, .739 OPS

Granderson had a great year outperforming all 6 projected stats.  His 27.1% line drive rate was the 4th best in the MLB, and a career high.  Next season I expect another nice performance from him.  Looking at the Steamer projections he was given he could be a top 25 OF again next season.

#231 Joc Pederson, OF, LAD

$3.65, 66R, 20 HR, 49 RBI, 20 SB, .233 AVG, .764 OPS

This projection was based off of him only getting 399 at bats.  Pederson put up a bizarre stat line, headlined by 26 home runs, and he had more R and RBI than anticipated.  But his 4 SB were far less than estimated after having a 30/30 season in AAA the year before.  To exemplify the oddity that his 2015 was, he had the 5th worst strike out rate in baseball, and the 6th best walk rate.  His 115 wRC+ shows that he was good, despite his wretched contact rates.  Its possible he becomes a three true outcome machine, but that isn't what owners were hoping for.

#230 Danny Salazar, SP, CLE

$3.66, 184 K, 9 W, 3.906 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 3.102 K/BB

His mediocre 2014 numbers skewed projections despite the talent he had previously flashed.  He beat all the projections, and did that by greatly improving his batted ball profile, and through that dropped his Babip close to 70 points.  As a keeper asset, I love Salazar.

#229 Dallas Keuchel, SP, HOU

$3.68, 144 K, 12 W, 3.509 ERA, 1.234 WHIP, 2.481 K/BB

Keuchel turned into a fantasy ace this season.  He continued being a ground ball machine, and the Correa/Altuve combo turned a lot of those into outs.  He struck out over 8 per 9 which is his career best, had a walk rate under 2 also a career best, and the second best ground ball rate in baseball.  All of this combined to make the Astros ace a Cy Young winner, and a potential fantasy MVP when factoring in his cost.  Next season, because of the fickle nature of wins and the lower K rates, I expect him to somewhere in the SP #7-10 range, and not the #9 overall player.

#228 Bobby Parnell, RP, NYM

$3.71, 46K, 2W, 27SV, 2.52 ERA, 1.100 WHIP, 3.583 K/BB

Injuries reduced his playing time, and velocity.  When he was healthy enough to play, he wasn't good enough to make it work.  Familia has the closer role locked up, and the Mets have better options than Parnell available to set up.  Ignore him going forward.

#227 Sonny Gray, SP, OAK

$3.74, 181 K, 15 W, 3.385 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, 2.155 K/BB

Gray had an interesting year for the A's. He went out on the field and gave his owners innings and outs, but his strikeouts dipped for the third straight year.  To nullify the effects of his K rate, he walk rate was a career best, and had an elite 50+% GB rate for the third straight year.  Next season, I expect him to continue pitching well, as he gives up a great batted ball profile, and Coliseum will enhance that.  I do not expect him to be an ace unless he changes his approach to batters, and starts intentionally pitching for Ks.  I can't imagine him doing that with the success he's had with his current strategy.

#226 Joe Nathan, RP, DET

$3.74, 62 K, 3 W, 40 SV, 3.429 ERA, 1.317 WHIP, 2.48 K/BB

Suffered a torn UCL after his first appearance of the season.  He hasn't said he is retiring, but I can't vouch for him to be anything of value for any depth league next season.

#225 Jake Odorizzi, SP, TB

$3.79, 177 K, 10 W, 3.691 ERA, 1.275 WHIP, 2.766 K/BB

Odorizzi still has unrealized potential.  He was a top 100 prospect multiple seasons in a row prior to reaching the minors.  He hasn't brought his minor league K rates with him to the bigs, and his ground ball rates are some of the worst in baseball, We'll see which side of Odorizzi shows up next season, but a jump in K's wouldn't be completely out of left field, and the Tampa Bay Rays have shown a tremendous talent in developing pitchers.

#224 Erick Aybar, SS, LAA

$3.89, 76 R, 7 HR, 60 RBI, 16 SB, .277 AVG, .701 OPS

Aybar underachieved, but the line wasn't terrible considering what other short stops produced this season.  I'm not a fan, but it shows that positional scarcity isn't something keep in mind when building an offense.  Even SS has guys that can fill holes while you search for the next guy.

#223 Carlos Beltran, OF/DH, NYY

$3.9, 59 R, 20 HR, 61 RBI, 4 SB, .259 AVG, .766 OPS

At age 38, he was a productive player again, and once he became healthier in the second half, he performed very well (.877  OPS).  Beltran is a natural hitter, and as long as he is healthy enough to play, he will continue to perform well in a Yankee uniform.

#222 CC Sabathia, SP, NYY

$4.11, 157 K, 12W, 4.193 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 3.34 K/BB

Sabathia showed up to spring training at 300 lbs, saying he wasn't used to pitching while being in better shape, as he had recently tried in previous seasons.  He put in his third terrible season in a row, and had knee issues during the year.  Prior to the Yankees wild card game, he checked himself into rehab for alcohol issues.

Off the field issues aside, Sabathia is no longer a good pitcher according to any measurement.  His velocity is gone, and he hasn't adapted to a finesse style of pitching.  Besides his salary obligations, its hard to find a reason for him to be a starter on the Yankees next season.  Tanaka, Eovaldi, Nova, Pineda, and Severino all showed much more talent.

#221 Matt Weiters, C, BAL

$4.12, 55R, 20HR, 69 RBI, 2 SB, .258 AVG, .760 OPS

Weiters couldn't catch on back to back days for the majority of last season.  This may cost him his job in Baltimore, which will not help his value going forward.  He only managed to get 75 games in, and they weren't impressive.  His strikeout rate spiked, but we don't know if this is due to his skills deteriorating, or from playing through injuries.  He's still a catcher you can start next season.

#220 Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT

$4.20, 79 R, 11 HR, 68 RBI, 25 SB, .250 AVG, .687 OPS

Polanco had a better average, OPS, and steal total.  He only hit 9 home runs, but his increased fly ball rate, and hard hit rate from last season, indicates more power may be on its way.  His home run and fly ball rate was down to 5.5% which is unusually low considering the grades his power received on scouting reports, and what I've personally seen from him.

This cluster was a strong group, and while the projections were far off, they all had a good process as to why they were given sub $5.00 values.  This is the first chunk of rankings where stat based projection did not come close to telling the whole story, so as always, if you leave no stone unturned, you will be able to discover more players like the players above.

If you have any questions on these guys, or rankings I produced for other players, please ask me in the comments or tweet me  @jackcecil1.