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2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide

Excerpts and links to tons of content for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.

Getty Images/Peter Rogers Illustrations

This intro will be short, because this effort will be long. What follows is every pertinent piece of information I could unearth after perusing each of our positional weeks. I’ll go in order, so if you want to skip a position you can merely keep scrolling. That means we’ll go catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, starters, and relievers.

I’ll do my best to include excerpts that allow you to get the gist of what an article or list from a previous week discussed (and provide the links) that way you can scamper down the rabbit hole of your choosing.

Enjoy, and I hope our combined efforts bear fruit in the form of league trophies, bragging rights, and perhaps even more coin in your pocket. I can make no guarantees, save for knowing that we have all poured a lot of time into what follows. As always, comment or tweet at us with any questions.

Gary Sanchez is Worth Dying For (I mean, paying up for)

In his tiers analysis, Brian discussed Sanchez as being totally worth it in Round 2. Don’t overthink it for a premier power hitter in a stacked lineup—one who happens to have catcher-eligibility. Also covered in the tiers analysis is the studliness of J.T. Realmuto. No, “studliness” isn’t a word. I made it up just for Realmuto.

Yasmani Grandal over Austin Barnes

When we began positional weeks, Austin Barnes was considered to be the frontrunner to start over Yasmani Grandal in Los Angeles. Now, it’s Grandal’s job outright. So our consensus catcher rankings are still relevant, except that I’d move Grandal up three or four spots—depending on whether you prefer Grandal or Wilson Ramos. I’d lean Grandal. As for Barnes, his outlook improves if the Dodgers keep Farmer on the roster—it would allow for Barnes to be deployed off the bench in games he does not start, or to start outright at other positions, knowing that Farmer was available as backup to Grandal. Still, you can’t put much stock into a backup catcher (Barnes), no matter how good he was in 2017.

Alex Avila, King of Line Drives

The other “mover” on the rankings list would be Alex Avila, now that he has signed with Arizona. Since Avila will be the primary catcher on an elite offense, I’d move him all the way to 15th (in front of Austin Hedges and Austin Barnes). Avila has EPIC line drive rates and made more hard contact (48.7%) than any other backstop in 2017. Humidor or not, Avila has a lot of upside as a strong second catcher or even a back-end starter.

Robinson Chirinos, The Forgotten Man

Robinson Chirinos is the starter on a prime offense in a hitter’s park. He is a preferred play from the guys here at Fake Teams. I think he belongs in the mid-teens, ahead of the injury-prone Travis d’Arnaud. Here is what Eddy said about Chirinos in his three-tier piece from Catcher Week:

“Among catchers with 150 plate appearances in the second half, Chirinos ranked fourth in BB% (12.6%), third in OBP (.399) and sixth in WRC+ (133). The catch? His power vanished. He hit just five home runs in the second half compared to 12 in the first. As you might expect, his GB% spiked from 32% to 46% and his fly balls went down 57% to 37%. Here’s the way I see it: Either he maintains this profile that greatly elevates his slash line and we get a much cheaper version of Austin Barnes, or he reverts to his first-half self and we get a low-average, home-run slugging catcher for cheap. At his price you should be fine with either scenario. It’s worth pointing out that he played in only 88 games last year. A year of 110-120 games should produce good counting stats relative to his price.”

Chirinos is the poster-boy for the “draft a catcher with your last pick” strategy. Obviously if you play in a two-catcher format you need to give the position more weight. But if you only need one, it is viable to select guys like Avila or Chirinos with your last pick and roll with whatever comes your way during the season.

Fade Salvador Perez for Evan Gattis

Aside from the rankings themselves, one guy to mention is Evan Gattis. He is one of Punk’s targets, with Punk making the point that Gattis should approach 500 PA as the primary DH in Houston. Brian also liked Gattis in his tiered rankings analysis and planted the proverbial flag on Gattis in our final targets effort. Here is Brian’s take on why you should avoid reaching for Salvador Perez and wait for Gattis instead:

Evan Gattis’ Steamer projections trail Salvador Perez by three runs, zero home runs, seven RBIs and .008 points in batting average. Gattis is currently being drafted five rounds later than Perez and has the added bonus of spending time at designated hitter. It’s not sexy, but it is effective.”

I’m the opposite—I think it is sexy.

If you are a visual learner, I recommend Brian’s state of the position from first base week. First basemen are the “Cadillacs” of fantasy baseball, as they offer top-end production compared to any other position in the fake game.

The Elite Six

In Part 1 of our rankings (the Top 15) we mentioned our idea of a top six at the position. Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, Cody Bellinger, and Jose Abreu are our guys. After that point, it feels like a steep dropoff—though lately I have come around a bit on Rhys Hoskins. Still, this is a position that thins out faster that you would imagine, so don’t hesitate to grab a big guy early on in your draft.

Rizzo in Round 2

Eddy’s three-tier piece from this week was crucial, as it was the beginning of the “Rizzo in Round 2” strategy. Wise words to live by in 2018, gamers. I backed up this strategy in my draft in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, choosing to pair Rizzo’s sturdiness with my Round 1 pick of Max Scherzer. If you need propaganda for Rizzo, here is part of what Eddy had to say:

“At his current ADP, Rizzo is a damn good complement to virtually any Round 1 pick. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, he has averaged a .283/.388/.523 slash line to go with 32 HRs, 99 RBIs and 94 runs. The most perplexing thing is by many accounts, he had a better season in 2017 than 2016 and yet his ADP dropped 12 spots. Why? He walked more than he struck out, stole more bases and maintained similar counting stats. Yeah, he only hit 12 home runs in the second half but is that the reason for the drop? He still had a .290/.400/.506 slash. Has he become so consistent that he is just boring now?”

Cheap Power: Matt Olson and Joey Gallo

Matt Olson and Joey Gallo were popular choices during the week, making the staff targets list courtesy of Punk and Eddy. Cheap power is appealing at a position that dries up quickly in the early going.

Matt Carpenter is Controversial

I think it reasonable that we were split on Matt Carpenter. Carpenter was a target of Joe’s but made the avoids list courtesy of Punk. 2015’s banner year seems like it is far in the rearview, but Carpenter does have the pull and fly ball tendencies of a legitimate power hitter. Whether or not a 25+ home run season will manifest again remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Carpenter will be a useful corner infield bat in 2018. He is slated to bat third in the order in front of Marcell Ozuna and in front of speedy OBP-machines Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. I’m a believer when it comes to Carpenter. His RBI opportunities should be plentiful hitting third this year. He’ll be useful one way or another, whether he is deployed as a leadoff man or as a heart-of-the-order hitter.

Eric Hosmer is Boring

The easiest “avoid” of them all is Eric Hosmer, of course. I was not happy when Eddy claimed him before me. Here is Eddy’s reasoning:

“It doesn’t matter where Eric Hosmer signs—you don’t want to draft him 68th overall, which is where his current NFBC ADP has him going. I won’t deny the man his consistency. He feels like a very solid 90/25/90 guy with a .280 average to match. You know who else might do that? Josh Bell, more than 100 picks later. Want the same counting stats with less average? Carlos Santana is there. Want the same profile but you’re okay taking a little bit less across the board? Yuli Gurriel is hanging past the 200th pick. Point is, Hosmer doesn’t give drafters any room for profit based on his ADP and his profile at this position is one of the least valuable in today’s game.”

Josh Bell is a Cheap and Intriguing

I made good on the Josh Bell bit in the TGFBI, too, for what it’s worth. He’s my corner infield bat that I selected with the 202nd pick in the draft. Amen. Also, shouts to that one time in February of 2015 when Brian projected a .260 BA and 25+ home run profile for Josh Bell. What did Bell accomplish last year? A .255 BA and 26 home runs. Say word.

Mitch Moreland Still Has Fans!

I couldn’t let first base go by without sharing some Mitch Moreland propaganda. I actually received an email from a Moreland fan recently (no, I did not email myself) who cited this January piece that I wrote on the goat, Mitchy Two-Bags. First, I realized there is at least one other Moreland fan on the planet. Second, it was nice to start off my Friday with a nice note from a reader. And third, all of the good stuff from the article still applies. Here’s a little bit about Mitch’s altered approach within the confines of Fenway Park, which saps left-handed power:

“Moreland posted the second-highest opposite field percentage of his career in 2017 (26.7%). He also pulled the ball at the lowest rate of his career (37.2%). His 38.9% hard contact rate was his highest mark since 2014. His 9.9% walk rate was the highest mark of his career if you exclude the small sample size of his rookie season (only 47 games).”

“Moreland’s 20.8% K-rate was his best mark since 2012. His BABIP rebounded from an unsightly .266 in 2016 to a slightly less unsightly .278 last year. Mitch isn’t fleet of foot at 6’2” and 230 pounds. He is a big, strong dude, and with that comes a loss of speed. Therefore, a BABIP under .300 is not unlikely, especially for a guy with a career .286 mark.”

For all you naysayers out there, Brian’s completely arbitrary tiered rankings analysis proved that ole’ Two-Bags is still one of the best first base values on the board. Go ahead, visual learner. Click this link and check out that graphic. See the name in the upper right, way above the diagonal line? That’s what I thought!

Rougned Odor Will Have Better Luck

Rougned Odor should have a return to normalcy, as discussed by yours truly in the state of the position:

“Odor’s batted ball profile remained pretty steady last year, with no significant differences in line drive percentage, ground ball percentage, and fly ball percentage. His HR/FB% was in line with career norms. He pulled the ball only slightly more and still made plenty of hard contact (36.7%). His walk rate jumped by nearly two percent to 4.9% (still bad) and his strikeout rate ballooned a few percent to 24.9% (still not good). His ISO of .193 resembles his .197 career mark and is a tad lower than 2015-2016 levels (.204, .231). His BABIP, however? A disgusting .224, well below his career .274 mark. For a guy who had no significant changes in his profile, we call that pretty darn unlucky. Steamer projects a far more normal .278 BABIP and tolerable .256/.303/.480 slash for 2018...and that I can buy into for a guy who has gone 30/14 and 33/15 over the last two seasons.”

I chose Odor as my target at the keystone—mainly because Ozzie Albies was already taken. Friggin’ Eddy with his fast clicks. On the real, though—I love Odor’s power/speed combination when I know I can cover for his batting average elsewhere.

Jose Altuve vs. Mike Trout

Punk made a case for Jose Altuve as the No. 1 overall player in fantasy baseball. He also made some distinctions about who should be preferred in which format, arguing that Altuve should be the top guy in roto and head-to-head, while Mike Trout probably takes the proverbial cake in points leagues. In today’s speed-deficient MLB world, considering Altuve at No. 1 overall isn’t a crazy idea.

Ozzie Albies, The Hyped One

We wouldn’t be touts if we didn’t discuss Ozzie Albies, who we initially ranked as the No. 18 second baseman, behind guys like Ian Kinsler and Eduardo Nunez (both fine players). My, how times have changed. Yours truly and Eddy were initially the most aggressive on Albies, slotting him in at No. 14.

I’ve gradually gone all-in on the youngster, though. I would take him as early as Round 7. Albies compares very favorably to a guy like Whit Merrifield, who is being drafted around pick 72. Albies has an ADP of 125, but I would take him around pick 80 or 90 when the keystone begins to get murky. If you don’t, and your leaguemates have questions about the Cano/Baez/Odor tier, you’ll miss out when they take the buzzy name they keep hearing about. I am willing to pay a premium for speed this year...who is going down with me?

Devon Travis Just Needs to Stay Healthy

Brian brought up Ian Kinsler as a value in his tiered rankings piece, and mentioned pairing him with a guy like Devon Travis late. Travis also made Joe’s list of sleepers at the keystone. Here’s part of why Travis makes an interesting late-round flier:

“Travis started the 2017 season off slowly as he was hitting a putrid .130/.193/.195 for the first month of the season. In May, however, he was hitting an incredible .364/.373/.646 with four home runs and two stolen bases. Sadly, shortly after that great month the Blue Jays second baseman went on the DL and missed the rest of the season.”

Joe went on to illuminate Travis’ ability to make contact (career swinging strike rate of 8.0%) and last year’s healthy line drive rate (26.4%). That LD% happened over a small 50-game sample, but we also saw more hard contact than before (32.2%) and the ability to hit for average (career .292). Travis can hit for average, has some pop, and has some he just needs some health.

You Can Ignore Jose Peraza

Lastly, with the Reds extending Eugenio Suarez at third base and trying hotshot Nick Senzel out at shortstop this spring, tread lightly when considering Jose Peraza. Peraza and Gennett may be doomed to an eventual platoon at the keystone, with Gennett logging the most PA as the left-handed bat and Peraza serving as the backup/super-utility player. Peraza does walk slightly more and strike out less against southpaws, but his power is nonexistent against them, too—so maybe it’s not an outright platoon (and Gennett gets PA vs. lefties). Either way, I was once into Peraza as a late speed option, but now I am into the impending arrival of Senzel instead. Senzel was sent to Triple-A for more seasoning, but with the Reds working him at shortstop this spring and now at the keystone in Triple-A, it’s clear they want his bat to arrive sooner rather than later. When it does, I think Peraza suffers the most.

The Elite Four

This is a top-heavy position that offers a “core four” that I referenced in the state of the position. Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager are the cream of this crop. Here is one nugget regarding the respective ADPs of Correa and Seager that yours truly brought up:

“Correa and Seager don’t look too different to me, but Correa is going at 14.1 and Seager is being drafted at a more palatable 38.8. Steamer projects a three-homer edge to Correa, Seager for one more run, 16 more RBIs for Correa, three more bags for Correa, and nearly identical .290/.370/.500 slash lines. So yeah, according to Steamer you are giving up 16 RBIs. But at what cost? I’m tempted to roll with Max Scherzer instead of Correa at that juncture. Which pairing would you prefer: Scherzer/Seager or Correa/Verlander? That’s a basic exercise but the ADPs for Scherzer/Correa and Seager/Verlander are all super close. I think I lean towards Scherzer and Seager.”

I put that query into the poll at the end of said post, and the Scherzer/Seager side (77%) dominated the Correa/Verlander side (23%). I’m not convinced it’s that much of a landslide, but I do favor Scherzer early and Seager later than Correa—especialy since Seager recently said that he is over the injury and will be ready for Opening Day.

No One Believes in Elvis Andrus (except for me)

Elvis Andrus is a guy that many experts are split on in 2018. I happen to be a believer in his new aggressive approach, but I admit that a return to the 20-homer threshold might be a bit of a stretch. Eddy predicts more of a 15/10 type of season from Andrus, as the Rangers plan to bat Andrus third in the order (more RBIs but less steals). I am still okay with the overall skill set, though. If you draft him you do so for his all-around production, not for league-winning potential. There are a lot of naysayers out there, so if I can get him a little later than his ADP of 59.8 I will consider doing so if I need the infield help and the floor Andrus provides. Andrus is the boring pick that the autodrafter in your league makes on his (or her) way to first place...

Marcus Semien is a Major Value

Marcus Semien was Eddy’s bargain in his three-tier piece. Semien was also recognized as a major value in Brian’s tiered analysis. Here is Brian’s take on Semien vs. Didi Gregorius:

“Marcus Semien is going very underdrafted. With production slightly better than Didi Gregorius, Semien is going 120 picks later in drafts! I’ve seen some buzz growing around Semien and expect his 231 ADP (according to NFBC drafts) to creep up, but there’s a lot of buffer between his current price and break-even value.”

Welp, here we are nearly a month later than the time of Brian’s writing, and Semien remains a stark value at his 227.5 ADP. Semien will lead off for the Athletics in 2018 and is a preferred play according to the gents here at Fake Teams.

Target Didi Gregorius

Speaking of Gregorius, he made Punk’s targets list and is also one of my favorite buys at the shortstop position. Did you know that only two shortstops managed 25+ home runs in 2017? Gregorius and Lindor, of course. I’ll confess to loving the locale and the stacked lineup more than I love Gregorius as a player—but I also noticed Didi should rebound at home in 2018 when I did my DFS piece on shortstops. Gregorius has a career pull% of 41.7% vs. right-handed pitchers, and that plays very well in Yankee Stadium. He socked 22 of his 25 home runs against right-handers in 2017, so look for that split when playing MLB DFS or if you have the ability to use a better option on a day when Didi faces a southpaw.

Jorge Polanco is Suspended

I had an entire paragraph dedicated to Polanco, but he went and got himself suspended 80 games for PED use. Eduardo Escobar is the in-house replacement and will see plenty of time at shortstop. He socked 21 home runs in 457 at-bats last year and makes for a viable middle infield option in your fake drafts. Since this news is fresh, odds are Escobar is buried in your draft applet. Don’t forget to type his name into the search bar if you need infield help in the bleary-eyed stages of your draft.

Ketel Marte is a Worthy Stash

Ketel Marte was Eddy’s target, and I view him as my substitute for Jose Peraza in a middle infield slot. Marte had a sturdy 11% walk rate and minuscule 14% strikeout rate last year. The humidor doesn’t have a huge impact on his game, because home runs weren’t his thing anyway. If you snag him late you do so for his on-base skills and run production, as well as his pathway to playing time in Arizona. As a bench bat that can cover your MI slot in a pinch, he is a great buy at his almost nonexistent ADP of 350.

Nolan Arenado, A League of His Own

Only one third baseman has a first round ADP, and that guy is Nolan Arenado. Arenado has a career slash of .290/.340/.534, but has posted OBPs of .362 and .373 over the past two seasons. He gives you power (career .244 ISO) without sacrificing your batting average (career 14.9% strikeout rate). He is an annual 40-homer threat who basically has a floor of 130 RBIs. Just set it and forget it if you make him your hot corner on draft day.

The Sneaky One, Freddie Freeman

ESPN requires 20 games to gain positional eligibility, but in Yahoo and some other places Freddie Freeman is eligible at third base after logging 16 games there in 2017. A nice little wrinkle, right? The caveat is the thin nature of first base, of course. You wouldn’t want sub-par production at first base just to have Freeman at third. But sure, the additional eligibility might come in handy at some point.

Nicholas Castellanos is the Hip, Cool Thing

From the state of the position, here is some Castellanos propaganda:

“Castellanos made a ridiculous amount of hard contact last year (43.4%) and has always been great at hitting line drives. Check out these line drive rates since 2014: 28.5%, 23.3%, 25.6%, and 24.5%. He isn’t an extreme fly ball hitter (career 39.2%) but he was 14th among third basemen last year, just ahead of Travis Shaw and Eugenio Suarez. He was second in line drive percentage (Chase Headley was first?!?) and second in hard contact (Gallo was first). Finally, Castellanos trimmed his strikeout rate by 3.4% last year to a career-best 21.4%.”

At the time of that writing a month ago, Castellanos had an ADP of 102.1 according to Fangraphs. Now that number sits at 98.0, so not a huge amount of movement—but still trending upward. I am ranking Castellanos as the 10th third baseman, right behind the Travis Shaw/Justin Turner pairing. And honestly, it’s a toss-up between Turner and Castellanos for me. I’m inclined to roll with the youth in this scenario. Point is, don’t miss out on Castellanos’ all-around skill set in 2018.

***NOTE: Justin Turner has a broken left wrist and is expected to be out until May. This is probably good news for Austin Barnes, who can slot in at second base while Logan Forsythe covers third. Of course, Chase Utley is hanging around, too.***

Machado, Longoria, and Harrison are all Great Values

Highlights from Brian’s tiers analysis on the hot corner include considering Manny Machado in the same breath as Nolan Arenado, Evan Longoria as a viable corner infield bat, and Josh Harrison as a great value with 15/15 potential.

There was also mention of a negative outlook for Miguel Sano, who I avoided in our staff post. You should, too.

Matt Chapman is Loved by Joe and Eddy

Chapman was listed as one of Joe’s sleepers:

“Chapman has elite power at the age of 24 but doesn’t have the swing and miss stuff like many other hitters in his class. With an 11.5% swinging strike rate, he has the potential to have a strikeout rate below 30%, which could lead to a batting average above the .240 mark. With Chapman’s extreme fly ball rates and power potential, he already has the potential to hit 40 home runs in 2018. I don’t have any problem taking Chapman with my last pick of the draft, and you shouldn’t either.”

And Chapman made Eddy’s three-tier piece:

“One thing to know about Matt Chapman is that he’s a defensive wiz at third base. We’re talking “Probably-the-best-3B-in-the-AL” kind of good. This is going to ensure he gets 150 games this year barring injury. Because of this, Chapman is going to get a chance to hit a ton of bombs. In 133 games last year he hit 30 home runs. In 2015 at High-A he hit 23 in 80 games. In 2016 in Double-A and Triple-A he hit 36 in 135 games. The interesting thing with Chapman is he’s always been a pull-power type of guy, but in his 84-game stint in the majors he only pulled it 34 percent of the time and still got to his power. If he maintains an all fields approach and keeps his power, he could avoid becoming a shift-prone player.”

Cheap power is a trend, folks! Pay attention.

Adrian Beltre is the Old Justin Turner

Both Punk and Eddy compared Beltre to Turner in our Staff Targets post. Here are the comparisons via Steamer:

Player A: 77/22/79 with a slash of .292/.373/.490.

Player B: 69/20/77 with a slash of .288/.352/.473.

Pretty similar, eh? Player A is Turner (82.0 ADP) and Player B is Beltre (158.2 ADP). Sure, Beltre is 38, but he’s the sort of bat that will be useful when he is healthy. Draft him and look smarter than your leaguemates.

Avoid Alex Bregman? Huh?

I know, right? Look, you’re either drafting all Astros or you aren’t, okay? Me, I prefer Anthony Rendon a full 24 picks later than Bregman. Brian’s point in our Staff Avoids list was that you’re drafting Bregman and paying up for his improvement (and not getting any value if it occurs). Why, you ask? Because his ADP is 32.1 right now! Compare that to Rendon, who you can land at a much more palatable 56.5 ADP. I’m all-in when it comes to passing on Bregman and landing Rendon instead.

The Humidor (and southpaws) Have Rendered Jake Lamb Avoidable

Here’s Punk on Lamb in our Staff Avoids post:

“Jake Lamb is an obvious avoid for me in 2018. Even pre-humidor there are a ton of red flags. Lamb hit just .144 against lefties in 2017 and just .204 overall in the second half. He’s well on his way to being a platoon player and although that could help his overall ratios, the counting stats will suffer. Factoring in the humidor, which has the potential to cut his power numbers (his only fantasy value) in half, you get a .250 hitter with 20 homers. Certainly not worth his current ADP of 113 overall.”

Drafters must agree, as Lamb’s ADP is now 128.7 overall, a drop of a round and a half. Ouch.

Punk Loves Charlie Blackmon

You can still access our Top 75 outfielder rankings if you so desire. I’d say our slight surprise is Punk’s aggressive ranking of Charlie Blackmon (OF2). That pulled Blackmon even with Giancarlo Stanton in our rankings, which is par for the course according to Fangraphs ADP. Blackmon (8.2) and Stanton (8.3) are pretty much going pick your poison between two awesome ballplayers. To be clear: I’m not hating on Blackmon as Punk’s OF2. I’m merely acknowledging a lot of different takes.

Some notable rankings were:

Andrew Benintendi (OF10) edged out Christian Yelich (OF11) by a hair, primarily because of Joe’s aggressive Benintendi ranking (OF8). Everyone had these guys close, but I can’t believe I’m the only guy who likes Yelich more. Benintendi’s ADP is 41, while Yelich is going around pick 50, for what it’s worth. Give me Yelich all day in that park and with manager Craig Counsell, who likes to steal bases.

Ronald Acuna (OF30) looks a bit aggressive now that the Braves just shipped him down to Triple-A. What I wouldn’t give for every organization’s top prospect to start on Opening Day...I’m still taking Acuna as an OF3 this year and banking on an early call-up to Atlanta.

Delino DeShields (OF44) looks like a better version of Billy Hamilton right now, honestly. I believe I have ignored DeShields too much this draft season. He will lead off for the Rangers and be a threat to steal 40 bases. Hamilton’s ADP is 65.2 and Deshields’ is 198.5. Hmm. Punk listed DeShields as one of his targets.

Bradley Zimmer (OF45) is another speed threat, but he doesn’t have the cushy leadoff spot that DeShields does. Zimmer is being drafted around pick 195, though—probably because he does offer more pop than DeShields. For my money, I prefer them the way we ranked them here at Fake Teams—DeShields, then Zimmer. Zimmer did make Eddy’s three-tier piece as his preferred bargain.

Kyle Schwarber (OF51) looks like a steal if he continues to rake. Schwarber is slashing .378/.477/.757 this spring, with four stolen bases on five attempts. That’s right, folks. This svelte version of Schwarbs knows how to run. This is an awesome dart to throw for a guy with power, on-base skills, a friendly ADP, and an awesome supporting cast.

An Elite Five, Yelich, Puig, Mazara, etc.

I think Brian’s tiers analysis of the outfield was spot-on. A clear-cut elite five exists, but if you miss out you can wait on Yelich and the second tier of outfield production. Yelich, Puig, Mazara, and Pillar (huh?) all got mentions. You’ll have to click to see.

Joe’s Sleepers List Has Many Names to Consider

But I’ll highlight one of my favorites, named Jorge Soler. Here’s Joe’s take:

“With a relatively low line drive rate and high strikeout rate, Soler’s average may not reach the .250 mark. The upside is that with his amount of power and high fly ball rates, we could see 30+ home runs from the 26-year-old. Soler is a good play in OBP and OPS leagues, but I would be cautious of adding him to a shallow league that accounts for batting average.”

I don’t even think the average should worry you in any league, honestly—not when Soler’s ADP is a rock-bottom 454.7. He’s not being drafted in your typical format. So keep an eye on him or stash him if you carry a deep bench.

Mitch Haniger is a Thing

I learned something from Joe in our Staff Targets post. Haniger isn’t a guy I’ve ever rostered, so I was pretty unfamiliar. This was interesting:

“Josh Donaldson, Jr. (or Mitch Haniger as others call him) will be my target in basically every league. With his ability to make hard contact (career 35.3%) he is truly a threat to hit .280 with 25+ home runs, while also being able to swipe you five to 10 bags. Give me all the Mitch Haniger I can have at his current expert consensus ranking of 252.2 according to FantasyPros.”

I really liked the rest of the targets as well, with Starling Marte, Lewis Brinson, and Matt Kemp all making appearances.

Eddy Doesn’t Like Benintendi, Either

Here’s Eddy’s blurb in our Staff Avoids piece:

“In a redraft league, I can’t get behind Andrew Benintendi at 41st overall. I don’t think he will cross 25 home runs or 20 steals. He should hit for a strong average and score a ton of runs, but he has no standout tool at a position that demands them when you are this high up in ADP. Instead give me Lorenzo Cain, who should produce 85% of Benintendi (with upside for more in new park) about 45 picks later.”

For one reason or another, we also didn’t like A.J. Pollock, Adam Duvall, and Michael Brantley.

Don’t miss our Top 75 Starting Pitcher Rankings, courtesy of myself, Eddy, and Punk. Now let’s scope out some hurlers, eh?

Another Core Four

Another elite group of four exists, with Kershaw, Scherzer, Sale, and Kluber all generally being drafted inside the first 15 picks of most leagues. If any of them fall beyond that range, it is advisable to snatch said fantasy ace up quickly.

Shohei Ohtani is Overhyped

I was initially okay with Ohtani in the state of the position, but as Spring Training wears on I grow more and more disillusioned with him. At this juncture I do not believe I will own him (as a pitcher or a hitter, HA!). A potential stint in Triple-A may await, the six-man rotation will eat into his innings, and his performance has not been good so far. I may eat crow, but why assume all that risk when I can just take James Paxton or Dallas Keuchel instead?

Jose Berrios and Jameson Taillon: Shades of Salvador Perez/Evan Gattis

Player A Steamer Projection: 169.0 IP, 10 W, 4.56 ERA, 160 SO, 1.34 WHIP

Player B Steamer Projection: 189.0 IP, 11 W, 3.96 ERA, 176 SO, 1.29 WHIP

Player A is Jose Berrios with an ADP of 105.9. Player B is Taillon with an ADP of 188.9. Give me all the Taillon, man.

Zack Godley is Ballin’ Out

Enough to make Eddy’s three-tier piece and Punk’s targets list. Here’s Eddy on Godley:

“Godley was one of just 20 pitchers with a 25 K% or better. Groundballs are also good. If you can induce them, it limits the balls in the air, the ones that do the most damage. He was one of 16 to induce greater than a 50 GB%. But if you can get the strikeouts and the ground balls, that’s nearing ace level. Only three pitchers besides Godley (Jimmy Nelson, Luis Severino, Carlos Martinez) reached both those benchmarks. We’re still a little unsure how the humidor will affect pitchers, but we can at least surmise there will be a slight improvement. Given his limited major league experience, projection systems are pessimistic on Godley. I think he’s going to turn in a 3.60/1.20 season with 175 strikeouts. Buy now before his price continues creeping up.”

Aaron Nola is the Next Big Thing

Eddy listed Nola as his target:

“He just finished a season with a 26.6 K%, a 7.1 BB% and a 3.54 ERA (3.27 FIP) in 168 innings. His fastball ticked up to 92 mph (previously 90 mph), which may not seem like much, but with his control and repertoire it’s more than enough. The only knock against him are the back injuries that plagued him last year, but he’s been healthy thus far. If he can cross 180 innings he is bound to return value, even at his 64th NFBC ADP.”

Trevor Bauer is For Real

Can the good times last? Bauer posted an epic 2.42 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over his final 12 starts of 2017. You either believe that he has finally unlocked his potential (by ditching his cutter for a slider) or you don’t. Me, I’m about to find out at Bauer’s ADP of 139.1. That’s well after other guys with question marks have already been drafted—i.e. Alex Wood, Jon Lester, David Price, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, Luke Weaver, etc. The list really could go on (Tanaka, anyone?). Point is, after the best 20 or so hurlers are off the board, I’m taking my shots. Bauer (still only 27) is one of them.

Dallas Keuchel vs. Chase Anderson, a Player Comparison by Punk:

Player A = 14-5 2.90 ERA 1.12 WHIP 7.7 K/9

Player B = 12-4 2.74 ERA 1.09 WHIP 8.5 K/9

Player B ranked higher (#15 SP) than Player A (#16 SP) in 2017. Player A has an ADP of 77.7 overall. Player B has an ADP of 173.2 overall. Player A is Dallas Keuchel. Player B is Chase Anderson.

Looks like a slam-dunk to me.

Joe Loves Him Some Sleeper Starting Pitchers (say that five times really fast)

Joe talked up Mike Clevinger, who also got mentioned by Punk earlier in the week. Clevinger has earned a rotation spot in Cleveland while Danny Salazar will begin the year on the DL. He also talked up Snell, Roark, Wacha, and others.

Relief Pitcher

2018 Relief Pitcher Rankings

Punk’s Relief Pitchers to Target

Enjoy, and hit us up in the comments or on Twitter!