It is hard to believe we are nearing the start of baseball. Below, you can find the state of the position for each positional week that we have already covered here at Fake Teams.
It’s outfield week all week, followed by starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and then bold predictions during Opening Week! Let’s get after it.
The Elite: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, and Giancarlo Stanton
Trout is an easy call as the top overall pick. No further analysis is required. Betts is as underrated as any mid-first pick that I can remember. He clearly got “BABIP’d” in 2017. Blackmon, Harper, and Giancarlo are all about picking your particular flavor of choice. Harper is a popular choice based on sheer talent. Could he be otherworldly and carry your fake team in 2018? Would anyone be surprised? Could Giancarlo knock 60 home runs? Blackmon probably lacks the upside of the other two, but he gets the Coors boost. None are bad picks in the first round.
The Avoid: A.J. Pollock
Pollock has an ECR of 54 at FantasyPros, an aggressive setting for a 30-year-old coming off of an injury-filled 2017. Pollock has an ADP of 64.3 according to Fangraphs, where he is being selected a pick behind Billy Hamilton and four picks before Khris Davis on average. At that juncture in your drafts, surely you are considering your roster construction. Pollock and Davis are very different players. For my part, instead of adding in Pollock’s injury risk (and humidor risk) in Arizona, I prefer to wait about 25 picks (two full rounds!) and draft Lorenzo Cain. Cain has a very similar skill set to Pollock, as well as similar age and health concerns. Both play in stacked offenses, but Cain’s offense is arguably better (and they run more) and Cain’s home park is definitely better. I’ll be avoiding Pollock as much as possible in 2018.
The Hyped One: Ronald Acuna
The 20-year-old super-prospect is slated to take over left field duties for Atlanta sooner rather than later. He has an ADP of 118.9 and is the 30th outfielder selected on average, according to Fangraphs. He is being taken after Ryan Braun and a couple of picks ahead of Eddie Rosario, Ender Inciarte, and Matt Olson. Again, roster construction is key, as Acuna is a different profile from the powerful, swing-and-miss type that Olson is. As the OF30, Acuna isn’t breaking your bank for the upside he possesses. Steamer projects a .280/.329/.450 slash with 13 HRs, 47 runs, 53 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases. He is essentially a blend of what you could get from Rosario and Inciarte—Rosario offering more power and some speed, Inciarte offering less power but more speed than Rosario. With Acuna, you would need a Plan B until Acuna gets the starting nod, and then presumably you would have a better player than the other guys being drafted in his vicinity. In my opinion he is worth the risk as an upside play. But I am a Braves fan, so buyer beware.
The Sleepers: Delino DeShields, Willie Calhoun, Randal Grichuk, and Jason Heyward
In a position this deep, the term “sleeper” is relative and subjective. So here are a few of my favorites guys:
Delino DeShields (ADP 208.5) and Willie Calhoun (252.0) are popular late-round targets playing in a great location (Texas) and offense.
Randal Grichuk (303.2) should receive ample playing time in Toronto and is a candidate to bash 25+ home runs.
Jason Heyward (407.7) is free, and that is a travesty. He may bat leadoff for Chicago against right-handed pitching, given his shiny on-base skills. He still has the talent to put up a 15/15 type of season while slashing .270/.350/.420. If he did so atop a powerful Cubs lineup, the counting statistics would surely be a plus. I will probably be rounding out The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational with a pick of Heyward, and I will love it if it happens.
Be sure to circle back around for more outfield chatter this week. We’ll have our Top 50 (at least) post tomorrow morning, along with Eddy’s targets for each tier (elite, middle, value). On Wednesday we’ll have Brian’s tiered rankings analysis, on Thursday are Joe’s sleepers, and on Friday we’ll cap everything off with staff posts (who to avoid, who to target). Don’t miss out!