It’s nearly that time of year again. We are exactly 21 days away from the first Spring Training games as the Royals will play host to the Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Even though our favorite MLB team has yet to resume play, we as fantasy baseball owners have to do our due diligence in order to be ready for the fantasy season. Whether it is deciding on keepers, draft values, or if we should pull the trigger on a big trade, research is already being done in order for us to be the smartest owner we can be.
That being said, we can all get caught up in these tough decisions and need some help. Even as a fantasy baseball player for 14 years, I still spend hours contemplating fantasy decisions. They always say two minds are better than one and that’s what I am here to do, week in and week out for my fellow fantasy owners. I was happy to see so much response for our very first Fantasy Friday Fanbag and this is a series that will continue through the entire year (both during the regular season and even through the off-season). So let’s get into the questions of the week, shall we?
From @maderek17: “Do you think fantasy owners that have Nolan Arenado should feel nervous about the recent tensions with the Rockies organization?”
This is one that I am sure a lot of Arenado owners in keeper and dynasty leagues have had a lot of this off-season considering all of the rumors surrounding the star third baseman. I discussed Arenado slightly during my top 20 player rankings for dynasty, but I will discuss it even further here.
I am slightly nervous about Nolan Arenado because the Rockies have discussed moving him after only one season on his new 8 year and $260 million contract. Arenado has come out recently stating “There’s a lot of disrespect from people there [The Rockies organization] that I don’t want to be a part of. You can quote that.” Obviously Arenado wasn’t happy about the trade discussions and the Rockies unwillingness to try and commit to putting together a winning team.
Now for fantasy, his feelings about the organization don’t matter a whole lot because he is going to go out and perform to the best of his ability. What does make me nervous is what could happen with the superstar. Over the past 3 years, Arenado has been spectacular overall, but there is a large home/road split. In those 3 years, he has played 235 games on the road and 235 games at home. On the road in that time, Arenado has slashed .270/.342/.499, good for an .841 OPS. In Coors during that same time span, he has put up ridiculous numbers with a triple slash line of .345/.409/.656 for an OPS of 1.066. The walk and strikeout rates don’t vary much whether Arenado is playing on the road or at home, but the power is clearly boosted in Coors.
The good thing about Arenado is that he does have a full no-trade clause meaning that we will not see the star on a non-competitive team like the Orioles, Tigers, or Marlins. He will still be a great player at the hot corner, but if and when Arenado leaves the Rockies, he will not have the same type of ceiling we’ve seen from him over the past few seasons. If I am a rebuilding team, I would be trying to move Arenado before he does leave Coors since I expect his value to take a hit. If I am a competitive team, the only way I would be moving Arenado is if I can package him together with another piece to get a younger player like a Rafael Devers or Trea Turner.
From @bobbym2828: “I’m in a 12 team H2H categories, 6x6 AVG and OPS with W and QS. Paddack in the 12th or Castillo in 7th. Gotta be Paddack right?”
This was a tough one for me at first because I am a huge Luis Castillo fan and I really enjoyed his bounce back in 2019. However, I am going with Chris Paddack for two reasons.
The first is that Paddack has a much better control and command of his arsenal as shown by his walk rate of 5.5% versus Castillo’s 10.1%. Even with the higher walk rate, Castillo was able to collect 20 quality starts in 32 starts versus 10 quality starts out of Paddack’s 26. However, the Padres were being very careful with Paddack in 2019 since this was his first big jump in workload since coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2017. Of those 26 starts, the then 23-year-old pitcher was pulled early (less than 6 innings while allowing less than 3 earned runs, so essentially in line for a quality start) 11 times. With more experience and a longer leash from the Padres, 20 quality starts should be an easy task for Paddack during the 2020 season.
The other reason I like Paddack better is clearly the draft cost. Paddack in the 12th round for 2020 and only a one round increase for the next 3 years, Paddack is such a steal. With his highest price coming in the 2022 season in the 10th round, Paddack is the clear choice between the two since any risk of injury is mitigated by the discounted price.
From @jktelleson: “10 team H2H Cats 6x6, Keep 6; Pete Alonso or Jose Ramirez for my last keeper? I have Yelich, Acuna, Bregman, Buehler, and Scherzer”
Let me start off by saying those first five players are a stellar core to have going into 2020. Now when it comes to making this choice, most ranking systems would tell you to take Jose Ramirez over Pete Alonso. However, I will buck the rankings here because of what you already have on your team. With Yelich and Acuna, you have a lot of speed plus Alex Bregman is likely to toss in three to eight swipes throughout the season.
Jose Ramirez is likely to provide you more consistent speed throughout the 2020 season than he is power. With the way the core of your lineup is constructed, I am taking Pete Alonso. Alonso is a zero-speed player, but his power ceiling is ridiculously high even if the ball isn’t juiced in 2020. With Bregman being eligible at both shortstop and third base (plus shortstop is a very deep position), I would rather fill the shallower position considering how close in value these two players are.
Take Pete Alonso and fill the shortstop or third base position based on how everything else falls during the draft.
From @Daily_Phill: “Soler or Biggio in a 15 team ESPN keeper, standard 5x5”
I really love Biggio in OBP leagues due to his patience at the plate, but in a standard 5x5 I am taking Jorge Soler. He provides a very high upside for power without being a drain on batting average. Biggio should easily be able to provide a 20/20 season from the second base position, but Soler seems to have figured it out. With career highs in home runs (48), average exit velocity (92.6 mph), and hard hit percentage (49.9%), he will be a very valuable piece for fantasy even if the Royals aren’t the most successful team over the next couple of years.
From @GothamCityDG23: “Can keep 5. I have the 9th pick in 12 team roto league. Minor leaguers can be kept automatically, so they don’t count as my 5 keepers.”
The list of players you provided is a very talented group and it took some time for me to come up with my final answer. With the pieces you have here, I am taking the win now approach. Juan Soto was the easiest keeper to select as he is a top 5 player for me in any long term format. The second keeper that was an easy call for me was Shane Bieber. With his ability to perform as a top 10 pitcher at a 15th round price, it was a no brainer.
From there, this is where the tough decisions came into play. As much as I like what Austin Meadows can bring to a roto team, but there are a lot of better values with the options you have in play. My third selection for a keeper spot would be Yordan Alvarez at a 20th round price. While I don’t profile Yordan to be a 50 home run hitter in the majors, I certainly believe he can be a .290/.400/.550 type of hitter. Whether or not he keeps the outfield eligibility year to year is unlikely, but his bat is something special for fantasy.
For the final two players, I am taking Gavin Lux and Jesus Luzardo. Even with the rumors of the Dodgers wanting to trade for Mookie Betts, they have stated that they will not move Gavin Lux in a deal. That shows the belief that they have in the 22-year-old second baseman’s ability to hit his production ceiling. Projection systems don’t have Lux dominating the league during his rookie campaign since they usually run on the conservative side. However, I am all in on him at a discounted price for the next few years, especially with second base being a very shallow position.
The same kind of logic can be applied to Jesus Luzardo. Bob Melvin even stated that Luzardo would open the season in the rotation and that is some of the best news from this off-season. The biggest downside to Jesus Luzardo would be the fact that he wasn’t able to stay healthy during the 2019 season meaning that Luzardo will likely have an innings limit for 2020. With it being a roto league though, I would be okay with 140 quality innings out of the crafty and talented southpaw for this season.
So from the list provided give me Juan Soto, Shane Bieber, Yordan Alvarez, Gavin Lux, and Jesus Luzardo.
From /u/BJones1027: “10 team standard roto. Keep 5 forever. Bellinger, Turner, Betts are locks. Last 2 between: Yordan, Villar, Mondesi, Hiura, Bichette. Yordan will be UTIL only. C/1B/2B/3B/SS/MI/CI/OFx5/UTIL.”
The core of Bellinger, Turner, and Betts are great power speed combinations to start yourself off in a roto league for the future. I am going to follow along that same path and take Keston Hiura and Bo Bichette.
I know Jonathan Villar had a stellar 2019 on a terrible Baltimore Orioles team, but the move to Miami lowers his value for me with expected regression in power and batting average. The speed will be there and he will have the green light to run, but I don’t like taking him for just his speed. Mondesi’s value is also much lower here because he will be a drain on your batting average while not being stellar in any of the other counting stats besides stolen bases.
So it comes down to Yordan Alvarez, Bo Bichette, and Keston Hiura. The one I excluded here is Yordan Alvarez, Like I stated above in the other question, I do believe in Yordan Alvarez being a good fantasy contributor. In this situation though, I dropped Alvarez because he contributes zero speed and since he is a utility only player, it hurts roster flexibility at this point. I would rather have Keston Hiura at second and Bo Bichette at shortstop since both of these players can provide 30 home runs and double digit steals at their peak.
Thanks everyone for participating this week and for making this a wonderful start to our Fantasy Friday Fanbag. This segment is for any and all questions that you have for us here at Fake Teams and it will continue every week throughout the year since there are always important fantasy decisions on our mind. You can find me on Twitter @DadSox and be on the lookout for my top 500 dynasty ranks coming in the next couple of weeks!