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I can’t remember drafting a catcher in the first 10 rounds in a long time, and I get in 1-C formats it’s typically easy to find one on waiver wires mid-season even in deeper leagues, but the more I think about it, Buster Posey is worth a top-15 pick.
He’s never hit 25 homers in his career, and I understand the argument for drafting numbers over position scarcity early, but Posey is my one exception. He’s averaged 90 RBI over the past four years and is a career .310 hitter entering his age 29 season. That’s his prime, and realize he played just 106 games at catcher last year (42 at first base), so it’s not like he’s being overworked, and with prospect Andrew Susac available behind the dish, Posey will continue to see a lot of time at first in 2016 (a definite knock on Brandon Belt’s fantasy value). Posey had more walks than strikeouts last year, and the Giants’ lineup should provide plenty of RBI opportunities (Denard Span had a .365 OBP last year, while Joe Panik’s was .378).
But the main argument for taking Posey early is the rest of the catcher landscape. I get Kyle Schwarber’s upside, but he’s unproven, had a .481 OPS against lefties last year and will be fighting for playing time in a crowded Cubs outfield (Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski debated his value last week). And with all those concerns, he’s still clearly the No. 2 catcher on the board. Brian McCann led all catchers with 26 homers in 2015. He scored 68 runs and batted .232. Salvador Perez was a top-five catcher last season, and he scored 52 runs and hit .260.
The difference in batting average is easy to overlook, but it’s massive here. Posey was the No. 42 ranked player in Yahoo leagues last year. The next best catcher was Russell Martin at 150. The fourth highest backstop was Stephen Vogt at No. 243. In other words, Posey’s discrepancy at his position is far greater than Rob Gronkowski’s at tight end.
I’m normally guilty of going after the next big thing (I can’t draft Corey Seager high enough), but I’m surprised Felix Hernandez is barely considered a top-10 starter right now. I get the downside, as he just posted his highest ERA since 2007, including a 4.48 mark after the All-Star break. He’s thrown 200+ innings in eight straight seasons (and 190+ in his last 10), so there’s obvious concern about workload. But King Felix’s loss of velocity really wasn’t that bad. His average FB was 91.8 mph. It was 91.9 in 2013. Hernandez is one season removed from a campaign in which he produced a 2.14 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Last season’s 10.7 SwStr% was better than his career rate (10.3%). He’s 29 years old. There were three weird blowup games last year (he allowed 25 earned runs over 7.1 innings) that I wouldn’t give too much credit to looking forward, so I’m still treating him like an obvious SP1 in 2016.
Joey Votto is an interesting fantasy decision. He’s batting in a terrible lineup, and all of his walks will do little good for those not in leagues that count OBP. But this is a first baseman who stole 11 bags last year and hit .362/.535/.617 after the All-Star break. His Soft% (9.5) was the second lowest in MLB. He’s reached 30 homers during just one of his nine seasons in the league, but he owns a career .957 OPS. Votto has also scored more runs than he has recorded RBI during his career. Batting average and runs scored seem to be the most underrated aspects of fantasy baseball, but obviously Votto will still require an early pick. I’m saying he’s worth it.
Headlines of the Week: Wife Crashes Her Own Funeral, Horrifying Her Husband, Who Had Paid To Have Her Killed...Drunk Monkey Armed With Kitchen Knife Chases Bar Patrons...Man Convicted Of Drunk Driving Blames Beer-Battered Fish...Man Trying To ‘Time Travel’ Drives His Car Through A Building...Buddhist Monk Fights Robber...Python Thief Stuffs Snake Down Pants...Tourist ‘Forgets’ Wife At Petrol Station In Brazil And Drives 60 Miles Before Realizing.
Quick Hits: Jose Abreu was a disappointment last year, but he actually scored eight more runs than his rookie campaign, (slightly) lowered his K% and still owns a career .303 BA. I’d have no problem making him my second round pick...I know he’s always hurt, but it’s crazy Ryan Zimmerman’s ADP is 230+. That’s a gift. He hit 16 homers and had 73 RBI in 95 games last year. Zimmerman is 31 years old and will be hitting cleanup in front of Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper, all of whom project to have some of the best OBPs in the league...Everyone is going nuts over this picture of Pablo Sandoval, and while it appears he hasn’t taken getting into shape seriously during the offseason after going 2-for-41 against lefties before abandoning switch-hitting last year, he might be so cheap he’s worth a flier. The Kung Fu Panda has hit less than .200 in back-to-back years against southpaws, so he’ll be a discount.
Police Blotter: Man Charged With Tossing Alligator Through Wendy’s Drive-Thru...Florida Fugitive Chews Off Fingertips In Bid To Hide Identity...Woman’s Body Acts As ‘Brewery,’ So Judge Dismisses DWI...Driver Gives Fake Name To Deputy; Fake Name Has A DUI...Man With Arrest Warrant Doesn’t Like Mug Shot, Sends Police Selfie.
Longread of the Week: To Catch A Rapist.
Quick Hits Part Deux: I’d give at least 50/50 odds Hunter Strickland leads the Giants in saves. Santiago Casilla will soon turn 36, had his lowest average FB velocity last year since 2007 and seems like a tenuous option to continue closing. Sergio Romo is much better suited for a setup role, and his devastating slider is only devastating against right-handed batters. Strickland, meanwhile, has a crazy fastball and a developing slider/changeup, and he produced a 14.1 SwStr% last year. San Francisco is currently tied with the Cubs as the biggest favorites to win the World Series, so there should be plenty of save opportunities. Go get Strickland...J.D. Martinez led all batters in Hard% last year at 42.3. Billy Burns finished last at 13.6. The next worst was Dee Gordon at 17.6...Stephen Strasburg had a 1.90 ERA and 0.75 WHIP after the All-Star break with a 13.3 K/9 rate. He’s in a contract year. I know, I know, but yes, I’m all in once again.