Using a mix of Yahoo’s average draft position (ADP) and the staff rankings that create a composite score among three Yahoo analysts, we present a road map through the first 100 picks to come off the board in a typical Fantasy Baseball draft.
By breaking things down into segments of 10 picks at a time to highlight the safest bet, plus an underrated and overrated player, you are sure to come away with a more streamlined and less overwhelming way to plot out a course for a successful draft. While unexpected twists and turns develop in any draft, walking in prepared is the best way to come out with a competitive squad.
Safest Bet: Anthony Rizzo – ADP 33, Staff Composite Ranking: 33
To me, Rizzo is the epitome of safe. He’s a consistent source of left-handed power in a contending Cubs lineup. Rizzo had a 30+ homer streak broken last season — with 25. He’s hit 100+ RBI four years straight, and stuck out just 80 times in 566 at-bats last year. He’s been exceptionally durable the last four seasons too, appearing in over 150 games each of those years. He’s been an MVP candidate every year since 2014, and at 29 years old is still as solid a first base fantasy asset as they come.
Underrated: Carlos Correa – ADP 36, Staff Composite Ranking: 35
Thanks to a couple of injury-shortened seasons and an entirely underwhelming 2018, Correa’s name has been buried under the other enticing young talents in the baseball world. Still, Correa is turning just 25 in September and was once compared to Alex Rodriguez as a prospect. He hits in the heart of the lineup of one of the true World Series contenders, and is coming into 2019 with a clean bill of health. I fully expect the talented youngster to return to his 2016-2017 form if he stays healthy. If he does, then this ADP is practically a steal.
Overrated: Rhys Hoskins – ADP 39, Staff Composite Ranking: 37
I’m not ready to completely buy into Hoskins. The power is definitely real, and he should continue to be a perennial home run hitter (especially with Harper there now). I’d love to see more RBI and less strikeouts, though. In fact, he struck out 35 times in 98 PAs (35.7%) in close and late situations in 2018. For point of reference, the league average was 22.2%. He also has an egregious split in career-production when facing left-handed pitching: .186 BA, 9 HR, .385 SLG vs. LHP; .266 BA, 43 HR, .564 SLG vs. RHP. Hoskins has a lot to offer still at just 25 years old, but give me Khris Davis or Cody Bellinger at cheaper prices over Hoskins.
Safest bet: Khris Davis – ADP 41, Staff Composite Ranking: 40
Hear me out. I debated with this choice over and over. Khrush is as good a bet to hit multiple home runs in a game as he is to strike out five times. No one wants the best slugger on their lineup to strike out two-plus times a night.
But with Davis, that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the consistency of what he does well (and “well” is probably an understatement). He has gone yard seemingly at will the last three years (42, 43, 48) while also driving in over 100 runs. His slugging percentage hasn’t been below .500 since 2014. You’ll take those Ks when you’re dealing with an almost automatic 40-100 guy. If we’re talking “safe,” then you can safely predict a healthy Khrush to produce his usual at this ADP. Oh, and this is one of my favorite stats, regardless of sports: Davis has hit .247 for four straight seasons. If I ever need a good laugh, I just think of that stat.
Underrated: Carlos Carrasco – ADP 45, Staff Composite Ranking: 36
Why is Cookie not getting more love in Yahoo leagues? A 45th ADP? That’s a steal for him in my book. Injuries in previous seasons aside, Carrasco has been one of the best fantasy starters the past two years, and — aside from injury or Father Time — should stay that way. Sure, he might not have a microscopic ERA like a few of the arms drafted higher than him, but I’ll take a 10.8 K:9 in 192 innings any day of the week (his ratio in 2018). Drafters who miss out on the inhuman hurlers of the first couple of rounds shouldn’t feel bad adding Carrasco to their pitching staff.
Overrated: Clayton Kershaw – ADP 50, Staff Composite Ranking: 127
This one hurts. I mean, you can see the contrast between Yahoo ADP, which admittedly went above 50 after this writing, but still a huge gap from our expert rankings. I’m a fan of Kershaw, so to put him in the overrated column is tough. But I just can’t ignore the obvious: He’s hurt. Something is wrong with one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball. Nagged by chronic back issues, now he’s suffering from a shoulder issue that’s held him back in spring training. His strikeouts (155) and average velocity (90.9mph) were down immensely from his 2017 numbers (202 Ks and 93mph, respectively). He hasn’t thrown 200 innings since 2015. Don’t get me wrong — if healthy, I still expect Kershaw to put up solid numbers — but he’s no longer in the Scherzer/Sale/deGrom realm of fantasy starters.
Safest bet: Lorenzo Cain – ADP 53, Staff Composite Ranking: 45
This was a tough pick, because we’ve reached the part of the draft where you start to find more and more question marks inside these player’s profiles. Will Joey Votto’s power continue to dwindle? Did we see the best of Eugenio Suarez in 2018? What will Gleyber Torres offer in Year 2? Was Trevor Bauer’s 2018 a fluke — you get the point. A man with few questions is the “how-can-you-not-love-him,” Lorenzo Cain. He’s compiled admirable numbers in each scoring category save home runs the last five seasons, and with over 600 at-bats in his last two, it’s safe to say Cain is healthy.
He’ll turn 33 early in the season, so even though he’s in the waning years of his prime, Cain is safely surrounded by a powerful Brewers lineup and can offer categorical success when healthy.
Underrated: Jose Abreu – ADP 58, Staff Composite Ranking: 48
Coming off a down year at 32 years old, cleaning up for a White Sox team waiting for their prospects to come round, and seeing his OPS fall from .906 in 2017 to .798 in 2018, it can be easy to say that maybe Abreu’s best seasons are behind him. But upon closer inspection, one can see that his less-than-great 2018 was more fluky than signal. You can’t ignore that the two freak injuries that Abreu dealt with last season affected his play. We’re talking about a guy that was a consistent 30-100 threat who would play 150 games every year, until 2018 — when he got hurt.
It might the easy way out to blame Abreu’s down-year on his injuries, but snagging a first baseman with his profile at near the end of this round? Steal alert!
Overrated: Edwin Diaz – ADP 53, Staff Composite Ranking: 62
Full disclosure: Personally, I’m not drafting a closer this early. But again, that’s just me; I’m quick to punt on saves (very often to my own detriment). I’m of the belief that you can find a solid source of saves later on without sacrificing a chance at another positional asset.
When Diaz is on, he’s arguably the best closer in baseball — great. The incomparable Scott Pianowski has said, “Instead of drafting Blake Treinen, why don’t you go for the next Blake Treinen instead?”
I agree with that sentiment completely. This take is pretty cut-and-dry: I’m not taking a closer at this ADP, not when I can get someone like Kirby Yates (currently 111 ADP) or Jose Leclerc (currently 125 ADP) later on. This isn’t to say they or anyone else is on the same level as Diaz as a closer, but there’s still too much talent on the draft board at positions of need for me to take Diaz as high as 53rd — especially when the aforementioned Treinen is going 12 spots cheaper. Again, if you value closers strongly, then you will disagree completely with this, and that’s totally fine; that’s why we play!
Stay tuned for ADP Analysis Part 3 (Picks 61-100)…