Price check on American League players in early drafts

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez appears poised for a strong fantasy year. (Getty Images)
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez appears poised for a strong fantasy year. (Getty Images)

Special to Yahoo Sports

Let’s take a look around the American League at the player on each team who most interests me relative to FantasyPros ADP (at the time of this writing). Next week, we’ll do the same with the National League. And in keeping with the spirit of my By The Numbers work, we’re going to ground our opinions on whether to draft the player at this price in data beyond the obvious fantasy categories. Hopefully, the cited stats will prove to be at least as predictive.

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Sean Manaea, SP, Oakland A’s (ADP: 178): In his last 14 starts (out of 24 total): 84.2 IP, 75 Ks, 17 BBs, 2.44 ERA, .102 isolated slugging (slugging average minus batting averaged). I don’t like arbitrary time frames. But I think it’s OK to use samples like this with rookies when you can reasonably argue that there may have been an early adjustment period that masked skills.

C.J. Cron, 1B, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 216): Struggled vs. lefties as a RHB, which seems flukey. Had a solid well-hit of .170 vs. MLB average of .138., according to MLB stat provider Inside Edge. Cron doesn’t walk but his strikeout percentage isn’t bad, so expect a decent batting average.

Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros (ADP: 78): He tore it up versus the weaker pitchers in September (.323/.344/.629); but still had 2 BBs and 16 Ks in this sample. Seems like this is a guy the industry really wants to be good. His price is too high.

Devon Travis, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP: 190): The poor man’s Bregman. Maybe a 40% chance he outscores him and look at the disparity in price. Yes, injuries have been troubling but .296 OBP with two strikes shows he’s probably a good hitter (average is .250).

Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians (ADP: 166): The battle of two drafting ideologies: Once Bitten, Twice Shy vs. No Guts, No Glory. Brantley destroyed many seasons, including mine, last year. But the 160th or so pick can’t wreck your squad. If he’s what he was pre-shoulder injury, he will be a solid piece to a championship puzzle.

Tyler O’Neill, OF, Seattle Mariners (ADP: not drafted): According to the The 2017 Prospect Digest Handbook, O’Neill’s company in posting an adjusted runs created of 150+ in AA age 21 or younger includes Mike Trout, Joc Pederson and Evan Longoria. Either Jared Dyson or Mitch Haniger likely will be benched by June 1, and O’Neill’s enormous power potential is a perfect corner OF fit. Put him on watch lists.

Kevin Gausman, SP, Orioles (ADP: 137): The homers are a huge problem and he is in the wrong park and division. I just don’t see his ERA playing up to his K and BB numbers because normalizing his HR rate given historic problems here seems overly optimistic. His fly-ball rate is about average however, should you choose to disregard my advice.

Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers (ADP: 188): About exactly the age 21 season that Addison Russell had in 2015. Other age 21 comps (on on-base plus slugging adjusted for league year): Carl Yastrzemski, Delmon Young, Robin Yount, Sammy Sosa. Only Yaz had a mini-breakout at age 22. So Mazara is likely NOT a value above ADP. But he’ll probably be good eventually if you want to take a gamble and catch him if he falls into this range.

Brad Miller, SS, Rays (ADP: 166): The market does not believe 30 homers at ADP 161. He’s in his power prime. But yes, he’ll regress from a .240 ISO to a .190ish ISO but that still means 23-to-25 homers, still very good.

Rick Porcello, SP, Red Sox (ADP: 102): His Ks and BBs were about 75th percentile for him. You even can pay for wins here given the team quality. But remember he’s not moving the needle one bit in Ks and I can’t pay single-digit-round price for that, ever.

Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals (ADP: 99): The power proved illusory in 2016 and the speed floor we thought we had was a trap door. His well-hit average was just OK, even in 2015. This isn’t enough of a discount for me to roster him again. Pass.

Joe Jimenez, RP, Tigers (ADP: not drafted): Being groomed as a closer on a team with an 89-mph one who is maybe heading off the cliff despite 40-plus saves in 2016. I don’t think Bruce Rondon is the answer given his success last year in a lower-pressure role and historic struggles with control.

Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (ADP: 175): An ISO over .200 but the Ks are out of control. Buxton still has a chance to be an Eric Davis-type of player, but this is an overpay. He still has major adjustments to make at the plate and has an equal chance of never amounting to much in our game.

Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (ADP: 231): Buxton-like. These guys are nice flyers and at the right price. Anderson is available in the 19th or 20th round and has 20/20 possibilities. Just make sure you cover him for the chance of hitting .250 because the .375 BABIP is not likely to repeat (his well-hit rate, which includes Ks, was a sub-par .117, with average being .138).

Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees (ADP: 67): This one is so easy. He had an .807 on-base-plus-slugging in over 300 plate appearances in AAA last year. So why not just give him that this year in the majors (still a stretch). That makes him a bottom of the top-100 pick even if you want to pay for scarcity.