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Who wouldn’t like to tell the future? Who doesn’t want to know a mistake before you make it? I believe I wrote a fairly similar article on this topic one year ago, however this year I will not be wrong. I will not falter. This year, I know the unknown.

Maybe I simply enjoy the misery of being wrong, but nevertheless, I have an itch this year. Knowing which players will make us kick and scream come October can fall under several categories.

Perhaps it’s a closer in a closer battle, or a highly hyped prospect that just isn’t quite ready. A player that will bust that noone sees coming. Perhaps it’s simply a player that we don’t believe has much of a ceiling and breaks onto the scene in a big fashion.

This season I have taken a different approach with those principles in mind. While I will definitely focus on ADP, we should also look deeper.

With keeper’s locking over the last few weeks as we head into Spring Training, I will also focus on those borderline keepers that we may regret letting go.

2016 Fantasy Baseball

Five Players We’ll Kick Ourselves Over in October

A.J. Ramos, RP, Miami Marlins

The news and notes have been swirling for over a month now of the “closer battle” that will take place throughout Spring Training between Carter Capps and A.J. Ramos. A closer battle that forced me to keep Santiago Casilla over Ramos in an NL-Only 12 player keeper league.

So yes, this is a little personal to me. I don’t believe in the talk, and I don’t buy that Don Mattingly is actually considering replacing Ramos as the team’s closer. If anything, with Mattingly’s help and trust, Ramos may finally break onto the scene as a Top 5 closer when we draft in 2017.

Ramos relies primarily on his fastball, slider and changeup, and also has a cutter, sinker and curve that he will throw sparingly. Likewise, Mattingly’s former closer, Kenley Jansen, relies on his overpowering stuff, primarily throwing a cutter, slider and sinker. If Mattingly can convince Ramos to trust his other pitches, Capps should not pose much of a threat.

While Ramos struggled in the second half last season (July and August), his overall numbers were still elite with a 2.30 ERA, 32 saves and 87 strikeouts. Although Capps was even more dominant in 2015, managers love to choose the guy with experience, so it would seem Ramos has the leg up. Unless Ramos falters early and gives the job to Capps, Ramos could be in the discussion with Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen among top closers when we enter 2017, after a full season serving as the Marlins closer.

Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

Miguel Sano has a lot of promise and a lot of power, but he also showed last season that he certainly still has some holes in his swing. Although I think he could be a very promising player in his prime, I do not believe he is there yet, and by no means should he be going ahead of the proven 3B he currently ranks higher than according to ADP (Matt Carpenter, Kyle Seager, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria). Quite frankly, Maikel Franco will probably have a similar season, if not better, and he’s going several rounds later at the moment.

Sano struck out 119 times in just over half a season, while hitting only one home run in his final 15 games. Although his 59 walks were promising, I think Sano could be one of the most risky sophomores in 2016.

Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

Lindor was a top prospect.

Lindor is a shining star, and someone for Cleveland fans to get excited about.

Lindor may be one of the best at his position.

A scouting report from MLBtopprospects.com entering 2015, “Perhaps the most interesting evaluation of Lindor, and the one that helps identify him as a player the most is that he will hold a much higher value in real life than in Fantasy Baseball leagues.”

My fear about those high on Lindor is that people are forgetting why Lindor was so highly hyped. It was for his glove, not his bat. These mock drafts that have him going in the fifth round and earlier may leave some owners extremely disappointed.

Yes, he had a spectacular half a season, and showed that perhaps he could be a 25/25 shortstop in his prime. Then again, his minor league track record shows that he may struggle to top 10 home runs with an average above .270 in a full season. While the speed is legitimate, if he can’t reach first, he will obviously struggle to steal bases.

He began and ended the season in brutal fashion, while looking like a top shortstop for three months in the middle. Just some things to keep in mind when taking a shortstop within the first five rounds with all of 390 at-bats under his belt.

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets

Enough bashing of the youngsters, time to get to the outfielder coming off one of the biggest three months in a career, clearly blinding Fantasy Baseball owners from a disappointing 2013 and 2014 season.

Cespedes had an incredible season, and particularly made an unbelievable impact in the New York Mets World Series run. With that said, he hit .224 with just five home runs and seven RBIs in 98 at-bats at Citi Field. Not to mention, he didn’t have a great postseason. My lone advice would be to do your homework on Cespedes, rather than going on the hype he caught from July-September.

 

The BABIP Pick

Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Since society seems to be leaning towards Sabremetrics these days, I wanted to squeeze this one in. I debated on this one between Miguel Cabrera, Dee Gordon, Paul Goldschmidt and Bryant as the four ranked 2-5 with the highest BABIP in MLB last season. Odubel Herrera ranked first for what it’s worth.

Cabrera earns immediate immunity given his track record and consistently high BABIP. If Goldschmidt’s BABIP falls back to his usual number, that probably lowers his average to about .300-.310, which that along with his other counting stats would place him among the Top 5 players anyway. Gordon could certainly hold some merit as the fourth option on this list, however it seems like a rather popular opinion that he won’t hit above .330 again but a .280-.300 average is certainly in the cards, even if his BABIP falls back to league average.

Bryant’s .378 BABIP, when most Major Leaguers fall around .320, and even the elite fall around .340, proposes some reason for concern given his strike out tendencies. Similar to Sano, by no means do I consider Bryant a “bust,” but he doesn’t necessarily belong in the first round either.

Bryant struck out 199 times last season in 151 games played. In addition, the strikeout totals never improved throughout the season, despite the rising batting average. Over the final four months (not counting October), Bryant struck out 34, 37, 36 and 35 times, while his walks actually dipped.

When Bryant completely broke out in August and September, batting .330 and .316, his BABIP went up to .456 and .438.

My biggest worry is a lot of people feel there’s room to grow this year, and while in the next three to four years that may be the case, he played a fairly full season in 2015. Perhaps the ceiling for this season is a .280/30/110/100 campaign, which would be a solid first rounder, no questions asked.

However, given that he is consistently drafted ahead of more proven talents such as Jose Bautista, Jose Altuve, Edwin Encarnacion, Starling Marte, or even Joey Votto for that matter, the floor might be lower than some anticipate. I personally don’t see a .250/25/90/80 season out of the question, numbers that could be relatively duplicated by third baseman going nearly 100 picks later in some drafts (Maikel Franco and Evan Longoria).

The young super stars are exciting and easy to hype up, but don’t forget about the old school players too. Drafting the wrong youngsters may result in a long six months.

 

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