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February 26, 2016

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

Episode 77: Scoresheet Draft Preview

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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While players are still getting into the best shape of their lives, and most fantasy leagues haven’t even had their mock previews come out yet, Scoresheet owners are all set to begin drafting. Yes, in public leagues, drafting begins as early as Leap Day, leaving plenty of time for the long procession of 20 rounds of draft picks over the next few weeks. While we can’t speak to your league, we’re here to help with a Scoresheet draft preview.

But how can you do a draft preview when you don’t even know who’s available, you may ask? Good question, person we set up to introduce this paragraph! All of these players are available in at least 50 percent of leagues at the moment, meaning that you’re likely to find him available. Odds are, your particular league may have a few players that we would rank even more highly, but if you don’t see them listed, it’s likely because they’re relatively frequently owned. If you have questions about anyone you don’t see here, we (or the fearless commenters) would be delighted to discuss them below.

American League

The American League early draft is as talent-rich as it has been in years. With at least six valuable crossovers leading the charge, there’s potential keeper-level depth throughout the 14th round and perhaps even into the 15th round.

1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Justin Upton
Despite the age gap, we have Tulowitzki ranked as the clear top choice for 14.1 in most leagues. Even though the teams with the first pick in the draft are likely to be farther away from contention, nothing helps you get back in the game like an offense-first shortstop better than all but the elite young studs. If he doesn’t fit your team, you may even want to see if you can get more for trading him than you can by drafting Upton (or another player further down this ranking). Upton is a very good player, but has rarely been the superstar that many expected.

3. Todd Frazier
4. Cole Hamels
5. Andrelton Simmons
6. Carlos Gomez
We have Todd Frazier ranked as the clear 14.3 pick. Despite his second half shortcomings last year, he still has rare power and is heading into a well-matched park. The next three players are on the same tier. Hamels in Texas should be thought of more as a solid durable no. 2-3 starter than as an ace; his impeccable health record is his best trait at the moment. We still believe there’s a smidge more in Simmons’s bat, but his glove is enough to win games consistently through stellar fielding range (even if it doesn’t match reality). Gomez took a step back on offense and defense last year, to the degree that even a bounce-back leaves him short of his former stardom.

7. Byung-Ho Park
8. Lewis Brinson
9. Jurickson Profar
10. Greg Bird
11. Jordan Zimmermann
We see Park as most likely to offer a high-variance version of Adam Lind’s 2015. Even as a corner bat, he shouldn’t fall very far in the draft. Brinson broke out with a massive power season last year, as he finally cut down on his strikeouts and unleashed fury across three levels. He’s unlikely to match that as a major leaguer, but his potential on both sides of the ball means that there are a number of ways he can be good. We’re warily ranking Profar as a 14th-round talent—he looked healthy in the AFL, and was even showing some assertiveness that he hadn’t back in his days as a top prospect. He’s not for everyone, but rebuilders should enjoy a player with the potential to be above average soon at multiple positions. Speaking of not-for-everyone, Bird was shaping up to be a strong keeper before getting knocked out for the year. You weren’t drafting him for 2016 anyway, however, and your interest should match your long-term fear of a shoulder injury derailing his power. This is about as low as you’ll see Jordan Zimmermann ranked, but he’s been backsliding for a few years now, and doesn’t project to be more than a mid-rotation starter in front of a relatively weak defense.

12. Eduardo Escobar
13. Max Kepler
14. Sean Manaea
15. Hyun-Soo Kim
16. Bradley Zimmer
17. Luis Valbuena
18. Aroldis Chapman
19. Starlin Castro
20. Mike Fiers

National League

Sadly for lexicographers, the senior circuit is where you’ll find the junior talent, as much of the long-term potential in an NL-only Scoresheet draft is beneath the major leagues. People looking to build depth around a championship core will often find slim pickings, and may want to consider going younger early and building redundancy late.

1. Yoenis Cespedes
2. Ben Zobrist

There isn’t as clear-cut a top player in the NL pool this year, and you could argue that these guys would rank no higher than seventh in the AL. That said, Cespedes is well suited to Scoresheet, and positive noises around his center-field play suggest that he’ll match or exceed his 2.13 fielding range next year. Zobrist is older and less versatile than in his heyday, but he’s still the second-best second baseman in the league, and should be a keeper for a couple more years before his power or health gives out entirely.

3. Domingo Santana
4. Wei-Yin Chen
We’ve been comparing Santana positively to Michael Conforto all offseason—multiple projection systems see him as a better fielder and hitter. He’s riskier than you’d like a young star to be, with high bust potential, but the good news about a weak draft pool is that you’re not giving up all that much by taking him. Chen has been consistently undervalued through his career, and is heading into a great park as well.

5. Brett Phillips
6. Manuel Margot
These two are very similar players, each with questions around their power but with strong defense and bat skills. Miller Park breaks the tie.

7. Scott Kazmir
8. Willson Contreras
9. James Shields
10. John Jaso
There are only a few fringe keepers in the NL this year, and here are most of those remaining. Shields is falling back to earth, but has the most 2016 value until his midseason trade. Contreras is ranked highly because we tend to think of catching prospects as rare commodities.

11. Javier Guerra
12. Nick Williams
13. Derek Dietrich
14. Jayson Werth
15. Vincent Velasquez
Werth breaks up a string of prospects and young players who were tough to keep—we like him to bounce back some. Dietrich is particularly interesting as a versatile young player who could easily grow into a Scoresheet-friendly regular with just a few breaks.

16. Lance Lynn
17. Brandon McCarthy
The Tommy John crowd is tough to protect. McCarthy’s coming back first, but has the longer injury history. Drafting Lynn in the early teen rounds may give you another core keeper as soon as 2017.

18. Josh Hader
19. Forrest Wall
20. Dilson Herrera
Obviously, many teams will prefer to draft everyday players in the early rounds, and we don’t blame them. In general, it’s not going to be where you find value in this draft. Teams that can afford to wait a season should take advantage of the situation.

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