February 6, 2017
Early ADP Analysis
Welcome to the start of shortstop week. It’s a position that is on the rise, and now has a good number of high-tier options. In this space, you will find everything you need to know about the early ADP data. First, we pause for a quick refresher. The following data is from early NFBC draft data, and the average round reflects a 15-team league. Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, let’s take a look at the big movers.
The Early Rounds
I hope you don’t have plans for your second-round pick…
At this point last year, Correa was one of the most hyped players in the league and was being selected with a top-10 pick. He looked like the entire package in his first exposure to major-league pitching in 2015, and there was little reason to expect anything but greatness from the get-go. The young shortstop was slightly disappointing, though, particularly in the power department. Still, he hit 20 home runs, knocked in 96 runs, hit .274, and stole 13 bases. This coming year will only be his age-22 season, and that was a disappointing year. In a revamped lineup with another year under his belt, Correa could be great early-draft value at his current ADP.
Corey Seager, Dodgers
Speaking of hot young shortstops heading into last year’s drafts, Seager was an early-round pick after just 27 major-league games in 2015. Because of the lack of experience, many were wary of that early ADP. Instead, Seager managed to outperform it in his first full season. He was an all-around stud with big power and elite run scoring ability. The Dodgers offense shouldn’t be any worse in 2017, so the run scoring should stay, and the rest of his game looks sustainable. Even if he could take a small hit in AVG, we won’t make the mistake of doubting the young Seager yet again.
Jonathan Villar, Brewers
No one has moved up from last year’s perception more than Villar. After going undrafted in most leagues heading into 2016, Villar is all the way up to elite shortstop status. The main reason for the jump, of course, is his speed. After stealing 62 bases last year, it’s hard not to be excited about his potential in 2017. I would worry about selecting him quite this early, but that’s not to say he’s not worth it if he falls by a round or so. He gets on base enough to expect at least 40 steals, and the power and park is good enough for around 12-15 per year. There’s just not enough of a track record to completely trust him with a second-round pick.
Trevor Story, Rockies
While his rise wasn’t quite as meteoric as Villar’s, Story has also rocketed up the draft boards since last season. At the beginning of last season, there was no bigger story (I hate this pun) in the game than the Rockies’ shortstop. He was hitting home runs seemingly every day, and people were wondering just how many dingers he’d be able to hit over a full season. As it turns out, he didn’t get a full season, but he still smashed 27 homers in 97 games. Like Villar, this might be a round or so early, but Story is an extremely intriguing player. The power is very much for real, and he should also get you double digit steals in a full year. The strikeout problems are also extremely real, but as long as he plays in Coors his BABIP should help offset that damage.
The Middle Rounds
I hope you like up and comers…or Troy Tulowitzki…
This is a tier that is built of players who weren’t even included in last year’s columns, and Nunez is at the top of that list. Like Villar, most of Nunez’s value is based around steals. He was fine across the board, but his value was mostly built upon the 40 swiped bags. Looking ahead to next year, it’s hard to see Nunez returning this eighth round value. He hardly ever walks, meaning a lot his value is pinned to his AVG. Any slide in BABIP is going to hurt a lot, and moving to a park like San Francisco for a full season won’t help matters. The same goes for his power, as he’ll have a hard time getting to double digits home runs this year. I wouldn’t be touching Nunez in this area.
Aledmys Diaz, Cardinals
Diaz was one of the biggest surprises across the league, particularly in the first half. After hardly being mentioned prior to drafts last year, he has shot up to being a starting shortstop in 2017. Unlike Nunez, I think he can return this value. The power was likely a bit of a fluke, as most of it came during that crazy first half, but if he also only played in 111 games. Over a full season, he can match that 17 home run total. On top of that, he can consistently hover around the .300 AVG mark with his strong plate discipline and solid line-drive/ground-ball approach. Combine that with a Cardinals lineup that will always be strong enough to help his contextual numbers, and Diaz has the baseline for another solid year. It’s always a risk taking someone with such little track record, but the 11th round is a fine place to start doing so.
Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays
If Diaz is too risky for your blood, Tulowitzki is being taken in the same round and is the only player in this tier on whom you’d be buying low. The former number one shortstop has seen his stock drop over the last couple of years, but it’s completely crashed after 2016. Although he’s never going to be the superstar he was in his Rockies days, there is some reason to believe in a slight bounce back for the Blue Jays shortstop. For one, Toronto’s lineup should still be strong even without Edwin Encarnacion, so his run scoring should improve after a down 2016. The AVG was his biggest flaw, and that was mostly BABIP related. His Coors BABIPs aren’t coming back, but if he can get back to around .300 he could get his AVG back up to around .270. Throw 20+ home runs on top of that, and you could have a steal. Of course, health will always be a question, so buyer beware.
Tim Anderson, White Sox
Anderson has always been one of my favorite players to follow ever since he was drafted. He’s been a top prospect for a while, but was always a raw type who needed his skills to catch up to his athleticism. Some of that is still true, but he’s pegged as the everyday shortstop for the rebuilding White Sox in 2017. With his speed and ability to make solid contact, Anderson will help you in AVG despite strikeout rates over 20 percent. He’s also got a surprising amount of power for someone of his size, and his park will help there as well. What you’re really looking for, however, are the steals. He has the speed, but with a walk rate hovering around three percent over his pro career, he’ll need to find a way to get on base more to make a big impact there. Anderson will be fun when he gets more experience at the plate, but in a redraft league I wouldn’t jump at him at this price.
Dansby Swanson, Braves
Speaking of top prospects with limited major-league track record, Swanson is going to be one of the most exciting shortstops to watch this year. The former number one overall pick, who has gotten Jeter comps, is ready for his first full season. Unfortunately, his real-life value is likely to be more than his fantasy. That’s not to say he’ll be bad, but don’t expect him to have any standout tools. In the 13th round, this value actually isn’t too bad. However, expect this to rise as he starts to get a little more publicity when camp opens. I wouldn’t reach much higher than this current ADP.
The Late Rounds
If you’re looking for bounce-backs, you’ve come to the right place…
After a breakout 2015 in which he hit 21 home runs, Crawford fell back into being a fantastic real life player without a ton of fantasy value. He bucked the trend of the rest of the league, cutting his homer total by nine dingers despite playing in 12 more games. On the other hand, he showed off better plate discipline that helped raise his AVG and OBP by 20 points. In this range, you’re just shopping for a MI, and the chance for Crawford to keep those plate discipline gains while getting a little bit of that power back is worth a 17th-round selection.
Didi Gregorius, Yankees
Gregorius had something of a breakout in 2016 and is being drafted in fantasy leagues after being in the undrafted category last year. The breakout really only came in one area, though, and that’s home runs. As we know, the entire league experienced this breakout, and it’s unclear how much of that will carry over. I’m wary of everyone’s home run totals, but players like Gregorius raise the most red flags. The list of MI candidates in this range aren’t great, and the Yankees shortstop is the right age to bet on a breakout, but his plate discipline issues and questionable power jump would have me looking elsewhere.
Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks
Marte was one of the most interesting names late in drafts last year, with his athleticism and potential playing time in a solid Mariners lineup. He struggled mightily in his first extended look against major-league pitching, though, and has been shipped to Arizona. The good news is his park will be much better, and he’ll now be playing in a lineup with Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. The bad news is we don’t know exactly how playing time will shake out with the Diamondbacks, and we don’t know if he’ll be able to make the proper adjustments to bounce back from last season. This is the place in the draft in which we take the big risks, just don’t be afraid to cut bait early if things go south.
Whether you want veterans, rookies or breakouts, this tier has something for you…
Obviously, the undrafted tier is always going to be full of major question marks, but there are some exciting names that should fit any kind of need you may have. If you want a solid veteran, you have options. Peralta was long one of the most consistent shortstops in the game, and with the right playing time could easily get back to that solid, unspectacular production. If you want huge upside that you’d have to stash, look no further than Albies and Crawford. Both of them are top prospects on teams that don’t figure to contend and could be up as soon as this summer. If you want 2016 breakouts who could, with another strong year, rise up to the middle tier next year, Galvis would like to say hello. All of these players are more likely to bust than break out, but the position is still deeper than it’s been in a while.