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Kris BryantChicago Cubs

Any prospect carrying a career minor league batting line of .327/.428/.666 would have a tough time flying under the radar at spring training, but the former number two overall selection in the 2013 draft has grabbed a load of headlines after swatting six home runs in his first eight spring games. It’s not that Bryant needed to prove his power against top competition or expectations on him for this season have changed much necessarily, but it’s likely that he’ll be taken off the board even earlier in drafts after this showing. His current NFBC ADP of 107, which ranks 10th among third basemen, was already more or less commensurate with his expected value this year. While the national headlines, fantasy helium, and baseballs are flying around in Arizona, not much has actually changed in terms of Bryant’s value.

Corey DickersonColorado Rockies

Dickerson’s power makes him an attractive option as his .255 ISO ranked seventh in all of baseball last year (min. 450 plate appearances). Even with the Coors effect, he had 57 extra-base hits in 478 plate appearances—that’s some serious power. He also posted an above-average walk rate, but his .312 AVG from last year is due for regression as his BABIP was .356. There’s also the fact that Dickerson’s NFBC ADP is 45, which is so high you might need a spaceship to draft him. For reference, he’s being picked over 30 spots ahead of teammate Charlie Blackmon, who also had a breakout season last year, and I’ve included each of their PECOTA projections below.

Player

AVG

HR

R

RBI

SB

Corey Dickerson

.292

22

82

75

9

Charlie Blackmon

.277

15

82

63

21

While PECOTA seems to favor Dickerson, it’s important to note a couple of things.

  • Dickerson’s profile is inherently more risky than Blackmon’s because of his inability to hit left-handed pitching (.724 OPS) and higher strikeout rate (21 percent).
  • Dickerson’s struggles against lefties could lead to even fewer opportunities against southpaws and thus hurt his counting stats while it’s more likely for Blackmon to hold an everyday job all year.

Dickerson’s power is the type of catalytic tool that could carry this profile, but it’s still a bit of a risky profile and not one I’m touching at his current ADP. Blackmon has the type of well-rounded profile I generally do target.

Brandon BeltSan Francisco Giants

Belt only played 60 games due to injuries and struggled to hit for AVG (.243) last year, but in the two seasons prior he hit .283 over 295 games. Given good health and an average bounce-back, Belt has the power to turn in a 20-25 home run season, which would make him a complete player for fantasy purposes. His current NFBC ADP is 169 (nice), which ranks 19th among first basemen, meaning both Eric Hosmer and Matt Adams are ahead of him.

Dexter Fowler – Chicago Cubs

With all the hype surrounding the new era of Cubs baseball, it’s a wonder Fowler isn’t drawing more buzz himself. He’s unlikely to repeat his .300 AVG from 2012 without a BABIP fluctuation, but he’s a decent bet to hit .270 with double-digit home runs and steals. Given his great walk rate, Fowler will be an underrated source of runs this year, especially if he can avoid the disabled list and play at least 140 games for the first time since 2012. His NFBC ADP is 267, which is 66th among outfielders and directly in front of Coco Crisp and Torii Hunter. Fowler isn’t breaking down like those guys and his walk rate makes him a clearly superior choice.

Gregor Blanco – San Francisco Giants

Blanco’s season totals from the past few years aren’t that inspiring outside of his speed, which is why many fantasy owners will write him off completely before even considering the Giants’ fourth outfielder. He’s never been a run producer, hit more than five home runs, or hit above .265. Still, it doesn’t take much digging to find that Blanco made the most of his opportunities last season when Angel Pagan was injured as he posted a .296/.365/.449 line in the second half. Blanco shortened his swing, trading fly balls for more line drives, and his .814 OPS in the second half was 11th among National League outfielders. While his BABIP jumped from .279 to .342 in the second half, that doesn’t mean Blanco can’t pull this trick once again. With the injury to Hunter Pence, Blanco will see regular playing time (again) at the outset of the season and could see additional time as the year goes along and Pagan’s back starts barking again. Since you’re not passing on anyone reliable to take Blanco as his NFBC ADP is 473, all you can really ask of him is a good half-season. If you’re lucky, you might even get it.

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gerrybraun
3/17
Is that right? -- a .724 OPS indicates an inability to hit left-handed pitching?
cfelling
3/17
Blackmon's splits are pretty ugly away from Coors, but I get your point...
tsweber
3/17
Dickerson's BA v. lefties was .253 last year (OBP was .306). The entire league batting average was .253. So, it appears Dickerson is exactly average against lefties. In light of this, please explain your assertion that Dickerson has an "inability to hit left-handed pitching...". Further, Blackmon had one great month and the rest of the year was pretty blah -- even at Coors. His BA v. lefties is only .267 (OBP = .297), which equates to 8 more hits over 550ABs than Dickerson, albeit with a lower OBP. Dickerson demonstrated more power and consistency than Blackmon over 2014. Not sure how you could call him more "risky".
NShlain
3/20
Dickerson's numbers vs. LHP from last year are a pretty small sample (98 PA) to just conclude that he can hit LHP when the Rockies were hiding him from lefties and let him start only 13 games against southpaws and he struck out over a quarter of the time against them. Again, Blackmon strikes out quite a bit less than Dickerson, has a more well-rounded game, which includes speed, and thus makes him less inherently risky.