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(Editor's note: Senior Fantasy Baseball Experts Shawn Childs & Dr. Roto posted the following player analysis in mock draft form on our premium forum. Shawn does the heavy lifting and Doc summarizes each pick after each write-up. Enjoy! This is just one of many examples of Scout Fantasy providing in-depth and unique content that just can't be found anywhere else.)
I'm (Shawn Childs) going to post each pick of the 15-team draft I'm doing with my written player profile plus comment about draft strategy and team development. Please feel free to post any comments positive or negative to create some dialog to improve yours or my decision making in later drafts hopefully. I won't say which team I drafted so let's see who has a sharp eye. I'm guessing I'll do ten rounds depending on the interaction and interest.
Round 1, Pick 1
The upside of Trout is just insane. He turned into a walk machine (116) in 2016 due to a career high walk rate (17.0). His ability to take walks has led to Mike leading the AL in runs scored in four of the last five years. He's scored over 100 runs in five straight seasons. His RBI total hasn’t been as impactful due to weakness in front of his in the starting lineup. Last year he had the most RBI chances (419) of his career with a winning RBI rate (17). His CTBA (.420) has been over .400 in every year in the majors, which points to future batting titles. His AVH (1.746) came in short of his last two years (2014 – 1.919 and 2015 – 1.971). His GB rate (41.2) has risen in back-to-back years while posting a shorter FB rate (36.7). Even with a downtick in HRs (29), Trout had his third highest HR/FB rate (19.0) of his career. He even had a rebound in his SBs, which completes his skill set. Mike is just reaching the prime of his career. Next step: a 40/40 season with a batting title. As good as it gets in the Fantasy world, enjoy one hell of a ride.
Dr. Roto's Take: Without a doubt, the first pick in any draft in 2017 is Mike Trout.
Round 1, Pick 2
Betts was a beast in 2016. He set career highs in runs (122), hits (214), HRs (31), RBI (113), and SBs (26) while leading the AL in at bats (672). Mookie is tough to strikeout (11.0 K rate) with some work to do in his walk rate (6.7). Last year he spent most of the season batting leadoff (.314 with 23 HRs, 74 RBI, and 18 SBs in 478 at bats) before shifting to the middle of the batting order late in the season. While batting cleanup, Betts hit .338 with five HRs, 27 RBI, and eight SBs over 142 at bats. His RBI rate has been elite in 2015 (20 percent) and 2016 (21 percent), which puts him in an area with Miguel Cabrera. Mookie crushed RH pitching (.331 with 23 HRs and 92 RBI in 543 at bats) while needing growth against lefties (.264 with eight HRs and 21 RBI in 129 at bats - .311 with five HRs and 20 RBI in 148 at bats in 2015). Over the last three months of 2016, he hit .352 with 15 HRs, 59 RBI, and 14 SBs in 327 at bats. His swing path is balanced with his surge in power tied to a spike in his HR/FB rate (13.2 – 8.2 in 2014 and 2015). His improving AVH (1.678 in 2016) is intriguing. Betts is a do it all type of player playing in a high scoring offense. He’s Boston best bat so he should hit 3rd in 2017. I expect more RBI chances this year due to the change in the batting order with a slight downtick in runs. His HRs and SBs looks to have a floor of 25 going forward. Betts had minor surgery on his right knee in the offseason. Mookie will be drafted in the top three in almost every draft in 2017.
Dr. Roto's Take: Mookie Betts would be the guy I take at 2. The best part about him is that it seems like there is still room for growth in his overall numbers.
Round 1, Pick 3
Clayton Kershaw - If Kershaw didn’t get hurt last season, he might have had his best year of his career. He improved his walk rate to 0.7, which is just amazing for a pitching with his K ability. From April 21st to June 15th over 11 starts, Clayton had nine games with double-digit Ks including six straight outings. During this stretch, he had 113 Ks and five walks over 86 innings. He allowed two runs or fewer in 19 of his 21 starts. LH batters only .138 with two walk and 52 Ks over 138 at bats. Kershaw went 8-1 at home with a 1.08 ERA and 86 Ks over 75 innings. His AVB (93.8) was a step below 2015 (94.2) while falling in his with his previous three seasons. Batters had no chance against his curveball (.144 BAA) and slider (.161 BAA) while also dominating with his four-seam fastball (.232 BAA). Clayton has done a nice job keep the ball on the ground over the last three seasons (over 50 percent). Not much you can say about a pitcher with a 126-60 record, 2.37 ERA, and 1918 Ks over 1760 innings. Pure edge with impact upside….20 wins with a sub 2.00 ERA and a chance at 300 Ks. The back issue that led to 10 missed weeks shouldn’t be an issue headed into the season. I like the aggressive move to own a foundation ace. There's no doubt he's one of the biggest edges in the game when healthy.
Dr. Roto's Take: Kershaw says his back is healthy and I am willing to believe him. I am just not willing to take him with the third overall pick in the draft.
Round 1, Pick 4
Altuve finished 2016 as the third most valuable Fantasy player. He led the AL in hits (216) for the third straight season leading to his second batting title. His AVH (1.574) improved in each of the last three years, which led to his jump in HRs (24). Jose was excellent with runners on base (19 percent RBI rate) with growth in his walk rate (8.4). Also, he’s tough to strikeout (9.8 percent K rate). Three times over the last four seasons, Altuve has led the American League in caught stealing (10 in 40 chances in 2016). His SB total (30) did fade for the second straight season. He crushed RH pitching (.348 with 19 HRs and 73 RBI over 480 at bats) with solid success vs. lefties (.306 with five HRs and 23 RBI over 160 at bats). Jose hit over .300 in each of the first five months (April – .305, May – .345, June – .420, July – .354, and August – .333) while fading a bit in September (.276 with two HRs and seven RBI over 116 at bats). His HR/FB rate (13.0) made a huge jump in value over the last two seasons (2014 – 3.9 and 2015 – 7.4). He had a career-high line drive rate (26.2) leading to a decline in ground balls (41.6 percent – lowest total of his career). Great player who continues to get better. His surge in power and success with runners on base does change the thought process on where he should hit in the batting order. His speed works best at the top of the order, but repeated success in power could push him to third in the batting order. Either way, he’s going to hit at the top of the Astros lineup. Solid .300 hitter with what appears to be 20/30 skill set with more upside in steals if he wants to run more. An excellent chance at 3000+ hits in his career if he stays healthy.
For some, Jose may seem misplaced as an anchor bat. The key is repeated success in HRs, which may be a stretch. Team development just seems easier when rostering a plus base stealer with power.
Dr. Roto's Take: Altuve is going top 4 in most high stakes leagues, but I think I would go Bryant here instead. My biggest question: Is the power for real with Altuve?
Round 1, Pick 5
Paul lost his power stroke in 2016 leading to a fewer HRs (24) and RBI (95) than expected. He had almost the same RBI chances (426) as 2015 (433), but his RBI rate (17) slid back to a career low while remaining in a favorable area. For the third straight year, Goldschmidt had a CTBA (.401) over .400. His K rate (21.3) was slightly better than his career average (22.0) for the second straight year. He continues to have an elite walk rate (15.6). Paul offsets his step back in HRs by running more (32 SBs on 37 attempts). This is a huge edge for his position. His swing was very good against lefties (.352 with six HRs and 24 RBI over 125 at bats). Goldschmidt hit .297 before and after the All-Star break with no defining month in HRs (season high in April – six HRs and 16 RBI). The fade in power was tied to a weaker swing path leading to a career low FB rate (28.8 – 33.6 in his career). His HR/FB rate (19.0) has been in a tight range over the last four seasons (2013 – 22.5, 2014 – 19.4, and 2015 – 22.3). Pure stud with expected rebound in power in 2017. A healthy A.J. Pollock will help his RBI chances as well. One of the better floors in the game – .300 with 100+ runs, 35+ HRs, 110+ RBI, and 20+ SBs. Just a beast while offering a huge edge in SBs at first base. In most seasons, a Fantasy owner should be able to find power at first base over the next couple of rounds, so a Fantasy owner needs to make sure a scare position isn't a better piece to the puzzle. Either way, it's all about vision and team development.
Dr. Roto's Take: 32 stolen bases are UNHEARD for a 1B. It's such an advantage considering the lack of speed in MLB these days. I think his power rebounds too in 2017. He does have the occasional prolonged slump, so that is my only small concern.
Round 1, Pick 6
Nolan led the NL in HRs (41), RBI (133), and total bases (352) in back-to-back seasons. His K rate (14.8) improved over 2015 (16.5) with a nice step forward in his walk rate (9.8). Arenado had two months with 10 HRs (April – 10/22 and August – 10/36). His bat had much more value at home (.312 with 25 HRs and 85 RBI over 342 at bats). He did struggle in July (.228 with five HRs and 14 RBI). Nolan pounded RH pitching (.304 with 32 HRs and 110 RBI over 457 at bats) with similar power vs. lefties (.267 with nine HRs and 23 RBI over 161 at bats). His swing path continues to change to create more fly balls (46.7 percent in 2016) with some regression in his HR/FB rate (16.8). A special player who continues to improve. His upper cut swing does restrict some of the upside of his batting average. With a great RBI rate (21) and a high AVH (1.934), do we just pencil him in for a .300/40/120 season again in 2017? With no negative news, Arenado looks like a foundation player who I expected to win a batting title in the next future.
Dr. Roto's Take: What's not to like here? Flip a coin between him and Bryant. Bryant has a touch more power and speed, but Arenado gets to play in Colorado for half his games.
Round 1, Pick 7
Kris Bryant - Bryant won the NL MVP award last year. I like his growth in his K rate (22.0 – 30.6 in 2015) while continuing to take a high volume of walks (10.7 percent). Even with a rise in HRs, he had a drop in his CTBA (.392) while his RBI rate (15) regressed. Kris fell short of expectation in SBs (8), which was expected to be his edge over the other top third baseman in the game. His swing was impressive against lefties (.314 with 14 HRs and 31 RBI over 156 at bats – .641 SLG). Bryant had three strong months of production (May – .274 with seven HRs and 22 RBI, June – .275 with 11 HRs and 23 RBI, and August – .383 with 10 HRs and 22 RBI). He left plenty of stats on the table in July (.308 with four HRs, eight RBI, and five SBs) and September (.221 with three HRs and 12 RBI). Kris has a fly ball swing (45.8 percent) with more room to grow in his HR/FB rate (18.8). Special player with impact upside. He needs better play in front of him in the lineup to create more RBI chances. His uppercut swing will invite some regression in his batting average unless his CTBA moves in a range with his minor-league resume. Coming fast with a 50 HR season on the horizon. I’m seeing .280 with 100+ runs, 45+ HRs, 120+ RBI, and 15+ SBs.
The trade off in the decision between Arenado and Bryant is speed for batting average. Both players play in high scoring lineups, so it comes down to draft plan.
Dr. Roto's Take: Bryant might just be undervalued at 7th overall. I love Shawn's projections on him too! If those numbers happen, Bryant might just be the number 1 overall pick in 2018.
Round 1, Pick 8
Manny had a nice follow through season in 2016 while also qualifying at short. He disappointed Fantasy owners with a big goose egg in steals after making a huge step forward in this area in 2015 (20 steals in 28 chances). Machado had growth in his RBI production (96) due to a 30 percent growth in RBI chances (411) thanks to solid depth in Baltimore’s starting lineup. His walk rate (6.9) fell back in line with his career average (6.6) after showing improvement in 2015 (9.8). His K rate (17.2) remains above the league average (20.3) while fading from his previous season (15.6). He added more length to his hits (average hit – 1.814) as well as improvement in his contact batting average (.362). His best success came against lefties (.329), but most of his power came vs. RH pitching (32 HRs and 81 RBI). Last season Manny graduated to a number three hitter (.285 with 26 HRs and 70 RBI). His swing path produced a career high FB rate (42.7) with a slight step back in his HR/RB rate (16.5). At age 24, there is a lot to like about his game, especially as a shortstop. The Orioles don’t have the proper structure in front of him in the batting order to produce impact RBI chances plus his run rate (.44) could slide with fewer HRs hit behind him in the batting order. Possible .300 hitter with a 30/100 skill set. His speed should rebound where Machado at least chips in this season. In the early draft season, Manny remains the number one shortstop drafted with an ADP of 8 in 15 team drafts.
The top end inventory at shortstop looks strong in 2017, so Machado will need to steal over ten bags to maintain an edge. Great player, but I sense he'll beat a shortstop or two this season.
Dr. Roto's Take: Machado is still a great player and a certain first round pick. The only question are the steals? If he steals 15+, he is a top five-player. If he steals 5 or less, he is just another great hitter with good positional flexibility.
Round 1, Pick 9
Donaldson has added length to his hits in each of the last four years (AVH – 1.933) with continue success with his RBI rate (17). In April and May, Josh had 13 HRs in 203 at bats while failing in RBIs (29) and in batting average (.256). Over the next three months, he regained his elite form (.324 with 66 runs, 21 HRs, and 63 RBI). Donaldson tried to play through a hip injury in September leading to a poor month (.222 with three HRs and seven RBI in 90 at bats). His swing had similar success against righties (.286 with 30 HRs and 80 RBI over 448 at bats) and lefties (.279 with seven HRs and 19 RBI over 129 at bats). His HR/FB rate (19.8) was at the top of his range over the last two years (21.8 in 2015 – career best). This season I expect him to move to 3rd in the batting order for the Blue Jays. He won’t have two high volume HRs hitters hitting behind him, which will lower his bar in runs for sure. Also, pitchers may try to pitch around him. As a first round pick again in 2017, he may fall short of expectations. Josh has a strong enough foundation where 30 HRs with 100 runs and 100 RBI should be within reach. His base skills point to a positive batting average.
The Blue Jay signed Jose Bautista after I wrote Donaldson's profile. This season Donaldson will hit second again with protection behind him in the starting lineup. Winning power with an edge in runs and RBI, but I do question whether a middle infielder offers more of an edge in this area of the draft.
Dr. Roto's Take: Donaldson is the poster child for "safe pick." I would much rather go Harper here for the potential upside in power/speed.
Round 1, Pick 10
Trea Turner - Between AAA and the majors in 2016, Trea hit .321 with 114 runs, 19 HRs, 73 RBI, and 58 SBs over 638 at bats. This equals an exciting skill set. His high CTBA (.432) in the majors with in line with his success in the minors in 2014 (.425) and 2015 (.409). Turner has added length to his hits (AVH – 1.657 in the majors in 2016) with each promotion over the last three years. His walk rate (4.3) had less value than his minor-league resume (9.2) with a K rate (18.2) that came in lower than his minor career (19.8). Trea hit the ball well against both RH (.348) and LH (.317) pitching while almost all of his power came vs. righties (12 HRs and 38 RBI over 244 at bats - .607 SLG). Over the last two months in the majors, he hit .348 with 46 runs, 13 HRs, 33 RBI, and 26 SBs over 247 at bats. In his three seasons in the minors, Turner hit .316 with 19 HRs, 111 RBI, and 77 SBs over 1064 at bats. Even with some regression in his game, Trea looks like a solid .300 hitter with the ability to score over 100 runs with about 15 HRs, 60 RBI, and the ability to steal 50+ bags. His short resume of success has pushed his draft value to the first round in 15 team leagues in the early draft season. Trea has an ADP of 11 as the second 2B drafted. This season he’ll play shortstop for the Nationals.
This type of piece to the puzzle is the hardest to find when building a winning Fantasy team. Turner reminds me of the days when Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes helped Fantasy owners win many championships. One of my early goals in the high-stakes market was to have 75 HRs and 75 SBs after three picks (the change in value in aces pushes this plan to first five rounds or first three bats drafted). This can only be done with a couple of players as the lead base stealer. I believe the best teams in 2017 will have Turner along with a high average corner infielder as the second piece to the team.
Dr. Roto's Take: I love the risk/reward with Trea Turner. By taking him, you are making what I consider to be a "winning pick." Yes, you might end up losing if you take him and he doesn't work out, but if he is as successful as we think he can be, the sky's the limit. He is quite possibly a top 3 overall pick in 2018.
Round 1, Pick 11
Don’t let the huge drop in batting average for Harper fool you. His game had plenty of growth in 2016 despite regression across the board in the counting stats. His downtick was due to bum shoulder leading to a massive drop in his CTBA (.316 - .441 in 2015). Bryce had the lowest K rate (18.7) of his career with two straight seasons of improvement. He maintained an elite walk rate (17.2). His swing had value in batting average in every other month (April – .286, May – .200, June – .280, July – .176, August – .310, and September – .210). Harper had his best power month in April (nine HRs and 24 RBI over 77 at bats). His HR/FB rate (14.3) was well below 2015 (27.3). Bryce lost the rhythm of his swing path leading to fewer line drives (17.2) and more fly balls (42.4). It’s almost like he tried to hit more fly balls in his quest to raise his HR total. I like his improved value in his RBI rate (16). Harper is one of the best players in the game, and he should be treated that way on draft day. He’ll have speed in front of him in the batting order with stronger overall skill sets. I expect Harper to have the most RBI chances of his career. The growth in his approach points to a potential huge edge in batting average with a healthier shoulder. I’ll set the bar at the top shelf: .320 with 120+ runs, 40+ HRs, 120+ RBI, and 20+ steals, which is worthy of being the first pick overall. Bryce is a complete steal in the early draft season (ADP of 11).
The back five draft positions in 15 team leagues will create some interesting combos in 2017. The players in front of Harper in the draft order are very talented, but Harper does have the whole package if he puts it all together. His next area of development is being a clutch hitter with runners on base.
Dr. Roto's Take: As you know, I took Harper with my first-round pick in both the FSTA and LABR drafts. I am all in on him in 2017. He's young, talented, and playing for a potentially HUGE contract.
Round 1, Pick 12
Correa fell short of expectation in 2016 while still producing a solid season from the shortstop position. His RBI rate (18) was in line with his rookie season while supporting a middle of the order opportunity. His AVH (1.646) was a step back from his second-half success in the majors (1.833) in 2015. Carlos did talk more walks (11.4 percent), but he had a regression in his K rate (21.1 – 16.7 in his minor-league career). Correa struggled against lefties (.236 with five HRs and 27 RBI over 148 at bats) with strength against RH pitching (.287 with 15 HRs and 69 RBI over 429 at bats). His best success came in June, July, and August (.291 with 11 HRs, 63 RBI, and three SBs over 292 at bats). Just like Springer, Carlos barely ran after May (five successful steals) probably due to a June ankle issue. His season ended with left shoulder inflammation. Correa still hits a high volume of ground balls (50.1) with a solid HR/FB rate (16.5). Rising stud with a potential 30/20 skill set. His batting average will offer upside if/when he shaves off a few strikeouts. Excellent value as the 17th player off the board in the early drafts season.
With added depth at shortstop, Correa is being treated as just another option with all players being created equal. The difference is that Correa could be the A-Rod in the group. I do like Corey Seager a lot as well so I can see a Fantasy owner grabbing one elite player at another position first. Quite a few years ago, Jeter, Nomar, and A-Rod were grouped together as stud options at short.
Dr. Roto's Take: It's so true that Correa is undervalued right now. He is going in the early second round, and he just might be the steal of your Fantasy draft.
Round 1, Pick 13
Blackmon suffered a turf toe injury in April leading to a couple of weeks on the DL. He barely ran over the first three months (six steals in nine attempts) with a slight improved over the second half of the season (11-for-17). Charlie offset his lower production in speed (17 steals) with nice jump in power (29 HRs). His AVH (1.7096) was a career high while improving in each of the last four years in the majors. He hit over .300 in each of the last five months (May – .316, June – .311, July – .303, August – .360, and September – .354). Blackmon flashed more power in May and June (12 HRs and 39 RBI) with even higher success in August and September (.357 with 17 HRs, 38 RBI, and four SBs over 210 at bats). His success in power wasn’t a home park edge as he hits 17 of his HRs on the road. His swing was productive against both RH (.320) and LH (.331) pitching. His K rate (15.9) and walk rate (6.7) fell in line with 2015. Charlie had growth in his line drive rate (27.8), which was the key to his success in batting average. He had a career-high HR/FB rate (16.2). Late in the 2016 season, Blackmon battled a back issue. An impressive leadoff hitter who plays in the highest scoring ballpark in the majors. His RBI rate (18) and growth in HRs suggests he should be moved third in the batting order. All the making of a plus five-category player especially if he combined his 2015 success in speed (43 SBs) with his rise in power (29 HRs) in 2016. Possible 30/30 season with 100+ runs and 80+ RBI with an edge in batting average.
I like him as a second hitting piece to my Fantasy team, but this late in the draft a Fantasy owner will get another strong option with his next pick. I think it would be fun to try and buy a Rockies loaded offense in an auction just to have those massive nights during the year.
Dr. Roto's Take: There was just a report out that said that Bud Black wants Blackmon to run more this season. I think he has a legitimate shot to go 25 HR and 25 SB. He is a true 4.5 category player with only a few RBIs holding him back from being a superstar.
Round 1, Pick 14
From a distance as a non-Scherzer owner, it seemed like he didn’t have a special year. Over his 11 starts, Max had a 4.05 ERA with 90 Ks and 15 HRs over 73.1 innings (10 HRs allowed in May over 42.1 innings). He dominated in June and July (6-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 87 Ks over 75.1 innings). Scherzer finished the year with a 9-1 record with a 3.16 ERA and 97 Ks over 79.1 innings. His arm was electric against RH batters (.156) with an elite strikeout to walk ratio (11.86). He issued 42 of his 56 walks to lefties with a step back in success (.242 BAA). Max continues to pitch up in the strike zone leading to a rising fly ball rate (47.9 – career high) and fading GB rate (33.0 – career low). His approach is why he struggled with HRs early in the season. His AFB (95.2) was a career high while rising in the last two seasons. Batters struggled with every pitch (four-seam – .223, changeup – .188, slider – .144, and curveball - .214) except his cutter (.265). With 73 wins, a 2.94 ERA, and 1052 Ks over his last 891.2 innings, a Fantasy owner will have plenty of info to understand he’s one of the best pitchers in the game with impact value in categories. Washington will score more runs in 2017, which gives Scherzer an excellent chance of leading the league in wins with a league-leading ERA and a chance at 300+ Ks. Max did suffer a broken knuckle on his ring finger on his pitching hand in January. They expect him to be ready for spring training.
The Nationals have suggested he may not be ready for opening day, which may lead to him sliding in drafts. Great resume of late and not a bad runner if you want to buy an early ace.
Dr. Roto's Take: Scherzer will slide in drafts this year after the news broke about him most likely missing Opening Day. If you can get him in the second round of your draft take him ASAP!
Round 1, Pick 15
The Red Sox had a part in two players becoming a vital piece of the Cubs winning the World Series. They drafted Rizzo in the 5th round in 2007 while arriving in Chicago via a trade with the Padres. Anthony hit over 30 HRs in his last three seasons with back-to-back years with 100+ RBI. Of all the players, I’ve written about this season, Rizzo had the second-most RBI chances (502). He couldn’t repeat his success in speed. His K rate (16.0) has been below his career average (17.6) over the last two years while maintaining a high walk rate (11.0). Anthony was at his best against righties (.305 with 24 HRs and 76 RBI over 407 at bats). Over the last four months of the season, he hit .316 with 21 HRs and 72 RBI. He tends to be a fly ball hitter (41.3) with a solid HR/FB rate (16.2). Next step: .300 with 100+ runs, 35+ HRs, and 120 RBI while chipping in with some steals. Just reaching the prime of his career.
One of the toughest parts of Fantasy sports is passing the torch. When does a young rising player pass an elite veteran? In this case, I'm comparing Rizzo and Miguel Cabrera. Anthony may have an edge in speed, but Cabrera has a long resume of a plus batting average. In this debate, there may not be a loser in 2017.
Dr. Roto's Take: Rizzo is a bit overvalued this year, mainly based on the Cubs' recent success. It's not that I don't like him (I do), but I think that you can get better numbers from Cabrera, Freeman, and Encarnacion about 3-8 picks after you draft Rizzo.
If you want to follow the progression on this draft, it can found at ScoutFantasy.com on our premium message boards.