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Players to Target At Every Position

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There are players I like more than the consensus at each position. Herein, you can read all about them and know who I think you should get on your roster in 2017.

In past seasons, the staff here at Fake Teams has done a “Players to Target” post, with each author submitting a player they like more than the industry consensus at each position. This year, I’m taking on the task myself. I am here today to list the players at each position that I think have more upside than their ADP implies. I will very briefly (I suck at brevity, though) explain myself for each player.

How did I pick the players to include? I looked at Yahoo ADP data to see where each player is being picked by the general population of fantasy baseball players relative to the rest of their position. If I think that a catcher is really the fifth best catcher but is being drafted as the 9th best, then he is certainly a player to target for me. Make sense? Ok, let’s go.

Catcher

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Baltimore OriolesKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Rupp
PHI, Yahoo! ADP of 244, 28th Catcher

Would you believe me when I said that if you use Jeff Zimmerman’s corrected Statcast data, Rupp’s average exit velocity was higher in 2016 than that of Carlos Correa, Chris Davis, Gary Sanchez, or Trevor Story? Or that Rupp’s exit velocity was 42nd highest in baseball? Before you get too excited, you should know that his average batted ball distance of 206 feet and average launch angle of 9.2 degrees are both well below league average, so he isn’t hitting the ball hard in the air as much as he should. That also means he has the potential for better results if he can elevate the ball better.

That kind of power upside from a very weak catcher position says to me that he should be in the C14 range, not C28. He should be drafted just after Yadier Molina and before guys like Matt Wieters, Sandy Leon, Wilson Ramos, and James McCann.

First Base

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota TwinsKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrys Morales
TOR, Yahoo! ADP of 135, 21st 1B

Ok, so this might be cheating. Morales qualifies for first base in Yahoo, but not in many other formats, where he is DH only. That being said, when he does qualify, he is being underrated. He is moving from a park with a HR factor of 93 (100 is average) to one with a factor of 106. Oh, and Yankee Stadium and Oriole Park are both higher than that. Even Fenway and Tropicana are more homer friendly than Kaufmann.

He also moved to a much better lineup, with Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and company. He has posted two consecutive rock solid seasons. Oh, and his 2016 average corrected exit velocity of 89.9 mph was 18th best in MLB. Ignore his age and focus on his production. Yahooers (I have no idea what to call them) are picking him behind Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Eric Hosmer, and Jonathan Lucroy. I like him more than all those guys.

Second Base

MLB: Spring Training-San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles DodgersJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Forsythe
LAD, Yahoo! ADP of 221, 20th 2B

I think this guy may have taken the “most underrated infielder in baseball” title from perennial winner Ben Zobrist. He is very much a younger version of Zobrist (5 years younger, in fact). He contributes in many ways and his great plate discipline, solid power, and moderate speed give him a very high floor. He is one of the lowest-risk options outside of the top 10 2B. Adding to that great consistency is the fact that he will probably hit near the top of a good Dodgers lineup and score a ridiculous number of runs.

I expect him to contribute to steals, homers, runs, and OBP, without hurting you much in average. A line of 100 runs, 0.265 average, 19 home runs, and 9 steals is not out of the question. I think he should be drafted ahead of Jose Peraza, Devon Travis, Jonathan Schoop, and maybe even Zobrist himself (since the Cubs will limit his starts this year).

Third Base

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Washington NationalsJasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Rendon
WAS, Yahoo! ADP of 96, 12th 3B

I could almost copy what I wrote about Forsythe here, except for Rendon’s injury history. When healthy, he contributes above-average production across the board and bats just behind the middle of a very good lineup. Adam Eaton, Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, and then Rendon? That’s a great NL lineup. He should have plenty of RBI opportunities.

All the projections see something like a 20 HR, 10 SB season with a 0.350 OBP and 0.450 slugging. If he gets to the FANS projection of 90 RBI, that is certainly enough to push him past Alex Bregman and Evan Longoria on my draft board and move him to 3B10.

Shortstop

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Colorado RockiesIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Story
COL, Yahoo! ADP of 40, 6th SS

I am an unabashed fan of Story, dating back to last spring. While his injury certainly hurt his value, he is fully healthy now and ready to resume being perhaps the best power-hitting shortstop in the league playing in hitter-friendly Coors Field. To back up my confidence in his elite power, he had the 63rd highest average corrected exit velocity, a good average launch angle of 15.7 degrees (shows that he is elevating the ball) and the FOURTH HIGHEST AVERAGE HIT DISTANCE IN BASEBALL at 242 feet in 2016!

I think he deserves to be drafted as the 4th SS off the board, jumping Lindor and Bogaerts, who are both very good in their own right. He should slot in just behind Machado, Correa, and Seager. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished as the #3 SS either.

Outfield

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Baltimore OriolesKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Benintendi
BOS, Yahoo! ADP of 130, 36th OF

I’m going to be a homer here and pick a Red Sox budding star. He’s probably not really a “sleeper” since he did very well in his late season call-up and I’ve seen others touting him. However, the folks drafting at Yahoo! haven’t caught on yet. He’s stuck behind Lorenzo Cain, Stephen Piscotty, Odubel Herrera, and his teammate, Jackie Bradley, Jr. I think he could easily be better than all four of those guys. Do you want someone that can contribute across the board in all five categories? I sound like a broken record, but I love these types of guys and they are usually undervalued.

Benintendi is projected for 10-13 HR, 13 steals, a 0.280-0.290 average, and a 0.450+ slugging percentage. Oh, and he has a track record of very few strikeouts and good walk rates throughout his minor league career and in his short MLB stint. I think a 0.300 average is not out of reach for him this year. John Farrell is reportedly thinking of using him in the 3rd spot in the lineup to break up the RHB in the lineup, which will boost his R and RBI numbers tremendously.

Starting Pitcher

Ok, so I was just going to pick one player at each position, but I love SP too much and there are too many undervalued guys at the position, so I picked four. I’m going to have even shorter write-ups for each, though.

MLB: Spring Training-San Francisco Giants at Texas RangersMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yu Darvish
TEX, Yahoo! ADP of 43, 9th SP

He should not be behind Kluber, Arrieta, and Lester. I know that’s saying a lot but Darvish came back strong after TJ surgery last season, with an 11.84 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, a 3.09 FIP, and a 12.6% SwStr%. Oh, and he had his best velocity ever and throws seven! pitches. He is elite and belongs with Sale, Syndergaard, and Scherzer.

MLB: NLDS-San Francisco Giants at Chicago CubsJerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto
SF, Yahoo! ADP of 46, 10th SP

This guy is criminally underrated. He has three straight 210+ inning seasons, two of those seasons, his ERA was under 3.0, he pitches in the best pitcher’s park in baseball and is one of the best pitchers in baseball at limiting hard contact (7th lowest Hard% in 2016). Throw in a 1.08 WHIP in the last five years combined. He is also near the top of the league in limiting walks (7th best in 2016). He should be above Arrieta and Kluber and is right there with Lester.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago CubsAllan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Kenta Maeda
LAD, Yahoo! ADP of 107, 26th SP

For this one, I’m just going to quote the Fangraphs player profile on him from Andrew Perpetua:

We knew Maeda would have great command, it is his greatest strength. He walked only 7% of the batters he faced in 2016, so no surprise there. However, generating a 25% strikeout rate, 14th best in MLB, might have been a surprise. If not, how about his 12% swinging strike rate—tied for 12th best? Perhaps most amazing of all, Maeda had the second lowest average exit velocity of all qualified pitchers with 85.7 mph, 3.1 mph below average. So let’s set this straight: 14th best K%, 12th best SwStrk%, 2nd lowest Exit Velocity.

He does have some injury risk and some issues with a bad curveball and mediocre sinker, but his command should keep him rock solid. He should be drafted ahead of Teheran, Porcello, Quintana, and maybe even Greinke and Cole. That’s how much I love him.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia PhilliesJonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Nola
PHI, Yahoo! ADP of 147, 39th SP

Nola’s results in 2016 don’t represent how good he was. His 4.78 ERA covered up a 3.08 FIP, 3.08 xFIP, and 3.29 SIERA. He has plus command of three above average pitches, a great 55% ground ball rate, and a 19% K%-BB%. The only risks are his 90 mph velocity and some elbow soreness during last season. If he’s healthy, I’m not worried about the velocity and think he should be your #2 SP. He should be drafted ahead of Stroman, Gausman, Taillon, Lackey, Matt Harvey, King Felix, and Danny Salazar, to name a few. I’m all in on Nola in 2017.

Relief Pitcher

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland IndiansDavid Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Holland
COL, Yahoo! ADP of 239, 61st RP

This one is easy for me. All of the latest reports out of Denver indicate that Holland is favored by the coaching staff for the closer’s role. Even with his late start to spring training, he will be the closer, in my opinion. His velocity was back up to 95 mph in his most recent outing and his secondary pitches are also looking good. Yes, he is coming off TJ surgery, but we’ve seen relievers recover well. Just look at his teammate, Adam Ottavino last year. He looked good and would be the closer if they didn’t sign Holland.

The Rockies aren’t going to win many games and Coors is not a great place to pitch, but Holland should rack up strikeouts and a modest number of saves for a very cheap draft price. I would pick him in the Tony Watson-Shawn Kelley-Neftali Feliz-Hector Neris tier, but I think it’s reasonable to draft him ahead of all four.

Check back soon for players to avoid at each position. Tschus!

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