This shall be my first ever Bargains & Bedlam! article, but it shan't be my last! Probably. A year ago I wrote up my sleepers and busts for the year, my first attempt at such a venture. It really was a lot of fun for me, but the bland name definitely needed something sharper. It felt like I was eating a Kraft single (good but generic; also doesn't melt like you would think cheese should, which makes me wary) when I was going for more like a smoked Gouda (tremendous flavor, versatile and arguably sophisticated). Hence the name change.
All values are based on ADP (average draft position) which I acquire from fantasypros.com, using the composite ADP from multiple websites. The bargains of course shall be the players whose value I like based on their likelihood of outperforming their ADP. The bedlam refers to the chaos people cause by tripping over each other trying to get the certain player before anyone else can, henceforth driving up said players price and destroying the profit potential. I've selected one bargain and one bedlam player for each offensive position, as well as a multitude of starting pitchers. I've also included a bonus deep league bargain hitter and pitcher, just to be an overachiever.
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers (ADP 226, 16th C selected) – One of the movers in this offseason, which was one of the busiest ever, Yasmani Grandal was traded from the Padres to the Dodgers. He should get plenty of action in his new home, with veteran AJ Ellis as his only competition for at-bats. Grandal presents a good buying opportunity heading into 2015 for a couple reasons. His 2014 numbers aren't eye-popping on the surface, as he managed only a .225 average over 443 plate appearances. Also, while his 15 home runs are good for the position, he wasn't exactly in Brian McCann territory. Both of those things are likely to change. Grandal was a bit of a BABIP victim last year, as his .277 mark is below league average. The fact that he strikes out a ton coupled with his heavy fly ball rate will continue to depress his BABIP and subsequently his batting average, but I still see some positive regression coming and getting him closer to that league-average .250 range.
Another thing that should help is some additional home runs...or potentially a lot of additional home runs. His average fly ball distance in 2014 was 304 feet, good for eighth in all of baseball and putting him in the company of the likes of mega sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Giancarlo Stanton. Those guys consistently average home run per fly ball rates in the upper-teens to mid-twenties. Last year, Grandals' was a mere 15% so it's logical to deduce that if he can maintain that fly ball rate, he's going to be trotting around the bases with a lot more frequency this season. Going to a friendlier ballpark with a better lineup than he had last year, his outlook is pretty rosy. They'll likely hit him fifth in the order behind Puig and Gonzo, providing ample opportunities for RBI. Oh, and did I mention this dude gets on base? He has just under a 14% walk rate across his 777 Major League plate appearances. In summation, this all adds up to me to be a Carlos Santana starter kit, and this is the year to get in on him while the price is low (current ADP puts him in the 18th round in 12-team leagues). Come seasons' end, Grandal owners are likely to be flying in “Grand”al style! Sorry.
2015 Prediction: 475 PA, 65 R, 25 HR, 75 RBI, .245 BA
First Base: Joey Votto, Reds (ADP 71, 15th 1B selected) – Oh, what dark days these have been for the pride of Canada. Votto spent most of the 2014 season on the DL, missing 100 games with a recurring knee injury. He hit only six home runs and his .155 isolated power was the lowest of his career. He's been accused of being too patient, taking walks and prioritizing OBP instead of using his bat to drive in runs. Some people even say he prefers Molson to Kokanee, which I refuse to believe. If he does come out and confirm that allegation is true, he's getting the boot from all my dynasties.
The bottom line with Dr. Kokanee is health. If he's back at full health, he's a major rebound candidate. The Reds have taken it very, very easy on him, so for now everything lines up for him to have a healthy 2015 campaign. The Reds lineup was depleted in what was a lost 2014 season, but this year Votto projects to sit right in the heart of the order, nestled warmly between Frazier, Mesoraco and Bruce. He's only 31, and with his elite batting eye and hit tool, decline is not yet a concern. The question with Votto (and another reason his ADP is depressed) is how much power he'll show. Twenty home runs from your first baseman isn't great, but if he can push 180 runs/RBI and hit .300 with upside beyond that, he's a bargain as the 16th first base eligible player off the board. He's also solid gold (liquid Kokanee?) in points leagues and roto leagues that use OBP instead of average.
2015 Prediction: 650 PA, 95 R, 22 HR, 90 RBI, .320 BA
Second Base: Marcus Semien, Athletics (ADP 274, 24th 2B selected) – I initially had Anthony Rendon penciled in here because I think he's still a bargain in the second round, but I don't have to tell you how good Rendon is. So rather I'll profess my optimism for Semien, who is slated to be the full-time shortstop for the A's this season but will qualify at second and third in most leagues heading into 2015 before earning shortstop eligibility. The position flexibility alone is a bonus, and you can basically slot him in as your late-round middle infielder with an ADP way down in the 24th round in 12-team leagues. His hot start to Spring Training may shoot him up draft boards, but with a full season of at-bats he will still be a wise investment in the twilight rounds of your draft.
Semien doesn't project to be an asset in the batting average department, but in OBP and points leagues he gets a boost for his walk rate. At AA in 2013 he walked more than he struck out, and he was close to that again last year in 366 plate appearances in AAA. Obviously the Majors are hard, so don't expect him to come anywhere near that just yet in his career, but it wouldn't surprise me to see his walk rate approach double-digits this year (although he will likely strike out 20-25% of the time). He has good power for a middle infielder, and while he's not a total burner, he's capable of 20 steals over the course of a full season. With an OBP in the .320 range and likely hitting down in the order, steals and counting stats won't be tremendous, but at his current price the power/speed combo is enticing. He's an upside play, with a much higher ceiling than the likes of Gennett and Gregorius, they players being drafted in his range.
2015 Prediction: 625 PA, 65 R, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 12 SB, .240 BA
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman (ADP 112, 13th 3B selected) – Ryan Zimmerman wants to give you a swirly, and he wants you to pay for it. Does that seem like a screwjob? Well it sort of is. He's renting out his old townhouse for a cool $5,750 per month, which includes a TV on a swivel that swirls in the wall that separates the living and dining rooms. Pretty swanky. He also wants you to draft him in your fantasy league. I assume. I suppose it's more likely he doesn't give a crap really. But I like to think he wants to be used, just like his sweet townhouse, or that elliptical that's been collecting dust in your basement for the last decade.
Zimmy is one of the reasons I think third base is pretty deep this year, although not everyone agrees with me. Health hopefully will be less of a concern this year, and defense certainly won't as he makes the transition from third base to first. Some hypothesize his struggles defensively at third last year got into his head and affected his overall game. I typically don't put much stock into the intangibles and the hearsay, but I've heard this one from enough sources that I give it some credence. Batting cleanup in a loaded Nationals lineup should really pump up his counting stats, and at only 30 years old I'd expect his power to return from its 2014 absence. With his confidence back and a full season of healthy baseball, we could see a return to dominance from Zimmerman, and a very healthy profit.
2015 Prediction: 650 PA, 95 R, 25 HR, 105 RBI, .275 BA
Shortstop: Jean Segura, Brewers (ADP 182, 13th SS selected) – My boy, Jean Segura. I was all over him his terrific rookie year, and also thankfully out on him at his price last year. As great as he was for the first half of his rookie season, he was equally as bad in the second half and throughout the 2014 season as well. So who is the real Jean Segura? Most will tell you his true skillset lies somewhere in between the great and the terrible Segura, and I'd pretty much agree with them. He's still got a very good contact rate (86%) and plenty of speed, so if you couple that with his unlucky BABIP from '14 (.275) you should feel pretty confident in a batting average rebound, particularly if he can get a few more balls off the ground (59% groundballs in '14).
He certainly lost a step from his rookie season, and that does give me pause. In the stolen base department he went from 44/57 (77%) in '13 to 20/29 (69%) in '14. Moving forward, I'm thinking he may be more of a 20-30 steal player than the 50+ I'd envisioned when he first broke into the league, but that's still a healthy steal total. He's also reportedly adjusted his swing over the winter to provide for more power, and I have little doubt that he can approach 10 home runs again. One deficiency in his game is that he really has never seen a pitch he didn't like, as evidenced by his 5% career walk rate. This will hurt his case to bat at the top of the lineup, but if he can get his OBP back up around .330 I think he will hit atop the strong Brewers lineup and pile up the runs. As the 13th SS off the board, the price is right if you believe in a rebound.
2015 Prediction: 675 PA, 85 R, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 30 SB, .290 BA
Outfield #1: Jay Bruce, Reds (ADP 98, 26th OF selected) – The only name manlier than Jay is Bruce, and the only thing manlier than the name Bruce is a man named Jay Bruce that can slug 30 home runs in Major League Baseball! Testosterone overload! Sadly, Jay Bruce took some lady pills and read 50 Shades of Gray before the 2014 season, and his testosterone subsided. The manly man's man became a little lesser in the pants and had the worst season of his career.
Let bygones be bygones, I say! I'm all aboard the Bruce Man-Wagon this season. There are a few warning signs, however. For instance, his ground ball rate rose 8% last year while his fly ball rate dropped 5%, and its also down 10% from two years ago. So that's not good. His average fly ball distance is also down a bit, but in his friendly home ballpark his power is still plenty good enough to push 30 homers in a full season. Essentially I'm ignoring these warning signs and banking on his prior track record before last season for a bounce back. One final aspect of his game that no one has been talking about is his sneaky steals from last year. Even with a season slowed by injury, Bruce still managed to swipe a career-high 12 bases last year. This is due at least in part to Cincinnati's coaching change and more freedom on the basepaths. Cincinnati went from 22nd in the league in SB att/game in '13 to 3rd in '14. No doubt part (or most) of that was the full season of Billy Hamilton, but guys like Todd Frazier saw career-high SB numbers as well. I don't think a Frazier-esque stat line from a year ago is unattainable for the Brucester, a 25/15 line. The batting average may still be a bit unsightly as he strikes out more often than I did in college, but I'm betting he finishes the year much higher than the 26th OF off the board.
2015 Prediction: 650 PA, 75 R, 30 HR, 95 RBI, 10 SB, .240 BA
Outfielder #2: Kole Calhoun, Angels (ADP 100, 27th OF selected) – Right alongside Bruce in ADP is Tim McLeod special “Cowboy” Kole Calhoun. Mr. McLeod is a hero of mine, but I'm far too young and hip to get the reference he's going for with Kole, so let's move on to more topical things, like hackey (hacky?) sacks and Freddie Prinze, Jr. movies. Did that guy retire from movies or was father time unkind to his face? I haven't seen him in anything forever, not that I'm complaining. Anyway, you know who's still handsome? Mike Trout. Oh, and some other old fart named Albert Pujols seems like he should fit into this paragraph somewhere. Those guys are going to be hitting behind Mr. Calhoun and driving him home in better style than Morgan Freeman drove Miss Daisy. Boy, that's sort of an old reference, isn't it? Cover your tracks, Nate...uh, Jennifer Lawrence naked! Ebola! ISIS! Phew, that was a close one. I'm still cool...
If you simply extrapolate Calhoun's run totals from '14 to a full season of plate appearances (we'll say 700 as a leadoff hitter, assuming he doesn't sit against southpaws, more on that in a bit), you get 119 runs scored. That number would have led the majors. Obviously extrapolating is a dangerous game, as is projecting a guy for 700 PA's when the most he's ever had in a single season is 537 at the MLB level. However, this is only his second full season in the majors and I see 700 as a possibility assuming health. The big question, as I alluded to earlier, is whether he will sit versus lefties at all. He wasn't too bad against them last year, managing a .252 BA and had a 9:25 walk to strikeout ratio against them in 116 PA's. As optimistic as I am, unfortunately I can't say with any degree of certainty that Mike Scioscia won't sit him at least against especially nasty lefties. On the bright side, Calhoun possesses legit 20 homer power, and is a batting average asset. He won't steal you more than a handful of bags, which caps his upside below that of a Carlos Gonzalez type, but the overall package is enticing.
2015 Prediction: 675 PA, 110 R, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 7 SB, .280 BA
Starting Pitcher #1: Michael Wacha, Cardinals (ADP 144, 37th SP selected) – Right next to Wacha in ADP is Zach Wheeler, another breakout candidate for the year that I'll certainly be buying. He's got his own group of proponents though, and I like to cut against the grain baby, so I'm going with Wacha instead! It's well documented what Wacha did upon his first call up, helping the Cards immensely down the stretch and into the playoffs. His 2014 season was interrupted however, by a nasty shoulder injury. He returned for the final stretch of the season, and did manage to compile 107 innings across 19 starts. They were solid innings as well, ending with a 3.20 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.
There are a few things that really turn me on about Wacha. First, to this point in his career he's been terrific at limiting the homer (0.58 HR/9). He also improved his command, raising his first pitch strike rate by a whopping 6%. The big worry after his rookie season was if he was going to be a two-pitch pitcher, a la Shelby Miller who also saw great success as a rookie, but has since failed to expand his repertoire. Wacha alleviated those concerns last year, working in his cutter and curveball in more while cutting back on his fastball/changeup combo, his only real weapons upon his first call up. If he can learn how to effectively sequence his pitches, I wouldn't be surprised to see his K% creep back up to the 25% he had in his rookie season from the 21% he showed a year ago and make him a top 20 pitcher. His buyers simply have to hope his shoulder troubles are behind him.
2015 Prediction: 200 IP, 16 W, 195 K, 3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Starting Pitcher #2: Collin McHugh, Astros (ADP 184, 52nd SP Selected) – McHugh is getting McScrewed in ADP this year, flat-out. Being drafted well behind injury concerns like Mat Latos and Homer Bailey, McHugh averaged a strikeout per inning as a rookie, and also demonstrated solid control, finishing with the 18th best K-BB% among pitchers that threw at least 120 innings, at 18.7%, ahead of names like Cueto and Samardzija. So why no love? Well, you could certainly point to his fortunate .259 BABIP that screams regression, but even with that added in his FIP and xFIP were both a measly 3.11. You could also point to the fact that he threw his deadly slider a whopping 31% of the time last year, and his curve another 23%, which certainly could indicate his arm will explode at some point. But, if that's the biggest risk I'm inheriting with such a cheap SP, I'm good with that since basically half of the starters in the league have Tommy John anyway. At this point in the draft if I lose someone it's a “next man's up” approach, and I'm streaming if I have to. Expect some regression, yes, but for the price tag I'm willing to pony up.
2015 Prediction: 175 IP, 13 W, 175 K, 3.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Starting Pitcher #3: Kevin Gausman, Orioles (ADP 256, 75th SP selected) – Gauss (gous) – The centimeter-gram-second unit of magnetic flux density, equal to one maxwell per square centimeter.
Anybody have any idea what the hell that means? What the shit is a maxwell? As usual, more questions than answers await me as I try to figure out to origin of a last name. Apparently his ancestors really enjoyed measuring magnetic flux density. Anyway, peeling off draft boards just ahead of another Dokken favorite, Drew Huchison, Gausman is currently embattled for the fifth rotation slot in Baltimore. I have little doubt he'll claim the slot, but the possibility of him missing the rotation is causing enough trepidation to push him down well into the 21st round, an absolute endgamer.
A highly touted prospect coming up, Gausman still possesses true ace upside. He has a phenomenal fastball that ranks as one of the fastest at the league, averaging 95 MPH with some armside run. His other primary weapon is his splitter (also filthy), and he also works in the occasional slider and changeup. I think Gausman's first full season of starting could very well be the beginning of a beautiful career. Get him while he's cheap(ish) in dynasty.
2015 Prediction: 200 IP, 12 W, 175 K, 3.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
The Deep League Bargains
Deep League Hitter: Jose Ramirez, 2B/SS, Indians (ADP 370, 30th SS selected) – While everyone eagerly anticipates the call up of top prospect Francisco “The Truffle” Lindor (yes, I just coined that), everyone is ignoring poor ol' Jose Ramirez. I mean the guy can't catch a break, he's not even the only Jose Ramirez in the majors. Ignored, generically named, picked on (I assume)...well, no more! Ramirez is a very nice, very cheap upside play for deep leaguers that skimped on middle infield like I often do.
A great contact hitter that neither walks much nor strikes out, Ramirez has a solid chance to see full-time at-bats for the Indians this year. He will likely open the season as their starting shortstop, and I get the feeling that even upon Lindor's call up, they will find a place for Ramirez. Whether it means shuffling the lineup on the daily, or pushing Kipnis to the outfield or DH, if Ramirez keeps hitting and playing solid defense he'll have a role. Ramirez also has great speed to go with his contact ability. In 68 games last year he stole 10 bags in 11 attempts in the majors, and in 2013 he stole 38 in a full season at AA. He's got no power to speak of, and to start the year he may hit at the bottom of the order, but he could turn a huge profit due to his speed if he gets a full season of at-bats. If he does manage to get benched whenever Cleveland decides to bring up Lindor, it's also easy enough to cut bait on him with such a minimal investment put into him. Hello, cheap speed.
2015 Prediction: 600 PA, 70 R, 3 HR, 45 RBI, 30 SB, .290 BA
Deep League Pitcher: T.J. House, Indians (ADP 453, 134th SP selected) – Apparently I like the Indians this year. House quietly showed up last year and threw 102 innings with a 3.35 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, mostly in the rotation. The thing about House that stands out is his outstanding ability to induce grounders. He was second in GB% in the majors among starters that threw at least 100 innings last year at 60%, behind only the breakout that was Dallas Keuchel (63%). For being such a ground ball heavy profile he was pretty unfortunate in the BABIP department, with a .332 mark. Another plus to couple with his GB% is his plus control, as demonstrated by his sub-2 BB/9 last year. He's not going to put up double-digit strikeouts in any games this year (although his 9% swinging strike rate is intriguing), but as a lefty with a solid three pitch mix and an inside shot at making the rotation out of camp, he's got a lot of ratio upside. Come seasons' end, I won't be surprised if T.J. Is a “House”-hold name! Sorry again. Yeesh.
Update: With Gavin Floyd's elbow injury putting him out indefinitely, House's ADP may begin to rise, so take that into account as you head into the middle of draft season. Particularly as the only lefty vying for the Indians' rotation, I'd consider him a favorite to win a rotation spot out of camp.
2015 Prediction: 200 IP, 15 W, 145 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (ADP 127, 8th C selected) – Most fantasy leagues don't give you credit for defense and leadership, which is where Yadier excels at these days. Couple that with some knee issues and age issues and you've got what happened to him in 2014: 110 games, 7 homers and his usual good average. His ground ball rate skyrocketed 9%, while his fly ball rate sank 7% to an all time low of 27%. Seeing your ground ball rate jump when you lack speed like Yadi does isn't going to help your batting average, and with no power upside you're crossing your fingers that he stays healthy all year and posts good runs and RBI totals. With an ADP in the 10th round, I'm sorry but I just don't understand the investment. I'm good waiting on a host of other options later, like a Wilson Ramos (power upside, great lineup), Yasmani Grandal (the aforementioned) or Travis d'Arnaud (all-around upside) at a much lower cost.
2015 Prediction: 450 PA, 40 R, 5 HR, 45 RBI, .275 BA
First Base: Freddie Freeman, Braves (ADP 33, 8th 1B selected) – Upon the grisly completion of the disappointing 2014 Braves season, the Braves brass looked around at the rest of the division and gauged their chances of winning in 2015. I imagine they looked at the Nationals roster, compared it to theirs and said “Well, that's not happening. Let's blow this bitch up.” The results are a lineup that would make a morgue look like a disco party. The lone star left in town is poor Frederick Freeman. I certainly like Freeman's career outlook, but this year could be ugly. He's a great hitter, but with no one to drive home or to bring him across the plate once he's on, we could see his R+RBI totals in the 150s. He's also never hit more than 23 home runs in a season, and I can't imagine opposing pitchers would give him much to hit when they could just put Freeman on first and pitch to Jonny
Gomes instead. I could see a walk rate spike this year, but the overall package will be very disappointing for anyone who uses their third round pick on him.
2015 Prediction: 650 PA, 75 R, 24 HR, 75 RBI, .290 BA
Second Base: Dee Gordon, Marlins (ADP 60, 5th 2B selected) – The Dodgers sold high on Gordon, and so should you if you're in a dynasty. Channel your inner Leonardo DeCaprio, you Wall Street wolf you! The odds of a 2014 repeat are slim (.289 BA, 92 R, 64 SB). That said, I don't absolutely hate this value, I had trouble finding a pick I hated at second base. On the plus side, hitting in front of Yelich and Stanton will be nice for his run total. However I think Gordon will see some regression this year in both his average and steal totals. He eliminated his pop-up problem which allowed him to hit for more average last year, but even with his elite speed, just getting on top of every ball and beating the throw to first is hard to do and his .346 BABIP should fall a bit as a result. He isn't even an average walker, so the obvious correlation is that if he hits .260 instead of .289, he's not going to come close to repeating those 64 steals because he won't be on base enough. He's additionally busty in points leagues, where steals aren't too beneficial.
2015 Prediction: 675 PA, 90 R, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 45 SB, .270 BA
Third Base: Josh Harrison, Pirates (ADP 109, 12th 3B selected) – Harrison came out of nowhere last year and finished with a very productive 13/18/.315 line in only 550 PA. People seem to be playing that dangerous extrapolating game with him, because that's the only reason I can see people taking Harrison in front of the likes of Zimmerman and Machado. In fact, the only game I can think of that's more dangerous than the extrapolating game is Ouija. Or Monopoly if you play with me and I'm losing, because that game infuriates me.
For the first time in his career Harrison showed no negative splits against either lefties or righties, although that is certainly helped by his enormous .353 BABIP. While that (along with his average) is bound to regress a bit, his speed will help keep it above league average, and if he can maintain a line drive rate around the 24% he showed last year he could come close to repeating a .300 average...but I'm not banking on it.
2015 Prediction: 675 PA, 80 R, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB, .280 BA
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (ADP 102, 5th SS selected) – There's a cavernous dropoff from the SS4 (Jose Reyes, ADP 41) to Sexy Alexei, but he's still to rich for my blood. If I'm not getting one of those top four shortstops I'm probably waiting a few rounds to nab some cheap speed, or the power/speed potential of a Chris Owings in the endgame. At the ripe and stinky age of 33, I'm not betting on Ramirez to deliver another 15 bombs. I'm also expecting him to return to the bottom of the order and let Eaton and Melky set the table for Abreu, as those guys represent more on-base ability. So as more of a 10/20 guy, he's definitely not as interesting as some of the other names available down the line, like Santana, Segura or Peralta.
2015 Prediction: 650 PA, 65 R, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 20 SB, .280 BA
Outfielder #1: George Springer, Astros (ADP 44, 14th OF selected) – Springer scares the crap out of me. I literally pooped my pants when I looked at his contact rate from 2014 (61%!!). Sorry, I should have warned you to run to the bathroom and evacuate your bowels before reading that. I hear if you wash your underoos with vinegar and rosemary those skidmarks will wash right out. Just kidding, don't do that. Also, don't draft George Springer. He represents a solid bushel of risk with the fourth round pick you'll have to spend on him. He's got a good eye at the plate, but he's struggled mightily to make contact, probably because he's trying to hit a home run on every swing. If he can settle down a bit and turn some of those strikeouts into singles and doubles he'll be a monster, but in only his sophomore campaign I'm not sure he'll be able to achieve that. I do expect he'll run a bit more than he did last year, not unlike the runs that I got when I first looked at his swinging strike rate (18%)!! Springer is talented enough to have fantasy MVP type seasons, but right now his floor is so low that he could get sent back to AAA.
2015 Prediction: 650 PA, 75 R, 28 HR, 80 RBI, 18 SB, .215 BA
Outfielder #2: Nelson Cruz, Mariners (ADP 63, 20th OF selected) – Cruz made himself some money after leading the league with 40 home runs last year. Unfortunately he got himself a contract with the Mariners, where power goes to die. Just ask Robinson Cano. Not only is it a massive park downgrade, Cruz also has been pretty injury prone throughout his career. He also turns 35 this year, not exactly your peak power year. Between missed time and playing half his games at Safeco, I don't think Cruz comes anywhere near 40 homers again. Whatever you do, don't put your draft strategy on “Cruz” control at this point in your draft. Good god, I'm sorry. It won't happen again.
2015 Prediction: 600 PA, 70 R, 20 HR, 80 RBI, .250 BA
Starting Pitcher #1: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (ADP 40, 12th SP selected) – It sorta sucks that Waino currently has an abdominal injury, because it makes this selection seem easy. I had chosen him for this list well before the injury, but of course he is also coming off surgery to remove some gunk from his elbow. He's 33, he's got a pile of innings on that arm (which has already had TJS once), his strikeouts are down and he's already got multiple injuries. The only way he should be drafted amongst the aces is if he can continue to throw 240 innings per season because that volume has buoyed his major strikeout decline, but that volume seems highly unlikely this season. If you were to ask my who the CC Sabathia of 2015 will be, here's your Huckleberry.
2015 Prediction: 100 IP, 7 W, 70 K, 3.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Starting Pitcher #2: Matt Harvey, Mets (ADP 64, 16th SP selected) – I like Harvey as much as anyone long-term, but I think people are overshooting what he can do for you this year. In his return from TJS, the Mets intend to let him throw 200 innings. The back half of the season might see Harvey return to form, but as we saw with the aforementioned Wainwright, it takes a while for pitchers to regain their control after the surgery. As I write this, Harvey just absolutely dazzled in his spring training debut, even hitting 99 on the gun, so I feel pretty stupid writing this, but to return a profit from his ADP he needs to be an absolute ace. I also have a gut feeling the Mets will opt to skip him in the rotation a few times to try to limit his innings. It's just a bit too much risk for this guy to handle.
2015 Prediction: 180 IP, 13 W, 175 K, 3.30 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Starting Pitcher #3: Doug Fister, Nationals (ADP 149, 39th Starter selected) – I knew Fister Roboto never really struck out a lot of guys, but it wasn't until Nick Doran graced the NastyCast with his presence that he brought to my attention just what a detriment Fister is in the category. He struck out a mere 5.38 per 9 innings last year (actually not a career-low). He also was incredibly fortunate according to ERA indicators, putting up a 2.41 ERA that was a full run and a half below his FIP (3.93) and xFIP (3.85). With uber lucky BABIP (.262) and strand rates (83%) it's not hard to foresee him regress to his league-average ERA and WHIP numbers while also actively hurting you in the K category. There's absolutely no reason to draft him in anything less than a 14 team league in my opinion, unless you feel the need to own a player you name your team after. And he is indeed tremendous in the team name category, with such classics as Fister Furbush, Pull Her Haren Fister, and Fister? I Barely Know Her.
2015 Prediction: 200 IP, 13 W, 110 K, 3.40 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
So what do you think? Let me know what I hit on and what I whiffed on in the comments. Happy drafting!