Ortiz in midst of best final season ever

Following some of his big performances and just about every milestone he reaches, reporters begin to pester Boston designated hitter David Ortiz. They ask the ageless star if he’ll reconsider his retirement plans, given the fact he’s having an MVP-caliber season. It’s never any use, however, as Ortiz insists he won’t change his mind – no matter what.

That’s difficult to fathom for media members and fans alike as “Big Papi” still appears to be at the top of his game despite announcing last fall that this will be his final year. At 40 years old and in his 20th major league season, Ortiz leads the bigs at the All-Star break with 34 doubles, 52 extra-base hits, a .426 on-base percentage, a .682 slugging percentage and 4.06 at-bats per RBI. Oh, and he’s also batting .332 – on pace to match a career high – with 22 home runs and 72 RBIs – second in the majors and most ever at the break by a player 40 or older. For all that, he earned a starting role for his 10th All-Star Game in San Diego this week.

“It’s probably beyond our expectations coming into his final season,” manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox’s final game before the break. “Just a powerful and impressive first half.”

A dive into the more advanced statistics provides a deeper understanding of just how powerful and impressive it was. Ortiz paces the majors with a .349 isolated power number, well ahead of 25-year-old Jake Lamb of Arizona and 27-year-old Adam Duvall. Isolated power is measured by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. It’s interesting to note that Ortiz has a higher average than anyone in the top 23 in isolated power and is ranked ahead of home run leaders Mark Trumbo of Baltimore (28), Kris Bryant of the Cubs (25) and Todd Frazier of the White Sox (25).

His .521 secondary average is also baseball’s best – well ahead of 24-year-old Bryce Harper’s .502 mark. Unlike batting average, which is merely hits divided by at-bats, secondary average accounts for power (extra-base hits), plate discipline (walks) and speed (stolen bases minus times caught stealing). While speed certainly isn’t one of his best attributes, Big Papi has caught opponents napping with two stolen bases without getting caught this season. Always regarded as a patient hitter, the three-time World Series champion and 2013 Series MVP ranks 10th in MLB with a 7.15 plate appearances-per-walk ratio and tops the majors with a .439 weighted on-base percentage, which takes into account how a player reaches base and gives greater value to extra-base hits than a single or walk.

OBA

It all amounts to what could end up being the best season in major league history for a player in his last season. Using a minimum of 300 plate appearances, Ortiz is on pace to top a list of the highest OPS in a final season. He’s even ahead of Barry Bonds, who some say was barred after the depth of his steroid use came to light, Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash after 18 big-league seasons, and a couple of the 1920 White Sox players, who were still in their prime when they received a lifetime ban as a result of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Ted Williams and Hank Greenberg also highlight the list.

“I feel like I’m 30,” joked Ortiz, whose 525 home runs rank 19th on the all-time list.

OPS

If he’s able to put together another outstanding half, Ortiz knows the questions about his return will persist throughout. Ortiz, however, seems content with leaving before the sore feet that have plagued him this season get any worse. He may do so still at the top of his game with perhaps the best final season of all time.

Photo By: AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Daily Fantasy Stacks & Pitchers for May 17th

STATS’ fantasy projections have won multiple awards for accuracy, most recently ranked number 1 by Fantasy Pros for 2015 season long baseball projections and 2015 weekly projections in NFL. The below are our top stacks and pitchers in daily fantasy baseball today, and all of our fantasy content can be found here.

Note: All prices and scoring noted below are from FanDuel

Top Stack: Chicago Cubs (2 through 5 hitters) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (Chase Anderson)

  • Jason Heyward, OF -$3400
  • Kris Bryant, 3B – $4300
  • Anthony Rizzo, 1B – $4800
  • Ben Zobrist, 2B – $4200

This is an obvious top stack, although an expensive one, and for good reason. Bryant and Rizzo are both top at their positions today, and Zobrist is the #2 2B behind only Jose Altuve. Heyward makes this stack much more attractive from a value perspective, as he is our #2 OF at only $3400. Brewers starting pitcher Chase Anderson has struggled a bit with walks and flyballs this season (yielding career-high rates in both), so he could have a tough time with this Cubs lineup that is patient and hits homers. Please note that you can also stack Cubs’ 1 through 4, with Dexter Fowler instead of Zobrist at the same price – I prefer to have Zobrist at 2B, a more scarce position.

Sneaky Stack: Los Angeles Dodgers (4 through 7 hitters) vs. Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver)

  • Adrian Gonzalez, 1B – $3000
  • Yasmani Grandal, C – $2800
  • Joc Pederson, OF – $2800
  • Yasiel Puig, OF – $2500

On a day with so many expensive aces pitching, you may prefer this cheaper stack. Jered Weaver has gotten roughed up this year with a fastball that averages only 82 mph. This Dodgers stack features some hitters who have teed off against RHP, especially Joc Pederson (.908 OPS, 5 HR, 14 RBI). At the time of the writing of this article, the Dodgers lineup was not yet announced, so pay attention and make sure to get some combination of these players in your stack. Gonzalez is our #4 1B and quite cheap, Grandal is our #1 C, and Puig and Pederson are both among our top 11 OF at bargain prices.

Top Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers ($13,000) vs. Los Angeles Angels

You may think today is finally the day to fade Kershaw, with several other aces toeing the rubber (Bumgarner, Syndergaard, Scherzer, Greinke, Hamels, to name a few). But even today, you would be wrong! Kershaw has a massive edge in his matchup against Weaver, with an MLB high 54% chance of getting a win. He’s also the only pitcher we project for over 8 strikeouts, facing an injury-decimated Angels lineup. It all adds up to a projected 7 more points than the #2 SP (Scherzer), so you have no choice but to put him in your cash lineups – again.

Sleeper Pitcher: Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox ($7900) vs. Houston Astros

With so many aforementioned aces pitching today, Rodon is our top SP under $8k. At home, he has a slight win probability edge over his counterpart, Dallas Keuchel. The Astros also have the 2nd highest K% (26.0%) against LHP, so Rodon has a lot of strikeout upside (we project around 6). His price is deflated as he’s had 5 rough, win-less starts in a row, but his underlying numbers during that stretch have been okay – 28 strikeouts and 10 walks in 26.2 innings. If he regresses back to the mean against a strikeout-prone lineup tonight, he could win you a GPP at this price.

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities

Daily Fantasy Pitchers May 17th

Photo By: AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

daily fantasy

Daily Fantasy Stacks & Pitchers for May 3rd

STATS’ fantasy projections have won multiple awards for accuracy, most recently ranked number 1 by Fantasy Pros for 2015 season long baseball projections and 2015 weekly projections in NFL. The below are our top stacks and pitchers in daily fantasy baseball today, and all of our fantasy content can be found here.

Note: All prices and scoring noted below are from FanDuel

Top Stack: Toronto Blue Jays (2 through 5 hitters)

  • Josh Donaldson, 3B -$4800
  • Jose Bautista, OF – $4100
  • Edwin Encarnacion, 1B – $3300
  • Troy Tulowitzki, SS – $3600

This is today’s most obvious stack, as Toronto’s right-handed sluggers face off against Texas LHP Martin Perez at home in Toronto. These guys are an all-time good middle-of-the-lineup against LHP, and this particular LHP has struggled this year against RHB (.272/.380/.449, 3 HR). Donaldson and Bautista are relatively expensive, but Edwin and Tulo are cheap due to slow starts, making this stack surprisingly affordable. These hitters will be highly owned, so you probably won’t win any tournaments with this stack, but you probably want at least one of these guys – particularly Edwin or Bautista – in any cash lineup.

Sneaky Stack: Chicago White Sox (1 through 4 hitters)

  • Adam Eaton, OF – $3400
  • Jimmy Rollins, SS – $2800
  • Jose Abreu, 1B – $3600
  • Todd Frazier, 3B – $4100

The expected run total in this game vs. Boston isn’t particularly high, but this quartet provides boom-or-bust potential at home against knuckleballer Steven Wright. These hitters may be under-owned due to Wright’s 1.37 ERA on the season, but if you dig deeper, Wright has regression coming – his .254 BABIP against, 4.0% HR/FB, and 82.3% strand rate are all on the “lucky” side of his career numbers. If regression begins tonight, and with wind blowing out to LF in Chicago, these sluggers, particularly Abreu and Frazier, could really benefit.

Top Pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs ($12,100)

Arrieta is bound to be the top daily fantasy SP any time he starts on a different day than Clayton Kershaw, and that is true today despite a shaky matchup against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh leads the majors in AVG and OBP, and they’re top 3 in wOBA and wRC+, although they are giving Starling Marte a day off tonight. Even against Pittsburgh’s offense, we project Arrieta for the most strikeouts and the 2nd highest win probability tonight. He’s too expensive, though, and we prefer to roster Matt Harvey or the sleeper pitcher below.

Sleeper Pitcher: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay ($7600)

Moore appears to have finally returned to pre-surgery form, striking out over a batter per inning and walking a career-low number of hitters. That effectiveness is not yet reflected in his price, as he’s not only our #3 SP today, but also the only one of our top 8 daily fantasy pitchers who are under $8k. Little separates our numbers 2 through 8 SPs (behind Arrieta), so you should roll with the cheapest one. It helps that the Dodgers have been a bottom 6 offense so far by wRC+, and they’re hitting only .228 against LHP.

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities May 3rd

Photo By: AP Photo/David Banks

daily fantasy

Daily Fantasy Stacks & Pitchers for April 25th

STATS’ fantasy projections have won multiple awards for accuracy, most recently ranked number 1 by Fantasy Pros for 2015 season long baseball projections and 2015 weekly projections in NFL. The below are our top stacks and pitchers in daily fantasy baseball today, and all of our fantasy content can be found here.

Note: All prices and scoring noted below are from FanDuel

Top Stack: Pittsburgh Pirates (1 through 4 hitters)

  • John Jaso, 1B -$3500
  • Andrew McCutchen, OF – $4900
  • David Freese, 3B – $3200
  • Starling Marte, OF – $4600

This is a no-brainer stack, as Vegas implies over 12 runs scored in this matchup, with the Pirates the favorite for 6+. The prices of Pirates hitters have inflated somewhat for the Coors Field trip, but not enough – Jaso is our #2 1B, Freese is our #3 3B, and Cutch and Marte are our #1 and #2 OF – and these prices don’t reflect that. You can stack these guys and still afford a top SP like Archer or Salazar. If the Pirates lineup is different than this projection – for example, if Jordy Mercer leads off or Francisco Cervelli hits 3rd – go ahead and stack whatever the 1 through 4 is.

Sneaky Stack: Detroit Tigers (1 through 4 hitters)

  • Ian Kinsler, 2B – $3900
  • Justin Upton, OF – $3000
  • Miguel Cabrera, 1B – $3700
  • Victor Martinez, C – $2600

Despite playing in pitcher-friendly Detroit, today’s Detroit/Oakland game has the 4th highest expected run total, with Detroit favored. As a result, Upton is our #8 OF and top OF under $4k, and Miggy is our #3 1B. The Tigers’ typical lineup allows you to sandwich these two between Kinsler and VMart, two affordable sluggers at premium positions. This cheap, but risky, stack allows you to roster a top pitcher like Syndergaard in large tournaments.

Top Pitcher: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets ($11,400)

Syndergaard looks like one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and his price now reflects that, as he’s the most expensive pitcher of the day against the mediocre Cincinnati Reds. He still may be worth rostering, as we project him for almost 4 more points than our #2 pitcher, Madison Bumgarner. He has the 2nd highest win probability behind Bumgarner tonight, and he’s the only pitcher we project for 8+ strikeouts.

Sleeper Pitcher: Rick Porcello, Boston ($7400)

Porcello has struggled the last 2 years, pitching his home games in Fenway Park against AL lineups. Tonight, he gets the Braves in Atlanta and should have a much easier time. Porcello has registered 7+ strikeouts in each start this season, and 7 out of 8 starts dating back to last year, so we know the upside for a monster fantasy day is there. He’s a nice pitcher to pair with an expensive Coors Field stack.

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities April 25

Photo By: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

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Daily Fantasy Stacks & Pitchers for April 21st

STATS’ fantasy projections have won multiple awards for accuracy, most recently ranked number 1 by Fantasy Pros for 2015 season long baseball projections and 2015 weekly projections in NFL. The below are our top stacks and pitchers in daily fantasy baseball today, and all of our fantasy content can be found here.

Note: All prices and scoring noted below are from FanDuel

Top Stack: Houston Astros (9 through 3 hitters)

  • Jason Castro, C -$2200
  • Jose Altuve, 2B – $5000
  • George Springer, OF – $4000
  • Carlos Correa, SS – $4300

Catcher is a virtual crapshoot tonight, with the top 7 each projected for somewhere between 8 and 9.5 points. The cheapest of these 7 is Castro – going cheap allows you to stack his 3 more expensive teammates, who happen to be our #1 2B, #1 SS, and #1 OF tonight. This is an affordable, explosive stack that takes care of 3 premium positions for you.

Sneaky Stack: Kansas City Royals (1 through 4 hitters)

  • Alcides Escobar, SS – $2400
  • Mike Moustakas, 3B – $3600
  • Lorenzo Cain, OF – $3800
  • Eric Hosmer, 1B – $3300

None of these guys are particularly expensive, but they rank quite highly against mediocre Tigers SP Mike Pelfrey. Hosmer is our #5 1B and our top 1B under $4k, Moustakas is our #4 3B, Escobar is our #3 SS, and Cain is our #4 OF. Pelfrey has allowed 20 baserunners in just 9.2 IP this season, and if he blows up again, you’ll benefit by having these guys stacked. This stack – or parts of it – complements the above Astros stack quite nicely, providing corner infielders and an outfielder.

Top Pitcher: Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh ($9700)

Our actual #1 SP, based purely on projection, is Jake Arrieta. But with rain in the forecast in Cincinnati, he’s too big of a risk, and you can trust Cole more. He has a nice matchup against the Padres in San Diego, which is why we project him for the 4th best odds of getting a Win (41%) and the 2nd highest K total (6.3) of tonight’s pitchers.

Sleeper Pitcher: Rich Hill, Oakland ($6700)

Hill is our #5 SP tonight and our highest ranked SP under $8k. He may be under-owned if fantasy players fear Yankee Stadium, but the lefty Hill neutralizes LHP and removes much of the hitters’ advantage in the stadium. This pick has less to do with the recent scuffling of the Yankees’ lineup, and more to do with Hill’s upside – he has posted 13.1 K/9 through his first 3 starts, and dating back to last season he has double digit K’s in 4 of his last 7 starts.

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities April 21

Photo By: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

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Daily Fantasy Stacks & Pitchers for April 14th

STATS’ fantasy projections have won multiple awards for accuracy, most recently ranked number 1 by Fantasy Pros for 2015 season long baseball projections and 2015 weekly projections in NFL. The below are our top stacks and pitchers in daily fantasy baseball today, and all of our fantasy content can be found here.

Note: All prices and scoring noted below are from FanDuel

Top Stack: Toronto Blue Jays (2 through 5 hitters)

  • Josh Donaldson, 3B -$5300
  • Jose Bautista, OF – $4600
  • Edwin Encarnacion, 1B – $3900
  • Troy Tulowitzki, SS – $3000

The Blue Jays offer arguably the top stack most nights and this slate is no different. It is very tough to make this near $17k stack work so lineups with this may have to roll the dice with Robbie Ray at pitcher to clear cap to fit this. The Jays stack ownership usually skyrockets when they face a lefty so the fact a RHP is facing them today may lower their ownership levels some which is ideal for tournaments. For this slate though I would prefer the sneaky stack since its similar and at a huge discount.

Sneaky Stack: Texas Rangers (2 through 5 hitters)

  • Nomar Mazara, OF – $2700
  • Prince Fielder, 1B – $3400
  • Adrian Beltre, 3B – $3700
  • Mitch Moreland, OF – $2700

This stack only costs $12.5k which allows you to have a lot more flexibility with the rest of your lineup. My only worry is that a lot of people will be able to spot this on a smaller slate but I think it’s necessary to have this stack in at least one lineup. All 4 players have home run potential today in a great hitter’s park against a pitcher in Chris Tillman who is prone for an implosion game with the best of them.

Top Pitcher: Cole Hamels, Texas ($10,200)

Tough slate for starting pitchers. The top projected pitcher is Cole Hamels, who is also $2k more expensive than the other top choices. Because of this I think he will be fairly low owned making him an intriguing play for tournaments with a mini-Rangers stack to go with him.

Sleeper Pitcher: Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati ($8100)

The wind is blowing in at Wrigley tonight making both pitchers great options for this slate. Raisel has the strikeout potential to make him in-play for both cash and tournaments tonight. Tough to say if he will be high owned or not, although people may see the Cubs as pretty large favorites and go with Hammel instead who is a bit cheaper. If Iglesias is under owned tonight and gets enough run support for the W I can easily see him being in the top teams tonight.

Top Scoring Pitcher Probabilities

I wanted to introduce something we will be providing going forward on the probabilities of who will be the Top Scoring Starting Pitcher in FanDuel Points for this slate. It helps to conceptualize the chances of every starting pitcher being the top SP that night and can help strategize who to target:

SP 041416

Photo By: AP Photo/John Minchillo

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Daily Fantasy Stacks & Pitchers for April 13th

STATS’ fantasy projections have won multiple awards for accuracy, most recently ranked number 1 by Fantasy Pros for 2015 season long baseball projections and 2015 weekly projections in NFL. The below are our top stacks and pitchers in daily fantasy baseball today, and all of our fantasy content can be found here.

Note: All prices and scoring noted below are from FanDuel

Top Stack: Colorado Rockies (3 through 6 hitters)

  • Carlos Gonzalez, OF -$4800
  • Nolan Arenado, 3B – $5000
  • Gerardo Parra, OF – $3400
  • Nick Hundley, C – $3300

We won’t win any creativity awards for this one, seeing as San Francisco vs. Colorado has by far the highest expected run total of the day (of 11.5). There are, however, many combinations and stacks you can put together from these teams, and, with Buster Posey out again, we prefer to go with the heart of Colorado’s order. CarGo isn’t cheap at $4800, but he’s our top overall hitter tonight (yes, higher than Bryce Harper), so the price is more than fair. Parra is our #7 OF and the top hitter under $4000 tonight, so his price balances out Arenado’s expensive tag. For the 4th spot, you can’t go wrong with either SS Trevor Story (#2 in their lineup) or C Nick Hundley (#6 in their lineup) – while SS has plenty of solid options tonight, Hundley is projected for over 2 points more than our #2 catcher, making him a must-play tonight.

Sneaky Stack: Pittsburgh Pirates (2 through 5 hitters)

  • Andrew McCutchen, OF – $4500
  • David Freese, 3B – $2600
  • Starling Marte, OF – $3600
  • Francisco Cervelli, C – $2700

The Pittsburgh vs. Detroit game has the 3rd highest expected run total tonight, presenting value and upside opportunity. We especially like the chronically under-owned Pirates hitters against Shane Greene, a guy who gave up 7 or more earned runs in 4 of his 16 starts last season. McCutchen is off to a slow start, but we’re not worried – he’s still our 8th overall hitter tonight, and cheaper than guys like Harper, CarGo, and Charlie Blackmon. Marte is always a nice tournament play, as his mix of speed and power gives him the potential for monster fantasy games. Lastly, we like Cervelli a lot at his bargain price – he’s our #4 catcher tonight hitting directly behind Marte.

Top Pitcher: Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland ($10,200)

Starting pitching is wide open tonight, and Carrasco is the only “ace” and only option who struck out over 170 hitters last season. Our 2nd ranked through 14th ranked pitchers tonight are all projected for 28 to 34 points, but we project Carrasco for 37.5. He’s the only pitcher we project for over 7 K’s, and he’s projected for a nice clean line pitching in Tropicana Field, a pitcher’s park. The only reason not to take Carrasco tonight is his price tag, which may prevent you from taking expensive hitters playing in Colorado.

Sleeper Pitcher: Jerad Eickhoff, Philadelphia ($6600)

Eickhoff is our number 5 pitcher tonight, and he has a lot going for him. First of all, he has strikeout upside, with 52 K’s through 56 major league innings – we project him to be one of only 7 pitchers to eclipse 5 K’s tonight. Second, he has a nice matchup against a poor San Diego offense – they’ve been shut out 4 times already, so any pitcher facing them has a chance for a huge fantasy night. Lastly, he has a cheap price tag, and he’s the only pitcher among our top 6 that you can get for under $8000, let alone under $7000. Being thrifty on starting pitching tonight allows you to stack some of those Giants and Rockies hitters in your lineups.

Photo By: AP Photo/Ron Schwane

The Next Chapter for Trevor Story’s Fantasy Value

Rockies’ rookie shortstop Trevor Story has become a household name in fantasy after one week of clichés and historic home runs. Story had an incredible first week in the majors. With seven home runs over his first six games, Story set the record for the most homers through a team’s first six games. He also hit more home runs over the first week of the season than 16 teams and he tied three others.

His average draft position was 211.7 on Yahoo, with many fantasy players now wondering why they avoided him. There was the Jose Reyes situation hanging over the position in Colorado, which threatened to impact Story’s playing time. But he was still a prospect who hit 20 home runs and stole 22 bases in the upper minors last season at a position with limited depth. As Corey Schwartz noted in his season preview, the position was top heavy, so once the top tier shortstops were off the board, a flier on Story despite the playing time concern would have provided instant returns.

Story has certainly boosted his reputation and fantasy stock over the first week, but he’s not going to maintain that ridiculous pace over the course of the season. He has gone 9-27 with a walk and two singles alongside his seven home runs, driving in 12 runs in total, also striking out eight times. The question is whether he can continue to hit once pitchers make an adjustment, as that will dictate his fantasy value more than his seven home runs during the opening week of the season.

He’s going to continue to have the benefit of playing his home games in Colorado, and his .279/.350/.514 line with 70 extra base hits in the upper minors last season certainly offer hope. However, his 24.5% strikeout rate, striking out almost three times more than he walked, does raise a red flag. Fortunately he’s a shortstop, and the shallow nature of the position, especially for power, means that Story doesn’t have to be great going forward in order to have value. The STATS projections currently forecast a final line of a .264 average with 26 home runs and 14 stolen bases, scoring 61 runs and driving in 72. So Story is likely to continue to hit, just not to his current extent.

Entering the season, Carlos Correa was the only shortstop that we projected to hit more than 20 home runs – and he was one of two shortstops to hit 20 homers last season, alongside Brandon Crawford. Correa was also the only shortstop with 14 or more home runs and steals last season, as seven shortstops reached double figures in both categories. With that in mind, even a normalized version of Story – rather than the ridiculous pace he’s shown over the first week – should provide fantasy owners with plenty of value going forward.

Trevor Story wasn’t the only rookie who raked over the first week of the season. Among others, the Astros’ Tyler White hit for a .556 average with three home runs and the Cardinals’ Jeremy Hazelbaker hit two homers and stole a pair of bases while going 6-15. However, it was Story’s home run records that dominated the headlines. Some may be tempted to sell high at this point, as Story’s value is likely to be at its peak, yet his power and double digit steals potential should continue to keep him among the best options at his position, although his contact skills might limit his value overall.

Graphic by: Andrew Skweres

Click here for all of our fantasy and predictive content. 

STATS Fantasy Baseball Projections: Top 50 Starting Pitchers

  TeamGSIPWLKBBERAWHIP
1Clayton KershawLAD33221.0176266462.310.93
2Chris SaleCHW31207.1148250472.941.02
3Max ScherzerWAS32214.4149251503.051.04
4Jake ArrietaCHC32211.2158219542.931.08
5David PriceBOS33219.4159220453.171.08
6Corey KluberCLE32214.4149230473.161.10
7Jose FernandezMIA29181.3138216502.771.05
8Madison BumgarnerSF32210.61310217423.081.06
9Stephen StrasburgWAS31179.8148204393.031.06
10Jacob deGromNYM31196.9139205483.111.10
11Matt HarveyNYM30194.4139198423.081.07
12Felix HernandezSEA32208.0149201533.171.14
13Jon LesterCHC32204.8149203503.321.14
14Noah SyndergaardNYM29181.3138199433.111.08
15Gerrit ColePIT32208.01310199503.201.14
16Zack GreinkeARI32209.01310193463.221.12
17Carlos CarrascoCLE31190.7139203483.271.14
18Dallas KeuchelHOU32213.4149190543.231.16
19Chris ArcherTB32200.01310213663.341.18
20Masahiro TanakaNYY30191.4139178363.381.10
21Johnny CuetoSF32209.61211182533.401.15
22Francisco LirianoPIT31184.51210192703.361.23
23Sonny GrayOAK32210.91310177663.471.22
24Tyson RossSD32193.31211198743.421.27
25Danny SalazarCLE30183.01210193543.731.20
26Adam WainwrightSTL31203.11210161453.441.18
27Michael PinedaNYY29174.0129160313.551.12
28Carlos MartinezSTL30178.51210177633.451.25
29Raisel IglesiasCIN31180.61111177563.611.20
30Marcus StromanTOR31195.3139163513.631.22
31Jeff SamardzijaSF32199.71111171483.651.20
32Taijuan WalkerSEA31182.91210172543.671.21
33James ShieldsSD33201.51112186603.711.23
34Cole HamelsTEX32208.01211187583.901.25
35Garrett RichardsLAA32200.01210171683.621.26
36Jose QuintanaCHW32201.61211173523.771.23
37Yu DarvishTEX22141.996171483.381.15
38Hisashi IwakumaSEA28175.6119146363.501.14
39Wei-Yin ChenMIA31189.71111156403.701.17
40Jake OdorizziTB31184.51111169553.771.22
41Collin McHughHOU32197.81210167523.871.24
42Michael WachaSTL30178.51110158553.611.22
43Yordano VenturaKC30181.51110170653.641.27
44Jordan ZimmermannDET32196.81310149393.811.21
45Justin VerlanderDET32200.01210166583.871.25
46Kyle HendricksCHC30171.6129146433.661.22
47Julio TeheranATL32201.61013175603.851.23
48Steven MatzNYM28160.6119156513.581.22
49John LackeyCHC31195.31210155483.861.23
50Jason HammelCHC28162.4119147433.761.21

SP To Target

Note: These are SP whom we rank significantly higher than their ADPs

Stephen Strasburg (Our Rank: 9, ADP: 14)

Stras doesn’t have to do anything but repeat his 2014 numbers in order to finish as a top 10 SP. Last year he ran into all sorts of bad luck – an inflated BABIP, a low strand rate, and nagging minor injuries. His K and BB numbers were in-line with the rest of his career (if not better), and he was arguably the best pitcher in the league over the last 2 months of the season. He posts more strikeout upside than guys being taken ahead of him, such as Gerrit Cole and Dallas Keuchel, and could conceivably finish the year as the #1 overall SP, while those guys cannot. If you miss out on the obvious top 5 or 6 aces, Strasburg is a great guy to snatch up.

Jon Lester (Our Rank: 13, ADP: 20)

For whatever reason, Jon Lester’s name is no longer associated with the word “ace” – perhaps because he now pitches in Jake Arrieta’s shadow. His performance last year was actually quite ace-like, and he’s one of our favorite values this year. He struck out 207 batters last year (his 4th career season over 200), and he’s one of just 14 pitchers we project for 200+ this season. This K total, with an ERA in the low-to-mid 3.00s and 14 or so Wins (on a good Cubs team) would make him one of the best #2 SP in fantasy, or a low end #1. If you miss out on guys like Cole, Keuchel, Noah Syndegaard, or Chris Archer, we think Jon Lester is every bit as good, and perhaps more reliable.

Masahiro Tanaka (Our Rank: 20, ADP: 32)

His injury and inconsistency issues are common knowledge and appear to be fully priced into his value, as he’s being drafted after the likes of Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright (who also have injury issues…). He merely needs to repeat last year’s numbers – low-to-mid 3.00s ERA, 10+ Wins, almost a K per IP – to justify being a #2 fantasy starter, and you won’t find his K upside from guys like Marcus Stroman and Garrett Richards. We think he’s a nice pick if you punt on SP in the early rounds and need somebody with fantasy ace upside.

Taijuan Walker (Our Rank: 32, ADP: 48)

Will this be the year he finally puts it together? Well, if you get him at his ADP (implying he’s a #4 or #5 SP), it’s worth the risk to find out. Last year, he got his K/9 up to 8.3 and his BB/9 down to almost 2 – his ERA simply suffered due to strand rate, HR/FB%, and BABIP all above this year’s projected rates. He’s also just 23, so he could easily improve upon his already nice peripheral numbers. If he gets his ERA into the 3.00s (and we project 3.67), he will make for a fine fantasy #3 SP, with upside to be even better.

 

SP To Avoid

Note: These are SP whom we rank significantly lower than their ADPs

Zack Greinke (Our Rank: 16, ADP 7)

Even if he stayed in Los Angeles, we would’ve expected ERA regression back to the 2.70 from the previous two seasons. Pitching his home games in Arizona, we now expect even more, into the low 3.00s. With that ERA and without K-per-IP upside, he no longer is a sure-fire fantasy ace – we actually view him as more of a high-end #2. Our projections for Greinke and Lester are remarkably similar, but you could get Lester several rounds later.

Cole Hamels (Our Rank: 34, ADP 23)

He’s a reliable innings-eater (200+ IP 6 seasons in a row), but he’s got age (32) and ballpark (Texas) working against him. We understand he’s one of the better bets for 180+ K that you can get after the Aces, but he’s likely to put up an ERA somewhere near 4.00, considering his ERA over the last 4 years of around 3.20 pitching mostly in the NL. Due to his expected elevated HR rate pitching in Texas, we actually project him for the highest ERA among our Top 50 SP. Due to the risk of stinker outings, he’s more of a #3 with upside than a sure-fire #2.

Michael Wacha (Our Rank: 42, ADP 28)

He doesn’t strike hitters out like many of the SP ranked above him, and he also doesn’t generate an inordinate number of grounders, which makes it tough to maintain a low-3.00s ERA without a bit of luck. Luck finally caught up to him last September, when he registered a 7.88 ERA for the month. His true talent lies somewhere between the 2.93 ERA he put up in the 1st half last year and the 4.01 he put up in the second half. A 3.60 ERA and 150 K’s, with plenty of quality starts mixed in, makes him a nice mid-rotation fantasy starter, but not a low-end #2, like his ADP implies.

Jordan Zimmermann (Our Rank: 44, ADP 31)

His velocity dipped last season, which led to a decline in K’s of almost one per IP. He also doesn’t generate grounder like he used to, with a below average 41% rate the last two seasons. His ERA of 3.66 last season was solid but unspectacular, and it was aided heavily by the division he pitched in – he registered a 3.30 ERA against NL East opponents, and closer to 4.00 against everybody else. Moving to the NL and away from those weak divisional opponents means an ERA close to 4.00 is quite possible, and he no longer strikes out enough hitters to balance it out. If looking for an innings-eater, we prefer somebody like Jose Quintana, Collin McHugh, or Jeff Samardzija, who either have better pitching situations or have proven they can strike out AL hitters.

This is the seventh article in our fantasy baseball projections series – click here for all of our fantasy content. 

Photo By: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

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STATS Fantasy Baseball Projections – Top 50 Outfielders

  TeamPAABAVGHRRRBISBCS
1Mike TroutLAA677572.29636112106125
2Bryce HarperWAS656538.3013510711774
3A.J. PollockARI665607.2961895723012
4Mookie BettsBOS673611.2981711175218
5Andrew McCutchenPIT656558.296239790126
6Giancarlo StantonMIA612524.27138889663
7Charlie BlackmonCOL638583.2831696633314
8Justin UptonDET648575.273269892136
9Starling MartePIT618567.2881975792812
10George SpringerHOU648564.2572610283177
11Jason HeywardCHC653577.281189884197
12Jose BautistaTOR612512.257329810063
13J.D. MartinezDET633576.276319010032
14Adam JonesBAL652612.27729899742
15Ryan BraunMIL591532.286247880147
16Lorenzo CainKC618569.293137678249
17Nelson CruzSEA633571.26333839432
18Carlos GomezHOU621566.260197985229
19Yoenis CespedesNYM631585.27427818474
20Yasiel PuigLAD575511.29121827895
21Carlos GonzalezCOL555505.27628798452
22Billy HamiltonCIN567525.247658465916
23David PeraltaARI593543.28719748094
24Ben RevereWAS596562.303176553111
25Adam EatonCHW645578.287109460188
26Christian YelichMIA606538.289107671188
27Jacoby EllsburyNYY588538.2671283532511
28Billy BurnsOAK627573.270580523212
29Shin-Soo ChooTEX611523.26917927263
30Gregory PolancoPIT622561.2551278562711
31Alex GordonKC624546.27118807664
32Gerardo ParraCOL540502.294147268105
33Delino DeShieldsTEX616543.250682563314
34Brett GardnerNYY609541.260148564166
35Kevin PillarTOR599563.272107663189
36Kole CalhounLAA625572.26021807553
37Matt KempSD597544.26921657084
38Michael BrantleyCLE512461.29910687193
39Hunter PenceSF580531.27219677284
40Byron BuxtonMIN545505.2561266552511
41Jay BruceCIN607546.23925687484
42Curtis GrandersonNYM624539.23922896085
43Melky CabreraCHW621571.28411807232
44Hanley RamirezBOS514465.27513687584
45Evan GattisHOU544505.25126697500
46Stephen PiscottySTL527477.27717696164
47Dexter FowlerCHC540464.260128061126
48Josh ReddickOAK554502.26018676974
49Randal GrichukSTL516479.25423616464
50Kevin KiermaierTB592551.261126558177

OF To Target

Note: These are OF whom we rank significantly higher than their ADPs

Jason Heyward (Our Rank: 11, ADP: 20)

Heyward isn’t a flashy pick, but the disappointment over his HR totals has caused him to drop way too far in drafts. Let’s ignore HRs for a second – he should produce massive Runs and RBI totals wherever he hits in the Cubs lineup. If he hits 2nd, in front of Rizzo and Bryant, as projected, and posts his usual .350+ OBP, he could lead the league in Runs. He has also stolen 20+ bags 3 of the last 4 years – if you view him as a speed-first guy with some pop added in, you appreciate his value. We see a bump in HR with the move to a friendlier park, and we project him as 1 of only 4 outfielders who will go 18/18 (others: AJ Pollock, Starling Marte, Carlos Gomez). You would do very well to snag Heyward in the early-middle rounds if you prioritize other positions earlier.

David Peralta (Our Rank: 23, ADP: 33)

With the hype surrounding the Diamondbacks, Peralta has gotten some hype in theory but not in practice, as reflected by his too-low ADP. The late bloomer has posted two consecutive solid seasons and now has a .301 career AVG in 865 PA. We project him for .287 (13th highest among OF), while also chipping in a little bit of everything else, including 80 RBI hitting behind OBP machine Paul Goldschmidt. If he hits 20 HR with 10 SB (after 17 and 9 last season), he could easily wind up a top 20 outfielder.

Gerardo Parra (Our Rank: 32, ADP: 47)

This one isn’t complicated – he’s an under-appreciated player, in his prime (29 years old), playing home games in Colorado. Given the ballpark, he should be able to at least replicate last year’s 14 HR and .290 AVG, while chipping in his usual 10+ SB. He should also see his RBI go up – we project around 70, hitting towards the middle of Colorado’s order. These are better all-around numbers than guys like Hunter Pence and Hanley Ramirez who are being taken way before Parra.

 

OF To Avoid

Note: These are OF whom we rank significantly lower than their ADPs

Jose Bautista (Our Rank: 12, ADP 6)

Jose’s three-true-outcomes approach makes him more valuable in real life than in fantasy baseball. He has registered a .257 career AVG and .261 over the last 4 years, so we project him to fall right in that range again. He’s also never recorded double-digit stolen bases. Of our top 12 OF, we project him for the lowest AVG and  the fewest SB (tied with Giancarlo Stanton). It’s nice that you know what you’re going to get from him, but he’s being drafted in front of some guys with much more upside, including Starling Marte, Mookie Betts, and George Springer.

Matt Kemp (Our Rank: 37, ADP 22)

This is a case of a guy being over-drafted on name value. He has age (31) and ballpark working against him, meaning he’s no longer a threat for much more than 20 HR or 10 SB. The bigger concern is the lineup around him – the Padres are expected to open with Jon Jay leading off and Yangervis Solarte hitting 5th, so Kemp should struggle to register both Runs and RBI. His 65 projected Runs ranks 54th among OF, and 70 RBI ranks 32nd. He shouldn’t be drafted before David Peralta, who could match or beat him in every category.

Hanley Ramirez (Our Rank: 44, ADP 32)

We know it’s tempting to draft Hanley in the later rounds, hoping for a bounce-back season. Based on his peripherals, we just don’t see it. His Flyball rate has declined drastically each of the last 2 seasons, leading to an expected decline in HR. His AVG could benefit from hitting more balls into the ground if he still possessed the speed to run out infield singles, but he doesn’t, and his BABIP has declined as well. These trends probably aren’t coincidences, given that they started almost exactly when he turned 30. Even if his AVG bounces back towards .270-.280, he won’t have much value without HR and SB, and there’s obvious playing time risk with him trying to learn a new position in order to stay on the diamond.

This is the sixth article in our fantasy baseball projections series, as catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen and shortstops have previously been reviewed.  

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Photo By: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill