Welcome to Glove Pop’s Depressingly Early Fantasy Tiers! These will be released each week over the coming months, with each week being shorter, darker, and possibly more depressing than the previous week. If an injury makes these tiers look stupid down the road, it’ll be even more depressing.
Two quick notes:
- These are fantasy rankings.
- The order within each tier is loose and mostly not too set in stone.
I’m starting with the hot corner because, honestly, name a more exciting position in baseball right now. You could say shortstop, but by exciting I mean the flutter you get in your stomach when Kris Bryant fixes his baby blues on you through the screen. Every week will have different TV-themed tiers. We’ll start things off with the best TV show on the air right now, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Any one of these players could win the MVP, but Arenado is the best fantasy bet. He has back-to-back 40+ HR/130+ RBI seasons, and the way his plate discipline stats are trending I could see him cracking the .300/.400/.600 club soon if he stays in Coors. You can’t even argue that Bryant plays in a better lineup with Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story and David Dahl bunched around Arenado.
Between Donaldson and Machado, I’m more worried about the general suckage of the Orioles lineup than the potential losses of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.
Over the past three seasons, Kyle Seagers 125 wRC+ is more or less the same as Manny Machado and Adrian Beltre’s. He’s got a little less pop than Machado, but he also walks more and strikes out less. In fact, if you’re in an OBP league and aren’t expecting a big steals rebound from Machado, you’d probably be better off drafting Seager a couple of rounds later. Just look at all the counting stat juice he’s provided since 2014:
Jonathan Villar, I’m 100% over the fact that I dropped you. I don’t even think about it anymore. Maybe I’ll draft you next year, maybe I won’t. No hard feelings.
Carpenter and Rendon should provide similar production with Rendon due for the biggest leap and Carpenter giving you the highest ceiling in terms of rate stats. Two reasons I have Rendon ranked below Carpenter: (a) injury risk, and (b) his price tag will likely be way higher on draft day.
Longoria put the brakes on his decline by setting a career-high in homers last season. His 36 HR were fuelled by a robust .248 ISO and a sustainable 15.5% HR/FB rate. The power doesn’t worry me, and while he did strikeout more, it’s in line with his peak-power strikeout rates. The lack of walks, however, are more concerning.
Despite running high profile roles in the playoffs, both Turner and Ramirez could provide sneaky value. Turner’s power/average combo will lead to great counting stats in the potent Dodgers lineup. Ramirez is a bit more risky given his short track record, but I think he’ll contribute enough in each category to provide great value.
Like the impossibly sexy weather woman, it’s dangerous to dream about these guys. Frazier’s at the top because at least you know you’re going to get a .230 AVG with 30+ HR. With the rest of this trio you can hope for elite production but you’re probably going to be dissapointed.
Sano could hit 40+ homers, but was the most frustrating player I owned last season. Lamb can’t hit lefties and batted under the Mendoza line over the 2nd half. Franco took a step backwards last year, seeing his walk rate dip and his OBP tumble down to .306.
Of all these names, Franco is probably the best value pick. His hype took a beating last season due to his sudden inability to handle fastballs, but his peripherals remained in line with his tantalizing 2015 debut, and Steamer projects him for .272/.324/.472 with 28 HR.
Jung Ho Kang
If you’re still looking for power after this tier, you’ve already lost.
Castellanos really impressed me last year. He learned how to handle sliders, hit way more fly balls, and hit them way harder. Don’t forget about him because of his late-season injury.
Healy and Bregman are young but somehow both already feel proven. Bregman has the better prospect pedigree and is getting a lot of love from Steamer (.266/.330/.446 with 20 HR/10 SB), but Healy needed just 72 games to become the best player on the A’s last season. That said, his .305 AVG was supported by .352 BABIP – 4.2 BB% – 21.2 K% trash, so if you’re expecting a complete package you’ll be sorely disappointed.
The –ez‘s (with the exception of Jose Reyes) are an intriguing tier of power-speed combo plays. I could see Suarez repeating his double-digits stolen base total, but the 21 home runs were more a product of his increased playing time as his exit velocity actually took a step back from 2015.
I’ll be targeting Eduardo Nunez in my drafts as his speed and all-fields approach should play well in the roomy AT&T Park. He may not hit 16 homers again, but I envision him as a doubles/triples run-scoring machine in a versatile Giants offence that’s not afraid to give him the green light on the basepaths.
For all the hype surrounding Javier Baez in the playoffs, I’m not 100% sold that he’s ‘matured’ into the type of player with a refined two-strike approach that will vault him into the upper tiers. This is a guy who struck out 24% of the time whil walking just 3% of the time over 450 PAs. I might eat these words in a few seasons, but Baez is going to be 2017’s Miguel Sano.
Prado put up his second straight 3+ WAR season, and has quietly accumulated 25 WAR over his ten year career. That said, Prado – like Solarte and Duffy – is the kind of player who you roster just so you’re not being hurt. He’ll pull his weight just enough, but at the end of the season you’ll look at his near .300 batting average and milquetoast counting stats relative to the wealth of powerful options at third base and sigh.
Gail the Snail
Fend off these third basemen with salt! Shaw got off to a great start but his contact issues caught up with him and torpedoed his second half. Headley and Escobar aren’t flashy but they’re just enough above replacement to roster without feeling too bad. Garcia flashed some power potential with 14 homers, but I’d steer clear of his 4.3 BB% and his inflated HR/FB rate.