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Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL TEN BURNING QUESTIONS


2016 FANTASY BASEBALL TEN BURNING QUESTIONS

By Eric C. Wright

One of our more popular yearly features in the Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide is our “Ten Burning Questions” section where we try to get some clarity on some of the more pressing issues surrounding the game going into the season.  While we can surely sit here all day and answer unending questions about any player or particular subject, these are the topics that we fee need to be addressed the most as you prepare for your draft. 

1.  Q:  It is Mike Trout first and everybody else comes after this season right?

A:  Mike Trout as the number 1 pick in 2016 fantasy baseball is as close as you can get to a non-debate.  While in the recent past a case could have been made for Miguel Cabrera being the top dog, Trout has clearly separated himself from the rest of the pack during the last two years.  Other than maybe Bryce Harper, no one is even in the same area code as Trout. 

2.  Q:  With Trout the obvious choice at number 1, who are the other 11 names that should make up Round 1 in a 2016 mixed ROTO league?

A:  Once Trout hears his name called first, the next 11 guys who SHOULD be off the board in most leagues should include the following:  Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Abreu, Nolan Arenado, Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado. 

3.  Q:  Let’s take this one step further.  Who would make up the next 12 picks in Round 2? 

A:  The first two rounds are generally the cream of the crop among pitchers and hitters and some of these names are also worthy of going in Round 1 as well.  They include the following:  Nelson Cruz, Todd Frazier, Madison Bumgarner, Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, Buster Posey, Adam Jones, Ryan Braun, Carlos Correa, Joey Votto, Justin Upton, and Carlos Gomez. 

4.  Q:  Just how good is Carlos Correa?

A:  I thought you would never ask.  There is not a better young hitter in all of baseball than the Houston Astros dynamic shortstop.  Not only is Correa a gem at the most shallow position in the game but his 5-tool ability puts him among the most talented players at any spot on the field.  Consider that Correa already has 20/20 ability, with the chance to easily better that in his first full major league season in 2016.  Despite only having a half-season of major league play under his belt, we already will proclaim Correa as the number 1 shortstop in fantasy baseball.  The kid is that good. 

5.  Q:  How about the sudden explosion of top-shelf third baseman?

A:  And how.  2016 saw the previously shallow and injury-plagued third base position absolutely take off as five young thumpers put up some monster numbers.  Joining American League MVP Josh Donaldson was Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, Cincy’s Todd Frazier, Baltimore’s Manny Machado, and the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant to make third base suddenly one of the most potent spots on the diamond.  

6.  Q:  How much better can Bryce Harper get after his MVP 2015? 

A:  Needless to say Harper was the epitome of a one-man offensive machine in 2015, hitting .330 with 42 home runs, 118 runs, and 99 RBI.  When you consider that Harper is still just 23, one can make the case that he is the only possible challenger to Mike Trout as the number 1 overall player in the game.  With such a dominant season in the books, it is tough to imagine Harper bettering that production in 2016 and beyond.  However Harper cut his K rate from 26 to 20 percent over the last two years and that number can go lower.  In addition, Harper won’t reach his power prime for another three years which means 50 home runs is very possible.  His biggest challenge other than health is that opposing pitchers will be much more careful around him this season and that alone could lessen the counting statistics a bit.  Either way, Harper should go number 2 in all formats this season and is a monster bat even if he simply just repeats his 2016 production. 

7.  Q:  What should be done with the “Wins” column in standard formats?

A:  We have gone on record too many times to count in pushing for the elimination of the “Wins” category in standard league 5 x 5 ROTO fantasy baseball.  There is not a more fluky statistic in the game and one only has to look at how Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer tossed two no-hitters in 2016, registered a 2.79 ERA, but yet went only 14-12 with his record.  Then there was the case of the Atlanta Braves’ Shelby Miller who put up a terrific 3.02 ERA but went 6-17 due to a complete lack of run support from the team’s woeful lineup.  The fact of the matter is that the wins column should be replaced by the K/BB statistic which is totally in the pitcher’s control.  Guys who don’t beat themselves with walks but yet strike batters out at a high clip should carry extra value in fantasy baseball and that is what this additional statistic does.  No longer do you have to pull your hair out when a closer blows a dominant start from your pitcher or rue the fact you own a guy who is an ace hurler who operates on a horrific team and gets no support.  Add K/BB to your scoring system and make things even more realistic. 

8.  Q:  What big-name players should we be a bit wary of due to advancing age? 

A:  Age is the unavoidable factor that takes down every pitcher or hitter at some point.  The effects can start as soon as a player reaches the age of 30 and its likelihood increases each year that goes by.  Every season is littered with big-name players who fell off sharply due to getting up there in age and the negative effects on their value can be very tough to endure for his owners.  This season should be no different of course and with that in mind we have identified a few names to be wary of during your draft.  Be extra cautious around the following:  Adam Wainwright, Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Joe Mauer, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Matt Holliday. 

9.  Q:  Any catcher or shortstop sleepers who can help infuse the two shallowest positions on the diamond? 

A:  We are always on the lookout for fresh blood at these two spots and there are some newbie’s to be aware of at your draft who could supply some very solid value.  At catcher, you have a veteran comeback case in the Cleveland Indians’ Yan Gomes.  Gomes was a budding high-end catcher going into the 2015 season before an early six-week DL stint took him completely out of routine and had him out of sorts when he returned.  With 20-home run power and the ability to hit for average, Gomes is a solid comeback candidate.  As far as sleepers go, Miami’s J.T. Realmuto and Boston’s Blake Swihart have hinted at top ten ability and both should be squarely on your late round radar. 

As far as shortstop is concerned, we have a much tougher time identifying undervalued players.  While Corey Seager will be the one upstart everyone wants, Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals looks like a better value since his name brand is not as established as his Los Angeles Dodgers counterpart. 

10. Q:  How does the Fantasy Sports Boss attack a draft again? 

A:  Our tried-and-true methods remain bronzed and pretty much goes as follows:  by the end of Round 2, try your best to have a first baseman and a five-tool outfielder.  Avoid catchers until the late middle rounds and the same goes for closers.  Your first starting pitcher can be taken as late as Round 5 and eve as late as Round 6 given the massive depth among this group.  Do your best to have your middle infielders (second base/shortstop) yield a high number of your stolen base and runs allocation, while your corner infielders (first and third base) should supply you with a major portion of your team's power.  Finally your second outfielder should be a four-category guy (while trying to avoid poor batting averages) and your third either a power or speed specialist based on how your middle infield looks.  If you have more power guys and are lighter on steals in the middle infield (think Robinson Cano/Jhonny Peralta), look for speed in that third outfielder spot.  On the flip side, go with power for your outfielder 3 if your middle infield swipes a bunch of bags.  While not an exact science, this is how we have won countless leagues for ourselves and hopefully for all of you. 

 

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