Here we are, smack dab in the middle of the worst time of the year. Football season is over, baseball season hasn’t begun yet. All we’re left with is an ailing hockey team and a basketball team that, well, stinks. I choose to look ahead to the coming baseball season and with it, the return of America’s pastime, fantasy baseball. Well, my favorite pastime anyway. With all of the changes to the Sox roster this offseason, it can be hard to know who to draft and when. This two part series will deal first with the hitters, and then with the pitchers currently on the Sox roster. It uses a 12 team points league as a model, but the principles apply to roto leagues and leagues with more or less teams. Agree? Disagree? Talk it up in the comments section below.
C-Christian Vazquez is a placeholder until Blake Swihart arrives. Everyone knows this, including Christian Vazquez. He's currently undrafted and that's where he should stay. Defensively he's good, but that doesn't help your fantasy team. Doesn't hit for power, doesn't hit for average, doesn't hit hardly at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Where I’d take him: I wouldn’t.
1B- Mike Napoli is currently going dead last in the 22nd round of 12 team leagues at the deepest position in baseball. That tells you all you need to know. Napoli should not be drafted in any format, unless that format has a crazy deep bench and doesn't penalize you for strikeouts. Napoli is a spent talent and was always streaky, even when he was relevant. I think you'll be able to find better guys on the waiver wire immediately following the draft. Stay away.
ADP: 22nd round
Where I’d take him: I wouldn’t
2B-Dustin Pedroia is a perennially overrated player. I'm not saying he's not a good player, I'm just not taking him at his current ADP. He's currently the sixth 2b off the board. Here's a list of 2B ranked lower than him that I'd rather have, all things being equal: Kinsler, Dosier, Zobrist, Murphy, Walker, Harrison. That's a lot of people.
Pedroia's numbers have been declining for years. He's a fan favorite and a former MVP, but I'm not interested in paying for past performance on draft day. Going in the 9th round of 12 team leagues, I'll pass. I'd much rather draft Shields, Teheran or Gattis in that round and then take Murphy in the 11th or Walker in the 13th as their ADP suggests. I'm not saying he's not a viable option, but the circumstances that would make me draft him are unlikely to happen in this dimension.
ADP: 8th round
Where I’d take him: 12th round
SS-Xander Bogaerts is an interesting choice. SS is a weird position in fantasy. There are 5 players between 10 and 36 overall. Then there's no one until a cluster of 6 players between 109 and 121. Bogaerts falls right into his second tier as the 8th and 113th player overall. That's about midway through the 10th round of 12 team leagues. I'd take him a bit earlier but not too much.
Maybe I’m naïve, but I think he’s more at the bottom of the first tier of shortstops as opposed to the top of the second. Remember in 2013 when he was drawing comparisons to Hanley Ramirez? That guy didn't miraculously disappear, though I'm not sure he completely resurfaces this year. I personally think that his 2015 will be closer to his 2013 than his 2014. I think the position change will help. There are several ss I like better than him, but once Hanram, Tulo, Castro and Alexei are gone, I think he and Reyes are a head and shoulders above the rest of the class, including Ian Desmond. Draft away.
ADP: 10th round
Where I’d take him: 9th round (maybe earlier in dynasty)
3B-Pablo Sandoval is currently going at 105 overall and the 14th 3B off the board. This is largely due to the depth of the position. Guys like Miggy and Santana qualify even though they don't actually play there. I still think Sandoval should be higher. I'm definitely taking him ahead of Machado and Wright. I'm probably taking him above Fraizer too. "But wait!" you exclaim, "he's quite portly!" Who cares? So are David Ortiz , Prince Fielder, and a host of other guys going well before the panda. So he won't steal bases. I'm not overly concerned as long as he maintains his power numbers. He's going at the end of the 9th, but I might grab him a round earlier.
ADP: 9th round
Where I’d take him: 8th round
Until someone can make sense of the outfield, I'm going under the assumption that it's Ramirez, Betts, Castillo as the official depth chart currently shows. Outfield:
LF-Hanley Ramirez is currently going 22 overall. Personally, I think he's worth drafting as a SS at that number. I wouldn't want him as my left fielder because I think better value can be found later in the draft at LF than SS (I.e. Melky Cabrera, who actually averaged .5 points per game higher in standard H2H leagues, ADP of 127). If he's SS eligible in our league, go for it. If not, I'd look elsewhere as a good LF is waaaaaaay easier to replace than some other positions.
ADP: 2nd round
Where I’d take him: 2nd round for SS, not at all for LF
CF-Mookie Betts is going stupidly high in standard drafts right now. I get the appeal, he’s young and heralded, but frankly, I’m not sold. There’s no way on this Earth I’m taking him at his current ADP (101 overall). It’s like no one gets the situation with this guy. First off, he hasn‘t locked up a starting gig. If a surefire spot opens up, sure, grab him. But presently, he’s got a decent chance of riding the pine or staying fresh in Pawtucket. No. Not only that, but who was the last Sox rookie to come up and not disappoint? Here’s a few of their latest projects: The aforementioned Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Anthony Renaudo, Brandon Workman, Daniel Bard. The Red Sox are prospect killers. For whatever reason, they just can’t help players make the transition right away. Some players eventually figure it out. Others don’t. I’m not trusting a Red Sox rookie for a very long time.
ADP: 9th round
Where I’d take him: 14th round if he starts, undrafted if he doesn’t. (except in dynasty)
RF-Rousney Castillo has drawn comparisons to Jose Abreu. Personally, I think this has more to do with them being Cuban than anything on the field. Don't get me wrong, I like Castillo a lot. In his stint with the big club last year, he put up some crazy numbers. If he can do that for a whole season, he'll be the biggest steal of the draft sitting there in the tenth or eleventh round. However, I think he's ranked appropriately based on his risk/reward assessment. Could be a total bust, could be the next big thing. Your league is won or lost in the middle rounds of the draft, and I'd say he's a piece that has enough upside to help push you over the top. Grab him if you can, but don't reach.
Where I’d take him: 11th
DH-David Ortiz continues to defy the aging process and his numbers have been rewarding the fantasy faithful for years. When I saw that his ADP was 66, I laughed. I do not want him that high. Then I looked at who was behind him at DH. Nelson Cruz, viable option. Joe Mauer, that’s not better than Ortiz. Chris Carter, who’s that again…….oh right. No. Brandon Moss, Alex Rios, Shin-Soo Choo, Coco Crisp, Carlos Beltran………You get the idea. If you don’t have a DH by the time you get to Ortiz, you have three options: take Ortiz, take Cruz, or survive the year with Billy Butler in tow. Yuck. DH is not especially deep this year.
ADP: 6th round
Where I’d take him: 6th round
Utility- Allen Craig has been one of my favorite fantasy players for years. Last year he played hurt and it killed his numbers. Which is exactly why I hope he lands a starting gig this year, with the Sox or without. He has good eligibility (1B, LF, RF) and if you throw out last year, his numbers are definitely worthy of a fantasy roster. People were scared away because f last year and his ADP right now is 229 overall. That’s also likely due to his undecided playing time. One thing I’ll tell you: if this guy gets a starting job, run-don’t walk-to pick him up. His draft stock will rise considerably. If he’s starting, I’d put him in front of 1B like Belt, Moss, Carter and Hosmer. Not that he’ll be drafted there, but I want him more than I want those guys. I’d put him in the 120 overall range, with the potential to be a top 20 at his position by the end of the year. If he doesn’t start, I probably won’t stash him but I’ll keep an eye on him for sure.
ADP: 20th round
Where I’d take him: 12th round if he starts, waiver add if he doesn’t
Shane Victorino is a guy I really like in real life. In fantasy, not so much. He's currency going in the 13th/14th round of 12 team leagues. By that time, you should already have a RF or two on your team, seeing as he's the 27th ranked RF. If you don't have a RF by then, this guy isn't going to save your team, even if he starts. You should be rounding out your pitching staff or drafting your bench by then. The guys on my bench need to have utility, upside, or both. Victorino has neither. What he does have is injury risk and one or two guys breathing down his neck for a job. If you get there and need a RF, try Beltran, Cuddyer, or take a chance on Tomas. They're all going after him and will all serve you better.
Where I’d take him: I wouldn’t
Brock Holt may the exception to what I said above about the Sox being prospect killers of late. He threw the baseball world a curveball last year coming from absolutely nowhere to dominate at the plate at practically every position on the field. This is a classic example of a guy who’s invaluable in the big leagues and un-valuable to a fantasy league. If he gets traded and lands a starting role, keep and eye on him. It seems more likely, though, that the Sox will continue to use him as a pinch hitter and to spell over-tired position players. Buy the jersey, but don’t draft the player.
Where I’d take him: I wouldn’t
Jackie Bradley Jr……..Hahahahaha. No, I’m just kidding.
Part 2 with the pitchers coming soon! Follow me on Twitter @Daneriker for the latest updates.