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We continue our series of articles debating the overall ranking of some of the most fantasy-relevant players of the 2018 baseball season with a player who set the world on fire in 2017. New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is an early pick sure to garner a lot of attention after his N.L. MVP season with Miami and offseason trade to the Big Apple.

RotoBaller's expert writers have come up with our consensus rankings for mixed leagues, but that doesn't mean we agreed on everything. In this space, we'll hear from rankers with the biggest differences of opinion on a well-known player and have them defend their position against each other.

We press on with one of 2017's top storylines, New York Yankees OF stud Giancarlo Stanton. Nick Mariano will defend his position that Stanton is a top-5 pick, while Kyle Bishop holds that he doesn't belong in the top 20. Let's get ready to rumble!

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2018 Draft Rankings Debate - Giancarlo Stanton

Rank Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Pierre Jeff Harris Bill
13 2 Giancarlo Stanton OF 23 5 16 13 11 6

 

Nick Mariano's Ranking: #5 overall

So, a guy who just turned 28 and is practically a meme for homers, leads the Major Leagues with 59 homers, wins the National League MVP, and then gets traded to one of the most power-friendly ballparks and there’s talk of pushing him outside of the top 20? That’s right, Giancarlo Stanton, the likely three-hole hitter in one of baseball’s most powerful lineups and sandbox-iest stadiums is the victim of disrespect!

Healthy as a Horse

As we said, Stanton is just 28 years old and he just proved that he can play a full season. His 692 plate appearances led to that dastardly 1.007 OPS and downright hilarious .350 ISO, but the ex-Miami masher has been unfairly painted as fragile and that now leads to a draft-day discount for many of you.

I’ll grant the early knee, abdomen, shoulder, thigh and ankle injuries from 2012-13 as eyebrow-raising, but the HBP in ‘14 was obviously freakish and the hamate bone in ‘15 has no bearing on the future. Once it breaks, it’s removed (to my knowledge). His groin strain in ‘16 was concerning, but a healthy ‘17 is enough for me to greenlight him. I have to assume this is what really separates him from Nolan Arenado, a top-10 player that also doesn’t steal.

Non-Violent Power

Stanton has made a name for himself by working for NASA in the Extraterrestrial Contact Division alongside being a baseball player, as sending those poor balls beyond orbit came easy thanks to a 99.7 MPH average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. That mark was second only to now-teammate Aaron Judge (99.9 MPH) on guys with at least 50 batted-ball events. And Stanton kept this up while lowering his strikeout rate.

In an era where the homers fly and the K’s don’t matter (as much), Big G went from a 29.8% K rate to 23.6%. His swinging-strike rate went from 15.2% down to 12.5%. We don’t like changes without causation, but Stanton closing his batting stance looks to check that box. His 27.4% O-Swing rate was the lowest of his career, so he’s not letting pitchers off easy either.

But Muh Bags!

Stanton stole 13 bases in 2014 but has only tallied a combined six swipes in his three seasons since and there’s no reason to expect those to return. Some folks just won’t rank a guy as high if he can’t provide returns in one-of-five categories, which is a fair stance in most cases. Folks may also worry about his batting average, but his .288 BABIP last season was more than reasonable and if he goes 125-50-125-0-.270 then he’ll be worth the return. According to Fangraphs’ auction calculator, he was the second-most valuable bat last year behind Charlie Blackmon. Dude don’t need any wheels.

Conclusion

Giancarlo Stanton is capable of being a top-five fantasy player in 2018 thanks to being in an offense that should toward the top of the runs scored leaderboard, moving his home park from one that curtailed right-handed homers by 22% compared to a 32% boost from Yankee Stadium (per Baseball Monster) and riding his smooth swing to yet another beastly performance. The health gamble is not as risky as the general perception seems to be, and the upside demands a high pick.

 

Kyle Bishop's Ranking: #23 overall

Y’all got some short memories.

Stanton’s 2017 performance is unimpeachable. He became one of just six players in MLB history to hit at least 59 home runs and put up the gaudy run production you’d expect from that number. Nick did a fine job singing the man’s praises above. I can’t argue with any of these facts, because I am not a crazy person.

But one transcendent season doesn’t make me forget how often Stanton has failed to deliver for fantasy owners. I’m currently doing some preliminary work with the last several seasons’ worth of ADP data - expect some articles built around this data during spring training - and one of the things I’m looking to learn more about is whether particular players (or player types) are typically over- or undervalued in drafts. I used Jeff Zimmerman’s ADP to auction values formula to determine the expected value of Stanton’s ADP and the FanGraphs auction calculator to derive end of season value. Here’s how an investment in Stanton performed over the past five seasons:

Season ADP Expected Value Actual Value ROI
2013 14.5 $29.27 $6.40 ($22.87)
2014 28.8 $23.03 $40.70 $17.67
2015 3.7 $41.70 $6.70 ($35.00)
2016 8.2 $34.46 $5.10 ($29.36)
2017 38.3 $21.00 $56.20 $35.20
Average 18.7 $29.89 $23.02 ($6.87)


Even granting that a couple of the health maladies in Stanton’s history were fluky, there are also a lot of soft tissue injuries sprinkled in there. Before last year, he’d played in more than 130 games just twice in seven seasons. We shouldn’t just hand-wave that away. But let’s say for the sake of argument that, like Nick, you’re convinced he can avoid the disabled list and play 150 games again in 2018. Going back to 2003, there have been just seven 50 HR seasons, excluding Stanton and Aaron Judge last year. The average total for those players declined from 53 to 37 the following season. In a neat bit of coincidence, 37 homers was Stanton’s career high before 2017. Point being, it’s extremely difficult to hit 50 home runs. Most of the game’s best hitters haven’t done it; only a few have managed to do it even once.

It’s tempting to mentally assign Stanton a boost in homers or run production simply because he’s moving to Yankee Stadium and plying his trade in a great lineup. But the park likely won’t be the sort of boon one might expect, and he already led the league in R+RBI batting in a Marlins lineup whose best hitters were comparable to the Yankees’ group. There really isn’t room for improvement here.

My ranking, low as it is in comparison to both my colleague’s and the general consensus (ADP: 9), is still inside the second round at a time when MLB has more elite talent than ever before and a run environment that is what one may be so bold as to call “friendly.” But in the first round, I want as little risk as possible, and Stanton doesn’t fit the bill.

 

More 2018 MLB Ranking Debate Articles