A fair amount of fantasy analysis consists of figuring out what to do with younger players. It is relatively easy to project veterans with established track records, and most owners know to avoid inexplicable flukes like Sandy Leon's 2016 campaign. Interpreting whether younger guys will improve, remain consistent, or move backwards is often where fantasy titles are won.
Below are two younger players who enticed owners last season. Nick Castellanos finally put together a solid season in Detroit, while Alex Bregman made a strong debut that could be the beginning of big things in Houston.
Should fantasy owners be looking to invest in these guys?Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
The Fantasy Jury is Out
Nick Castellanos (3B, DET) ADP: 245.8
Castellanos put his mediocre past behind him to post a .285/.331/.496 line with 18 dingers in 447 PAs last season. The 25-year old's success was fueled by a high BABIP (.345) and a career best HR/FB (13.7 percent), leading many owners to treat him as an afterthought on Draft Day.
His .281 BABIP on ground balls seems out of place against a .227 career mark. Castellanos has a plus career BABIP (.329) though, so regression shouldn't be too bad. His career 25.5 percent LD% suggests that his 25.6 percent mark last year may not be due for a significant regression. He is also allergic to pop-ups, posting an IFFB% of 2.3 percent, which is actually in keeping with his career history. He might be a .275 hitter instead of .285, but his batting average should help a little in fantasy.
Castellanos's power also seems stable. His HR/FB spike (to 13.7% from a career rate of 9.9%) was probably the result of whatever caused the league-wide power surge, but Castellanos still figures to hit a bunch of homers thanks to a FB% of 43 percent. His 12.8 percent rate of Barrels per Batted Ball Event is also a positive power indicator, making 20 bombs over a full campaign a real possibility even if the HR/FB regresses.
Detroit generally bats Castellanos fifth, making him the beneficiary of counting stat opportunities created by the team's elite sluggers. He strikes out too much (24.8 percent K%), but started swinging much more aggressively last season (49.7 percent Swing% in 2015 up to 54 percent last year) in an effort to end PAs before he can strike out. While his current ADP suggests that everyone is forecasting a massive regression, Castellanos has a reasonable floor with power upside. He should easily be in the top 200.
Alex Bregman (3B, HOU) ADP: 86.3
Bregman's slow start in 2016 caused some to stop paying attention, but his final numbers (.264/.313/.496 with eight homers in 217 PAs) were solid. Bregman will hit second in a potent Houston lineup, giving him plenty of opportunities to rack up counting stats. Owners are buying in, taking him well within the first 100 picks. Although, that might be too aggressive.
Bregman's batting average was only passable last year despite a .317 BABIP, creating some batting average risk. It is extremely unlikely that he will repeat his 28.2 percent LD%. He also hits a ton of flies (43 percent FB%) and pops up a lot (12.5 percent IFFB%). Bregman may offset some of the expected regression by improving his performance on ground balls (.209 BABIP despite beating the shift) and striking out less often (24 percent K% despite a 11.8 percent SwStr% and 27.2 O-Swing%), but there is plenty of potential risk with his batting average.
Bregman's power upside may help ease the pain too. The second year infielder smashed 28 homers in 585 PAs across three levels last year, suggesting that his power is real. He hits a ton of fly balls, and pulls a good portion of them (26.6 percent). Considering his home ballpark, his 12.5 percent HR/FB could also have room to grow. Still, there are a lot of if's and maybe's in making Bregman a 30+ HR threat.
It is hard for me to classify Bregman. I want to like him as a sleeper, but his price suggests that he is not sleeping. I think the batting average risk is too real, and the power not tangible enough, to pay his current cost.