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The theme of this article is cheap power. As more players than ever before start cracking 20 homers, fantasy owners can rely on legitimate power bats remaining available in the latter stages of their draft. Some owners believe that this allows them to wait on power, but the league-wide increase in home runs has also raised the bar to compete in the power categories.

A lot of the sluggers available later in drafts also have warts that can be tough to work around. Brandon Moss almost certainly hits 30 bombs in 2018 if he plays everyday, but he may not come close to doing so. Todd Frazier seems likely to play this coming season, but his new address could adversely affect his fantasy numbers.

Is either a good choice for your roster?

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Brandon Moss (Util, Oak)

Moss slashed an unimpressive .207/.279/.428 over 401 PAs last season, making his 22 bombs the full extent of his positive fantasy contributions. Given playing time, Moss is a good bet for a similar campaign in 2018.

Moss's airborne contact quality is nothing short of excellent. His 94.4 mph average airborne exit velocity was very strong, supported by both his 2016 (93.4 mph) and 2015 (94.4 mph) performances. Meanwhile, his 14.4% rate of Brls/BBE ranked 14th in the entire league last year, suggesting an ability to marry launch angle to his raw power. He was good in this regard in 2016 (13.4%) and 2015 (12%) as well, but last year set a new standard. He also pulled more of his fly balls (34.3%) relative to his career rate (26%).

Metrics like that support Moss's 21% HR/FB last year even if his career average is only 16.1%. Moss also doesn't rely solely on HR/FB to produce pop, as his 44.5% FB% is well above league average. Better yet, he cut down on his pop-ups significantly (8.3% in 2016, 4.8% last year), ensuring that the vast majority of his flies have a chance to leave the yard.

Unfortunately, this power potential is attached to a massive hit to your batting average. Moss strikes out way too frequently, posting a 31.9% K% completely supported by a 16% SwStr% last season. Last year's 29.9% chase rate was Moss's best mark since 2008, so the issue isn't pitch recognition. He just whiffs a lot.

Moss is also susceptible to the shift thanks to a 70.5% Pull% on ground balls. It contributed to a downright dismal .090 BABIP on ground balls that makes it virtually impossible for Moss to post an average BABIP. Even last year's overall BABIP of .248 was inflated by an elevated LD% (22.5% vs. 20.4%), though his BABIP on liners was slightly lower than usual (.680 vs. .711 career).

Roster Resource currently has Moss slated for backup duty because the team's other options are more complete hitters. Stephen Piscotty might still have upside the rebuilding A's want to tap into, and Matt Joyce is kind of a better version of Moss. Khris Davis is slated for regular duty at DH, and 1B Matt Olson looked phenomenal at the end of 2017. Moss is reportedly on the trade market, but there hasn't been much interest in flawed sluggers this offseason. His current role offers no fantasy value no matter how good his power indicators may be.

With only seven games in the outfield and 12 at first base, Moss could also be limited to Util-only depending on your league's rules. The power upside is very real, but there are enough obstacles to make using it in fantasy too challenging outside of extremely deep formats.

Verdict: Chump

 

Todd Frazier (3B, NYM)

At first glance, Frazier appears very comparable to Moss. His .213/.344/.428 triple slash line was meh, making his 27 long balls the only reason to roster him. He used to steal bases, but that part of his game collapsed last year (4-for-7 on SB attempts). Strangely, Statcast Sprint Speed suggests that Frazier got significantly faster last year (28.5 ft./sec vs. 26.2 ft./sec in 2016). It's up to you if you think the 32-year old will run as a Met.

Unlike Moss, Frazier's power indicators are more good than great. His 32.1% Pull% on fly balls (27.7% career) was outstanding, but his 93.5 average airborne exit velocity (93.9 mph in 2016) and 9.9% rate of Brls/BBE were more good than great. Frazier lofts a lot of his batted balls (47.5% FB% last year, 43.7% over his career), but so many of them qualify as pop-ups (18.5% IFFB% two years running) that he has fewer effective chances to hit a homer than Moss does.

Those pop-ups also make it virtually impossible for Frazier to hit for a reasonable batting average. A heavy fly ball profile hurts Frazier's BABIP potential, and all of the pop-ups (and resulting .063 BABIP on fly balls last year) drag it down further. He's allergic to line drives (18.4% LD% last year, 19.2% career), and has a high enough Pull% on ground balls (70.3%) to think that the shift is destined to rob him of hits as well.

This hasn't happened yet, as Frazier was shifted in only 114 of 327 opportunities last season. He also fared well against it, hitting .297 vs. the shift against .194 when it wasn't in play. Still, he pulls too many grounders to expect this trend to continue moving forward. He also lost a lot of ground ball exit velocity (83.1 mph) compared to 2016 (85.2 mph). Add it altogether, and his .226 overall BABIP may not get much better in 2018.

Frazier also appeared to make great strides in his plate discipline last season, but it was mostly a mirage. He managed to walk 14.4% of the time (8.9% career) by cutting his chase rate to 25% (32.5% career) last season, but his loss of aggressiveness at the plate (40.2% Swing%) makes him vulnerable to called third strikes. His 9.3% SwStr% was also better than his career rate (11.7%), but the improvement was entirely in a career-best O-Contact% (67.1%). Making consistent contact outside of the strike zone is generally a bad thing, especially with no corresponding improvement in Z-Contact% (81.9% in 2016, 82.2% last year).

That leaves Frazier as a one-trick pony, and Citi Field will actively hinder his one trick. Guaranteed Rate Field boosted right-handed power with a HR factor of 104 last season, and Yankee Stadium was even more beneficial (111). Citi Field had a HR factor of just 90 last year, creating a considerably more hostile environment for Frazier.

The net result is a guy with middling power numbers and no batting average. You should be in no hurry to add that to your fantasy roster.

Verdict: Chump

 

MoreĀ 2018 Player Outlooks





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