Welcome back RotoBallers, to my ongoing series of Champs or Chumbs. I take a look at different MLB players, and determine if they truly will be viable fantasy baseball assets in 2017.
Fantasy owners have a need for speed that blows the value of the stolen base way out of proportion relative to the real game. Now that Jarrod Dyson has been traded to Seattle, he may be able to provide it.
Ian Desmond signed for $70 million earlier in this offseason, but no one seems to know why. Let's take a closer look at both of these outfielders.
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
The Fantasy Jury is Out
Jarrod Dyson (OF, SEA)
Dyson has managed to steal 30 or more bases in four separate seasons despite never recording more than 337 PAs, making him a fantastic waiver add for owners seeking steals. It also warrants speculation on the kind of fantasy numbers he could put up with a full season of PAs. It is usually foolhardy to blindly prorate a partial season of performance and use the result as a projection, but Dyson's consistent SB production leads me to conclude that 50+ would almost be a given with regular playing time.
Lest you drop a Billy Hamilton comp on him, Dyson has a clue with the bat in his hands too. His .278/.340/.388 triple slash line last year was perfectly competent, and it came when he played more than ever before. He has no power at all, but an excellent 23.9% O-Swing% produced a solid 7.7% BB% anyway. He also rarely strikes out, as his 11.6% K% last year was supported by a minuscule 5.1% SwStr%. Add in his refusal to hit the ball in the air (24.1% FB% last year) and you get a guy who can make the most of his career .314 BABIP.
The elite speed and plus plate discipline could also see him hit at the top of the Seattle order, a position that would likely add runs scored to his steals and batting average. A three-category contributor who is elite at one of them is nothing to ignore on Draft Day. If nothing else, his elite glove should keep him in the lineup to rack up swipes. Seattle does not have too much OF depth to challenge him for playing time, either.
Truth be told, I said similar things last offseason when Kansas City appeared to have cleared a starting job for him. An injury in Spring Training led to more Paulo Orlando than anyone wanted and doomed Dyson to resume his fourth outfielder role. Now that Seattle has given something up for him, they should be more incentivized to use him than Kansas City was last year. You don't trade for him without planning to give him 500 PAs, right?
On the surface, Desmond's .285/.335/.446 line, 22 bombs, and 21 swipes seem well worth the price Colorado paid to acquire his services. There are a ton of red flags, however. He stopped hitting completely in the second half, posting a .237/.283/.347 line with seven homers that seems awfully similar to the .233/.290/.384 with 19 dingers he put up in 2015. He also relied heavily on his favorable home park in Arlington, producing just .241/.305/.398 on the road last year. Evidence suggests that Coors players underachieve more than expected when they leave altitude. What will that do to Desmond?
If you do not put much stock into splits, there a plenty of full season stats that argue against Desmond as well. His .350 BABIP, fueled by a LD% spike (20.6% vs. 18.2% career) and seeing eye singles (.293 BABIP on grounders vs. .276 career), seems unlikely to repeat. He also strikes out way too often (23.6% K%, 12.2% SwStr%), a problem that has plagued him throughout his career. The net result is a batting average liability, a phrase rarely used to describe a Coors player.
His power isn't trustworthy either, as his 26% FB% is simply too low to count on a lot of power out of him. Last year's pop was the result of a HR/FB spike (15.4% in 2015 to 18.2% last season) completely unsubstantiated by his approach at the plate. Most big flies are pulled, and Desmond actually pulled fewer of his fly balls (13.2%) last year than his career rate (19.2%).
A Desmond that does not hit for average or power is not worth playing, especially at 1B where he currently projects. The Rockies have an excellent outfield of David Dahl, Charlie Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez, so they do not need Desmond's athleticism out there. His SS history is also a non-issue with Trevor Story's 2016. It is not hard to see Desmond as a more expensive Alexi Amarista, a utility player whose home park is the only reason to consider him in fantasy. Desmond should not even be drafted in shallow formats.
Check out RotoBaller's entire 2017 fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and sleepers list, updated daily!