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Our friends at FantasyPros have added ESPN and CBS to their composite ADP rankings, drawing from a total of six sources (those two plus Yahoo!, Fantrax, NFBC, and RT Sports). The vast majority of you probably use at least one of those services, making the compiled ADP data a fairly reliable predictor of what might happen in your drafts.

A quick peek at the data reveals that the fantasy community LOVES Alex Bregman this year. His ADP of 40.2 means that he rarely lasts beyond the fourth round despite a relatively lacking resume. His surface stats weren't that special last year, and advanced metrics like him even less. Honestly, you can probably get similar production from Tampa Bay's Kevin Kiermaier for a fraction of the cost.

That's a pretty bold statement, so take a look at the numbers to back it up.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, TB) ADP: 176.5

Kiermaier was limited to 421 PAs last year due to a fractured hip, but he contributed in all five fantasy categories when healthy: .276/.338/.450 with 15 HR and 16 SB while hitting first or second in the lineup. A lot of Kiermaier's underlying statistics moved in the wrong direction last year, but injury woes are probably at least partially responsible.

Let's start with his speed. Kiermaier had seven CS to go with his 16 swipes last year for a less than ideal 70% success rate. Kiermaier's Statcast Sprint Speed was high (28.9 ft./sec, 23rd in MLB), but represented a significant downturn from both 2016 (29.3 ft./sec, ninth) and 2015 (29.5, seventh). Many fantasy owners may not realize that Kiermaier has elite wheels, giving him considerable SB upside if he attempts more steals.

Kiermaier's power projection is not quite as rosy, as last year's 16.7% HR/FB was not supported by his career rate (11.9%), average airborne exit velocity (91.5 mph), rate of Brls/BBE (5.2%), or Pull% on fly balls (18.9% vs. career 23.4%). His FB% (32.1%) also cratered relative to 2016 (37.6%), but he may have actually hit more fly balls.

Kiermaier's career FB% is 32.2%, making 2016 the clear outlier in his profile. He's always had a pop-up problem (16.2% career IFFB%), but the swing change that took Kiermaier's FB% higher also took his IFFB% into the stratosphere (25%). Kiermaier hit fewer flies last year, but he trimmed his IFFB% considerably (12.2%). The result was more fly balls with some chance of leaving the yard even as his raw FB% declined.

That said, Kiermaier still doesn't have the volume of fly balls expected of true sluggers. 15-20 dingers is probably his upper limit barring a dramatic change in approach, so he should be drafted as a speed guy who won't kill you in the power categories rather than a legitimate slugger.

Batting average dictates any speedy player's SB opportunities and ultimate fantasy value, so you may be concerned by Kiermaier's .337 BABIP last year against a career mark of .306. His grounders were ridiculous last season (.353 BABIP vs. .282 career) despite losing exit velocity (82.6 mph vs. 86.7 in 2016, 85.6 in 2015). Regression is likely, but a .282 BABIP on ground balls is still high enough to sustain a plus BABIP. Kiermaier is also completely shift-proof (.353 vs. shift), so his raw athleticism should continue helping him get hits.

Several of Kiermaier's indicators are also in line for positive regression, offsetting some of the damage caused by less productive ground balls. Last year's 18.2% LD% fell well short of his career 20% mark, so more liners are likely in Kiermaier's future. Cutting down on both fly balls and pop-ups would also have a favorable impact on Kiermaier's BABIP if the trends cited above prove permanent.

Finally, we come to plate discipline. Kiermaier struck out more often last year (23.5% K%) than he has over his career (19.6%), a change supported by his SwStr% (11.8% vs. 10.1% career). However, much of the SwStr% spike came on pitches outside of the zone (61.1% O-Contact% last year, 66.9% career). Hitting these pitches often produces pop-ups, so whiffing at them might be better for Kiermaier. His 30.7% chase rate was roughly league average.

Kiermaier's elite glove ensures that he stays in the lineup as long as he's healthy, and he's probably the team's face now that Evan Longoria has moved on. There is some risk in giving the 28-year old a mulligan on his advanced indicators last season, but it's more than built into his current price.

Verdict: Champ

 

Alex Bregman (SS/3B, HOU) ADP: 40.2

Bregman's final 2017 line looks a lot like Kiermaier's (.284/.352/.475 with 19 HR, 17 SB), but he needed a whole season to do it (626 PAs). The steals came out of nowhere, as Bregman only pilfered nine bags in 13 attempts across 585 total PAs in 2016. Statcast Sprint Speed (27.5 ft./sec) ranked Bregman only slightly above average in foot speed, so he probably shouldn't be counted on to match last year's SB totals, much less exceed them.

Bregman's minor league history supports power growth (28 HR across three levels in 2016), but his Statcast metrics suggest that nothing is imminent. His average airborne exit velocity (91.7 mph) was roughly the same as Kiermaier's, while his rate of Brls/BBE (4.7%) was lower. He hits a lot of fly balls (39.9% FB%), but a high number of them were pop-ups last season (16.7% IFFB%). He pulled a fair number of flies (24.7% last year), but that number alone is unlikely to produce enough homers to justify his current cost.

Bregman's .311 BABIP doesn't seem too egregious on the surface, but remember that this is a fly ball guy with a lot of pop-ups in his profile. Last season's .155 BABIP on fly balls could well be a mirage considering his underwhelming contact authority, significantly dampening his BABIP prospects. Bregman's 60.9% Pull% on ground balls also means that opposing teams will probably try shifting him this year, with results to be determined.

Unlike Kiermaier, Bregman offers elite plate discipline. He posted a 25.8% chase rate, 6.4% SwStr%, 8.8% BB%, 15.5% K%, and 90.5% Z-Contact% in 2017 at age 23. These metrics give Bregman the upside of a .300+ batting average in 2018, though he'll probably need to solve his pop-up problems to reach this potential.

Houston's offense is better than Tampa Bay's, but it's so deep that Bregman could be relegated to the periphery of the team's lineup. It's generally better to have a favorable lineup slot in a weaker offense than to hit seventh on an elite squad, and Bregman started at least a game at all nine batting order spots last year. This versatility could end up hurting his fantasy owners.

Bregman's backers are likely banking on his stellar second half (.315/.367/.530 with 11 HR) becoming the expectation moving forward, but that almost never works out. His pedestrian first half (.256/.338/.419 with eight homers) happened too! Splitting the difference between Bregman's two halves is much better than blindly trusting either one.

To conclude, neither Keirmaier or Bregman should be expected to hit 25 HR in 2018. Kiermaier's elite wheels give him a clear advantage in SBs, but Bregman's excellent plate discipline gives him an edge in batting average. Kiermaier's prominent role in Tampa's lineup should give him more counting stats per PA, but Bregman probably has a better shot to stay healthy all year. Bregman qualifies at two infield positions, while Kiermaier is an outfielder. Picking between them is like splitting hairs, and yet 130 picks separate them in ADP. That means that Bregman is ridiculously overrated.

Verdict: Chump

 

More 2018 Player Outlooks





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