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Our friends at FantasyPros have started offering composite Average Draft Position (ADP) data from the earliest 2018 drafts. Currently, data is only available from FanTrax and NFBC, but other popular platforms such as Yahoo!, RTSports, and CBS will be added as it becomes available.

ADP is influenced by the host site's default rankings, so composite ADP data provides the best indication of the community's take on any given player. It's still early, so ADP could change dramatically between now and March.

This is not going to stop us from taking a peek at how owners are valuing certain players, however. Let's start with two rookies slated for significant PAs in 2018: Willie Calhoun and Ronald Acuna.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Willie Calhoun (OF, TEX) ADP: 229

Calhoun surfaced briefly at the MLB level last season, hitting his first home run with a solid .265/.324/.353 in 37 PAs. The sample was ridiculously small though, so we need minor league data to determine how he figures to fare in his first extended action in the Show.

Calhoun spent the 2017 season at Triple-A, recording 414 PAs with the Dodgers affiliate and another 120 in the Texas system. As a Dodger farmhand, he slashed .298/.357/.574 with 23 dingers. He slashed .310/.345/.566 with eight big flies as Rangers property. That adds up to 31 HR, power potential that fantasy owners are always looking for.

His plate discipline looked awesome on the farm, as he compiled an 8.7% BB% to go with an excellent 11.8% K% in the larger sample. His BB% declined to 5% in the Rangers organization, but so did his K% (10%). Plate discipline is usually a strong indication of who will succeed immediately at the highest level, so Calhoun could be set up for success.

Calhoun's 44.5% FB% as LA property also suggests that he understands the value of airborne batted balls. It fell to 39.1% with the Rangers, but that's still pretty good. His raw power was not exceptional (15.9% HR/FB with LAD, 17.4% with TEX), but a high FB%, low K%, and favorable home park could make Calhoun an immediate threat to crack 30 long balls for fantasy owners.

Unfortunately, Calhoun profiles as a low BABIP guy. His fly ball profile hurts his BABIP potential, and he exasperates the problem with a ton of pop-ups. His 30.3% IFFB% as a Dodgers farmhand was actually dwarfed by a 37% rate after joining the Texas organization. It's not as bad as it sounds, as IFFB% is calculated differently in the minors. Taking this into consideration, Calhouns's MLB IFFB% figures to be roughly 16%--more than enough to sink his BABIP with all of the flies he hits.

Calhoun is also allergic to liners (15% LD% with LAD, 14.3% after joining TEX) and a slow baserunner (30-grade on the 20-80 scale according to FanGraphs.com), hurting his BABIP potential further. However, this does not mean that he is destined to hurt your average in fantasy.

Calhoun had a .242 BABIP over a full season (560 PAs) at Double-A in 2016. He popped out too much (34.9% IFFB%), hit a ton of fly balls (46.9% FB%), and posted a LD% below the league average (19.5%). These same warts are likely to be exploited by MLB hurlers, but Calhoun still slashed .254/.318/.469 that season.

He did it by refusing to K (11.6% K%) while earning his fair share of walks (8% BB%). The 27 long balls he hit boosted his batting average without impacting his BABIP as well. Calhoun probably won't be a batting average asset at first, but .255 is enough to keep his head above water in today's game.

ADP also suggests that Calhoun can be a purely speculative selection. If he struggles more than this column anticipates, you can just drop him for the waiver wire's flavor of the week and move on. His upside could produce a significant profit, and he doesn't cost enough to saddle you with real downside. It is worth noting that he's considerably cheaper in NFBC (266 ADP) than FanTrax (192).

Calhoun is defensively challenged, but a short-lived experiment at 2B could give him eligibility there in some formats. Shin-Soo Choo is an injury waiting to happen, so Calhoun should play even if his glove proves unplayable. Why not roll the dice on him?

Verdict: Champ

 

Ronald Acuna (OF, ATL) ADP: 120.5

Fantasy owners are much more interested in the 20-year old Acuna than they are the 23-year old Calhoun, and it's easy to see why. He cracked 21 HR and swiped 44 bases across three levels last year, posting a strong batting average at every stop. Those numbers point to the raw talent Acuna possesses, but they mask several indications that he's not quite ready for the big time.

Let's start with his speed. His 44 SB came with 20 CS, suggesting that Acuna was running with reckless abandon to put up impressive SB totals. The resulting 69% success rate won't fly with the Braves, especially since stealing bases is considerably harder in the Show.

Next, let's evaluate Acuna's 2017 campaign stop by stop. He started at High-A, where he slashed .287/.336/.478 with three dingers in 126 PAs. He struck out at an unacceptable rate (31.7%), especially since his power didn't manifest at all. A .411 BABIP made his batting average look okay, but he hit too many fly balls (43.2% FB%) and not enough line drives (18.6%) to approach that figure in Atlanta.

Acuna's LD% jumped to 25.2% over 243 PAs at Double-A, where he slashed .326/.374/.520 with nine homers on the back of a .396 BABIP. The elevated LD% is unlikely to be sustainable, and his FB% declined to 36.2% against more advanced pitching. He still struck out a lot too (23% K%), but somehow improved dramatically against the superior competition.

Finally, Acuna concluded his 2017 campaign with 243 PAs at Triple-A. He slashed .344/.393/.548 with nine dingers thanks to a .404 BABIP. His LD% was elevated again (26%), and his FB% (30.2%) declined to the point that it's hard to project much power from him at first. His 19.8% K% was very strong, but the trend of lower K% figures against better pitchers is unlikely to continue at the highest level.

The 243 PAs Acuna recorded at Double-A and Triple-A last year are the most he's ever had at a professional stop, so pitchers have never had a chance to adjust to him. This means that Acuna has never needed to adjust back, giving us no indication of how he might handle failure.

The Braves also seem likely to play service time games with Acuna in 2018, ensuring that they control him for an additional season. With an ADP of 120.5, Acuna has to reach either his power or speed upside over nearly a full season just to break even. He's too raw and too likely to be held in the minor leagues to make that a good bet.

Verdict: Chump

 

MoreĀ 2018 Player Outlooks





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