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Did We Sell Arizona's Offense Short?


Humidor hysteria. That's an appropriate term for the wave of panic that set into some fantasy owners once news of Arizona's plan to temper the baseball hit the mainstream media. We saw the numbers, heard the theories, and recalled how Colorado stopped being such a hitter's haven once they installed their humidor.

Wait, what? If that doesn't sound quite right, then you've caught on to the fact that some fantasy owners may have altered their strategies based on misleading information. Don't think it affected fantasy drafts? It sure did, with some big names seeing a drop in ADP in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.

Arizona's offense has looked just fine so far, cranking out eight runs in their first home tilt, nine in the second, and another 15 in the next three games combined. That makes a total of 32 runs in five games, good for an average of 6.4. Who doesn't love analyzing tiny sample sizes? After one week of play, let's see if we should have any post-draft remorse for Diamondbacks we faded or outright avoided for no good reason.

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Not Dried-Up Just Yet

Concerns over the humidor were widespread and very real. The gist of the humidor theory is that offense will generally go down, specifically in terms of home runs. Our own Chris Zolli did an extensive analysis on this weeks ago as part of our 2018 MLB Draft Guide. Colorado installed theirs back in 2002 and it did the job, at least initially. The Rockies saw a drop of 61 homers and almost a full run per game between 2001 and 2002 (5.69 down to 4.80). They've never quite reached the same level of pre-humidor offense since, but they also aren't too far off these days (5.08 runs per game in 2017, 5.21 in 2016). In fact, over the last four years, the Rockies have averaged practically the same number of home runs per season (195) as they did in the four years preceding installation of the humidor (192).

Without getting too deep into the history of the Rockies early 2000s rosters, let's just say it wasn't the humidor alone to blame for that immediate decline in offense in the '02 season. Their main slugger, Larry Walker, was already 35 years old and his numbers dropped in a huge way for two straight years before he became a bench player in the 2004 season. We still saw players like Jeromy Burnitz put up a .283/37/110 season and Jay Payton hit .302/28/89 post-humidor. Todd Helton never reached the RBI Baseball-like numbers from before, but we can safely say he went on to have a pretty good career.

The Diamondbacks have a pair of sluggers that are likely to be just as productive as those Rockies players from the past. There was never a 49-HR season for Goldschmidt to begin with, and much of his value is tied into steals, so if anything should be a concern, it's his wheels starting to come off now that he's on the wrong side of 30. That was enough for me to bump into the latter portion of the first round in my personal rankings, but it has nothing to do with his home stadium and more to do with a category-specific concern. Jake Lamb is one homer shy of putting up consecutive 30-90 seasons. Players like Steven Souza, when he returns from the disabled list in May, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta all have clear fantasy value. Yet, their ADP saw a tangible drop shortly after the humidor was officially announced. Could fantasy owners have made a mistake by letting them pass?

 

How Low Did They Go?

Here's a quick look at overall ADP data (taken from NFBC drafts) for Arizona's main offensive players:

Player Jan 1-Feb 15 Mar 1-28
Paul Goldschmidt #3 #7
AJ Pollock #42 #47
Jake Lamb #74 #90
David Peralta #150 #165

It's not as if Goldy dropped out of the first round, but with no injuries or severe spring struggles, it's not as if there were any other reason for him to drop at all, even a couple of spots. Lamb dropped a full round lower and I was able to secure him in one auction league for the low price of $5 and for $7 in another. Peralta would seem to be affected less, since he has a career total of 44 home runs and has never hit more than 17 HR in a season, yet his ADP plunged by 15 spots in the month before Opening Day.

Steven Souza isn't listed for the obvious reason that he started the year on the DL and won't be back for another month or so, but I have the feeling fantasy owners won't scramble to pick him up once activated.

 

Your 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks

The Desert Snakes currently have five position players hitting over .300 and eight who are at .278 or higher. They've had five different players go deep in Chase Field, neither of whom are named Lamb or Goldschmidt. In fact, Goldy is off to a miserable start, with just one hit in 14 at-bats. THE HUMIDOR EFFECT IS REAL!!! Try telling that to Nick Ahmed, whose among the league leaders with seven RBI already.

Unfortunately for the team, it hasn't helped their pitching staff either. Robbie Ray, a top-50 overall pick in most leagues, served up three gopher balls in his first outing and the staff had allowed nine HR in its first five games, fourth-most in the bigs thus far. So much for those lower ratios.

While the pitching staff should be just fine, expecting much better value than previous years would be a mistake. If there is one pitcher who is undervalued, it's Patrick Corbin, who was dominant on Wednesday night with 12 K and has been a forgotten man in that rotation.

There is virtually no chance you'll convince a Goldy owner to sell him for a reasonable price simply because of a mini-slump, but Lamb is another story. His already depreciated price along with an early injury could provide the optimal time to buy low. There's a chance that the Lamb owner in your league was a bit skeptical when taking him, but it doesn't hurt to send an offer his way and find out.

The most intriguing name here is Steven Souza. If he's sitting on the waiver wire in your league, consider stashing him in an empty DL spot, if you have one. He smacked 30 homers and stole 16 bases last season with Tampa Bay, his third full Major League season. His power won't be suppressed by a moist baseball and the D-backs averaged the eighth-most stolen base attempts per game in 2017.

If you have any post-draft remorse about undervaluing Arizona batters, just to see them cross the plate at the fourth-highest rate in the league so far, it's not too late to be proactive and buy into a prolific offense.

 

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