It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Jackie Bradley Jr.'s RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 114 by Bill Dubiel, and No. 70 by Kyle Bishop.
Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks.
Editor's note: Check out our previous rankings debates on Jose Ramirez, Trea Turner, J.D Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Bryce Harper, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, Jonathan Villar, Kenta Maeda, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, and Marcus Stroman.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bill Dubiel's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 114
I don't think I'm at all low on JBJ here, I just think Kyle is way too optimistic on Bradley's upside.
Bradley took big steps forward last year as it is, cutting back on his shockingly high strikeout rate (22.5%) from his limited time in the majors in 2015 (27.1%). The 22.5% is still far too high for me to think that Bradley can jump into the fantasy top 25 at outfield. Fortunately for Bradley, he buoys that strikeout rate with a pretty solid walk rate (9.9% in 2016), and has maintained an OBP over .330 in the majors each of the last two years. He will no doubt have a nice, high floor in 2017.
However, I don't believe in Bradley's power numbers, plain and simple. He seemed to have discovered his power stroke in the last two years (not at all a coincidence that his K-rate shot up) with a .249 ISO in 2015 and a .219 ISO in 2016. While guys can certainly fluctuate throughout their careers, Bradley's previous career high at any level of professional ball was .194 in 80 games at AAA in 2013. Bradley's 26 homers and 87 RBI from last year are almost certainly going to drop, and I've got Bradley projected for closer to 18/75. Again, a very solid floor, but not enough to make Bradley a top-100 overall fantasy asset.
Kyle Bishop's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 70
Since the light went on for him in the second half of 2015, JBJ has hit .266 with 134 R, 35 HR, 127 RBI, and 11 SB. During that span, Bradley ranks 15th among outfielders in homers and is top 10 in runs and RBI. Prorate those numbers to 600 plate appearances and you get .266-94-25-89-8. Bill says he doesn't think Bradley can jump into the top 25 outfielders. Good thing he already did so in 2016, according to both ESPN and Yahoo's rankings. In fact, here are Bradley's 2016 numbers next to George Springer's. I prefer Springer, like most people, but there's not a lot of separation there, and you can get Bradley 100 picks later.
At this point, Bradley has proven to most reasonable folk that his power spike isn't a mirage. I'm not sure what else he needs to do to convince Mr. Dubiel. JBJ also has some more upside on the bases. While how much he runs will be determined by where he slots into the Red Sox lineup, Bradley has plenty of speed and was efficient last season, swiping nine bags in 11 attempts. Even with David Ortiz retired, the Sox should be one of the top offensive teams in the game, meaning Bradley's run production is unlikely to suffer.