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ADP Champ or Chump - Jesus Aguilar and David Dahl

Sometimes, it can be tough to turn away from the waiver wire guys who helped your team the previous year. Jesus Aguilar likely won some leagues with his 35-homer campaign out of nowhere last season. Likewise, David Dahl provided juice in all categories when he saw the field in 2018.

Unfortunately, adding somebody for free off of waivers is very different from investing an early draft pick in them. Advanced metrics suggest that both players above are likely to disappoint their fantasy owners based on what they currently cost.

Keep in mind, our Champ / Chump conclusions are based on whether we think a player will outperform their current ADP. For example, a pitcher we view as "Tier 2" can be a Champ if they're being drafted as a Tier 3 pitcher, or they could be a Chump if they're being drafted as a Tier 1 pitcher. Let's take a closer look at Aguilar and Dahl, shall we?

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Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) - ADP: 80.21

Aguilar crushed the ball in 2018, slashing .274/.352/.539 with 35 homers. Fantasy owners seem to believe in him, as he is taken inside the top 100 of most fantasy drafts. The question is whether Aguilar is worth that kind of investment.

Aguilar's signature skill is his power, and it looks pretty legit. Last season's 23.8% HR/FB was right on par with his career mark of 22.3%, and he tends to hit the volume of fly balls necessary to make full use of his power (40.9% FB%, 39.1% career). Aguilar pulls plenty of his flies (33.3% last year), and Statcast supports his pop as well. Aguilar combined above average airborne exit velocity (93.8 mph) with an exceptional 11.4% rate of Barrels per Batted Ball Event (Brls/BBE) last year. Miller Park boosts power, and the team looks like a legitimate contender in a division filled with solid or better clubs.

A deeper look into his power numbers reveals some warning signs, however. Aguilar posted an excellent .298/.373/.621 line with 24 long balls before the All-Star Break, largely thanks to a very high 45.4% FB% and very low 3.4% IFFB%. That is a lot of quality contact! Unfortunately, those numbers fell to 35.6% and 10.3% in the second half, producing a line of .245/.324/.436 with only 11 homers. The 28-year old doesn't have enough of a track record to assume that his first half is the "real" Aguilar, so there is some risk he regresses to 25 home runs or so.

That would be bad, as Aguilar is a fairly one-dimensional player. He strikes out a lot (25.3% K% last year), and his 12.4% SwStr% suggests that he will continue to do so. He walked a lot last year (10.2% BB%), but his 35.6% chase rate was higher than league average. He can't run at all (24.7 ft./sec Statcast Sprint Speed), and he only had an xBA of .254 a season ago.

Aguilar has hit a lot of line drives with the Brewers (23.7% LD% last year, 22.7% career), giving him an elevated BABIP (.309 last season, .313 career). Don't be fooled by his history though, as a slow-footed guy who hits a lot of fly balls does not project for an elevated BABIP moving forward.

Honestly, it wouldn't be shocking to see a healthy Eric Thames start to take PAs from a struggling Aguilar at some point this season. You're probably better off taking a potential ace in Jose Berrios (77.67 ADP), a top-notch closer in Kenley Jansen (76.64), a potential superstar in Corey Seager (85.02), or a rock-solid contributor in Jose Abreu (86.50). Heck, Jonathan Villar (86.89) offers five-category upside to Aguilar's three if everything breaks right. There are much better investments on draft day.

Verdict: Chump (based on an ADP of 80)


David Dahl (OF, COL) - ADP: 70.58

Dahl put up enticing numbers in roughly a half a season for the Rockies last year, slashing .273/.325/.534 with 16 homers and five steals (three CS) over 271 PAs. Judging from how early he's leaving draft boards, fantasy owners are salivating at the prospect of his recording a full season in 2019. However, a closer look reveals that the 24-year old is far from a finished product.

For example, Dahl's splits suggest that he is anything but a set and forget option. He didn't hit at all outside of Denver's thin air, slashing an anemic .200/.274/.324 with three homers on the road last year. Likewise, he struggled against left-handed pitching to the tune of a .234/.258/.438 line, including a 33.3% K% and 3% BB%. He's viable in formats that allow you to bench him for all road games and games against left-handed starters, but why would you pay an early pick for that kind of headache?

Similarly, Dahl's advanced metrics aren't great. His 7% BB% last season looks reasonable enough, but it masks a 39.6% chase rate that suggests his eye needs a lot more work. His 15.4% SwStr% also suggests that he can be overwhelmed by major league pitching, something that his surface 25.1% K% may not have immediately revealed.

Likewise, Dahl's 23.2% HR/FB last season wasn't supported by his 93 mph average airborne exit velocity or his 9.3% rate of Brls/BBE, and his xSLG of .445 fell far short of his actual .534 mark. Dahl can run (28.6 ft./sec Statcast Sprint Speed), but has only gone 10-for-13 on SB attempts over 508 career MLB PAs. Coors provides some leeway, but you'd like to be investing in some kind of actual skill instead of relying exclusively on the ballpark to produce value.

Dahl's MiLB track record also suggests that he has limited upside. He slashed .278/.304/.417 with six homers and 22 steals for Double-A New Britain in 2015, masking atrocious plate discipline (3.6% BB%, 23.8% K%) with a .352 BABIP. He lifted the ball (43.5% FB%), but his 6.6% HR/FB limited the value of his fly balls.

The team moved to Hartford for the 2016 season, though the team didn't actually have any home games as their park wasn't finished yet. Dahl slashed .278/.367/.500 with 13 HR and 16 steals (five CS), hitting fewer flies (36.9% FB%) but making them matter more (17.8% HR/FB). He also walked more (11.7% BB%) at the cost of a few more strikeouts (25.6% K%). His .351 BABIP was nearly identical to his previous performance. Dahl was great at Triple-A Albuquerque (.484/.529/.887), but he only had 68 PAs there before making his big league debut.

Dahl's .315/.359/.500 line with seven homers and five steals over 237 PAs with the Rockies looked shiny, but his .404 BABIP suggests that his numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. His plate discipline was meh (6.3% BB%, 24.9% K%), and his 33.1% FB% was too low to truly take advantage of Coors Field.

Expectations were high coming into 2017, but a rib injury limited him to just 82 PAs split across three levels. He was relatively healthy last season, but the Rockies frequently used him as a bench bat in favor of the reanimated corpses of Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Holliday. The club is still prone to shockingly bad decisions, so counting on them to use Dahl is risky. Counting on Dahl to both play and produce when you could take Lorenzo Cain (65.44 ADP), Jean Segura (67.87), Craig Kimbrel (70.79), or Joey Votto (72.25) instead borders on insanity.

Verdict: Chump (based on ADP of 70)


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