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Nick Mariano's 2018 Early-Round Overvalued List (Premium Content)

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Fantasy baseball drafts (and their articles) are almost all about finding the next superstar and unearthing talent late, but we can't forget that surrendering value by over-drafting can be just as crucial.

In order to evaluate overvalued players here, we're going to utilize Average Draft Position (ADP) data made available from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) site, which can be found here as its updated. ADPs used in this article are accurate as of Feb. 16, because we just can't wait when it comes to helping you noble RotoBallers. And also because talking about this stuff is just so very interesting. I reserve the right to edit names/analysis as I please if situations change, especially given the free agent no-man's land, but I'll be sure to drop a note in bold if I do.

Please keep in mind that "overvalued" doesn't mean these players are bad, only that the price is bad. You'll be able to tell which ones I feel strongest about by how rambly I get.


Early-Round Overvalued Players - Hitters

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto (103.36)

For the record, my usual stance is that all catchers taken within the first 10 rounds or so are likely “overvalued” aside from Gary Sanchez, maybe, but we’ll stand aside on that issue to address that fact that Realmuto will have barely anyone to hit in or be hit in by. Sure, his modest power/speed offering alongside a healthy batting average is worth something, but unless you’re generating your own offense with 30-plus homers then I don’t see how one provides anywhere near top-100 value on this team. He’s allegedly requested a trade from Miami, but until that happens I just can’t peg him as a top talent. Perhaps in OBP leagues, he and Justin Bour can make it work if they get pitched around enough, but I don’t see Realmuto as capable of stealing or slugging enough to generate value. I like J.T. in a vacuum, he quietly cut his soft-contact rate down from 21.1 percent to 14.9 percent in ‘17, but people should be addressing other positions at this point in drafts.

First Base: Eric Hosmer (71.36)

Naming Hosmer here is more of a testament to what I feel is a strong early class at first base, but relative to draft position and the names surrounding him, Hosmer is today's target. And I swear it’s not entirely because I believe 1B needs to be some 30-plus homer bat, his 25-homer ceiling is just fine as long as he hits over .300. I don’t want to assume his numbers with the Padres just yet, but it’s hard to objectively analyze him without a team as well. As such, I also think it’s hard to draft him this high without a set role. There’s no need to gamble here when potential future-teammate Wil Myers -- who has shed his durability red flags with back-to-back 155-plus game seasons -- and his 30/20 bat is available just a few picks later. I know Hosmer’s heavy ground-ball profile helps his BABIP stay high (.316 career), but last season’s .351 mark is too high and I can’t pay up here for the name.

Second Base: Chris Taylor (91.61)

Let me start off by saying that I like Taylor. I like how he worked with the same hitting instructor who turned Justin Turner into a beast, I like his versatility in the field and I believe in his having both power and speed tools. All that being said, he is still a one-year commodity that currently costs your average 12-team drafter an eighth round pick. I don’t think Taylor’s BABIP will fall much from 2017’s .361 mark, but his 25 percent strikeout rate leaves a small margin for error. Rougned Odor’s K rate was 24.9 percent in ‘17, for what it’s worth. Okay, that was mean, Taylor’s plate discipline is still light years ahead of Rougie, but the point is that if you strike out a quarter of the time then you need everything else to go right in maintaining such a high BABIP.

Steamer projects him for a 77-13-58-16-.263 5x5 roto line in 615 plate appearances. Now, I’m not that bearish on him, but I think a lot of people are overstating what he did last season and making his power and speed rates from ‘17 into his floor for ‘18. Javier Baez continues to grow into his pop, has double-digit speed and is also in a solid lineup, but is being taken almost a full round later. It may not seem like much, but Taylor’s current price tag is an overpayment.

Third Base: Alex Bregman (32.7)

Bregman had one hell of a postseason to cap off his first full MLB season in which he tallied an .827 OPS with 19 homers and 17 steals in 626 PAs. The Astros are an offensive juggernaut and Breg batting second here with his pristine 6.4 percent swinging-strike rate (21st out of qualified hitters, Mike Trout checked in at 6.2 percent). No, Bregman is not Trout or anything, though his power-speed threat from the hot corner does make one feel a little Trouty. That said, we need to halt this train.

This youngster is being drafted just a few slots behind Josh Donaldson, one of the better draft values this season, which feels like you’re paying for a store-brand name without getting anything spectacular in return. We don’t know if Bregman can really break 25 homers or steals, and a solid five-category contributor is great but shouldn’t be chosen around the 30th pick. I don’t see a reason to project more speed, and his 3.5 barrels per plate appearance ranked 247th in the league (min. 50 batted balls) while his average exit velocity on fly balls and liners of 91.7 MPH was 248th. On the one hand, the two batters ahead of him on the latter metric were Nick Ahmed and Jace Peterson, but the two behind him were Adrian Beltre and Charlie Blackmon. That is to say, no one stat is an island, but I don’t understand how Breg goes 25 points ahead of Anthony Rendon. I know people love buzzy younger players and the postseason run increased Breg’s optics, but c’mon.

Shortstop: Corey Seager (38.82)

Seager is an incredible real-life player and is definitely a useful fantasy talent, but even in a talent-rich Dodgers lineup, the 2016 N.L. Rookie of the Year is unlikely to reach the 30-homer mark and has only stolen nine bases in 329 career MLB games. I know he was hurt and played through a shoulder issue, but the 24-year-old is projected by Steamer for an 88-24-77-4-.289 line and while I think his chances of besting the .300 hurdle are solid, I can’t stump for diverging far from Steamer outside of runs scored being toward 100. He’s already delivering BABIPs north of .350 and hard-hit rates above 40 percent and I don’t see things growing much further there. LA isn’t paying your bills, look elsewhere this early. Shortstop is a lot deeper than you think.

Outfield: Starling Marte (50.41)

Marte’s 2017 season was marred by that ugly 80-game PED suspension, as he hit just seven homers with 21 steals and a .275 average in 339 PAs. Pittsburgh’s lineup will take a step back without Andrew McCutchen and quite frankly, Marte’s skill set is mirrored in several other players that range from cheaper, too much cheaper. Byron Buxton is a polarizing fellow given his ceiling-floor showing thus far, but they share the same theoretical 20/40 potential. A.J. Pollock, Lorenzo Cain and even Kevin Kiermaier can all do what Marte does, and before you go wagging your finger about all of their (primary injury-related) fleas, remember that Marte has only appeared in more than 135 games once in five full years of playing. Pass. Yes, I know speed is touted as premium. Pass!

Outfield #2: Nick Castellanos (103.02)

Castellanos is currently being taken as the 26th outfielder in roughly the 8th round in 12-team NFBC drafts, and while I recognize his versatility at playing in the hot corner, this is a great way for me to squeeze in my disdain for this ADP. It’s worth noting that Nicky C is only turning 26 in March, but much of his value came on his 174 R+RBI in ‘17. Sure, the 26 dingers were great, but coupling that with a good-not-great .272 average and being caught stealing on five-of-nine attempts last season, I’m unimpressed.

This is not to say he’s a bad player and I would never draft him, but the valuation here is way off. His .811 OPS ranked 59th out of all qualified hitters, behind batters who are going 50+ picks later like Trey Mancini (ADP 154.6, .826 OPS). Or, if you’re sticking to 3B-only, then why not Eugenio Suarez (ADP: 192, .828 OPS)?

To clarify, it’s not that I don’t prefer Castellanos to later bats, but paying up at this sticker price is a bad look with J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila and even Cameron Maybin gone from around him. Take all of the skepticism surrounding Miguel Cabrera bouncing back, Victor Martinez holding up and the fact that Castellanos, who is slated to bat fifth per Roster Resource, may never be brought home. Detroit’s current 6-9 hitters are James McCann, Leonys Martin, Dixon Machado and Jose Iglesias, who combined for 23 homers in 1,199 Major League PAs last season. For what it’s worth, Castellanos had 24 R+RBI in 116 PAs when batting fifth last season. 27 in 104 cleanup PAs. 35 when batting third (101 PAs) and 59 in 216 two-hole PAs. Did I mention that I don’t like his outlook?


Early-Round Overvalued Players - Pitchers

Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer (51.95)

I suppose those that want to draft stability and floor with a decent chance at upside have an argument for taking Archer this early, but I see a guy in a brutal division with a command problem that often overthinks himself into struggles. Did you know that in the second half, his horrid eight percent soft-contact rate was the worst for any pitcher with at least 50 innings? His 41 percent hard-hit rate was tied with Ubaldo Jimenez for second-highest, trailing only Ian Kennedy. Those are not names you want to be contending with!

In today’s age of DL stints, a 29-year-old who has averaged over 200 innings in his last four seasons with over 230 K’s in each of his last three campaigns does get a boost. But when that’s also come with an ERA above four and a combined 19 wins in his last two seasons. Along with that worrisome batted-ball data, his being a workhorse may have bit him in the second half and the mileage on his arm now becomes concerning to me. That soft-contact rate was sitting around 16 percent from April through July in ‘17, and then sat around seven percent in August and September. His HR/FB rate went from around 13 percent to roughly 20 percent as the slugging percentage allowed by his slider, which had sat at .290 or lower in April, May and July, rose to .382 in August and .424 in September. His fastball made it through August okay, around the same .450-.500 mark as usual until September, when it got roasted by a .875 slugging percentage (mostly due to left-handed batters).

To be fair, Archer’s September got off to a weird start. He was pulled from his Sept. 2 start against the White Sox after facing only two batters with forearm tightness. The move was precautionary and sensible, considering the seven fastballs he threw averaged just over 93 MPH per Brooks Baseball when it normally sits in the 95-96 MPH range. Anyway, the two batters he faced both took him deep, but his velo returned for his next start, when he got shelled by Boston for eight runs (six earned) in three frames. In my mind, he either fizzled out late or that tightness was a bigger red flag than we think, but his velocity actually rose a bit after that and there weren’t any release point issues, so I doubt it’s the latter.

And what happened to the pitcher who blew hitters away the first time through the order? In 2015, Archer yielded a 2.22 ERA with a stellar .186/.256/.276 slash line. The ERA rose to 2.79 the second time through and (understandably) 4.23 the third time. His first-time TTO ERA was 1.63 in 2014, astounding! It was 4.43 in ‘16 and 4.04 in ‘17, which I am not a fan of.

Lastly, I present a simple table:

Year Home ERA (FIP) Home HR/9 Road ERA (FIP) Road HR/9
2016 2.65 (3.04) 0.88 5.44 (4.61) 1.81
2017 3.26 (2.61) 0.86 4.97 (4.25) 1.59

I don’t like taking two years of splits and being like, “this is now Player X forever and ever”, but I can’t ignore it either. Right now, you’re drafting half ace, half bleh.

Starting Pitcher: Carlos Carrasco (35.7)

By all accounts, Carrasco had a fantastic 2017. He went against both the injury and homer trends, standing as one of only 15 hurlers to reach the 200-inning mark and trimming his HR/9 rate from 1.29 in ‘16, to 0.95. His hard-hit rate, which had risen to a scary 36.4 percent in ‘16, came back down to a cool 29.3 percent. He enjoyed a bounceback in K’s, going from 25 percent to 28.3 percent while maintaining a walk rate below six percent for the fourth straight season. He also pitches for a great Cleveland team that should get to pick on three subpar teams in the ChiSox, Detroit and Kansas City. But, and there’s always a but in these articles, there are some warning signs.

While the 200-inning season was great, it’s also just the second time in four years that he’s topped 150 frames. He’s also failing to adjust to left-handed hitters, as evidenced by his 3.80 FIP against them compared to a 2.53 FIP vs. RHH. It was worse last season -- 4.29 FIP vs. LHH, 3.25 vs. RHH -- but the 1.39 HR/9 to LHH is markedly worse than the 0.58 rate to RHH.

Relief Pitcher: Edwin Diaz (89.23)

Everyone is ragging on Ken Giles for his postseason struggles and whether his own ADP of 97.87 warrants conversation here. That talk has its merits, but we can’t let recency bias sway us from the fact that Diaz did lose his closer role in 2017, but then had a great second half so all is forgiven, right? Nope. Even if that were acceptable, he had an ugly August -- his worst month of the season, actually -- where he yielded a 4.63 ERA thanks to 10 walks in just 11 ⅔ innings. A season-low .130 BABIP on the month helped keep a lid on things, but he was living dangerously yet again with a team that has proven it will remove him from the role to get right. In a world where you either want to pay up for Kenley Jansen/Craig Kimbrel/Corey Knebel/Aroldis Chapman/Roberto Osuna or wait, don’t get caught taking one of the first true inbetweeners.