Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

ADP Champ or Chump - Shane Bieber and Matt Chapman


The new year is upon us, which means that it's officially time to start preparing for your 2019 fantasy baseball drafts (if you haven't yet). This column will take a deep dive into two player profiles to attempt to predict how players will perform for their fantasy owners before they take the plunge. We'll start by using ADP (Average Draft Position) data from NFBC drafts to determine the cost associated with owning a player, but that's subject to change as more data becomes available.

We'll start the year off on a positive note, as I'm sharing two of my favorite values for the upcoming season. Pitcher Shane Bieber has the upside of an ace outside of the top-150 taken, while 3B Matt Chapman has the contact quality to support a 40-HR season.

Let's take a closer look at these potential values.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

The Fantasy Jury is Out

Shane Bieber (SP, CLE) - ADP: 161.75

Bieber had a solid rookie campaign in 2018, going 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA that masked a solid 3.30 xFIP over 114 2/3 IP. The 23-year old's success was foreshadowed by his work on the farm, which I wrote about here at the time of his MLB call-up. This article will focus exclusively on what he did in the Show last year.

If you clicked on the link above, you know that Bieber's MO is strikeouts with very few walks. That's pretty much what he did last year, posting a 24.3% K% and 4.7% BB% for a K-BB% of nearly 20 percent. If you don't have the time to really dig into a pitcher's performance, a K-BB% of 20 percent or higher is generally a good indication that you want to own a particular arm. Bieber produced those numbers with a four-pitch mix. He only threw his changeup 3.9% of the time last season, giving us three pitches with worthwhile samples to consider. Bieber's fastball is his most-used offering at 57.3% of total pitches thrown. It doesn't generate many whiffs (4.9% SwStr%), instead setting up the rest of Bieber's arsenal with a sky-high Zone% of 62.4%.

Bieber's preferred put-away pitch is a devastating slider. Bieber can throw it for a strike when he wants to (44.5% Zone% last year), but it's at its most effective outside of the zone. Batters chase it at a whopping 52.9% clip and swing through it at an impressive 26.2% rate, making it one of the better strikeout pitches in the game today. Bieber's slider isn't predictable because his curve is also a plus strikeout pitch. It doesn't quite generate the slider's whiffs (14.5% SwStr%) or its chase rate (40.6%), but it's still perfectly capable of striking out a big league batter.

The most common criticism of Bieber is that he throws too many strikes, allowing opponents to make consistently hard contact that dooms him to elevated BABIP and HR/FB marks whenever the ball is in play. At first glance, his .356 BABIP allowed and 12.1% HR/FB support this theory. A closer look, however, reveals that Bieber is not to blame for either of those numbers. According to Baseball Savant, airborne batted balls off of Bieber averaged 92.5 MPH off of the bat in 2018. That's almost perfectly league average. Likewise, his 7% rate of Brls/BBE (or Barrels per Batted Ball Event) was league average. His exit velocity allowed on ground balls (86.8 MPH) was a little high, but well-struck ground balls aren't as problematic as those in the air.

Baseball Savant has "expected stats" that reveal the production a batter should have had (or a pitcher should have given up) based on the exit velocity and launch angle of the batted balls he was involved with. Bieber allowed an average of .285 last season, but only deserved a BAA of .255. That's 30 points lower! Likewise, his .423 xSLG was significantly lower than his .467 SLG allowed. If Bieber didn't "deserve" his BABIP and HR/FB, why were they elevated? Luck played a role, but atrocious defense seems like a big reason his ERA was so much higher than his xFIP. The Indians outfield compiled -15 Outs Above Average last season, but leading offenders Melky Cabrera (-6) and Michael Brantley (-4) won't be on the team in 2019. Tyler Naquin (-4) wasn't any good defensively either, but he's currently slated for a platoon role (pending any additional offseason moves). Thus, the outfield defense behind Bieber figures to be substantially better in 2019 than it was in 2018.

Meanwhile, the team's infield defense is solid. Bieber himself is a scratch defender (zero DRS). The team's new first base combination of Carlos Santana (zero DRS) and Jake Bauers (-1 DRS) also looks to be scratch. Shortstop Francisco Lindor is amazing (14 DRS), and 3B Jose Ramirez was solid last year (three DRS). The only weakness is Jason Kipnis at 2B (-5 DRS), and at some point, you have to figure the contending Indians will realize that he just isn't that good.

In summation, Bieber generates strikeouts without many walks. He pitches for a contending team in a weak division and figures to have more defensive support this year than he had last. There is some risk that he gets crowded out of a very strong Cleveland rotation, but the same thing was said about Mike Clevinger at this point last season. Do you really want to miss on a mound breakout?

Verdict: Champ

 

Matt Chapman (3B, OAK) - ADP: 102.31

Chapman is another guy I covered last year. If you want to read about his work before 2018, click here. This article will concentrate exclusively on his .278/.356/.508 line with 24 HR from 2018.

In the article above, I noted that Chapman's plate discipline wasn't nearly as bad as it looked in his initial taste of MLB. He proved me right, cutting his K% to 23.7% on the back of a 24.5% chase rate and 8.8% SwStr% last season. He can be passive at the plate at times (41.4% Swing%), but he might have even more K% upside as he grows more comfortable as an MLB player.

I was more concerned about Chapman's BABIP, but he came through there as well with a .338 mark. His ground balls were outstanding (.302 BABIP), thanks in large part to the league's highest exit velocity on ground balls with a minimum of 400 batted ball events (92.7mph). Chapman is faster than you might think (28.3 ft.sec Statcast Sprint Speed, 27.0 is league average) and has no issue with the shift (.392 last season), so he projects for an elevated BABIP on ground balls moving forward even if .302 is likely to prove unsustainable.

Still, his overall BABIP is likely to be driven down by a FB% tendency (39.3% last year) and a lot of pop-ups (13.9% IFFB%). He also approached a league average LD% last season (20.4%) despite not cracking 20% at any other stop of his professional career. It's possible that he has figured out how to hit line drives, but it's safer to assume some regression and be pleasantly surprised by any other outcome.

The reason to roster Chapman is his power potential. His 95.9 MPH average airborne exit velocity last year ranked 33rd in the league, a trend that pairs nicely with his strong fly ball tendencies. In fact, it wouldn't be shocking to see his FB% increase based on his MiLB numbers. He also rates above average at barrelling up the baseball (8.9% rate of Brls/BBE last year), and pulls enough of his fly balls for the occasional cheapy (28.5% Pull% on flies last year). Chapman is seemingly locked into the heart of Oakland's batting order, giving him plenty of counting stat potential.

Overall, Chapman is probably a .250-.260 hitter with a chance to hit 35 HR from a prime lineup spot. That seems very worthwhile once the top 100 are off of the board!

Verdict: Champ

More Fantasy Baseball Analysis




More Recent Articles

 

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Points leagues may seem like a slight variation from traditional 5x5 category scoring leagues but you must approach draft day with a very different strategy if you wish to truly compete. All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our points league rankings... Read More


Second-Half Improvements: Buy Into These Starting Pitchers

The second half of the season is always put under a microscope for starting pitchers. Fantasy players have a love for the second half of the season, as the belief is that pitchers who take a step forward could carry over that success the next season and perhaps even build upon it. But, as we... Read More


How to Attack RP in SV+HLD Leagues

No position has seen as much evolution in recent seasons as the relief pitcher. Gone are the days where starters were expected to go seven innings as most teams have embraced the idea of "super-bullpening" and try to fit as many pitchers that can throw 95+ MPH into their bullpen as they can. Many fantasy... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitch Info

One of the most fundamental questions in fantasy sports is if a player's current performance is sustainable. More than any other sport, baseball has a slew of statistical measures that can be dissected in numerous ways to analyze player performance. Pitch Info is a publicly-available pitch tracking system that provides a lot of different data to... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More


Mock Draft Review: Best Late-Round Targets

Last week, some members of the RotoBaller staff completed a 12-team mock draft for standard 5x5 format. After the draft, we each broke down our strategy and some of our favorite picks, which can be found here. However, I want to take a closer look at one portion of the draft in particular. Since we know that... Read More


Faster and Furious: Pitchers with Rising Velocity/Performance

Welcome fantasy baseball players! I’m sure that you, like me, are anxiously counting down the days until your drafts and Opening Day. While the fantasy season may not start for several weeks, there are plenty of things we can do to start preparing for a successful season. One of those things is to take a good... Read More


James Karinchak Is A Relief Pitcher To Know in 2020

One of the lesser-known players that intrigues me for the 2020 MLB season is Indians relief pitcher James Karinchak. The former Bryant Bulldog was drafted by Cleveland in the ninth round in the 2017 draft and went on to have one of the most outrageous statistical seasons in minor league baseball history. As someone who... Read More


2020 Relief Pitcher Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Often regarded as an inferior fantasy baseball format, points leagues offer a different style of boasting over your friends or coworkers similar to that of fantasy football. These setups are typically head-to-head formats for a one-week stretch where the player with the most points gets a win. Easy right? While it's true that roster construction... Read More


2019 Barrel Breakouts: Who's For Real and Who's Next?

As pitchers and catchers get even closer to reporting and most fantasy leagues prepare for their drafts, everybody is looking for a leg up on the competition - a way to get in on a guy before everybody else does. In this article, we're going to look for a way to identify hitters who improved... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher BABIP

While FIP is a useful tool to predict a pitcher's future ERA performance, fantasy owners should remember that ERA, not FIP, is what really matters in most formats. This means that we are interested in the "luck" that separates the two statistics. While some of this luck is unpredictable, we can and should predict some... Read More


Second Year Player Preview: Fantasy Baseball 2020 ADP Analysis

Host Anthony Aniano of RotoBaller Radio discuss the 2020 fantasy baseball season and keeps you updated with all the latest news and analysis Be sure to tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, every weekday afternoon from 1-2 PM ET, Saturday nights from 9-11 PM ET... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Jorge Alfaro

Miami Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro was a key piece in the J.T. Realmuto trade that was executed before the 2019 season. The Marlins have high hopes for Alfaro and he continued his development in 2019 by slashing .262/.312/.425 with 18 HR, 57 RBI, 44 R, and 22 BB. The overall numbers may not seem all that... Read More


2020 Shortstop Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Points leagues may seem like a slight variation from traditional 5x5 category scoring leagues but you must approach draft day with a different strategy if you wish to truly compete. Rankings themselves are a different beast altogether, as category specialists like Mallex Smith and Dee Gordon (stolen bases), Kyle Schwarber and Franmil Reyes (home runs),... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – Victor Reyes

With a 457 ADP in 2020 NFBC leagues, Detroit Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes is an afterthought in all but the deepest leagues.  Perhaps the 25-year-old shouldn't be, though, as Reyes was quietly solid in 2019, slashing .304/.336/.431 in 292 plate-appearances, with three home runs and nine stolen bases. Having made stops in Arizona and the... Read More