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ADP Champ or Chump - Yasiel Puig and Adalberto Mondesi


Champ or Chump began the year with two positive outlooks because it's always a good idea to begin your draft prep with a dose of optimism. However, you won't win your league on draft day no matter how many players you like end up on your roster. You can lose your league on draft day if you end up paying too much for not enough production, though.

That said, the players below were selected for being too expensive relative to their expected price. They're not quite guaranteed busts but are likely to need multiple things to break their way just to break even for fantasy owners.

Without further ado, here's a closer look at Yasiel Puig and Adalberto Mondesi.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Yasiel Puig (OF, CIN) - ADP: 127.65

Puig did what Puig always seems to do in 2018, slashing .267/.327/.494 with 23 HR and 15 SB (five CS) across 444 PAs. His ADP actually isn't that expensive, but he seems to be getting hyped up as a sleeper with his move to Cincinnati. He could be far more expensive in March than January despite some troubling peripheral stats.

Cincinnati is known to inflate power, so let's start there. While Great American Ballpark does inflate homers, Puig already had a borderline elite HR/FB of 20% last season (career 16.2%). His Statcast contact quality metrics (93.7mph average airborne exit velocity, career-best 10.6% rate of Brls/BBE) rank as above average, but not elite. Puig posted better airborne exit velocities in both 2017 (94.1mph) and 2016 (94.2mph), so it's not as if he learned how to hit the ball hard last year. Likewise, his previous career-best in Brls/BBE (9.4% in 2017) means that Puig didn't improve it that much last year.

Puig's slugging percentage of .494 was nearly 30 points higher than his xSLG of .468 in 2018, to quantify the extent to which Puig overachieved relative to his contact quality last season. In all probability, Puig will struggle to repeat his 2018 rate stats even with a more favorable home park helping him out.

Some may look at Puig's .286 BABIP last season (.318 career) and see positive regression coming, but his profile doesn't support an elevated BABIP. He popped up a lot last season (36.1% FB%, 17.4% IFFB%), making it difficult to project his career BABIP on fly balls (.123). In fact, last year's .108 mark may prove difficult to repeat if he keeps popping up at the same rate.

Puig also managed a league-average LD% (21.3%) for the first time in his career last year. His career LD% is only 17.3%, and his previous career best was 19.1% all the way back in 2013. While it is possible for a player to make a sustainable swing change to boost his LD%, the stat is very unreliable in season-long samples. Regression to the mean will cost him BABIP points even as his ground balls (.250 BABIP last year) are likely to improve (.303 career).

Finally, Puig's surface plate discipline stats (8.1% BB%, 19.6% K%) looked good last year, but his underlying peripherals (31.1% chase rate, 10.5% SwStr%) suggest that a league average plate discipline profile should be expected in 2019. This figures to place more downward pressure on his batting average.

Puig's role with his new team is yet to be determined, with Roster Resource currently projecting him to hit seventh. If he hits .260 with 20 bombs again, the Reds will have no reason to give him a better slot. Puig is currently sandwiched between Kyle Freeland's upside and a steady closer (Ken Giles) by ADP, both of whom seem like more worthwhile investments than Cincinnati's mercurial outfielder.

Verdict: Chump

 

Adalberto Mondesi (2B/SS, KC) - ADP: 44.92

Mondesi won some leagues by himself last season, slashing .276/.306/.498 with 14 HR and 32 SB (seven CS) in just 291 PAs. That's amazing! Unfortunately, almost nothing in the 23-year-old's profile looks sustainable. He has all of the potential in the world, but a pick inside the top 50 feels very rich considering the risk involved.

Mondesi's plate discipline is awful. He walked just 3.8% of the time against a K% of 26.5% in 2018, suggesting that he has a lot to learn about major league pitching. His underlying peripherals are even worse, as his 18.2% SwStr% (!) was rooted in a Z-Contact% (or contact rate on pitches in the strike zone) of 79.5%. That is ugly. His 37.1% chase rate is merely bad as opposed to atrocious, but Mondesi can look so overmatched at the plate that even the rebuilding Royals may see fit to demote him at some point.

If you're a betting man, you may also wish to see what kind of odds you can get on the "under" for Mondesi's .335 BABIP in 2018. His career BABIP is .310, but remember that last year's 291 PAs encompass more than half of his 500 career trips. In this case, his career mark is distorted by the same batted balls that made 2018 look better than it was.

Mondesi's grounders were great last season (.308), but he didn't hit them with any authority (81.1mph average exit velocity). His wheels are electric (29.9 ft./sec Statcast Sprint Speed), but speed alone cannot support a .300 BABIP on grounders. If it could, Mondesi's new teammate Billy Hamilton would be a much better hitter.

Mondesi also managed to post a .158 BABIP on fly balls in 2018. His airborne contact quality was good last season (94.6mph average airborne exit velocity, 10.4% Brls/BBE), but his 19.7% HR/FB eliminated the top 20 percent of his flies from his BABIP entirely. Either his HR/FB regresses to the point that his HR total no longer intrigues fantasy owners, or his batting average plummets to the xBA of .242 that Baseball Savant says he deserved last year. The former is more likely, as Kansas City (92 HR factor in 2017, third-lowest in MLB) is not a power-friendly stadium.

In summation, Mondesi is probably a .240 hitter with terrible plate discipline. You can't steal first base, so his SB won't be what fantasy owners expect because his OBP figures to be sub-.300. Meanwhile, the opportunity cost associated with drafting Mondesi is steep. His ADP is currently sandwiched between Khris Davis's extremely reliable power and Carlos Correa's first-round upside. At that price, you need somebody who can hit the ball.

Verdict: Chump

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