As owners start drafting their teams for the NFBC Draft Champions leagues online, they can find value in rounds 4-11 in the 15-team leagues.
Ace in the FouthSome owners will wait to draft their ace in the fourth round. David Price provides strong value in the fourth round. Yes, he owned a 3.99 ERA in 2016, but a 13.5% HR/FB elevated his ERA when compared to his 3.52 xFIP. While his fastball velocity dropped to 92.9 MPH (down from 94 MPH in 2015), he induced more ground balls, 43.7% GB%, and a career-high BABIP, .310, hurt his chances in 2016. His 1.96 BB/9 in 2016 stayed in line with his 1.92 BB/9 in 2015, and he posted similar strikeout numbers, 8.92 K/9, when compared to his 8.61 K/9 for his career. While his 4.11 home ERA will scare some owners away, he posted a 9.87 K/9, 1.66 BB/9, and 45.4% GB% at Fenway Park, which contributed to his 3.18 xFIP at home.
Value in the FifthAs the aces move off the board, owners can grab Carlos Carrasco's 3.32 ERA and 9.23 K/9 in the fifth round. The jump in hard contact, 36.4% HARD%, hurt his 16.3% HR/FB in 2016, but his 2.09 BB/9 and 12% SwStr% will help with WHIP and strikeouts. His ability to miss bats and limit walks will help, as he posted a 1.15 WHIP in 2016 and a 1.07 WHIP in 2015.
Even though Billy Hamilton has disappointed owners in the past, his ability to keep the ball on the ground, 48% GB%, and draw walks, 10% BB/9, allowed him to steal 36 bases in the second half. While Steamer is conservative in its prediction of 51 SB, Hamilton could post 70 steals if he continues to practice more patience at the plate and hit more ground balls. Hamilton could add 70 runs, along with his ability to win the SB category.
Sixth Round BatA 22 home run season with a .234 batting average has depressed Jose Bautista's value. While other owners are betting on Matt Kemp and Gerrit Cole in the sixth round, Bautista should provide strong power numbers in 2017. His 41% HARD% bodes well for 2017, and his 42% FB% from last year should move closer to 45% FB%, which is his career average. Just draft a high batting average source somewhere else because Steamer projects Bautista to hit .225 with 28 HR and 79 RBI.
Piscotty in the SeventhWhile other teams are drafting Eric Hosmer, Stephen Piscotty can offer strong value at the end of the seventh round, especially with Dexter Fowler leading off for the Cardinals. Piscotty posted stronger numbers, .295 BA and .843 OPS, at Busch Stadium in 2016, and his 7-10 steals will help teams. If he can continue to raise his FB%, 36.2% in 2016, he could continue to contribute 20 homers in 2017. He posted the 13th best fly-ball distance, 308.97', in the majors last season, hitting 16 of his 22 homers over 400 feet.
Drafting Clayton Kershaw in the First Round
Duffy and Dahl in the EighthDanny Duffy may continue to move up NFBC draft boards as the calendar inches closer to April, but the eighth round seems fair for the value he provides. He increased his velocity, 94.8 MPH, in 2016, and his change-up created a 19.5% SwStr% last year. On the down side, his 3.79 xFIP puts another 3.50 ERA in danger, and RHB owned a .760 OPS with 26 homers off Duffy in 2016. If he stays in Kansas City, Kauffman Stadium should continue to suppress his home run total.
For those owners willing to take a risk, David Dahl, could provide similar value to Gregory Polanco three rounds later. Instead of taking one-speed source, owners can draft several players, like Dahl, that can contribute 18 homers and 17 steals. He posted a 23.6% K% in 237 PA, but he hit seven homers and stole five bases. He hit all seven homers off RHP.
Power and an Arm in rounds 9-11Jake Lamb posted a 39.4% HARD% in 2016 when he hit 29 home runs. He struggled in August and September, as he hit .197 with nine homers and a .663 OPS in the second half. His HARD% fell to 36.2% in the second half, but a .240 BABIP during that span hurt some of his numbers. Drafting a CI/3B with 20-25 HR power in the tenth round provides decent value.
Another source of power in the eleventh round is Albert Pujols. Other teams will take 1B in the first five rounds, but owners can draft Pujols' 30-HR power with 95 RBI later. A .260-.270 BA will not damage a team's BA, and Pujols can provide value in three categories. Owners should check his progress as he recovers from foot surgery before their drafts.
After elbow surgery, Steven Matz should be ready for the spring. Matz's 51.1% GB% and 8.77 K/9 aided his 3.30 xFIP in 2016, and his ability to throw strikes early led to a 2.1 BB/9. His change-up created a 15.7% SwStr% as hitters swung at the pitch 44.4% out of the zone. Matz provides upside in round 11.