2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers (#1-20): Youngsters Rising Up The Rankings

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

You can argue that starting pitching is as deep as it has ever been, with impressive pitchers filling the rankings.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some questions, especially when it comes to health (and we all know the fragility of pitching, with Tommy John surgery always hanging in the back of our mind), but it’s hard to ignore the upside.  Who are the top pitchers we’d be targeting?  Let’s take a look:

1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals
3. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
4. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox
5. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians
6. Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets
7. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
8. Luis Severino – New York Yankees Read more

Another Look At Why Willson Contreras Is Destined To Be A 2018 Overdraft

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When we think of the elite catchers in the league Gary Sanchez is the easy selection as the best of the best.  Buster Posey, who once held that title, is a step behind entering 2018 but he’s still among the better options.  J.T. Realmuto?  While we believe (he was ranked #2 in the initial posting of our Top 15, which you can view by clicking here), others likely do not.

Then there’s the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who most want to believe belongs in the top class.  The numbers from last season seem to support that conclusion as well:

377 At Bats
.276 Batting Average (104 Hits)
21 Home Runs
74 RBI
50 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.356 On Base Percentage
.499 Slugging Percentage
.319 Batting Average on Balls in Play

We’ve touched on him before, but many still don’t believe in our assessment.  So why do we think that the perception will cause him to be among the most over drafted players heading into 2018?  Let’s take a look: Read more

Why Gerrit Cole Is A Good Bet To Rebound In 2018

by Ray Kuhn

Generally moving from the National League to the American League comes with, at the very least, a small bump in the road. However, Houston’s acquisition of Gerrit Cole is likely to have the opposite effect. There are multiple reasons as to why, and while you can’t draw a direct parallel looking at how Justin Verlander performed after his trade to the Astros last summer is a good place to start.

Cole still has a lot to prove in his career before he is truly recognized in the same breath as Verlander, but as far as 2018 rankings go both right-handers reside in the same neighborhood and I would expect the move to Houston to give Cole a boost this season (just as it did for Verlander in 2017). Cole didn’t have a bad 2017, a 3.88 ERA, but it was a disappointment as compared to 2016 and a drop-off from Cole’s 3.50 ERA for his career. He is still young and talented, and regardless of the trade there would still be some optimism. Read more

Fantasy Fallout: Looking At The Recent Signings Of Jaime Garcia, Jason Vargas & Andrew Cashner

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While we are still waiting for the top of the free agent class to find homes, with pitchers and catchers reporting there’s finally been movement in the mid-to-bottom tiers of the starting pitcher market.  These aren’t necessarily sexy moves, but could they have a potential fantasy impact?  Let’s take a look:

 

Jaime Garcia signs with Toronto
There’s a two-part fallout from this move:

  1. Garcia’s outlook
  2. Joe Biagini moves to the bullpen

Garcia has always been an intriguing option, bringing strikeout potential (11.1% SwStr% in ’17, though a modest 7.39 K/9), solid control (career 2.78 BB/9) and an impressive groundball rate (56.2% for his career).  The problem is the landing spot, as he’s struggled with home runs despite the groundballs (1.03 HR/9 or higher in three of the past four seasons) and now will have to routinely face the Yankees & Red Sox (and he was unimpressive in his time in the AL East in ’17, with a 4.82 ERA over 8 starts).  His stock drops significantly with the move. Read more

Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Are Maikel Franco & Cesar Hernandez Destined To Lose Their Value In ’18?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Philadelphia Phillies are clearly a team in transition, and they started the process of remaking their infield over the winter as they signed Carlos Santana to man first base and jettisoned Freddy Galvis to clear shortstop for J.P. Crawford…  Of course you can argue that the Galvis deal could benefit Scott Kingery, as it gives the team more flexibility (potentially shifting Hernandez to shortstop or third base to clear second base).  However you want to cut it, the pressure is on the veterans to produce or they are going to be left without a role.

Can Cesar Hernandez and/or Maikel Franco hold down a job all season long?  Let’s take a look:

 

Maikel Franco
Once a much hyped prospect himself, Franco has disappointed upon reaching the Majors.  He’s flashed at least a little power, but the average has regressed with each season:

  • 2015 – .280
  • 2016 – .255
  • 2017 – .234

Read more

Looking At The 10 Worst Hitter’s SwStr% From 2017: Joey Gallo, Tim Anderson & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When we look at the potential risk in a hitter’s strikeout rate one of the stats we factor in is his SwStr%.  Obviously an elevated mark doesn’t mean that strikeouts are a given, but it makes it more likely.  Think about it, the more times you swing and miss the higher the strikeout rate will likely be…  It’s simple logic and makes sense, so which hitters carried the highest SwStr% in ’17?  Let’s take a look:

1) Joey Gallo – 19.3%
2) Javier Baez – 19.2%
3) Avisail Garcia – 16.3%
4) Corey Dickerson – 15.5%
5) Tim Anderson – 15.2%
6) Tim Beckham – 15.0% Read more