2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft: Three Players To Avoid Early

During the first three rounds are where mistakes are easily made; a lot of reaching tends to occur, especially if you aren’t 100% sold on your first pick. So, I give you three guys who caught my eye in the top 50 valued much higher than they ought to be and why they are to be avoided until later in the draft.

I’ll be using RotoWire rankings, with no context given to league type or scoring formats.

P- Noah Syndergaard, Mets (#48)
Syndergaard looks to fall as late as the fifth round (10-12 team leagues). If you can get him in the fifth or even later (which I’d be shocked if Syndergaard isn’t gone by then), go for it, but I’d be leery if he’s the first starter you have to go with. The big stat that sticks out is he’s yet to eclipse 200 IP. That and the uncertainty of how effective he’ll be after returning from injury. A starter of Syndergaard’s caliber needs to at least approach that mark. I typically use the 200 IP rule when picking my first couple of starters. Obviously, you don’t want to just grab whomever, so if the choice in the early rounds between Syndergaard, Robbie Ray and/or Luis Severino, I’m choosing one of the two latter options.

2B- Dee Gordon, Mariners (#35)
Gordon is the perfect example of a player who makes something out of nothing. He’s also an ideal specimen when applying BABIP concepts as he tends to succeed in low hit probability situations. His career BABIP is roughly 50 points higher than league average; a direct result of his speed. Here is his contact type vs. hit type. As you can see, most of his success comes from his ground ball contact, reinforcing his reliance on his speed.
Another interesting aspect of Gordon is his xwOBA vs is wOBA is barely distinguishable; he succeeds when he ought to. The problem with Gordon is in his seven seasons, he’s played more than 87 games just three times. STEAMER is very bullish on Gordon going into the 2018 season and I don’t disagree. Don’t rest your laurels on his 2015 or 2017 seasons; he’ll be good in 2018, just not THAT good. You have multiple options at second base, many of which are ranked lower than Gordon (Jonathan Schoop, Daniel Murphy, or Robinson Cano). Let another owner grab Gordon early, as you’ll have better options in the middle rounds.

OF- Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (#5)
Blackmon came out of nowhere in 2017 after steadily improving the last three seasons. What’s interesting is his LD% (22%) was the lowest since 2014 and vice versa on his GB% (41%). So, I’m going to deduce that Blackmon was incredibly lucky in 2017; his BABIP an unsustainable .371. Take a look at his ground ball contact and resulting hits (minus HRs).
Another odd fact is his 2017 K% (19%) also increased but his offensive potency still grew. So his plate discipline must have changed, right? No, nothing varied enough to note but I will point out his O-Swing% did increase a tad. So, again, Blackmon just happened to find the holes more regularly last year; it is worth recognizing that his hard contact when up 5%, which is well above any other mark in his career. What makes it more vexing is that he ranked 93rd in barreled contract ratio. If there is an MLB enigma club, Blackmon was its undisputed president in 2017.

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