Updated: Feb 3, 2020
We’ve now entered the stage when digging deep on individual players can create some stark differences between rankings, projections, and average draft position. And digging deep has presented some very intriguing tidbits that might surprise you.
Blake Snell has a 1.02 ERA when the Rays wear throwback hats. Just kidding. But the hats are great.
No. 41 – Blake Snell – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
Razzball/Steamer projections: 13-9, 3.42 ERA, 182.0 IP, 1.18 WHIP, 227 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 33 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 66 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 284
Quick thoughts: A case can be made Snell’s stuff, overall, was slightly better than last season, which showed in improved K%, K-BB%, and a very slight bump in whiff% and improvement in chase contact%. The big difference, obviously, was the lefty throwing just 107.0 innings because of surgery to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. Well, that an increased HR/FB rate despite a lower fly ball percentage compared to 2018. But that’s not as big of a worry given Snell is very good at limiting hard contact.
Snell’s velocity and results returned to Cy Young form. While anything negative about a throwing elbow for a pitcher does cause some concern, his strong finish to last season should alleviate some of that concern. Heck, this might be a tad low for Snell.
No. 42 – Yoan Moncada – 3B – Chicago White Sox
Razzball/Steamer projections: 97/28/81/12/.267
Current NFBC ADP: No. 67 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 56 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 57
Quick thoughts: Recently, I detailed Moncada’s 2019 season, his former prospect status, and came to the conclusion his lack of hype, both fantasy and real baseball, is odd. His very strong 2019 campaign can be attributed to a clear change in approach, and his talent is unquestioned. Plus, he’s 24 years old.
No. 43 – Jose Altuve – 2B – Houston Astros
Razzball/Steamer projections: 107/24/98/12/.296
Current NFBC ADP: No. 31 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 28 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 69
Quick thoughts: No, I wasn’t buzzed from something taped to my shoulder as a reminder to rank Altuve. For the fourth-straight season, Altuve's xBA and xwOBA declined. That said, if he plays near a full season, he'll produce. Plus, he posted quicker home-to-first times last season, and with better health and a new manager, he could run more.
No. 44 – Austin Meadows – OF – Tampa Bay Rays
Razzball/Steamer projections: 90/29/86/15/.272
Current NFBC ADP: No. 34 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 37 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 44
Quick thoughts: I’m not betting on Meadows playing 150 or more games. Throughout his career, there has always been some injury. That said, he finished as the No. 44 player last year despite playing 138 games. So, yes, it’s probably more likely he plays a little less than a little more. But if he does play more games, a top 25 fantasy player in this spot, especially with the added speed, is terrific.
No. 45 – Jonathan Villar – 2B/SS – Miami Marlins
Razzball/Steamer projections: 77/17/67/33/.257
Current NFBC ADP: No. 35 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 64 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 11
Quick thoughts: The batted ball metrics are about as exciting as showing up to a one-year-old’s birthday party and seeing it doesn’t have a Chick-Fil-A nugget tray like every other one. Such a letdown. However, Villar does one important thing: he steals bases even though his sprint speed is just above average. Well, another thing: he typically outperforms his expected statistics. And because his defense has often been terrible, he could be a candidate to add even more positional flexibility.
You’re not paying for consistency here, but if Villar’s 2020 is a blend of 2018 and 2019, that’s a good fantasy player with big contribution in a key area.
No. 46 – Shane Bieber – SP – Cleveland Indians
Razzball/Steamer projections: 14-9, 3.66 ERA, 201.0 IP, 1.13 WHIP, 217 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 27 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 49 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 34
Quick thoughts: There’s a lot to like about Bieber. He throws a lot of strikes and a lot of innings. He generates a lot of whiffs with both his curve and his slider, and he was ninth in SwStr% last season. Why don’t I love Bieber? The average exit velocity and hard hit% were among the worst in baseball. Maybe you’ll look back and say, “I know you know that I made those mistakes maybe once or twice.”
We like Lucas Giolito strikeouts as much as he does.
No. 47 – Lucas Giolito – SP – Chicago White Sox
Razzball/Steamer projections: 12-11, 4.26 ERA, 194.0 IP, 1.27 WHIP, 220 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 49 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 140 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 54
Quick thoughts: At the beginning of last season, Giolito was throwing his curve just over 11% of the time. At the end of the season, he was throwing it less than 1% during the month of September, and with good reason. It was getting hammered. In July, the pitch had a 1.424 xSLG, which is also the last month it registers for a split rating. It wasn’t a coincidence that was Giolito’s worst month of the season.
While the big righthander’s home run rate skyrocketed in the second half, his FB% remained pretty steady compared to season averages, and his K-BB% was an elite 29.1%. Sure, the fastball was hit too hard for the liking. However, Giolito’s expected numbers on non-curves were above average or better, and we can attribute his success to a significant change in his arm action, which is now much shorter and cleaner than it was. Keep in mind he’s just scratching the surface.
No. 48 – Anthony Rizzo – 1B – Chicago Cubs
Razzball/Steamer projections: 111/31/95/6/.283
Current NFBC ADP: No. 62 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 39 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 60
Quick thoughts: Finding good batting average contribution and production in two other areas is difficult to find as the draft progresses. Rizzo doesn’t smash the ball at a high rate, but his wOBA and xBA should rate near the top of baseball again. He feels like a safe bet for a batting average near or above .290 and 30 homers with 90 plus runs and maybe 100 plus RBI.
It’s not a flashy pick, and there isn’t much upside. But you know what you’re getting and could do way worse.
No. 49 – Keston Hiura – 2B – Milwaukee Brewers
Razzball/Steamer projections: 95/31/93/13/.271
Current NFBC ADP: No. 43 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 43 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 228
Quick thoughts: Remember when the Brewers sent Hiura down, played Travis Shaw, and then missed winning the division by two games? That was fun. I’m probably going to look at this ranking and shake my head when I move him up in an update because Hiura is extremely talented and hits the ball as hard and often as almost anyone in baseball. Plus, he swiped nine bags in 84 games.
That said, his contact rates are like wearing the drunk goggles out one night and waking up to something that doesn’t look like the sexy batted ball metrics. Among players with 300 plate appearances, he had the ninth worst SwStr%, and a 30.7 K%. Want to cringe? Rougned Odor is one of the most similar batters based on batted-ball data.
No. 50 – Tyler Glasnow – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
Razzball/Steamer projections: 11-9, 3.70 ERA, 163.0 IP, 1.23 WHIP, 202 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 71 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 122 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 218
Quick thoughts: Once upon a time, I, a Pirates fan, thought Tyler Glasnow would never throw enough strikes to unlock his elite stuff. How often do we see a guy that tall with those limbs on the mound firing strikes? Then he landed in the perfect situation with one of the best developmental organizations and a pitching coach that knows very well what it’s like to be a huge dude on the mound. Oh, and Tampa told him focus on control > strikes.
In the following areas, Glasnow rated in the top 2% of baseball: xBA, wOBA, xwOBA, and xwOBAcon. Like his teammate, Blake Snell, Glasnow did miss time with an elbow injury. But, like his teammate, he was his dominant self upon return.
We recommend keeping Eloy Jimenez's September finish to yourself.
No. 51 – Eloy Jimenez – OF – Chicago White Sox
Razzball/Steamer projections: 80/33/100/1/.279
Current NFBC ADP: No. 57 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 87 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 148
Quick thoughts: Jimenez hit .292/.328/.542 after the All-Star Break, which included an abysmal July. Want to get even more excited? He ended his first season with an incredible September - .311/.451/.708 (expected slash line) and by far his best month against breaking and offspeed stuff. Jimenez finished with a .349 xwOBA but his xwOBAcon was way higher at .454.
No. 52 – Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays
Razzball/Steamer projections: 84/26/96/3/.294
Current NFBC ADP: No. 56 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 68 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 337
Quick thoughts: Vladdy, Jr. is like the Tinder date that shows up and looks different than the photo. Underneath the hood, there’s not a ton that screams excellent despite the hype. This is where the eyeballs and some projection must come into play. He’s still just 20-years-old, made contact at solid rates, and looks like a generational hitting talent coming off a respectable second-half to his rookie season.
Last season, no one in baseball registered a higher single exit velocity, which is a good indicator for future success. With outstanding hand-eye coordination and bat-to-ball skill, big fella is less ice cream and more fly balls away from a big season.
No. 53 – Josh Hader – RP – Milwaukee Brewers
Razzball/Steamer projections: 4-3, 28 saves, 2.95 ERA, 65.0 IP, 1.04 WHIP, 106 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 65 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 31 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 71
Quick thoughts: I tried figuring out why Hader gave up such hard contact despite elite expected statistics and whiff numbers. It made my head hurt, and then I gave up. As long as he continues to miss bats at the rate he has and he’s closing for the Brewers, he’s going to contribute positively to ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and saves.
No. 54 – Patrick Corbin – SP – Washington Nationals
Razzball/Steamer projections: 13-9, 3.57 ERA, 194.0 IP, 1.23 WHIP, 220 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 47 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 55 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 63
Quick thoughts: Corbin has now started 32 games or more three seasons in a row, and finished No. 6 last season in SwStr%. Sure, he’s basically just a fastball-slider pitcher, but his slider was sensational again last season. Plus, pitching with a limited arsenal hasn’t prevented consistent success, although the jump in xSLG is a tad concerning.
No. 55 – Clayton Kershaw – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers
Razzball/Steamer projections: 14-9, 3.55 ERA, 204.0 IP, 1.16 WHIP, 209 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 55 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 54 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 50
Quick thoughts: The way some people talk about him you’d think Kershaw needs a walker to get to the mound and is entering his 57th year in the big leagues. Yeah, the velocity decline and a DL stint chance are very real, and his best years are moving farther in the rear-view mirror. However, he’s always been a pure pitcher more than just a stuff guy.
Last season, he finished sixth in F-Strike%, and 15th in SwStr% ahead of teammate Walker Buehler. This a point in the draft where wins might be hard to come by without sacrificing ERA, and Kershaw should provide both. Just don’t expect 200 innings and elite strikeout numbers.
No. 56 – Josh Donaldson – 3B – Minnesota Twins
Razzball/Steamer projections: 100/33/116/4/.268
Current NFBC ADP: No. 103 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 41 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 58
Quick thoughts: The only thing preventing Donaldson from being at least 10 maybe 20 spots higher on the list is age. He signed with one of the game’s best offenses and will play in a division with the Tigers and Royals. Juicy. Last season, the third baseman finished in the top 4% of barrel%, average exit velocity, hard hit%, and BB%. So far, he’s shown no signs of slowing down.
If Luis Castillo's pitch repertoire was a dating profile, the changeup gets paragraphs and fastball a sentence.
No. 57 - Luis Castillo – SP – Cincinnati Reds
Razzball/Steamer projections: 12-11, 3.83 ERA, 192.0 IP, 1.25 WHIP, 218 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 46 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 105 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 62
Quick thoughts: Only three pitchers in baseball last season finished with a better SwStr%: Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer. So why is Castillo this low? Only three pitchers finished with a worse F-Strike%: Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, and Dakota Hudson. As brilliant as Castillo’s changeup is, and Cincinnati wisely increased its usage, his fastball has been absolutely tattooed two years in a row.
No. 58 – Max Muncy – 1B, 2B, 3B – Los Angeles Dodgers
Razzball/Steamer projections: 96/30/81/4/.239
Current NFBC ADP: No. 75 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 169 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 56
Quick thoughts: Gets on base a lot, hits a lot of tanks, has positional flexibility, had pretty even L/R splits, and hits near the top in one of the best lineups in baseball. Is he the most likely guy in this part of the initial list to move down? Probably. Although, scoring and driving in 100 runs or more is well within reach.
No. 59 – Noah Syndergaard – SP – New York Mets
Razzball/Steamer projections: 12-11, 3.89 ERA, 198.0 IP, 1.21 WHIP, 202 SO
Current NFBC ADP: No. 73 Razzball Player Rater projection: No. 89 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: No. 176
Quick thoughts: Syndergaard finally throws over 190 innings and now no one wants to draft him because of a 4.28 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. The stuff didn’t change. So, what happened? Only five pitchers had a worst LOB%. With men on base, Syndergaard had a 3.75 FIP and 3.80 xFIP but also a 19.9 LOB%; with men in scoring position, the FIP and xFIP were both better, but the LOB% was -8.2%. How about this? In high leverage situations, the hard-throwing righty registered a 3.09 FIP, 3.40 xFIP, and -54.8 LOB%.
Bad luck? I’d say so, and a slight uptick into more normal SwStr% should help, although finishing 17th isn’t bad. Oh, cross your fingers for a new catcher too.
No. 60 – Charlie Morton – SP – Tampa Bay Rays
Razzball/Steamer projections: 13-10, 3.50 ERA, 195.0 IP, 1.19 WHP, 224 SO
Current NFBC ADP: 55
Razzball Player Rater projection: 62
Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 38
Quick thoughts: There aren’t many organizations, if any at all, better at getting the most out of a pitcher than Tampa Bay. While Morton’s four-seam average velocity dropped slightly, he improved his K%, BB%, ERA, WHIP, and threw the most innings of his career. Yeah, the age thing, but there are plenty of older pitchers ranked far ahead of Morton.
Images courtesy of AP Images.