So, I totally underestimated how much I work in February and March. Well, how much I used to work in March as my most insanely busy time of the season went from slammed to stopped thanks to COVID-19, which you can sing annoyingly to the tune of "Come on Eileen" if you're already overcome with boredom. Anyway, I'll explain more in another post that will make adjustments to my top 100, which seems like it was a year ago. Hell, Thursday seems like it was 10 years ago. Conveniently and frustratingly at the same time, the MLB season isn't starting for a long time, and I suddenly went from zero to all free time. Let's pick back up the rankings with Nos. 101-125: (Note: if you see a mention of playing time or statistics, just know it's in reference to a 162-game schedule. It's impossible to predict what the MLB schedule will look like after quarantine. However, Razzball/Steamer projects have updated to a projection of a 100-game MLB season. I'm not trying to contradict myself. Basically, if there is a reference to a guy playing like 130 games it's referring to a 162-game normal season. But the numerical fantasy slash line you'll see is based off 100 games. Note two: ADP was taken from the most recent two-week sample of NFBC Online Championships results.)
Moving from Comerica Park to Great American Launchpad makes Nick Castellanos smile.
No. 101 – Nicholas Castellanos – OF – Cincinnati Reds Razzball/Steamer projections: 53/16/54/2/.274 Current NFBC ADP: 83 Razzball Player Rater projection: 116 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 82 Quick thoughts: Hidden in Detroit the last few seasons has been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters, who is 27-years-old and received a lineup and park upgrade in a trade to the Reds. Let’s not overthink it. Castellanos is going to hit for a good average, score runs despite his below average OBP (wOBA, xwOBA, and xwOBAcon are much sexier), hit homers, and drive in runs.
No. 102 – Mike Moustakas – 2B/3B – Cincinnati Reds Razzball/Steamer projections: 56/22/62/2/.257 Current NFBC ADP: 96 Razzball Player Rater projection: 87 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 98 Quick thoughts: Let’s stick with the newly acquired Reds theme with the lefty bat scheduled to hit a spot ahead of Castellanos in the lineup against righties. While his teammate rated a spot above will likely provide more runs and a better batting average, Moose should provide more homers and RBI with some nice positional flexibility. Is last year’s jump in whiff% and decrease in contact% a concern? Slightly. The tradeoff for a better barrel% and hard hit% led to 35 homers.
No. 103 – Lance Lynn – SP – Texas Rangers Razzball/Steamer projections: 7-6, 3.72 ERA, 110.2 IP, 1.22 WHIP, 124 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 119 Razzball Player Rater projection: 79 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 65 Quick thoughts: I keep searching for reasons not to believe in Lynn, but I keep coming up empty. His first and second half splits were similar; his average fastball velocity was consistent all season; his pitch usage didn’t dramatically change from one month to another. He is 32-years-old coming off a career-high in innings, but he’s thrown a lot of innings before. Plus, it looks like his home ballpark should be a tad better for pitchers. Heck, if he ditched the sinker and its well below average results and increase his curve usage, he could get even better, assuming the fastball velocity doesn’t disappear as quickly as his team’s pursuit of a big-name third baseman.
No. 104 – Justin Turner – 3B – Los Angeles Dodgers Razzball/Steamer projections: 58/16/53/2/.281 Current NFBC ADP: No. 159 Razzball Player Rater projection: 92 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 122 Quick thoughts: Yes, he’s 35-years-old and more likely to play 130 games than 150. Actually, who the hell knows how many games will be played? He probably won't play close to all of them. But there is only one 35-year-old on the planet coming off a big increase in hard hit % scheduled to hit third in arguably the best lineup in baseball. Your first guess doesn’t count. Yes, Turner did go fishing out of the strike zone a little more last season, but if he plays the equivalent of 130 or more games, he will finish as a top 100 fantasy player.
No. 105 – Oscar Mercado – OF – Cleveland Indians Razzball/Steamer projections: 49/19/43/15/.256 Current NFBC ADP: No. 116 Razzball Player Rater projection: 135 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 183 Quick thoughts: Mercado finished in the 97th percentile of sprint speed last season, and swiped 15 bags in 19 attempts despite playing just 115 games. There’s a good chance he’s prime Lorenzo Cain-lite because he’s unlikely to hit .290. MLB hitting the pause button because of Coronavirus gives Mercardo's wrist more time to heal.
No. 106 – Frankie Montas – SP – Oakland Athletics Razzball/Steamer projections: 7-6, 4.13 ERA, 103.0 IP, 1.28 WHIP, 99 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 102 Razzball Player Rater projection: 161 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 186 (PEDs) Quick thoughts: If his season wasn’t cut short by a PED suspension, he’d probably be selected about 50 spots higher on average. He added a split finger last season, threw it 18.2% of the time, and it was arguably his best offering with 40.3 whiff% and 27.0 put away%.
No. 107 – Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. – OF – Toronto Blue Jays Razzball/Steamer projections: 43/16/51/5/.265 Current NFBC ADP: No. 149 Razzball Player Rater projection: 139 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 289 Quick thoughts: Although Bo Bichette and his gorgeous hair is Toronto’s everyday shortstop, there’s still a chance Gurriel can add to his position eligibility given his infield background. Regardless, Gurriel, projected to hit No. 3 in front of Vladdy, Jr., increased his launch angle, barrel %, xwOBAcon, and replicated his impressive 2018 average exit velocity and hard hit %. Yeah, he also increased his whiff%, which is a true concern. But these are his MLB numbers in 606 career plate appearances: 82/31/85/7/.279. If you believe just one of Bichette, Biggio, and Vladdy, Jr. will be better next season, shouldn’t Gurriel benefit?
Does Jose Berrios tip pitches with his mouth?
No. 108 – Jose Berrios – SP – Minnesota Twins Razzball/Steamer projections: 8-6, 4.47 ERA, 118.1 IP, 1.29 WHIP, 114 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 70 Razzball Player Rater projection: 143 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 106 Quick thoughts: Berrios finished as the No. 106 fantasy player last season, and besides age and maybe some positive regression with his curve, is there a reason to expect more? FIP the last three seasons: 3.84, 3.90, 3.85. SIERA: 4.29, 3.80, 4.30. His Statcast data those three seasons is similar, and he’s coming off a career-best ERA. There is value in consistency and being a known commodity, but Berrios is currently being drafted as an upside play, which isn’t supported by performance.
No. 109 – Michael Conforto – OF – New York Mets Razzball/Steamer projections: 59/20/54/3/.249 Current NFBC ADP: No. 129 Razzball Player Rater projection: 160 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 72 Quick thoughts: He’s played 150+ games back-to-back years and improved on 2018 with a 2019 that included more homers, more RBI, more runs, less grounders, more launch angle, and a more aggressive approach without a change in a below average whiff%. Plus, he swiped seven bags. Sounds like a top 100 fantasy player again. Conforto did suffer a grade-one, the mildest, oblique strain, which is a concern, and we know the Mets and injuries mix especially poorly. However, the delay in games should mean he'll be ready to go.
No. 110 – Liam Hendriks – RP – Oakland A’s Razzball/Steamer projections: 2-1, 16 saves, 3.15 ERA, 36.0 IP, 1.07 WHIP, 48 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 89 Razzball Player Rater projection: 107 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 96 Quick thoughts: Hendricks’s breaking ball stats are silly. His slider and curve both finished with whiff% above 50%. Delicious. Can we expect an 1.80 ERA again? No, but his 2.93 ERA projection seems very reasonable, and THE BAT’s 3.12 ERA projection almost feels like a worst-case scenario. With more saves and some ERA regression, he’s likely a top 100-type of player again.
No. 111 – Brad Hand – RP – Cleveland Indians Razzball/Steamer projections: 2-2, 19 saves, 3.66 ERA, 40.0 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 50 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 105 Razzball Player Rater projection: 104 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 119 Quick thoughts: Hand correctly diminished his sinker usage by about 12% last season because it was a bad pitch in 2018. But while his strikeout, FIP, and fWAR numbers were strong like usual, his ground ball % dropped substantially, which led to a 7.5% increase in fly balls. What you should probably expect this season is a similar campaign to 2019 with a better WHIP.
No. 112 – Jorge Soler – OF – Kansas City Royals Razzball/Steamer projections: 51/21/60/2/.257 Current NFBC ADP: No. 93 Razzball Player Rater projection: 106 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 22 Quick thoughts: Soler hit the ball harder than ever more often than ever, which led to a breakout 2019 campaign. Once upon a time, he had a ton of prospect hype attached to his name. So, it’s not like he came out of nowhere and lacks talent. The high number of whiffs are a concern, but he showed signs of breakout in 2018, and followed by lifting the ball more and hitting it harder in 2019. Soler played in all 162 games last season, which is not the norm in his career. Because of that, projection models don’t have him repeating 2019.
No. 113 – Shohei Ohtani – SP/UT – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Razzball/Steamer projections (hitting): 46/17/56/8/.281 Pitching: 6-4, 3.70 ERA, 85.1 IP, 1.21 WHIP, 106 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 146 Razzball Player Rater projection: 58 as hitter; 235 as pitcher Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 198 Quick thoughts: Ohtani’s value is totally dependent upon your league’s roster and scoring setting. An elite two-way talent, Ohtani would probably be a 30-homer, 20-steal hitter if he played 150 games. But figuring out his playing time between hitter or pitcher is difficult. In the right leagues, he’s absolutely worthy of a top 100 pick.
No. 114 – Lorenzo Cain – OF – Milwaukee Brewers Razzball/Steamer projections: 57/10/40/12/.277 Current NFBC ADP: No. 176 Razzball Player Rater projection: 81 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 204 Quick thoughts: Although it seemed Cain played most of last season less than 100%, his barrel%, xBA, xwOBAcon, hard hit%, and average exit velocity were all similar to his numbers the last five seasons, and people smarter than I at Baseball Savant have done some cool stuff showing how unlucky Cain was last season. The sprint speed dip was probably the biggest concern because so much of his value comes from speed, but Cain, entering his age-33 season, did swipe 18 bags last season, and an injury would explain the slow step. What’s the worst that could happen? He hits around .280 with 20 steals, 10 homers, and scores nearly 90 runs in a good lineup? Yeah, that’s not bad.
Very consistent at hitting homers, getting on base, being in the lineup, and playing guitar.
No. 115 – Carlos Santana – 1B – Cleveland Indians Razzball/Steamer projections: 55/18/62/2/.260 Current NFBC ADP: No. 148 Razzball Player Rater projection: 103 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 40 Quick thoughts: Yeah, the batting average was inflated, but nothing else about Santana’s 2019 was a fluke. All his swing and miss rates were similar, and he elevated his average exit velocity and hard hit% substantially. For nine-straight years, Santana has eclipsed the 600-plate appearance mark. There are no signs of slowing down for Cleveland’s projected No. 3 hitter.
No. 116 – Corey Seager – SS – Los Angeles Dodgers Razzball/Steamer projections: 55/14/54/1/.279 Current NFBC ADP: No. 153 Razzball Player Rater projection: 117 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 144 Quick thoughts: Because of his 2018 season, people are acting like Seager was shipped off to war and returned without a foot. Since he was handed the reigns in LA during 2016, he’s played 157, 145, 26, and 137 professional games. So, is he that big of an injury risk? No, probably not. What’s more concerning is the big dip in xBA from .304, .299, .293 to .261 last season. Seager’s hard hit %, sweet spot%, xwOBAcon, and xSLG all dipped too. So, the questions entering 2020 are fair. However, we’ve seen the talent and skill produce for full seasons more often than not in his career, and the lineup is terrific. He's only 25-years-old. Betting on the talent seems the best avenue. If last season is a worst-case scenario, you’re still essentially getting equal value for picking him here.
No. 117 – Adam Eaton – OF – Washington Nationals Razzball/Steamer projections: 56/9/41/7/.282 Current NFBC ADP: No. 201 Razzball Player Rater projection: 123 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 107 Quick thoughts: A return to a full season resulted in 15 steals and 103 runs. Plus, a huge increase in launch angle delivered more homers without sacrificing his xBA and K%. He’s probably not going to help in RBI, but another full season will result in a finish above this draft position.
No. 118 – Mike Soroka – SP – Atlanta Braves Razzball/Steamer projections: 7-6, 4.09 ERA, 105.0 IP, 1.29 WHIP, 92 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 104 Razzball Player Rater projection: 179 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 88 Quick thoughts: I don’t really trust sinker guys because there’s a reason many pitchers are encouraged to ditch the pitch at the MLB level, and it takes control away from the pitcher because of how often the ball is put in play. But Soroka could be the exception because of his pedigree, excellent slider, and good changeup; he’s not just a two-pitch pitcher living off the sinker. If you expect a 2.68 ERA again, you’re going to be disappointed, especially with Josh Donaldson gone from third base. But there’s some sneaky strikeout upside hidden in his arsenal.
No. 119 – Zac Gallen – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks Razzball/Steamer projections: 6-6, 4.19 ERA, 94.0 IP, 1.28 WHIP, 103 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 113 Razzball Player Rater projection: 194 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 352 Quick thoughts: Gallen’s fastball, changeup, and curve all rated as good pitches last season, and his track record in the minors suggests an improvement in BB% is coming. A trendy breakout pick in 2020 by the fantasy industry, the only thing keeping Gallen from a higher placement is the strange comments coming from the Diamondbacks about him being in a battle for a rotation spot. A battle? He might be the best pitcher in that organization.
No. 120 – Edwin Diaz – RP – New York Mets Razzball/Steamer projections: 2-2, 16 saves, 2.86 ERA, 40.1 IP, 1.04 WHIP, 61 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 108 Razzball Player Rater projection: 62 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 236 Quick thoughts: Although Diaz’s K% dipped, he was again in the top 1% of baseball. Those betting on a huge bounceback will point to the 26.8 HR/FB%, a truly insane number expected to go way down, especially for a reliver with Diaz’s strikeout stuff. Those concerned will point to the concerning developments with launch angle, barrel%, hard hit%, and xwOBAcon. If you want to bet on upside, go ahead. But most of his underlying numbers read like his fantasy draft status is surrounded by yellow caution tape.
No. 121 – Yasmani Grandal – C – Chicago White Sox Razzball/Steamer projections: 45/16/47/2/.239 Current NFBC ADP: No. 106 Razzball Player Rater projection: 111 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 94 Quick thoughts: The White Sox didn’t sign Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal to ride the bench. He’s going to play, and he’s going to hit. Well, he’s not going to hit for even a decent batting average, but the homers, RBI and runs scored will be there as the cleanup man in a much-improved White Sox lineup.
David Price was always more of a Magic than Bird guy.
No. 122 – David Price – SP – Los Angeles Dodgers Razzball/Steamer projections: 7-5, 3.68 ERA, 99.2 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 107 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 145 Razzball Player Rater projection: 119 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 304 Quick thoughts: At 34-years-old and coming off an injury-shortened 2019, there’s reason for concern as it relates to Price’s diminishing fastball velocity and ability to throw a ton of innings, like he did for most of his seasons earlier in his career. But here’s the reality about Price: he can really, really pitch and doesn’t rely on velocity; the move to LA should help; he increased his K% significantly and struck out more batters per nine innings than ever; a vast majority of projection models like him to be a sub 4.00 ERA pitcher.
No. 123 – Gavin Lux – 2B – Los Angeles Dodgers Razzball/Steamer projections: 43/11/46/6/.266 Current NFBC ADP: No. 167 Razzball Player Rater projection: 186 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: N/A Quick thoughts: An elite talent in an elite lineup, Lux could outperform his draft spot, which is at least partially influenced by people trying to project where he hits in the lineup. But what if he moves way up in the lineup? It’s possible. A future superstar, Lux could give owners a poor man’s five-category production.
Of course, he could also be sucked into a platoon situation thanks to the Dodgers plethora of options, and his shaky career splits against lefties. That said, I'm betting on the talent.
No. 124 – Eduardo Rodriguez – SP – Boston Red Sox Razzball/Steamer projections: 7-6, 4.17 ERA, 111.0 IP, 1.31 WHIP, 116 SO Current NFBC ADP: No. 132 Razzball Player Rater projection: 136 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 83 Quick thoughts: Anytime a pitcher with the recurring knee issues Rodriguez has had experiences a knee injury early in camp, there is reason for concern. But he recently threw a sim game and reportedly owned Rafael Devers several times. Devers is one of the best hitters on the planet. Sure, E-Rod’s WHIP will scare some folks, and fairly so. That said, batters have difficulty doing two important things against Rodriguez: they struggle to hit the ball hard and in the air. Plus, the lefty had three pitches with a 19.0% or better PutAway% last year, and he has a full arsenal to attack hitters with. We’ve haven’t’ seen the best of him yet.
No. 125 – Yasiel Puig – OF – Free Agent Razzball/Steamer projections: 28/10/31/5/.268 Current NFBC ADP: No. 210 Razzball Player Rater projection: 602 Razzball Player Rater 2019 season: 73 Quick thoughts: Someone is going to sign Puig, right? RIGHT?! He would make sense for the Rockies which means the Rockies won’t sign him. There are too many bad outfields on bad teams for Puig not to be signed. Until he’s signed, he’s a risk, but once he is signed, his ADP will soar because of the 20-20 - or scheduled-adjusted equivalent - likelihood. Images courtesy of AP Images