March is a great month, full of fantasy drafts and college hoops.
Two of which are my favorite pastimes when I am not slavin’ away in the kitchen. This year however, there is only one pastime that I am happy to speak of.
I don’t know about you folks, but my bracket is absolute garbage. In fact it is so bad that I actually threw it away. Even then I threw up a brick. Of the 16 teams still in the hunt, I only predicted seven. If I were on Hell’s Kitchen, I would have gotten’ the boot with a performance like this. Just flat out embarrassing.
Luckily for me, I’m a chef not a professional gambler or else I would be hittin’ up the penny slots trying to scrap back from a bad run.
Now that I have moved past the distractions from the hardwood, there’s a lot to cover now that the season in underway. That reminds me, how many of you actually watched the opening series this weekend? If you’re like me, livin’ on the East Coast, the games aired at the oddest of times. In fact, so odd that I actually forgot to tune in. Well, we didn’t miss much.
Here’s a quick recap. Clayton Kershaw was back to his dominant ways. Paul Goldschmidt added four hits in two games. Trevor Cahill isn’t any good. Yasiel Puig continued his free-swinging ways to the tune of four strikeouts. Mark Trumbo can hit the ball far (2 HR).I could go on, but I’m not gonna.
There are still plenty of you (us) out there still awaiting drafts, meaning we have to get back into the kitchen and start cookin’.
Today’s Special: ADP Risers
Next Monday marks the league’s official Opening Day, so those of you still draftin’ need to know who is moving up the charts. There are a few things that are gonna cause these changes--improved health, increased spring production or a positive position battles decisions. All of which I’ve got my eye on.
Again, I may beat this up as much as I tenderize a chicken breast, but ADP research is not the end all solution to a great draft. It is just one of the many ingredients to needed to create the great dish we like to call fantasy success.
Like any good chef, fantasy owners need to have a prep list to lay out what needs to be done for the day. While I can’t touch on every player that has increased their value over the last few weeks, here’s a few guys that should be a part of your preparation.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B (CHC)--101.34 ADP--There has been much hype around Rizzo this spring and he sure is livin’ up to it. He has yet to crack the top 10 at his position according to ADP date, but he has enough seasoning to finish the year with that elite group. Through 38 spring at-bats, Rizzo is hitting .368 with two homers while only striking out six times. As long as his BB/K continues trending in the right direction (0.60 BB/K in ’13) there is not a doubt in my mind he will be a top 10 first baseman next year at this time. You can quote me on that one.
Matt Wieters, C (BAL)--102.22 ADP--After a hot start this spring, Wieters has quickly moved up the catcher rankings, almost as fast as my bracket landed in the trash can. We all know he can hit homers, but if his spring production carries over to the start of the season, this may be the year he finally hits for average. If not, oh well. He has now hit at least 20 home runs in three straight seasons, and is coming off of a season in which he posted a career-low 0.65 ground ball to fly ball rate. Drafting Wieters is like ordering your favorite burger from McDonald’s. You know exactly what you’re gonna get.
Austin Jackson, OF (DET)--142.80 ADP--I’m not the biggest Jackson supporter out there, but I have to pay respect when it is due. Jackson is tearing the cover off the ball moving on up from a Salisbury steak to a filet mignon. A .457 batting average with two homers and 12 RBI through 46 at-bats tends to do that to a players value, especially this close to the start of the season. More importantly, he has only been punched out five times over that span. Strikeouts have haunted him since being anointed the team’s starting center fielder, so if he can keep that down who knows how far he can go.
Brad Miller, SS (SEA)--195.95 ADP--This is where spring stats can be deceiving. Through 48 at-bats, Miller has smashed four home runs. He hit eight through 306 at-bats in 2013. To add to his power numbers, Miller is hitting .438 and has struck out an alarming 12 times. Does this warrant a move up over the 200 ADP mark? Probably not. But it isn’t stopping current drafters nonetheless.
Alex Wood, SP (ATL)--245.64 ADP--The Braves pitching staff has taken three big blows in 2014 and the regular season hasn’t even started yet. The latest news being Mike Minor will start the season on the disabled list. This means that Wood, who was fightin’ for the fifth spot in the rotation will now be in one of the top three spots. It’s good for him, but not for potential fantasy owners. At this point it doesn’t look like his ADP has caught up to the hype, but when it does you are going to have to pay more for someone viewed as a late-rounder. Just not something I’m comfortable doin’.
Nick Castellanos, 3B (DET)--250.26 ADP--Following the departure of Prince Fielder, the Tigers decided to move Miguel Cabrera back across the diamond leaving a void at the hot corner. Well, it didn’t take long for Castellanos to claim what was rightfully his, as he continues to tear it up this spring. Through 51 at-bats, Castellanos has gone 19-for-51 with two long balls and 16 RBI. Not to mention only six strikeouts. Like most young hitters he has struggled in the walk department (only 2 BB this spring), but he sure has made his mark. Add a dash more seasoning early on in the count and we could be onto somethin’ here.
Mike Moustakas, 3B (KC)--267.18 ADP--Is this the year we have all been waiting for? Will he finally put it all together? These questions have been circulating around Moustakas the last few seasons and will continue to do so until he proves it on the field. However, he looks like a new player this spring and is tearing the cover off the ball in the tune of four home runs and 17 RBI. Maybe, just maybe he has finally turned the corner. What I really like is that he has 10 walks through 57 plate appearances. Plate discipline mixed with increased power numbers could launch him into the next level among fantasy third basemen. As long as you can continue to buy low on him, the juice is worth the squeeze.
Yordano Ventura, SP (KC)--268.22 ADP--I really like this guy. In fact I have a man crush on him. If you read my colleague Howard Bender’s write-up on him (great stuff by the way) then you know how well he has done this spring. A lot of pitchers that throw in the triple-digits have trouble with command, but not Ventura (15:1 K:BB w/ a sub-2.00 ERA). In the restaurant world we use the phrase, “If you can’t take the heat then stay the hell out the kitchen.” That’s the kind of heat this kid brings. We aren’t talkin’ sticks and stones here we’re talkin’ gas. The kind of heat I love to cook with.
Joakim Soria, RP (TEX)--276.89 ADP--After a heated spring battle, the Rangers have picked their closer. Soria will enter the season as the team’s ninth inning leader, a job that should lead to much fantasy success. Remember, Soria was one of the most successful closers from 2008-2010 before a season-ending injury forced him out of the job and eventually out of Kansas City. He has since resurfaced after a year in mid-relief and will be looking to reestablish himself as an elite closer. Could it happen? Sure. But even if he finishes outside the top 15 his current ADP is still a great value. This is the type of value that could elevate you to executive chef in no time.
Michael Pineda, SP (NYY)--310.68 ADP--It is hard to believe that 2011 was the last time Pineda suited up for a big league start. That’s a long time ago. But that shouldn’t stop you from targeting him in upcoming drafts. He is pretty much a lock for the final spot in the Yankees starting rotation after posting a 1.20 ERA with 16 strikeouts and only one free pass through 15.0 spring innings. Considering how much time he has missed, those are very impressive. So what if it is spring training. As long as he stays off the trainer’s table there is no reason to believe he can’t pick up right where he left off on 2011. Keep in mind he will only 24-years-old on Opening Day. Still plenty of time to add seasoning and make a tasty dish.
Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF (SEA)--324.95 ADP-- Now entering his fourth season with the Mariners, Ackley has yet to live up to the hype. What it all his fault? No. Remember, he was a first basemen coming out of college. Then converted to second base and now roams the outfield. That is a lot to ask of a young player, and his struggles carried over to the batter’s box. His power has yet to translate to the big leagues, having recorded only 22 home runs through 1324 career plate appearances, leading to a 60.2 home run rate. His other asset was supposed to be his legs, but that has yet to show up, reaching double-digit steals only once since 2011. Although this seems like a recipe for disaster, a little seasoning and confidence could be just the ticket. He has improved immensely this spring, hitting .418 with 23 hits, two of which were home runs, through 55 at-bats. Since the last time I discussed Ackley he has moved up almost a whole round according to recent ADP data. So clearly he has made a lasting impact on the drafting community.
Rickie Weeks, 2B (MIL)--401.32 ADP--You are probably thinking, “Are you really talking about Rickie Weeks?” And the answer is yes. Weeks hit the waiver wire hard last season following a terrible start and an even worse finish. To the point that even the Brewers were starting to question having him in the lineup. Well, he must have felt the pressure because he has really turned it on this spring. Through 31 at-bats, Weeks is hitting .323 with 10 hits and 10 walks. Three fewer walks than he has strikeouts. That is something that we don’t normally see from Weeks. Will this carry over into the regular season? Probably not, but there is still some upside to his game if was to finish with under 100 strikeouts for the first time since 2009.
If I had time to cover them all, I would. But I have to get back to the kitchen.
Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!
ADP Source: National Fantasy Baseball Championship
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