With Opening Day right around the corner, in this final edition of ADP Trends, we will take a look at some of the more notable risers and fallers during the draft season. A few months ago, or a few weeks ago in some cases, you could have had some players at a much lower price. However, due to a suspected increase in role or production, they have flown up the boards, a la the first player under the Notable Risers section. Conversely, a bad signing or an unfortunate situation hurt a few guys, causing them to fall down some draft boards.
Regardless the situation, we examine some of the notable risers and fallers, and if you have yet to draft, this will give you the upper-hand on your opponents, because this article explains how a player has fluctuated during draft season.
Mallex Smith, TB OF (+122)
Smith was far and away the largest riser this draft season. His average ADP jumped from nearly 400 to pick 276! Back at the beginning of February, Smith wasn’t picked higher than the 326th pick, which is in the 28th round of a 12-team league! However, in recent weeks, in one draft, which I believe I was involved in, an owner took Smith with the 99th overall pick! That’s in the 9th round! While that was a strong outlier, it’s an indicator of just how valuable speed is in the current state of fantasy baseball.
Smith’s 162-game average places him as a .256 hitter with a .323 on-base percentage, five home runs and going 34-for-48 on the base paths. In 153 big league games, he has a success rate of 71 percent on stolen base attempts, but it’s worth noting he’s yet to play in a regular role for a full big league campaign. Tampa Bay is poised to give him plenty of run in the outfield, and his speed prowess is why fantasy owners are jumping to grab him in many drafts. The longer you can hold off on Smith the better, because he’s an injury risk and his offensive game is far from strong.
Blake Treinen, OAK RP (+19)
If you’re punting saves and plan on drafting zero closers, this likely won’t concern you. If you were hoping to snag Treinen late as your main source of saves, be prepared to draft him a round or two earlier than you were originally expecting. His overall numbers on the season aren’t great, but if you reduce the sample size to just his 38 innings as the Oakland closer, he was pretty darn good. In those 38 innings, he posted a K/9 of 9.95, an ERA of 2.13 and was 13-for-16 on save opportunities. He pitches in a good ballpark for pitchers and with the power hitters in the Oakland lineup, they should be able to put some runs on the board. The Athletics rank in the top of the league in terms of save opportunities in each of the past two seasons, and the team hasn’t changed all that much.
If we get the version that we saw in Washington at the beginning of 2017, he will disappoint a lot of owners. However, if Treinen picks up where he left off at the end of last season, he could easily be a top 10 closer. He’s currently the 16th reliever off the board in most drafts, but a repeat of his last 38 innings in 2017 would result in a top 10 closing option in 2018.
Matt Harvey, NYM SP (+17)
Harvey was one of the best pitchers in fantasy in 2013 and 2015, but that seems so long ago. Since getting Tommy John surgery back in August of 2013, he’s dealt with right shoulder discomfort, elbow soreness, a stress injury to his right scapula, and most recently, surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Will Harvey ever regain his prior form? Probably not to that elite level, but he could certainly be a serviceable No. 3 starter in the bigs.
Through five spring starts, Harvey is sporting a 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and a 8.1 K/9, which is comparable to his career mark of 8.70. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that his 2.70 BB/9 mark is much closer to his career mark (.244) than his 4.56 BB/9 he posted in 2017. Of course, buying into spring training performances too much can be detrimental, but with a guy coming off surgery and arm issues in the recent past, it’s always nice to see some bounce back early on in the spring. While his ADP is moving up, he can still be had in the 27th round of a 12-team draft, likely making him your fifth, sixth or perhaps even seventh starting pitcher. That investment is well worth the risk.
Aaron Altherr, PHI OF (-26)
Altherr was everything and then some the Phillies were hoping for in 2017. With a triple slash of .272/.340/.516 and 19 home runs in 107 games, Altherr is in a prime position to produce in Philadelphia. However, the signing of Carlos Santana created a logjam in the Philadelphia outfield. The signing of Santana forces Rhys Hoskins to the outfield, leaving Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams and Altherr fighting for the final two spots. Altherr will be a part time player, meaning a full season’s workload just isn’t going to be in the cards for him from the onset.
His ADP has dropped over two full rounds in 12-team formats, and as one of the final picks in your draft, Altherr is worth a flier. If Herrera or Williams were to falter or get injured, Altherr waltzes into a full-time, everyday gig and from the production we saw in 2017, he will easily pay off the late round pick you used on him. He does carry some risk, given that he doesn’t have a guaranteed full-time gig and his injury history is far from spotless, including two separate stints on the disabled list with a balky right hamstring. However, he’s a much better bet than some of the guys around him in terms of his current average draft position.
Felix Hernandez, SEA SP (-28)
Up until halfway through 2016, Hernandez was a beacon of durability in a league where many pitchers are brittle. In 2016, Hernandez went to the disabled list with a right calf strain, causing him to miss a few starts. However, in 2017, Hernandez couldn’t escape the injuries. He was limited to just 86.2 innings across 16 starts, due to serving time on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis and right biceps tendinitis. At 31 years of age, could we be seeing the writing on the wall with King Felix? Are the 200+ innings each year from 2008 to 2015 be wearing him down? He’s thrown 190 or more innings in all but three professional seasons, which is quite a testament to how much of a workhorse he was in the prime of his career.
Before last year’s injury-ridden season, Hernandez’s K/9 had dropped each year since 2013, and the walks have jumped up to as high as 3.82 BB/9 in 2016. Father Time always wins, and Hernandez isn’t exactly trending in the right direction. King Felix was one of the best pitchers during this time, but his fantasy value for 2018 is arguably the lowest it has been since he became the ace of the Seattle Mariners. The Mock Draft Army must feel the same way, because his average draft position continues to fall.
Aaron Hicks, NYY OF (-26)
Hicks’ draft capital has been declining, and since the beginning of February, his average draft position has dropped a whole 26 picks. Why? In 88 games last season, Hicks hit 15 home runs, stole 10 bags, drove in 52 runs and had an impressive .372 on-base percentage, aided by an excellent 14.1 percent walk rate. In OBP leagues, Hicks receives a nice boost, but f in traditional leagues that value batting average, his stock is reduced slightly. Furthermore, despite being locked into a job in center field for the Yankees, his injury history likely pushes him down many draft boards. Take a look for yourself.
Left hamstring strain
Right shoulder strain
Strained right forearm
Strained left hamstring
Right hamstring strain
Right oblique strain
Left oblique strain
Hicks has spent time on the disabled list every season since 2013 and as many theorists agree, history tends to repeat itself. Barring any major injury, he should set a new career-high in games played, resulting in what could be a home run total in the high teens and a stolen base total in the low teens. His reduced price makes him more appealing, but the injury history is alarming.