2023 Fantasy Baseball Player Debate: Is Jake McCarthy Worth Targeting at his Current ADP?
Published: Mar 22, 2023
Updated: Mar 22, 2023
Your fantasy baseball draft is finally here and you're sitting in your war room watching a variety of picks being selected. You have prepared for this. You've read through the entire fantasy baseball draft guide. You've studied the fantasy baseball player rankings, done a few fantasy baseball mock drafts and you've got the fantasy baseball cheat sheet right in front of you. You know you need to find stolen bases, but who are the right guys to target for it? That's what the Fantasy Alarm Player Debate series is all about and for today, Matt Selz and Ray Kuhn offer up their thoughts on if Jake McCarthy is worthy of being an option at his price. Good luck!
Why You Should Draft Jake McCarthy At His ADP
by Ray Kuhn
It cannot be ignored; you need stolen bases to be competitive in fantasy baseball. Of course, you can punt the category, but that often does not work out according to plan, and head-to-head and points leagues require a different thought process, but in straight 5x5 Roto, you will need stolen bases.
And that is why we are here to make the case for Jake McCarthy. I will concede though, that it is not a straight line or a clear path to McCarthy for the 2023 season, but there is value in the Arizona outfielder and he is a worthy target on the right team.
Last season, in an organization that sports top outfield prospects that carry a great deal more helium in Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas, McCarthy emerged seemingly from nowhere and played his way into an everyday role with the Diamondbacks.
McCarthy did a great job of taking advantage of his opportunity by hitting .283 with eight home runs, 43 RBI, and 53 runs scored in 99 games but more importantly, he stole 23 bases. While there was value in the other production, it is those stolen bases specifically that have resulted in McCarthy being the 26th outfielder off the board in NFBC drafts since March 1st with an ADP of 115.
As we head into the 2023 season, McCarthy is slated to bat third for an Arizona team that is also lacking in the way of other options, so the first point of clarification here is that the path to playing time is clear. But other than stolen bases, what else can we expect from McCarthy? And perhaps more importantly, will he hit enough to stay in the lineup and steal those bases?
On the surface, fantasy managers (and the Diamondbacks for that matter) would certainly sign up for a repeat performance in 2023. While a look at McCarthy’s Statcast page from the perspective of batted ball data is not really going to excite anyone, he is still a solid bet for around 15 home runs with a fair amount of runs and RBI. Batting third should also help from that angle in what could prove to be an intriguing lineup led by Carroll at the top, the power of Christian Walker and the potential resurgence of veterans Ketel Marte and Lourdes Gurriel Jr..
Following a .349 BABIP and .249 xBA last season, it is hard to expect McCarthy to finish much higher than the .250/.260 range, but we can make that work. He does keep the ball out of the air with a 49.2% ground ball and 22.3% line drive rate, so he does have that going for him.
If we want to look at similar players, granted Tommy Edman has dual middle infield eligibility, but his Steamer projection, aside from runs scored, is quite similar to McCarthy and he is coming off the board an average of 42 picks higher.
We can feel comfortable with McCarthy stealing 30 bases with solid production otherwise, so if he fits your team build, give him a shot.
Why You Shouldn’t Draft Jake McCarthy in 2023
by Matt Selz
Jake McCarthy took the fantasy baseball world by storm last year when he came back up the Diamondbacks in July. Over the second half he hit .300 with five homers and 22 steals. That’s on the level with Jon Berti which we’ll touch on in a minute. That sounds great and like a guy you should be looking at this year right? Especially if we extrapolate the numbers for a full season. But we need to take a deeper look at his numbers to see why he’s not exactly who I’d be targeting in 2023 fantasy baseball drafts, and certainly not at his ADP.
Once we start looking deeper into McCarthy’s numbers the shine really starts to get knocked off. While he did hit .283 on the season, his xBA, according to Statcast, was .247. Even his .337 wOBA isn’t as pretty when looking at his xwOBA at .295. That’s not great is it? There’s more too. In August, over 26 games, he hit .308 but then in September, over 28 games, that AVG fell to .275. A drop of more than 30 points. Sure, guys go on slumps and cold spurts but this is something else entirely. It’s his true abilities coming to the forefront. There is plenty to decipher in his Statcast numbers, which show up in the image below, but some split stats show it well enough for now. McCarthy hit just .227 at home compared to .323 on the road and while the average was good against breaking balls and offspeed — at least .294 — he hit more average against fastballs at .274. The Whiff % on the breaking and off speed pitches though were very high at at least 35.5-percent. That’s a mixed bag of results.
With the top line numbers in mind, let’s take a look at his batting profile as a whole:
The first thing that pops out is all of the blue on the chart. As we know, blue on these charts isn’t good. It shows that he’s basically below-average in everything except for Sprint Speed. Of course we’re expecting to see him with elite speed, that’s what he’s known for. However, the rest of it is representative of his xBA an xwOBA marks more than his actual standard stats. In fact, his Hard Hit % actually got worse in September is did his Medium Hit % while the Soft Hit % went up by 10-percent. Didn’t you say that you we’re going to talk about Jon Berti in a minute? Yep, here comes the Jon Berti comp.
Doesn’t the above screenshot look eerily similar to McCarthy’s percentiles? In fact, in some regards Berti is actually the better hitter from last year. The Miami utility man posted a .237 xBA and .307 xwOBA which is basically the same as McCarthy’s expected stats. However, Berti did that in a tougher hitter’s park and a tougher hitter’s division. Berti qualifies multiple spots, stole 41 bags and had more runs last year yet, there’s a major difference in ADP. When looking at NFBC ADP from February 1 to late-March, McCarthy is going at 109 overall and OF27 but Berti is going off at 297 which is the 29th 2B off the board or 27th 3B off the board. So if both of these players are essentially the same player in terms of skill set and expected stats why is there nearly a 200 spot difference in ADP?
Oh, McCarthy is expected to be a starter while Berti is a utility man right? Well are we so sure that McCarthy is holding the starting spot? The Diamondbacks traded for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Kyle Lewis in the offseason and have Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll as regular starters. Let’s not forget about Pavin Smith, Ketel Marte, and Josh Rojas who can play outfield in a pinch too. Oh yeah and Evan Longoria who can play third and DH to help move guys around too. That’s a lot of players to hold off for playing time if McCarthy starts slowly or goes into a slump.
With his batted ball profile, him being basically a one-stat contributor, playing time concerns, and qualifying at one of the deepest positions in fantasy baseball, is he worth an ADP of just outside the top-100? My argument is no. There is too much risk of regression and there are plenty of players with a similar contribution level going way later in drafts.
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