Remember back in high school when your class elections were going down? People weren’t necessarily voting for the person whom they thought would do the best job. They were voting for the person they liked the most. It was a popularity contest, not a political election. Well, sometimes when assessing your fantasy baseball draft plan, you need to look at players much in the same way. Not that you’re selecting them based on their popularity, but adjusting your strategy based on it. The more popular they are the higher the auction bid and the higher some people may be willing to reach for them in snake drafts. With the help of the trend report on Mock Draft Central, a good gauge for player popularity amongst the masses, we’re going to check and see just who would have earned a place on the student council had they been in fantasy baseball high school right now.
Yordano Ventura, SP KC
|2 Weeks Ago:||Not Drafted|
He was already trending upwards in the NFBC so to see him start getting more attention from the masses comes as little surprise. He was just named the fifth starter for the Royals, and owns a 1.76 ERA with a 15:1 K:BB over 15.1 innings this spring. He can hit triple-digits on the radar gun when he digs down, but his fastball routinely sits in the mid to upper-90’s. He also throws a cutter and continues to fine-tune his curveball and changeup. Obviously spring numbers must be taken with a grain of salt, but he’s got the stuff to be a front-end starter and should prove his worth this season.
Archie Bradley, SP ARI
|2 Weeks Ago:||Not Drafted|
The injury to Patrick Corbin has opened the door even wider for Bradley who was supposed to be a mid-season call-up anyway. Now, he may end up with a spot in the rotation to start the season. His numbers in the minors look fantastic though his call-up to Double-A last season had some flaws, particularly found in the drop in K-rate and rise in walks. He’s had some command issues during the spring, as evidenced by his six walks in 8.1 innings, but he’s also got 10 strikeouts and hasn’t allowed a home run. He’s not a lock for a spot just yet, but could be in there sooner than later.
Josmil Pinto, C MIN
|2 Weeks Ago:||Not Drafted|
I have to admit, I’m on the fence with regard to drafting Pinto this year. His minor league numbers dictate average plate discipline and fairly good power. His spike in strikeouts and drop in walks last season were understandable given the move up, but I just don’t know how real the power is; whether or not it is sustainable, especially at Target Field. His 454.96 ADP shows that he’s not on many people’s radar, and the ones who are drafting him are likely doing it as a second catcher and never until the very end of the draft. Hard to picture him rising much more given the depth at the position, but you never know.
Michael Pineda, SP NYY
|2 Weeks Ago:||372.24|
The Pineda whom the Yankees dealt Jesus Montero for has finally arrived. While spring numbers always need to be taken with a grain of salt, how do you ignore a 14:1 K:BB over nine shutout innings? You can’t. Prior to the shoulder injury, the surgery and the subsequent lengthy rehabilitation, Pineda was absolutely outstanding. He dazzled for the Mariners and finished his rookie season with a 3.74 ERA (3.42 FIP) and a 9.11 K/9 over 171 innings. Had the shoulder issue not arrived, who knows how good he could have been. Now that he’s back and pitching well this spring, he’s becoming the belle of the ball.
David Price, SP TB
|2 Weeks Ago:||117.92|
It’s always comical to see fantasy owners leap off a failing pitcher’s bandwagon like rats from a sinking ship. I say comical because this is Price we’re talking about and those who abandoned him last year were kicking themselves once he came back in the second half. After a brutal April in which he finished with a 5.21 ERA, May got even uglier as he posted a 5.29 mark in just 17 innings before landing on the disabled list. However, once he came back, it was almost the Price of old as he posted a 2.87 ERA over 108 second-half innings. Sure, he slowed a bit in September but nothing to the point where you needed to be too concerned as an owner. Now this year, Price is 100-percent healthy and ready to roll. He’s got a 2.70 ERA over 13.1 innings, but most importantly, he’s got a 15:2 K:BB ratio. He’s already moved back into the top-100 overall in drafts and could continue to rise this week while everyone is getting in those last-minute drafts.
Yasmani Grandal, C SD
|2 Weeks Ago:||439.45|
He’s like that kid in the corner that no one pays attention to anymore because someone’s mom caught him doing drugs one day. But Grandal is suddenly expected to be ready for Opening Day and should be behind the dish when the Padres open the season against the Dodgers. Obviously the home park isn’t very good, even with the alterations, but Grandal has legitimate power lurking. I don’t think he’s first-catcher material, and neither does the fantasy community based on the ADP numbers, but if you’re looking for a serviceable No. 2 who should see the majority of starts, then he’s not a bad option.
Justin Verlander, SP DET
|2 Weeks Ago:||84.19|
Is it a rebound year for Verlander or are we in the midst of his decline? The sabermetric community says that his advanced metrics show that he’s virtually the same pitcher and you can expect him to finish amongst the top starters in 2014, but I don’t necessarily know if I’m drinking that Kool-Aid. Strikeouts are down, walks are up and, most importantly, velocity is down. Now I’m not saying that he’s going to completely fall apart, but the sixth or seventh round (his current ADP) is probably as high as I would go with him. There are so many other great pitching options available to you, especially at that point in your draft that you might want to re-think that notion that he’ll be a Cy Young hurler once again. It’s like musical chairs – no one wants to be the guy without the chair when the music stops. Do you want to be holding the bag when Verlander doesn’t deliver?
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF DET
|2 Weeks Ago:||315.37|
We’re looking at a three to four round jump for Castellanos in just the last two weeks, so we’re talking some serious popularity. He’s like the new kid in school who does something to immediately impress the cool kids and curry favor. In this case, we’re the cool kids and his impressive feat is a .373 spring average with three home runs and 16 RBI over 51 at-bats. He’s not going to hit like this all year, but it’s become extremely promising to have someone like this joining the third base ranks. Some leagues make it tough because you might have to draft him as an outfielder and then move him after reaching the league eligibility but given the reasonable price tag, he should be worth it.
Cliff Lee, SP PHI
|2 Weeks Ago:||38.81|
He’s like your senior class treasurer. He’s been elected every year since you were a freshman because he’s always consistent and he’s always done a good job. His percentage increase only amounts to a handful of picks, so we’re not looking at a massive jump or anything. He goes where he goes and you can choose to pay for him or not. If you do, you know exactly what you’re getting.
Jose Bautista, OF TOR
|2 Weeks Ago:||22.25|
He continues to draw steady attention and even with the slight increase in ADP, sits right on the cusp of the top-20 overall. His power likely won’t ever be what it was, but 30-homer potential is definitely in-play here. Personally, I think he continues to climb the ADP ranks because those who own him just love being able to call him Joey Bats. Had he still had his third base eligibility, I’d be all over him, but for the price, I’d rather wait a couple of rounds and grab Mark Trumbo. Just sayin’.
By trentjb, 3/24/2014 12:49 AM
By ryknots, 3/24/2014 6:48 PM
Castellanos isn't 3b eligible in my league, but I like his upside and I can stash him until he is 3b, bc I don't ever know what to expect from third basemen. They all seem to get hurt a lot.