JFBL Keepers: Part III of V

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - ShowSo as soon as I drafted the last roundup three more sets of keeper rolled in. Thanks dicks. We’re now down to 5 teams to go. Let’s check in with our latest updates:

Kelly: Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Ian Desmond, Cris Carter, Garrett Richards

Let’s start with the lone pitcher. Perhaps I’m missing something here but Garrett Richards doesn’t get nearly enough love in the rankings. He’s steadily improved throughout his big league career and boasted a 2.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and a 8.8 K/9 last season. All career highs. This would trouble me more if his stats hadn’t been trending in that direction throughout both his major and minor league career (look at the stats, he adjusted and improved at each rung of the minors as he moved towards the show). He’s a solid keeper and, if the improvement continues, a candidate for a breakout year.

Miguel, the rare player who like Prince or Kanye can simply go by a single name, needs no description other than to say he is upper crust elite. Ortiz is an on base and run production monster. Ian Desmond is a top option at a premium position. Carter, the lone weak spot, produces power in a league suddenly devoid of it. The only drawback with Carter is his low OBP and one-category production. Regardless, one could do far worse for a 5th keeper. Kelly’s lack of balance might haunt him, keeping four offensive players to one pitcher (a trend followed by our next two contestants), but he should be able to add a top notch arm with one of his first two picks. Solid keepers across the board.

NTMVW: Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Gomez, Anthony Rendon, Corey Dickerson, Matt Harvey

NTMVW has a strong set of keepers here. The headliners, Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Gomez are the poster children for post-hype sleepers. In the years since they were elite prospects turned flops, they’ve each transformed into top tier players at their respective positions.

In Rendon and Dickerson I see two guys going in different directions. Rendon had a breakout season in 2014 and the rare distinction of being eligible at two premium positions (2B/3B). He showed impressive pop in 2014, belting 21 HR. If he can simply repeat this season he should be a top 20 player but I think he’ll continue to improve. It’s important to note that last season Rendon’s batting average on balls in play did not change significantly from 2013, nor did his ground ball to fly ball ratio. What did change was his fly ball home run percentage. In fact, 7.7% of the time Rendon hit a fly ball or line drive to the outfield, it left the yard. Compare that to a 4.7% mark in 2013. Further, Rendon struck out a lower percentage of the time (15.2% v. 17.5%) and walked more (8.5% to 7.9%) per plate appearance as compared to 2013. In other words, Rendon got stronger and became a more patient hitter in 2014. I believe the trend continues this year with him as he continues to scale the rankings on the way to becoming fantasy elite.

Dickerson I’m less sold on. His batting average on balls in play was .356, some.57 point above league average. Likewise, his groundball to flyball ratio was 0.59, far below the league average of 0.84 meaning that he hit an inordinate amount of balls in the air and, of those fly balls and line drives, he homered a shocking, and likely unrepeatable, 13% of the time (league average 6.9%). In other words, regression is imminent for Dickerson who hit into some fortunate situations last season. Not to say he’ll be bad, but the peak of the mountain has likely been reached, a slight reduction in productivity is likely, and Dickerson may be prove to be more of a solid utility/bench plug in player this season.

As far as Harvey is concerned, much like Jose Fernandez and, to an extent, Masahiro Tanaka, I anticipate his youth will be to his benefit and he’ll round into form by the all star break. Regardless, NTMVW is in an excellent position to pick up pitching in the draft if he so chooses which will balance out his roster nicely. With 3 studs, a (almost) live arm, and a solid player at a position where you need depth, NTMVW heads into the season situated nicely.

JPOWW: Buster Posey, Adrian Beltre, Christian Yelich, Mookie Betts, Gerrit Cole Elvis Andrus

This year’s winner for keepers who sound like a boy band? Why it’s Buster, Adrian, Christian, Mookie, and Gerrit Elvis of course. Either that or a modern day, racially inclusive version of Our Gang. Regardless, strength at two premium positions right off the top with Posey and Beltre. Posey is the only catcher truly worth stretching out to own and Beltre has been solid at a weak position for years at this point. Cole, as well, is a solid keep. His name might not hit you that way for whatever reason, but after another solid season Cole is starting to put together a stat line reminiscent of Gio Gonzalez with a 3.45 career ERA, 1.19 career WHIP, and 8.4 career K/9. Not a guy you want to be your best pitcher but you’d certainly take him on your squad.  The last minute replacement of Elvis Andrus for Gerrit Cole makes little sense to me.  Andrus has proven to be nothing more than a “best of the worst” level shortstop who has never distinguished himself statistically.  JPOWW made the fatal error of valuing perceived position scarcity over productivity in making a panic move on the way to pigeonholing himself into an unbalanced roster.

See what I had to say about Softness’ keepers, Russ Springer and Jorge Soler except maybe lower the ceiling a little while keeping the floor intact for JPOWW’s other two offensive keepers. Yelich and Betts could either live up to their lofty potential, or not. We all know the added risk of unproven prospects with high ceilings but no track record. Even Bryce Harper, an all time prospect, has yet to truly prove to be a fantasy commodity worthy of his elite draft ranking. JPOWW does have the added advantage of the fact that Betts is eligible for a position of need at 2B (where I slotted him for the purposes of our keeper chart below) in addition to the OF. If one of those two young keepers plays exceptionally well regardless of what the other does, this is a fine set of keepers that JPOWW can feel comfortable with. Anything less will prove to be a disadvantage.

Keeper chart 2k15:

C: 1
1B: 4
2B: 3
3B: 3
SS: 3
OF: 10
SP: 10
RP: 1

Offense: 24
Pitching: 11

Well, throw balance out the window, we just went offense and outfield heavy… kinda. Offense, at this point, is being kept at a slightly more than 2:1 ration, which is a little heavier than typical 3:2 ratio that we usually see, but not by much. Still, every single squad all but one sqyad has kept at least one pitcher with only one squad electing to keep 3. I would say that OF will be scarce in the draft, but it’s important to note that many of the OF being kept are young projectable players (Yelich, Soler, Springer, Dickerson) and not established stars.

Also, for guys with multiple position eligibility, I’ve grouped them with the most premium position they’re eligible for. For instance, Cris Carter is grouped with the OF, Mookie Betts with 2B, and Rendon with 2B (by a hair although that could go either way). With 5 more managers still to designate keepers, we’re not incredibly far from a pretty balanced group of selections across the board.
Everyone who hasn’t submitted, you’re on the clock. Keeper deadline is Saturday March 14 at 5pm.

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