Players I want to own too much

By JCMcLaughlin
Jan. 05, 2018

There are always players that you want to own more than the consensus. Guys that you like for some reason that doesn't necessarily compute to the majority. Sometimes they are were a big part of your successful team the year before. They might be on your real life team. Maybe you think they will turn into studs and you want to be smarter than your competition. Whatever the reason, we all have them. Here are some of mine, just off the top of my head. I will tell you why I like them. It will always be more than that they play for my team.

Tim Anderson. Anderson is a player that I have been on for a few years. While he has not made that massive jump yet, he has continued to improve, at least in the categories I generally value when determining ceiling. These categories are hr and sb. That can seem a little short sighted but usually if a player is above avg in both of these categories he can continue to get at bats even if his other attributes fall short. I the case of Anderson he has shown the ability to hit for a higher avg, OBP and OPS than he did last year, both on the minors and in MLB.

I expect that Anderson's growth to continue. When he was drafted, the book on him was talent, even pop despite his size, but raw tools. Honestly he made it to the majors faster than I expected. Even better, he was able to hold his own. A 20/20 SS is not hard to envision with considerably more upside in SB.

Anderson's lineup has plenty of room for growth to help with runs and rbis. I don't expect the White Sox to be world beaters but I think they will be better. At least the hitters will. Tim Anderson is a player I will own often this year. Current ADP....Not in the top 300. Go get him for free in the last round or two.

Whit Merrifield. This is a player that even had to prove his worth twice. In 2016 he came up and proved to be able to hit major league pitching. Unfortunately for him he hit better than his minor league numbers would have suggested. I think this led people to think that his entire performance was a fluke. In 2017 the Royals decided to give a younger, more highly regarded prospect the 2nd base job. Merrifield was capable of being a utility player but that's not what happened.

I would like to point out that KC can't exactly get out of their own way lately. They traded a top level closer for a bust of a corner outfielder. They missed, at least in 2017, on which 2b they needed in the majors. They held onto their valuable MLB assets in 2017 when they were marginally in the race. Three of those assets are now free agents with very little coming back to KC in the form of draft picks. More recently KC appears to be one of two candidates to overpay for Eric Hosmer. He will not be needed in KC for the foreseeable future. Draft wise, KC has exactly 0 top 100 prospects according to MLB.com. I have considerable doubt that the KC front office is capable of making consistent good decisions.

Back to Merrifield. He came up after Mondesi utterly flopped at second. He preceded to lead the AL in sb, hit .288, and 19 home runs. The avg and sbs are not all that surprising. They are very similar to his MILB numbers. The power was new. He had showed glimpses of it the previous year, but nothing approaching 20 home run pop. In fact his previous professional high was 10 in 2016. So, was this just a blip in a year when MLB in general hit a huge increase in home runs? I will say a firm "no".

If you check out Merrifield's batter profile you will see two changes. First, He stopped going the opposite way nearly as often. Through his first six professional seasons he went the opposite way at a 35% clip roughly. He pulled the ball about 41% of the time. That meant he was going up the middle about 24% of the time. I don't currently have any numbers that directly correlate with more Middle=more power, but it makes sense that less opposite would=more opportunities for fly balls that might go over the wall.

This brings us to the second change. Merrifield appears to have gotten on the fly ball bandwagon. Or, at least he is hanging onto the back as it thunders down the trail. His fly ball rate didn't drastically change from MILB to the majors. It's about 40%. What changed were his ground ball and line drive rates. His ground ball rate dropped by about 8%, the majority of those 8 points turned into line drives. Hard hit data isn't available for the minor leagues yet but I suspect that Merrifield has recently had a large jump in how hard he hits the ball. It is possible that he just hit the weights. I see some Charlie Blackmon in him. Not 37 home run pop but maybe Blackmon-lite.

Given the dual position eligibility and the scarcity of stolen bases, Merrifield is one of the top players I will own this year. The fact that he hits in a poor, poor lineup don't benefit him, except that his place as one of the top hitters is locked in. He will hit 1, 2, or 3. Gosh, maybe even 4. The Royals are really bad. Seeing ADP of 49 right now. I would have no problem snagging in him the third.

Luke Weaver. St. Louis Cardinal SP prospect. They are all gold. Nuff said. Seriously though, this guy is a legit ace. I am going out on a limb and saying by September Weaver is ahead of Carlos Martinez as the Cards ace. Why? Well, the organization has a strong recent history of hitting on their picks in the draft, specifically when it comes to pitchers. More importantly though, the guy absolutely dominated in the recent past.

He made 53 MILB starts, 27 coming in AA or AAA. He had an era of 1.99. That's low. That's two seasons worth of starts with a sub two era. Could be luck though right? I mean, that's not the BIGGEST sample size. Well in those 53 starts he pitched 275 innings and gave up just 241 hits. That is good, but he was probably all stuff right? Maybe a crazy wipeout slider that keeps bats off balls but walks 5/9? Well......WHIP 1.071, BB/9 1.8.

So it's very good control that gets him by. MMMM, that's not exactly all that's going on here either. His K/9 in MILB is 8.8. His MLB velo is 93.1 on his fastball. Maybe he isn't Chris Sale with his K rate, but he might be Lester, Samardzija, or Arrieta, the three starting pitchers with a K/9 rate closest to 8.8, His MILB record would indicate that more Ks might be in store as well. I have seen two sites already do their ADP projections. One listed him at SP 48, the other SP 101 and and ADP of 350.85. I will own him on every team at that price.

J.T. Realmuto. Is this the year he stops running? Possibly. Is this the year he hits 25 home runs? Yep. Good enough for me. Pray he gets shipped to Colorado, Texas or the South Side. ADP of 75. I won't own him everywhere but will have more shares of him than most catchers.

Robbie Ray. His ADP is 112. This guys still reminds me of a young Scherzer and not just because he came from the desert. He is still more K than anything else. There is still a place for that, even if he never learns to pitch. But it appears he is learning. He can be a monster. Yes please, all day, even Sunday. I am committed.

Will probably continue this post another day.