July 2, 2022

Baseballpods

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Five Guys … we’re drafting wrong because of how we use Roster Resource

Disclaimer: I love Roster Resource. It’s an invaluable resource. If you read this article and view it as any sort of slight towards Roster Resource, I would politely ask you to consider improving your reading comprehension skills.

Roster Resource is an invaluable tool that most fantasy baseball players use, whether they know it or not. That’s because Roster Resource is the primary source of playing time estimates for some of the most prominent projection systems that nearly everyone either uses to create player values or inform opinions. On a recent Launch Angle Podcast, Rob Silver stated that Jason Martinez – the architect of Roster Resource – could be the most powerful man in fantasy baseball. And he might be right.

But the thing is, even Martinez admits he is just doing his best guesswork when filling out projected lineups, rotations, bullpens, and benches. When that guesswork, as well-informed as it is, gets run through systems that spit out realistic-looking stat lines, those projections become very, very real in the minds of obsessive fantasy baseball managers.

This has never been more true than in 2022. With the absence of almost ANY meaningful baseball news thanks to the owners’ decision to lock the players and fans out of Spring Training in an attempt to make even more money, Roster Resource is much more stagnant (and influential) than normal. There are no manager quotes, injuries, performances, or any stories on which to make changes. And we still have a massive amount of pending offseason player movement with the number of free agents yet to sign.

But the projections remain there in black and white, and many managers are still drafting using them as a primary source. So I thought I’d find five guys whose playing time I think Roster Resource has currently miscast, which in turn has changed their projections, which in turn has resulted in our drafting them incorrectly.

1. Nick Senzel, OF, CIN – It has been a long and thorny road with Nick Senzel. From the Reds slow-playing him to jerking him around positions to the constant injuries to the mediocre production, fantasy managers are sick and tired of trying to figure out what to do with this former #2 overall draft pick who used to be viewed as a five-category contributor. Apparently, Roster Resource is also tired of trying to figure out what to do with him. Because Senzel is currently slated to be buried on the Reds bench, while Tyler Naquin and TJ Friedl start in RF and CF respectively. For all of his warts, Senzel is only 26 years old, still has the skills, and enters the year healthy. I just don’t see him losing major plate appearances to Naquin and Friedl while healthy, and he could also benefit from the NL DH. NFBC ADP: 416

2. Taylor Ward, OF, LAA – Steamer only has Ward projected for 20 plate appearances in 2022. Other projection systems are higher, but not to the extent that he would be draftable even in the 50th round of a Draft Champions league. Here’s the thing. Ward hit rather well at the big league level last year, sporting a 111 wRC+, an xwOBA of .344, and a slash line of .250/.332/.438. Yes, Mike Trout is back. But he has a litany of recent injuries. Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell are both unproven over a full season, and Ward plays all three outfield positions. Ward has also played 3B where Anthony Rendon is hoping to be fully healthy. Roster Resource has Justin Upton and his injured back as the back-up OF on the Angels, with Ward in the minors. That might be the way the season begins, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Ward doesn’t get a decent amount of run on this Angels team, and he has shown he can be a league-average hitter. Current NFBC ADP: 756

3. Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE – Yes, the Guardians have a terrible offense. No, they won’t likely spend any money to add a big free agent. And Bobby Bradley’s big bat might seem like a sneaky source of late power to fill out your corner infield slot. Roster Resource projects him to play most days hitting out of the 5th spot in the lineup, resulting in around 430-520 PA from various projection systems. I’m including Bradley on this list because I don’t think he gets anywhere near that many major league AB in 2022, and therefore those HR and counting stats will mostly come in the minor leagues. He strikes out way too much in general. But against left-handers (small sample size alert), his strikeout rate in the majors is 40%. That’s just not acceptable. Even for the stingy Guardians. NFBC ADP: 411.

4. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF, MIN – Kirilloff is one of the most promising young hitters in the game. He has the ability to hit for average and power. Last year, he showed some exciting skills, even though he was playing through a wrist injury for much of the season. Roster Resource has him at DH, and batting 8th in the Twins lineup. But he should be fully healthy entering 2022, and I highly doubt the Twins bury one of their most promising young hitters in a lineup below the collective mediocrity of Miguel Sanó, Max Kepler, and Mitch Garver. A move up to 5th means more at-bats, more runs, more RBI for Kirilloff. NFBC ADP: 185.

5. Ha-Seong Kim, 2B/SS/3B – Right now, Kim is buried on the bench according to Roster Resource, and almost all the projection systems have him with under 400 PA. But Roster Resource also has Jurickson Profar as the starting DH and non-roster invitee Nomar Mazara starting in LF. That is hardly stiff competition. And the only other bats currently on the Padres bench with Kim are catchers. Kim had a rough offensive first year, but he showed some power and some speed, and he still has that strong skill set that led the Padres to make a long-term commitment to him through 2024. He is a strong defensive player that can plug in all over the infield (which may be very important given the shoulder of Fernando Tatis), and is likely athletic enough to move to the outfield if necessary. And if he can’t, we know Jake Cronenworth and Profar can. His 2021 BABIP screams unluckiness, which indicates a more palatable batting average this season. Even if the Padres sign a couple of bats, I still think Kim gets a lot more playing time than is currently projected. Most systems have him with around 10 HR and 8ish SB with less than 400 PA. Give him another 150 PA, and an improved BA, and he becomes a very interesting player with lots of position eligibility. NFBC ADP: 346.

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