Way Too Early – Top 25

Alright here we have my second part of what I’ve decided will be a four part series on the Top 100 for 2018. Part 1 was the Top 10 so we begin today at #11.

(After getting ripped for most of my Top 10)

Most of you didn’t like Judge in the top 10, tough cookies, he’s staying there until I finish and probably into next year because dude is a monster. You all also wanted some pitcher in there, because none of you remember Thor’s arm, Kershaw’s back, Bumgarners bike, or the countless other DL stints and missed starts by the top arms. Yeah I know lots of top guys get hurt, but pitchers clearly carry more risk and early first round I’m always taking a top bat over an arm (unless it’s Kershaw level 4 years ago, which doesn’t currently exist).

11. Mookie Betts, OF, BOS
Basically what I’m saying here is Mookie is overrated. No one is drafting Mookie at #11 next year unless everyone in their league reads my blog. Last year he went top 5 easy. This year he will probably go 5-8 range. I’m not saying he’s bad, he’s actually pretty good and will likely give a 100 R/ 25 HR/ 100 RBI/ 25 SB/ 0.290 AVG. However, I think his upside for any of those stats is limited. His AVG was down quite a bit this year, as was his OPS. His power and speed has plateaued. If the Sox add a power bat into the middle and he moves back up to 1-2 all year his R’s should increase, though his RBI’s will probably decrease and if he stays batting 3-4 he’ll put up about the same numbers. He’s remarkably low floor and many ahead of him have much lower floors, but when I’m drafting early I like to swing for the fences.

12. Chris Sale, SP, BOS
The first pitcher I’m taking but it’s close. Thanks to an atrocious finish to the year, you can make an argument that Kluber, Kershaw, and Scherzer were all better on a per game or overall season basis. That being said I’m not taking Kershaw as my first pitcher because of his back, I’m not taking Scherzer because of his age, and I’m only really debating between Kluber and Sale. For the last 4 years they have put up eerily similar numbers and finished top 10 in pitcher WAR every time. Interestingly, despite Kluber being 3 years older Sale has 2 more seasons of dominance. This means not only do I get the younger pitcher, I also get the one with a longer track record.

13. Corey Kluber, SP, CLE
If you want to take Kluber over Sale I wouldn’t try to argue. Despite my reasons for taking Sale you can make the case that Kluber has the higher upside in every category but K’s. Either way it’s safe to say you’ll get a Cy Young candidate to anchor your rotation.

14. Trea Turner, SS, WAS
2017 was a pretty disappointing year for Turner. His BABIP dropped from incredibly lucky in 2016 (0.388) to a reasonable (0.329) and his power numbers declined significantly. Not exactly what you want to see in a 2nd year guy. He also ran into some injuries but still scurried around the basepaths, including a 22 SB June! He hurt his hand stealing at the end of the month and never got back to running as wild, which may take off some of the top end of his SB total for next year. Still, I see elite SB numbers that won’t hurt you anywhere else at a premium position while also giving some upside if things fall into place for him.

15. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
Freddie’s injury cost him about 25% of the season and makes his 2017 easy to overlook. His numbers actually improved across the board despite his BABIP dropping from a fluky 0.370 to sustainable 0.335. His floor and ceiling are both ridiculously high and he’s only 28. The only knock is playing 1B where replacement level is so high.

16. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN
About as safe a pick as they come. Lacks top 5 upside and plays at the deepest position so it’s hard to put him much higher then this.

17. Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD
If you told me I could have a fully healthy Kershaw for 2018 I’d take him top 5. The problem is that no one can promise me that and I think he’s a favorite to miss time with the back injury next year.

18. Max Scherzer, SP, WAS
This is the first time I’ve ever had 4 SPs in my top 20. It speaks to the relative value in this new juiced ball era. Two years ago I could stream pitchers in a 12 teamer and get fairly good results. Now, elite pitching is at a premium and despite his age Scherzer is still elite. I don’t think he has the potential of the 3 above him anymore, but he’s likely to finish as a top 5 pitcher.

19. Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, CLE
He’s 25, hits for power, average, steals bases and plays a premium position. Nothing about him looks fluky and he hits in a good lineup. I’ve got him ranked a little higher then most because I want to snag him before everyone else.

20. George Springer, OF, HOU
If he still stole bases like he did as a rookie I’d have him much higher. If he hit in the 2-4 spot I’d have him higher. As is he puts up great power and counting stats while not hurting you in AVG. His lineup should be stellar again next season and he’s improved as a hitter every year so I think he still has a little more upside to eek out.

21. Manny Machado, 3B, BAL
Manny had a rough year and lost his SS eligibility. His approach change started his season out in a hole that he just couldn’t dig out of. He did manage to put up respectable numbers in the second half. I also like that he approached double digit steals this year which gives him a slight boost. A talented power bat at a loaded power position that I think should rebound nicely. It’s easy to forget that he’s still only 25.

22. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC
Power, counting stats, and roughly 10 steals a year. His production has plateaued so you know exactly what you’re getting. If he has 2B eligibility in your league you can go ahead and bump him up to top 15.

23. J.D. Martinez, OF, FA
What he did in only 119 games was insane. Some rating systems had him as the #2 on a per game basis behind only Mike Trout. He’s a pull hitter who hits a majority of his HR’s to left field so where he goes in the off-season will affect his value going forward. My mouth is watering at the thought of him in Boston…

24. Fransisco Lindor, SS, CLE
This could be a true steal in the late 2nd / early 3rd. He’s only 23, plays a premium position, and hits in a solid lineup but his counting stats have never been great. If he can take that next step in 2018 you’re looking at top 5-10 value. My only concern is this is who he is. He sacrificed some AVG to double his HR output but for the most part hasn’t improved that much over 2.5 seasons. He’s definitely someone I’ll be putting a lot of thought into before draft time as I try to figure him out.

25. Josh Donaldson, 3B, TOR
He started out pretty slow due to a calf injury but got hot in August and finished the season strong. At 32 he’s likely peaked and hits in a bad lineup. Despite the downward trends Donaldson should put together a pretty good season, it’s just missing the top end of a couple years back.