Hype, often driven by social media narratives, plays a large role in forming market fantasy player valuations. Often times the hype train spirals out of control and runs off the tracks. Such is the case with the players discussed below, each of whom should be faded from their current ADPs (based on FantasyPros industry averages).
Pete Alonso – 26 ADP
Alonso’s 53 home runs and 120 RBIs as a rookie last year likely won fantasy leagues for owners that were in on him early enough. But those totals will be difficult for Alonso to repeat, just as they have been for Aaron Judge since his 2017 breakout. The various projection systems agree with this sentiment and are consistent in their 2020 expectations for Alonso – 43 HR / 108 RBI / .255 AVG. Those are great totals but probably not worth an early third round pick in an era where high-power, low-average bats are plentiful. Consider Eugenio Suarez (41 HR / 106 RBI / .265 AVG by THE BAT in 2020) in the 7th round or Jorge Soler (48 HR / 117 RBI / .265 AVG last season) in the 8th instead.
Shane Bieber – 27 ADP
There’s no denying that Bieber had a tremendous 2019 campaign with 259 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA. But should one season of elite production vault Bieber above the likes of Snell, Corbin, and Nola on draft boards? I don’t think so. Especially not when the previous season’s performance was inflated by good luck (.300 xwOBA compared to .280 wOBA). Bieber also has significant flaws in his profile, including a penchant to give up hard contact (4th worst exit velocity among starters) and inability to get whiffs on his fastball (3rd worst). Take Giolito or Paddack, other young righties with breakout 2019 campaigns and lots of upside potential, 30 picks later.
Adalberto Mondesi – 55 ADP
Mondesi’s range of outcomes is extremely volatile. I can see a scenario – although it’s a very blurry image – where he steals 60 bases and finishes top 10 on the player rater. I can also more clearly see his poor Statcast metrics (.237 xBA) and shoulder issues resulting in a top 200 finish. Regarding the shoulder – Mondesi tore his labrum in late 2019 and underwent surgery over the offseason. He still hasn’t swung a bat this spring. Michael Brantley (2017) and Gregory Polanco (2019) each performed about 20% below their career norms in their post labrum surgery seasons. Where does all of that leave Mondesi’s true value heading into 2020 drafts? I wouldn’t take him before pick 100.
Joey Gallo – 80 ADP
These ADPs are based on traditional scoring. That is, leagues using batting average as a category. If you’re in one of those there is no way you should be taking Gallo, the man with a career .212 average, in the top 80, let alone top 100. The narrative around Gallo this offseason is that the positive changes he made in laying off bad pitches legitimized his abbreviated 2019 breakout (144 wRC+ in 70 games). But while that sounds nice, it doesn’t change the reality of an unsustainable .368 BABIP last season that was well above the ~.250 levels he put up in previous years. Couple that with career worsts in strikeout and contact rate last year and I’m avoiding Gallo this season. Miguel Sano around pick 125 is a much better value.
Mike Soroka – 92 ADP
It’s difficult to find fault in a 22-year old pitching to a 2.68 ERA across 29 starts in his rookie season. But let’s do it anyway. Soroka’s miniscule ERA was aided by a heavy dose of batted ball luck, evidenced by a .268 xBA that significantly exceeded his .234 BA. How impactful was this differential in terms of runs allowed? Well, SIERA, an ERA estimator that takes into account batted ball types, pegged Soroka at a mediocre 4.28. Soroka’s reliance on the two-seamer (45% usage in 2019) caps his strikeout potential and makes his stat line heavily subject to team defense and batted ball luck. If you want to bet on that type of profile grab Hyun-Jin Ryu 35 picks later.
Mitch Garver – 122 ADP
The numbers Garver produced in his fairy-stale 2019 season – 31 home runs and a .631 SLG in a mere 93 games – have a lot of fantasy owners licking their chops. Especially because the performance was largely backed up by Statcast (50% hard-hit rate, .380 xwOBA). But Garver has a lot of downside potential given how he achieved his results last year. The first concern is that Garver was a pure fastball hitter, with 25 of his 31 home runs coming off the heater. The other issue is that Garver experienced a dramatic increase in pull rate, from 35% in 2018 to 47% in 2019. This fastball-hunting, pulled-ball approach is not sustainable over the long run since pitchers will adjust in how they attack Garver. When that happens I expect his production to crater, just as it did for Hunter Renfroe in the back half of 2019. I’d much rather take my chances on Will Smith, a player with a similar profile to Garver but a better prospect pedigree, at 160.
Oscar Mercado – 128 ADP
Mercado’s 15 home runs and 15 steals in 482 PAs last season would have prorated to over 20/20 across a full season. Given that only nine players reached 20/20 last season I understand some of the Mercado excitement. But dig a bit further into Mercado’s xStats and there’s cause for concern. His 86.5 average exit velocity was only in the 16th percentile of hitters while xwOBA and xSLG were both only in the 24th percentile. Unless Mercado can improve on these showings it’s likely he regresses in 2020. Add in a wrist injury he sustained the other day in Spring Training and I’m fading him into the 150-160 range, closer to other power-speed players like Danny Santana and Amed Rosario.
Gavin Lux – 153 ADP
While Lux dominated the minors and is deservedly a consensus top-five prospect in baseball, the playing time realities of being a Los Angeles Dodger significantly hamper his fantasy value. Lux’s primary position, second base, has plenty of competition with names like Hernandez, Barnes, and Taylor all battling for reps. Lux’s inability to hit lefties throughout his minor league career could also reserve him to a platoon role. Couple this with a likely 7th/8th spot in the order when he does play and Lux is probably capped at 450 PA this season. If you want to grab a potential high-impact prospect Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson is a much better value in the last couple rounds of drafts.