Thursday, March 20, 2014

Matthew Berry Leaves One Last Kiss For Matt Kemp And Hyun-Jin Ryu

Zack Greinke, however, gets a kick in the nuts. So says "the talented Mr. Roto" in his "love / hate" column, which also may be his last fantasy baseball column ever:

And so, as we meander slowly into possibly the last baseball "Love/Hate" ever, the premise remains the same as the first time. This is not a sleepers-and-busts column. Rather, it's a market-inefficiency column. With puns. "Loves" are players whom I feel are going too late based on our ESPN Live Draft Results. "Hates" are players going too early. It's that simple.

So please use your brain. Just because Robinson Cano is a "hate" and Jurickson Profar is a "love" does not mean I would take the Rangers youngster over Jay-Z's big client. It does mean, in regard to overall value, that I think Cano in the first round is not the best use of that pick, whereas Profar represents a nice value in the 16th.

I've tried to give you one undervalued guy and one overvalued guy in each round and to tell you where, in a vacuum, I would feel comfortable taking that player. As usual, there are a lot more "loves" than "hates." It's hard to hate a pick in the 16th round. I mean, there's a reason that player01 is going in the 16th, you know, and by this time in a draft, you're looking to address needs rather than wants anyway.

The bulk of this column is aimed at ESPN standard 10-team mixed roto leagues, but I threw in a few names for deeper leagues at the end of the "loves." And here we go.

Players I Love in 2014 [...]

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers (seventh, fifth): I went over this in 100 Facts. He needs to stay healthy, but then again, don't we all? The skills are still intact. During the past two injury-plagued seasons, his 162 game average is 99 runs, 27 home runs, 93 RBIs and 17 steals while batting .290. Basically Adam Jones-type numbers, and Jones is going in the 2nd round. Maybe he gets hurt again. Wouldn't shock anyone. But if I have a shot at a guy who still has the skills of a second rounder in the fifth or sixth, I'm taking him. [...]

Hyun-Jin Ryu, P, Dodgers, Hisashi Iwakuma, P, Mariners, Cole Hamels, P, Phillies (13th/14th; 12th): Iwakuma and Hamels are both a bit banged up, but nothing serious (as of this writing). I chose these three because I happen to like all of them and feel they're going too late, but it's mostly to illustrate a point about starting pitching this year. These guys are going in the 30-40 range among starting pitchers and frankly, it's really a personal preference between pitcher 30 and, say, pitcher 60 (currently Chris Tillman). I like these guys more than Tillman, but would I be shocked if Tillman (16 wins, 179 strikeouts, 3.71, 1.22 last year) is better than one or all of these guys this year? Not in the least. Get an ace early, maybe a solid No. 2 in the middle rounds, and then don't get too hung up on starting pitcher ranks once you get into the double-digit rounds on starting pitcher. More depth and similarity than you'd think at first glance. Jeff Samardzija and R.A. Dickey (currently both going in the 14th) are two other guys I'm higher on than most. [...]

Players I Hate in 2014 [...]

Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers (sixth, eighth): The worst great pitcher in baseball, Greinke is a very good pitcher in both fantasy and real life. He's just not as good as his reputation. A career 3.65 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, he certainly benefitted from being in the NL West last year and pitching at Dodger Stadium. But, his K/9 dropped under eight for the first time since 2010, he had his lowest ground ball percentage since 2009, his walk rate was slightly up and there's no doubt he was helped by the fourth-highest strand rate in baseball. His FIP (3.23) and xFIP (3.45) suggest he wasn't quite as good as his 2.63 ERA last season. Being drafted within a few spots of Madison Bumgarner and I don't think those guys are that close. He's very good, just not as good as he's being drafted.

Oh, and the player Berry loves the most for fantasy baseball? That's right, SoSG Sax's man-crush target, Adrian Beltre.