10 Early NFBC Buys According to Steamer

I compared the average draft position data of the first 10 NFBC Draft Champions leagues with the 2020 Steamer Projections to identify 10 of the best values going in the top 150. I just took their auction calculator rank using Steamer and compared it against their ADP. Here’s what I found (sorted by ADP – Auction Calc. difference, highest to lowest):

Dinelson Lamet | SP – Auction Calculator Rank: 52, ADP: 128

He feels like a winter riser. He was getting hyped at the Baseball HQ event in Arizona for his strikeout prowess after posting a 34% mark in his 73 IP this year. While he won’t reach as high as this Auction Calculator Rank, I think he’ll beat this current ADP, especially in the NFBC realm where pitching is always pushed up.

Edwin Díaz | RP – AC: 72, ADP: 148

The closer landscape is pretty ugly right now and while part of that is because it’s still November, part of it is also because there’s just a lack of uncertainty even in the stud tiers. Diaz dropped 31 saves from his 2018 mark and his ERA soared to 5.59, but he still had a 39% K and 30% K-BB in his 58 IP. His 2018 and 2019 couldn’t have been more disparate, but he still has premium skills and most importantly: a job.

Yasmani Grandal | C – AC: 40, ADP: 109

I wouldn’t take him at 40, but I like him inside the top 100 and no worse than the third catcher. He’s currently going fourth at the position behind J.T. Realmuto, Gary Sánchez, and Mitch Garver. I wrote more about his move to the White Sox here.

Marcell Ozuna | OF – AC: 43, ADP: 102

This AC rank was the biggest shock of the group for me. Steamer likes him to get back on track in 2020, particularly with his batting average, tabbing him for a .276 after he hit just .243 in 2019. Despite only one such season, he has a 30 HR/100 RBI skillset and Steamer likes him to post his second one in 2020 by staying healthy for 640 PA which would be a three-year high after 628 and 549 in 2018-19. Where he lands could influence his numbers a bit, but health will ultimately be the driving force behind his success or failure.

Josh Donaldson | 3B – AC: 54, ADP: 110

Donaldson set himself up for a big payday with a brilliant 2019 effort (132 wRC+, 37 HR, 94 RBI, 96 R) and like Ozuna, his ability stay upright will determine his fate. After being one of the most durable players in the game from 2013-16, he played just a combined 165 games in 2017-18 before the 155-game rebound this year.

Liam Hendriks | RP – AC: 76, ADP: 131

Does he hold up as a premier closer or meet a similar fate to teammate Blake Treinen after his breakout season in 2018? It’s damn near impossible to say as nothing in Treinen’s skillset could’ve predicted his collapse and Hendriks has a similarly elite profile. On the other hand, he’s also a 31-year old who added 2 mph out of nowhere five minutes after being DFA’d for the 500th time. I’d rather buy Diaz a round later at this point.

Max Fried | SP – AC: 95, ADP: 150

He broke out skills-wise this year but didn’t quite put it all together as he had a 4.02 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, so I definitely think there is another level here. I mentioned him as one of my 2020 potential studs going among the top 50 SPs in a recent pod. I’m even open to paying his AC price, which would slot him around Jose Berrios, Sonny Gray, and Brandon Woodruff.

James Paxton | SP – AC: 42, ADP: 91

I have no idea how Steamer has him projected for 186 innings when he’s never topped 160.3 innings in a season and he’s now 31 years old. As such, I just don’t buy the 42 ranking on the Auction Calculator. Don’t overpay based on the Steamer excitement.

Gary Sánchez | C – AC: 36, ADP: 83

If I’d have run 15 deep, this list would’ve included J.T. Realmuto, too so I wonder if maybe the AC is juicing catcher prices a little too much. I’m not against paying for one of the top tier catchers like the four mentioned in Grandal’s section plus Willson Contreras, but I’m certainly not paying the prices suggested by the Auction Calculator. Of course, we don’t have to so I’ll take this relative discount compared to what the AC thinks they’re worth for 2020.

Miguel Sanó | 3B – AC: 91, ADP: 136

Like the Paxton projection, Steamer is putting Sano at a playing time we’ve literally never seen. They have him down for 596 PA when his career high is 495 all the way back in 2016. Since then he has averaged just 407 PA per year. He has still hit 25 HR per year in that run, including 34 in just 439 PA last year so I understand the interest, but I think a projection has to start at 450 PA and take anything beyond that as a bonus.

The point of this exercise was to point out guys who could be valuable buys given that the AC likes them more than the market, but with Sano and Paxton in particular, I’m dubious on the AC’s hype given that it’s playing time based and I’m not ready to project either for something they’ve literally never done.

What’d you think of the list? Who are you most likely to buy from this group? I’ll likely do another piece looking at the 151-300 range and then 300+ if this is something y’all enjoy seeing.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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I see not only a catcher lean in the Steamer rankings but also a starting pitcher lean. I like Lamet and Fried but not at that price, or ranking. Steamer (set to Fangraphs Pts) has Cole at #2, dGrom #3, Xherzer #5 and Verlander #7. These are the aces and deserve to be ranked high it just seems a smidge too high.