I Don’t Get The Hype: Ross, Davis, Pederson by Brad Johnson February 4, 2016 Everybody has their sleeper lottery tickets. By that, I don’t mean known quantities like Adrian Beltre who may be slightly underpriced. Players like Lance McCullers, Corey Seager, and Xander Bogaerts have flashed impressive talent, but they’ve yet to truly prove it’s sustainable. We’re making informed guesses when we reach for them in the draft. Today, we’ll talk about three reaches that I just don’t get. Ross First on the docket is Joe Ross. By now, I think we all know the basic background. Joe and his brother Tyson Ross fell into radioactive waste as children, and they both developed mutant sliders. From a purely scouting perspective, Joe’s slider looks merely above average. It’s performance last year was elite. The sustainability of that pitch is the foundation of his fantasy value. Ross’s fastball is no better than average. You can make a case to call it below average. He doesn’t really throw another pitch unless you’re counting his dumpster fire changeup. Ross looks to be a front runner for a rotation job. He’s also the obvious odd man out if everyone stays healthy and Bronson Arroyo looks viable. Ross has options, and he has obvious areas in which he can improve. I think we’ve seen the very best that the current iteration of Ross has to offer. I’m seeing him picked at a reasonable point in the draft – somewhere around the 22nd to 24th rounds. I’m also noticing that his owners are picking him for a prominent role in their rotation. There’s nothing wrong with taking a flier, just try to avoid relying upon him. Davis Unlike Ross, Khris Davis is a known quantity. We’re going to get 25 to 30 home runs over a full season with middling but non-terrible production in the four other categories. There are even some things to like about his profile. He’ll probably bat cleanup for the Brewers behind Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun. He also appears to have defeated early career platoon splits. Proponents likely see his 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances and expect growth. A healthy Davis will play every day, and he was on a 40 homer pace last season. Not so fast! If Davis performs well early in the season, he will be traded. There’s no mights or maybes about it. On a contender, Davis is a down-the-order power bat with limited production in four categories. If the Brewers happen to keep Davis, it’s because he’s playing poorly. You could try to wait through an early season slump, but it’s unclear if the Brewers will do the same. They have other young outfielders they want to try, and I’m sure they’re eager to push Domingo Santana to a corner. Davis posted a 24.5 percent HR/FB ratio last season. In his short breakout 2013 campaign, he had a 29 percent HR/FB. The 2014 season tapped in at just 14.5 percent. The plus power isn’t a lock, and it’s damning to see his hard hit rate in a steady three year decline (from 47.6 percent to 40.3 percent to 34.4 percent). He’s being drafted 140th overall according to FantasyPros. His more reliable clone, Evan Gattis, is pick 168. Maikel Franco, Randal Grichuk, Ben Zobrist, Alex Gordon, and half the closers are among the names going after him. I’m not opposed to drafting Davis, but I’m targeting him as the last power bat off the board. I guess I won’t get him. Pederson Two picks ahead of Davis is Joc Pederson. The 2015 Rookie of the Year candidate fell apart down the stretch. Fantasy owners were looking for a five category monster. His 30 stolen base speed in the minors translated to a red light in the majors. We now know he’ll be a batting average sinkhole too. His minor league BABIPs left us with reason to believe he could offset his strikeout rate. A high infield fly rate and low line drive rate have dashed those hopes. There is good news with regard to Pederson – the power reads as very real. With the power comes a discerning eye. He’ll be a solid target in OBP leagues. His ability to reach base should keep him on the short list for leadoff duties even though he’s a weird fit for the role. Then again, he probably won’t bat leadoff. He was demoted from the top of the lineup in late July and hit eighth for most of the final two months. In those final two months, he hit just .161/.326/.285. He was slumping before the demotion too. We don’t know why he slumped – it could be a league wide adjustment, a nagging injury, or just a fluke thing from a streaky hitter. What we do know is that the Dodgers have a crowded outfield. That’s true even if they trade Andre Ethier. Although it would hurt his long term value and development, Pederson could be platooned against left-handed pitching. An early season slump could even lead to a demotion. Or a hot streak could see him re-ensconced atop the order. There are a wide range of potential outcomes. If we’re acknowledging the downside, then the 138 ADP seems to imply the potential of a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado style breakout. There are too many flaws in Pederson’s game to expect half as much upside. In my view, the best case scenario puts him right around the 100th best player. The downside could be ugly. I’d prefer for him to be a bench stash, but his name just has too much appeal.