Ah, the true March Madness – fantasy baseball, the chess to fantasy football’s checkers. Below I’ll be breaking down the top-10 Marlin options as you prep for your fantasy drafts. Your 2016 Marlins are a bit stars and scrubs fantasy-wise, but there are some nice sleeper options for those of you in the deeper 15-teamers or NL-onlys in the second half of the list.
A note before starting, I’ll be using Tristan Cockroft’s 6×6 no-brainer, enlightened format (adding slugging and innings pitched, and swapping OBP for AVG and quality starts for wins). For reasons that should need no explanation. Further, I won’t be mentioning runs or RBI as they are luck or at least opportunity-driven statistics, vice repeatable skills. Also, note that Steamer generally skews conservative – which in aggregate, is a feature not a bug.
- Sir Giancarlo Stanton – consensus first round pick, and but for an unfortunate string of (mainly freak) injuries, would clearly be part of the Trout, Harper, Goldschmidt inner circle fantasy options. Sir Stanton represents a potential 50+ homers with solid OBP (IBBs FTW!), with some steals sprinkled in. I expect a monster year from Stanton, and – if he stays healthy – there’s no reason he can’t finish as the top overall fantasy player this year. Obvious first rounder.
Steamer Projection: .272/.367/.538
- St. Jose Fernandez – Absolutely electric stuff, top 5 starter potential if he can avoid the injury bug in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, especially when your league gets rid of the “win” stat. St. Jose also features a very high K rate, but likely low innings pitched totals (185IP +/- 5, I’d wager) relative to other aces, as the Marlins manage is workload. I see St. Jose finishing between 10-15 among starting pitchers. His average draft position (ADP) is weirdly low, so I’ll be letting my homer flag fly and probably reach for him in the fourth round in a 12-teamer. Happy Jose Day(s)!
Steamer Projection: ERA 3.06, WHIP 1.11, K/9 10
- Dee Gordon – Had I written this fantasy outlook last year, Dee would have been significantly lower on this list, but he proved me wrong with a strong performance in 2015. But will he repeat in 2016? Well if he fools me twice, then shame on me because I don’t think he leads the league in average again (given career norms) and he’s never been a big walker. If he loses a step as he approaches 30, he won’t be beating out those slow grounders and he won’t be racking up 58 steals again. Also, if you’re in a net stolen base league (why reward a stolen base and not penalize a caught stealing?), Gordon gets caught quite a bit more than other steals leaders. I won’t be drafting him given his ADP, but if he’s around in the 6th, I may take a shot.
Steamer Projection: .304/.341/.400
- Christian Yelich – Here’s a sleeper candidate (in the outperforming ADP sense), Yelich had a significant sophomore slump last year, but he’s still got plenty of upside entering his prime and will contribute across the board with (perhaps over-optimistically) an outside shot at 20/20, backed as always by strong OBP and slugging numbers. I like him quite a bit this year as your #2 or #3 OF, and should be there in the 8th-10th rounds.
Steamer Projection: .292/.366/.419
- A.J. Ramos – Not much to say here, with Capps’s unfortunate Spring training injury, Ramos vaults into the rarified air of closer with job security. In fantasy, that has value (unfortunately), even if you’re only a very good – not excellent – reliever. Ramos has dramatically outperformed his FIP over the last two years, and perhaps the fences moving in will cause the chickens roaming freely all over Little Havana to come home to roost. 14th-15th round depending on your league’s format/tendencies, he probably belongs in the 10-15th overall closer group.
Steamer Projection: ERA 3.09, WHIP 1.18, K/9 9.4
- Justin Bour – Discussed at length here, a great late source of power, no reason Bour can’t be a solid corner infield or utility option, fences coming in could mean 25+ spinning dolphins. I’ll be looking for him around the 20th round.
Steamer Projection: .263/.323/.454
- Marcell Ozuna – Also discussed here, another source of late power, Ozuna is the real sleeper on this list and is going undrafted in many leagues. This is the type of value that helps you win your leagues – items to consider: production after the (questionable) minor league stint (Before: 638 OPS, After: 789 OPS), the fences coming in, and his age (25) plus power/speed combo upside. I think he beats even Steamer’s bullish numbers.
Steamer Projection: .269/.319/.424
- Martin Prado – Old-man Prado (relative to his teammates), entering his age 32 season, continues his career of solid, if unremarkable, production across the board. Potential 10 homers with solid OBP numbers at a high value position. Great bench option, but you’ll probably want a bit more from your corner spot. He’s going undrafted in 10-teamers, but you could do worse if (when) stricken by a wave of injuries.
Steamer Projection: .277/.325/.402
- Wei-Yin Chen – Complete thoughts here, but tl;dr I’m just not impressed – he’s outperformed his FIP and has only an average K rate with high WHIP. He’ll get a bump by moving to the senior circuit, but to me he’s a streaming option only. Would not recommend drafting (or signing for your MLB club, for that matter, sigh).
Steamer Projection: ERA 3.67, WHIP 1.26, K/9 7.1
- Adeiny Hechavarria – wrote about as well, generally known as a glove first shortstop, but provides solid ratios. Just too light in the steals category for a middle infielder in a standard mix, but he’ll definitely outperform his draft stock and could be a nice waiver find or Jung Ho Kang or Jhonny Peralta stopgap.
Steamer Projection: 267/.306/.364
- Bonus: J.T. Realmuto – Just not draftable in a 10 or even 12-teamer given his value relative to the position. Still, Realmuto had a nice rookie season and I bet will surprise a lot of people this year finishing inside the top 20 backstops – and leading in a surprising category: steals (8 in 2015). Will need to be a bit more patient at the plate to take the next step.
Steamer Projection: .264/.304/.416