40 Fantasy Facts - AL Central Edition
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Looking for an edge in your fantasy baseball drafts? Here are 40 facts from the 2017 season involving players from the American League Central (ADPs courtesy the National Fantasy Baseball Championship):

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Chicago White Sox

  • 1B Jose Abreu is consistency personified. In his four MLB seasons, he has hit between .290 and .317 while registering between 32 and 43 doubles, 25 and 36 home runs, and 100 and 107 RBIs. With a depleted White Sox roster, the RBI numbers could take a hit, but Abreu's as steady as they come and can be had several rounds after his contemporaries as the sixth first baseman being drafted according to ADP.
  • After years of false starts, OF Avisail Garcia had his breakout. And he's still only about to turn 27, so he has room to add extra thump to his batting. One area of concern is that Garcia led all qualified hitters with a .392 BABIP in 2017, which could explain his bloated batting average (.330).
  • 2018 will be the first extended MLB stay for 2B Yoan Moncada, so we'll see if he continues having trouble making consistent contact; he's struck out 86 times in 251 plate appearances since his eight-game debut with Boston in 2016. He has incredible power for a second baseman, though, and mashed eight long balls in limited action last year, which explains why his ADP is 133.
  • C Welington Castillo hit 20 home runs in only 96 games with Baltimore, and adding that kind of power at a thin position, especially in two-catcher formats, will be ideal. With the White Sox in rebuilding mode, Castillo could be slotted right into the heart of the lineup, too.
  • SS Tim Anderson is a free swinger. He drew only 13 walks in 606 plate appearances last year, giving him the lowest walk rate among qualified hitters (2.1 percent). He hit 17 home runs, but the low OBP hurts his ability to score a ton of runs. Anderson's speed (15 SBs) is likely the reason he's being drafted inside the top 200.
  • SP Lucas Giolito finally delivered - admittedly in a small sample - by posting a 2.38 ERA over 45 1/3 innings last year. The most encouraging element was his 2.38 BB/9, a marked improvement over the 5.06 BB/9 in his previous abbreviated stint. He still hasn't discovered a strikeout pitch for the majors, but if he can build on his command, he'll make for a decent late-round flier. He's still better suited for those in keeper leagues.
  • SP James Shields has been a disaster since signing with the Padres before the 2015 campaign, and his 5-7 record with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts last season was actually an improvement over the year before. Perhaps he'll deliver on occasion, but he should be cast aside on draft day.
  • CL Joakim Soria was acquired in a three-team trade in early January and will probably get the lion's share of save opportunities to kick off the season. However, Chicago probably won't win many games.

Cleveland Indians

  • SS Francisco Lindor hit below .300 for the first time as a pro in 2017, but he smashed 33 home runs and tallied 44 doubles, both far and away career bests. He's also recorded double-digit steals in each of his first three seasons. If you miss out on Carlos Correa and Trea Turner, Lindor's an excellent substitute to kick off the second round of standard drafts. Plus, once the elite shortstops are off the table, the position gets pretty dire.
  • 2B/3B Jose Ramirez was a finalist for the 2017 AL MVP award after leading the majors with 56 doubles. He also hit 29 over the fence while stealing 17 bags and batting .318. It's caused his stock to rise in a big way, as his ADP sits at 19, two spots earlier than Lindor.
  • 1B Edwin Encarnacion did exactly what was expected of him after joining Cleveland, hitting 38 home runs and driving in 107. However, with so many other players offering power, his ADP will probably drop in 2017. Still, while hitting in the heart of this lineup, even without Carlos Santana, Double-E should easily reach the 100-RBI plateau yet again.
  • OF Bradley Zimmer will get a full season to showcase his speed. He stole 18 bases in 101 games last year, while 25 of his 72 hits went for extra bases. If he can improve upon his .328 BABIP and draw a few more walks, he could be a sneaky option for steals in 2018. For now, he can be grabbed near the end of drafts around pick 200.
  • OF Michael Brantley took a step in the right direction, appearing in 90 games in 2017 after playing in only 11 the season before. He hit nine home runs and swiped 11 bags, and could easily rejoin the 20-20 club across a full season. His ADP of 247 shows he's become something of an afterthought, too, making him a great sleeper pick.
  • SP Corey Kluber was excellent to kick off the season, but he was absolutely dominant in the second half, posting a 1.79 ERA over 110 1/3 innings with 142 strikeouts down the stretch. He's as close to a sure thing on the mound as you can find.
  • SP Carlos Carrasco isn't a bad consolation prize if you're angling for a Cleveland starter. He tallied exactly 200 innings in 2017, adding durability to his list of accolades. If you don't like taking a starter in the first three rounds, Carrasco could still be there afterward.
  • CL Cody Allen will probably see more saves get poached by set-up man Andrew Miller, but he still struck out 12.3 batters per nine innings and managed a 2.94 ERA across 67 1/3 innings in 2017.

Detroit Tigers

  • 1B Miguel Cabrera will be 35 in April, and is coming off the worst season of his career in which he hit just .249 across 130 games. It's the first time he hasn't finished a season with a .300 batting average since 2008. He also only managed 16 home runs, the fewest since hitting 12 in 87 games during his rookie season.
  • 3B/OF Nicholas Castellanos quietly built on an encouraging 2016 by hitting 26 homers with 101 RBIs. He also registered the highest hard-contact rate of his young career at 43.4 percent, which actually ranked fifth in all of baseball among qualified hitters. He's being drafted at 103, which seems like fair value.
  • UTIL Victor Martinez hasn't been the fantasy force he used to be with any consistency for years. He's alternated good and bad production for the last four seasons, although if he continues to follow that pattern, he's due to pull through in 2018. He only hit 10 homers last season, a year after blasting 27. At 39, his best days are behind him.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario hit 15 home runs in 110 games at Triple-A in 2017. In his major-league time, he smacked three in 38 while slashing .283/.359/.425. He's still best left alone for now, but is someone to watch in case he gets hot.
  • C James McCann is an ideal late-round choice in two-catcher leagues because he has a little power (13 home runs in 2017) and will presumably hit fairly high in the Tigers' lineup following the departures of Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton.
  • SP Michael Fulmer is probably a better real-life pitcher than fantasy pitcher on account of his low K-rate. He fanned only 114 batters in 164 2/3 innings last year, and saw his ERA balloon to 3.83 after notching a mark of 3.06 in his rookie campaign.
  • SP Daniel Norris will have to limit how much torque opponents are getting on his pitches to find success. He tied Ian Kennedy among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in hard-hit percentage at 41.7 percent. And with a 7.61 K/9, he's not missing enough bats to make up for it.
  • It wasn't all that long ago when SP Jordan Zimmermann was a viable option in fantasy. But after his electric first five games with the Tigers in 2016, he's been unplayable. Since May 6 of that season, Zimmermann is 12-20 over 42 starts with an ERA (6.31) higher than his K/9 (5.66).

Kansas City Royals

  • OF Alex Gordon just hasn't been the same player since 2014 - the last time he played more than 150 games in a season - which capped a four-year stretch in which he provided excellent returns. He hit a miserable .208 in 2017 with only nine home runs, his lowest total since 2010.
  • C Salvador Perez hit a career-high 27 home runs in 2017, continuing his power surge. Since his rookie campaign in 2012, he's raised his homer total in every subsequent season. He's the fourth catcher being drafted, and his ADP sits at 98.
  • In his first full season of work, 2B Whit Merrifield was a solid offensive contributor in all aspects of the game. He hit .288 with 19 home runs, 78 RBIs, 80 runs scored, and a whopping 34 stolen bases. In fact, only three players swiped more bags than Merrifield, and with the category coming at a premium, you can't wait too long to grab him in drafts (ADP of 72).
  • Since a promising audition with the Chicago Cubs in 2014, OF Jorge Soler has been the symbol of diminishing returns, and hit only .144 in 35 games in 2017. He'll get his shot with KC, but he's on a short leash, even on a team expected to be even worse. In Triple-A, Soler blasted 24 homers while hitting .267 in 74 games. He might just not have it on the big stage.
  • SS Alcides Escobar lost the added value he normally carries by no longer stealing bases in 2017. He swiped just four despite playing in all 162 games after stealing exactly 17 in each of the two previous seasons.
  • SP Danny Duffy didn't pitch out of the bullpen in 2017, fully embracing his role as a starter after bouncing between jobs for several years. Injuries limited him a bit, but he was still effective, and his 3.46 FIP suggests he got a bit of a raw deal with his ERA (3.81). If he's still hanging around in the later stages of a draft, he's worth grabbing.
  • SP Ian Kennedy had the second-highest HR/9 (1.99) of all pitchers who threw at least 150 innings in 2017, which helped inflate his ERA to 5.38. With the Royals slated to be even less competitive in 2018, he's only viable in the deepest of leagues.
  • CL Kelvin Herrera tallied the most saves of his career in 2017 with 26. Unfortunately, he also saw his ERA expand to 4.25 - his worst mark over a full season. There are better options out there, especially since his ADP of 204 may be a tad inflated.

Minnesota Twins

  • 2B Brian Dozier has played at least 150 games in four straight seasons. And if you're looking for power from the keystone, here it is. Since 2014, he's blasted 127 homers - a full 30 more than his closest competition in Robinson Cano.
  • From the beginning of August until the end of the season, OF Byron Buxton shed plenty of the worry surrounding his lack of production. Down the stretch, he hit .298 with 11 home runs and 13 stolen bases. The hype train has picked back up because of it. He's flying off draft boards with an ADP of 52.
  • 1B Joe Mauer is a shell of his former self, but he hit .305 across 141 games last season - not bad for a late-round flier. He doesn't have the power you want from your primary first baseman, though. Mauer should go undrafted (ADP of 395), and can be considered a risky injury replacement if needed.
  • Like so many others, OF Eddie Rosario experienced a power surge in 2017, hitting 27 home runs. He also cut his strikeout rate from 25.7 percent to 18 percent. It's been enough to raise expectations, as his ADP has climbed to 119 this offseason.
  • SS Jorge Polanco relies on making the best out of his contact, which didn't always happen in 2017. His .278 BABIP didn't help his on-base percentage, but he'll hit the odd homer and steal the odd base, making him a decent injury replacement during the season.
  • SP Jose Berrios followed up a horrendous debut with a promising sophomore year. Through his first nine starts, he was 7-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. He also improved his command, walking just under three batters per nine innings after more than five in 2016.
  • Since SP Ervin Santana is out until May, the newly acquired Jake Odorizzi becomes the next best Twins pitching candidate. He's not being taken until pick 276, so he'll be on the waiver wire in shallow leagues.
  • CL Fernando Rodney will be the man to close games, at least to start the season. He recorded 39 saves with the Diamondbacks in 2017, but the Twins also signed Addison Reed, who could slot into the role if Rodney struggles. Still, with an ADP of 239, you won't have to reach for saves if he falls.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

40 Fantasy Facts - AL Central Edition
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