40 Fantasy Facts - NL East 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 National League East (ADPs courtesy the National Fantasy Baseball Championship):

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Atlanta Braves

  • 1B Freddie Freeman, like everyone else who appeared in the majors last season, saw an uptick in home-run rate - but where Freeman differs is that he already brought plenty to the table, batting .300 in consecutive seasons while being on pace to comfortably surpass 100 runs before missing nearly seven weeks with a fractured wrist. He is a fantastic option as your starting first baseman in all league formats.
  • 2B Ozzie Albies might not be a 20-20 guy yet - or ever, given his current lack of power - but he's certainly trending in the right direction. He showed impressive discipline in his 217-at-bat audition with the Braves, helping him rack up eight steals in that span. He has 25-steal upside with a decent BA, making him a sneaky option in rounds 12 to 15.
  • SS Dansby Swanson failed to live up to the hype last season, falling well short of returning value at his ADP of 174. Swanson batted a dismal .221 in the first half and didn't hit a single home run after the break; add in a lack of stolen-base upside, and what you're left with is projection. If you're looking to win this season, leave Swanson off your radar.
  • OF Ender Inciarte hit double digits in home runs for the first time in his career, and that unexpected power outburst has vaulted him near the top 30 in ADP among outfielders. Even if he regresses in that area - and that seems likely - he still brings a high batting average, 20-plus steals, and regular at-bats in an improving Atlanta lineup. He's a solid OF3 in mixed leagues.
  • OF Ronald Acuna is going just after his teammate Inciarte in redraft leagues - and while he's considered the top prospect in baseball by just about everyone, it's unclear whether he'll begin reaching his immense potential as a 19-year-old. Chances are, he won't - and based on where you'll need to pull the trigger, he isn't worth pursuing in 2018.
  • SP Julio Teheran took a significant step backward last season, seeing his FIP drop by 1.26 points while his strikeout rate also dipped from 8.0 to 7.2 K/9 and his walk rate rose from 2.0 to 3.4 BB/9. He's just entering his prime years, so a bounce-back is possible - but don't discount the possibility that 2016 was the best we'll see from him.
  • SP Brandon McCarthy hasn't made it through a full season since 2014 - and he's a slightly different pitcher than he was back then, with a higher walk rate but fewer hits per nine allowed. He keeps the ball in the park, too. He's a decent fill-in when the matchup is good, but he doesn't strike enough guys out - and pitching in Atlanta will suppress his win total.
  • SP Sean Newcomb will get a look in the back end of drafts after posting a 9.7 K/9 rate over 19 starts in 2017. But control problems (5.1 BB/9 have followed him from the minors, and don't look like they're going away anytime soon. Approach him as you would 2017 Blake Snell: He'll have big strikeout games, but will also make you want to tear out your hair.

Miami Marlins

  • C J.T. Realmuto was drafted as a player due for a breakout in 2017 - and he obliged, establishing career bests in home runs, RBIs, and runs while stealing eight bases and batting .278. A repeat of those numbers might prove difficult - particularly in runs and RBIs. If he gets traded, however, look out. He's a top-10 fantasy catcher regardless.
  • 1B Justin Bour put together a surprisingly efficient season, rewarding those who took a late flier on him with career highs in home runs, RBIs, and batting average. But don't draft him based on those numbers - especially since he still can't hit lefties (.237 BA, .677 OPS for his career) and likely won't have as many run-producing opportunities in 2018.
  • 2B Starlin Castro wants out of Miami - and who could blame him? But if he remains with the Marlins, he'll get all the playing time he can handle, allowing him to put up the kind of counting stats that make him more valuable than his present ADP of 251. A lot would have to go right for Castro to bat .300 again, but he should come in around .280.
  • OF Martin Prado was limited to just 147 plate appearances in 2017, and you have to wonder if, at 34, his days of fantasy relevance are behind him. He hit a modest .250 last season, and if that average doesn't bounce back, he simply doesn't offer enough in any other category to be considered usable in the majority of fantasy leagues.
  • OF Lewis Brinson is expected to slot immediately into the middle of the Miami batting order, making him an intriguing prospect for the end of your draft. He batted .331 in a hitter's park at Colorado Springs last season, but has been a solid batting average guy throughout his minor-league career. Don't expect a lot, but he's worth a flier.
  • Need someone to chomp some innings? SP Dan Straily is your guy; he led the National League in starts (33) and was serviceable, averaging 8.4 K/9 over 181 2/3 innings. He's susceptible to the long ball (62 homers allowed in the past two seasons) and won't get much run support, but he'll make for a decent waiver-wire option in favorable matchups.
  • SP Wei-Yin Chen won't make much fantasy noise, even if he does make a successful return from a nagging elbow injury that limited him to nine appearances (five starts) in 2017. He has never been a big strikeout pitcher, and with a 4.72 ERA in 27 starts and four relief appearances with Miami, there's little reason to think he'll do anything else well.
  • He isn't the closer - yet - but RP Drew Steckenrider is the most intriguing part of this bullpen. He fanned 54 batters in just 34 2/3 innings in his first taste of major-league action, and has the body type and pitch mix to sustain tremendous K/9 success. He should be the ninth-inning guy by midseason, if not sooner - and can be had very late, at least for now.

New York Mets

  • C Travis d'Arnaud has topped out at 421 plate appearances over his first five major-league seasons. He's a .245 career hitter who doesn't run, won't cross the plate a ton, and hits home runs in bunches - but not nearly enough of them to warrant anything but a late-round pick as a second option in two-catcher leagues.
  • 1B Adrian Gonzalez didn't just fall off a cliff last season - he hit the water hard and floated out to sea. Expecting a bounce-back at his age is folly; he's merely keeping the spot warm for someone else, and might be benched or released sooner than you think. Don't draft him at all - and only consider picking him up if you're truly desperate.
  • 2B Wilmer Flores set career highs in batting average (.271) and home runs (18) last season, and has the upside for more - at least in the homer department. A season of 500-plus at-bats could yield 25-plus home runs, without losing the gains he has made in BA. He's a back-end 2B1 in 12-team leagues, or a terrific option if your league has an MI spot.
  • 2017 was a lost campaign for OF Yoenis Cespedes, as the normally durable outfielder missed half the year. Extrapolating last season's stats over a full workload yields similar numbers to those he posted a year earlier - and if he's in tip-top shape to start 2018, there's no reason to expect a drop-off in production. He's a back-end OF2 in 12-team leagues.
  • OF Jay Bruce opted to return to the Mets following a 43-game stint with the Indians after a mid-season trade; he established a career best in homers while playing the majority of his games with New York. You pretty much know what you're getting here - 30 homers, 95 RBIs, and a .250 average. How you value that should determine where you pick him.
  • SP Noah Syndergaard is going just ahead of the teammate listed below - and based on his upside, there should probably be a few more spots between them. Thor was sensational through seven starts last season, and is still just 22. Draft him as an ace, and if health cooperates, you won't be disappointed.
  • SP Jacob deGrom is a more-than-suitable consolation prize if you miss out on Syndergaard - but be prepared for some truly alarming swings. DeGrom posted a 1.79 ERA in his 15 victories last season - and a downright ugly 7.33 ERA in his 10 losses. He's still a borderline ace, but you won't get the same consistency the guys ahead of him offer.
  • RP Jeurys Familia is expected to assume the closer's role ahead of import A.J. Ramos - but Ramos' presence suggests Familia's leash is shorter than it has been in the past. That said, Familia is not far removed from a two-season stretch in which he recorded 94 saves - and a return to full health should produce similar totals. Draft him as a No. 1 closer.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • 1B Carlos Santana joins the Phillies after posting a stat line in his final season in Cleveland that looked an awful lot like his 2016 campaign - except, of course, for the 11 fewer home runs he hit in '17. A five percent dip in his HR/FB rate is to blame, and likely won't bounce back to '16 levels - so split the difference and enjoy the 27 homers and .275 average.
  • 2B Cesar Hernandez won't get much attention on draft day - especially in mixed leagues - because he doesn't tear the cover off the ball. But he does three things well enough to deserve a starting spot on your team: He hits for average, scores runs, and can steal bases. His SB rate rose last season, and with 550-plus at-bats, that should mean 20-plus steals.
  • 3B Maikel Franco makes plenty of contact - but it isn't good contact. His hit rate is alarmingly low, and has fallen two straight years - so expecting a batting average higher than .240 is a fool's errand. While he's a good source of homers and RBIs, 550 at-bats from Franco could crater your average and OBP categories - and he doesn't run. He's a low-end backup 3B.
  • You're welcome to buy high on OF Rhys Hoskins - but don't get carried away. There's no way he sustains that 32 percent HR/FB ratio from his 170-AB audition with the Phillies last season - and his hit rate suggests that a sub-.250 average is the likeliest outcome. Think about where you would draft Khris Davis, then add three rounds. That's where you take Hoskins.
  • Those who had OF Odubel Herrera tabbed as a 25-steal guy last season were left bitterly disappointed. Every metric - attempt rate, success rate, and overall speed rating - were much lower than expected. He's just 26, however, and can't possibly be as bad as he was last season - plus, he's good for 12-to-15 homers. That's worth taking a chance on as an OF4.
  • SP Aaron Nola's second half of 2017 measures favorably to just about any pitcher in the National League; he averaged 10.5 K/9 while returning $24 of roto value. You'll be drafting him as an SP2 with potential ace upside, but his success will hinge at least partly on how much better the Phillies' lineup is in 2018.
  • SP Jerad Eickhoff looked like a good value target coming into 2017, but injury and ineffectiveness - particularly in the control department (3.7 BB/9) - left him on many a waiver wire by season's end. Fantasy owners will sleep on him - and you probably should, as well, unless he's still around with one or two picks left to make.
  • CL Hector Neris played with fire last season and survived, largely due to a suppressed HR/FB rate and a truly filthy 10.4 K/9 rate. You can count on him sustaining the latter, but the slightest batch of bad luck in the former, and that ERA will balloon - and the blown saves will follow. He's a solid CL2, but expect some ups and downs along the way.

Washington Nationals

  • Some fantasy players were loath to trust 2B Daniel Murphy's incredible 2016 season. But after his sensational 2017, everyone's on board now, as evidenced by his current ADP (sixth among 2Bs). Injuries curtailed his production in the second half of last season, but he's a bona fide four-category contributor with game-changing batting average potential.
  • Looking for a suitable comparison for SS Trea Turner? Look no further than Jose Altuve, the guy going two spots ahead of him on average. Altuve hits for a higher average and has more power, but Turner should also score a bunch of runs and carries 60-steal potential - something Altuve hasn't had in years. Don't let Turner slip past the fifth overall pick.
  • 3B Anthony Rendon is the perfect second-tier option if you decide to wait on the position and fill other spots first. He fulfilled his immense potential in 2017, establishing career bests in average (.301) and homers (25) while increasing his walk rate to 14 percent. He doesn't run much anymore, but you don't really need him to. He's a back-end 3B1.
  • It has been difficult to know what you're going to get out of OF Bryce Harper from year to year. In 2015, it was a mammoth $40 return. A year later, he stole 20 bases but batted .240. In 2017, the average rebounded but the steals disappeared. One thing's for certain: He might be the third OF off the board, but his chances of finishing as a top-three OF are slim.
  • OF Adam Eaton is being drafted as the 38th outfielder off the board - and if he stays healthy for all or even most of the season, he's going to return much greater value than that. He should hit north of .280 atop the most prolific lineup in baseball, and has the power-speed combo to post a 15-15 season. Put it all together, and that's a top-20 option league-wide.
  • SP Max Scherzer is the best fantasy pitching option not named Clayton Kershaw. Despite a second-half hiccup last season, Scherzer racked up more than 250 Ks for the fourth season in a row while boasting a sub-1.00 WHIP for the third straight year. If you get 30 starts out of him - and you should - he will return massive value. He's a first-round lock.
  • One of these years, SP Stephen Strasburg is going to break through and become a top-five fantasy starter. Health is the only real barrier, but it's a significant one. Assume no more than 25 starts from Stras, and extrapolate accordingly; you're still getting a top-10 starter, but don't draft him as anything more.
  • SP Gio Gonzalez represents a major downgrade from the two guys ahead of him on this list, but is coming off his best season (15 wins, 2.98 ERA, 181 strikeouts) despite major warning signs. Namely, his first-pitch strike rate dipped, his control is still an issue, and his hit and strand rates from 2017 scream outlier. Do not buy based on last season.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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40 Fantasy Facts - NL East Edition
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