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Trends and NoteWorthies Spring Training Edition

It is amazing how quickly draft season flies. It feels like just yesterday there was snow on the ground and ridiculous Average Draft Position numbers for players on Oh wait. There is snow on the ground and Vlad Guerrero Jr. is still being drafted in the top 50. Well, draft season has still flown by. Spring training is wrapping up, the regular reason has technically begun, and we have our last chance to find sleepers, bargains and draft busters. We have ourselves some Spring Training Trends and NoteWorthy’s to examine this week.  

Now, not only do we have ADP sample sizes to “trust” for drafters – a word that should be four letters when it comes to baseball statistics – we have spring training performance to mislead us and position battles to speculate about. We have uncertainties such as unproven prospects with toolbox profiles, veterans declining or making comebacks, pitchers who lack established resumes or have footnotes that are making statements about what their 2019 could be.

It all makes for an interesting group of player profiles. Let’s get after it in “Trends and NoteWorthies.”

There’s still time! Leagues are still forming at, so head on over and start or join a league today.

NoteWorthy Spring Training Indicators

Trevor Richards, SP Miami Marlins – ADP #375.55

2018 Stats:

126.1 Innings Pitched – 130 Strikeouts – 4.42 ERA – 1.39 WHIP – 54 Walks

2019 Spring Training Stats:

19.1 IP – 20 SOs – 1.86 ERA – .62 WHIP – Three Home Runs Allowed



Richards got the rookie year jitters out of his system with 126.1 innings pitched while averaging better than a strikeout per inning, an impressive rate for a rookie, in 2018. On the downside, he provided less than stellar ratios, walked 54 batters and allowed 15 home runs.

Spring Training

Richards has maintained his 2018 K/9 while significantly improving his ratios and reducing the walks in a small spring training sample size, but the home runs are still popping out and over the walls. The positive signs far outweigh the negative ones for Richards this spring.


The Marlins are going to struggle to win 60 games and Richards will suffer in that category as a result, but in his sophomore season he should pitch 160-180 innings or more innings and provide 145-170 strikeouts, making him a viable starter in all formats and leagues.


He will pitch a large portion of those innings in a friendly park against National League lineups without the pressure of losing his rotation spot. Owners shouldn’t expect him to be 2018’s Blake Snell, but with an ADP of #375.55 on, he is a late-round pick with viable Fantasy potential and a spring training that suggests he can improve his ratios. He will be a solid streamer and two-start pitcher with a chance to be a weekly consideration if he maintains his K/9 trend from 2018.  

Shane Bieber, SP Cleveland Indians – ADP #155.58

2018 Stats:

114.2 IP – 118 Ks – 4.55 ERA – 1.33 WHIP – 23 Walks – 13 Home Runs

2019 Spring Training Stats:

14 IP – 17 SOs – .64 ERA – .36 WHIP – Zero HRs allowed



Bieber, like Richards, flashed viable strikeout potential with mediocre ratios and too many home runs allowed in 2018. Unlike Richards, walks weren’t a major problem for Bieber, only allowing 23 in 114.2 innings pitched.

Spring Training

Bieber’s name was bandied about as a 2019 breakout candidate and his spring training has done nothing to diminish the wisdom.


He is being drafted alongside fellow pitchers Kyle Freeland and his Coors field predicament, Cole Hamels aging changeup, Nick Pivetta and his quest to be the “sleeper’ that everyone is all over, and Dallas Keuchel who can’t find a job and who is unlikely to strike out 150 batters in a season. Bieber has more upside and strikeout potential than any of the similar alternatives at his ADP and he plays for a contender, which should help him in the wins category. Yu Darvish is extremely intriguing at #147.15, but Bieber should be selected ahead of Rick Porcello (#143.8) because of his lack of ceiling and Eduardo Rodriguez (#143.49) due to his struggles staying healthy. Anywhere around #130 and Bieber becomes one of the best starting pitchers on the board and his spring training is foreshadowing a great draft day value.

Chris Archer, SP Pittsburgh Pirates – ADP#126.83

2018 Stats:

148.1 IP – 162 Ks – 49 BBs – 4.31 ERA – 1.38 WHIP – 19 HRs Allowed

2019 Spring Training Stats

Eight IP – 12 Ks – Two BBs – 3.38 ERA – 1.25 WHIP



Command has never been Archer’s strength and we saw that again in a troubling 2018 campaign. He walked 49 batters, allowed 19 home runs and stuck Fantasy owners with a punishing 1.38 WHIP without providing the 200 strikeouts that owners have come to rely on because of a reduced workload of only 148.1 innings pitched.

Spring Training

Eight innings is too small a sample to come to any intelligent conclusions about a pitcher with Archer’s body of work to compare it too, but one and a half strikeouts per inning, only two walks and zero home runs allowed are all signs to be optimistic about.


2018 was a career-worst for Archer, but it wasn’t far astray from the norm. His command issues result in higher ERAs than a pitcher with his raw ‘stuff” suggests he should and his WHIP is a detriment rather than a positive. The tradeoff Fantasy owners accept with Archer is that he is one of less than two dozen starters that can be trusted to provide 200-225 strikeouts and in the National League, that appears even more likely this year than in the past. His comparable draft-day alternatives provide better ratios and fewer strikeouts. Pitchers like Kyle Hendricks (ADP #124.44), Masahiro Tanaka (ADP #127.35) and J.A. Happ (ADP #129.85). I chase strikeouts over ratios and Archer has higher upside in the second season of his transition to the National League, but if owners prefer to chase wins or play it safer with the ratios, this is a reasonable Average Draft Position with viable alternatives. Archer is a player I am willing to take a chance on and hope his ADP becomes a steal rather than just viable because of his high strikeout potential.

Yu Darvish, SP Chicago Cubs – ADP#147.15

2018 Stats:

40 IP – 49 Ks – 4.95 ERA – 1.43 WHIP – 21 BBs – Seven HRs Allowed

2019 Spring Training Stats:

12 IP – 14 Ks – 2.25 ERA – 1.42 WHIP – Nine BBs – Zero HRs Allowed



In a shortened 2018 season Darvish was uglier than the relatively modest amount of appearances should normally allow. He walked more than a batter every other inning and had career worsts in ERA and WHIP, by a lot, even though his home runs allowed were consistent with his career norms.

Spring Training

Darvish’s K/9 is slightly down while still impressive this spring, but it’s the walks that are a concern. His BB/9 is actually worse this spring and that has correlated to a comparable WHIP to his horrific 2018 season.


His walk rate and correlating WHIP is a major concern. Combine last years explosion with his small sample size this spring and we have reason to believe that this is the new Yu, until he makes a noticeable adjustment, at least.

Darvish can contribute 200 strikeouts for Fantasy owners if he is able to pitch 175-180 innings and so far there doesn’t seem to be a reason to believe he can’t. There have been whispers that the Cubs plan to be cautious with his workload but they have fallen short of publicly announcing that he will be on pitch counts or an innings limit. Darvish is a risk/reward target at #147.15 according to’s Average Draft Position rankings. I prefer his upside to Cole Hamels (ADP#150.24) continued decline, but I can agree with owners that choose to chase Shane Bieber’s upside and potential breakout campaign at #155.58 instead of Darvish’s rising WHIP and walk rates. I still think that 200 strikeouts at somewhere around the 15th round is a risk worth taking and too much value to pass up – bloated spring WHIP be damned.


NoteWorthy Trending Veterans

Older players typically fall in drafts because experts and fans dread the thought of owning a player the year his decline transitions from casual to collapse and because the “smart” thinking is that it’s better to invest in the unknown upside of a young player than play it conservative with the bland expectations of what we think we know we’re going to get from an established veteran. The thinking makes sense, and the result is that veterans fall and become values.

Here are a few:


Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati Reds – ADP #62.44

2018 Stats:

145 Games Played – 12 HRs – Two SBs – .284 Batting Average – .417 OBP

2019 Spring Training Stats:

25 At-Bats – Zero HRs – .160 BA – .432 OBP – 12 BBs

Some veterans fall in drafts and become values. Others are buoyed by their previous success when they should fall further. 2018 was the worst year of Votto’s career and it was a full-blown collapse by any measure. His 2019 spring training has been a continuation of the 2018 fall, while his average draft position still remains high at #62.44. It has fallen 15-20 spots since his poor spring training began, but it was too high to begin with and remains too high even now. First base has become a thin position, but there are still expectations that need to be met and walks are rarely the highlight of a successful, Fantasy viable first baseman’s credentials.


In OBP leagues Bruce will continue to be a one-category force and there is value in that to justify a top 75 ADP, but in all other leagues he shouldn’t be drafted inside the top 135. Some veterans become values with age, while Votto has managed to be an overdraft. The rare exception to the rule. The Trends aren’t in his favor at the moment.

Hunter Pence, OF Texas Rangers – ADP #899.94

2018 Stats:

97 Games Played – Four HRs – Five SBs – .226 BA – .258 OBP

2019 Spring Training Stats:

45 At-Bats – Three HRs – Six SBs – .356 BA

Pence has had a better 2019 spring training with the Texas Rangers than he had an entire 2018 season with the San Francisco Giants. His explosive spring reminds Fantasy owners of the five-tool days of 2013-2014 when he was a 20/20 threat with .275+ batting averages. Pence is owned in less than 1% of Yahoo leagues.


Fantasy owners need to realize that spring training is practice, it isn’t real. Pitchers and players approach to games is to prepare for the season, not get guys out or acquire spring W’s. Pence hasn’t hit more than 14 home runs or stole more than five bases in a season in four years. He is a shiny spring object, not a relevant 2019 one.

AL-Only league teams are desperate for anybody productive for even a month at a time. In spite of his hot start, those are the only leagues that Pence is relevant and he isn’t worth an expensive FAAB investment even in those. Be happy for Mr. Pence and his family, but don’t expect him to help you and yours win the league prize pool. Pence has been noteworthy, but the trends from previous seasons aren’t in his favor.

Jay Bruce, 1B/OF Seattle Mariners – ADP#302.08

2018 Stats:

319 ABs – 94 Games Played – Nine HRs – Two SB – .250 BA

2019 Spring Training Stats:

30 ABs – Two HRs – One SB – .433 BA

Bruce was a well thought of prospect with dual-threat Fantasy potential at one time, but he has long since disappeared from owners’ radars even though he has consistently hit between 25-35 home runs, sprinkled in a handful of stolen bases and qualified as an outfielder even as he aged. He had a bad 2018, but in 2016 and 2017 he hit 33 and 36 home runs while knocking in 99 and 101 RBIs respectively.

The lack of love is likely due to the fact that a sprinkle full of stolen bases doesn’t make up for a career .247 batting average. If Bruce consistently hit 35-45 home runs, like Khris Davis, I suspect there would be more love for the lefty slugger, but he hasn’t.


Bruce qualifies at both 1B and OF and is owned in less than 13% of Yahoo leagues even though he is projected to play every day and once again, slug 25 home runs. And, that projection, according to, is likely improperly skewed due to his poor 2018 showing when he hit nine home runs in 94 games.

Bruce has more home run potential than many of the younger, less proven late-round alternatives. According to players like Brandon Nimmo (ADP #166.3), Austin Meadows (ADP #195.47) and Corey Dickerson (ADP #232.2) are all being drafted well ahead of Bruce and there is no guarantee they will receive full-time at-bats or hit 25 home runs if they receive them. Bruce isn’t a player to target and he won’t win owners a title, but his career trends make him a better deep-league outfield/1B option than a lot of his peers with an ADP that has him unowned in 87% of leagues.  


ToolBox Noteworthy’s

After my starting roster has been filled and bench positions are what’s left I start looking for a lottery ticket to take a flier on. I like to target plus athletes with power/speed tools that typically struggle making contact and more often than not don’t have guaranteed full-time at-bats. Manuel Margot is an example of a player that qualifies and his ADP of #297.16 fits the profile, but he isn’t as much of a reach as I am used to chasing because he doesn’t have the 30+ home run, 30+ stolen base “toolshed” potential I like to dream on. Some might call these “sleepers.” Others, fliers. Whatever you want to call them, the hope is that they come at a bargain and perform like All-Stars.

Here are a few of the heavy-tool chases I am looking at late in drafts and early season waiver wires.  


Lewis Brinson, OF Miami Marlins – ADP #363.55

2019 Spring Training Stats:

18 Games played – Five HRs – One SB – .271 BA

Brinson started out the spring on fire but has cooled some since. He remains one of the Spring Training leaders in home runs while two walks, 15 strikeouts and a .300 OBP are hardly what most would consider “on fire” anymore.

Brinson was the headliner for the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade because of his power potential and overall athleticism that should translate into stolen bases for Fantasy owners. He has been unable to make enough consistent contact to turn potential into results and in spite of a great start, this spring has been the same. He is worth monitoring early in the season because it does appear the at-bats will be there for the rebuilding Marlins, but he doesn’t warrant a roster spot over other more viable alternatives.  

Domingo Santana, OF Seattle Mariners – ADP #291.01

2019 Spring Training Stats:

10 Games played – Four HRs – .400 BA

Santana hit 30 home runs and stole 15 bases for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. He hadn’t been that player prior and hasn’t been it since, but the skill set remains. He is going to receive another opportunity in Seattle in 2019 as he started it with a bang, launching a grand-slam in Tokyo to open the major league season.

Keon Broxton, OF New York Mets – ADP #500.89

2019 SPring Training Starts:

12 Games played – Eight Hits – Zero HRs – Two SBs – .276 BA

Like Santana, Broxton flashed his upside as a Brewer, hitting 20 home runs and stealing 21 bases in 2017 before leaving the organization this season. He entered the spring in a platoon with the raw tools to outshine both Juan Lagares and Jeff McNeill on a Mets roster that could use some athleticism in it. After a pedestrian spring Broxton has worked his way from a player to watch to a waiver wire name to monitor rather than a lottery ticket worth taking an early season shot on.

You can follow me on Twitter @CJMitch73 and keep an eye out for my upcoming Fantrax Podcast “Mitch Dawg Unleashed” as the baseball season gets underway.

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