2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Fantasy Fallout: Brewers Acquire Christian Yelich-Lorenzo Cain

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There is only one word that can describe the state of our MLB hot stove on Thursday, January 25th – finally! We finally get some action on the market, all courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers of course.

Wait, what?

Within an hour late Thursday afternoon, the Brewers established themselves as a contender in the National League. In a division that is decent but not dominant, Milwaukee has decided to push their chips to the middle. I love these moves from a reality aspect and hope they continue to improve their roster before Spring Training.

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First, they acquire Christian Yelich from the Marlins for a large chunk of their farm system. Among those taking their talents to South Beach are Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto. The Marlins finally (there’s that word again) get the prospect haul they desperately needed and didn’t get in other deals. The Brewers find a center fielder to build around for the foreseeable future.

But the Brew Crew wasn’t done there. They almost immediately inked Lorenzo Cain to a five year deal worth around $80M. Not only does this make Milwaukee a fantastic club offensively, but the defense will be far improved as well. With Yelich in center and Cain in left, not a ton of balls will drop for base hits out there.

Below, I will present the projected lineups following these two monster moves. Next, I will highlight the winners and losers of these two deals and what I expect to happen in the near future for Milwaukee and Miami. There’s a ton to cover here, so I will delay no further.

Christian Yelich-Lorenzo Cain to Milwaukee

Lineups

Milwaukee Brewers

OrderUsualPositionPlatoon
1Christian YelichCF
2Lorenzo CainLF
3Travis Shaw3B
4Ryan BraunRF
5Eric Thames (L)1BJesus Aguilar (R)
6Jonathan Villar2B
7Stephen Vogt (L)CManny Pina (R)
8Orlando ArciaSS

As stated in the intro, Yelich and Cain slot into center and left, respectively, for every day at-bats. This creates a log jam at almost every other position, which we will get into later on in this piece.

Miami Marlins

OrderUsualPositionPlatoon
1J.T. RealmutoC
2Starlin Castro2B
3Justin Bour1B
4Lewis BrinsonCF
5Brian Anderson3B
6Derek DietrichRF
7Martin PradoLF
8J.T. Riddle (L)SSMiguel Rojas (R)

With the Brewers calling up Brinson before the Super Two deadline, his rookie status has disintegrated. I don’t believe Miami will burn any more of his major league time in AAA, so expect him to start in April. If you were worried about this knocking out playing time for Scott van Slyke, fantasy baseball probably isn’t for you.

Winners

Yelich & Cain discover a new brewery

Both guys have been used to playing half of their games in pitcher-friendly yards the past few years. They may not even know what to do with themselves in their new digs. Yelich and Cain are both 0.360+ in OBP, but could Miller Park boost their value even more?

Park Factors - BP
(LHB only)
Miller ParkMarlins Park
Overall10491
Singles9999
Doubles10284
Triples84123
Homers10394

As the new Brewers leadoff man, Yelich brings his all-around skill set into a hitter’s park. Yes, that’s a full 13-point advantage that lefties have in Milwaukee versus Miami according to Baseball Prospectus. If Yelich can turn his 18 to 21 homers into 23 to 26 dingers, we are talking about a true five category player in fantasy. He’s currently going in the 65 to 75 range in NFBC drafts, which is perfect value. If he starts to creep up in the top 50 though, I would be a little more hesitant depending on what’s available.

Park Factors - BP
(RHB only)
Miller ParkKauffman Stadium
Overall10396
Singles9898
Doubles110111
Triples90109
Homers10286

For Cain, there is also a noticeable 9-point difference in park factor for righties between his old and new park. More notably, the HR-factor for right-handed batters goes up 16 points from Kauffman Stadium to Miller Park. If you spike Cain’s usual 16 homers to a reasonable 20 along with his 15 to 20 steals, he starts to become a value at his current ADP of 100. You could actually compare him to Yelich pre-trade at pick 70 and I would be fine with that. Anything earlier than that is betting on upside that isn’t there.

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Braun & Shaw see ducks on the pond

The top of the lineup was hot & cold for Milwaukee in 2017. The leadoff spot was one of the worst in the league and Yelich is a huge boost there. Despite getting rather decent production from their 2-hole hitters, the guys they hit there are better served in power slots. Cain is a perfect fit there and will be a source of consistency rather than rotating guys like Eric Thames and Domingo Santana where they don’t belong. More on them later.

What I want to focus on here is that with the first two hitters locked up, the two hitters immediately following in the lineup see a nice jump in value. Starting with Travis Shaw, at first I wasn’t sold on him repeating the counting stats of his 2017 campaign. I still don’t think he will touch a 31:10 HR-to-SB combo again, but the runs and RBI should be attainable in theory from 84 and 101, respectively. I feel more comfortable now buying Shaw at his current ADP of 94.

Ryan Braun had a rather shoddy 2017 season and sees his ADP fall outside the top 100 for the first time in a long time. Injuries were a big reason behind his fall from grace, which is to be expected from someone who’s averaged just 115 games played a season since 2013. However, with the depth that Milwaukee has, maybe he can be spelled a few games here and there to preserve his health. Similar to Shaw, if Braun can bounce back, the pieces are there around him to succeed.

Brinson fishes for playing time in Miami

As discussed in the projected lineups section, Brinson should see quality playing time right away. Hitting towards the middle of the lineup, he’s going to see major league pitching treating him as one of the best hitters on a team. I’m anxious and excited to see him get these looks over the course of a season. There should be a grace period applied to Brinson at the beginning of the year just as Byron Buxton had the last couple of seasons in Minnesota. Once he gets going, there’s a nice power-speed combination here that will play well in rotisserie leagues.



The major takeaway here is that Brinson gets out of a crowded outfield situation and jumps into a crowd-less outfield. As for the Brewers players that remain…

Losers

Embed from Getty Images

Domingo is a day of rest

That header is for my Spanish-speaking readers. Someone please notice how clever I am. And delirious.

Back to business, one of my favorite players in the league is actually a loser in all this mess. Domingo Santana will see much less playing time after a breakout season that saw him post a 0.875 OPS and 0.375 wOBA. Those are top tier outfielder numbers for someone who seems to be riding the bench.

Here’s why I believe you should continue to buy Santana in drafts – the Brewers aren’t done yet. Expect another trade to either open up a spot for Santana or send him to a team that has a spot for him. The 73 ADP for Santana is about to free fall and he shouldn’t be allowed to fall that much. Always bet on talent.

Alternatively, there have been talks of Braun getting some reps at first base. Craig Counsel confirmed this idea on Sirius XM radio this week, saying Santana needs to play “lots”. This would be huge, as it would all but guarantee Santana a spot in the outfield against lefties if he stays in Milwaukee. This would be unwelcoming news for our next player, however.

Thames isn’t out of the woods

No matter what happens to Santana, Eric Thames is going to get platooned now. The outfield will always consist of Yelich, Cain, and some combination of Santana or Braun. If Braun starts eating into Thames’ first base time, then yikes. Thames was likely going to sit against righties anyway, but now it seems like he could lose even more playing time. If Santana is hoping for a trade, Thames is making the pitch for him to the front office.

Needless to say, if all the pieces remain as is, I don’t see Thames continuing to be drafted in the top 200.

Furthermore, Keon Broxton should free fall off draft boards. He’s just not a good player in reality and the Brewers aren’t going to force him into a lineup that has four-plus good outfielders. Steer clear of both of these guys, but really avoid Broxton.

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Realmuto as Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland in Castaway

I couldn’t even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over nothing.

Okay, it’s not exactly a 1-to-1 ratio here in severity. But imagine watching J.T. Realmuto read the news on Yelich getting traded. He has power over nothing that the Marlins front office wants to do. Realmuto is on an island all by himself and, now that Yelich joins the band of Marlins players to get traded, he can only hope to be part of the fire sale.

If not, then he’s part of one of the worst lineups in the league. He could be the only catcher leading off in the league, but if none of the batters behind him want to hit him in, then who cares? I actually don’t think his draft value should fall any from Yelich leaving. If you are drafting now, take advantage of Realmuto’s stock if it falls. He has as good a chance as anyone in the league of getting traded sometime in the next couple of months.



All of this also applies to Justin Bour, who I believe will get traded to a contender who doesn’t want to sign Eric Hosmer to a five-year deal. Even if he doesn’t get moved, he should bat in the top third of this lineup and see a plate appearance increase from previous seasons.


Check out the rest of our great Fantasy Baseball content as the 2018 season approaches.

About Tyler Thompson

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