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Player Debates: Austin Meadows, George Springer, Clayton Kershaw, Ketel Marte, Adalberto Mondesi

Apr 18, 2020

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The next five in our player debates series brings you a couple of veterans and then three very polarizing younger players. Check out the rest of the debates below if you haven’t already!

Bookmark this page to follow along for our complete player debate series.

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36) Austin Meadows (OF – TB)

Case For
“If you draft a Tampa Bay position player, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Well, except for Austin Meadows. The Rays have so many platoon options on their team, but Meadows is one of the few players who are locked into an everyday role. Meadows finally lived up to his prospect pedigree last season, and there’s room for more growth if he can channel the speed that he flashed in the minors. The big thing to watch with Meadows is how he performs against lefties, but don’t overthink it — especially in that division.” – Michael Waterloo

Case Against
“The argument against Austin Meadows hinges completely on believability. Do we believe he can repeat what he did last year? Do we believe he’s one of the best hitters in the game? Do we believe we will get 30 more home runs and a near-.300 batting average? The Tampa Bay Rays have been known to buy low on players and increase their value, so it’s completely plausible that they found a gem in Meadows, but the power is the least likely component of his game to stay. Through six seasons of Minor League ball, Meadows never hit more than 12 home runs in a year. Be careful buying high after he just hit 33.” – Mario Mergola

Draft Approach
“Do you believe in the Austin Meadows 2019 breakout? If so, you are getting quite a value here in the mid-thirties. Meadows excelled in every category last year, hitting .291 with 33 homers and 12 steals. If he repeats that line, this could be one of the most mispriced players in fantasy this year. The thing that is holding him down is the limited sample size, and the fact that he has really outperformed what was expected of him when he was just a prospect. The 22% strikeout rate is good, but not fantastic, and he walks around a league-average rate. This is really just about how you feel personally about him.” – Jon Anderson

37) George Springer (OF – HOU)

Case For
“Springer really busted out in 2019, posting career bests in homers (39), runs batted in (96), batting average (.292), and on-base percentage (.383). He was one of the best fantasy hitters in the game while healthy last year, as he did all of that damage in just 122 games. You could potentially be looking at a guy that can flirt with leading the league in runs and homers while hitting .300. Why is this guy going so late? He doesn’t steal bases? Yeah, I mean you can keep your steals, and I’ll gladly take the elite production in every other category for a fourth-round pick.” – Jon Anderson

Case Against
“It’s weird that George Springer is already 30 years old, no? It seems like just yesterday that he made his debut. We know that players start to decline on the wrong side of 30, and when you look at Springer, he hasn’t exactly been the model of health over the past few years, playing in more than 140 games just once in his career. Add to that the cheating scandal, and we really don’t know how much of an impact it will have on Springer. There are enough signs here to pivot in another direction.” – Michael Waterloo

Draft Approach
“We have to consider all angles of buying into a player in the middle of a scandal, but the objective reality is that George Springer’s stock has dropped, and it’s not because of his talent level. Had Springer played a full season in 2019, he would have almost certainly received MVP votes. The fact that he missed games is a stark reminder that he is not the most durable player, but if we’re looking for value, Springer has it. He’s worth targeting in all formats, even if he won’t give anything in the stolen base department.” –Mario Mergola

38) Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)

Case For
“Clayton Kershaw has undeniably been one of the best pitchers of this generation. We have, however, seen signs of decline. He has not made 30 starts in a season since 2015, and his ERA has slowly crept up for four consecutive years. Why, then, should we buy him? Because even a downgraded version of Kershaw is downright outstanding. He still averages approximately one strikeout per inning, while his highest ERA over the last 11 seasons is 3.03. His highest WHIP since 2011 was 1.043. Fantasy baseball is about numbers, and Kershaw still produces them like an ace. There was also a chance that his workload would be limited to keep him healthy, but a shortened season would likely give the same benefit while keeping his win potential high.” –Mario Mergola

Case Against
“Kershaw actually seems a bit older than he really is (he’s 32), but the slowly decreasing production is pretty easy to see. He posted a career-worst ERA last year (me telling you that ERA was 3.03 makes it seem a lot better, so just pretend you don’t know that), and the WHIP was above 1.00 for the second straight year. He was still an elite fantasy pitcher last year in his 28 starts, but the strikeouts are average now, and the injury history still lingers. While you should still feel good about Kershaw when he’s healthy, I think there are much higher upside options at pitcher at this point in the draft.” – Jon Anderson

Draft Approach
“Clayton Kershaw silenced the decline talks last year after he put up another good season with an improved SwStr%. In quality starts leagues, he was money for managers, as he consistently went six and seven innings in his starts. He’s had to change who he is as a pitcher, as the velocity just isn’t there, which gives him little margin for error. He’s worth taking still, but he’s more of an SP2 at this point.” – Michael Waterloo

39) Ketel Marte (2B/OF – ARI)

Case For
“With second base being as weak as it is, it’s kind of shocking that Ketel Marte is going this low in drafts. Sure, the breakout was out of nowhere — despite being a popular breakout pick for three years in a row — but he actually was stronger down the stretch than he was in the first half, and there are very few concerns with his underlying numbers. A change to the baseball could see his home runs come down, but not enough so that he won’t return draft-day value for you at pick No. 39.” – Michael Waterloo

Case Against
“The simple question we have to ask ourselves is, “Are we getting another 30 home runs from Ketel Marte?” If we’re being objective and considering all sides, then the answer is “maybe.” But, if we’re putting our draft capital on the line and looking at the probable outcome, then the arrow is pointing down. Between the Minor and Major Leagues, Marte had never hit double-digit home runs until 2017, when he reached a career-high of 11. He followed that up with 14 Major League home runs before flying past his two-year total with 32 in 2019. To his credit, Marte cut down on his soft-hit percentage — which is a great sign — but if he’s also trimming his stolen base total — which has declined from his early Minor League days — and bringing his power back toward the mean, we are likely overpaying.” – Mario Mergola

Draft Approach
“This is another guy that you can get great value on if you’re a believer in his ability to repeat last year. Marte was one of the best fantasy hitters in the league last year, but it was such an extreme breakout that it’s hard to feel really confident in a repeat. All of the advanced metrics support Marte being a very, very good hitter, and the fact that he plays second base makes him a nice guy to take a little gamble on. The Diamondbacks should have a better lineup this year, too, giving Marte some opportunity to actually get better.” – Jon Anderson

40) Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)

Case For
“Steals are the easiest category to predict, and Mondesi is absolutely going to steal a ton of bases so long as he is in the lineup. Given his pedigree and the Royals’ lack of other options, I cannot foresee Mondesi starving for playing time regardless of how often he strikes out this year. He is safe in the sense that he will keep your team competitive in steals by himself, and unlike the Mallex Smiths of the world, he has huge upside in the power category, too. He can easily be a top-20 hitter this year if he has a big year hitting homers, so there is an argument that Mondesi is going a little bit too late even here at #40.” – Jon Anderson

Case Against

“Bold prediction time: Mondesi won’t be a thing in 2021. Mondesi showed last year that he wasn’t worth grabbing in the first three to four rounds of your draft, yet here we are again, with Mondesi going off the board 40th overall per FantasyPros’ ADP. He’s not a complete zero at power, but you’re drafting him for speed only, essentially. If you look at his xwOBA (6th percentile), xSLG (16th percentile), and xBA (14th percentile) and pair that with his 29.8 K% and 4.3 BB% (both bottom 6 percent of baseball), what’s to like? Oh, that’s not to mention that he’s recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Unless you’re in a big tournament-style league where you need to look for the splash play, avoid Mondesi this year and find your steals elsewhere where you don’t have to make quite the investment.” – Michael Waterloo

Draft Approach

“Adalberto Mondesi is one of the highest risk-reward players of the first few rounds, ranging anywhere from league-winning to complete bust. Your tolerance for risk versus consistency should drive your overall opinion of a player capable of stealing upwards of 40 bases, but with possibly negative contributions everywhere else. Because his game is so predicated on speed, Mondesi takes a significant hit in points leagues, where his stolen bases are less impactful than in categories or rotisserie formats.” –Mario Mergola

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