Regan's Rumblings: Wrapping Up 2017

Regan's Rumblings: Wrapping Up 2017

This article is part of our Regan's Rumblings series.

As I typically do in the final Regan's Rumblings column, this week I'll hand out some hardware and look toward 2018.

National League MVP

1 - Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL

2 - Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS

3 - Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA

There is no real obvious candidate this year in the NL. Kris Bryant leads the league with a 6.8 WAR, but he's hit just .241 with RISP, leading to a relatively low 73 RBI. I'll go a bit outside the box and take Blackmon. All he's done this year is bat .326/.394/.599 with 36 homers, 97 RBI, 13 steals, and a league-leading 134 runs. He's also played above-average defense in CF. I get the Coors factor argument against him, as he's hit a mortal .280/.338/.447 on the road, but the overall numbers are staggering enough that you can't avoid having him as a candidate. Rendon has a .933 OPS and should give Arenado a run for his money in the Gold Glove voting, while Arenado himself leads the league with 127 RBI. It's also tough to ignore the 57 home runs from Stanton, but does that make him an MVP? Leaving Paul Goldschmidt out of the top-three feels wrong, but it is what it is.

American League MVP

1 - Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU

2 - Aaron Judge, OF, NYY

3 - Jose Ramirez, 3B, CLE

After hitting just .185 with three home runs in August, Judge is making a massive push

As I typically do in the final Regan's Rumblings column, this week I'll hand out some hardware and look toward 2018.

National League MVP

1 - Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL

2 - Anthony Rendon, 3B, WAS

3 - Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA

There is no real obvious candidate this year in the NL. Kris Bryant leads the league with a 6.8 WAR, but he's hit just .241 with RISP, leading to a relatively low 73 RBI. I'll go a bit outside the box and take Blackmon. All he's done this year is bat .326/.394/.599 with 36 homers, 97 RBI, 13 steals, and a league-leading 134 runs. He's also played above-average defense in CF. I get the Coors factor argument against him, as he's hit a mortal .280/.338/.447 on the road, but the overall numbers are staggering enough that you can't avoid having him as a candidate. Rendon has a .933 OPS and should give Arenado a run for his money in the Gold Glove voting, while Arenado himself leads the league with 127 RBI. It's also tough to ignore the 57 home runs from Stanton, but does that make him an MVP? Leaving Paul Goldschmidt out of the top-three feels wrong, but it is what it is.

American League MVP

1 - Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU

2 - Aaron Judge, OF, NYY

3 - Jose Ramirez, 3B, CLE

After hitting just .185 with three home runs in August, Judge is making a massive push to join guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Fred Lynn as players who won both ROY and MVP in the same season. Despite the 203 strikeouts, Judge is hitting an elite .283/.418/.630 with 50 homers, 124 runs, 108 RBI, and even eight steals. I still have Altuve holding him off, but barely. The diminutive second baseman is hitting .348/.414/.554 with 24 home runs, 107 runs, 81 RBI, and 32 stolen bases. In contrast to Judge's 30.9% K%, Altuve is one of the league's best contact hitters with a 12.9% K%, so he wins I think by a narrow margin unless perhaps, Judge finishes with 55 home runs. Ramirez is a distant third here, but a .317/.370/.583 line is nothing to sneeze at. Mike Trout? I'd take him #1 overall if drafting today, but 109 games isn't enough to put him on the MVP short list.

National League ROY

1 - Cody Bellinger, 1B, LAD

2 - German Marquez, SP, COL

3 - Josh Bell, 1B, PIT

Both ROY awards should be unanimous with Bellinger taking home the NL trophy via a .272/.355/.595 rookie season that includes 39 homers, 94 RBI, 86 runs, and 10 stolen bases. He's an excellent defender at first base and he hits lefties as well as right-handed pitchers. Beyond Bellinger, Marquez has had an up-and-down rookie season with a 4.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 28 starts, but he's averaging nearly 95 mph on his fastball and has shown the ability to pitch in Coors Field. Lastly, Bell has been in a massive slump in recent weeks, but he's shown better-than-expected power with 24 home runs, and his solid plate discipline (10.6% BB%, 18.7% K%) should allow him to hit better than his current .250 going forward.

American League ROY

1 - Aaron Judge, OF, NYY

2 - Andrew Benintendi, OF, BOS

3 - Trey Mancini, 1B, BAL

Judge is a lock here. The pre-season favorite, Benintendi, has had a strong season as well, batting .276/.359/.435 with 20 home runs and 19 stolen bases. Given he's just 22, the best is yet to come, and with excellent plate discipline (11% BB%, 16.6% K%), seasons of .300/.385/.500 should be on the horizon. Mancini has had a strong campaign as well, batting .293/.337/.492 with 24 home runs. A 0.23 BB/K is a bit concerning for his long-term outlook, but he should be able to improve his 5.5% BB% as he gains experience.

American League Cy Young

1 - Corey Kluber, CLE

2 - Chris Sale, BOS

3 - Luis Severino, NYY

A back injury knocked Kluber out for a month in May, but that shouldn't prevent him from winning another Cy Young trophy. His 2.27 ERA overall is great and all, but in his last 19 starts, Kluber has a 1.52 ERA and 193:19 K:BB, meaning he is averaging 10 strikeouts a start over the last three-plus months. Sale of course has reached the 300-strikeout plateau and has a 2.76 ERA, but in what should be a close vote, edge goes to Kluber for his strong finish. Severino leads the league in average fastball velocity among starters at 97.6 mph, leading to an excellent 10.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He could be even better next year given he's just 23.

National League Cy Young

1 - Max Scherzer, WAS

2 - Clayton Kershaw, LAD

3 - Kenley Jansen, LAD

When it's as close as it is between Kershaw and Scherzer, I have to give the edge to the guy who has made 30 starts versus Kershaw's 26. Sure, the Dodgers' ace is 18-4 with a 2.21 ERA, 10.5 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9, but being available for four more starts means something. Overall, Scherzer is 16-6 with a 2.55 ERA, 12.0 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9. Maybe this comes down to each pitcher's final start, though given both guys will be playoff pitchers next month, the starts could be of the abbreviated variety. There wasn't an obvious guy for third place, so the NL's best reliever this year gets the nod. Jansen's numbers have been spectacular: 40-for-41 in save opportunities, 1.36 ERA, 105:7 (!) K:BB, and a ridiculous 18.1% swinging strike rate.

Regan's All-ADP Bargain Team

C – Welington Castillo, BAL (179) – The 20 home runs, while a career-high aren't a big surprise, but for a guy who entered the year batting .253, the .285 average is a nice surprise. His 26% K% and 6.1 BB% aren't great by any means, but he's still been one of the top fantasy catchers this season.

1B – Justin Smoak, TOR (541) – He's predictably tailed off, but 38 home runs and a .273/.358/.538 slash line from an afterthought like Smoak has been highly valuable for his owners. In addition to the power spike, Smoak has taken K% way down year over year, from 2016's 32.8% to 20.2% this season. Sometimes a new approach at the plate works.

2B – Whit Merrifield, KC (478) – The first two numbers of Merrifield's .286/.325/.458 slash line are nearly identical to last year, but after homering twice and stealing eight bases in 81 games in 2016, Merrifield has gone deep 18 times this year with a whopping 33 steals. He's been a huge steal.

SS – Chris Taylor, LAD (656) – Taylor has always hit well in Triple-A in recent years, including .322/.397/.474 last year, but it hadn't translated to the highest level. That's changed this year, as Taylor has broken out to the tune of .287/.354/.499 despite hitting just .205 over his last 30 games. The power surge has been the biggest surprise, as Taylor hit just four homers all last year. His positional flexibility is very helpful, as he's going to qualify in the outfield and at second base next year. Perhaps short and third as well depending on your league settings.

3B – Travis Shaw, MIL (304) – Imagine if the Red Sox still had this guy. Shaw has been pure gold with a .274/.348/.522 slash and impressive counting stats as well – 31 HR, 99 RBI, and even 10 steals. One key has been his improvement versus LHP - .821 OPS vs. last year's .599.

OF – Tommy Pham, STL (659) – It took him a while to lock down regular playing time, but with a .308/.408/.522 slash, he's certainly done that now. Pham has been fantasy gold as well with 22 homers and 23 stolen bases. With an excellent 13% BB% and solid 22.2% K%, his disciplined approach should allow for continued success.

OF – Eddie Rosario, MIN (400) – A big part of the playoff-bound Twins' success, Rosario has had a .287/.327/.504 breakout season, including 26 homers and nine stolen bases. His 6.2 BB% is relatively low, but when put up against the 3.2% and 3.4% marks the previous two seasons, he's made nice progress in his plate discipline.

OF – Scooter Gennett, CIN (469) – I had to get him on here somewhere, and he does qualify in the outfield. Gennett showed some uptick in his power last year with 14 home runs, but no one could have seen .298/.346/.547 with 27 home runs and 94 RBI coming. Gennett has hit just .240/.284/.417 versus LHP, so a platoon role could possibly be in his future, but given his overall numbers, that's unlikely to happen early in 2018.

UT – Giancarlo Stanton, MIA (40) – Stanton's injury history dropped him from first-round status to being available in the fourth round in many cases. Kudos if you rolled the dice.

SP – Aaron Nola, PHI (192) – Nola was expected to take a step forward this year, but it turned out to be a sizeable step forward – 3.54 ERA, 9.9 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9 all the while showing improved velocity on his fastball. In his last four starts, Nola has a 2.49 ERA in 25.1 innings with a strong 35:8 K:BB. Another step forward in 218 for the former #7 overall pick seems likely.

SP – Robbie Ray, ARI (212) - Ray last year recorded just a 4.90 ERA, but with a 3.81 FIP, it was pretty easy to see progress coming. Well a 2.95 ERA and 12.3 K/9 are certainly progress, and given the room for improvement in his control (4.0 BB/9), another leap forward in 2018 is certainly possible.

RP – Corey Knebel, MIL (386) – Knebel has been a top-five closer after being grabbed off the waiver wire in all but the deepest of leagues. 37 saves, a 1.60 ERA, and 121 strikeouts (14.9 K/9). All elite. Not so elite is his 4.9 BB/9, so imagine if he could cut that to say 3.0 next year.

Regan's All-ADP Bust Team

C – Jonathan Lucroy, COL (56) – Lucroy sure timed this season poorly, as he's going to be a free agent at the end of the season. After hitting a measly .242/.297/.338 in Milwaukee, Lucroy has predictably been better in Colorado, batting .301/.399/.429 in 41 games. He's homered just six times this year after swatting 24 a year ago and will see his ADP plummet next year, particularly if the Rockies don't re-sign him.

1B – Miguel Cabrera, DET (16) – Yes, he's 34, but there's no way that .249/.329/.399 is the new norm for one of the best hitters in recent memory. I attribute most of this year to the two herniated discs in his back. If he gets that taken care of in the offseason, he may be a bargain in 2018 drafts.

2B – Ian Kinsler, DET (79) – I could probably fill this list with more Tigers, but Kinsler is deserving given his anemic .236/.313/.416 slash line. He does have 22 homers and 14 steals, so it's not all bad, so perhaps that .242 BABIP will trend back up next year.

SS – Trevor Story, COL (30) – Perhaps we should have been more cautious with Story given last season's 31.3% K%, but I certainly didn't anticipate a drop to .233/.302/.438. The power is way down as well, though at least with 22 homers and seven steals, he's helped some. He may be looking over his shoulder at Brendan Rodgers come July 2018.

3B – Jonathan Villar, MIL (21) – I had to get him on the list, and though he hasn't played third base this year, Villar did log 42 games there in 2016. He's batting .241/.294/.374 overall with 11 homers and 23 steals after going 19/62 a year ago in those categories. Villar did post a .950 OPS in August, but that's somehow led to just 24 at-bats this month as the Brewers have no room for him having traded for Neil Walker. Walker likely won't be back in 2018 as he's a free agent after the season, but Villar may not be back as well. That's probably best for him at this point.

OF – Starling Marte, PIT (23) – We know about the 80-game suspension, but in 71 games overall, Marte has hit just .261/.323/.373 with seven home runs and 19 steals. He's been better lately, batting .277/.351/.462 in September, but he's going to be a tough guy to project in 2018.

OF – Carlos Gonzalez, COL (64) – Gonzalez has a 1.058 OPS over his last 30 games, so he's at least somewhat salvaged a down 2017 campaign. Batting .251/.330/.402 overall, Gonzalez has seen his power output drop sharply, going from a .207 ISO last year to just .151 this season. He's actually posted a solid 10.6% BB%, and with the recent run, there's hope for a rebound in 2018. The Rockies will have a bit of a roster crunch next year with David Dahl assumedly returning, so the free-agent-to-be could very well be playing outside of Coors Field in 2018.

OF – Gregory Polanco, PIT (63) – Polanco seemed poised for a breakout after elevating his OPS for the second straight season in 2016 (to .786). Instead, he's regressed, batting just .253/.308/.391 while dealing with multiple hamstring injuries. He could turn things around next year given he's still just 26, but things aren't trending in the right direction.

UT – David Dahl, COL (126)– After hitting .315/.359/.500 in 63 games for the Rockies last year, big things were expected from Dahl in 2017, but he failed to record a big league at-bat due to a rib/back injury. He'll probably take over for Carlos Gonzalez (free agent) next year, though the Rockies may give him some additional time in Triple-A first given the long layoff.

SP – Madison Bumgarner, SF (15) – Bumgarner at least finished with back-to-back quality starts, and though his 3.32 ERA was the highest it's been since 2012, his 8.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 were solid. The shoulder thing is still a bit scary, so I'd probably not be comfortable drafting him until the fourth-round next year.

SP – Jon Lester, CHC (37) – With a 4.46 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, Lester has had a poor year despite the solid 8.9 K/9. His walks and home runs are up and his velocity is down, though not alarmingly so. Lester did have a 4.82 ERA for Boston in 2012 before rebounding to post sub-2.50 ERAs in two of the four subsequent seasons, so a strong 2018 can't be ruled out.

RP – Seung Hwah Oh, STL (70) – With 103 strikeouts and a 1.92 ERA last year, big things were expected in Oh's first full year as closer. Instead we get 20 saves, but also a 4.10 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and a K/9 that plummeted from 11.6 to 8.2. It's safe to say he's not opening 2018 as the Cardinals' closer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Regan
David Regan is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, including the 2015 Baseball Article of the Year and the 2010 Baseball Writer of the Year.
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