Not enough at-bats, but plenty of PAs

It’s time for our annual list of players who fall short of the minimum 550 at-bat requirement to be considered unlimited in the I-75 League… but gain unlimited status for 2018 by virtue of the clause in which they earned 600 or more plate appearances. There’s 14 of them — exactly the same number as a year ago.

  1. Josh Bell, 1B, Applegate (549 AB, 620 plate appearances). Clips are hoping the switch-hitter continues to develop and improves enough defensively to play a position other than DH.
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B, Margaritaville (549, 665). Another studly year from one of baseball’s superstars.
  3. George Springer, OF, Bushwood (548, 629). World Series MVP elevates his national visibility.
  4. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Bushwood (544, 636). Lefty swinger offers power vs. righties, on-base against lefties.
  5. Aaron Judge, OF, Applegate (542, 678). 52 homers and a Gold Glove finalist. As if he’ll beat out Mookie Betts.
  6. Corey Seager, SS, Superior (539, 613). Lefty hitter has reverse splits, but still has an .826 OPS vs. RHPs.
  7. Travis Shaw, 3B, free agent (538, 606). Breakout year for 27-year-old makes him attractive first-round pick.
  8. Jake Lamb, 3B, New New York (536, 635). A waste of unlimited status as he’s unplayable vs. LHPs (.144 / .269 / .288).
  9. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Bismarck (534, 632). Solid performer brings a Fangraphs War of 4.1 to the Bombers for next year.
  10. Domingo Santana, RF, Savannah (525, 607). Breakout 30-homer, 15-steal season at age 25. Hit .278.
  11. Steven Souza Jr., RF, Springfield (523, 617). Breakout 30-homer, 16-steal season at age 28. But hit just .239.
  12. Logan Morrison, 1B, free agent (512, 601). Breakout 38-homer year that he’ll never, ever, ever replicate.
  13. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Satellite Beach (508, 605). Good luck finding another .300 / .400 / .500 guy in the majors. OK, Jose Altuve. Find another. OK, Justin Turner, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout. Still pretty special.
  14. Matt Carpenter, 1B, Boulder (497, 622). Gotta love an unlimited guy who doesn’t even get to 500 ABs. 109 walks will do that for you.
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Is this what the card looks like for next year’s No.1 draft pick???

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge set the all-time American League home run record for rookies this year, with 52.

Did you know the National League record was also set this year, by the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger? The 22-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder with the lightning-quick uppercut clubbed 39 (second in the NL behind Giancarlo Stanton), in just 480 at-bats. That’s just one of the many reasons he’s our lead-pipe lock projection as our No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 I-75 League Draft.

Bellinger looks to be a 2e8 first baseman who can also play the outfield and not embarrass you. He can run a little bit (10 steals in 13 attempts) and he hits both lefties and righties (OPS marks of .903 and .948). No available player had more extra-base hits than Bellinger’s 69 (26-4-39). Yes, he whiffed a lot (146 times) but whiffing just doesn’t have the bad smell it used to. Just think how good he’ll be once he learns how to hit breaking balls, as we saw his struggles in the World Series. And did we mention he’s just 22, and won’t turn 23 til next year’s all-star break? Fangraphs War: 4.0. Previous rank: 1.

Here’s the rest of our updated non-mock draft: Continue reading

2018 Non-Mock Draft: It’ll be the Year of the First Baseman

Justin Smoak is hitting .298, has 26 homers and a .960 on-base-plus-slugging average.

Logan Morrison has 26 homers and a .936 OPS. Eric Thames has 23 homers and a .371 on-base average. Even Yonder Alonso is getting on base at a .373 clip and has 21 homers.

All of those first basemen will become hot commodities in the 2018 I-75 League draft.

In the second round. Or maybe even the third.

The problem is, a plethora of relatively comparable available players at an already stacked position, most of whom are not going to be great fielders, affords drafting teams time to lay in the weeds and focus on other needs, biding their time until the talent pool thins and then snagging a still-big bat.

Which begs the question — so who will go in the first round?

Well sadly, this upcoming draft doesn’t shape up to have much more young talent than the grim 2017 draft, unless a whole lot of studs come up in the next two months. (Thank you Chicago White Sox; Yoan Moncada won’t make this list now but certainly will be a high pick come March.)

Drumroll, please. In reverse order, here are the current top 15 available players for the 2018 draft:

15. Aaron Hicks, OF, Yankees, 27, S/R: Has been on the DL since June 25 with an oblique injury, but he already has 200 ABs, during which the switch-hitter hit .290 and posted a .398 on-base number plus a .513 slugging number. Always a good fielder, plenty of speed, Hicks’ biggest problem competing for playing time is a crowded Yankees outfield. Still, he’ll make an awesome fourth outfielder for a team drafting 15th.

14. Trey Mancini, OF, Orioles, 25, R/R: As reported by Orioles fan site Eutaw Street Report, Mancini “would lead AL rookies in wOBA, wRC+ and slugging percentage, and rank third in fWAR” if it weren’t for a guy named Aaron Judge. Mancini is hitting .305 with an .881 OPS, which looks even better when you check out his splits vs. RHPs: .330/.381/.570/.951. Continue reading