Collette Calls: 2022 NL West Bold Predictions

Collette Calls: 2022 NL West Bold Predictions

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

The premise for this year's series was laid out in the first installment, so please review it. ADP references are looking at Draft Champions leagues in 2021 and 2022 (over last 30 days). Auction values are based on standard 15-team league formats. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Rojas is a top 150 player

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

J. Rojas

527

223

$6

-$2

Rojas is a rare bird these days as a player with three-position eligibility (2B/SS/OF) and also some offensive upside. in a 10-game eligibility situation, you also get to add third base on draft day, which is the position he is currently projected to play for Arizona this season. He is also projected to hit leadoff for the club, so there is a very nice opportunity to get a volume of playing time with a player currently going outside the top 220. He nearly pulled off a double-double last season, but should easily do that this season with the volume of plate appearances he will have at the top of the order.

His strikeout rate is not the best for a leadoff guy, but a career 11% walk rate and a .328 OBP is a good fit for what is on the Arizona roster in mid-February given he has not shown the severe splits in his profile as someone like David Peralta nor does he have the inexperience of Daulton Varsho. Rojas got off to a great start last year before

The premise for this year's series was laid out in the first installment, so please review it. ADP references are looking at Draft Champions leagues in 2021 and 2022 (over last 30 days). Auction values are based on standard 15-team league formats. 

Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Rojas is a top 150 player

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

J. Rojas

527

223

$6

-$2

Rojas is a rare bird these days as a player with three-position eligibility (2B/SS/OF) and also some offensive upside. in a 10-game eligibility situation, you also get to add third base on draft day, which is the position he is currently projected to play for Arizona this season. He is also projected to hit leadoff for the club, so there is a very nice opportunity to get a volume of playing time with a player currently going outside the top 220. He nearly pulled off a double-double last season, but should easily do that this season with the volume of plate appearances he will have at the top of the order.

His strikeout rate is not the best for a leadoff guy, but a career 11% walk rate and a .328 OBP is a good fit for what is on the Arizona roster in mid-February given he has not shown the severe splits in his profile as someone like David Peralta nor does he have the inexperience of Daulton Varsho. Rojas got off to a great start last year before hitting a late wall in the season which wasn't terribly surprising given he had not played a full season of games since the 2018 season while in the Houston organization.

He was a trendy name in late drafts as winter became spring last year, but if he is setting the table for this lineup, there could be even more in the tank for him in 2022.

Corbin Martin earns a positive dollar value in 2022.

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

C. Martin

601

711

-$15

$NYP

Martin, along with Rojas, were key parts of the return for Arizona sending Zack Greinke to the Astros at the 2019 trade deadline. Martin was in the deal even though he had Tommy John surgery on July 5, which delayed his return to the mound until this past season. He worked 43.1 innings between Triple-A and the majors, struggling with his command and control. He allowed 12 homers in those 43.1 innings while walking 33 batters around 43 strikeouts. So, why am I saying someone with those numbers could be a positive dollar value this year?

If you have read this column long enough or heard me on podcasts, I have long proselytized staying away from TJ guys until they're two full seasons recovered from the surgery. A pitcher can come back and pitch in the next calendar year after the surgery, but pitching is more than just velocity and the extensive time off leads to command and control rustiness, which Martin had on full display last season. Prior to his injury, Martin had strikeout rates from 24%-37% as a minor leaguer and it was not really until his injury season where he had an issue with walks that was a very likely precursor to his eventual injury. Pre-injury scouting reports gave Martin four average to slightly above average offerings and even the limited 2021 Statcast data show his stuff has above average velocity and spin even if he had little idea where it was going.

He is someone to put on a watch list in NL-only reserves, and an very intriguing Draft and Hold target if he can step back up into the saddle he was in prior to his 2019 surgery. 

Colorado Rockies

Elias Diaz is a top 7 catcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

E. Diaz

404

469

$2

-$7

I type this prediction up the evening after taking Diaz to kick off the 18th round in one DC while waking up to see Ray Murphy and Brent Hershey of BaseballHQ take him two spots in front of me to close out the 18th round in another DC when I hoped to grab Diaz at 19.3. I took Andrew Heaney at 18.13 (see below) in need of another starting pitcher only to see the four picks between me all go hitters, including the one I wanted. I fell back to Danny Jansen, giving me a Varsho/Jansen duo in a 15-team league, but I really wanted to walk with Elias in this league.

Diaz has twice hit at the league average in over the past four seasons along with double-digit homers in each of those seasons (2018 & 2021). A slow start to the 2021 season saw him get into mid-June with a .142/.207/.208 slash line with one homer to his name in 116 plate appearances. Something clicked and he got red hot from then on out, hitting .293/.357/.582 the rest of the season with 17 homers in 255 plate appearances. The performance at the plate as well as behind it (42% caught stealing rate) earned him a three-year contract with the Rockies this winter which should guarantee him the majority of the work at catcher this season. Catchers as a whole hit .228/.304/.391 last season, so give me a guy who has the potential to hit 20-plus homers along with a high average in Colorado all day long. 

Robert Stephenson leads Colorado in saves

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

R. Stephenson

686

653

-$6

$NYP

I rarely repeat picks in these predictions, but I am not dropping Stephenson yet and am coming back to him this season. The Rockies are an incredibly frustrating team to try to project, and I have had little luck with this club over the years speculating on their bullpen. I referenced his 2019 rankings in last year's prediction, and most of what I wrote up still applies this year save swapping out Daniel Bard for Carlos Estevez in the picture. Stephenson showcased 90th percentile on his fastball velocity and 96th percentile and higher on the spin rate to his fastball and curveball. He once again posted an above average strikeout rate for a reliever, but a slightly below average walk rate hurt his WHIP. The only issue he had with splits last season was four of his five homers allowed coming at Coors, but he still showed no split in his batting average. He also closed the season back on track with what got me very intrigued in 2019:

We are all accustomed to reliever volatility, so this could once again fade away as quickly as it came on, but Stephenson got better as the season went on. Estevez enters the season as the primary closer on the depth chart, but which one of these guys would you prefer with the ball to protect a lead in the ninth inning?

Pitcher

TBF

ERA

SIERA

SwStr%

Z-Contact%

F-Strike%

CSW%

K-BB%

AVG

HR/9

Robert Stephenson

197

3.13

3.69

12%

82%

57%

30%

17%

0.237

1.0

Carlos Estevez

270

4.38

3.95

11%

83%

60%

25%

14%

0.287

1.2

Daniel Bard

304

5.21

4.00

13%

81%

61%

30%

15%

0.264

1.1

Los Angeles Dodgers

Mookie Betts isn't a top 60 player

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

M. Betts

4

17

$16

$31

Betts has failed to exceed 150 games played in two of the past three full seasons with two of them involving stints on the injured list. He missed time in 2018 with a pulled oblique and then twice went on the injury list this past season with hip inflammation. The hip inflammation was related to a bone spur which he treated with rest and cortisone injections while switching to second base at times to cut down on his running in the field. Betts said over the winter he will not require surgery to correct the problem and can work to rehab and strengthen the hip joint to prevent it. The good news is the spur is not in the hip labrum area, which would likely guarantee surgery to remove it and shelve Betts for 3-4 months. However, he does not appear to be out of the woods overall. 

My friend Jason Hanselman tweeted out a graph in early December which shows Betts' trends over the past few seasons:

He recently followed that up with some more data worth your time in an exchange with Rob Silver:

Betts' average exit velocity has been trending downwards in recent times and his expected wOBA on contact has followed suit. We can get a different view at those numbers by taking the data from Statcast on batted-ball events over the past four seasons:

Concerned yet? The marketplace does not appear to be given Betts is still going in the first round in some leagues while safely falling into the early part of the second round overall. I have not drafted Betts anywhere because I am concerned the hip issue does not go away, leading him to miss more time and continue to cut into his abilities at the plate and on the bases. He finished outside the top 60 last year, but the marketplace is barely dinging him for the recent injuries and trends in his batted-ball profile. Betts is an elite hitter for his abilities to control the count and put the ball into play, but what he does at the plate these days is not what he was doing with Boston. 

Andrew Heaney is this year's Robbie Ray

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

A. Heaney

209

281

-$5

$1

I wrote this out in full detail back in late October and have not wavered from it. I've taken him in my DC50 (25.3), as well as both 15-team Draft Champion leagues (18.1, 18.13) and plan on taking him again as opportunities arise in future drafts or auctions. Heaney is going in the reserves in 12-team mixed leagues and in the back end of 15-team leagues, so there is massive room for profit here if he can put it all together this season as Ray did last year. 

San Diego Padres

Luis Campusano is a top 24 catcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

L. Campusano

656

574

-$18

-$28

Campusano has had a shotglass-sized cup of coffee in the big leagues with 42 plate appearances over the past two seasons with one home run and a lot of strikeouts. His minor-league stats were impressive in 2019 while in Triple-A because he played in the Coors Field of Triple-A in El Paso where everyone hits well. Campusano is still just 23 years old and projects as a bat-first guy once he sticks in the big leagues with enough defense behind the plate to stay behind it. The club has long valued defensive-first catchers, but even they could not take Austin Hedges any longer and dealt him away. The Padres acquired Austin Nola, so they have somewhat of an upgrade at the plate, along with Victor Caratini as Yu Darvish's preferred catcher. Campusano could be aided by the universal DH allowing the club to carry extra catching. The video from this past spring shows what kind of potential he has at the plate:

The catching position provides us with volatility year in and year out. Veterans tend to win out, but with the DH now in play in San Diego, this potent bat has another potential path forward to stay on the roster and produce from a position where production is tough to find. 

Yu Darvish is a top 20 pitcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

Y. Darvish

17

93

$9

$14

Darvish is the 40th pitcher off the board with a min/max range of 77 to 112 over the past month. He was one of four pitchers, along with Triston McKenzie, Logan Gilbert and Aaron Nola, to post an ERA over 4.00 despite a strikeout rate of 25%, holding hitters to under a 2.50 average, and with a WHIP of 1.20 or below. Darvish, after keeping homers at bay in the shortened 2020 season, fell back into his bad habits of too many homers and saw his ERA climb back over 4.00. When Darvish has a home run rate of 1.5 HR/9 or higher as a big leaguer, he has a full-season ERA of just about 4.00 or worse. In seasons where the homers stay down, he is below 3.90 with his ERA. 

He was not unlucky with HR/FB rates, strand rates or hit rates last year. The high ERA simply came from too many home runs and troubles pitching with men on base, which had previously not been much of an issue:

Season

TBF

ERA

HR

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

2012

358

7.73

4

0.245

0.331

0.373

0.310

2013

291

5.68

9

0.205

0.275

0.363

0.280

2014

259

5.21

3

0.219

0.260

0.318

0.256

2016

179

5.29

2

0.166

0.218

0.258

0.207

2017

301

6.92

7

0.242

0.298

0.396

0.296

2018

66

11.85

3

0.302

0.415

0.528

0.404

2019

255

8.13

13

0.205

0.290

0.427

0.299

2020

106

4.30

2

0.192

0.238

0.293

0.229

2021

245

9.05

11

0.245

0.299

0.468

0.321

Darvish has had issues in the past with homers with men on base as well as being more hittable from the stretch, but those two forces never combined in the same season until this past one. That is how he ended up allowing four or more earned runs in 12 of his 30 starts last season while allowing multiple homers in five of those 12 outings. The hope here is he has had ample time to adjust to consistent equipment and rules. The changes impacted his ability to get hitters to chase pitches as he was in the bottom 30th percentile in creating chases whereas he had lived above the 70th percentile in previous seasons. He is no longer an ace, but he has the makings of one more good season in him. 

San Francisco Giants

Evan Longoria is a top 15 third baseman

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

E. Longoria

401

360

$2

$0

Third base has some depth issues this season with just 17 third baseman going inside the top 200, and that list falls by five if we remove the players who qualify at other positions such as Kris Bryant, DJ LeMahieu, Luis Urias, Ryan McMahon and Eduardo Escobar. That fact withstanding, it really feels crazy to see Longoria 34th on the ADP chart in between Ha-Seong Kim and Brian Anderson with an ADP of 359 over the past month. 

Longoria is a Toby Keith song personified as he is not as good as he once was, but 2021 showed he still had a little something left. He had his best season by weighted on base average in five seasons, showing more patience at the plate than he had shown in years and an 88th percentile average exit velocity showed he could still sting a baseball. He got to a point in 2021 where he was hitting the baseball harder than he had at any point in the previous six seasons:

He was once a guy who could be counted on day in and day out, but he hasn't played a full season in any of the past three complete seasons, missing time with a variety of injuries. Last season saw him go down with a shoulder injury in early June as he was hitting .280/.376/.516, leading to over two months of missed time, and he crawled to the finish line with a .228/.305/.424 line upon his return. 

It is unlikely San Francisco inks a full-time DH, so it is easy to see how it'll use the lineup spot to provide a half-day off to some of the older players which could keep Longoria on the field more often. 2022 is the final guaranteed season in Longoria's current contract and he needs to show the Giants it is worth picking up the $13 million club option on his contract with him turning 37 at the end of the 2022 season or whether they should buy it out at $5 million and let him determine his final career steps. 

Camilo Doval finishes outside the top 20 in saves

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

C. Doval

696

141

-$3

-$3

Doval is currently the 58th pitcher off the board by ADP and the 15th closer going just after the (currently) non-closing Craig Kimbrel and before Scott Barlow. Doval has 27 innings of big-league experience, and they were admittedly an impressive run of performance as Doval picked up four wins and three saves in just 14 innings of work by season's end and performed well in the postseason. He has been one of the biggest ADP movers this winter even with such a small sample size of major-league success:

Pitcher

Team

'22 ADP

MIN

MAX

'21 ADP

DIFF

Justin Verlander

HOU

105

77

150

692

-587

Shane Baz

TB

123

90

160

701

-579

Camilo Doval

SF

141

93

178

696

-554

Alek Manoah

TOR

98

79

118

644

-546

Joe Barlow

TEX

198

147

288

731

-533

Shane McClanahan

TB

103

82

119

601

-498

Oneil Cruz

PIT

204

143

236

685

-480

Logan Webb

SF

60

41

86

541

-480

Dylan Floro

MIA

212

160

306

686

-475

Jesus Sanchez

MIA

227

198

285

700

-473

He had just nine walks in 27 innings at the big-league level as he did something he had never previously done -- throw strikes. Doval has always had a very live arm and struck out 33% of the minor leaguers he faced from 2016-21, but also walked 13% of them. In 194 innings of work, he struck out 277 batters, walked 109 while allowing just 145 hits and a measly seven homers. Most recently, he had a 17% walk rate in Triple-A this past season along with a 33% strikeout rate. The only level in which he had more than three saves in a stop was back in 2018 when he was in Low-A Augusta. 

2021 was a step forward for Doval as it was the first time his stuff had not presented itself in big splits between righties and lefties. His slider has historically been deadly to righties, but the fastball/slider approach had left him more exposed to lefties. Doval narrowed that gap in 2021 with a 48-point split in the batting average (.220 vs LH, .172 vs RH) at the big-league level and just a 13-point split (.226 vs .213) in Triple-A. The other area where he excelled is pitching with runners on base as minor leaguers hit .186 against him in those situations compared to .256 with nobody on while major leaguers hit just .128 with runners on base and .250 when nobody was present. 

All in all, Doval had the "it" factor last year as his command came together in a hurry when it was needed most. He still pitches for a manager fantasy leaguers have had difficulty trusting both in Philadelphia and San Francisco because Gabe Kapler has been reticent to use one primary closer. Kapler has been a manager four seasons and has already had the following pitchers earn five or more saves under his watch:

McGee and Rogers are both still in the picture, but Doval's effectiveness against righties somewhat eliminates the advantage Rogers offers in those matchups. McGee was nasty against lefties last season, allowing no home runs and holding them to a .197 average. The fact that Kapler has just once given the ball to one closer over the course of an entire season should not be overlooked. Note that he had both the electric Dominguez and the veteran Neris in 2018 and yet Dominguez saw zero saves in the 27 games he worked in 2019 before going down with a torn UCL. Would it really surprise us to see Kapler fall back into the pattern of what made the bullpen so successful last season and allow the situation and matchups to dictate the closer rather than some label? 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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