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Humidor's impact on D-backs' fantasy values

MLB.com @FredZinkieMLB

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.

Matthew Leach: One of the bigger pieces of news is, we basically have confirmation at this point that they're gonna use a humidor on the balls in Arizona. Arizona has been probably the second-best place to hit in the Majors in recent years. Really, really good place to hit. The ball just flies. And that's gonna change -- by quite a lot.

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.

Matthew Leach: One of the bigger pieces of news is, we basically have confirmation at this point that they're gonna use a humidor on the balls in Arizona. Arizona has been probably the second-best place to hit in the Majors in recent years. Really, really good place to hit. The ball just flies. And that's gonna change -- by quite a lot.

That's a very big ballpark, and if the ball is gonna fly less … There've been a couple of different projections, and if you read, there's some interesting stuff. We're not entirely sure what to make of it, but most of what I've seen is projecting it anywhere from turning into a basically neutral park to turning into a really tough place to hit. I've even seen some speculation that it could play like Petco. So how much do you factor this in when you look at Diamondbacks hitters or pitchers? Either one.

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Fred Zinkie: I think you have to factor it in fairly significantly, especially for the hitters. And the reason I say that is just that, you're taking a chance more when you draft a hitter. So you mentioned already with the pitchers -- [Zack] Greinke, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley -- they actually have an interesting rotation, where all five of those pitchers are Major League-quality pitchers. For them, I kind of slid all their projections up a little bit: kind of moved them, say, within their tiers, to the front of their tier; or maybe if they were already at the front of a tier, into the next tier.

Video: D-backs will use humidor at home to store baseballs

With the hitters, I think there has to really be concern, because we're really trying to avoid busts a lot in the draft. Especially, maybe, with the power hitters. Jake Lamb, I feel like, is the one who's the biggest concern. But we talked recently a lot about Paul Goldschmidt -- and the fact that even before this news, he was kind of barely, or marginally, that consensus No. 3 pick. But you had Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, Charlie Blackmon, Giancarlo Stanton and Nolan Arenado all kind of nipping at his heels. Now I kind of feel like Goldschmidt falls more toward the back end of the top 10. I would still keep him in the first round, though.

Do you agree with that? Because I think that's the biggest thing for fantasy owners, is what do you do with Goldschmidt right now?

Leach: Yeah, I do think you have to ding him some, for sure. I mean, part of the appeal is he hits in a really friendly place. I'm still not sure how much I'd ding him -- and a little foreshadowing here, we're gonna talk about the LABR draft shortly, and he definitely fell well below 3 in the LABR draft.

So, I think that's reasonable. I still think 5, 6, 7 is perfectly reasonable. Again, to me the thing with Goldschmidt is the floor. That's what's so appealing about him, is he does so many things well, can help you in so many ways. And again, I still think he gets a few steals. I guess maybe the way I look at Goldschmidt is, I might be really happy to sort of stumble upon him as a value pick at 7 or 8. Like, if he does fall there, I'm real happy to get him.

Zinkie: Yeah, that makes sense to me. I feel like the hitters I just named, I can make a good case now to put each of them in front of Goldschmidt. And there's two ways he'll be impacted, the more I thought about this yesterday.

Video: Outlook: Goldy still an all-around offensive force

The news on the humidor came out actually right as the LABR draft was kind of ending. We had already made all the really big picks -- we were kind of in toward Round 20 or so. So that draft wasn't impacted by this news. With Goldschmidt though, obviously there's two things. There's the effect the humidor could actually have on him, as far as how many home runs he hits at home, how many hits he gets at home, etc. But then there's also just the fact that even if he manages to be pretty much the same hitter at home, if Jake Lamb hits worse, if A.J. Pollock were to not play as well, if Yasmany Tomas doesn't play as well, that all dings his ability to collect runs scored and RBIs.

And once you start knocking maybe even just three or four of each off his total, take off a home run or two, maybe drop his batting average just even two or three points -- it starts to slide him down. When I was working on our rankings, it slid him down our rankings a few spots.

Leach: I think that's fair. One other thing I want to talk about on this topic that we touched on a little bit: Robbie Ray has allowed 47 home runs in 337 innings over the past two years. That's not super-duper high -- that's not getting into the, "It's a real problem" -- but it was basically one of the few things that really held him back from being a top-tier guy last year. If you drop his home run ratio from 1.2, 1.3 per nine innings to 1.0 -- well, probably 1.1, but even so, you ding, you know, four homers off of his numbers. That's a big boost for him.

Video: Outlook: Ray looks to repeat breakout season

He's still gonna fight his control sometimes. He's still gonna fall a little short because of the walks. But if the ball's not leaving the yard for him, to me, he's another guy whose value is significantly affected, and in this case for the better. Do you agree with me that, in particular, Ray might be a guy who becomes a little more intriguing if Arizona's a friendlier place to pitch?

Zinkie: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you just look at, without getting too deep into the stats, you look at his raw stats from last year: 4.08 ERA at home, 1.86 on the road. As you mentioned, his home run rate allowed at home was a little higher. One of the big problems for Ray to move from being, say, a No. 2 mixed-league starter toward being an ace is he needs to eat more innings.

So, 28 starts last year and only 162 innings. But if he's just more successful at home, we can imagine that would sometimes at least allow him to pitch one more inning. And one more inning in maybe seven or eight, nine, 10 of his starts, that might push him from being more like a 170-inning-max-type pitcher to maybe being 180, maybe even 185. And with the strikeout rate, that now makes him kind of in that borderline ace category.

Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.