As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, I never head into any draft dead set on either taking or avoiding a specific player at all costs because, well, the cost is important. In fact, the cost is by far the biggest factor in my decision-making process. Sure, every roster needs a handful of stars, but, as the saying goes, “You can’t win your league in the early rounds, but you can lose it.” The middle rounds are the key, and the goal in the middle rounds should be to maximize profit, which gets us back to cost. Pretty straightforward stuff, right? So, how do we maximize profit? One way is to look at last season’s busts. After all, managing a fantasy team is an emotional experience, with rage being a common emotion. For example, I’m still so angry at Dan Uggla that I will never draft him again (OK, maybe there are a few exceptions to my grand rule). Certainly, every owner has their “never draft again” list, and this is good news for any league mate looking to take a cheap flier on one of these guys. Which guys am I talking about for this year? Actually, I’ve put together a whole team. This week, we will cover the hitters.
One of the game’s more reliable offensive backstops over the previous two seasons, Montero could never quite figure things out last year as he saw his average fall from .286 to .230 and his RBI total plummet from 88 to 42. On the bright side, most of his peripheral stats remained roughly in line with his career norms, and the best news of all is that he can now be drafted as low-end #1/high-end #2 catcher. I’m willing to give Miguel another chance.
Honestly, I’m undecided on Tex. On one hand, he’s been in decline for several years now, and his recent comment that he expects to feel some tightness in his surgically-repaired wrist possibly through the entire 2014 season isn’t exactly what prospective Tex owners want to hear. On the other hand, the Yankee first baseman could provide the cheapest 25-plus homers and 90-plus RBIs you will find. There’s not a whole lot of downside in drafting him as your starting corner infielder in a mixed league.
Sticking with the Yankee theme, Johnson has been on my “never draft again” list for two years, but I’m seriously considering letting him out of my doghouse. Fresh off a season in which he launched 16 homers in just 366 at-bats for the Rays, at-bats won’t be an issue for Johnson this year, as he’s capable of playing both second and third and the Bombers are desperate for infield power. Playing half of his games at Yankee Stadium, the lefty-swinging Johnson should enjoy that short right field porch. He’s graced numerous bust lists in the past, and for good reason. But don’t forget about him this year.
I really should move on from my longtime working relationship with Rollins, and last season’s stat line is begging me to move on. Not yet though. As a starting fantasy shortstop, yeah, J-Roll’s days are likely done. But as a middle infielder, you could do a lot worse. Are 12-15 homers, 25 steals and 80-plus runs scored really out of the question? I think not.
I seem to remember another prominent Royals third base prospect whose career started out slow before he eventually turned into a solid big league player. Moustakas might never reach Alex Gordon’s level, but it’s way too early to call him a failed prospect. His minor league numbers are simply too impressive. Patience, people.
Overall, Hamilton’s first year with the Angels was an absolute disaster, and he turns 33 in May. But did you know that he batted .287 with a .801 OPS in the second half? Oh, and think twice before continuing to label him as injury-prone. He’s missed only 25 games combined over the past two seasons. Many cheat sheets have him ranked outside of the top-30 outfielders, which is a little crazy.
OF B.J. Upton
I’ve never been much of a fan of the elder Upton from a fantasy standpoint, as the 20 HR/40 SB potential came at too steep of a cost considering his woeful batting average and general streakiness, but his career path hit rock bottom last year. I’m not saying that I’ll be an Upton owner this season, but if he’s somehow still on the board past the top-200, B.J. will be awfully tempting.
OF Josh Reddick
I wanted no part of Reddick at this time last year, as his price tag was simply too high considering his thin track record. There was no way he would hit 32 home runs again, but what I didn’t expect was a 20-homer drop to go along with a .226 batting average. The fact that he can realistically be drafted as a fourth outfielder in a 15-team mixed league this time around makes him worth the risk. By the way, he’s entering his age-27 season, if you pay attention to that stuff.