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Friday 19th Jan 2018

Despite some oddly inclement weather here in the Bay Area--with the Athletics rained out three times if you count a pre-season game--we actually have a complete week of statistics. (Note that there had not been a rainout in Oakland since 1998.)

How much fun is that? Well, fun or not, we still have a season's worth of fantasy work in front of us here, so let's get right to the players who might still be in your free agent pool after the maelstrom of drafts, and who might be worth fishing out for future use.

Somehow, an odd confluence in the cosmic forces have made Abraham Almonte the starting center fielder in Seattle, a team with a suddenly fun outfield of Dustin Ackley, Logan Morrison and Almonte. I am not sure if any of these guys will make or break your fantasy season, but I do think if all three play a full year they will all give nice profit, especially Almonte, who was a late reserve pick for me in my Scoresheet league.

The 24-year-old, signed by the Yankees seven years ago out of the Dominican Republic, has a pretty good minor league line of .269-47-292 with 202 steals and a strong enough .350 OBP (322 walks to 534 whiffs) over 696 minor league games. The Yanks swapped Almonte for Shawn Kelley in 2013, and I suspect the M's got the better part of the bargain. Amonte has a .286-1-4 line this first week with a steal. If he keeps that up, it will help in every format!

The Braves rotation hit the skids when they lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy at the end of Spring Training, but I think they have compensated well by signing Ervin Santana--who gets his first start this week--and Aaron Harang. Now 36, Harang had a lousy 2013 (5-11, 5.76) for sure, but it was time spent with two crappy teams in the Mets and Mariners. On the Braves, who are generally good with their hurlers, Harang should be much more like he was in 2011 (14-7, 3.64 in San Diego) and 2012 (10-10, 3.61 with the Dodgers) and is a nice gamble in an NL-only format at this point for a few bucks.

I actually covered Yangervis Solarte of the Yankees in my USA Today piece middle of last week, and since then all he has done is validate my opinion. Especially with the injury to Mark Teixeira, Solarte looks to be getting some everyday play in the Bronx infield, and can even chip in in the outfield (he played six games in left last year). Solarte is hitting .538-0-4 so far, and is probably on the radar of most owners, but just in case, and especially in an AL- only format, a nice and flexible selection.

So, what do we make of "new" Marlins third sacker, Casey McGehee? A player who has really had no relevance since 2010, when he hit .285-23-104, McGehee fell far enough off the chart that he spent 2013 leading the Tohoku Ratuken Golden Eagles to a Japanese World Series title--along with Andruw Jones--notching a .292-28-103 line, and probably learning how to hit off-speed stuff. McGehee has both a full-time job for now, and is hitting cleanup, making the 31-year-old a nice gamble. If his .450-0-10 first week suggests anything, it is great potential numbers on an everyday basis from a guy largely overlooked in shallower formats.

Last week, I mentioned Brandon Hicks in passing when I noted the Giants' Joaquin Arias as a potential utility player. With Marco Scutaro's back resulting in a DL stint, Hicks, on the heels of a .348-3-11 spring, made the San Francisco roster. Hicks is hitting .444-1-2 over nine at-bats so far, having played second for the Gigantes, and in a deep NL-only format, Hicks, who has clubbed 91 minor league homers, could be a cheap power source at least on a temporary basis.

The Tigers hold an American League counterpart to Hicks, with 34-year-old Don Kelly, who has 23 homers and a pretty good eye as witnessed by his 70 walks to 137 punch-outs over 477 Major League games. Kelly plays first, second, third and the outfield, and in an AL-only format, he could be a decent role player getting at-bats a couple of games weekly, spelling the Detroit regulars.

Let's finish with the two players who probably topped the FAAB charts in their respective leagues this time around, starting with the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon, who clubbed six hits and three doubles during the Colorado opener and is hitting .600-1-6 with a pair of swipes so far this first week. Now 27, Blackmon was a second-round pick of the Rockies in 2008, and he really established himself last year with a .309-6-22 season over 82 games and 246 at-bats (.803 OPS). Blackmon will likely fetch top dollar in your deep league, if available, but the outfielder makes an intriguing buy and addition if you can get him without breaking your bank.

The Twins' Chris Colabello is Blackmon's American League counterpart, having broken out of the box with a .389-1-7 first week, mostly as the DH. At age 30, Colabello is probably not worth the crapshoot of Blackmon, but that does not mean owners in an AL-only setup will not spend accordingly. I would be inclined to let them. Think Chris Shelton, lite.

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