Post-hype sleeper alert!
Lofty expectations accompanied Mike Moustakas to the Majors, but what we’ve seen so far from the 26-year-old has been nothing special. But maybe Moose can build on the five home runs and .817 OPS he produced this postseason and perhaps even reach the 25-home run plateau in 2015. Moustakas is unlikely to post a strong batting average, however, which is why he won’t be too high on my draft day wish list. That said, the reward far outweighs the risk if you can get him for around five bucks in a deep mixed league.
“Big Game” in name only
An impending free agent, James Shields didn’t do himself any favors by going 1-2 with a 6.12 ERA and 1.72 WHIP across five postseason starts, including an awful showing in the opening game of the World Series. Shields will still get paid plenty by some team, probably not the Royals, but he won’t get paid ace-type money because, well, he isn’t an ace. The veteran righty has been one of the most durable pitchers in baseball ever since he broke into the big leagues, and he’s exceeded 200 innings in each of the last eight seasons. But I cannot help but think that all of those innings are bound to catch up to him at some point, and his declining strikeout rate is a bit of a concern as well. The bottom line is that I’d rather jump off this train a year too early than a year too late.
Still waiting after all these years
Yeah, yeah, this is sort of an exaggeration as it’s only been four years. But four years isn’t a short time either, meaning it might be time to get a little worried about Eric Hosmer’s development, or lack thereof. After showing some promise in 2013, batting .302 with 17 homers, 79 RBI, 86 runs scored and 11 steals, the Royals first baseman regressed to the tune of a .270-9-58-54-4 line this year. The good news is that he raised his performance level in the second half, this despite missing a considerable amount of time due to injury, and excelled in the postseason, batting .351 with two homers, 12 RBI and eight runs scored in 15 games. As he enters his age-25 season, Hosmer carries significant profit potential. At a discounted price, I’d gladly take another chance on him, at least one more time.
Panik cool under pressure
Forget about the gold glove caliber defensive play in Game 7. Joe Panik proved this year that he can be a force with the bat as well, finishing the regular season with a .305 average over 73 games. While the rookie second baseman hit only .233 in the postseason, he did record one homer, eight RBI and seven runs scored. Panik figures to serve as the Giants’ everyday second baseman in 2015 and he certainly deserves a roster spot in deeper mixed leagues and NL-only formats. Don’t expect much power, but his stellar minor league numbers suggest that he could turn out to be a steady contributor in the batting average and stolen base departments.
Pablo Sandoval will need a lot of patience if he sticks to his current nine-figure salary contract demands because it isn’t happening. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Sandoval is a tremendous clutch hitter who is often underappreciated in fantasy circles. How about a .429 average with four RBI, six runs scored and a 1.002 OPS in the seven-game World Series? Although his physique is still an issue, Pablo did play in a career-high 157 games this season. His power production these days is average at best for a third baseman, but the career .294 hitter makes for a fine consolation prize if you choose to pass on the elite options at the position.
Mad-Bum becoming less appealing
What? Let me explain. Madison Bumgarner was selected at 5.04 (#52 overall), an absolute steal, in the 12-team MLB.com mini-mock which I discussed last week. But after wrapping up his record-setting postseason with a five-inning save in Game 7, can we really expect Bumgarner to last that long in drafts? Whereas a month ago, I saw him as a guy who could be had towards the back end of the ace tier who could return top-5 SP value, I’m now convinced that you will need to spend a top-35 pick to get him. And since I don’t like to draft starting pitching that early, I’m reluctantly preparing to look elsewhere.