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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

One of the benefits of playing in six fantasy baseball leagues is that tough draft day decisions aren't quite as tough. Can't decide between Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu? No problem. Draft Encarnacion in one league and Abreu in another. Although there are a handful of players that reside on three or four of my six rosters, I do try to incorporate this "spread the risk" approach when possible, when the decision is so close that I might as well keep things interesting by owning both players in at least one league.

Unfortunately, there will always be a few guys who you wanted to own in at least one league but miss out on drafting. Maybe your competition valued them a bit higher than you did. Maybe you were focused on filling a different position at that stage of the draft. Whatever the reason, it's frustrating. And it can become even more frustrating if the player gets off to a fast start. So, from a personal standpoint, who are some of the players that fit this description?  

Brandon Belt - Now in his sixth big league season, Belt has yet to live up to expectations. He was supposed to be a consistent, high AVG hitter with 30-home run upside. But he has yet to hit more than 18 homers in a season and sports a rather ordinary .272 career batting average. Still, Belt is only 27 years of age, so I figured that it could pay off to take a chance on him now that his price tag would no longer be heavily inflated by the "potential" factor. As it turned out, Belt did not come at much of a discount, especially in OBP leagues, so I passed. Through 11 games, the Giants first baseman is batting .300 with three homers, seven RBIs and six runs scored.

Christian Yelich - Yelich's across-the-board contributions translate quite well to the fantasy game, and he's especially appealing in OBP formats (career .369 OBP). Oh, and he's still only 24. My master plan was to draft Yelich in as many leagues as possible, but due to a combination of cost, categorical needs and positional needs, it just didn't work out. And that's too bad, because through eight games, the Marlins left fielder is 12-for-28 with seven walks (.429 AVG, .541 OBP), a homer and a steal.

Jonathan Schoop - Schoop's 2015 power display of 15 homers in only 305 at-bats was plenty encouraging, so encouraging that the Orioles second baseman headed into this season as a viable mid-round selection in mixed league drafts. How many home runs could Schoop hit with a full season of everyday at-bats? I was willing to pay up to find out, but as I assembled my various squads, I came to the conclusion that Schoop's skill set didn't fit in with the rest of the roster, and I wasn't about to draft him just for the sake of drafting him. Maybe I should have. Following Friday night's two-homer game, he now has three home runs and eight RBIs to go along with a .314 batting average through ten games.  

Felix Hernandez - Throughout the winter months, Hernandez headed my list of proven aces who could be drafted at a discount. King Felix was coming off what was perceived as a disappointing season, even though 95 percent of starting pitchers would gladly take a 3.53 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in a down year. After selecting him in the sixth round of the annual MLB.com mock draft, I was convinced that Hernandez would be a member of many of my real teams. But the more I read about the decreased velocity and the possibility that all of the innings would finally catch up to him, the more wary I became. And when it was made clear in drafts that the market was still valuing him as a bona fide ace, I opted to go in a different direction. My punishment for not trusting my own instincts? How about a 1.00 ERA through three starts with 20 strikeouts across 18 innings?    

Ian Kennedy - This season, for the first time in modern history, I did not draft Kennedy in any league. The strikeouts were tempting, but I was fed up with the inconsistency, and moving from the NL to the AL, especially Petco Park to the AL, can't be a good thing for any pitcher, right? Wrong. Two starts, two wins, 13 2/3 innings, one run, 14 strikeouts. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Kennedy playing for the Royals, a fly ball pitcher supported by an elite defense and making half of his starts in a ballpark that limits home runs. Maybe avoiding Kennedy was a mistake, and I had so many opportunities to draft him. This decision could haunt me for six months.

But then something strange happened. The Kennedy owner in one of my leagues dropped him last week.

I successfully claimed him off waivers last night.

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