Technically speaking, the postseason doesn't count for fantasy baseball purposes. But ,whoever says that fantasy owners should completely ignore postseason stats is sorely mistaken. In fact, many fantasy owners might overrate a player coming off a strong postseason due to recency bias. So, in the coming months, it's important to identify these guys and decide whether or not you will be willing to pay the increased price come draft day. Let's take a look at five players who deserve our immediate attention.
Didi Gregorius - As if Gregorius' .287-25-87 line in just 136 games this season wasn't impressive enough, "Sir Didi" has further enhanced his 2018 fantasy appeal by launching three homers to go along with six RBI through seven postseason contests. This includes his two home runs in Game 5 against the Indians, both versus AL Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber. At this point, Gregorius, who has now posted back-to-back 20-plus home run campaigns and will be only 28 on Opening Day, needs to be taken seriously as a top-10 fantasy shortstop.
Greg Bird - Injuries have obviously been the major issue for Bird throughout his young big league career. But after smacking six home runs while collecting 16 RBI in September, the Yankees first sacker has played a vital role in the club's October surge, tallying three more homers, five RBI and four runs scored and posting a .400 OBP through seven games. Bird will be a hot fantasy commodity as he enters his age-25 season, and he clearly carries plenty of upside. Still, considering his injury history and a first base position that is well-stocked with quality offensive producers, I'm not so sure that reaching for Bird is a good idea, at least in non-keeper formats.
Michael Taylor - Who saw that coming? Taylor's five-game postseason sample included two home runs, eight RBI and a .333 batting average. The 26-year-old surfaced on the mixed league radar in May following Adam Eaton's season-ending knee injury and maintained mixed league value throughout, finishing with 19 home runs and 17 steals. Taylor certainly performed well enough to earn a starting job to begin 2018, and the likely departure of impending free agent Jayson Werth would conceivably open a spot for Taylor. But the Nationals might turn to the free agent market to address that void. For the time being, Taylor's fantasy outlook for next season is very much up in the air.
Dallas Keuchel - Despite being limited to 23 starts due to injury, Keuchel enjoyed a stellar bounceback campaign this season, notching 14 wins while pitching to a 2.90 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Although his modest strikeout rate separates him from fantasy ace status, the Astros southpaw is a fine second or third starter in 12-team mixed leagues, health permitting. The problem is that Keuchel's ace-level postseason performance (2-0, 0.71 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.1 K/9 in two starts) might elevate his draft price to that of a true ace, so beware.
Masahiro Tanaka - I've consistently stayed away from Tanaka in fantasy drafts, and I'll continue to stay away from him until he undergoes the inevitable Tommy John surgery. Do note, however, that aside from his mediocre 4.74 ERA, Tanaka registered a 1.24 WHIP and 194 strikeouts across 178 1/3 innings, so despite his start-to-start inconsistency, he wasn't a complete waste of a pick. Also keep in mind that the Yankees righty recorded a solid 3.77 ERA in the second half. The owner of a 1.38 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP through two postseason outings, Tanaka has certainly raised his fantasy appeal over the past few months. Although I'll avoid him once again next spring, it would be a lie to say that I won't be at least mildly tempted.
Zach Steinhorn is the 2016 Mixed Auction Tout Wars champion. Follow him on Twitter @ZachMLB