Welcome fantasy baseball aficionados to my first Razzball article. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be going over things like streaming strategies and how to win a Yahoo Pro League but we’re going to start by introducing some bounce-back candidates. Finding bounce-backs is one of the keys to being successful in fantasy baseball, as that can make an average team an elite one. That’s one of the major reasons why I drafted Trevor Story last season. Looking at his peripheral statistics from a disappointing 2016-17 season and factoring that in with his ballpark and price made him one of the best values (RD 8-9) in drafts last year. He’s all the way up to the second round this season and finding a guy who can have that sort of jump is critical in building your team. The main goal here is to draft someone who will outplay their price tag and these candidates are all in fantastic situations to do just that.
Daniel Murphy, COL (1B/2B)
This batting average upside is impossible to overlook, as Murphy could be in for one of the best seasons of his career in Coors Field. Not only does Coors Field have a BABIP north of .300 year-after-year, but it also has the most hits of any ballpark in 11-straight seasons. Coors actually laps the field in total hits, as it’s easily the friendliest ballpark in the majors. That’s something many of you probably know already but it adds some serious spunk to Murphy’s value. The reason for that is because he’s an efficiency beast, with Murphy posting a .320 career BABIP and a 6.3 percent career K-rate. Those stats are enough incentive to use him but the fact that he’s ranked top-10 in total hits in four of the last five years only adds to his value. This is a guy who owned the best SLG and OPS percentages in the NL in 2016 before a down 2017, as he should exploit this beautiful ballpark. All this doesn’t even take into consideration his price, as Murphy is going 92nd in drafts right now. Someone who’s one of the favorites to land the batting average crown while having the ability to provide 100 runs, 25 home runs and 80 RBI should be going in the top-50.
Chris Archer, PIT (SP)
Archer has been inconsistent over recent years but there’s reason to believe he’s ready to have a bounce-back season. One of the major reasons why is his move to Pittsburgh, as that alone should increase his value exponentially. Ray Searage is the pitching coach for the Pirates and he could use his voodoo magic to turn Archer back into an ace. The famed pitching coach got special seasons from pitchers like Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett, who both appeared to be zombies at that point of their careers. Searage is just a small piece of this puzzle though, as PNC Park should become Archer’s friend too. Not only did PNC Park rank top-10 in fewest runs scored last season, but Archer also got out of that nightmare known as the AL East. The fact that he doesn’t have to face those stacked, DH-filled lineups is a huge plus but it’s also those little league ballparks he was pitching in. In fact, Archer had an 8.53 ERA at Fenway Park, 7.20 ERA at Camden Yards and 5.63 ERA at Yankee Stadium across the last three years. Avoiding those ballparks and facing a pitcher one out of every nine at-bats should benefit a strikeout-king like Archer, who currently sits ninth all-time in strikeout rate among starters (9.73 K/9). His xFIP indicates he has some positive regression headed his way too, as his xFIP has been 3.70 or below in six-straight seasons despite his ERA sitting north of 4.00 the last three years. Any pitcher projected with a 3.50 xFIP while providing 10 K/9 is worth a shot, especially when you consider his price tag. Archer is currently going 121st in most drafts according to FantasyPros, as he’s ranked 36th among pitchers according to Grey. This is a guy who was approaching the top-10 among starting pitchers just a few years ago and he very well may be in the best situation of his career right now. Pitchers like Cole Hamels, J.A Happ, Miles Mikolas and Luis Castilo are going in the same range and Archer is easily the best value of those five. The end of the 2017 season is another reason why we should be encouraged, with Archer averaging a 2.70 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 across his final five starts.
Miguel Cabrera, DET (1B)
Is this noob really gonna recommend Miggy in his first Razzball article? Yeah, I am. While this is one of the riskiest bounce-back candidates, Cabrera has way too much upside to be drafted this late. The old guy, injury-prone narrative is obviously worrisome but a bat like this should not be overlooked so easily. Cabrera is currently going 182nd in drafts right now according to FantasyPros and 21st among first basemen. This is a hall-of-fame bat who has consistently gone in the top-five throughout the last decade, as he’s definitely worth a shot in this price range. The last two years are what’s scaring fantasy owners off but no one is the same when they’re unhealthy. Prior to those injury-riddled two seasons, Cabrera’s floor was a .313 average and an .895 OPS across his previous eight seasons. Yes, I know that’s not the same Miggy that we see today but this is a guy who’s talented enough to recapture some of that form. His peripheral numbers from last season indicate he’s been better than his actual statistics would say, as his 14 percent walk rate, 17 percent strikeout rate and .390 OBP shows that he’s got the same plate discipline left in those aging eyes. It’s not just the discipline though, as his 55 percent groundball rate last year is an outlier statistic, especially considering he’s got a 42 percent groundball rate for his career. The hard-hit rate is the icing on the cake though, as he posted a career-high 46.3 percent hard-hit percentage last season. That would indicate that there’s still some serious power in those string-cheese hammys, as he should have no problem surpassing value as the 182nd-ranked player. I know that the haters are going to say that this is playing with my eyes on the past but when a guy is pretty much free like Cabrera is at this price, there’s really no risk involved.
Tyler Glasnow, TB (SP)
After going with a couple of old guys, we’re going to give you a young stud in Glasnow. Post-hype prospects are always players that I’m focusing on in drafts, as Glasnow is not far removed from being one of the top prospects in baseball. A major reason for that is because of his absurd AAA numbers, as Glasnow posted a 1.91 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 12.1 K-rate in his final two years at AAA across 2016-17. Many people jumped ship when he joined the Pirates in 2017 and posted a 7.69 ERA and 2.02 WHIP but those are immature fantasy owners. He did get a little better last year when he posted a 4.27 ERA and 1.27 WHIP but there’s still not enough hype around him. Glasnow’s 3.47 xFIP last season shows us that he was much better than his ERA would indicate, as he also provided 11 K/9. Joining the Rays sucks in terms of the teams he’ll have to face but that ballpark should be a haven for Glasnow. In fact, Tropicana had the fifth-fewest hits and the seventh-fewest runs last season. In his 11 starts with the Rays last year, Glasnow allowed three runs or fewer in nine of them, with the only two duds coming at Boston and at Toronto. If you take out that one ugly Toronto game where he allowed seven runs in less than an inning, Glasnow posted a 3.11 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in the other 10 starts. What really changes the tide for Glasnow was adding some more pitches to his arsenal, as he was just a two-pitch pitcher at the start of his career. Glasnow added a slider last season at an 11.4 percent rate and a small change like that just gives the hitters even more to think about with the nasty stuff Glasnow possesses. All this potential comes from a guy who’s ranked 45th among pitchers while going 181st in drafts according to FantasyPros.
Thanks for reading fellas. If you have any comment or questions please comment here or contact me @BartilottaJoel on Twitter