The first week of baseball. The sights. The smells. The bacon-wrapped corn dogs stuffed with jalapeno cheddar tots. What a week it was indeed.
A long winter has passed and many things changed. Most notably, was Ricky Vaughn, who shed his trademark leather jacket and punk rock hairdo for a suit, tie and styling mousse. Jack Taylor’s knees were weaker than ever, and Pedro Cerrano ditched the rum-loving Jobu for Buddhism. Even Willie Mays Hayes elected to have cosmetic surgery.
Some things need to be replaced. The classic film Major League was not one of them. Yet they made a sequel. Not the worst baseball movie to grace the big screen, but we could’ve done without it. Unlike the original Wesley Snipes character, in fantasy baseball, finding replacements is part of the game. It’s how leagues are won. You can’t just sit back and watch as players are picked up off the wire while you “wait to see how the guys you drafted do”. That’s one of the most common phrases I hear early on. Yes, it’s early, so you’re not kicking any studs to the curb, but if the “sleeper” you drafted in the 29th round has begun the season 1-for-16, and there’s a player on the wire who is playing well, go grab him! Hanging on to an older vet with the delusion that he’ll somehow hit like he’s not 36 years old (Chase Utley, 100 percent owned on ESPN), will keep you from realizing your championship dreams.
This is the “Deep Impact” column, where I’ll only be featuring players under 10 percent owned in ESPN leagues. During Opening Week I’ve been asked more questions about middle infielders than any other position, so I figured this would be an opportune time to reveal some of my top adds heading into the weekend:
Devon Travis, 2B, Blue Jays (8.0% owned): Travis came over to Toronto this winter in the trade that sent Anthony Gose to Detroit, and it’s only been a few games, but the 24-year-old has found himself in a very nice situation, making him one of my favorite middle infield adds in the early going. The former 13th round pick of the Tigers had never played higher than Double-A ball, but he’s now the starter at 2B for the high-octane Blue Jays. A hot spring from Travis, plus an injury to Maicer Izturis, and the usual ineffectiveness from Ryan Goins, allowed him to seize the job — and he’s running away with it. Through two games, the youngster is hitting .333 (3-9) with a homer, three runs, and 3 RBI. During his time in the minors, Travis showed the ability to hit double digit homers with 15+ steals, and let’s face it, the Jays aren’t handing the reins back to the 34-year-old Izturis even when he does come back.
Marcus Semien, 2B/3B, Athletics (5.2% owned): Like Devon Travis, Marcus Semien is a new arrival thrust into a starting job. Semien was the main piece in the package that sent Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox, and he’s already making a name for himself. By starting their first four games, the A’s have shown their loyalty to him, and he’s returned the favor, going 4-for-13 (.308) with a double and 3 RBI. Hitting at the bottom of the order won’t allow him many run-scoring opportunities, but he’s a good bet to hit 15 or so home runs (21 between Chicago and Triple-A last year) and get double digit stolen bases. He’ll be even more fun to own once he’s garnered shortstop eligibility, which should come by next week, as he’s started all four games there so far.
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies (3.1% owned): Known more for his defensive expertise, the National League’s reigning Gold Glove winner at second base can also be an asset to your offense. DJ (no periods between the D and J, which is important to know. Like CC Sabathia) won’t give you much pop, but there’s room for a decent average and some speed in his repertoire. 2014 was pretty miserable (.267/.315/.348), but he performed well from a batting average standpoint in 2012 (.297) and in 2013 (.280), and even swiped 18 bags during that ’13 campaign. The Rockies offense is healthy — for now — and they are on fire, making LeMahieu a sneaky add if you’re looking for some O. In the early going, he’s hitting .385 (5-13) with an RBI and steal to his credit. And that’s on the road. He’s nowhere close to being a must-own guy, even in the deepest of leagues, but he’s a fantastic plug-n-play when the Rox are playing at home in the friendly air of Coors Field.
Brad Miller, SS, Mariners (1.4% owned): Miller was a big sleeper during drafts last year and he ended up being pretty doggone terrible, so he’s a guy that a lot of people gripe about. Some owners won’t ever touch a player if they’ve been “wronged” by them, but I’m all for giving them second chances. It’s just human nature (in most cases). The Mariners were ready to go with Chris Taylor at shortstop, but he broke his wrist in spring training, so Miller got the gig by default. Taylor is making good progress, but is still weeks away from a return, and Miller is doing everything in his power to make sure he stays the starter when his teammate finally arrives in Seattle. Miller has started all three games for the M’s and homered off Matt Shoemaker in Wednesday night’s loss to the Angels. If he gets cold, or Taylor reclaims the job, simply drop him, but Derek Jeter is owned in 1.9 percent of leagues, and Miller in just 1.4. Yes, the retired Yankees’ icon, who as is we speak is probably yachting in the Maldives with his Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model girlfriend, is on more fantasy teams than a guy batting .400/.400/.700 and starting for an MLB club.
Follow SethDaSportsMan on Twitter at, you guessed it, @SethDaSportsMan, for quality fantasy sports advice and the deepest veneration of all things Nicolas Cage.