Greetings and welcome back to the Mike Maher Halfway House for Troubled Fantasy Baseball Owners. There will be cookies and White Russians, and they are mandatory. The season is but a few days away, and there is much to be done if you want to avoid embarrassment, at least in your fantasy leagues. I can’t help you with your daily embarrassments. Or maybe I can. Hit me up on Twitter, and I’ll give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

Anyway, we’re going to talk about a few players and, as you might have guessed, their relative fantasy environments. What does/do fantasy environments mean, you ask? Great question. It means whatever you want it to mean.

Oh, more specifically? Well, it can mean a bunch of things. I went over them a few weeks ago after making a hilarious joke about how I envisioned it by putting my bitmoji-face in a picture with Kate Upton. :::pause here for laughter:::.

Now that you’re all good and warmed up, let’s get to some players…

Pablo Sandoval

When I take a chance on someone late in a deep league, I try to focus on someone who is going to definitely be given a chance to succeed. Sure, there is something to be said for taking the stud prospect who is an injury or trade away from getting a chance, but you can’t always wait for that to happen. April matters in fantasy baseball, too. I try to see those types of chances coming during the season and pounce on the waiver wire, rather than draft a guy in the middle of March and hope something happens.

What I mean by “definitely given a chance to succeed” is someone who either has a starting position locked up and it is his to lose or someone who has guaranteed playing time staring him in the face and daring him to mess it up. Pablo Sandoval is a beefy version of both of those things.

Wait, wait, wait, don’t walk away yet. Hear me out. Let’s take it slow and start with his price. His ADP right now is somewhere around 270 (which used to be just his weight and not his ADP), so it’s not like you are grabbing him early. He’s a late round flyer and nothing more, so relax. Grey grabbed him at 350 a few weeks ago. Read: in an auction, he’ll cost you a buck. Also read: I am not telling you to grab him as a starting 3B. He’s just a guy.

So, we got price out of the way. What else do I like? His competition. He has none. Blake Swihart could play third if they wanted him to, but the Red Sox are insistent on him catching and only catching in AAA. Brock Holt is a super-duper utility brah and already proved he shouldn’t have an everyday job. Josh Rutledge. Exclamation point. Travis Shaw is gone in exchange for Dave Dombrowski’s latest acquisition of an arm with, get this, arm trouble. So who is going to take the job from him? Likely no one, at least for a while. He will be given every opportunity to succeed. Will he? No bleeping idea. But I’m telling you there’s a chance.

The bad news is that there isn’t really any more good news. Sandoval hasn’t been good since 2014, and even then he was just OK. His ceiling is his 2011 season of 23 dongs and a .315 batting average, and I don’t think anyone here believes he is going to approach that. Grey has him projected for 61 / 15 / 69 / .254 / 3, and that seems right to me. In a perfect world, his average will creep back up into the .270 arena, but no promises there. And if you can add a guy like that and hope for some extra home runs due to playing games in AL East parks for most of the year, then that ain’t not bad for a guy you can get around the 300 slot in drafts.

Two last positives (end on a high note, Mike!) are 1. He seems to be healthy (shoulder no longer an issue) and thinner (he is less big than he was a year ago). And 2. He is smacking the ball around in Spring Training at a .351 clip, with four dongs. Man, that is a lot of characters spent on Pablo Sandoval. Sorry, everyone.

Greg Bird

Stay in the AL East, you say? Sure, why not. Greg Bird is a guy too, although he is a guy with much more upside and much less of all of the other sides than Sandoval. His ADP is around the 120 mark right now, but depending on your league he could go anywhere from inside the top 100 to 150. Everyone has an opinion on him and different feelings on his question marks.

The main reason to be intrigued by Bird is he is a big left-handed bat who is going to be playing half of his games in Yankee Stadium this season. For those of you who are unaware, the right field wall in Yankee Stadium is pretty much right behind first base. Read: we’re talking 30 home run territory.

Bird missed 2016 with a right shoulder injury, which is scary when you are talking about a left-handed power hitter, but in 2015 he hit 11 home runs in just 178 at bats. Let’s project that out to, oh, I don’t know, 500 at-bats. Hey, what do you know, that comes out to 30 home runs.

The shoulder scared me a little bit, and the Yankees bringing in Chris Carter scared me even more. But Bird is hitting over .400 with seven home runs this Spring, and Carter is hitting, well, not much of anything. As long as Carter sticks around, I do worry a little bit about him taking some starts and at bats from Bird against lefthanders or if Bird starts to slump. Other than that, though, everything is coming up Milhouse for Greg Bird and his fantasy owners. You had me at “left-handed power in Yankee Stadium.”

Evan Gattis

Speaking of at-bats, that is the main worry with Evan Gattis this season. Wow, Mike, what a segue! And you know how to spell segue! I know, I know. Gattis went from depth/bench bat to fantasy starter once he regained catcher eligibility, and now owners are hoping to get some of that sweet, sweet 30-home run power again in 2017.

One problem: the Houston Astros had to go out and get Brian McCann. Everybody panic. The main question for Gattis heading into this season, obviously, is how many at-bats is he going to get? The Astros now have McCann at catcher, Nori Aoki in left field, and added Carlos Beltran to DH. At first glance, Gattis appears to be the odd man out in this, shall we say, environment (smile and slowly look around the room).

Fear not, my faithful Razzballers. Your dude is going to get his at-bats. Last season, Gattis hit 32 dongs in 447 at bats. I’m telling you right now, before God and Jesus and your mom reading this over your shoulder (tell her that “dongs” means home runs) that Gattis is going to get at least 400 at-bats this season, and most likely more. You can relax.

For starters, you can already pencil him in for starts against left-handers. Either Aoki or McCann is likely going to get a day off here. You can probably toss Josh Reddick into this equation, as well. Gattis is also going to be McCann’s primary backup, so sprinkle in a few more starts. Beltran is going to be the primary DH but is going to play some outfield, and Gattis will DH when he does. When Beltran gets a day off, boom, you get more Gattis. And let’s not sit here and pretend that, even though he is penciled in as the starting left fielder that Aoki is going to be stealing too many at bats from Beltran or Gattis.

Gattis may not have an obvious home in the Astros lineup every day, but he’ll be there. Whether or not he produces in those at bats is another question (his Spring Training numbers are BAD, and there are some rumblings about that sore shoulder), but he’ll be fine. I think?

Joey Votto

I was going to write a piece on Joey Votto, too, but this thing is already 1,500 characters long. So, I’ll just leave you with this quick blurb and a promise to discuss Votto again in the future. I took some flak in the LOEG (recap here) for keeping Daniel Murphy over Joey Votto as one of my four keepers. That could turn out to be a big mistake (my other three keepers are Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Corey Seager, so maybe I was just feeling confident), but I’ll tell you why I did it.

Votto is a golden god of OPS, and I love him. It hurt to give him up in LOEG because I had him for a few years and thought we might never part. But the Reds are bad and are getting worse. That lineup is going to be hot garbage. Votto’s only protection behind him in the lineup is going to be Adam Duvall, who has big boy power but isn’t going to be winning any batting titles. Given the choice in a tight spot, no one is going to pick pitching to Votto over Duvall. And after Duvall, the next four spots in that lineup are :::shudders::: Scott Schebler, Zack Cozart, Eugenio Suarez, and Tucker Barnhart.

What am I getting at here, in what was supposed to be a quick blurb? This: at what point do pitchers just simply stop pitching to Joey Votto? Call me crazy, but I think Votto’s walks are going to go up and his HR and RBI are going to drop this season. If you’re in an OPS league, then you don’t have much to worry about. But if you need HR and RBI from Votto, you might. It is a little late in March to be talking about ADP and drafts now, but I can tell you this: no way am I touching Votto near his current ADP of 20. Read: bad environment.

 

 

If you want to talk fantasy baseball or football or have players you want Mike to feature, hit him up on Twitter at @mikeMaher or post a comment below!

 

  1. Agnomen says:
    (link)

    I got Votto in a r-hr-rbi-bb-sb-avg league. Eyespien has him penciled in for 116 BBs out of 667 PAs. I was wondering if you thought that seemed accurate or askew?

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @Agnomen:

      I think that will end up being pretty accurate. He walked 108 out of 677 last season and 143 out of 695 in 2015, so 116 out of 667 seems about right.

  2. macio says:
    (link)

    Thanks for the write-up. Eager to see what Sandoval has in store for us this season. Expecting something in the middle of his first year in Boston and his great years in SF, so league average’ish I suppose.

    Please pick one: Glasnow, Ryu, Musgrove, Conley

    Thanks!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @macio:

      Thank YOU for reading and commenting. Of that list, I like Glasnow. Musgrove would be my 2nd.

  3. J-FOH says:
    (link)

    I considered Pablo last night in my NFBC 15 team 30 rounds. But he went way higher than I was willing to take a flyer in for my back up CI. My CI is gonzo. Oh well. Getting Pearce in the 28th and Aguilar in the 3oth helped me get to sleep last night. Good stuff. Like the approach to your content.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @J-FOH:

      Thanks. Appreciate that. And yeah, I’m OK with a flyer on Panda but I’m certainly not gonna reach for him or be disappointed if I don’t get him.

  4. StewZilla says:
    (link)

    Watched Votto last night from my season tix in row 6 behind home at our minor league park here in Louisville. The Reds had their lineup set as I imagine it opening day. I took a few things away from it, as someone who traded a pricey Votto in my auction keeper for the reasons you laid out.

    1. He’s fit as hell. Dude chose not to play for Team Canada so he could carry tires with his teeth and get those neck veins poppin’

    2. I forgot about him choking up after 2 strikes. He did it, and of course slapped a single…but that also sort of means he’s ONLY getting singles once he has two strikes, if that.

    3. The lineup around him, save Adam Duvall, is atrocious. Granted, it was Duvall bobblehead night and he’s bobbing his head right now in agreement because he has no choice…but despite all of that power, he’s gonna be a pretty easy out most at bats. Never would I pitch to Votto instead of Duvall.

    4. There’s nobody to get on base in front of him. Billy Hamilton popped up in each of his AB’s, which is exactly what you want to see from the fastest guy in MLB if you are a sadomasochist. The rest of us do not. Peraza is still a question mark for me.

    So I agree with you…I think Votto has a “nice season”, but one that in all but OPS/OBP leagues isn’t that special.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @StewZilla:

      Yeah, I love Votto. You could make the argument that he is a top 15 all-time hitter. It’s a shame to see the Reds go down like this while he still has some good years left in him.

  5. STrawberry says:
    (link)

    I’m in a league with OBP , Total Bases , and Slugging % , plus the usual 5.

    With beltre going on the DL, I have an open slot.

    Who would you prefer in Tommy Joseph, Haninger, Sandoval, Semien, DEshields , Kepler, Josh Bell, Gurriel?

    Thanks

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @STrawberry:

      Of the guys on that list I like Tommy Joseph the most.

  6. Derrick says:
    (link)

    Thoughts on this team in a 12-team, 5X5, H2h league?

    C – Weiters (273)
    1B – Rizzo (9)
    2B – Odor (Keeper 57)
    SS – Correa (Keeper 249)
    3B – Rendon (64)
    OF – Marte (16)
    Of – Pollack (40)
    OF – Kepler (105)
    Util – Abreu (33)
    Bench -3B – Justin Turner (129), SS- Marcus Seimen (256)

    SP’s – Darvish (keeper 136), Kenta Maeda (81), John Lackey (112), Rich Hill (88), Aaron Nola (177), Taijuan Walker (184), Joe Ross (208)

    RP’s – AJ Ramos (153), Dellin Betances (201), Jeanmar Gomez (225), Fernando Rodney (232), Sam Dyson (160)

    I felt I got good value. Good draft or bad?

    Thanks!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @Derrick:

      I think that looks great. No obvious weakness. I think having Rizzo AND Abreu in a year that looks to be a down one for 1B is pretty solid, too. I know Grey would approve of the team based on Odor alone. I like that squad a lot.

  7. Blaze says:
    (link)

    Ops league rank manny m m Cabrera b Harper a rizzo Josh Donaldson

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @Blaze:

      Harper, Manny, Rizzo, Cabrera, Donaldson. I think Harper bounces back in a big way this year.

  8. LenFuego says:
    (link)

    I have a feeling Schebler is going to provide better protection for Votto than you think. He sure did stink it up in April, but he was lights out the rest of the year, both back at Lousville (.930 OPS and IL player of the month for July) and back at Cincy once he came back up (.886 OPS after August 15).

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @LenFuego:

      I think Schebler is a decent prospect who took some steps forward in the second half last season after a terrible 2015 in AAA. He isn’t exactly going to scare anyone into pitching to Joey Votto, though.

  9. Mike says:
    (link)

    You think hellickson (v CIN) is worth an add this week? My pitching is average at best so I’m scouting the waiver wire until I can work some trades.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @Mike:

      Probably. He is definitely a streamer candidate early in the season based on what he did last year. I am in the same boat in a couple leagues and haven’t picked him up only because I already have Velasquez and/or Eickhoff and feel weird about having so many SP from the same team (and an average to below average one at that).

  10. Jerry says:
    (link)

    Hey, Mike. In a head to head points league, who do you like out of: Liriano, Robbie Ray and Ivan Nova to fill out last spot of rotation? Thanks for the help.

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @Jerry:

      Robbie Ray

  11. Maverick says:
    (link)

    Hey Mike! In a 20 Team H2H and need a fill in for Rendon. Best on the wire are:
    Schimpf / Drury / Perez / Gurriel / Solarte OR Sandovol!!??
    Can you advise as to which I should grab? Thanks!

    • mikeMaher

      mikeMaher says:
      (link)

      @Maverick:

      Is the Perez here Hernan Perez? If so, Perez or Drury are who I would pick.

      • Maverick says:
        (link)

        @mikeMaher: Yup Hernan! I will add him thanks!

Comments are closed.