It’s been a crazy first half-week of baseball, and I’m already struggling a bit trying to keep up with tracking the waiver wire in all of my leagues. As often happens even after months of offseason research, the first few box scores of the season have featured a handful of surprise names in terms of who’s contributing fantasy stats. Instead of looking at a few of the young up-and-comers who’ve already made contributions that we may not have been expecting based on our winter planning, I’ve decided that this post should instead be dedicated to some names we were already plenty familiar with but may have passed right over. It’s been hard for our heads not to be turned — and perhaps rightfully so — by the Jonathan Indias and the Akil Baddoos of the baseball world (both of whom we’ve already chatted about over the past couple of weeks). But here at Rolling In the Deep, we’ll take one for the Razzball team this week, and concentrate on the Island of Misfit Toys rather than exciting shiny new objects. To earn a blurb below, each player needed three qualifications: to be age 30 or older, to have been basically left for dead (or in this case between #570 and #700) in terms of ADP this year, and to have had at least one impressive/helpful game fantasy-wise to start the 2021 season. Not gonna lie, those qualifications proved a bit more challenging than I thought they’d be, bringing us to the names below.
Asdrubal Cabrera. I saw the guy on my draft sheet, I knew he’d probably get some playing time for the D-Backs, I know he can put together a decent at bat in his sleep… and yet I couldn’t bear to pull such a boring trigger a single time in even my deepest leagues. Cabrera opened the season with a bang, with 2 hits, a homer and 3 RBI — against Yu Darvish, in San Diego, no less. He’s now started 3 of Arizona’s first 4 games at third base, and now I’m thinking maybe I should have ended one or two of my deep-league drafts by grabbing him as a fairly safe if unspectacular way to finish off my roster with a guy who should continue to provide a modest but steady trickle of counting stats.
Donovan Solano. It should be noted that the Giants opened their season in Seattle using the DH so there were more at bats than usual to go around, but Solano has started San Francisco’s first 3 games at second base. He’s made the most of the opportunity from an average standpoint, hitting .500 by going 7 for 14, and he’s also scored 4 runs and driven in 2. I’m gonna put the over/under on Solano’s 2021 stolen base total at one-half, and he’s not a guy who’s going to go on a big home run tear… but in deep leagues sometimes we just need a warm body with a decent hit tool to snuggle up to.
Travis Shaw. I feel like those of us who rode Shaw’s 2017 to fantasy glory are destined to continue giving him additional chances, just the way actual MLB teams seem to be doing. Shaw is now back in Milwaukie, where said glorious 2017 took place. While we won’t see him inked into the lineup every day, he’s already played 2 games at third and made a nice one-game contribution to the Brewers, at least, with two hits and 3 RBI on Opening Day.
Michael Taylor. At 30, Taylor is the youngest player on this list, but he’s also made the biggest contribution and may be in line for the most playing time now that he appears to be the Royals’ regular center fielder. It hasn’t always worked out in the past when Taylor has gone from being a bench player to suddenly being in the starting lineup every day, but he’s off to a rollicking good start in Kansas City (albeit, against some pretty lackluster Rangers’ pitching). In his first three games Taylor is 6 for 13 with 2 homers, 4 runs scored, and 6 RBI, so it’s not a huge surprise that his fantasy ownership has jumped over the last few days. We’ll wait and see if the mini breakout that some of us thought could happen for Taylor several years ago might finally arrive.
Jason Castro/Roberto Perez. In what may be the smallest sample size I’ve ever mentioned, Castro and Perez are ranked as the 3rd and 4th most valuable AL catchers in 2021 as I write this on Monday morning. Each has put up a home run and 2 RBI, Castro in one start for the Astros and Perez in two starts for the Indians. I’m not saying either of them is going to end up at the top of the catcher leaderboard at the end of the year (or the end of the week for that matter), but it’s a solid reminder that catcher value in the deepest leagues (especially those of the daily change variety) where every homer and RBI count can sometimes pop up unexpectedly if you know where to look.
Albert Pujols. Might as well finish this off with the oldest player on the list; Pujols is now either 41 or around 60 if the biggest of the age skeptics is correct. Us Jared Walsh owners were disappointed but not surprised to see Pujols in the lineup on what one suspects/hopes will be his final Opening Day, and then somewhere between mildly annoyed and utterly disgusted to see Walsh sitting for Pujols again on day two. Everything worked out for the Angels, however, as Pujols managed a 3-run homer, while Walsh was motivated enough when he finally got to play that he’s gone 4 for 8 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. It remains to be seen how this timeshare will ultimately play out, but it does appear that Pujols will get a few more chances to prove to anyone desperate for a bat in the deepest of leagues that he might have a few drops left in the tank.