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.

NL

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.

AL

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.

 

 
  1. birrrdy! says:
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    Great article, Laura. Thanks for the tip on Solano, too. Sneaky find on a team lots are ignoring for fantasy…

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Thanks for reading, birrdy!

  2. Mr. Hooper

    Mr. Hooper says:
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    Definitely helpful to consider the steady pros. Thanks for this.

    Any additional shine on Shaw now that Milwaukee has moved Arcia?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Yeah, kind of a surprise IMO to see the Brewers put that much confidence in Urias since they don’t exactly have a plethora of proven middle infielders on the roster with Hiura at 1st, but I definitely get the vibe that they want Shaw to shoulder a decent load of at bats this year. Gonna be interesting to see if he can take advantage or if or if we just get more disappointment from him like we did in 2019 & 2020.

  3. Son

    Son says:
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    Glad to see you’re not an ageist. I’ll take the over on 60 for Pujols

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Ha!

  4. Powdered Toast Man says:
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    Laura- as a guy who plays in nothing but deep leagues I appreciate the work.
    Thoughts on Chang in Cleveland? AL only is weak at first. I’m starting Christian Vazquez there and Kirk at C. I is Chang worth rostering or just in an emergency?

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      Hey PTM, thanks for checking in! Well, I have to say first off that it’s hard for me to be impartial re. Chang b/c I owned him for a couple years in an AL-only keeper league and cut him this winter so I think part of me is kind of subconsciously hoping for him to not do TOO well so that I don’t feel like I made a horrible mistake ;) I let him go because I just didn’t feel good enough about his chances to ever develop into a fantasy-worthy hitter rather than just a utility/defense-first type. But that being said, he had a great spring and is already getting a little more playing time than I thought he would — and as you said 1B is basically a disaster zone for AL only if you don’t have one of the top few guys… so if you have room for him and don’t have to drop anyone of potential value to get him, he might be worth a try. (FWIW I’m pretty intrigued by Kirk… don’t know if he’ll have much fantasy value any time soon but he certainly turned a lot of heads this spring and could have a very interesting future with the Blue Jays if things break right)

  5. Powdered Toast Man says:
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    Thanks Laura- since you had him I’ll grab him.

    I think I’m going to either drop Enoli Paredes of the Astros or Matt Bush. It’s SOLDS league. Bush has 2 holds but not a clean inning. Paredes has a hold but seems buried for now. Chang would give me an option when Kirk isn’t playing.

    • Powdered Toast Man says:
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      Check that- saw Yandy Diaz hit waivers- probably claim him instead. If I can’t I may go Chang- and drop either Bush or Paredes

      • Laura Holt

        Laura Holt says:
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        I’m not surprised someone cut Yandy; he’s been pretty atrocious to start the year… I’m holding him for now though in a couple deep leagues since I don’t have any other options and am hoping he can get things going soon. Hopefully if you get him he’ll start hitting soon thereafter!

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