Is it weird that there are only seven days of spring training games this year that will actually take place in the spring? Maybe. Do we care? Nope, because as much as I appreciate the vernal equinox, my mind is consumed more with the fact that we’re finally in the thick of fantasy baseball drafting season. It’s time to take another look at players who may not be on the radar of our “normal” fantasy brethren (and five or so sistren*), but could come into play for those of us happily skulking around in the world of NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. (*thought I made this word up, but I guess not. Turns out it was used back in the 12th to 15th centuries, then disappeared, and then according to the Oxford Living Dictionary, “it has recently been revived, typically by feminist writers, with the new meaning ‘fellow women’.” I bet your wives, girlfriends, mothers, and sisters won’t believe you when you tell them your favorite fantasy baseball website is now shoving a feminist agenda at you while it tells you who you should be aware of in your 11-team NL-only league!)
Brandon Belt. Here’s a fellow who I left off my original NL-only draft sheets completely, but now am at least throwing his name down as a deep-league option. The fact that he’s having a productive spring is news not because I think he’s going to turn into a monster this year, but because he seems to have fully recovered from last year’s concussion. Guys that get at bats and have at least a chance to not completely suck are the stuff deep-league rosters need to survive. We all know Belt’s injury history is checkered to say the least, and I admit I was surprised to read that he’s never had a 20-homer season, because it seemed like he was really rolling there for a while back in the day when I used to draft him on purpose.
Eric Thames. Staying at first base, I recently found myself drafting Thames in a couple of leagues because I felt like he was just slipping too dang far in deeper leagues to not be worth a flier (current NFBC ADP has Thames as the 15th NL first baseman off the board). Sure, there are serious playing time concerns now, and sure, it’s obvious that whatever the heck he had going on in the first few months of 2017 was a mirage that will not be reappearing again. But his 1B/OF dual eligibility doesn’t hurt in a deep league, and one thing that made me just intrigued enough to give him a look at this bargain-basement price was the fact that he hit .327 with a .426 OBP in September last year. That may well mean nothing, but I’m willing to take a low-risk chance.
Lewis Brinson. Current NFBC ADP: 298. Many of us are still feeling the burn of holding Brinson last year just so he could finally get promoted and absolutely tank. Many are feeling the future burn of the dumpster fire that we are imagining the 2018 Miami Marlins offense will be. But many of us just want a player with upside to have in our back pocket as we’re heading to the home stretch of a grueling, deep-league draft. I’m not going to get into a situation where I’m counting on him to produce, but I will happily draft him at the right price.
Colin Moran. Now I’m remembering why I didn’t completely panic when I realized that I’d accidentally punted my CI spot in my first NL-only draft this season… just too many possible escape hatches near the end of a draft or auction to keep things from reaching disastrous proportions. Word out of Pittsburgh is that Moran will pretty much be the every day third baseman (and even if he ends up in a platoon with David Freese, Moran would be on the strong side). There’s nothing in his profile to suggest that he’ll ever be a fantasy stud of any kind, but in the deep league world, sometimes we’re just looking for non-cringeworthy at bats in a lineup that might end up being better than some give it credit for.
Marcus Semien. He’s just not getting quite enough ADP love (currently 270 overall in NFBC) in my opinion for a guy that every major projection system thinks will have at least 30 homers + steals and at least 150 runs + RBI. I haven’t drafted him yet and I don’t know why.
Ryon Healy. I don’t like drafting injured players in deep leagues since they are often hard/impossible to replace, but I’m going to grab some shares of Healy if given the opportunity at his current price, #212 overall per NFBC ADP. (I am tempted to move him down a few notches for spelling his name with a freaking “O,” but then I’ll move him back up since he qualifies at both first and third). March has found Healy doing things like taking grounders and hitting off a tee as he recovers from bone spur surgery on his hand, and if he doesn’t experience any setbacks, it’s starting to sound like he may be back much sooner than many expected. He was far from a sure thing even before getting injured, but I’m liking the amount of potential upside that comes with his current cost.
Logan Morrison. It seems like the fantasy community has been just as scared of LoMo this year as the MLB community was, but he has a real job on a real team now, and I’ll take him as a deep-league corner infielder if I’m looking for some power. (And he’s another 1B/OF qualifier, for what it’s worth). No, we’re not going to see a repeat of last year, but if he can hit around .250 with 20-25 homers, as most project him to do, I’m okay with that for what I’d need to pay to get it… Morrison’s current NFBC ADP is a thrifty 295.
Derek Fisher. I’m hearing a lot of things about a lot of guys in Houston (including the legitimately interesting A.J. Reed), but this dude gets so little attention that I completely and totally forgot about him despite the fact that I own him on my longstanding AL-only keeper team. Talk about a late, low-cost investment: he is currently being drafted all the way down at #414 in NFBC, one spot behind Jarrod Dyson (who isn’t a crazy pick himself at that point) and Adam Frazier. We’ll see how playing time shakes out, but even part-time at bats in the Astros’ mecca of a lineup could be a thing of deep-league beauty. ZIPS projections are particularly bullish: they think he’ll have 22 HR, 72 R, 75 RBI, and 17 steals in 131 games.