By the time you read this, actual 2022 major league baseball games will have finally happened! I still have a couple more drafts before I’m officially ready to roll for the year, but in the meantime, I thought I’d look back to some of my early deep league picks to see which look like hits and which look like misses — at least for the moment — as we embark on the new season.
Josh Lowe. Well, I have to count Lowe as a miss, because I didn’t draft him on any of my teams even though I was tempted to. I was worried about his playing time, but of course, the Rays decided to Ray this week and sent Austin Meadows to Detroit. Now Lowe is opening the season with the big club, and presumably regular time in the starting lineup. His ADP up until this week was hovering around 500; pretty sure it’s gonna be higher than for the last remaining drafts of the year, and he also would figure to be a big waiver wire target this weekend even in somewhat shallower leagues. He’s got good plate discipline, plenty of power, and some speed, and his biggest negative is his defense, which most of us fantasy types aren’t particularly concerned with. I get the vibe that many in the industry aren’t sold that he’ll be able to hit major league pitching consistently and I’m not necessarily grabbing him in any of my shallow-ish mixed leagues, but I do wish I’d parked him at the end of one or two of my early rosters in case he excels in his current opportunity.
Steven Kwan. Don’t know if he’ll play a lot, don’t know if he’ll hit when he does play, but he’s made the Indians OD roster and I’m glad I drafted him on a couple of teams while we wait to find out what 2022 has in store for him.
Jorge Mateo. Even though I’m writing this before games start, I’m happy to have Mateo in a couple of deep leagues from back in December/January, as it looks like he’ll get regular at bats for the Orioles and may even be their primary shortstop. No, he’s not a great hitter, but he’s fast and if he gets turned loose on the basepaths (should he reach them with any regularity at all) I’m hoping he’ll be the cheap source of deep-league speed that I envisioned. He qualifies at outfield in most leagues going into the season, so he should have the multi-position eligibility thing going for him soon as well.
Tyler Wade. Same profile as Mateo for my purposes; a generally poor hitter who has enough flexibility and speed to help both real life and deep fantasy teams early in 2022. Wade won’t be a regular for the Angels, but he should see enough starts at second and pinch running opportunities to deliver steals to those in deep league need of them. I think he’ll come in handy in the deep draft and hold leagues where I grabbed him this winter, as he already qualifies at third, short, and outfield.
Brad Miller. He qualifies at first and outfield, and for the moment he appears to be in line for at least semi-regular at bats on the strong side of a time share for the Rangers barring further moves. I don’t expect him to make a ripple in shallow league waters, but even with a non hitter friendly ballpark I think Texas is a good landing spot for him fantasy-wise — he hit 20 homers for the Phillies last year and I’m glad that I may have more cheap power this season in the leagues where I parked him on my bench late in drafts.
Jake Fraley. I drafted him once, back in December, and I’m not sure he’s gained much fantasy value with his move from the Mariners to the Reds, but for the moment I think he’s a good guy to have on a deep league bench. We’ll see how their outfield shakes out and how much Fraley plays, but the recent DFA of Shogo Akiyama isn’t a bad sign when it comes to his stock in Cincinnati. He could have trouble finding at bats since he’s a lefty on a team that already has one left-handed outfielder (Tyler Naquin), a lefty they signed to DH (Colin Moran), and a new full-time outfielder in Tommy Pham, but any injury/poor performance could quickly open the door for him.
Some misses (at least for now):
Pedro Severino. Thought he’d make a great second catcher in deep 2-catcher leagues once he signed to back up/share time with Omar Narvaez in Milwaukee, but those lofty dreams have been crushed with the recent news of his 80-game PED suspension.
Jose Miranda. I really thought he’d make Minnesota’s opening day roster, but a combination of roster changes and reality setting in finds him starting the year at triple A. He could still help as soon as this year, but it won’t be at the beginning of the season.
Greg Allen. Had a great spring and looked like he had jumped ahead of Anthony Alford for outfield playing time in Pittsburgh, but now has a bad hammy and instead looks like he may join Alford on the IL to start the season. I may keep an eye on him in NL-only or other very deep leagues where speed is near-impossible to come by, but otherwise my hopes for him as an early-season sleeper for steals appear to have been dashed. (Note: sounds like his injury is even worse than thought as he’ll open the season on the 60-day IL, so nothing to see here even in the deepest leagues).