Happy week between sort-of-opening-day and actual Opening Day! Last week we talked about starting pitchers to target in the deepest of leagues, and this week let’s switch the focus to hitting. As always, we’re looking at players who may be off the radar in standard mixed leagues, but could be of use to those of us living in the world of AL-only, NL-only and other ultra deep fantasy baseball. For now, we’ll concentrate on a handful of guys in the American League, looking for players who are likely to open the season getting at least some major league at bats, rather than minor leaguers who may make an impact later in the year. I’m going to go right to the perceived bottom of the barrel: all of the players on this list went for a mere dollar in the Tout Wars AL-only and/or the LABR AL-only auctions.
Tim Beckham. How can we not kick things off with one of the stars of MLB’s 2-game opening series in Japan? In case you missed an at bat or two, Beckham went 3-3 in the first game, with 3 runs, 2 RBI, and a walk. In game two, he had 2 more hits and another walk, and scored another run. Pretty good for a buck, which is what he went for in Tout Wars (I should mention he went for a whopping $4 in LABR). Will he have another game like that first one all season? It’s quite possible he won’t, but at least we know he’ll be starting at shortstop for the Mariners for the time being. I gotta say, that lineup isn’t gonna be a complete cake walk for opposing pitchers, especially if and when they all get hot at the same time.
Grayson Greiner. I am more inclined to spend on a catcher in an ‘only’ league than a mixed league these days, but the one thing I don’t want to do in an AL-only auction league is spend 6 or 7 valuable dollars on a junk catcher who gives me the same or worse production than someone I could have gotten for a buck with my last pick. Greiner went for $1 in both LABR and Tout Wars, which seems like it could be a steal for a guy who comes from the minors with a good-looking slugging percentage and should get to play pretty regularly in Detroit. If he flops in the show and his at bats are hurting you more than they’re helping, you can dump him for a random backup catcher that isn’t getting enough at bats to drag down your average.
Brandon Drury. ($1 Tout, free round in LABR). I drafted Drury for a few bucks in an AL-only auction last year, hoping he’d get enough playing time with the Yankees (was that just last year??) to pay off on my modest investment. Instead, he had debilitating vision/migraine problems from the get-go, spent months trying to fix things, spent most of the season in the minors, and got traded to Toronto. This lost season was bad news for my 2018 fantasy team, but could be good news for anyone at the end of a deep-league draft looking for a player that could play quite a bit, and has shown decent pop in the past when he’s been healthy and gotten the chance to play.
Brian Goodwin. ($1 Tout, undrafted in LABR). Hmm, Goodwin is another guy who I took at the very end of a deep-league auction last year who ended up getting hurt, then traded, and falling completely off the radar in the process. Well, Goodwin, like most of these guys, were never really on the radar to begin with, but moving on. He’s never really shown the ability to get on base regularly, strikes out way too much, and is probably already past his baseball prime age-wise at 28. But he’s an impressive-looking, 6-foot 200 pound athlete who has shown sneaky speed in the fast. He should have a better opportunity for regular or semi-regular playing time in Kansas City than he’s had in a while, so who knows what he might do with what could be his last chance at a solid gig.
Hunter Dozier. ($1 in Tout and LABR). Dozier is another Kansas City Royal who hasn’t shown the statisticians any reason to think he’ll hit successfully in the big leagues, but who will probably have more or less a starting job, if you’re looking for a $1 corner infielder. One has to think the power is still in there somewhere, if he can somehow find a way to get those pesky strikeout and walk rates down and up, respectively.
Tony Kemp, Daniel Vogelbach. Someone paid a dollar for Kemp in LABR; Vogelbach went in the free-round in both drafts, as Kemp did in Tout. I’m grouping these two together as they actually have a fair amount in common: they are both end-of-roster players both in real-life and fantasy, and they are both out of options so they are more likely to break camp with their respective teams (and Vogelbach has officially made the Mariners big club, at least for the trip to Japan). I’d call Kemp the speed end-of-auction flier to Vogelbach’s power end-of-auction flier. Kemp doesn’t have a much of a shot at regular playing time in Houston at any point this season, though if Vogelbach finally figures things out at age 26 and the Mariners trade Edwin Encarnacion, he could end up with a chance to play every day.