I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that fantasy baseball has severely impacted my ability to enjoy watching my “real” baseball team. I became a fairly obsessive Dodger fan when I was a kid, and I can remember my daily mood being severely impacted by whether my team won or lost that day. Cut to a couple few years (okay, decades) later, and since I have so few of the (largely overpriced in my opinion) Dodgers on any of my fantasy teams, sometimes I barely know if they won or lost. Of course, I can tell you exactly how the Brewers fare each day, since most of my fantasy teams are chock full of them. I did finally get swept up in a bit of world series fever last year, and watching those games – truly caring about which team won and actually rooting for every Dodger player with no concern as to how it would affect me in fantasy… I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had watched a major league baseball game that way.
Anyway, I bring this up because I’m feeling weirdly guilty lately over what’s becomes a pretty hot topic in baseball over the last few days, namely, the first-week struggles of one Kenley Jansen. It’s not like I enjoy watching the Dodgers fail, and I certainly wish no ill will towards Mr. Jansen. But I have to admit that’s it’s a bit hard not to revel in watching a fantasy owner feel like he’s made a giant mistake in spending a high draft pick on a closer, since I and most of the Razzball world have preached to folks that it’s, well, a giant mistake to spend a high draft pick on a closer. All this finally brings us to the more specific topic at hand: players that those of us who live in the weird but beautiful deep-league fantasy baseball world might want to take a look at this week. And with that…
Josh Fields. Grey has already told you to pick the guy up. Maybe Jansen will be all fixed by the time you read this and none of us will remember his disturbing beginning to 2018, but maybe he won’t. Fields has looked great to start the year, and his ownership is heading up in a hurry as I write this… he’s up to 13% owned at Fantrax and 8% at CBS. No reason not to grab him if you’re speculating for saves (or just could use a good reliever type), have the room, and he’s available.
Jordan Hicks. Another bullpen arm who folks have been noticing; after not having pitched above High-A coming into the season, he is suddenly 12% owned in CBS leagues after a head-turning spring/early 2018. Greg Holland’s impending arrival in St. Louis blocks any immediate chance for saves of course, but Hicks is looking like he could be a valuable piece to the right fantasy pitching staff. I hadn’t seen this until I just Googled Hicks to see if folks are writing about him, but over at fangraphs there’s a pretty in-depth article from a couple days ago calling him ‘the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball.’
Preston Tucker. I was surprised to see he is only owned in 4% of CBS leagues – obviously folks are just looking at him as a platoon guy who is a hopefully-very-short-term placeholder for Ronald Acuna, and probably rightfully so. But why not ride Tucker while he’s hot, and he’s opened the year about as hot as anyone in baseball: 8 for 19 with a homer and 5 RBI. (And dude just hit a 3-run bomb off of Scherzer as I was getting ready to submit this!)
Brian Goodwin. Speaking of hot starts, Goodwin only has 10 at bats, but also has 7 RBI. The Braves are starting preseason fantasy darling to many Michael Taylor on Wednesday in a righty-righty matchup over the left-handed Goodwin, but if Taylor doesn’t get it going at the plate pretty soon I don’t know how Goodwin won’t be stealing more at bats from him.
Derek Dietrich/Brian Anderson. Both under-the-radar Marlins, both off to solid starts, both guys who are among the most-added players in fantasy this week. Neither may ever be relevant in shallow leagues, but up to this point in the season, both are reminders of how the worst teams in baseball can often be a nice place to shop for deep-league fantasy players.
Ben Gamel. I think this is already the third time I’ve mentioned Gamel since I started my pre-season posts this year, and yet somehow I don’t own him on a single team, which is making me a bit sad. He is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Thursday as he recovers from an oblique issue, and I feel like he should be owned in more than 3% of CBS leagues. If he gets healthy and shows us some of the promise he flashed last year, he could have mixed-league value in a hurry… and if he doesn’t, it’s easy to say goodbye and move on.
Keynan Middleton. I try to stay away from anything related to a Mike Scioscia-run bullpen, but Middleton’s looking good and it’s hard not to take notice of him in the AL-only world, as he’s currently looking like the Angels’ best relief pitcher. Sure, that may or may not ever translate to saves (Middleton already has one, after Blake Parker imploded and Cam Bedrosian had already pitched) in SciosciaLand, but it’s worth monitoring in the deep-league world.
Aledmys Diaz. ‘Member that crazy 2016 Diaz had for the Cardinals, where he hit .299 with 17 bombs in 111 games? I had forgotten all about it, and the fact that he played 79 games for the Cards last year (with thoroughly unimpressive stats) doesn’t sound even a little bit familiar. At any rate, he’s off to a nice start playing short for the Blue Jays this year, batting .312 with 2 homers over his first 6 games. I’m going to keep an eye on him, in case he keeps it up. (Note: Diaz seems to have tweaked his back Tuesday night after I wrote this, so that’s certainly something to monitor… but I’m still keeping an eye on him!)
Jake Marisnick. This one’s probably mostly wishful thinking, as I own him in a couple AL-onlys. His playing time will be limited, and he’s only hitting .200 on the year without a walk in 15 at bats. But he does have two homers and a steal, which puts him on pace to go 54/27. Okay, it’ll probably be more like the 12/10 or so that you get if you average out ZIPS, Steamer, and some other random projections… but that’s not nothing in the deep-league world, and he’s only 6% owned in CBS leagues.