Going to the grocery store is always fun but there’s one thing about it that’s truly special. If you find the darkest corner of your favorite grocery store, you come across this beautiful bin that has unreal deals. My favorite thing to go for is a box of donuts. You know, the variety pack with favorites like the pink frosting donuts with the colorful sprinkles and the jelly filled ones with powdered sugar. But what makes it truly amazing is the fact that you get these donuts for a single dollar because it’s in this magical bin. While many of these donuts are usually expired, they’re still good, very good in fact. We have a similar thing in fantasy baseball. Sometimes people give up on these players just like those donuts but in many cases, they’re still very tasty. That’s what we’re going to do here, as we’ll dig into that bargain bin and find some players that fantasy owners have given up on too soon…
Yu Darvish, TEX (SP)
Darvish is easily the freshest of these donuts, as he’s on a different level than the rest of the recommendations. While he’s one of the biggest injury risks in fantasy baseball, this price no longer makes him an unnecessary risk. In fact, Darvish is one of the best lottery tickets out there, as he’s probably the only player outside the top-40 pitchers who can climb to the top-10. Darvish’s 4.95 ERA and 1.43 WHIP from last season are going to scare people off but this is a guy who was obviously never healthy. We can’t overlook his absurd career numbers though, as Darvish is posting a 3.49 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Not to mention, he owns a ridiculous 11.1 career K/9, which happens to be one of the best rates in baseball history.
The biggest thing you struggle with when your unhealthy is your control and that was clear last year. In fact, Darvish posted career-worsts in walk-rate (11.7 percent) and HR-rate (1.58/9). Luck was not in his favor either, as Darvish posted a career-worst 17.5 percent HR-FB-rate and a .295 BABIP on track to a 4.24 xFIP. These are all things that can be fixed with health, as a return to those career numbers would make Darvish one of the steals of the draft. Not to mention, Darvish posted a 21.7 percent soft-hit rate last season, which is one of the best marks of his career. Let’s not forget that Darvish plays in the NL now after spending most of his career in that nightmarish Texas ballpark. He should be able to raise that strikeout even more with a pitcher taking two at-bats a game. In addition, playing at Wrigley Field can’t be harmful either, as Wrigley allowed the eighth-fewest runs in the majors last season.
Byron Buxton, MIN (OF)
Buxton has been skyrocketing up draft boards because of a ridiculously hot start to Spring Training but his price is still too low. Buxton is the extravagant donut in the box, as he’s that crazy one covered in Fruit Loops or Oreos. Some people love that and some people hate it, but no one can say it’s not beautiful to look at. That’s why we have to hope Buxton is not tricking us like he did last year, as he looks like the best baseball player whenever he takes the field. The speed-power combo isn’t matched by many players in baseball, let alone any going outside the top-150. Buxton is actually going 200th in drafts according to FantasyPros, which is quite the drop off from a player who was going in the top-50 last season.
That potential is still there though, as he’s one of the only players in the league who can hit 20 homers while swiping 50 bases. Between 2016-17, Buxton collected 26 homers and 39 steals in 760 at-bats. Those gaudy numbers came from a 23-year-old rookie who posted a 30 percent K-rate, as the sky is the limit when he figures things out. If he can get that K-rate below 30 percent and maintain his 30 percent hard-contact rate, Buxton could become a steal with the natural speed and power he possesses. Gambling on that happening at this price is definitely worth it too, as Buxton could climb right back into the top-50 in drafts next season if he re-captures that elite ability. His elite defense should keep him on the field too, as it would be hard to imagine Minnesota sending him down to the minors again this season.
Shin Soo-Choo, TEX (OF)
What if I told you that you can get a leadoff hitter in one of the best ballparks in the league with the last pick of your draft? What If I added that this player is projected to have an OBP approaching .400 and an OPS around .800? That alone shows how big of a value Choo is this season, as he’s going 251st in drafts based on FantasyPros ADP. Let’s dig a little deeper into these impressive numbers.
Choo has played at least 146 games in seven of his last 10 seasons and is posting prominent numbers in those years. In fact, Choo’s season average in that seven-year span is 21 HRs, 74 RBI, 91 runs and 15 steals while posting a .386 OBP and an .843 OPS. While that’s probably a high projection for Choo this year, that sort of production is usually indicative of a top-75 player. That’s why Choo is such a bargain in the 250-range, as he’s in a fantastic situation in terms of lineup and ballpark. Not only is Choo projected to lead-off this season, but he also plays at the ballpark that produced the most runs in baseball last season and the second-most the year before.
Joc Pederson, LAD (OF) With Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Matt Kamp out of the picture, we should see Pederson play more than ever. Recommending someone with this low of a floor scares me to death but Pederson has the highest upside of anyone being drafted in the same range. Pederson is actually going undrafted in most formats, as he’s currently going at a 319.3 ADP according to FantasyPros. That’s essentially free and you may have the fortune of just keeping an eye on him in your waivers. So, let’s take a deep dive into these numbers. Not only does Pederson have at least 24 home runs in three of his last four years, but he’s also posting an OBP approaching .350 in that span. While that’s not necessarily special on the surface, there are no other players in the 300’s who have that sort of capability.
There are some underlying statistics that show improvement too, as he posted a career-low 19 percent strikeout rate last season while collecting career-highs with a .273 ISO and .522 SLG. That power potential speaks for itself but the fact that he stole at least 24 bases in four of his minor league season shows that he can bring that to the table too. We’re talking about a 26-year-old here people! This is the time when many players start hitting their stride, especially one who was considered one of the top prospects in baseball not long ago.
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Thanks for reading guys!