Our countdown to the Draft Kit and fantasy baseball season continues today with some bargain hunting from Steven ‘Nash’ Olan. If you’re someone who likes to find the good deals and doesn’t see a big difference between the brands you see in commercials and the store brands, this list is for you.
I’ll admit it, I dig around the bargain bins at stores. I just like a good deal. Often when shopping I like to take a chance on a knock off version of my favorite things. Some discoveries along the way:
- Don’t go cheap when it comes to Q-tips, toilet paper or Twinkies.
- Knockoffs are a close replacement for soda, bread, Tupperware.
My conclusion: Sometimes you hit, sometimes you don’t, but you never want to leave the store with a cart full of knockoffs because over all you will be disappointed.
The same will go for your fantasy baseball team. You will not achieve success with an entire team of knockoffs, but you can round out your team with a few well placed cheaper versions of Top 5-10 players. The nice thing about building your fantasy baseball team is that you have goals that you can gauge your team against. Or at least you should.
Typically I like my hitters to average 80 runs, 20 homers, 80 RBI, 10 steals, and a .275 average. Now you would be hard pressed to find an entire lineup of guys that can do that without reaching for a lesser hitter in the very early rounds—and why the heck would you do that? Also you would need to have some real good guys fall directly in your lap the later rounds. So long as you grab a 100-30-100-15-.300 guy in round one, you can take a lesser guy 60-10-60-5-.265, in the later rounds.
Pitchers are a little bit different, but I will get to the later.
I want to give you one guy at each position for your lineup of hitters that would be a good fantasy baseball late-round draft value option.
- Catcher: Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians
I have talked a little bit about Yan Gomes already this off-season. I like what he has to offer, especially when the catcher position doesn’t have much disparity from top to bottom. After the Top 5 catchers are off the board, there aren’t many guys that stand out, so why not wait?
- First Base: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals
No surprise here. My infatuation with “country breakfast buffet” Matt Adams has been well documented. In fact this sleeper may not be a knock off version of a top 1B for long at all. Power seems to be lack overall at 1B these days and with Adams set to emerge as a 30 bomb threat, his stock could rise quickly.
- Second Base: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
This one could be a little of my hometown bias coming out. Brian Dozier is well-liked here in MN and I am drinking the Kool-Aid. He offers good across the board production and will come well after the Top-5 second basemen. He may not fall as far as most on this list though because of the lack of depth at 2B.
- Third Base: Matt Dominguez, Houston Astros
This is my least favorite option on the list. Matt Dominguez is like the knock off version of Cheez-Its, decent but not good. However, 3B is a weird this year and Dominguez could move up to 4-5 in the Astros lineup with some good play this year. Not that that is a great boost to his value, but every little it helps.
- Shortstop: Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
Cozart is going to a valuable addition to any team. He is hitting second on a very good lineup and despite his ups-and-downs last season, Zack Cozart should be poised for a very good year in 2014. He—much like Dozer—will give good production across the board.
- Outfield (Left Field): Adam Eaton, Chicago White Sox
Adam Eaton should be a good fit in Chi-Town and pencils in right away as the lead-off hitter. He will need a lot of questions behind him to be answered, Will Alejandro De Aza/Dayan Viciedo platoon work? Is Jose Abreu the real deal? Do Adam Dunn and/or Paul Konerko have anything left in the tank? Only time will tell.
- Outfield (Center Field): Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays
Rasmus could be a real dark horse pick this year. He will give you all the dynamic stats as a top level CF/OF without the security of solid AVG and the risk that he underperforms and loses any chance of consistent at bats. Colby Rasmus is a very high risk, high reward scenario.
- Outfield (Right Field): Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays
Joyce is a vastly underrated player and will fall in drafts to a real sweet spot for his value. He won’t give you as much pop as some of the top RF’s but if you just need another OF, Matt Joyce is your man!
- Utility/Designated Hitter: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Teix is a weird name to be on this list since he at one point was a top level guy at his position. However that was a looooong time ago.
Consider him like Snapple. Do you remember their epic No. 3 soft drink campaign? Classic! But now, they are frequently in the $1 section. Mark Teixeira will give you solid stats, especially if he can stay healthy. As a 1B, I wouldn’t be thrilled about taking him but to fill a UTL or DH spot, he’s is a solid option.
Now, full disclaimer on these guys. There are certain positions that it is hard to wait on. These are the average numbers from the Top-5 first basemen and second basemen from 2013.
2013 Top-5 Average: 1B vs. 2B
The first base numbers would be very hard to come by late, even if you get “Country Breakfast Buffet.”
At second, the average is still tough to come by, and maybe 95 runs is a dream scenario, but you can easily find the other stats late in drafts.
You really just need to know where to skimp and where not to. Remember, cheap toilet paper is a gamble.
On to pitchers. When waiting on pitchers you sometimes need to use them in tandem, even more so than hitters. In a standard league there are two categories that are working against pitchers who pitch poorly, WHIP and ERA. Because of these two categories you cannot punt control guys for high K and potential wins, and vice-versa.
Despite the fact that Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres, Scott Kazmir of the Cleveland Indians (now Oakland Athleteics), and Bobby Parnell of the New York Mets were all late-round/free agent pickups a season ago, they could have really bolstered your fantasy rotations.
Individually they all look good in some areas, Kazmir with his high K-rate, Cashner for his solid ERA and WHIP in a lot of innings, and Parnell obviously great closer numbers that will go late in drafts. Collectively, it’s a good trio to get late in drafts.
Granted the ERA is a bit higher than one would want, but the WHIP and near 8 K’s per nine innings is great. Getting 25 wins and 22 saves from guys that can be taken later in drafts is how you win your league.
You should take a stud pitcher before the end of Round 4, and mix in a pitcher every five rounds or so after that, and then you will lay the groundwork for a rotation that can take on these lesser pitchers even if they don’t produce this well.
The key to adding any type of knockoff player is setting a solid foundation. Play it safe in the early rounds and take your chances late. It is much harder to make up for a bad reach in Round 1 or 2 than to miss on a guy late in drafts because your expectations are much different. At least they should be different. Otherwise you are probably going to be disappointed in anyone you draft in round 20 and beyond.