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May 20, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Digging Deeper Than Deep

by Mike Gianella

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Every week, Baseball Prospectus’ own Bret Sayre puts together The Stash List. This list is an invaluable resource. I often use it not only to ascertain who might be close to making an impact in my deep leagues but also to get a feel for what the market value might be for a player. In leagues where I can bid on minor leaguers, this gives me a feel for when I might need to bid; in leagues where I can’t bid on minor leaguers, this tells me what I might need to bid.

However, in some of the deeper leagues I play in, Bret’s list isn’t of much use. Two of the expert leagues I’m in allow owners to stash minor leaguers, and the reserve lists are deep enough that even in non-keeper formats the top prospects that might make it up in 2013 are long gone. Speculation also runs rampant in these types of cutthroat leagues. If you think you’re going to be the lucky soul that snags Christian Yelich a week before his call-up, forget about it. Yelich is already owned in Tout Wars and in most deep leagues with any appreciable reserve depth.

It is close to a fool’s errand to try to identify the best non-elite rookies that will come up and provide value during the regular season. However, in a deep league, I understand the imperative to attempt to grab players who might provide even the tiniest amount of value. So, if you are going to go this route, below you’ll find the best approach for doing so.

Look at the Organization, Not the Player

While you obviously don’t want to completely ignore the statistical contributions of the player in the minors, it doesn’t matter if a 32-year-old organizational soldier is destroying Triple-A pitching. You’re looking for a player that will contribute to your team, not someone who won’t get called up unless there is a series of injuries.

Teams that are out of contention are good resources for players who might get a call in the second half of the season or earlier. In 2012, Josh Rutledge (earned $11), Kirk Nieuwenhuis ($8), Jordany Valdespin ($8), D.J. LeMahieu ($7), and Mike Baxter ($6) all contributed a fair amount of value in NL-only leagues. None of these players seemed like particularly strong options coming into the season, but weak lineups allowed these players to become contributors in deeper formats. If you’re looking for an unlikely contributor, picking players off from the Braves’ minor-league system isn’t your best bet. Looking at the Mets’ minor leaguers, on the other hand, isn’t a bad idea.

Speed Kills

When in doubt, you are better off trying to grab a speed demon than a big-time minor-league power hitter. Minor-league sluggers are often organizational fillers that aren’t going to get called up to the big leagues unless they are so prodigious that they force the organization’s hand. Even so, Darin Ruf only received a cup of coffee in 2012 and still has not seen the majors in 2013. Meanwhile, Jarrod Dyson, Quintin Berry, and Darin Mastroianni all provided significant stolen-base contributions in 2012. Scan the minor-league stat lines for significant stolen-base contributors. It’s easier for a minor-league steal king to translate his stats to the big-league level than it is for a minor-league slugger.

Former Prospects Aren’t The Best Bets

With the exception of Chris Carter ($8), former prospects that have since faded did not populate the list of successful, non-prospect rookies last season. Just because a faded prospect bounces back in Triple-A doesn’t mean he has finally figured it out and is a good bet for success.

Don’t Ignore Quality Relievers

Tom Wilhelmsen and Ryan Cook both come out of nowhere and wound up with the closer job for their teams at some point during the regular season. While this certainly isn’t representative of what might happen, a number of quality relievers are there for the taking, even in deep leagues. In 2012, Kelvim Herrera ($13), Nate Jones ($11), Robbie Ross ($10), and Steve Delabar ($10) were all worth owning in deeper formats. In the NL, Dale Thayer ($7), Tony Watson ($7), and Jared Hughes ($7) led the charge for the middle-relief crowd. I understand the urge to splurge on free-agent starting pitching, but you are more likely to add a contributor in the bullpen through your free-agent budget—and you will spend far less money than you will on a potential starting pitcher.

As I said above, this is an exercise in futility more often than not, and it is next to impossible to recommend specific players who might or might not succeed. In a deep league, you should be looking for complementary players via this route and not superstars. If you can be patient and look for role players as opposed to impact players, you are more likely to have a successful experience targeting minor leaguers than if you swing for the fences.

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

Related Content:  Minor Leagues,  Minor Leaguers

8 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

sbnbaseball

Ray here....nice article Mike. In several of my NL-only leagues, we cannot draft prospects, so they are available only when called up. Unfortunately, call ups in these leagues go to owners based on the reverse order of the standings. Even if you are in 8th place, you need the guys in 12th, 11th, 10th and 9th place to be asleep at the switch to grab him.

More competitive leagues are first come-first serve, which makes more sense.

May 20, 2013 06:44 AM
rating: -1
 
Robotey

how can you be in so many NL only leagues that still follow Rotisserie-Ultra rules?

May 20, 2013 11:12 AM
rating: 0
 
NeauxBrainers
(108)

Thanks Mike. Nice that someone understands the depth of all this. In the Plain Wheeler Dealer league this past weekend, Avisail Garcia, Shuck and Cody Allen were picked up to replace injured players, and I was deciding between Carp and JD Martinez to fill in for injured Rajai Davis. Went with JD, but his BA/OBP are awful. Didn't understand why Boston failed to play Carp when he was hot, then he left 7 on base in one game last week. Pickings are bare by mid-May in deep leagues.

May 20, 2013 08:01 AM
rating: 0
 
boatman44

Watching Yan Gomes as I type this, he is a catcher to go after in deep leagues,I think he could be around for a very long time, he has plenty of pop, an adequate hit tool and is defensivley sound.Oh and I have owened him in a 20 team dynasty league for the last two years (:.

May 20, 2013 10:51 AM
rating: 0
 
NeauxBrainers
(108)

Boatman, you and maybe 3 others, not counting the Indians, are high on Yan. BP has not been friendly to Yan, and most touts don't. Oh yeah, he's owned in my league, too.

May 20, 2013 13:49 PM
rating: 0
 
boatman44

I swear he hit his walk off home run before I posted the above comment , Go Yan. :)

May 20, 2013 13:57 PM
rating: 0
 
boatman44

Sorry after, getting giddy haha.

May 20, 2013 13:58 PM
rating: 0
 
cmellinger

Thanks for the article. I play in an NL-only league where we have an annual 3-round draft of minor leaguers after the auction. We can keep these guys forever ... or until they are brought up. Hardly any top-50 prospects are available for the draft in any given year ... let alone as replacements during the season. It's nice to read an article that has some relevance to that type of league. I read BP for a lot of reasons but the fantasy offerings have been more helpful than usual this year. Thanks.



May 20, 2013 12:38 PM
rating: 1
 
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