Fast forward to April, and these players might tempt you if they're sitting on your league's waiver wire.
With only four days left in the regular season, I’m going to do a slightly different take on our usual Free Agent Watch column before we morph into off-season mode. But speaking of off-season mode, I know even the most loyal BP readers are used to the fantasy section taking a couple of months off when the season ends. So my deepest apologies to those of you who were looking forward to time away from us—under my reign of terror as Fantasy Content Manager, you will be subjected to year-round fantasy analysis. And that includes some new things that I am very excited about.
But back to the task at hand, we are going around the diamond to spot players who are worthy of picking up in dynasty and high-volume keeper leagues with an eye squarely on 2014. And if the names I’m highlighting aren’t deep enough for some of you, I’ll be including a deep sleeper at each position as well (and if those aren’t deep enough for you, then you’re just going to have to be OK with that). In the words of future Poet Laureate Mike Skinner, let’s…push…things…forward.
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A look at four hitters and four pitchers who could be available to bolster your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Jon Jay, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
In -only leagues, you have to take whatever measly at-bats you can get. If playing time opens up and you have a dead spot, it is a knee-jerk response to grab a player and worry about performance later. Mixed leagues offer more choices, and owners have the luxury of zeroing in on certain categories at the end of the season. A case in point is Jon Jay. Jay’s .272 batting average is barely worth considering, but over the last 15 days he has been putting up crooked numbers in runs and stolen bases for a recently red-hot Cardinals offense (admittedly, Coors has helped somewhat). If you need power, leave Jay in the free agent pool. On the other hand, if you are set in home runs and RBI but need a boost in runs or stolen bases, Jay might be your guy. Elliot Johnson has stolen five bases in the last 15 days, but the Cardinals are jockeying for playoff position while the Cardinals are not. Jay is likely to play regularly over the last 11 days of the regular season or until the Cards clinch a division title/avoid that dreaded wild card play-in game. —Mike Gianella
A look at some players who might be available to provide a late-season boost to your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Nick Franklin, SS, Seattle Mariners
You’re forgiven if you bailed on Franklin in standard mixed. A prolonged slump pushed Franklin’s slash down to 220/291/395. The power has been terrific, but everything else in Franklin’s game has been terrible. His strikeout rate skyrocketed, suggesting that Franklin was overmatched after the pitchers adjusted to him. Franklin seems to talented not to improve, but the Mariners don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to guys like Franklin. If you really need the power jolt, stick Franklin in your line-up, but I’d stay away from him in mixed unless it’s a keeper. –Mike Gianella
It's a special, September call-up edition of the Watch, with eight players who could offer a boost to your fantasy roster this month or in 2014.
Welcome to a special September call-up edition of the Free Agent Watch. Rather than focus on players for specific formats, this week Bret and I thought we would take a look at eight recent call-ups who might or might not help your fantasy squads down the stretch… or possibly next year.
Jemile Weeks, 2B/SS/OF, Oakland Athletics
In 2011, Weeks was a fantasy force, particularly in deep leagues. He stole 22 bases and hit .303 in a mere 97 games. While Weeks’ game was one-dimensional, that dimension (stolen bases) made him fantasy viable. The cracks showed in 2012. Weeks’ batting average dropped to .221, and while his walk rate improved considerably, a .305 on-base percentage doesn’t cut it for a speedster, even if that speedster plays second base. The A’s decided to send Weeks back to Triple-A this year and turn him into a utility player. The good news was that Weeks got on base at an even more prodigious rate; the bad news is that what little power he had disappeared, and he didn’t run as much as he did in 2011. Weeks is a stretch of a pick-up in start-over leagues. He could be one of those players who steal a bunch of bases in September, but with the Athletics in the heat of a pennant race, he might simply get buried. Weeks could be a useful SB asset in deeper mixed leagues if he got an opportunity, but at the moment it looks like he needs a trade. —Mike Gianella
A look at some players who could bolster your fantasy team off the waiver wire, depending on the format of the league in which you play.
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Cozart is a subpar offensive option in real life but a solid option in fantasy leagues. Among shortstops, he is ninth in HR, eighth in RBI, and fifth in runs. Dusty Baker finally gave up on the idea of batting Cozart and his lousy .276 on-base percentage second, so Cozart takes a bit of a hit, but if you’re not particularly concerned about batting average, Cozart is a better play down the stretch than a number of mixed-league shortstops/middle infielders currently on active rosters. —Mike Gianella
A look at players who might be available to help your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres
A June groin injury followed by an awful July caused a number of standard mixed-league owners to run for the exits, as Gyorko is only owned in about 29% of ESPN leagues. If he’s available in your mixer, snatch him up. Even without taking the injuries into account, since May, Gyorko has been an offensive force. His ISO in May, June, and August has been no lower than .242. In other words, Gyorko is a legit source of power at a middle infield position. Unless you’re in a points league that penalizes severely for hitter strikeouts, there’s no way Gyorko should be a free agent. —Mike Gianella
A look at eight widely available players who could help your fantasy team down the stretch, depending on the format of the league in which you play.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees I couldn’t resist. In ESPN, A-Rod is only owned in 21.3 percent of all leagues. While there are certainly questions about how long A-Rod can play before the inevitable arbitration hearing takes place and the possible suspension goes down, A-Rod is a must start even in mixed formats. He has 20 HR potential at third base and if completely healthy could exceed that. Moral qualms are fine in real life, but in fantasy baseball you have to take the opportunities where they might come. —Mike Gianella
A special trade deadline edition of the watch list, in which Mike and Bret recap the fantasy impact of every salient deal.
Welcome to a very special episode of Baseball ProspectusFree Agent Watch. We have decided to don our tuxedos and tails and present a trade deadline edition for your general amusement and edification. So sit back, enjoy this brief montage of classic bloopers and exciting plays, and then join us on the other side as we take a look at the players traded at the deadline and the fantasy impact these trades will have on your league.