Michael digs in the bargain barrel to find Value Picks at the end of your draft, including Edwin Encarnacion, Brent Morel, Ian Stewart, and Travis Hafner
The early stages of a fantasy draft are like shopping in an upscale department store. It’s easy to find what you want and you know all the brands, but it’s pricey too. The late stages, on the other hand, are more like shopping at a thrift store. You never know whether you’ll find something you like and you’re lucky to find a name you recognize, but anything can be had for just a few bucks. And while fantasy seasons can be lost in the early rounds from overpayment and injury, they’re usually won in the middle and late rounds, when scouting and shrewd valuation can help you find the thrift-store jewel that everyone else passed over.
So this week, I’m looking at the thrift-store, bargain-barrel phase of your draft: round twenty and beyond. All of these designated hitters and corner infielders are being drafted then, and they’re all projected by PECOTA to earn $5 or less in standard leagues. This latter group includes other good players like David Freese, Justin Morneau, Mike Moustakas, Chipper Jones, and Todd Helton, but their Average Draft Position is higher than their PECOTA projections. In classic department-store style, owners are overpaying for name-brand merchandise.
Michael graduates one Value Pick and gives up on another in his continuing quest for fantasy value at the infield corners.
Saying goodbye is never fun, but it’s time to bid farewell to two Value Picks, one for good reasons, the other for bad. Unless it’s just roster-churning for the sake of it, turnover is healthy for your roster, so get ready for a shot of fantasy penicillin. Wait, that sounds wrong . . .
The tater trots for May 20 + 21: Fielder's huge walkoff, Escobar tops Papi, Bernadina's robbed trot...
I know I've been saying this a lot lately, but I apologize for missing the Tater Trot Tracker yesterday. My brother was visiting Chicago from Texas and I had to make my way down to visit him. Sadly, making either the White Sox or Brewers games wasn't possible. What's the point of having three major league clubs within 100 miles if I can't catch a game whenever I want? Terrible. The Cubs, White Sox, and Brewers should schedule everything around me.
Michael looks at some streaks and ever-growing small samples to find this week's Value Picks
The season’s second full week is still too soon for snap judgments, but we can start to look at how hitters are rounding into form, including some recent streaks. This week, Value Picks also debuts a new feature: AL-only and NL-only Value Picks. These players may have value in deeper or specialized mixed leagues, but they’re best suited for single-league owners.
Which corner infielders make the Value Picks list for the first week of the season?
Finding fantasy waiver wire value requires several different strategies, featured in this week’s debut of the Value Picks regular-season edition. To ensure availability, candidates for the VP list must have less than 20 percent ownership in ESPN leagues (I’ll typically reference CBS for comparison), a narrow band that still saw Luke Scott, Mitch Moreland, Pedro Alvarez, and Gaby Sanchez among last year’s VPs.
The Twins and Yankees meet yet again in the first round of the postseason but Minnesota has home field advantage this time.
As they did last year as well as 2003 and 2004, the Twins run squarely into the Yankee juggernaut in the first round. Unlike those other three meetings, they have home field advantage this time around, as they won the AL Central going away thanks to a league-best 48-26 second-half record. The defending world champion Yankees, who held the majors' best record for most of the season, were forced to settle for the wild card due to a sluggish 13-17 showing against a very tough schedule in September and October. Despite the relative temperatures of the two clubs, it's important to remember that late-season records aren't predictive of October success—or failure.
A look at some of the AL's intriguing rookies, in order to determine their 2011 value.
More rookies! This time of the American League variety, continuing where we left off after a look at some fascinating NL names. Just like last time, there will be more rookies to look at, but these three are the most worthwhile for discussion as far as hitters go.
Danny Valencia has helped the Twins recover from injuries in his inaugural major league campaign, putting up a line of .318/.358/.462 over 299 plate appearances. Valencia's had some help in his line—I'm looking at you, .351 BABIP. His BABIP on liners, flyballs and groundballs are all above the major league average this year, and though he's had a lot of hard-hit grounders reach the outfield for singles, not all of them may find a hole in 2011.
Mark Teahen bubbles onto the list as Michael Street looks at other fringe VP options.
Another solid, SLG-heavy week from the Value Picks list means just one change, swapping a newly injured third baseman for one recently healed. Edwin Encarnacion hit the DL Saturday with a wrist injury—a timely move, as he’d have been dropped from the VP list anyway. Since ending a ten-game hit streak on July 27, EEE’s hit just .241/.300/.398 in 90 PAs, with only two multi-hit games. His strong 83% contact rate wasn’t enough to overcome his tepid 6% walk rate and a career-high 30.7% swing rate at pitches outside the strike zone.
His injury allows us to promote Mark Teahen from the bubble, where he’s sat the last two weeks. Teahen returned from a fractured finger on August 13, and he appears to be hale and hearty after bruising that same finger and missing a game. He hit .417/.500/.583 the rest of the week, continuing a strong return from injury, as he’s hit .343/.378/.571 since coming back, despite striking out 10 times in 35 ABs.
The VP list swells to seven, as Michael Street considers other players on the Value Picks bubble.
With MLB roster expansions coming up, Value Picks expands its list by one, recognizing some marginal performances by some VPs and an influx of talent from midseason callups. Two callups already on the VP list are Danny Valencia and Brett Wallace, who have had mixed results. Wallace continues to stroke the ball, hitting .308/.357/.385 for the week, with a strikeout rate near 30% as the one warning sign. He’s a rookie and 39 PAs is a small sample, but it’s a trend that bears watching.
Valencia, on the other hand, was happy to be home after hitting .122/.159/.146 on a 10-game roadtrip, not surprising from a guy who’s hit .426/.466/.500 at home (58 PAs) and .258/.311/.351 on the road (106 PAs). Those, too, are small samples, and the Twins' upcoming homestand will test the splits further. But even if he slumps, Valencia’s job seems safe, since Justin Morneau doesn’t look like he’s close to returning.
As Dayan Viciedo slips off the VP list, he's replaced by the best of several bubble candidates.
The first fringe VP candidate reaches the list this week, and we’ll offer a rundown of the other bubble options, who haven’t yet shown the skills or the playing time to add. Making room for our latest addition means releasing Dayan Viciedo, due to his own diminishing skills and playing time.
As Ozzie Guillen tries to keep his Sox atop the AL Central, he’s given most of the playing time at third base to Omar Vizquel, not Viciedo. With Mark Teahen returning soon, Viciedo will see even less time, assuming he’s not demoted. And when he has started, Viciedo has shown a love for the longball but an utter disdain for the walk (0 in 71 PA). His 85% contact rate balances that lack of patience, as does his .211 ISO, but without the playing time to swing the lumber, develop his eye, and deliver counting numbers to fantasy owners, he’s not valuable enough to keep.
In a week when several VP performers are slipping, Michael Street makes a change and takes a quick look at two new options that emerged after the trade deadline.
The trade deadline opened up lots of interesting Value Picks possibilities, providing pressure for some VPs in danger of being cut. One VP in a prolonged slump, Daric Barton, hasn’t been providing enough value for him to remain on the list. Over the past month, Barton has hit .241/.341/.342, unacceptable first-baseman production, even one with the OBP skills indicated by a 13 BB% and 18 K%. A .302 BABIP in July shows this hasn’t been a result of bad luck, so Barton’s an ex-VP until he figures out this skid.