With the fantasy season wrapped up and champions counting their jellybeans, it’s not too early to take a look at the future for anyone in keeper or dynasty leagues. Even for those who prefer redrafts though, it’s always nice to have something to look for in the playoffs, especially if you don’t have a rooting interest in any of the remaining teams. With that in mind, here are four players who could position themselves for bigger roles n 2014 with impactful playoff performances.
Matt Adams – St. Louis Cardinals
For a guy who has appeared in two-thirds of a season and produced an .839 OPS, Matt Adams has gone a bit under the radar. With Allen Craig dinged up and likely off the roster for the National League Division Series, Adams will have an opportunity to make his case for a full-time starting gig in 2014. After slashing .284/.335/.503, it shouldn’t take much convincing for the Cardinals management to see the light. I’d expect a similar slash line for Adams over the course of a full season, as he’s not a part-time player who will be exposed with increased PT so much as he is a talented player blocked by incredible organizational depth.
The issue continues to be where he would play, as there is only one answer to that question and Allen Craig currently occupies that position. Allen Craig isn’t going to move off the roster unless something unexpected happens. The path of least resistance is Carlos Beltran moving on as a free agent, allowing Craig to move back to right field and continuing to hold Oscar Taveras at bay in the minor leagues. The more complicated (and significantly less likely) route would be David Freese getting shipped off (or just losing his job), Matt Carpenter moving to third base, and Allen Craig shifting back to second base. That’s most unlikely given Craig’s inconsistent health, which reminds us of another reason Adams should see regular playing time in 2014.
Xander Bogaerts – Boston Red Sox
There’s nothing about Bogaerts that I can tell you that you don’t already know. His case boils down to making the most of limited time in the playoffs to convince management that Stephen Drew should walk and he should be their first option in 2014. That’s likely the case already but performing poorly, or more accurately, looking entirely overmatched could make the Red Sox reconsider their current plans. If he’s even solid in the coming week(s), he’s likely to earn the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop next season.
Evan Gattis – Atlanta Braves
Something of a known quantity as a major leaguer, Gattis gets the nod here because he’s largely been shielded from his own inadequacies this season and there is a very real chance he is the Braves’ everyday catcher next season. So what does that mean for his value? Gattis slashed .243/.291/.480 on the season, struggling in the batting average department and even more so in terms of getting on base. The upside is that his slash line against RHP wasn’t significantly different from his season line, checking in at .236/.284/.473 in 258 at-bats, so we shouldn’t anticipate much of a performance dropoff just because he will be playing everyday.
While his OBP might seem like a turnoff, I beg you to not let it dissuade you from owning him. The league slash line from the catcher position was .245/.310/.388, meaning that Gattis was on par in average, subpar in OBP, and far and away superior in slugging. Gattis might not be a top-eight catcher next year, but getting power from that position can be difficult, and if people are willing to discount him because of a weak on-base percentage or fear of exposure, that’s to your advantage.
Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals
I know, I know, it’s an obsession, but let me explain. The flamethrower has been bad in his 28 major-league innings thus far, recording a 5.08 ERA and a 72 ERA+. That said, we know what kind of talent he possesses and if he can come out and shine a la Trevor Rosenthal in 2012, it could go a long way towards earning a spot in the rotation next year. There is always the chance that, like Rosenthal, impressive relief appearances will result in Martinez’s relegation to the bullpen, but unlike Rosenthal, Martinez has more ceiling to his profile. That potential ceiling should lead to a longer look as a starter, and while he is short, he’s generated a 52 percent ground-ball rate in his brief tenure in the majors.