keyboard_arrow_uptop

Last year, I introduced a piece I called “The Other Guys.” It received such a positive response that I decided to bring it back again this year.

In fantasy baseball, and particularly in keeper leagues, analysts typically take a look at the hot prospects down on the farm who are getting called up for the first time in September. This is useful from a knowledge perspective, but from a decision making standpoint often isn’t very helpful. Mookie Betts is a keep at $10 next year if he makes the Red Sox out of camp; even if he’s on the bench, it’s likely he’ll be kept for the anticipated rewards down the road.

Instead, this is a look at some of baseball’s “other guys." These are players who can fit a lot of descriptions, but often are afterthoughts at this time of year. In keeper leagues with reserve lists, many of these players have to be activated or cut before the season is over, so it is definitely worth taking a look at this less-scrutinized pool of players. More than a few might have value, even if they aren’t as high profile as Betts.

These recommendations are primarily geared toward AL-only and NL-only fantasy players. This week, I’ll look at the American League. Next week, I’ll examine the National League.

Jesus Aguilar
Aguilar is one of those minor-league hitters who are good enough to thrive in Triple-A for years but may or may not be good enough to start in the majors, particularly at first base. Aguilar probably has 15-20 home run potential, but that’s a ceiling, and if he only hits 10-15 home runs, there isn’t enough in the toolkit to make him a dynamic enough player for either the Indians or for his fantasy owners. This might be moot anyway, as the Indians have Nick Swisher under contract until 2016 with a 2017 vesting option. It is possible that Aguilar gets an opportunity next year, but if roster spots are at a premium in your fantasy league, it’s time to cut bait for now.

Cam Bedrosian
The Cam Bedrosian questions have already started rolling in, so I’m going to get a jump on this and answer them right now. No, I don’t know. I have no idea if Bedrosian has a shot to close in 2015, and honestly neither does anyone else. Speculating on future closers is ultimately nothing more than an exercise in guesswork. The Angels do have a $7 million option on Huston Street, and this is cheap enough that they should exercise the option. Putting aside any questions about whether Bedrosian is ready or not, if you’re going to speculate for saves in the offseason, aim for bullpens with unsettled situations or—better yet—teams where the closer leaves via free agency.

Brennan Boesch
I include Boesch here because of his ridiculous 25 home run, 85 RBI, 68 runs, 10 steal, .332 batting average at Triple-A in 407 plate appearances. Yes, Boesch is 29 years old and yes it was the PCL, but he is one of those players who could sneak into camp, steal a fifth outfield job, and have AL-only value as a $1 endgame play. Right now, he is just a name to know.

Jackie Bradley Jr.
By nearly any metric, Bradley’s defense was terrific this year. That’s about the only good thing that can be said about his rookie season and his horrendous .216/.288/.290 slash line. What is even worse is that Bradley didn’t run, putting up a relatively paltry eight steals in 387 plate appearances. It doesn’t seem that the Red Sox will have a place for him to open 2015 in the starting outfield. I like Bradley as a sneaky $2-3 stash in AL-only keeper or as a mid-round farm pick if he is available again. There is probably the potential for some bounce back from Bradley even if he doesn’t live up to the expectations entering the 2013 season.

C.J. Cron
As a former first-round pick, Cron might get more of an opportunity at a job next spring than he would have otherwise. His power numbers don’t look particularly impressive for a first baseman, but we are no longer in the era in which 25-plus home runs is a prerequisite for fantasy value. My worry with Cron is less about the lack of power and more about the lack of walks. If Cron is hacking at everything, he doesn’t provide enough overall value as a .240 hitter. I’m sure the Angels would love it if Cron could come up next year and either take over for Albert Pujols at first base or at least spell him from time to time while DHing, but Cron will have to step up his offensive game somewhat for this to happen. Fifteen home runs seems like a realistic expectation.

David DeJesus
Solid. Reliable. Dependable. David DeJesus sounds like one of those low end cars that Madison Avenue is trying to pawn off on young first-time car buyers (for fun, picture Jon Hamm’s Don Draper saying this. See what I mean?). He is virtually irrelevant in mixed formats, but his quiet low double-digit power and decent batting averages give him $10-12 earning potential in AL-only. The play is to try and get him for $3-4, hope to profit if he garners 400-450 at bats and mitigate your risk if he does gets hurt (like he did this year) and only gets 250 at-bats. I worry that the sneaky five or six steals will evaporate, as DeJesus turns 35 this winter.

Ryan Goins
Goins probably want get another chance, but if he does, he is a poor man’s David Eckstein. Drop him if you haven’t already.

Anthony Gose
See if you can identify the two players below based solely on the information provided in the chart:

Player

OBP

ISO

FRAA

HR

RBI

SB

R

Player A

.335

.063

-4.5

2

29

48

72

Player B

.332

.059

0.7

3

25

42

64

The only way you even would have come close is if you looked at the percentages. I took the counting stats and prorated them for Ben Revere (Player A) and Anthony Gose (Player B) across 600 at bats. It is easy to look at Gose’s batting average and limited power and believe that he will be no better than a backup outfielder, but in 2014’s offensive context Gose could have fairly significant fantasy value if he gets a full-time opportunity to play. This isn’t a completely apples-to-apples comparison, obviously. Much of Revere’s value comes from the combination of his high contact rate and his ability to put the bat on the ball. If Gose is going to survive as a starter, he needs to do a better job getting making contact and maximizing his speed to turn potential ground outs into hits. A strikeout rate of over 20 percent might not do much to hamper Gose’s fantasy value, but it might make the Jays reluctant to give him a shot in 2015.

Corey Hart
Hart was never right this year after microfracture surgery on both knees led to lingering issues and likely impacted his performance. Hart was forced to play the outfield, particularly after the Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales in July. Hart might be a better proposition after an offseason of rest, but he’ll be a free agent again this winter and will probably be stuck with an incentive-laden deal that might not even be a guaranteed shot with a big league club. Hart’s a flier if he lands somewhere, but he’s droppable everywhere in keeper formats.

Aaron Hicks
Some might point to the fact that Hicks is relatively young (he is only 24) and point out that he might be one of those later bloomers who could still get back on track and put up relatively decent numbers. While this is certainly possible, it is more likely that Hicks is never going to live up to the potential that made him look like a future 15/20 player after his breakout at New Britain in 2012. Hicks regressed even further this year, struggling after a demotion all the way back to Double-A and seeing his power disappear nearly entirely. His on base tool remains strong, but for fantasy this isn’t going to be enough to justify a spot on your roster unless Hicks somehow learns how to play catcher. Maybe Minnesota will afford him another opportunity, but he is only worth keeping if you can stash him at the back of a very deep bench.

Eric Hosmer
For most of the players in this article, this is a discussion about whether or not they are AL-only worthy. Hosmer clearly will be worth owning in deep formats, the question is how far has he fallen? Hosmer has now had over 2300 plate appearances in the majors, and has put up a .274/.327/.414 slash line. After some progress in 2013, this year has been a disaster. Hosmer’s slash is actually better than what he put up in 2012, but his home run power has all but disappeared while his steals have gone the way of the dinosaur. Hosmer is beginning to look less like a late bloomer and more like another one time prospect who disappointed, former Dodgers first baseman James Loney. With a ground-ball rate well above 50 percent over the last three years, it seems unlikely that Hosmer is ever going to develop into a big time power hitter. The Loney comp is presented here not to be cruel but to be kind. I could see Hosmer being a useful major leaguer even if he never lives up to the big time prospect hype of a few years ago, just like Loney is now with the Rays. But if this is the ceiling, you are going to have to stop paying $20 or more in only formats and think about paying in the $14-16 range instead. I’d rather let someone else be pleasantly surprised by Hosmer than pay more and get stuck with 2014 again.

Brandon Morrow
Morrow is likely to be injured in 2015 because this is what he does, but his auction salary entering 2014 was cheap in many leagues. Keeping him as a $1-3 flier is fine if you have the space. The Blue Jays have a $10 million option on Morrow. It seems crazy that they would even consider picking it up, but given the market price for pitchers, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if they did. There has also been talk of Morrow moving to the bullpen at some point. Morrow as closer is an intriguing idea, but it is only a wisp of someone’s overactive imagination at the moment and not anything tangible.

David Murphy
Murphy is the Indians’ answer to David DeJesus. He is solid, reliable, and dependable but doesn’t offer a whole lot in the way of fantasy relevance. His power was predictably hurt by the move out of Arlington and Murphy hasn’t stolen bases now since 2012. If you didn’t pay the full freight for Murphy’s raw power numbers in Texas, who probably did okay with a small AL-only investment, which is what I would recommend making again in 2015. For players like DeJesus and Murphy the goal is the same: cheap price, hope for $10-12 in earnings, don’t be disappointed if you break even on a $2-4 bid.

Josmil Pinto
The batting average is still an open question, but Pinto’s power looks legitimate. A 15-homer, .240 season would provide plenty of deep league value at catcher. The problem is that the Twins signed Kurt Suzuki to a two-year extension in July with a vesting option for 2017. Pinto still might hit his way into the lineup this spring, but the uncertainty of his role hampers his value if you have to make a decision now. I’d stash him if he’s at a $10 salary and hope for the best.

Drew Pomeranz
The sample size for Pomeranz is too small to draw any definitive conclusions, but he appeared to emerge as a decent backend rotation option for the A’s outside of the specter of Coors Field. Pomeranz is buried in the bullpen for now, but with Jason Hammel and possibly Jeff Samardzija out the door in 2015, Pomeranz has a good chance of recapturing a rotation spot in 2015. He seems boring, but is one of those sneaky deeper league pitchers who could provide value thanks to a fairly strong strikeout rate even if the ERA does climb somewhat next year. I like Pomeranz as nothing more than a $3-4 AL-only flier, but the upside here is considerable.

Alex Presley
Every year it seems, Presley signs with a weaker team or gets an opportunity due to injury and there is this faint glimmer of hope that Presley will do enough to put together a 15 home run, 15 steal season with a neutral or slightly better batting average. Instead, Presley more often than not fails to run with the opportunity. He is approaching 30, so he will once again be in the same situation he has been in the last few years: waiting for an injury to give him a chance at yet another job. He is worth a one dollar flier if he breaks camp with a team, but is more likely a deep-league reserve pick and nothing more.

Ryan Raburn
I didn’t expect Raburn to repeat his 2013 ISO of .272 but I did expect another 12-15 home runs in a platoon/part-time role. Instead, Raburn crashed and burned, with the home-run power disappearing and Raburn becoming moot even in AL-only. I suppose he could bounce back, but I wouldn’t even gamble $1 next spring in only unless there is some sort of scouting evidence speaking to a bounce back.

Robbie Ray
2014 was a consolidation season for Ray, which is a euphemistic way of saying he wasn’t very good. Even before his promotion to Detroit, Ray’s Triple-A numbers were the poorest of his career, and he completely tanked in the majors over the course of an admittedly small sample size of eight outings (six starts). It is way too early to write Ray off, but his poor start makes it entirely possible that he moves a couple of steps down in the pecking order on the depth chart, at least in the short term. In other words, Ray is a pitcher for teams with farm systems and a 2016 or later play, not someone you should be eyeing seriously for your 2015 fantasy team’s rotation.

Marcus Semien
The opportunity to play is going to be there for Semien in 2015; the question is what he will be able to do with it. Some believe enough of Semien’s power will translate to the majors because of The Cell, while others believe that he will struggle to do more than hit 10-12 home runs. His on base skills have always been strong in the minors, but Semien’s walk rate has plummeted in his initial major league trial. He’s a guy I’d throw back at a standard $10 waiver price and try to get a little cheaper even if he is the starter in 2015, but the Catch-22 is that on his potential and brand name he will likely go for a little bit more than $10 if he is available, particularly in an auction with inflation.

J.B. Shuck
Shuck has a little bit of speed and is a decent enough real life option as a fourth outfielder but in fantasy he is an emergency replacement in AL-only and nothing more.

Justin Smoak
The gains Smoak made with the bat in 2013 disappeared this year, leading to another disappointing campaign and eventually a mid-season demotion for the first sacker. If he gets another opportunity, a 15 home run season with a .250 batting average isn’t an unreasonable ceiling, but that might not be enough for a team hoping to contend like Seattle. Smoak has a wide range of expectations, but like fellow first sacker Eric Hosmer, it might be time to shave a few dollars off of Smoak’s price and make sure to pay for production and not for hope.

Jonathan Villar
The good news for Villar is that he flashed some of that power he showed in the minors and at one point it looked like he might hit 12-14 home runs. The bad news was everything else. Villar hit under the Mendoza Line before the Astros finally decided to pull the plug and option him to Triple-A. Villar could still emerge in 2015. He has the advantage of a relatively thin Astros team in terms of competing for a job. If Villar does win the job out of Spring Training, his speed at middle infield makes Villar an asset even if he doesn’t hit for power.

Brandon Workman
There is a chance that Workman emerges as the Red Sox fifth starter next year, but even if he does he has less upside than the other internal candidates for the job. Workman’s stuff is OK, but he doesn’t seem to have a dominant out pitch and as a result can struggle if everything is working. I’d be curious to see if throwing the cutter more than the fastball less would lead to greater success, but just because this approach works for some pitchers, it doesn’t mean that it is automatic.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
abskippers
9/08
Not pertinent to the column, so I apologize, but wanted to get your feedback on my 5x5 H2H playoffs. My opponent has 9 starts this week, including 2 from Kershaw, but also 2 from DeGrom, who may be on very limited pitch counts going forward. Should I go with a 2-start Kuroda (vs.TBR, @BAL), giving me 8 total starts (maybe 9 if Scherzer goes Sunday), or a 1-start option (McCarthy (@BAL), Hughes (@CHW) or Carrasco (@DET), giving me 7/8 total starts? I’m trying to compete across all 5 pitching categories, although my team's K/9 over the last month is 9.4, his is 6.7, and while 2 Kershaw starts should bump that number for him, I should be able to compete in K's even with 7 starts.
Also, would you start any of those 1-starts over Shoemaker (@TEX) or Cashner (@LAD)?
MikeGianella
9/08
We normally ask that you send these questions to the Bat Signal (since it is a premium service), but since it is your playoffs I will give you a freebie, with the hopes that you consider the upgrade to The Bat Signal for 2015. It really is a great service! (end of sales pitch)

I think you have to roll with Carrasco, particularly in a league where you're using a ratio stat for Ks instead of a weighted one. You might lose Ks anyway, but ratios generally don't penalize you as much.

I'd go with Hughes over Shoemaker.
abskippers
9/08
Thank you very much for the feedback. Where is the link to the Bat Signal? I'm a premium subscriber, but I didn't know about it. I don't see it on any of the tabs up top.
abskippers
9/08
Oh, never mind, I see it comes with the Super Premium subscription, and I am just regular Premium. Thanks for pointing it out though, I'll probably upgrade next year, and thanks for indulging me today.
kcshankd
9/08
Bourjos?
kcshankd
9/08
...is in the other league. Sorry.
boatman44
9/08
Nice column Mike ! Get to keep Robbie Grossman for $3 next year , but feel that is his ceiling in a 16 team AL only league. do you have any thoughts ? yours AL only head scratcher :)
MikeGianella
9/08
16-team AL-only? I think he's probably a borderline keep at that price if the league is THAT deep.
iorg34
9/08
Great column, Mike. Love the depth - looking forward to the NL version.
pobothecat
9/09
Drew Pomeranz seems anything but boring to me.