Much of my writing for Baseball Prospectus so far has been about AL-only deep league targets, but even though the following players each reside in the AL, for the purposes of this article these recommendations are intended to be for the endgame in mixed leagues.
While other owners might let the Blue Jays’ pending decision of whether to bring Norris north out of spring training or not dictate their interest level in Norris on draft day, that might be unwise. One way or another, Norris is likely going to spend the majority of the season pitching for Toronto in the majors, and missing a few starts in April won’t impact his value very much. Norris ripped through the minor leagues last year after starting the season in High-A and he doesn’t need more time there. He’ll be widely available in redraft mixed leagues, but he’s not someone to forget about in AL-only leagues during the endgame (yes, even if he’s not in the rotation to start the season). Not when he’s throwing 95 mph with a curveball like this.
Gose isn’t an easy player to like in fantasy, if that makes sense. In parts of three seasons in the majors, Gose has a K:BB ratio of 170-to-47 and a .301 OBP. He’s only had 616 plate appearances in the majors, though, and he’s still just 24 years old. Closing the door on Gose becoming a viable fantasy option would be a mistake, though it’s clear some adjustments at the plate need to be made for his bat to come around. What’s interesting about Gose right now is that he’s having a hot spring at the plate and while we must those numbers with a grain of salt, the Tigers have also chose to hit him leadoff against right-handed pitching. His inflated spring AVG isn’t going to carry over to the regular season, but if manager Brad Ausmus continues to pencil his name into the leadoff spot in games that count that would significantly impact his value. Gose’s profile is one that you can certainly wait on in any mixed format, but players like him become very important in AL-only leagues because everything is scarce. Even if he continues to struggle to hit for AVG, Gose could be an underrated source of runs and steals this year.
It’s safe to say that Vogt is the only 30-year-old hitter without a single season in which he’s totaled at least 300 plate appearances that I’ll still recommend for use in fantasy. Foot and ankle injuries bothered Vogt last year, but he got off to red hot start as he hit .361 with power in his first 44 games. Vogt struggled mightily in August and September, as many of the Athletics did, though again he wasn’t 100 percent healthy. While Vogt lost his catcher eligibility last year, he’s slated to be the starting catcher against right-handed pitching for Oakland and is sure to gain it back in short order depending on your league rules. This could make him a good fit on your roster as an extra player if your strategy includes fading the catcher position as Vogt will be able to slide into the catcher spot once he’s accumulated enough time there.
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