For me, this column is the sign of the offseason coming full circle. The sign that we have made it through another winter without baseball, and have hopefully given you, the reader, some good knowledge to take with you into your drafts and auctions this month. And the timing is only fitting because we’re talking about the endgame here, just as we hit the endgame of our draft coverage. Before I hurt myself stretching into new parallels, here are
twenty 19 players who I think make for good targets at the end of various-sized leagues.
12-TEAM MIXED LEAGUES
Alex Rodriguez, DH, New York Yankees (ADP: 268)
If you think the eligibility tax for David Ortiz is high, just look at what it's done to Rodriguez. Coming off possibly the quietest 33-homer season ever put up by a former future Hall of Famer (qualify much?), there's little reason to think he'll slow down in 2016. And while he's more valuable in an OBP format than an average one, those numbers play anywhere regardless of format or eligibility.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians (ADP: 284)
"This is going to be the year, I swear," is something readers are probably expecting me to say when Bauer ends up in this spot. However, the endgame of shallower mixed leagues is really all about leveraging risk, and Bauer is either going to have it or he won't in 2016. If he does, he could skyrocket up to an SP3. If he doesn't, well, don't hesitate to drop him back into the pool.
Chris Carter, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 314)
A hitter with substantial power and equally substantial contact issues ending up in a hitters' park in the National League, and likely in a pretty valuable lineup spot? Sign me up all day long. Carter likely is who he is at this point, but that is a 29-year-old slugger who has a career .271 TAv and has averaged a home run every 16 at-bats. Helloooooooo, Miller Park.
Leonys Martin, OF, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 333)
The easiest way to rack up excess value is to target players with an easy-definable skill coming off a poor season. Martin had stolen 30-plus bases in both 2013 and 2014 (each season hitting at least .260) before falling on his face in 2015 and only getting 288 at-bats. Seattle will quash whatever power he does have—which isn't much—but that shouldn't damper enthusiasm for a bounce back.
Fernando Rodney, RHP, San Diego Padres (ADP: 334)
Here we go again. Everything we need to know about Rodney is that he has 236 career saves, just about no real competition for the closer role in San Diego, and has looked like the good version of himself this spring. Yet, he's still being taken outside the top 300, and even in Tout mixed last weekend (which is 15 teams), he almost snuck into the reserve round before he was grabbed for a dollar. Yes, he's Fernando Rodney, but that shouldn't happen.
15-TEAM MIXED LEAGUES
Cory Spangenberg, 2B, San Diego Padres (ADP: 364)
It's amazing that Spangenberg might just be the best infielder in the Padres organization right now. The former 10th overall pick has a scrappy skillset that is ripe for deeper mixed leagues, as he's been hitting in the no. 2 spot in the lineup for most of this spring and has the potential to hit in the .260-.270 range with 20-plus steals. As a middle infielder who could pick up additional eligibility, that would be a win.
Wade Miley, LHP, Seattle Mariners (ADP: 371)
It may not be as extreme as it used to be, but southpaws in Safeco are still an attractive commodity in fantasy. Miley may not be flashy (or particularly great), but he's a good bet to throw 200 innings with average stats across the board. Give him the 2015 CJ Wilson treatment: use him at home to start and see if he builds up into a most-week starter.
Mike Napoli, 1B, Cleveland Indians (ADP: 396)
This goes double in OBP leagues, although he's likely going to cost you in those formats. Napoli was really good in a small Texas sample last year, and really wasn't THAT bad (especially with a little better luck). PECOTA loves him to bounce back in a big way, projecting him for 25 homers and an average that won't make you hold your nose when you swallow.
Andre Ethier, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 399)
The continued injury news puts a little bit of a damper on this one, but Ethier is quietly shaping up to be the Dodgers' leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching. Even last year, when he was widely viewed as an over-the-hill contributor who the Dodgers would have to pay to get rid of, he hit .306/.383/.486 with 14 homers when given the platoon advantage. His stock ticks up even further in OBP and daily transaction leagues. [Editor’s note: Disregard everything. Ethier will miss three months, life is pain and we all die alone.]
Michael Saunders, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (ADP: 434)
Remember when we were all really excited about Saunders getting out Seattle and finally playing in a hitter's park last season? There's no reason that enthusiasm should be any less in 2016, even if Saunders has flown far under the radar. The British Columbia native has put up at least a. 281 TAv in each of his last three "full" seasons (he's never played 140 games in a season), and that lineup/ballpark should make him a good OF4 even if he's the exact same hitter he's been.
AL-ONLY FORMATS, ACTIVE
Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers (ADP: 486)
I can't quit him. I don't want to quit him. Perez is now nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and had a reasonably crisp 4.09 DRA in limited action in 2015. The strikeouts haven't been there, and they may never get there (he likely tops out at around 150 punch outs a season), but he has plenty of upside in his ratios and his TWTW.
Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 518)
Call me skeptical that all three of Byron Buxton, Byung-ho Park and Eddie Rosario will play well enough to keep Arcia out of the lineup for the Twins. The amazingly-still-24-year-old slugger has 36 career homers in just 781 at-bats, and while he's still more likely to start the season in the minors than in Minnesota, I'll continue to bet on his talent at the plate at this price and hope he plays enough to hit 15-20 homers this year.
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 528)
What a difference a few weeks makes. Skaggs is being brought along slowly after Tommy John in late summer of 2014, but given the issues the Angels have had with their rotation this spring, Skaggs would be a much more attractive commodity if he were in contention for a role, as opposed to being ticketed for Triple-A for a few weeks. That said, the former top prospect will get his 150-160 innings in a good landing spot
NL-ONLY FORMATS, ACTIVE
Matt Wisler, RHP, Atlanta Braves (ADP: 481)
It seems like players become post-hype faster and faster as our collective attention spans get smaller and interest in prospects increase. There's nothing Wisler could have been last year that he can't be this year, he just may be a year closer to figuring it out. At the end of NL-only auctions (he went for $1 in Tout NL), he makes for a great target if you're looking for achievable upside.
Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (ADP: 511)
Another dollar player in NL Tout, the general fantasy community has decided that Hellickson's days of being useful are over. However, he was sneakily useful in the second half of last year, with a 3.61 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 51 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings after July 1. The Phillies may win more games than expected, and Hellickson (who has been impressive this spring even though that doesn't matter) could even play himself into a deep mixed starter.
Keon Broxton, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP: 635)
If you're looking for a medium-upside speed play, Broxton could be your guy–but you'll need to grab him much earlier than his ADP would indicate given how much he's propelled his stock over the last two weeks. The center fielder stole 39 bases between Double-A and Triple-A last year and now finds himself with a real opportunity to claim a starting job after coming over from Pittsburgh in the Jason Rogers trade.
NL-ONLY FORMATS, RESERVE
Addison Reed, RHP, New York Mets (ADP: 585)
When Reed was at his best, in his early career, he relied on a wipeout slider that generally ran in the 84-86 mph range. When he was rolling with the Mets in the second half, that slider was up to 87-89 mph and Reed was able to command it much better after working with Mets slider guru, Dan Warthen. A continuation of that into 2016 could make him one of the more valuable middle relief options in the National League.
Jason Rogers, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates (ADP: 651)
Speaking of the Jason Rogers trade, here's Rogers himself! There's somewhat of a glut in front of him, but fortunately, no one in that glut (John Jaso, Michael Morse, David Freese, Sean Rodriguez) is particularly good. A .294 TAv in limited time for the Brewers in 2015 got him on the map, but the minor-league veteran is accustomed to having to win people over.
HM: Darnell Sweeney, 2B/3B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies (ADP: 696)
AL-ONLY FORMATS, RESERVE
Nick Tropeano, RHP, Los Angeles Angels (ADP: 547)
The upside to having a rotation collapsing in front of your own eyes is that they might need you soon. If the Angels rely on Tropeano to make 20 starts this year, it wouldn't be overly shocking, but it might be overly damaging to their ability to content, as it will have meant that the injury bug latched on and never let go.
Joey Rickard, OF, Baltimore Orioles (ADP: N/A)
If you're looking for a very deep target in mono leagues, Rickard wasn't even selected in the reserve round of AL Tout. The speedster has impressed in Orioles camp this spring, as a Rule 5 selection from Tampa Bay, looks to stick as a spare outfielder. Rickard hit .321/.427/.447 across three levels last year and got better as he moved up. He could be this year's Delino DeShields.
HM: Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP, Texas Rangers (ADP: 706)