The season isn’t even a week old, so we don’t have a lot of data to go on, but FAAB bidding in your league will open soon if it hasn’t already. Time to get to work. Here are some players to put on your radar for week 1.
AL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
Manager Terry Francona put Ramirez in the lineup on consecutive days in left field, batting second. Francona clearly loves Ramirez and will work him in more often than most utility players. The fact that Ramirez can play anywhere in the infield or outfield helps get him in the starting lineup more often, too. He’ll get more PAs than just about anyone without a regular starting job, and he’ll steal some bases and score some runs when he does play.
Reimold is on the bad side of a platoon with Baltimore, but next week the Orioles are scheduled to face lefties in three out of their four games against the Rangers. The one thing Reimold can do is hit lefties, and he’ll have the chance to do it next week.
Tyler Naquin was the feel-good story of training camp in Cleveland, earning a spot as their center fielder. Except, he wasn’t in the starting lineup on Opening Day, sitting against Red Sox lefty David Price while Rajai Davis started in center. He has ceded a fair amount of PAs to Davis since Opening Day, too. Davis doesn’t do much besides steal bases, but in the current low-steal environment, that’s a pretty good skill to have. It looks like he’ll be taking a fair amount of PAs from Naquin, maybe more than someone on the wrong side of a strict platoon. Davis has shown that he can provide significant value via stolen bases without everyday PAs, and indications are that this season won’t be any different. And if Naquin’s excellent spring training doesn’t carry over into the regular season, Davis could be in line for even more playing time.
Like Reimold, Casali is on the wrong side of a platoon. Like Reimold, Casali and his team are facing a lot of lefties this coming week. The Rays are currently scheduled to see left-handed starters in all three of their games next week against the White Sox. Casali has some power and should have the chance to show it off.
Bundy will open the season in the bullpen for Baltimore, but he could get a shot in the rotation later this season if he performs well in relief. He’s not that far removed from being the top pitching prospect in baseball. Talent like that is worth a gamble, as you’d be hard-pressed to find a middle reliever with Bundy’s upside in any other AL bullpen.
Jones was a monster out of the bullpen on the South Side of Chicago in 2013 and was on track to be the White Sox closer in 2014 until he succumbed to an elbow injury two games into the 2014 season. When he returned last season, he threw 19 innings, striking out 27 and walking six while allowing 12 hits. In spring training this year, it was more of the same: lots of strikeouts, few walks, and few hits. He won’t be picking up any saves with David Robertson firmly entrenched in the closer role, but Jones should provide a lot of value with his strikeouts and rate stats. He’s also first in line for saves should Robertson falter or suffer an injury.
I’m not a big fan of Shoemaker as a season-long roto play; I just don’t think he has the stuff to provide decent numbers over the course of a season. That said, he has a good matchup next week against the A’s in Oakland Coliseum, which is even more pitcher-friendly than the Angels’ home field. He’s not going up against the top of the A’s rotation, either, as he’s scheduled to oppose lefty Erik Surkamp, a matchup that should make Anaheim’s big righty bats happy. Shoemaker should be able to put up better rate stats than he normally would and stands a decent chance of picking up a W, as well. Just make sure you remember to cycle him out of your lineup for the following week.
NL-ONLY POSITION PLAYERS
In deep leagues, Taylor is probably already rostered. In case he isn’t, snatch him up. He should be starting in center field for as long as Ben Revere remains on the DL. He might hurt your team in batting average but should provide a fairly rare combination of power and speed. He’s still young, too, so there’s still room for development with Taylor as well.
Apparently, the theme of this week’s Deep League Report is Guys On The Bad Side Of A Platoon Scheduled To Face A Lot Of Lefties Next Week. That will actually be a recurring theme of the Deep League Report, since it’s a good way to find value in leagues deep enough that starting players and players on the good side of a platoon won’t be available in the free agent pool. Next week, the Mets face lefties in two of their three games against the Marlins, so Lagares should get multiple starts. And if the Mets grow uncomfortable with Yoenis Cespedes’ subpar defense in center or Michael Conforto’s subpar defense in left, Lagares could be in line for even more playing time.
Broxton strikes out a lot for a guy who doesn’t have much power. He steals bases, though, and he draws walks, so he should give himself some chances to run, too. He isn’t being platooned, but he bats righty and the Brewers will see southpaws in three of their six games next week against the Cardinals and the Pirates, so his upcoming matchups are more favorable than usual.
The Cubs only have one day off over the next two weeks, so manager Joe Maddon will have to turn to his bench to give some of his starters a day off. Javier Baez should benefit, as he can fill in for multiple players in the infield or outfield. He still has the power and bat speed that made him a top prospect and he could easily run into a fastball or two in one of those starts to give your team a boost. And if you’re an owner who likes post-hype prospects, few players fit the bill better than Baez.
As a Phillies fan, it pains me to say this, but streaming pitchers with upcoming starts against the Phillies is a good play. Rea is scheduled to start against the Phillies next week, although he’ll be doing it at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park rather than the friendly confines of his home ballpark in San Diego. If you’re the risk-averse type, stay away from Rea, since his stuff isn’t great and the Phillies lineup could still put up some crooked numbers against him.
He walks more guys than he should and he won’t unseat Jeurys Familia as the Mets closer, but Robles misses a lot of bats and doesn’t allow many hits. He should provide strikeouts and help your team’s rate stats, too, and he should do it all season, not just in specific matchups.
I have some favorites when it comes to non-closing relievers, and Kevin Siegrist has been one of them since his stellar 2013 season, when he posted a 0.45 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 39 2/3 innings with 50 strikeouts. He pitched through injury in 2014 and put up terrible rate stats when he wasn’t on the DL. In 2015, he returned to form, striking out 90 with a 2.17 ERA and 1.17 WHIP across 74 2/3 innings. He is especially valuable in leagues that count holds, as he had 28 last year and should be in line for a similar number this year.
Other Options: Tom Koehler, Trevor Cahill, Jumbo Diaz, Jason Grilli. And any member of the Phillies bullpen because seriously, nobody knows who will be closing games there in two weeks and anyone who says otherwise is a charlatan.
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