Gut Calls

Posted: March 5, 2012 in Fantasy Baseball

I’ve done the research, and I know what other analysts think. But sometimes you just have to make a call. This list of names is not for the risk-averse because some of them could crash and burn, but winning your fantasy baseball league isn’t about taking Miguel Cabrera over Albert Pujols #1 overall. It’s about your 15th round pick going for 30 home runs and 100 RBI, or your #5 starting pitcher passing 200 Ks.

I’ve spent several hours in the last couple weeks in mock drafts on multiple websites, in multiple formats. Joe Mauer and BusterPosey are routinely falling out of the first nine rounds in a 10-team draft. I’ve gotten both past #100 overall more than once, Posey in most mocks. The gut call is health. Both have had completely positive reports to this point. A healthy Mauer is .330 with 10-12 HR, 80 RBI and 80 runs scored. A healthy Posey might only be .290-300, but with 25 HR, 90 RBI and 80+ runs scored.

I’ve spent a lot of time raving about Adam Dunn so I won’t continue but seven straight seasons of 38 or more home runs……..

Now, if you read my blog somewhat regularly, you know I hate prospects, I hate hype and I think most rookies are seriously overvalued, this includes both Yu Darvish and Matt Moore. But I could see myself taking Bryce Harper between rounds 12 and 15, even in seasonal leagues strictly because his manager wants him in the big leagues RIGHT NOW! That tells me, even if he starts in Triple-A, it won’t last long. There’s enough pure power there for 25 home runs if he’s up by June, with a respectable .275-ish average, and he’s athletic enough to steal 15 or so bases. Obviously, keeper leaguers should be snatching Harper even earlier.

Now, while I strongly dislike taking prospects their rookie years, I love taking second-year guys who busted as rookies for explainable reasons. Jason Heyward played through injuries most of last season and yet, I’ve gotten him as a 4th outfielder in several 10-team mocks. I love that value. He was the #1 prospect pretty recently and his 2011 had good reasons for falling short.

Another gut call on health, I’m taking Kendrys Morales and Justin Morneau late in mocks and loving it. In 81 games of 2010, before the concussion, Morneau was batting .345 with a 1.055 OPS. He hasn’t felt any symptoms lately and you can get him as a corner infielder. Between 2006 and 2009 he had 20+ HR, 100+ RBI, and 84+ runs scored every year, and was on pace to beat all those in 2010. Meanwhile, Morales’ 2009, at 26 years old, resulted in .306, 34 HR and 108 RBI with 86 runs scored and in 51 games of 2010 he was at .290, 11 HR, 39 RBI and 29 runs, well on his way to matching those stats. Boom or bust owners will love to get both at the tail end of drafts when either is capable of .300/30/100.

The supremely risk-welcoming might enjoy a speculative pick of Yoenis Cespedes. His athleticism could see him in the majors by May. His average is unpredictable, but 20 or so home runs and some useful steals are fair to expect. If he takes to the game well, then 2013 might be a breakout opportunity.

Addison Reed is ending up on 2/3 of my mock teams. He looks like Craig Kimbrel without the walks. The White Sox have Matt Thornton slated to close again, but it didn’t take long for Sergio Santos to take it from him last year and Reed should do so early this year. All that and Reed, lacking an immediate closer role, is falling to the very late rounds of mixed league mocks. Think about 30 saves, an ERA around 2.50 and around 9.5 K/9.

Some of these guys have more downside than others, but as I mock, I’m still amazed at the highway-robbery type bargains they are being taken at. Highlight these names on your cheat sheets.

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