That special spring feeling is in the air! Fantasy baseball is back and that means so is my bi-weekly column on CineSportsTalk.com! This year, I’m going to break up each piece into three sections. In each of these sections I will be discussing various fantasy strategy, providing a list of waiver wire players to add who are less than 70% owned to and another list of players to try to trade or trade for. Let’s get right to the action and jump feet first into this new season!
Strategy Tip of the Week
One of the most important things I feel like I have to stress to unseasoned fantasy players is NOT TO PANIC BEFORE MAY 1ST. If you’re anything like me, you spent all winter studying stats and researching players you want to acquire in this year’s draft. This means you drafted them for the season – the ENTIRE season – not 2 weeks of April! The MLB season is a marathon not a sprint. I know that’s cliché but it’s so true. Even the best of players are going to have 2 week stretches where they look terrible. If you’re abandoning your main strategy after less than 5% of the season has been played out, then you’re either totally overreacting or your preseason planning wasn’t thorough enough.
That being said, I would never advocate making ZERO changes if you happen to find yourself inhabiting the lower half of your fantasy standings this early in the season. Just don’t do anything drastic. Like dropping anyone who isn’t injured. You have a bench for a reason. Got a player who is 2-32? Hold off on the pink slip. Just seat him on the edge of your bench and give him a stern talking to. No reason to alter your strategy totally this early in the year. However, it is essential to keep your eyes peeled on the waiver wire to find any way to bolster the weak points on your squad. Second basemen not getting you any points? Go to your free agent pool, filter out the Second basemen and sort them by either points (in a points league) or the stat you need in a roto league. Pick up the hottest guy and ride with him for a few days.
It’s really that simple. So many fantasy baseball players (especially newcomers) are quick to panic and don’t want to be patient. That is a fatal mistake. Fantasy baseball is all about being patient and studying stats – not overreacting and changing your whole team on a week-to-week basis like you might in Fantasy Football. That’s why we love this game so much! We are the thinking men of fantasy so stop panicking, put away your pink slips and calm down!
Pickups of the Week
Yunel Escobar, 3b (30% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
He’s not going to be a long-term option but he looks to be a serviceable option for runs and getting on base. Take advantage of him for the next few weeks until his bat goes cold then don’t be afraid to dump him. If you’re a Donaldson owner – this is who I’d target for his replacement.
Francisco Cervelli, C (18% owned)
Cervelli isn’t a flashy option by any means, but, in a position marred in the depths of hitting futility, he gets the job done at a fraction of the price. If you’re not lucky enough to be in a league where another owner foolishly dropped Gary Sanchez (or if you own the Yankees backstop yourself and are looking for a replacement), get Cervelli instead.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF (62% owned)
This blast from the past is on a roll and figures to be able to keep up the pace so long as he remains healthy. The 1 walk is troubling, but the 4 stolen bases makes it easier to ignore. Don’t expect vintage Ellsbury here, but take advantage if he’s available in your league – though you might want to stay away in a points league.
Alex Wood, SP (3% owned)
This guy is going to be in the Dodger’s rotation within the next few weeks. He figures to be a great streaming option with a decent K rate. Get him now before the announcement is made and you possibly miss out.
Justin Wilson, RP (8% owned)
Anyone reading the tea leaves can see that K-Rod might be out of gas. Then again, we’ve said that for what seems like half a decade now. We hate to see the legend falter, but, just in case, stash this young closer of the future, who might get his chance sooner rather than later if things continue at this pace.
Yoenis Cespedes – OF
I love Cespedes but his value is not going to be higher this year than it is now. Sure, he’s a great OF option but he’s not a superstar and you might be able to talk your way into getting a superstar in return if you trade him now. He’s also an injury risk and has big time slump potential.
Jameson Taillon – SP
Taillon’s name has been thrown around a lot this year as being a dark horse Cy Young candidate but we don’t buy it. There’s too much good pitching and the young man is going to go through his share of struggles on a poor team. If you can trade him for a more reliable option and make a run at this year’s title, you might want to pull the trigger. If you feel like this might not be your year, keep him since he’s going to be a stud sometime in the next 2-3 years.
Yaisel Puig – OF
While there is a very good chance this good be a huge breakout year for the star, he may not be worth the trouble If he’s anything short of that lofty goal. People are salivating over the name right now and you may be able to fill a piece of your championship team for someone you drafted on the cheap.
Carlos Martinez – SP
CarMart has pitched much better than his stat line indicates. He will straighten it out and be a top 18 pitcher. Go out and get him now while his numbers are inflated.
Miguel Cabrera – 1B
The rumors of Miggy’s untimely demise are exaggerated. Sure, he looks a little overweight and isn’t going to win any spring chicken awards anytime soon, but he looks primed to hit 35 jacks even though his batting average may be low now. Take advantage of a panicking Miggy owner pronto!
Mashiro Tanaka – SP
It shouldn’t be hard to find someone fretting over the Japanese-import’s first few starts of 2017. Take them to the cleaners and ask for a 25% discount and take on that risk – you won’t be sorry. When Tanaka is healthy (and everything indicates he is), the hurler is one of the most dependable SPs on the market. It’s a shame he pitches in such a hitting-heavy division.