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Wanted to get started writing about baseball. Most of my writing and efforts have been on the Draft Guide. Make sure you sneak a peek at “The Escape Plan” in the Draft Guide. For those who care, I plan to write baseball every Friday and post by Midnight ET and starting in August, I will write football every Monday again by Midnight ET. There will always be movies…so stay tuned.
One of the most difficult things to do is to get the best end of the draft players. Every fantasy baseball player is trying to find the next BEAST. I began my search for beasts in the $1-5 range at the end of the draft. So, I queued up American Werewolf in London and listened to some Credence Clearwater Revival and Van Morrison to get in the mood. John Landis directed this bad boy. Although it followed classics like Animal House & Blues Brothers and was right before Trading Places & the King of Pop’s iconic Thriller video, it will always be one of my favorites. Why? Two words. Rick Baker. Baker was an absolute genius in this movie and in countless other classic thrillers. In an era before CGI, he could create absolutely grotesque MAGIC! The gory story of two college kids who couldn’t stick to the road and end up being attacked by a werewolf stars David Naughton who is best known for being a Pepper and Griffin Dunne who is best known as Tommy Kelly from Johnny Dangerously (“you little muskrat, you.”) Not exactly Jack Nicholson types although Baker did wonders with Jack in Wolf.
So to pay tribute to America’s greatest makeup designer and artist, I think we should take some cheap players and predict them starring in Rick Baker films as beasts. We will stick to one NL ONLY hitter at each position for today.
Find the under $5 players who could become BEASTS
Travis D’Arnaud – C – Mets – Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide - $4 – Stealing this guy in mixed leagues allows you to keep your budget for catcher down. He will hit 13-15 HRs from the catcher position and has batted .300+ in AA and AAA. He won’t hit .300 in the bigs, but it will be close enough at .280 or so. Most places are projecting .240-.250 with virtually no production so hopefully you can catch your league mates off guard. Beast in the making?
Garrett Jones – 1B – Marlins – Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide - $5 – Only one season removed from hitting 27 homers, everyone is off the band wagon here. I don’t blame them as Jones was not great last season and the super low batting average scares people off (.233). Some indicators that could be helpful in predicting the bounce back: (1) BABIP was .299 in big year and down to .275 so some could be bad luck; (2) contact rate only off by 3%; (3) Home run percentage was down, but doubles percentage was up. Minor adjustments get him back to 20+ home runs even in the bad ballpark. It is only $5.
Scooter Gennett – 2B – Brewers – Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide - $4 – You can stick a fork in Rickie Weeks. He is done. He can run, but he cannot hit. Last year, he didn’t even run. The last two years should seal his fate with the Brewers. As for Gennett, all he did was play ball. With his contact rate was at 80%, he was able to put up a .324 batting average in his MLB debut. He likely will regress significantly on batting average, but for $4 for your last middle infield spot, he will get you more production than say a Kolten Wong.
Jhonny Peralta – SS – Cardinals - Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide - $9 – Last year was tainted by the substances that got Jhonny a 50-game suspension. In only 107 games he matched his production from the previous year. Some of that can be accounted for in an unsustainable BABIP of .377, but he will clearly be playing in another great lineup that will allow him to continue to shine. Bet on the bounce-back from this BEAST.
Maikel Franco – 3B – Phillies - Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide - $1 – Sometimes you need to decide early where that last $1 spot is. Fairly commonly for me, it is in the middle infield or corner spots. Cody Asche is not the answer in Philly. Poor contact rate. Poor walk per strikeout percentage. He batted .234. On the other hand, the 21 year-old Franco has sparkled hitting .339 at AA Reno last season. He needs some seasoning so you will have to draft him and reserve, but by the June deadline, I would expect to see him replace a struggling Asche. Remember, we are looking for HUGE upside here and not banking stats.
Oscar Taveras – OF – Cardinals - Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide - $7 – Injuries happen. It’s a fact. Any injury to the outfield positions or to Matt Adams will get Oscar Taveras playing time. Injury stopped him last year from breaking onto the scene and St. Louis signing Peter Boujos has many worried about playing time for the young star. You cannot hold down talent like this. He has 20 home run power. He will bat over .300 as he has a ridiculous contact rate at every level in the minors that will translate to 83-85% in the majors. He can run enough to be helpful too. He could easily be 20 home runs and 10-12 stolen bases for $7. BEAST!
In Fantasy, there are no silver bullets
As most of you who read about the Colton & The Wolfman SMART System know, the key to a good draft is to get bankable guaranteed across the board stats from your expensive players, cherry pick in the middle of the draft for value with upside and draft for pure upside with the bottom 5-7 players. The latter is what we are discussing here. Like in our American Werewolf in London, the truck driver warns the boys, “Boys, keep off the moors, stick to the road…” That is what you need to do. Make sure that you stick to the draft plan. Draft your big money players with the least risk. Take small risks in the middle of the draft cherry picking players that are the right age/experience and then take your shots with the last five spots in your roster. That will keep you from being eaten by wolves.
Remember, there are no silver bullets so you can solve all your problems by paying full value for players that break the rules of engagement and hoping. Hope is NEVER a management strategy. Don’t be left without players who can have a chance for less than $5 to be a BEAST or you might be left saying…