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In honor of Wild Card weekend in the NFL, I thought it would be fitting to offer up some fantasy baseball wild cards. These are the types of guys that can make or break your team, and it could be as crazy as a player that you just have no clue what you’re going to get from them. Some wild cards carry immense upside with an inordinate amount of risk, while others have a checkered injury past. Listen, some guys on here could prove to be controversial, but that’s what helps make them a wild card, or a card that is wild, if you will. Here are some of the more polarizing, wild cards in fantasy baseball this season.

Ronald Acuna, OF ATL

This guy has the makings of a fantasy stud. Former General Manager and Fantasy Alarm’s own, Jim Bowden, placed Acuna in his top 15 rookies for the upcoming baseball season. What Acuna could bring to the Atlanta lineup is unmatched, and I’m sure Freddie Freeman is hoping that they give the kid a chance early on. In the Fall League, Acuna slashed .325/.414/.639 and smashed seven home runs with 16 RBI in 23 games. He also stole two bases during his torrid run. The speed is real and the power is nothing to scoff about either. Across Triple-A, Double-A and A+ last season, Acuna hit 21 home runs and stole 44 bases. Sure, he was caught stealing 20 times, but with more experience, he’ll become more swift and savvy on the basepaths.

According to Baseball Census, here are his grades from the Fall League earlier this season.

Hit

Power

Glove

Arm

Speed

60

60

60

70

60


He has a powerful swing and drives the baseball to all parts of the field (see here). Despite being just 20 years old, he looks poised and calm in the batter’s box and has all the makings of a future star in this league. The more you watch his swing and some of his highlight videos, it’s hard not to get excited about what he can be as early as 2017 in the majors.

He will be given every opportunity to win a starting spot in the Atlanta outfield this season, and even if he doesn’t open the year with the club, it will not be long before he gets the call. He’s simply too talented and too fantasy relevant to stay in the minors any longer.

He is a wild card, considering his youth and lack of a guaranteed starting spot at the beginning of the year, but his upside is so tantalizing that it’s hard not to draft him in every league this season.

Gio Gonzalez, SP WAS

With health on his side, he had one of the better seasons of his career. His 201 innings pitched were the second most of his career, and his 2.96 ERA almost bested his 2.89 mark in 2012. However, it wasn’t just health that benefited the southpaw in 2017, but some rather good luck. The BABIP against Gonzalez last season was nearly 40 points below his career mark and the best average of his entire career. Additionally, his ERA at 2.96 was rather glossy, but his 3.93 FIP indicates further how lucky he was in 2017. Washington is going to give him plenty of run support in 2018, but regression to his mean, as well as a spotty injury history, makes him a risky selection (wild card) on draft day.

Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP LAA

Despite being heralded as the next Babe Ruth and lock for the Hall of Fame, there is plenty of risk with Ohtani in 2018. First and foremost, name value is going to push him up many draft boards, as he’s the shiny new toy on the shelf. He slashed .286/.358/.500 with 48 home runs and 166 RBI in 403 games. On the mound, he went 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, 10.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. That’s all fine and dandy and I want some shares of Ohtani this season, too, but he’s a 23-year-old coming to the states to play in the most competitive baseball league in the entire Milky Way galaxy. Well, of which we know. It’s a tough transition, and it could be tough for Ohtani to reach the lofty expectations already attached to his name.

Consider this: Hideki Matsui hit 30 or more home runs in his final seven seasons in Japan, but hit just 16 in his first year with the Yankees. In fact, he topped 30 just once during his time in the Bronx.

Furthermore, some fantasy sites are making Ohtani two different players; Hitter Ohtani and Pitcher Ohtani. We’ve never seen this in the fantasy game before, making him a wild, wild, wild card this season! Do you go for both or just one? Which one do you value more? Does this arm ailment scare you off? What about the fact that he’s reportedly not going to get time in the outfield? Wow. There’s a lot with this dude, and he’s going to be worth a pretty penny on draft day.

Tyler Glasnow, SP PIT

Glasnow could arguably be the wildest wild card on this list! Through 22 big league appearances, Glasnow is 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA, 5.74 FIP, 8.44 K/9, 6.01 BB/9 and a 1.88 WHIP. Those numbers aren’t great by any means, and his 162-game average is even more repulsive. However, while he’ll likely continue to deal with command issues, his stuff is downright nasty and capable of leading a major league pitching rotation. The ball explodes out of his hand and a return to his old pitching motion resulted in improved stuff and more quality offspeed, which will benefit him this season. People are going to write him off after a brutal 2017 campaign, but as a flier later in drafts, take a chance on the lanky right-hander. He’s only 24 years old for goodness sake! I’ll leave you with this: During his tenure in the minors (six seasons), he went 45-21 with a 2.02 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 1.07 WHIP and 4.2 BB/9. Glasnow will figure it out, and even if he doesn’t open the year in the bigs, it won’t be long until he’s in Pittsburgh.

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