We’re getting down to the nitty gritty. I’ve finished my Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational draft, on Saturday we spent eight hours Zoom drafting 30 rounds of 12-team mixed Marshall League (it went very well!), Tuesday is the 17 round reserve draft for the 15-team mixed XFL semi-dynasty league, and on Saturday the AL only ADL auction is held on Zoom (fingers crossed).
If you’ve already drafted now is the time to pivot with the news. If you’ve yet to draft now is the time to take advantage of late-breaking events. Here are some of the recent moves that caught my eye.
Marshall Dunlap on Flickr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Taylor Trammell: Has been a Top 100 prospect since signing with the Reds in 2016 after being picked No. 35 overall. He was Top 20 before the 2019 season began but has stumbled a bit since, having been traded to the Padres and the Mariners, plus having hit .229 and .236 in his two Double-A stints that year. He spent 2020 at the alternate site, but now he’s made the starting outfield of the Mariners and will be playing centerfield while Kyle Lewis mends. I’ve projected him hitting .220 for 350 at-bats with nine steals, worth $4 because that’s worth a little more, so it’s a safe bet and maybe he’ll be better. Manager Scott Servais is effusive about the work Trammell has done, the Mariners love his attitude and approach, and no one can be sure how his skills have advanced during a year and a half of no games. So while he might grab the job as he has this spring and hold it, if Lewis gets healthy and the Mariners promote Jarred Kelenic in May as expected, that outfield gets crowded quickly.
Seth Brown sent down, does Rule 5er Ka'ai Tom win the backup job? It hasn’t happened yet, but that appears to be the next step. What’s the story on Tom, a 27-year-old taken in the fifth round in 2015 who has only 211 plate appearances so far in Triple-A? He looks like the player Billy Beane dreams about, short, not skinny, with a good eye and something of a power bat. Plus he runs! A proto-Athletic. How quickly he gets out of the gate may determine if the As hold onto him all season (he can’t be sent to the minors without being offered back to the Indians). A long shot for mixed league fantasy value this year, but it’s possible, and an excellent sleeper in AL-only leagues for that fifth outfielder slot, or even better on reserve.
Closer prices are super soft: Torey Lovullo, the Diamondbacks manager, says he doesn’t have one closer going into the season. James Karinchak, the putative Indians closer, hasn’t been able to throw strikes this spring and has been knocked around. In Tout Wars and LABR the top closers (Chapman, Diaz, Iglesias, Hader, Hendriks, Pressley, and Rosenthal) all drew real salaries, but the rest of the market is a mess. There are a lot of cheap names out there that have potential saves attached to them, and no doubt once we’re started more will emerge. Lock up one of the sure things if you can, though you know deep in your heart even that they really aren’t that, but you’re still going to be scrambling all season to keep ahead of the other teams who got lucky for cheap. Be prepared (I’ll be investing in guys like Clase/Wittgren, Bush, Crichton, Treinen/Gonzalez, Melancon, Martin, and many more, some with roles now, others in waiting).
Josh Rojas (update): Has a 1.008 OPS this spring and will open the season as the Diamondbacks starting second baseman, a job he’ll likely keep until Kole Calhoun returns around May 1. Then Rojas becomes a super sub. We’re supposed to buy in because he’s retooled his stroke, is in great shape, blah blah blah. I could be totally wrong, but we’ll see. Tout Wars did not bite, he went for $4. I wrote a couple of weeks ago: “It's not unheard of for modest talents with decent tools to have breakout seasons as they're turning 27, as he will on the last day of June, but his is a talent that is best underestimated and paid less for for fantasy purposes rather than more. Leave room for pleasant surprise rather than mild disappointment.”
Carter Kieboom: He hasn’t shown much with the bat in the majors the last two years and now a bad spring has him back in Triple-A. He’s young enough not to be judged a total bust yet, he might figure it out, but he’s no longer a phenom. This means that Starlin Castro slides over to third and Josh Harrison should see regular time at second base for the last team to win a World Series after a full season of play. I’ve always liked Harrison and in NL only leagues drafting this week he should be cheap with multiposition eligibility depending on your rules. Not a bad add in the endgame.
Jake Lamb to White Sox, Pablo Sandoval sticks with Atlanta: Neither of these guys should see a ton of at-bats, and both may do just fine with what they get. In AL and NL-only leagues your team is better off if you have them in reserve, but if you have to play them they’ll probably hurt less than other options.
HISTORY PART 2
More historical charts with comments. First, second base:
It surprises me that Whit Merrifield is the only second basemen to be top 5 the last three years. I think in two more years Cavan Biggio, Brandon Lowe, and Ozzie Albies will have three years of yellow after them, assuming they don’t get hurt.
Albies, last year, did get hurt, came back slowly but really turned it on at the end. I’m a fan.
It should be noted that position eligibility is based on 2020, six games or more at a position. Someone asked why there was no Buster Posey on the Catcher chart. Then answered the question himself. Because Posey didn’t play last year.
If you have any questions about a missing player, head over to his player page at pattonandco.com. It’s free but you should register for easier access. In the statbox you’ll see Alex Patton’s 5x5 prices year by year, which are very similar to mine most of the time, even though we use totally different ways to get there.
One name that sticks out near the bottom of this list is the Nationals Luis Garcia, who subbed when Starlin Castro was hurt last season and was the youngest player in the major leagues. He didn’t do badly, but he’s starting this season in Triple-A, I assume, but if he shows much he could be promoted at any time. That’s a reason not to put too much stock in Josh Harrison.
Other names near the bottom to target are David Bote, Mauricio Dubon, Andres Gimenez, Ty France, and Nick Solak. These are endgame targets in mixed leagues.
Jake Cronenworth was excellent last year, but that should be looked at as his peak, not a tier going up.
Shortstop is a shorter list than second base, but the top is much more loaded. Francisco Lindor hasn’t been Top 5 since 2018! And not because he’s been bad.
Marcus Semien hasn’t been Top 5 these past three years, but ranks eighth overall. Big things are expected of him in Toronto. Starting out in Dunedin could give a boost to that infield, and Semien along with it.
The wild card in this list is Corey Seager. He’s had a great spring after an excellent comeback year. If he’s not up there at the end of this year I’ll be surprised.
Bo Bichette has so much talent and so much hype it’s kind of easy to forget he hasn’t really done much yet. Not to say he won’t, but maybe the second round is a little too early for him.
No third basemen ranks Top 5 for the last three years.
My longshot parlay is that Arenado and Bregman both return to the Top 5 this year, unless Ke’Bryan Hayes does it this year.
I’m looking at Austin Riley to assert himself this year, as well. Alas, I’m not alone.
Look for outfielders tomorrow.
Thanks for reading. Please let me know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions. Plus if you’d like to see certain players profiled I’d like to hear about them. Or rotation/closer battles you’d like to hear about. Might as well profile those you would like to read.
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