For those of you who are like me and love the strategy involved in an auction draft rather than the traditional snake draft, this article is for you. Every year we scour cheat sheets, twitter, random websites, whatever we can to try and find the players we can target for cheap that could payoff in a major way in the end. Last year, for me, that player was DJ LeMahieu. The year before that it was Jake Arrieta.
This year I figured it was only right I shared some guys with you that I have my eye on. This list is not going to be comprised of the big guys like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Robinson Cano. That wouldn’t be any fun and I wouldn’t be providing you with any new sort of information.
Guys in the under $10 range are the ones that you tend to target later on. You’ve already gone big and got your two or three guys that you spent big bucks on and were, hopefully, really happy about. Here’s my list of the guys you can take later on and still be excited about.
1. Zack Greinke – SP ($9.9)
Greinke is the man. He started last season very slowly with his new team, going 2-2 with a 5.50 ERA. For the rest of the season he went 11-5 with a 4.02 ERA and struck out 102 over 121 innings. Although he did miss all of July due to injury and his end of the year ERA was a little higher than we’re used to, he did have a stretch mid season where he went 8-1 and showed he still has elite stuff. Take the chance on him this year for the cheap price because the upside is too much to overlook.
2. Andrew Benintendi – OF ($9.6)
I see Benintendi as a much cheaper Odubel Herrera (currently going for $12.9) with a bit more upside. Mid teens HR potential, low K rate, does a good job of hitting in to the gaps and plays in a great lineup. He is going to be one of those guys whose stats don’t blow you out of the water, but when you see the points he is putting up you will be really glad you took a chance on him.
3. Felix Hernandez – SP ($5.7)
Don’t count the aging superstar out just yet. King Felix is still…well…the King. Throughout hia career, Felix’s biggest issue has been run support. He may have lost a little of the luster but he came in to spring training in the best shape of his career and is looking to prove he still has it. That, combined with the fact that the Mariners could legitimately average 5-6 runs per game could mean 18 wins for the King. I’d pay $5 for 18 wins any day of the week.
4. Adam Duvall – OF ($5.5)
Last year, Duvall came out of nowhere. Although his .241 batting average and 27% K rate left much to be desired his 31 HR, 33 doubles, 103 RBI and 85 Runs helped Duvall put up great fantasy numbers. He may be only going for $5.5 on draft day but he has the potential to produce like someone in the $30 range. The upside is worth every penny.
5. Jackie Bradley Jr. – OF ($5.4)
The long time top prospect finally showed why he was worthy of the title last season. He has the potential to be the next great redsox outfielder and, after Big Papi retiring, he has the potential to be the heart of the potent Redsox offense. 100 runs, 100 RBI & 70 XBH aren’t out of the question. Bradley is among the elite fantasy outfielders even though he is being valued in the lower tier.
6. Yoan Moncada – 3B ($2.6)
This is completly potential based. He has a higher than i’d like strikeout percentage and has struggled to hit for average in the minors, but the skills he posses are undeniable. Moncada could hit 20 HR and steal 40 bases while playing great defense and wind up a top-5 player at 3rd base. He could also strikeout every other at bat and struggle to even hit .200. If you can’t tell, I tend to lean towards upside with these cheap picks.
7. Troy Tulowitzki – SS ($2.4)
Two years ago, Tulo was being drafted as a top 5 overall player. Thats a far cry from this season. Most people thought a move to the hitter friendly Toronto in that power packed lineup would help take his game to another level. Instead, Tulo just wound up looking pedestrian. His BABIP was .272 last year which is the worst of his career. He did managed to hit 24 HRs last year and had a strikeout rate below 20% which still gives me hope. At $2, take him and hope last season was an outlier. Worst case scenario it’s only $2 so if he doesn’t work out, it’s no biggie.
8. Javier Baez – 2B/3B/SS ($2.1)
Anytime you can spend $2 on a guy that’s eligible at three positions and can be a serviceable hitter in your lineup, do it. Last season he as finally given his big league chance and made the best of it. .273, 14 HRs & 12 SBs and barely even cracked 400 plate appearances (421). I expect more ABs this year, leading to more counting stats in that great Cubs lineup. Has the potential to be a 20/20 player and hit for average.
9. Michael Brantley – OF ($1.1)
I know, he’s hurt. He had a serious shoulder injury last season and only played in 11 games. He still hasn’t played this spring. Yadda yadda yadda. I dont care. Good fantasy players draft to win now, great players draft to win in the playoffs. 2 years ago, Brantley was. Top-10 player. I’m drafting him based on that. The Cleveland lineup may be the best in the majors and Brantley has shown he can be a 20/20 player while being an extra bases machine (67 in 2014, 60 in 2015). He also only strikes out 10% of the time over his career. He may not be ready for Opening day, but who cares. Spend the damn $1.
10. Jarrod Dyson – OF ($1)
This one may seem a little random but I have a good feeling here. Dyson has been a part time player his entire career. Now that the Mariners have acquired him, he could turn in to one of the leagues premier leadoff hitters. He has no power, but he may be the fastest man in baseball which plays well in Seattle. He will have plenty of opportunities for doubles and triples plus stolen bases and runs. His .325 career OBP will mean plenty of opportunities to score runs ahead of the power in the Mariners new lineup.