Fantasy baseball 2014 season preview: Draft leftovers
MAR 28, 2014 4:08p ET
Every roommate produces a set of idiosyncrasies. My buddy Corey is no exception. When ordering at a restaurant or grabbing carry-out – entities which comprise 97 percent of his meals – Corey must have eyes bigger than his stomach, because the man always ends up with leftovers. This wouldn’t be a problem ... except that he never eats said remnants of his cuisine. Literally half of our fridge is comprised of tinfoil from Chipotle or BW3, and the ensuing smell is not exactly the aspired fragrance for the kitchen. (In terms of fairness, his complaint with me regards my showers at 3:00 in the morning. What can I say, your boy likes to be fresh before hitting the bed.)
In terms of food, I’m not a fan of scraps either, mostly because I’m a man and finish all the grub on my plate. The fantasy realm is a different tale. There are plenty of quality assets available following draft day, players more than capable of assisting your push toward a championship. Granted, they lack the pizzazz of their selected counterparts, and if you’re inserting one of these players into your Opening Day lineup, your team is in a world of trouble. Nevertheless, it’s often the contributions from these unsung heroes that can make or break your season.
Using the FOXSports.com Fantasy Baseball Average Draft Position tool, here are the leftovers from completed drafts that are worth a look. (Note: we are sidestepping potential minor-league call-ups like George Springer, which were covered in a previous article).
Chris Carter, Astros
In OBP formats, Carter is worth a roster spot thanks to his muscle, launching 29 bombs in 2013. He won’t provide much average, and God forbid if your league counts K's - Carter had a league-leading 212 whiffs last year. On the contrary, there’s a good chance he hits 30 homers and drives in 100 ribbies. In essence, a poor man’s Adam Dunn. I swear that’s a compliment, and it’s also production that’s available in 85 percent of FOXSports.com Fantasy Baseball leagues. Along with his position eligibility at 1B and LF – with the latter extremely valuable in divisions with individual outfield spots – view Carter as a top-notch substitute.
Avisail Garcia, White Sox
I’m amazed Garcia is owned in just 7.6 percent of leagues, especially after his strong debut in the Windy City (.304 average in 42 games) last season. Just 22 years old, Garcia is a lock for the 20-20 club and, eventually, could be a 30-30 candidate in the foreseeable future. Working in US Cellular Field’s hitter-friendly environment should help his cause, as well as a preeminent standing in the White Sox lineup (Garcia’s envisioned to man the two-hole or fifth stop in the order).
Like all undrafted players, Garcia does have his warts. Most notably, an absence of plate discipline, evidenced in a 3.5 walk percentage in 72 big-league games last year and a .325 career OBP in the minors (versus a .290 batting clip). Moreover, his swing tends to produce a startling amount of ground balls versus frozen ropes. Nevertheless, he has the highest upside of all the options likely on your waiver wire. Grab him while you can.
Devin Mesoraco, Reds
An oblique injury, one that will likely sideline him for the first week of the season, has spurred Mezy’s stock to plummet over the past few weeks. Conversely, it’s an ailment that shouldn’t be of hindrance throughout the summer, and Mesoraco could be back in the Reds starting lineup as early as the second series.
A top-15 prospect heading into 2012, Mesoraco has not lived up to this projection, slashing .225/.282/.359 in 589 plate appearances. Those figures are particularly troubling as Mesoraco’s bat was supposed to be his primary endowment, blasting 26 homers in only 113 contests in 2010. In his defense, his growth was stagnated by Dusty Baker’s refusal to give Mesoraco more playing time over the offensively-limited Ryan Hanigan, a decision that contradicted upper management’s wishes and partially led to Baker’s firing. (Also contributing to Baker’s dismissal: a 2-7 postseason record, including a historic collapse in 2012 against the Giants. NEVER FORGET.) With Hanigan jettisoned to Tampa, Mesoraco is the unquestioned starter behind the plate. Bestowed regular duty for the first time in his career, the Cincinnati catcher has the potential for 20 homers, 70 ribbies and a .260 batting mark. As the fantasy backstop pool is once again shallow this year, Mesoraco, owned in just 3.3 percent of leagues, is a low-risk/high-reward proposition.
Kelly Johnson, Yankees
Hey now, don’t roll your eyes! Replicating 2010’s .284/370/.496 line is an unreasonable request, evidenced in a .226/.307/.395 stripe from the past three campaigns. Equally, Johnson did average 18 homers, 55 RBI, 59 runs and 12 swipes during this span, and should benefit from the closed-in dimensions of Yankee Stadium. He also will see regular time at third, with the occasional appearance at second base if/when Brian Roberts goes down.
At 32, Johnson’s best days are behind him, but drafted in a scant 11.2 percent of leagues, he could provide some pop to a fantasy-deprived position.
Ian Kennedy, Padres
For a cat that finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2011, Kennedy, picked in just 3.1 percent of drafts, has fallen off the fantasy map. Just spitballin’, but this tumble might correlate to a 4.43 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in the past two seasons.
There is hope on the horizon for Kennedy. PETCO Park, even with a rearrangement of outfield fences, still favors those on the mound. Though it’s a small sample, Kennedy made the most of his starts in San Diego, posting a 3.06 ERA in eight outings (two with the Diamondbacks, six with the Padres) last season. Additionally, Kennedy’s BABIP has been higher than expected the past two years, and a 69.1 left-on-base percentage gives optimism that Kennedy wasn’t as bad as believed in 2013.
He needs to get his command under control (3.6 walks per nine innings) and San Diego’s feeble offense won’t provide much help in the win column. Despite these detriments, don’t be shocked to see Kennedy finish 2014 as a top-30 starter.
Martin Perez, Rangers
As electric as the Yu Darvish Experience is, the one to watch in the Texas rotation is Perez. Once a top-20 prospect in 2010, Perez’s stature took a hit after some rough years in the minors. However, Perez shined in promotion last season, submitting a 3.62 ERA in 20 games. He doesn’t rack up the punch-outs and has a penchant for giving up the long ball, but his command is strong. Moreover, Perez will only be 23 years old this season. As long as Rangers lineup performs, Perez will be a good candidate to accumulate the Ws this year.
Like the waters of Lourdes or a package from Biogenesis, PNC Park has developed a therapeutic aura for pitchers. Melancon was a recipient of this blessing in 2013, illustrated in a 0.93 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in the Steel City. And before you brush this off as providence, the sabermetrics – 1.50 FIP, .252 BABIP – confirm this was far from luck.
But the real catalyst for Melancon’s importance is the capricious state of Jason Grilli. The man has a medical history that would put Ken Griffey, Jr. to shame, and this year is no different, as the Pirates are carefully monitoring an elbow issues that plagued Grilli last fall. Unfortunately, at age 37, chances are slim that Grilli makes it through the summer unscathed. Fellow Buccos Tony Watson and Justin Wilson are viable options, but if Grilli makes another trip to the infirmary, expect Melancon, available in 95 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, to take the rubber.