Today’s guest author is Scotty Allen. He’s a staff writer for one of the other sites I write for, The Outside Corner. – Charlie
It’s that time of year, computers flicker on and flock to Yahoo. They browse to one of two places, fantasy baseball drafts and advice, or NCAA brackets. At the same time, marriages go south and our relationships with our kids deteriorate to the point where we are no longer acknowledged as parents, but simply that person that sits in front of the TV with a laptop and mutters things like “There goes my bracket” or “Hurry up and pick!”. It also happens to be the time of year when I’m reminded that Brad Evans (AKA The Noise) and I are star-crossed lovers and mortal enemies. Every Spring I awaken from a three-month long slumber with a new set of strategies and man-crushes for fantasy baseball. Every year I’m determined to outfox the Yahoo expert, and every year I find he’s developed the same unhealthy man-love for the same players as I.
You see, Brad and I see eye to eye when it comes to fantasy baseball. I try to evolve, but he just evolves with me. I swear the man is in my head. We both can’t look at Andy Behrans without laughing hysterically or gritting our teeth. Tim Brown scares us just like Dick Cheney scares, well, everyone but more specifically former president Bush. With so much in common, you’d think that Brad and I would be friends, but this simply cannot be. He’s steals my thunder. I think I’m going to be sneaky and grab Dee Gordon while the rest of the league fights over Elvis Andrus at shortstop. Then an article comes out where Brad professes the brilliance in such a strategy. Now the rest of the world, including my league knows. I think I’ll use an early round pick on a Verlander or Kershaw instead of scooping up a top tier first baseman and draft Kendrys Morales in the mid-rounds to get the same production. Nope. The Noise starts tweeting about the Cuban crusher and now the rest of the world remembers that he still exists, much to my dismay.
It’s maddening, but at the same time, you gotta respect the originality of such a game plan. We’re like the Jedi and Sith, Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf (I refuse to admit I watch Gossip Girl) or Ron Burgandy and Wes Mantooth (I freely admit to have seen and loved Anchorman). So great in their own respect, yet the power wielded is a finite resource. If I don’t have it, someone else will, and there’s only so much “bogarting” one man can stand. My love for all things Cuban (including my wife) led me to draft Dayan Viciedo and predict Adrian Beltre-esque numbers. I fearlessly draft Matt Moore while everyone else reaches for Cliff Lee because I know the difference in their ADP can be the difference between Andrew McCutchen in CF versus Austin Jackson. I’ll grab Jordan Walden a few rounds later than the rest of the elite closers because I’m convinced his triple-digit heat, three pitch repertoire and status as closer on a strong contender will make him every bit as valuable as Ryan Madson. But lo and behold The Noise is hot on my heels with “10 players he loves more than you”.
Yes, Brad Evans is undeniably good. He’ll be under-appreciated in his time as a fantasy baseball expert. Evans isn’t given the same respect as stock market analysts or teenage saga writers like Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins (not saying I own the Twilight saga and Hunger Games books, but I’m not denying it either). But if you think about it, what’s difference? Brad has to predict how certain players will perform in the upcoming year and when to buy and sell commodities just as a stock market analyst would. He also needs to write articles that capture a readers’ attention and hook them for the remainder of the piece in the same manner a fiction novelist would. He’s very good at both, but his ideas and mine are one in the same. Call it arrogance or an unquenchable thirst to maneuver my way to the top of the fantasy world, but I feel like I deserve a showdown after years of providing a plethora of material that Brad has somehow telepathically seized from the depths of my mind. The Noise and I have a date with destiny. But I can’t just say his ideas are mine and that I’m worthy. If that were the case, anyone could conjure up a way to challenge The Noise in their search for fantasy glory. I’m going to do you one better, I’ll show you. So without further adieu, in response to Brad posting 10 players he loves more than me, I present 10 players I love more than Brad.
- 3B/SS/2B Mike Aviles – The Red Sox pulled off quite the steal when they acquired Aviles from Kansas City. With health and a full year of playing time, he could provide .300 and 25 SB. But don’t bet the house on him, play it safe. Grab him in the late rounds or off the waiver wire and stash him on your bench.
- SP Jarrod Parker – The A’s are shallow on pitching so Parker’s almost guaranteed a spot in the rotation. Being the same division as Texas and Los Angeles hurts, but playing in Oakland Coliseum and being armed with a mid-90’s heater and plus breaking pitch work in his favor. Grab him late in drafts in mixed leagues and reap the benefits a la Michael Pineda circa 2011.
- Future C Jesus Montero – His ADP is down at 164 because he’s not a great option for DH. But if he hits .280 with 25 home runs and gains catcher eligibility as I think he will, he’s worth grabbing. Keep in mind Matt Wieters is coming off a .262 22 HR season and he’s leaving draft boards approximately 60 picks before Montero. In real life Montero isn’t a great catching option, but in fantasy baseball he may few equals.
- SP/RP Aroldis Chapman – The Reds invested far too much money to never find out what Chapman can do in the rotation. If you’re in a holds league he should keep his value regardless. But if he transitions to the rotation as is expected, he could have upside in excess of Alexi Ogando in 2011. If you’re not in a league that has holds as a stat, chances are Chapman is available on the waiver wire. I encourage you all to pick him up just in case. Worst case scenario you can drop him and lose nothing.
- LF Yonder Alonso – Moving to Petco Park scares many owners away. It’s where home runs go to die, but Yonder Alonso isn’t a home run hitter. His gap power will play extremely well in San Diego. I expect .290 with 40+ doubles and 15+ home runs in 2012. His ADP is sky high at 245, but I feel like he could provide as much value as Nick Markakis and Nick Swisher, both of which are leaving board 100 picks before Alonso. Adding 1B eligibility should help pad his value as well. If he’s on your waiver wire, grab him. Otherwise, consider drafting him as your starting LF.
- 1B Kendrys Morales – He’s finally healthy for the first time in what seems like forever. At 28, Morales has entered his physical prime and possibly the most beneficial surroundings possible. The Angels won’t ask him to play the field, which will keep him off his surgically repaired ankle and is expected to bat behind the immortal Albert Pujols. With those conditions, Morales’ 2009 numbers appear to be within reach for 2012 (.306 43 doubles 34 home runs). Do not hesitate to grab Morales. I’m confident he’ll provide as much if not more value to your team than other heralded first basemen like Pablo Sandoval, Paul Konerko and possibly Mark Teixeira.
- 1B Ike Davis – In case you haven’t heard, they moved the fences in at Citi Field in New York. This means that if healthy, guys like David Wright, Lucas Duda and Ike Davis could provide huge dividends. You’re banking on his health, which at this point is quite the risk, but if Ike stays on the field, .290 35 doubles and 25 home runs are within reach.
- CF Peter Bourjos – Mostly known for his defensive prowess, Bourjos could provide value across the board for owners willing to grab him later in the draft in mixed leagues. With a new shorter swing and a year of reading pitchers under his belt, we could see .280 30 DB 15 triples 15 home runs and 30+ stolen bases from the speedy center fielder. His value could exceed that of Brett Gardner and Shane Victorino, both of whom are ranked considerably higher than Bourjos in Yahoo fantasy leagues.
- RP Addison Reed – Reed needed very little time in the minors and has inherited the closer position by default in Chicago. I don’t expect any more than 30-35 saves for Reed, but his ERA and K/9 should be sparkling. He lacks the name recognition, but then again, so did Sergio Santos a year ago.
- 3B/SS/LF/CF/RF Emilio Bonifacio – The love I have for Bonifacio comes from several sources. The first being his versatility. You could plug him in anywhere and be fine, but I’d say he holds the most value as a shortstop. He’s also a solid source of speed and batting average. Getting .290 and 40 SB at SS could put him on par with Dee Gordon and Elvis Andrus. If you draft him, you’ll also have the pleasure of saying his name at the water cooler. It’ll make you feel smart and sexy.
Scotty Allen is somewhat of a “Jack of all trades”. He’s a former Marine and current grad-student, amateur scout for a sports agency, senior columnist for LA Angels Insider, minor league writer for Monkey with a Halo and a correspondent for The Outside Corner. His recently written articles include “Haven’t We Seen This Before?” at laangelsinsider.com, the Top 30 Prospect Rankings at Monkeywithahalo.com and “Young Extension Candidates: American League” at theoutsidecorner.com. Follow him on twitter @ScottyA_LAAI