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Austin Stories: What’s In My Wallet, 2014

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Action Jackson

I'm in a slew of leagues, as usual, and I have three more drafts/auctions on the way. Every dance is different, and sometimes I can't get the players I really want. Nonetheless, common threads have emerged, and the following 21 players will have a notable say in how well my fake teams do this summer. Just keep it in perspective - the fact that I have some Dioner Navarro shares and zero Buster Posey shares does not mean I'm valuing Navarro over Posey. It's a complicated, dynamic game.

[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

Join the fun in the comments, let us know who your common thread players are this season.

Austin Jackson - In a disappointing, injury-plagued season, Jackson still gave us a .272-99-12-49-8 line (missing 33 games). And remember he had five steals in April before he got hurt. New year, new manager, big spring (I don't take ST too seriously, but I like to see a batter rebuild his confidence). Go get him.

Michael Wacha - The man who launched one horrible, overused joke. That's the internet for you. First-round pedigree, quick ascent through the minors, elite catcher to work with, improved defense. I'll be shocked if Wacha's not very good in his first full season.

Dustin Pedroia - The thumb problem killed his power last year, but say this for Pedroia – he'll play through anything. Look for 12-15 homers this season, along with strong production in the other primary categories. Bottom line, a perfect second-round pick. 

Shin-Soo Choo - He was a logical buy for me in Tout Wars, where OBP replaced batting average this year. Another case of the balanced player being somewhat underrated.

Steve Cishek - His ratios have been outstanding for three straight years, and any team can support a 30-save closer - heck, Cishek had 34 last year. The crummy team gives you a nifty discount; take advantage.

Jim Henderson - The Brewers sure love those Canadian closers. Fantasy players love those affordable closers. You'd like to see better control, but at least he's missing bats.

Joe Mauer - I don't remember ever owning him before this year, but I love faux catchers (eligible at the position but not burdened by the actual gig) and I'm taking batting average more seriously this season.

Homer Bailey - I bet a lot of people in your league don't realize Bailey had 199 strikeouts last year. He's also improved his ERA and his WHIP for four straight seasons. There's another level to potentially climb.

Ian Desmond - It shocks me that some players and pundits would take Jean Segura over Desmond. A 20-20 season is bettable, he's been a plus average source the last two years, and here comes another Age-27 season. A very safe building-block hitter.

Jason Kipnis - Maintained his steals last year while most batting indicators went in the right direction. No secret or bargain of course, but in a few of my leagues the price or draft slot made sense. And when in doubt, I'd rather take an infielder over an outfielder with those early selections.

Michael Brantley - Versatile players without one outstanding skill are likely to be underrated; Bill James has been on that theme for years. Brantley has improved for three straight seasons and now he enters his Age-27 campaign.

Marlon Byrd - An Ibanez All-Star, the boring, unexciting veteran. A career .280 hitter, history of pop, and the Phillies obviously are going to use him every day. Got him for almost nothing everywhere (three bucks in Tout Wars). Some cheap power with an acceptable average. 

Rajai Davis - A one-trick pony but it's a pretty good trick. The Tigers are going to let him lead off (for now, anyway) and they're going to let him run. Pick 272 in the Yahoo Friends & Family Draft.

Travis Wood - The classic over-correction play; the market doesn't want to be the sucker for last year's unsupported 3.11 ERA, so they let you have Wood for almost nothing. Extreme fly-ball pitchers are generally underrated; they're still dictating their game, just in a different way. I know the K/BB clip is modest, but I'm just looking for an ERA in the mid-3s somewhere. I think he can do it. One buck at Tout.

A.J. Pierzynski - When's the last time he had a bad season? Another fun park and lineup for AJP to do his thing in.

Dioner Navarro - Now has a full-time gig to himself from the word go, and it's not uncommon to see catchers mature late, especially on offense. Obviously this is a play for two-catcher leagues; you need to do a lot better in formats that require just one.

Josh Reddick - Another excused absence if you will, as the 2013 crash-landing was mostly fueled by injury.

Sonny Gray - He is, as my head scout said, a hipster pick. And I can't say I got him at any wonderful discount, though $11 in the Tout Mixer was reasonable. Big strikeout numbers, heavy ground-ball bias, big park - all wonderful things.

J.J. Hoover - I'm just speculating, like the rest of you. There's no proof he's the guy, but someone has to shake hands.

Grady Sizemore - Obviously the cost was very low in each case (Pick 299 in the Friends & Family Draft), but I can't help but root for the story. And any slot in the Boston order is a good one. If and when Sizemore gets hurt, well, there's a lot of outfielders out there.

Drew Stubbs - Colorado's outfield is a cast of thousands, but perhaps Stubbs can grab a position through his defense. The batting average is always a risk here, but Stubbs has shown pop and speed in the past. Another case of a tiny-risk player who is all upside. If he crashes early, you toss him to the scrap heap and try something else.

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