With a nod to the upcoming 81st Academy Awards ceremony, and the DVD release of the Andy Behrens-penned “Sex Drive,” this edition of High Fives comes wrapped in an Oscars theme. Yahoo! experts Behrens, Brad Evans, Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski selected their nominees for the following categories:
• Late-round treasures (“Slumdog Millionaire”)
• Geritol giants (“Curious Case of Benjamin Button”)
• High-ceiling health risks (“Man on Wire”)
• Man-crushes (“Sex Drive”)
• Distinguished careers (Lifetime Achievement Award)
|Slumdog Millionaire: Top five players from the cheat sheet slums that will end up striking it rich
- Erik Bedard – Not a true slumdog, but 45th SP-eligible pitcher taken, on average, in early drafts – an incredible bargain for now-healthy, contract-year hurler that was going as No. 3 SP a year ago.
- Ian Stewart – Lots of upside, 2B-eligible, and he could wind up hitting in heart of Rockies order with a strong start
- Pablo Sandoval – Given his plate potential and C-eligibility, he’s a steal at just inside the top 200 in early ADP reports.
- Adam Lind – Should have full-time gig from the get-go, and has the bat skills to pull off a .300, 25 HR campaign.
- Daniel Murphy – Gamer with solid plate skills could wind up with 450-plus ABs, and 2B-eligibility, in uber-utility role
- Scott Baker – He’s absolutely buried in terms of O-rank (166) and ADP (225.1), but last year’s ratios were legit and he’ll deliver Ks.
- Pablo Sandoval – He’s an everyday heart-of-the-order hitter who happens to have catcher eligibility – just barely, but he has it.
- Cameron Maybin – The 21-year-old Maybin should open the season leading off for the Marlins. He’ll run, he’ll hit for power, and he’ll make you regret drafting Jeremy Hermida ahead of him.
- Justin Upton – Upton is younger and more toolsy than Maybin, and he posted an OPS of .816 in his age-20 season.
- Wandy Rodriguez – The lefty will still be there in the final round of your draft, in all likelihood. His ratios were useful last season and the K-rate is climbing.
- Brandon Lyon – Jim Leyland will accept a winning-ugly closer so long as he throws strikes.
- Elijah Dukes – Walk rate suggests a BA spike and the power/speed combo is tantalizing.
- Cameron Maybin – He’s 1-2 years behind the Lastings Milledge career path; might take a while but will be worth it.
- Mariners closer – Losing clubs can still support a 30-save man; we’ll scout Batista, Corcoran, et al in March.
- Daniel Murphy – Rusty Greer type, just needs a position.
|Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Top five players that will be written off as too old only to prove that there is plenty of life still left in them
- Raul Ibanez – Has averaged better than .290, 25 HR, 112 RBIs for one of the most anemic offenses in the league the
past three seasons; now he’s in the middle of one of the best.
- Randy Johnson – Only got stronger as ’08 progressed – 2.41 ERA post-break. Has career milestone incentives (300 wins, 5,000 Ks) to keep the drive alive
- Gary Sheffield – A healthier, less-controversial Sheffield in ’09? I’ll bite – I’m a sucker for that swing
- Mike Lowell – Has been RBI force in BoSox lineup when healthy – expects hip to be ready for opening day
- Randy Winn – Will go undrafted in many leagues, but the career .300 hitter in the second-half will likely once again find roto work by summer.
- Trevor Hoffman – “Plenty of life” might be an overstatement, but the 41-year-old Hoffman should have a couple dozen more saves left.
- Randy Johnson – He’s slightly older than Walter Johnson, but he’s chasing milestones and the Ks are still plentiful.
- Jim Thome – The 38-year-old DH is easily forgotten because he only qualifies at Util. His batting average won’t help you, but in a disappointing ’08 he still put up 93 R, 34 HR and 90 RBIs.
- Mariano Rivera – OK, so no one has actually written off the 39-year-old Hall of Famer. Still, he’s delivered a sub-2.00 ERA in five of the past six seasons, yet he’s only the fifth closer selected in an average draft.
- Jason Varitek – No, just kidding. ‘Tek is too old.
- Derek Jeter – Lady prowess alone should make him a top-10 SS; power dwindling but 100 runs, .300 BA overlooked
- Randy Johnson – Mullet master still packs plenty of strikeouts; friendlier environment and 8-plus K/9 enticing
- Magglio Ordonez – Slipped to Round 5 of our blog mock, but Maggs a .310-20-110-80 line machine
- Raul Ibanez – Model of consistency, the 36-year-old is now the NL version of Ordonez
- Trevor Hoffman – New home in Sausage Land could revive downward trending career; 35-plus saves very possible
|Sex Drive: Top five players you’ll drive across country to “get in bed with”
- Josh Hamilton – The real-life Roy Hobbs
- Tim Lincecum – Drafting him in fantasy helps alleviate the pain from my home-town Mariners passing on the local product in the ’06 amateur draft
- Chad Billingsley – At 24, 1 of just 5 pitchers to finish ’08 with at least 15 Wins, 200 K and an ERA of 3.15 or less.
- Lastings Milledge – Five-tool upside started to really reveal itself post-break – 58 games, .299, 7 HR, 11 SB
- Jonathan Broxton – Will often fall outside the top 10 closers on draft day, but could very easily finish among the top 5 when all is said and done
- David Wright – A perfect player, real-life and fantasy.
- Curtis Granderson – Progress against left-handed pitching makes him an MVP sleeper.
- Andre Ethier – He’ll win a batting title someday, with 25-30 homers.
- Chris Iannetta – Breakout already happened but the price hasn’t gotten ridiculous yet.
- Lastings Milledge – Quietly came of age in final third of the year (.318-30-7-27-11); this season’s Nate McLouth?
- Nelson Cruz – Some media types believe he’ll never shed Quad-A label, but 30-20 possibilities are sensual
- Chris Davis – Prodigious power should not be ignored – 35-plus bombs attainable in loaded Rangers lineup
- Pablo Sandoval – Backstop eligibility in Y! leagues and .300-BA upside makes him Salma Hayek desirable
- Max Scherzer – Forget the “violent” delivery concerns, the Schiznit is a Rock ‘em, Sock ‘em Robot; 10.61 K/9 in ’08
- Billy Butler – Oh, sweet Billy B! It’s time to set your 20 HR power free!
|Man on Wire: Top five players that can ascend to lofty heights but are serious injury concerns
- Rich Harden – Unhittable when healthy, but a James Andrews visit is more likely than 30 starts.
- Kerry Wood – One electric year doesn’t erase four frustrating ones; Cubs were wise not to buy in.
- Chris Carpenter – If the cards fall a certain way he might be closing by midsummer.
- A.J. Burnett – Doesn’t have a track record of coming through (or pitching through nicks) post-contract.
- Milton Bradley – If you pay for more than 115 games you’re kidding yourself.
- Carlos Quentin – He was having a no-doubt MVP season before the wrist injury in ’08, and would have been a top-20 pick in ’09 if he’d remained healthy.
- Vladimir Guerrero – As long as Vlad remains ambulatory, he’s one of the game’s elite hitters. Don’t expect him to run again, but this is a 100-30-110-.320 player when he’s right.
- A.J. Burnett – He reached his career high in innings-pitched last season, so you’ll have to worry about the fragile-armed Burnett. But he’s also a low-ratio, high-K ace.
- Rich Harden – This delicate little flower is already dealing with a shoulder injury of unknown severity. Still, even if he just gives you 100 innings, they’ll be great innings.
- Milton Bradley – When the switch-hitting Bradley is healthy – and that’s typically 90-120 games per season – he’s an outstanding hitter, one of the best in baseball.
- Chipper Jones – An easy candidate for a .320-plus BA, three DL stints over the course of the season
- Rich Harden – Rotator cuff concerns will limit workload, intense adoration with Cubs fans; Dr. Andrews, anyone?
- Milton Bradley – North Siders pray Mike Winters will not be calling bases at Wrigley anytime this year; legit .300-20-80-80 product when healthy
- Elijah Dukes – A living psychology case study; must control anger issues if he wants to unlock 20/20 production
- Kerry Wood – If Wood went to the zoo, he would be attacked by a pack of baboons – that’s how injury prone his career has been
|Among active players, who are the five players that are most deserving of a fantasy lifetime achievement Oscar award this year?
- Randy Johnson – Still has power stuff and roomy new park helps.
- John Smoltz – Theo Epstein did his homework; expect a second-half contribution.
- Raul Ibanez – Always a profit player and he’s headed to a small park and rich lineup.
- Chipper Jones – A refreshing one-city career, and he continues to rake through all those injuries.
- Jamie Moyer – One of the smartest pitchers of our generation, tip your cap.
- Matt Wieters – That’s right, he’s so good that we don’t even need to see what he’ll do at Triple-A or in the majors. Just put him in the Hall. Right now. Every Hall, in every sport.
- Ty Wigginton – It’s not that he’s so great, really. But when you’re a fantasy expert searching for a new player to discuss in late-August, while taping your 15th fantasy baseball video segment of the season, Wiggy is always there for you.
- Delmon Young – Before his career is over, Delmon will have established an unbeatable record for consecutive seasons as a fantasy breakout candidate.
- John Smoltz – OK, this is a serious tip of the cap to Smoltz. He’s been both a top-tier SP and a top-tier RP.
- Jorge Posada – Jorge gave us eight straight useful fantasy seasons, and we never really had to overpay. His career OPS is 27 points higher than Yogi’s.
- Lance Berkman – Horrific second half last year spoiled torrid early-season pace; reached/surpassed .290-30-100-95 five times since ’01
- Ichiro – Emperor of consistency, he’s hit at least .300, scored 100 runs and swiped 30 bags in all eight MLB seasons
- Magglio Ordonez – Unfairly overlooked, Maggs steady as they come – eclipsed .300 BA, 25 HR, 90 RBI, 90 R six times since ’99
- Roy Oswalt – Rock solid across-the-board 15-game winner every year; totaled 7-plus K/9 last year after seven-year erosion
- Joe Nathan – Really doesn’t get the publicity of a Papelbon or K-Rod, nails-tough Nathan 35-plus saves, 70-plus Ks five straight seasons