Spring training is well underway and, for many, a fantasy baseball draft lurks just around the corner. With that in mind, the Yahoo fantasy baseball collective offer up the players they’ve been repeatedly buying shares of this spring:
Q. Which infielder are you most heavily invested in for the upcoming fantasy baseball campaign?
Brandon Funston: TREVOR STORY. When Story checked out of his rookie ’16 campaign with a thumb injury at the end of July, he was sitting on the fourth-most home runs in the league (27) and the 13th-best offensive roto value – only Boston’s Xander Bogaerts was rated ahead of him at the shortstop position. This spring he’s back at it, currently sitting on the fourth-most extra-base hits in preseason action. I’ve snatched him up in a few leagues, including the Yahoo Friends and Family League, where I was able to nab him outside the top 40 overall. If he stays healthy, I believe I have a really good shot of seeing 30/15 returns.
Dalton Del Don: JONATHAN VILLAR. He strikes out too often, and I’m not expecting another .285 batting average. I get that regression seems inevitable. But man is that baked into his ADP, as it seems a bit crazy someone who’s 25 years old coming off a season in which he led major league baseball with 62 steals while adding 19 homers is often available in round five in Yahoo drafts. He’s eligible at multiple positions (including shortstop) and hits in a park that’s increased home runs by 22 percent over the past three seasons (only Yankee Stadium is higher over that span). I certainly didn’t enter draft season planning on being heavily invested in Villar, but his market has resulted in him ending up on a bunch of my teams.
Scott Pianowski: MIKE MOUSTAKAS is just about a giveaway this spring, not that far removed from a breakout 2015 season. He’s headed into a prove-it season (contract is up) and an age-28 season. You can land him well outside the Top 200 in Yahoo. Sign me up.
Q. Which outfielder are you most heavily invested in for the upcoming fantasy baseball campaign?
Pianowski: I have several shares of DEXTER FOWLER and ADAM JONES, though I couldn’t land either guy in Tout Wars. Fowler is one of those sneaky-valuable players who does many things well, while Jones is the classic Ibanez All-Star, a boring veteran who still provides consistent value.
Funston: ODUBEL HERRERA. I’ve nabbed Herrera in both of my OBP leagues as, in addition to offering a nice blend of pop and speed, he’s owns a solid .353 career OBP mark. And he’s expected to be the Phillies’ No. 3 hitter this season, which should provide a nice boost to his run production (especially his RBI tally, which reached only 49 last season as he logged the majority of his ABs in the leadoff spot).
Del Don: DAVID PERALTA. He’s one year removed from posting a .312/.371/.522 line with 26 homers/steals combined in fewer than 150 games. Peralta is in his prime at age 29 and could bat in the middle of Arizona’s lineup right behind on-base machine Paul Goldschmidt in arguably the second-best hitter’s park behind only Coors Field. He’s coming off an injury ravaged season, which is why he’s basically free at draft tables with an ADP of 246.8. Getting Peralta often as my OF5 has felt like thievery.
Andy Behrens: I seem to value KEON BROXTON more than most of you. He’s a guy with terrific speed upside enjoying an excellent spring. He homered 17 times across two levels last season, so he’s more than simply a stolen base specialist. The only obvious hole in his fantasy game is batting average, but I’m happy to take a three or four-category asset as his price (ADP 219.7).
Q. Which pitcher are you most heavily invested in for the upcoming fantasy baseball campaign?
Funston: KENTA MAEDA. In his first season in MLB, Maeda finished No. 19 among starters in the Yahoo game. He’s going No. 26 among starters in average Yahoo drafts this spring so, unless you think ’16 was a fluke, he’s starting out the ’17 campaign as a draft bargain. And I definitely don’t think he was a fluke. He finished his first MLB tour with the second-lowest batted ball exit velocity among starters, he was 13th-lowest in hard-hit% and he was also top 25 in K/BB rate. He’s right in the middle of his prime (28 years old), plays his home games in one of the most pitching-friendly parks and is backed by an above average offense and defense. So, yeah, I think his ’16 season is repeatable.
Pianowski: I love the Maeda pick, and I literally can’t get enough of him; I wish I had several additional shares. His second-half slump could be explained by his initial year in the United States; new culture, new workload. Go get him. I’m also a MATT SHOEMAKER fan, won over by his wipeout splitter and the dominance he showed in the middle of last summer. He’s another player you can land outside the Top 200 in Yahoo.
Behrens: Look, I don’t normally care much about spring performances, good or bad, from well-established players. But FELIX HERNANDEZ has looked like a younger, lower-mileage version of himself, complete with respectable velocity readings. I’m plenty interested. His stuff was evil in the WBC. If you’re gonna hand him to me mid-draft, I’ll happily take him.