Let’s look at early playing time as the peg for examining some interesting players and playing-time scenarios impacting 12-team mixed leagues.
Jose Pirela is playing every day but entering Monday has one walk and 10 Ks. Meanwhile, Franchy Cordero seems ready to play and note the quote here with Padres manager Andy Green saying that Cordero will be playing in San Diego as soon as he’s ready.
“He’s toolsier than anybody here,” Green said of Cordero. “There’s more raw twitch, more explosion, more speed. It’s impressive what’s inside him.”
Playing time may not come at the expense of Pirela. Cordero is an elite defensive centerfielder, too. But it doesn’t seem likely that Cordero is merely a short-term lineup solution while Wil Myers is out with a mysterious nerve issue. Cordero has 30-homer power and projects as an elite base stealer but likely will K a lot and struggle to hit for a useful average.
Let’s stay in San Diego with Carlos Asuaje playing second base every day and trying to hold back another Padres prospect, 20-year-old Luis Urias. I follow prospects very closely and traded Urias in dynasty because I don’t think he’ll be an elite fantasy player — think of a D.J. LeMahieu outside of Coors. That’s about Urias’ upside. Certainly useful but not worth sacrificing a roster spot while you wait in more shallow formats.
Domingo Santana is playing every day and struggling. The playing time will be steady with Christian Yelich suffering the dreaded oblique injury which can be anywhere from six days to six weeks. Santana was the 33rd best hitter in fantasy last year. He has a .615 OPS but has three walks and nine Ks, which was about what I would have expected right now in those categories. I’d definitely hold in all formats.
I got a lot of grief for saying that Ian Desmond was garbage hitter who should not stand in the way of giving a legitimate prospect like Ryan McMahon playing time. But Bud Black has done just that and Desmond has a .657 OPS with 11 Ks and no walks. Yes, McMahon is 0-for-11 with six Ks but you can’t have a rookie get one start all season for a guy who has almost no chance of being a playable first baseman even in Coors. What is the actionable thing here? Trade Desmond the first chance you get because eventually the Rockies will have to see the light. Drop McMahon for now but get him the first time he starts for the second-straight MLB game. (This may be after a demotion to the minors, unless the Rockies continue to be beyond merely dumb and downright stupid by having McMahon sit on the bench.)
Maikel Franco was the bet to lose the most playing time with the promotion of Scott Kingery. But Franco has continued his hot spring training hitting into the season and is just crushing it. This is a Cubs-like situation where you have to stay on top of the lineups every day but I feel that Franco is going to be worth the effort. The thing about Franco is he has power with low Ks and now has just three Ks this year (two homers).
Jesse Winker and Colin Moran were both preseason favorites here. Moran has been splashier but Winker has seven walks and just six Ks and when you walk more than you K in the majors with his level of experience, you’re seeing the ball well. Winker now in 167 PAs spanning back to 2017 has a line of .294/.392/.490. He’s available in 91% of Yahoo leagues. Go get him. Moran is only 10% owned even though he’s more obviously crushing it. Moran’s a hit trajectory guy and a post-hype prospect as a former top 10 overall amateur draft pick.
Transitioning smoothly from Winker, I’m disappointed that anyone who reads me even wastes their time with Billy Hamilton. Look, defense is badly overvalued, especially in the outfield. Hamilton is only a smart play for the Reds if they’re trying to win the steals category. Otherwise it’s a dumb move. Never bet on a guy that a team has to be dumb to keep playing. Hamilton is never going to hit remotely well enough and steals are increasingly deemphasized in the real game.
I feel like doing a mea culpa on bashing Jose Martinez. But the job here is to look at how player types perform and the data on late-breakouts is bad. Of course, late breakouts do sustain sometimes. So now you have to move the needle just a little bit toward Martinez actually being a good hitter. Again, I’m not retracting what I said but just revising it slightly in the direction of what the small amount of additional data says. For now, the playing time is going to continue with Jedd Gyorko on the DL and multiple Cardinals struggling. But for context, Martinez now for me is merely in the same tier as Winker and Moran, who are mostly free while Martinez is 71% owned.