2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Old Faces, New Places

Fantasy baseball players will have to wade through the dealings of a fantastically busy MLB offseason as they prepare for their 2015 drafts. Here, I’ll run down the impact and outlook for 30ish of the top players who changed teams over the winter.

Get your CTRL+Fs ready!

The Crown Jewels

Max Scherzer | Washington Nationals | SP

Scherzer has every reason to smile. Not only did he snag a seven-year, $210 million contract in his first try at free agency, he gets to move from a waning Detroit Tigers squad in an uber-competitive AL Central to a loaded Washington Nationals team poised to stroll through the weak National League East division. The Mets are improving, but remain an offensive mess, the Braves are bottoming out, and the Phillies just lost to the University of Tampa. Things couldn’t have worked out much better for ‘ole Max.

Scherzer is still very much in his prime. He finished fourth in baseball with a 27.9% strikeout rate last season. He ranks among the top 20 starters in whiffs per swing for both his fastball and slider, and that’s not including the near-30% whiff rate he gets on his excellent changeup. Oh, and he’s adding a cutter.

After Clayton Kershaw, there’s no pitcher I’d rather have.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Alex Meyer

Profile

Alex Meyer certainly looks the part. He towers over the mound at a lanky 6’9” and sports an electric heater that has touched 100 and routinely sits in the mid-90’s. There’s certainly effort in his delivery and his mechanics aren’t exactly tight, but it’s a natural motion with an arm slot that uses his height to get excellent downward leverage and sink on all of his pitches. Meyer complements his anvil of a fastball with a sharp slider that he snaps off to right-handed hitters. He’s developing a changeup to attack lefties, but it still lags behind his top two offerings. It’s an overwhelming arsenal, but one that Meyer doesn’t show an ability to command consistently.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Dylan Bundy

Profile

Dylan Bundy is a walking lesson in prospect volatility. After rocketing through the Baltimore Orioles farm system and reaching the major leagues at age 19 in 2012, he blew out his elbow and sat out a full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Bundy returned in 2014 and showed flashes of his old self before suffering another (relatively minor) setback.

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2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Kris Bryant

Profile

Kris Bryant is a bad dude. The consensus top prospect in arguably the best system in baseball has overwhelming tools at the plate and a glove developing fast enough for him to stick at a position where the fantasy pool seems to get shallower every season. Bryant smacked a minor league-leading 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A last season, hammering out a .295/.428/.619 slash line in a half season at Iowa after the Cubs decided he’d already learned everything he could in the Southern League. They certainly weren’t wrong to move him along quickly; Baseball America ranked Bryant as the most exciting prospect in the Southern League and rated his hitting, power, and (infield) arm as the best tools in the league.

And ohbytheway… 2014 was Bryant’s first full season of professional baseball.

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Winter Meetings Update: Dodgers Trades Strengthen the Middle

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been quite busy this week. New GM Andrew Friedman has carved up the Winter Meetings and reshaped his now slightly less pricey roster. David Wiers wrote up the fantasy spin Matt Kemp’s departure, the highest profile piece of the Dodgers’ reshuffling, and Scott Barzilla handled the fantasy fortunes of LA’s primary trading partner, the Miami Marlins. Here, we’ll focus on the impact to the middle of the Dodgers defense, which is now stocked with four new starters.

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2014 Fantasy Football: Why Latavius Murray is a Playoff Starter

“If you’re not first, you’re last.” It’s a ridiculous life philosophy, but something that should absolutely be one of the critical building blocks of strategy in the fantasy football playoffs. All that matters is increasing your chance to win. Whether you lose by 0.05 or 50 is completely irrelevant. If you’re chasing a heavily favored opponent, you need to take every risk you can to get a victory.

And that’s why I’ll be happily scooping and starting Latavius Murray in one of my leagues. He might be the most unpredictable commodity in fantasy football right now, but there aren’t many runners that can match his upside. Sure, the Jonas Grays and Matt Asiatas of the world will occasionally plant their personal flag in the end zone for a week; that’s not who Murray is. He’s an immensely talented player stuck in a tragically warped organization. There aren’t more than ten guys in the league who are capable of doing this on a regular basis. [Read more…]

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Three Keepers to Stash for 2015

At this point in the season, 90% of the standings in your fantasy baseball league are decided. If you play in a keeper format, it’s time to look to next year. After a little disclaimer, let’s run down three down-on-their-luck players to stash for next season.

Obviously, keeper values are highly dependent on the specific rules of your league. How many guys you can keep, what their draft pick or auction value is, and how long you’re able to keep them for are all critically important considerations and are all different based on your rules. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to make some basic assumptions about those values; for instance, that it’d typically cost more to keep a traditionally elite player that it would to keep a younger, more unproven player.

Cool? Let’s do this. [Read more…]

2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 24 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 24 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re moving on to Edward Mujica, moving on from Anthony Rizzo, and moving on up with Javier Baez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, totally unrelated links to your fantasy football podcast?

Well, I’ve got one of those… Click here to hear Ryan Noonan and I preview Week 1, and look out for new pods on the site (and eventually iTunes) every week.

For anything else, hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Edward Mujica | Boston Red Sox | RP

Koji Uehara has finally discovered what it feels for every other pitcher with a fastball that can’t touch 90 miles-per-hour. He’s been tagged for at least one run in five of his last six outings. It’s an odd development; it’s shocking to see a pitcher who’d been among the most reliable in the league for the past few seasons suddenly lose it, but at the same time, Uehara was bound to blow up at some point. The Red Sox have rightly decided that it’s just not useful for a rebuilding team to keep sending a struggling 39-year old out to handle its save chances, especially when that closer is in the last year of his contract. Instead, the Sox have slotted Edward Mujica in as closer. He’s no spring chicken himself, but at least Mujica is under team control in 2015. The move is said to be “temporary”, but the gap between “temporary” and “permanent” is narrowing significantly by the day.

I imagine that Mujica earned at least half of a proven closer pendant of life from his days working the ninth inning in St. Louis, which should buy him a couple outings’ worth of rope if he’s not great right away. Truthfully, he hasn’t been great overall this season (neither his 17.2% strikeout rate and 3.85 FIP engender much confidence) but now, more than ever, saves are saves are saves. As long as Mujica isn’t a total tire fire (you know, like Michigan’s offense on Saturday), he should snag a few saves over the last few weeks of the season. If you’re within striking distance of a roto point or two in that category, there’s nobody more valuable on the waiver wire.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Koji Uehara, Addison Reed, LaTroy Hawkins

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 23 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 23 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re running with Jordan Schafer, moving on from Joe Kelly, and settling in with Travis d’Arnaud.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, trade deadline quandries? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Oh, and here’s The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Jordan Schafer | Minnesota Twins | OF

Jordan Schafer has mostly flopped since debuting with a bang, but in his aimless bouncing around the league, he has found one elite skill. Despite logging barely two full seasons worth of plate appearances over his five-year career, Schafer has swiped a total of 98 bases with a success rate better than 80%. His SB/PA rate looks a bit inflated after plenty of pinch running opportunities, but his success in those chances proves that he can run even when the defense knows it’s coming. His problem has always been getting on base, but that’s been much less of an issue since Schafer was traded to Minnesota.

Since joining the Twins, his swinging strike rate has dropped by more than four percentage points from the 14.4% he maintained as a Brave this season. His strikeout rate has dropped to a career low 13.1%. He’s kept his walk rate over 10% and his fly ball rate under 30%; the fact that he’s traded some grounders for extra base line drives is just gravy. His .383 BABIP is high, but something around .350 isn’t unsustainable for a guy with his speed.

As long as he hits, Schafer is going to keep playing, Ron Gardenhire has said as much. Eventually, his BABIP will fade a bit, but he’ll stick in the lineup long enough to swipe at least six or seven bags in the next month.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Gregory Polanco, Mookie Betts, Alejandro De Aza

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Week 22 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 22 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re taking a chance on Oswaldo Arcia, cutting ties with C.J. Wilson, and keeping it going with Matt Shoemaker.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, trade deadline quandries? Hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

Sorry in advance that this one’s shorter than my normal posts; I’m on vacation this week and stuck with some rather unreliable internet. I’ll be back in full force next week. And who am I kidding, you’re busy with fantasy football draft prep anyway. Speaking of which…here’s The Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Oswaldo Arcia | Minnesota Twins | OF

“Light-tower power” is probably overused, but I think it’s a fair designation for Oswaldo Arcia. He ranked 14th in baseball in average fly ball distance last season and though he currently ranks 64th in the league, the nine bombs he’s cranked in the second half have certainly helped to move him up the ranks. Arcia has battled nagging injuries all season, but has still managed to hit 19 homers in not even 400 plate appearances between Triple-A and the big leagues while maintaining ISOs above .200 at both levels.

If Chris Carter was already grabbed in your league, you could do a lot worse than Arcia as a backup plan.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Josh Reddick, Domonic Brown, Nori Aoki

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