Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
2014 Major League Rule Five Draft Review
During our drafts, we typically divide responsibilities, with the goal of taking advantage of opportunities like when Vince Coleman went for $2 in the original Rotisserie League due to careful tracking and bidding. For auctions, Jess runs the roster lists for both MLB and the remaining budgets for the in-progress fantasy teams, while I run our dollar list and bids. In the quicker snake drafts, with teams often drafting players every several seconds, the MLB roster sheet generally falls to me, too. However, we never found an easy one-page reference, with most sites either adding way too much unnecessary white space on their pages or failing to include sufficient depth beyond the likely 25-man rosters, plus or minus maybe five borderline players.
So after years of searching for that simple one-page cross-off list of team-by-team depth charts and lineups, we started developing our own solution. We used a wide variety of sources to help compile this, including MLB.com's 40-man roster and NRI lists for every team, MLB.com's 2017 Spring Training Stats to see who might be leading competitions for particular jobs, Roster Resource's team pages for player option info, and ESPN's lineup pages for teams like the Cubs, to see the last week of batting orders for each team - refined based on our knowledge of how particular managers and front offices prefer to structure their lineups and bullpens.
We wanted a simple, compact reference, one page per league, where we could instantly see each team's depth chart and batting order, as well as basic info like 40-man status, Rookie and Rule 5 status, currently injured and/or cut players, and even suspended/restricted players. We designed these printable sheets to address these goals, as well as even adding a standard 22-man positional cross-off list (with five bench players) in the upper-right hand corner.
Frequently we just print out the sheets when it's quicker to cross off names manually, though when we draft online, I highlight our players in light blue and everyone else selected gets the darkest grey shading. That way, we still can read everyone's names but clearly differentiate between our players (light blue), demoted players (light gray), and players drafted on other teams (dark gray).
Yes, we used 10-point font, so maybe this won't work for everyone, but whether you want to print them out and cross them off physically, or you draft on a screen and prefer just to shade the appropriate cells of taken players, this spreadsheet should help your draft process. Of course, if you're using a large monitor when drafting, you can increase the zoom to compensate for the small text.
Since we also wanted to identify remaining breakout position players and high-skills pitchers at a glance, we bolded the names of all hitters with 2+ years of experience heading into their age-26 seasons, as well as pitchers who achieved LPR status for last season by posting a strikeout rate no less than 6.0 K/9, a walk rate no higher than 3.0 BB/9, a HR/9 of 1.0 or less, a H/9 or 9.0 or less, and a ground-fly rate of no lower than 1.00.
Also, as we obviously haven't posted in a while due to a wide range of other work and personal commitments, I'll go ahead and preview several players and pitchers who we highlighted on the roster list and I believe merit particular attention this spring.
While we could include guys like Nolan Arenado on here (and Kris Bryant and Mike Trout on the list of current 25-year-olds for 2018 breakouts below), I'm omitting any currently elite players in favor of focusing on guys I believe qualify as significantly undervalued in most formats.
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
Billy Hamilton, OF CIN
Ender Inciarte, OF, ATL
Kolten Wong, 2B, STL
Joe Panik, 2B, SF
Jake Lamb, 3B, ARI
Matt Duffy, 3B/SS, TB
Avisail Garcia, OF, CHW
Mike Zunino, C, SEA
While these two guys fall on the 2018 breakout list, both Jorge Soler & Randal Grichuk appear positioned for power surges this year. At the very least, they qualify as solid growth stocks, as do longer-term plays like Domingo Santana, Maikel Franco, and Brandon Drury. (Yes, I'm aware that so much of the undervalued young talent appears in the NL right now, but the AL already has 24-and-unders like Bogaerts, Betts, Machado, Correa, Lindor, Odor, Sano, & Jose Ramirez, all of whom already rank as tremendous fantasy assets.)
Potential 2018 (or sooner) AL breakout hitters: Nick Castellanos, Eddie Rosario, Jon Schoop, Jorge Soler.
Potential 2018 (or sooner) NL breakout hitters: Wilmer Flores, Randal Grichuk, Enrique Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, Chris Owings, Joc Pederson, Gregory Polanco, Eugenio Suarez, Christian Yelich.
Michael Lorenzen, P, CIN
Nate Jones, RP, CHW
Pedro Strop, RP, CHC
Kenta Maeda, SP, LAD
Andrew Triggs, SP, OAK
Lastly, when appropriate, grab the Dodgers' #5 SP. Brandon McCarthy, Alex Wood, and Ross Stripling all demonstrated strong skills when healthy (though I'm giving McCarthy a mild pass on his post-injury control issues). If the Dodgers' established LH SPs (Kershaw, Hill, Kazmir) combine to miss another 300 innings, expect guys like McCarthy, Wood, Stripling, and even Brock Stewart and Hyun-jin Ryu all to push double-digit value. The uncertainty regarding who actually gets the starts means most of those guys won't cost more than a buck or two, though it continues to amaze me that if given the opportunity, probably a half-dozen teams - including the Padres, Reds, Twins, and probably the Orioles, Marlins, and Brewers - would benefit from swapping their entire rotation with the Dodgers' backup quintet. Whenever you need a starter, check to see if the Dodgers plan to employ one of these guys for the upcoming week.
Tampa actually might have almost as many intriguing arms (if nowhere near as high-profile), but I expect a much more linear progression there: Alex Cobb and probably Jake Odorizzi should get traded during the season, and that will clear rotation slots for all three of Matt Andriese, Chase Whitley, and, of course, sleeper Rookie of the Year candidate Jose DeLeon.
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