With the 50-game mark of the season fast approaching, it’s time for teams to do some honest evaluations of what they really are. Teams that look good are good. Apparently, this includes the Indians and their inconceivable grip on the best record and run differential in the league. Between the Indians’ Major League-like resurgence and the Cavaliers getting Kyrie Irving, it’s possible that God doesn’t hate Cleveland after all.
Teams that look bad are bad. Sorry Houston, Seattle, Minnesota, Washington, San Diego and Baltimore, but being in last place in late May means playoff ticket sales won’t be necessary.
The good news for us fantasy owners is that while those teams above are largely stuck with their crummy rosters, in our game it’s a lot more possible to climb out of the cellar.
The key at this point is to forget the draft. Every owner feels a connection to the team he drafted and that’s completely natural. And I’m not saying to give up on all your preseason research and dump your roster. But if you are sitting at the bottom of the standings, shaking up the team can’t make things worse, right?
Now is the time to take some chances, make some deals and have some fun. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what this game is supposed to be about anyway. So, you can either ride out your roster, add a free agent or two and get your team to a seventh place nobody will remember or you can make some bold moves, make the playoffs and earn some trash-talking rights.
The following is a list of under-performers that I’m going to go for before they get hot:
Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers
Napoli definitely isn’t a great hitter (career .248 avg), but he isn’t Mendoza-line bad and he packs a lot of pop at the catcher position. He already has 6 homers and is going to get at least 20 (as he’s done the last three years). If he can get some consistent at bats he could even make a run at last year’s 26 homers, which would be huge from behind the plate (I know he doesn’t really catch, but in this game that doesn’t matter).
Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox
There are only a few things that are certain in fantasy baseball, your stud pitcher will have his worst start of the year in the first round of the playoffs, you will finish 1 run scored out of the playoffs in at least one league and Adam Dunn is going to hit 40 home runs. Well actually, the last two years he’s only hit 38, but that’s his lowest total since 2003. Dunn is going to strike out a ton and he will probably bat close to .250 at best, but he is a classic buy-low right now.
Justin Morneau – Minnesota Twins
Morneau seems to be going through one of the longest concussion recoveries in sports history, but he finally seems to be close to regaining his stroke. It might actually be a little too late to get him as he has hit .302 over the last two weeks, but his owner might be sick of waiting for his power to come back as he still has just 2 homers.
Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers
Kinsler tends to get hurt a lot and he can be streaky, but he’s definitely not a .228 hitter. He might actually be a little easier to land because of his shaky injury history and if you are ready to take a risk, this might be the year he stays healthy. When he’s healthy, he produces.
Gordon Beckham – Chicago White Sox
The crazy thing about Beckham is that he is still just 24 years old. In reality, he should probably be tearing up the minors right now as the “next big thing.” But the White Sox need him and he’s proven he can get hot for half a season. Last year, he went .310/.380/.497 after the all-star game and he’s probably going to do it again.
Hanley Ramirez – Florida Marlins
Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
Aramis Ramirez – Chicago Cubs
Shin-Soo Choo – Cleveland Indians
I thought Choo was overvalued on draft day, but if his owner in your league thinks he’s this bad, you can get him at a more appropriate price now. Choo is still running (7 steals) and is on pace for 20 homers, so there’s probably some good days ahead as he climbs closer to .300 as he almost certainly win.
Carl Crawford – Boston Red Sox
Crawford is another guy I thought was overvalued on draft day, but could bring solid value to a team now. Crawford finally became the fantasy monster everyone expected last year, but last year was kind of a magical season for the Rays. Still, there is no way he hits .212 all year with no power and just a few steals. Boston seems to be a tough adjustment for him, but he is too talented to be this bad.
Chris Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals
If Dave Duncan can make Jamie Garcia a stud, he can remind Carpenter that he’s really good. Carpenter’s numbers are ugly across the board, but he’s had some bad luck and he has too good of a track record to not turn it around.
John Danks – Chicago White Sox
It’s no surprise that one of the league’s most disappointing teams has three players on this list, but Danks deserves his spot too. The lefty has had some luck issues, some bullpen issues and some control issues to leave him at 0-6. His numbers the last three years have been too consistent to count this start as anything more than an aberration you can capitalize on.
Zack Grienke – Milwaukee Brewers
Grienke’s move to the NL Central was supposed to make him a Cy Young contender immediately, but a broken rib has stalled that talk. His ERA has soared to 6.43 in his first four starts, but his other numbers show he’s not far off. If his owner doesn’t notice his sparkling 29-2 K:BB ratio and that he seems to just be unable to avoid the explosion inning right now, he might be attainable.