After a long extended absence here at the Legion Report, I’m back and better than ever. It’s baseball season. We’ve all survived February – and our reward is preparing for the holy grail in fantasy sports – fantasy baseball drafts.
As an offering for my absence (I had a child and haven’t been writing as much), I’m giving away the secrets of my recipe this year. Usually I stay away from publishing the guys who I like for a big breakout, because one of the guys in my six or seven leagues I’m in will see it and it just can’t help.
Because I think so much of the fabulous Tozzi Brothers and all of you reading this site, I’m gonna feed it to you straight. Here’s a rundown of guys at every position you can count on in 2015 at all costs. You better get them in your foxhole on draft day, and thank me later.
‘Sleeper’ and ‘Breakout’ are a relative term with some gray area in between. I’ll provide some commentary with each name to clarify exactly what I mean. Obviously, Giancarlo Stanton is not a sleeper and he’s already broke-out. But me telling you that he’s going to be the number one overall player in fantasy in 2015 is going out on a limb. So without further ado, here’s who I’m going to go out on a limb for in 2015:
I did a mock last night, and honestly it’s the year to wait on a catcher. I’ve seen this strategy used before and it wasn’t the year for it. There were elite catchers and very bad catchers. Right now, it’s a lot of mediocre guys in a grouping. There’s Buster Posey who will cost you a pretty elite pick, and then there’s a lot of guys who do the same thing.
Yasmani Grandal – The pedigree has always been there but he’s battled injuries and a poor offensive ballpark. He’s with the Dodgers now and he’s going to be hitting fifth I would guess. In any league that counts on-base percentage, it’s an added bonus. This is the year he shows why he was a first round pick. Being a Dodger and being a Padre are two different things, in real life baseball and in fantasy.
Evan Gattis – STEAMER sees him hitting 29 home runs, I say he’s got over 30 in him with that short left-field porch coupled with getting to DH some in the American League. There aren’t that many guys who are going to do that. You’re going to get the best Gattis you’ve seen yet in 2015.
Travis d’Arnaud – This is my favorite ‘wait for a catcher’ of all. Honestly, why are people grabbing Sal Perez in round 14 when you can wait until the end of the draft after you’ve built every other position group and depth and snag the man who begins his last name with a lower-case? No one knows about him, and it’s not a great hitters park but they have moved in the fences and I expect him to reach the 20 home run plateau and hit .260; and if he doesn’t you can pick Wilson Ramos up off the waiver wire. d’Arnaud delivers in 2015 – and I legally just began a sentence with a lower-case.
Josmil Pinto – Pinto beans are cheap protein. Pinto baseball players are cheap power.
Unlike at Catcher, in 2015 mocks I have noticed there is a significant drop off at first base after the elite few. Grab a good one or get left out in the cold. Don’t look for your sleepers here. This is a position you want to invest the elite pick in if you miss out on Trout, Cutch, Stanton. I would recommend doing it before Kershaw, personally.
Anthony Rizzo – MVP candidate, and everyone knows it. He’s moved into the first round already. You’ll get what you pay for with him. I believe he hits 40 home runs this season.
Jose Abreu – I tried to build a case against him, and really couldn’t. I think he leads the AL in home runs and hits between .290 and .300 for the year. Anyone who expects regression is going to be dead wrong. This Big Cuban Stud is the real deal in fantasy.
Brandon Belt – He’s never really put it all together but I still like his bat. You can pay for Freddie Freeman in the fourth round in a bad lineup or you can draft Belt around ten rounds later for what I expect to be somewhat similar production. It’s okay to expect .280/22/80 and remember he’s part of a good organization. He’s probably going to work out at some point.
Steve Pearce – If you miss out on first tier guys and somehow neglect first base, Pearce is a guy who could offer 25 to 30 bombs and a sub .300 average. Camden Yards produces numbers, that’s a fact Jack.
It’s really about finding someone here who is a hit for you in the middling rounds while your opponents have to overpay for the likes of Altuve or Dee Gordon.
Kolten Wong – I see guys taking Altuve so damn early nowadays. Everyone gambling on Kipnis to have his bounce back year. How about Wong, who we see as a guy in another great organization where things always seem to work out. He was always around .300 in the minor leagues, and we think 20-20 with a good average is what he’ll do in 2015. He’ll become a solid and dependable fantasy option for years to come.
Mookie Betts – We’ll get downright redundant: great organization. He’ll work out. Last year was about getting his feet wet. This year will be about Marcus hitting 15 homers, stealing 30, and checking in with a .290 average. Value should be weighted semi-heavily in keeper formats.
Marcus Semien – No one will be crazy about his average, but he’s got 15-20 home run pop. Worth a flyer in those late rounds or if he is available after drafts on the waiver wire. In a weird way I would rather have him over antique farm equipment like Utley.
Xander Bogaerts – Some guys just have slow climbs to the top. Not everyone can be Tony Montana. If you believed in him before last season – and I did – you should still believe in his pedigree now. Fan on FanGraphs projections have him hitting .273/17/70 with 77 runs. Those are damn smart fans. Expect a season of good numbers before the All-Star years start to pile up.
Didi Gregorius – Phenomenal hitters park and no one is talking about the man who replaces Derek Jeter, both which will work in his favor. Has always had more quiet pop than anyone thinks; for the first time in his professional career he will reach double-digits in long balls. The loss of Moncada will sting a little bit less. Only a little.
Danny Santana – Why take Alexei Ramirez round 11 when you can get Danny Santana in round 18? Possible 30 stolen base, 10 home run guy that you’re still hoping Alexei is after all these years; several rounds later. Potential to more than just out-perform ADP, has potential to be a star.
Wilmer Flores – You might not even need to draft this guy if you don’t send your friends this article. He’s got the shortstop job out of Spring Training in Queens and he might just hit 15 home runs with a .250 average. Sign me up.
Jung-Ho Kang – The Pirates don’t sign these type of guys very often, so they must have felt very sure about something. He will have a chance at the top of the lineup to cause some trouble, especially if Josh Harrison regresses a little.
Jean Segura – He’s talented and a rebound year is coming. Not the superstar he was expected to be, but he’s a good fantasy player with skills that are too good to let him bust.
Last year I gave you Todd Frazier as a breakout candidate and he delivered. I made Josh Harrison a household name with my blessing. Pick your spots at this position on draft day.
Evan Longoria – Seems to be a forgotten man, and I don’t really love the Rays lineup around him. But he’s still Evan Longoria. I always believed he would have some semi-MVP years. He doesn’t have the team around him for it this season but he’s going way too late in drafts for a guy who will .270/30/90 for you. Stud bat in our opinion; still, after a few sub-par years.
Yasmani Thomas – NOT a guy to gamble on. Bad organization. We know very little about him other than what we’ve read. I think this is a guy who could really disappoint. People who are predicting a breakout from day one – what are they basing it on?
Kris Bryant – Pump the breaks a little bit. In a keeper league by all means, have at it. But we think he’s unlikely to hit more than 20 homers and more than .260 in 2015. He’s not as good of a bat as Harper, so look at Harper’s rookie season numbers and subtract from there.
Giancarlo Stanton – He’s no one’s sleeper, but I give you the #1 overall player in fantasy right here. I’m so bullish on Stanton, I dealt Mike Trout in a league to acquire him. Think I’m crazy? The only reason he’ll miss out on 50 home runs in the upcoming season is because the Marlins will be playing meaningful games until late in the year and he will start getting Barry Bonds treatment again. He finishes with 45 homers and a .300 average and adds 10 steals. For right now, this year; he is going to out produce Mike Trout. Age 25 season will stand out on the back of his baseball card. I hope kids are still buying those. I want a pack now.
Oswaldo Arcia – The struggles against lefties might be real (.198 in 2014), but that power is just as real. Commonly hit .300 in the minors, so we think he figures it out to a degree. He’s going at the end of drafts, and he’s going to have a shot at 30 home runs. He will out-produce guys in every category who are being drafted earlier like Matt Adams. Fill your UTIL spot with this guy instead, mmmkay?
Avasail Garcia – Baseball’s next 25 home run guy. Looks an awful lot like Miguel Cabrera in the box. Should develop into a Magglio Ordonez type corner OF and will be a huge reason the White Sox win their division. Feel great about his bat in 2015.
Bryce Harper – My favorite big leaguer who loves to tease me with his talent is again worth a look because he’s going in the second and third round where he should, I’m glad to see that big postseason didn’t earn too much hype. He’ll finally cross the 30 HR marker, steal 10 bases, and avoid the disabled list. For the first time since his rookie year, he’ll be more fun than headache to own.
Steven Souza – The guy was traded from Washington and a lot of people there wanted Harper dealt to free up a spot for Souza! He’s on a lot of sleeper lists and could be Tampa Bay’s second best hitter this season. Let’s say 19ish home runs and a .265 average. In a 12-team league he’ll be owned and help someone if there are more than three outfield spots.
Michael Saunders – He would have been on this list but he stepped on a sprinkler head…. so we give you….
Dalton Pompey – Should steal over 20 bases and hit a few more home runs than he has any business hitting in that Toronto lineup. Steals are the rarest category in fantasy, becoming more rare by the day. Do not roll your eyes at Pompey. Or maybe we’ll just go make some hay, by the bay, I just may!
That’s everyone for right now. We will cover Starting Pitchers and relief pitchers in my next post. It’s never too early to begin preparing for fantasy baseball. Do a mock draft or two of your own to get a feel for what guys the public is waiting on and what guys are being reached too early for. There’s no better tool than letting Joe Public show you his hand.