After a few years in a league, you know who the dangerous owners are. They’re the guys who are hip to the names you thought could be kept secret. They’re the guys taking your player when you thought you could wait two more rounds. After a few drafts this year already, we have a pretty good idea who has made our hot list for 2016 and who should be on yours. Here are some of those secret recipe ingredients for who should be on your sweetest list this first week in March 2016. You can see the first part of our list right here.
Stephen Strasburg – No one annoyed us more the past two seasons than Sir Stephen. So we dealt him this offseason. Then the idea hit us. This friggin’ guy is going to go off. Contract year + another year away from Tommy John + magical age 28 season + no one really loves him. It is a perfect storm. He absolutely could be the top pitcher in the NL finally and he’s at a little discount in drafts.
Taijuan Walker – Two years ago at the tail end of 2014 was way too premature. Last season when we were all over him was just a bit early, he wasn’t ready. We think Seattle is going to be pretty solid, and he’ll pitch like a number two. He won’t drive you nuts with inconsistency. Still not a lockdown ace, but he won’t be making you rip your hair out every other start like 2015.
Lance McCullers – Man, we love this guy. He’s climbed into our top five favorite pitchers in baseball. He has the pedigree, and the stuff to match. He struck out 129 hitters in 125 innings last year. He’ll be on an innings limit, but in a keeper league he has increased value because he’ll soon be the coveted ace of the Houston staff.
Jose Abreu – We aren’t going to end up with the Big Cuban Stud anywhere, which really sucks. But he’s a hitter. Even in a ‘down’ year last season he hit 30 homers, with 101 RBI and a .290 average. He’s in an offensive juggernaut park and the added benefit of having Todd Frazier around him in the lineup shouldn’t be underestimated. If Avasail Garcia can actually hit a little bit this year that would be a huge boost. Expect 35/110/.300 again at the least.
Chris Davis – I’m okay with a guy who might hit .240 when he can pop 50 homers out pretty easily. He has easy power, and it seems like he’s going to level off for the rest of his career as a 35+ home run guy. The Orioles as a whole intrigue the hell out of me. They should strike out a ton, play terrible defense, and homer with the best of them this season. Crush will lead the charge.
Dee Gordon – You know when you realize how important it is to own Dee Gordon? When you have to manage a team all year without him and you’re picking up scraps off the waiver wire and their liabilities along with them on the chance they might steal a bag. And then they don’t all week. If you have sweet Dee on your team, you automatically are going to be gunning for that ’10’ or ’12’ in the stolen bases category. Miami’s lineup could be surprisingly good, so he could score a boatload of runs too. It’s an uphill battle if you try to build a speed team around anyone else not named Altuve.
Marcus Stroman – He is going to be 25 and doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his arm. He should be ready to log 200 or so innings for a very good club. It’s a crying shame he injured himself in Spring Training last year, because he would have had a monster year. Even in four limited starts, you could see how effective he was. There’s really not a lot of talk of an innings limit, either. Our best guess is the gloves come off up in Canada and he wins 18 games with around 180 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA. Get him!
Carlos Rodon – We really love him, but he is probably a year away from entering the elite. If it’s a keeper league, this year will serve as your final year to get him before he costs you what you don’t want to pay. Has a filthy slider that allowed him to strike out one batter per inning last season. Doesn’t seem vulnerable to the long ball although he pitches half the time at US Ceulluar. The hope is he improves his walk rate a little bit from the 4.6 BB/9 of last season. That was at times; painful. But that’s how it goes with a young pitcher finding his way, and Rodon has the pedigree of an ace.
Roughned Odor – He quietly; almost in the dark, approached an .800 OPS last season. He should top that mark this season and could easily top 20 home runs with 10 steals. The ball flies in his home park, and he’ll be in a lineup full of firepower. There is a lot of talk about the other guys at second base, but Odor is a nice little player who you should be able to snag at a decent price. If you get him, don’t be shy about it. Be excited.
Lorenzo Cain – ‘Zo Cain is another one of those guys who has gotten popular in a hurry. He was a member of a lot of championship fantasy teams in 2015 because he hit .307 and scored 101 runs while adding a little bit in the power categories. He outperformed his ADP almost everywhere. Good pure hitter in a league where the .300 hitter has become scarce. He’s a nice threat to approach 30 stolen bases. He does a little bit of everything and if you’re building a team with balance, he’s an excellent place to start. It’s too bad guys like this can’t remain cheap forever, eh?
Carlos Martinez – He was awesome in 179 innings last year, posting a 3.01 ERA with 184 strikeouts. He went 14-7 for that Cardinals team that just always seem to outperform expectations. He’ll probably be their full-blown ace by 2017, let’s face it; he’s got more remarkable stuff than Wacha. His walk-rate won’t kill you and he’s a really solid guy to have as your number three or even number two.
George Springer – Ok, let’s preface this by saying we don’t think Springer is a soon to be first rounder. We don’t see him making that climb even after this season. But he’s probably a really good second round pick. He will provide a good wind with all the strikeouts, but he could hit .265 with 30 home runs and 30 strikeouts. And again we love everything about the Houston Astros in fantasy this year. They’re going to be a real hot item this season. We’re a hair less hot on Springer than everyone else but he still makes the cut.
Xander Bogaerts – Reminds us of Derek Jeter (go look at Jeter’s career stats). Won’t ever put up monster numbers but very solid power numbers, scores runs, healthy amount of steals, and he hit .320 last year with over 650 plate appearances logged. He knows what he’s doing offensively. His progression has seemed slow but it’s just been steady.
Jonathan Singleton – There’s something great about being the only one out there who loves a guy to have a breakout season. Sometimes we’re wrong (see Josmil Pinto last season), and sometimes there is magic. We think Singleton comes out of seemingly nowhere to hold off the prized A.J. Reed and hits around 25 homers with a .250ish average. He’s bargain basement in drafts. He might not even need to be drafted. He’s a large man and we’re strapping our oxcart to the big fella as one of our premiere sleepers of 2016.
Guys omitted for good reason not listed: Kyle Schwarber, Yoenis Cespedes, Gregory Polanco, Cleveland Starting Pitchers, David Ortiz, Giancarlo Stanton, A.J. Pollock, Jason Heyward, Adrian Gonzalez, Catchers, Brian Dozier, Jacoby Elsbury, Matt Kemp, JD Martinez, Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria, Brett Lawrie, Joc Pederson, Marcus Semien