In the War Room with Warfel: Fantasy baseball sleepers

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

Any fan who missed the sound of a ball against a leather glove or the crack of a wooden bat when it connects with the ball just right is happy after this weekend. For the first time since October, baseball is back.

While spring training games really mean nothing, other than help to get your players back into shape, baseball is back. This means fantasy baseball is set to come around too, and for those of you who have already drafted your team or play in keeper leagues, well, good luck.

Fantasy sports of any kind are fun for a casual fan of any sport because you simply have to adjust or fine tune your lineup every day.

Advertisement

Baseball, of all sports, is more unpredictable than any other sport. With basketball, a player who averages 15 points a game one season typically won’t turn around and average two points per game the next season.

A hitter who hits to a .300 average one year can hit .200 the next year, as was the case for Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles after hitting .215 with 26 home runs in 2017 then hitting .168 with 16 home runs last season.

Keeping the statistical anomalies in mind, I want to take a look at some dark horse candidates you could add to you fantasy baseball roster.

Depending on the league you play in, pitchers are worth more points than any position player.

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez is a diamond in the rough to look out for. This 26 year old made his pitching debut last season.

He finished the season with a 2.81 ERA and only struck out 18.3 percent of the hitters he faced. Before his call up when he played in Triple A, he struck out 25 percent of the hitters he faced – if he can get back to those levels, expect a huge point earner for fantasy baseball.

Another pitcher to look into on the American League is Cleveland Indians starter Shane Bieber.

In his minor league career he walked only 22 people across 298.1 innings, which averages out to one walk almost every 14 innings.

When he came up last season, Bieber was able to maintain that control with a 24.3 percent strikeout rate and a 4.7 percent walk rate.

The last pitcher to not sleep on is Kevin Gausman of the Atlanta Braves.

Gausman was traded to the Braves from the Orioles last season as he maintained a 2.87 ERA in his ten starts with the Braves.

Gausman will not strike out a lot of people, as he had a 44.4 percent ground ball rate last season, but he has pitched at least 179.2 innings in three straight seasons so he will pick up some innings for you.

Aside from starting pitchers, you need a good catcher and a good outfielder. These are two positions which get rotated the least.

As far as catchers go, Omar Narvaez of the Seattle Mariners is someone to consider, as he registered multiple career highs last season.

Narvaez has a career batting average of .274 and a walk rate of 12.3 all while keeping his strikeout rate under 20 percent.

An outfielder to keep an eye on as you get later in your fantasy draft is Nomar Mazara of the Texas Rangers.

Mazara has hit 20 homers in each of his three seasons across the majors; just last season, he had 77 runs batted in.

For any fan of fantasy baseball, I wish you good luck, and if you want to give me Clayton Kershaw or Mike Trout straight up for a rookie, I will not cry.

March 31st marks opening day for Major League Baseball – so while you’re busy filling out your Mock Draft and thinking you’re the next general manager of your favorite team, just know baseball is right around the corner.

 Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement