With ESPN just this week activating their fantasy baseball mock draft application, I’ve had the chance to play with it a little bit, and while your draft probably isn’t for a little while yet (you have about six weeks before Opening Day), I have a few observations to pass along to you:
Moving up the list
J.D. Martinez, OF-DH, Boston Red Sox
Now that he’s finally agreed to a contract with Boston, which has been rumored for several months, he is a must-have in 2018 fantasy. Not only will the right-handed slugger enjoy his new up-close and personal relationship with the Big Green Monster at Fenway, he moves into the clean-up slot in one of the best all-around lineups in the American League.
Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Yelich was a reasonably valued player the last two seasons in which he posted 21 homers and 98 RBIs in 2016 and 18 and 81 in ’17. But thanks to the massive housecleaning in Miami, he’s found himself in an even better top-to-bottom lineup in Milwaukee. His .280 average and 16 steals are a huge bonuses and make him an even better addition to any fantasy lineup.
Luis Castillo, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Sure, I know, the Reds are not exactly world beaters and their offense is kinda in flux around Joey Votto, but there are not many young power arms like Castillo. Like most aces-in-the-making, he struggled a bit in his first go round in MLB, going 3-7. Howerver, he had an ERA of 3.12 and collected 98 strikeouts to 36 walks in 89.1 innings. Don’t worry about the lineup around him, worry about your hitters having to face him.
Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland A’s
If you opt for one of the other high values at first base in the earlier rounds, you can get one here with Olson. Granted he’s young and somewhat unproven, but a year ago in the bigs, he clubbed 24 home runs and had 45 RBIs in just 189 at-bats. Yeah, you heard me. Put those numbers over a 500 at-bat season and we’re talking premiere numbers … and at a bargain-basement price of a 10th-round pick.
Adam Eeton, OF, Washington Nationals
It’s easy to forget about him after he missed all of 2017 with an injury. But if he can return at full strength and bring with him the play he put out with the White Sox two seasons ago, he could be a fantasy MVP at or near the top of the potent Nationals order.
Moving down the list
The New York Yankees sluggers
Is this lineup too good to be true? Adding Giancarlo Stanton to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez? With that trio alone projected to hit up to 140 homers and drive in 280 runs, many are calling the new Murderer’s Row in the Bronx.
But is it really? I don’t think so.
I’m willing to gamble that two of those three sluggers fall on their face this season, either via injuries or the pressure to produce in The Big Apple. They will probably get around 90 round-trippers and maybe 170 RBIs, so if you can live with those numbers instead of the larger ones, go for it. Considering the price, to me the latter hardly seems worth it.
Shohei Ohtani, SP-DH, Los Angeles Angels
To have a player listed as both a pitcher and a DH, I admit, would be really cool, but mock drafts have him going in as high as the seventh round. That’s way too high. There’s just too much unknown about this guy, too many red flags. He’s in a pretty good lineup with Mike Trout and others, but I’d rather go with someone a little safer in that 7-8 range, like Dodgers’ pitcher Alex Wood or the Cardinals’ Tommy Pham. If you can get him in round 10 or 11, go for it. Any higher is too rich for me.