Think You're Screwed? Some Fantasy Advice for Those Who Messed Up

So you missed out on a certain category or position on draft day. You needed power from third base, but your third baseman is Chone Figgins. You needed speed out of your last outfield spot, but you took Jeff Francoeur (who I happen to love, as shown here). No worries. There are always undrafted options. Every position has eligible players going undrafted that can help you in at least one category, if not more. (Pitchers can be found here. Come for the fantasy advice, stay for the shameless self-promotion.) So if you messed up on draft day, didn’t fill your roster, or have a giant need in a category, I’ve got your back. By the way, every one of these players we’re about to discuss are going undrafted, so they should be on your waiver wire.

Catcher: Chris Iannetta
Could Help In: Average, RBI’s

He was horrible last year. Capital H, capital ORRIBLE (I know, I drafted him). Despite this, there is hope for the human vowel this season. He’s just entering his prime at almost 27 years old and strokes it every time he’s in AAA (he’s hit .351, .296, and .333 in stints there). Last year his BABIP was .245, 55 points below the league average (where he usually hovers), that’s enough to make Bill James cry. The Rockies are waiting for him to put it all together, and so are fantasy owners. This may be his last chance. Either the Rockies evaluation of him was flat-out wrong, or he puts it all together and is a top-10 catcher. For an undrafted player, you could do a lot worse.

First Base: Casey Kotchman
Could Help In: Average, RBI’s

Kotchman’s average for his career is not great, but let me give you some numbers: .296, .287, .282. Wanna know what those are? His batting average when he’s been with a team for more then half the games that season. He’s constantly on the move but is penciled in as Seattle’s opening day first baseman. Mighty Casey also never, ever, EVER strikes out. He has 166 for his six year career (that’s about Adam Dunn before the all-star break). If your league counts K’s as a negative for hitters, his value skyrockets. He also has a chance for a crazy high average if he gets lucky and goes above his .277 career BABIP. It can’t hurt that he’s hitting third in the order this year, guaranteeing a ton of at bats. He’ll also get some RBI chances with Figgins and Ichiro in front of him. Kotchman won’t get you much more than average but then again, it’s virtually impossible to leave the draft this season without a first baseman.

Second Base: Kaz Matsui
Can Help In: Steals, Runs

Ichiro-Mania gave this slap hitting infielder unfairly high expectations that he did not live up to, but don’t be fooled, he’s still talented. He’s a good source of steals at second base, netting 32 in 104 games in ’07 and 20 in 96 games in ’08. If he plays the whole year in the number two hole behind Michael Bourn, as is expected from him, he’ll have an ultimatum (see what I did there?) to run as much as possible and produce runs for this offense. Speed guys tend to trend high in BABIP (his career mark is .314) and he was low in that department last year, at .285. There are a number of safer second baseman around, but if you need steals, runs, and want a guy who looks like he battles Ash using evil Pokemon (yup), grab him off waivers.

Gotta catch 'em all, Kaz!

Third Base: Jake Fox
Can Help In: HR’s, RBI’s

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know where he is going to play this year. He’s like a drunk Cecil Fielder with a glove and is as slow as those sausages that race in Pittsburgh. Despite this, Jake “The Rake” won’t make you ache or shake. This isn’t fake (okay, I’m done), seeing as Billy Beane doesn’t have the money to mess around and dealt for him last year, you have to imagine he’ll see the field. In 164 AB’s with the Cubs AAA team last year, he hit .409 with 17 home runs (more than 1:10 AB’s), so there is nothing left for him to learn there. We’ll see him in the majors, most likely DH’ing, but he is eligible at third in most formats. Considering the lack of talent at third this year and the fact that Oakland will desperately need offense, he’ll be worth taking a gamble on. You may even want to draft him late.

Shortstop: Mike Aviles
Can Help In: Runs, Average

Yes, he plays for Kansas City. Yes, he hit .183 in 36 games last year. Yes, he still plays for Kansas City, but this does not mean you should ignore him. That .183 is canceled out by a couple of factors: it was partially due to a .223 BABIP, and he’s been hitting over .500 this spring. They have no one else to play short (again, they’re the Royals) and he’s in the middle of his prime at 29 years old. Hitting in the same lineup as fantasy breakout candidate Billy Butler will benefit him as well. If that’s not enough, he’s from Manhattan, so New Yorkers who miss out on Jeter and the Thyroid Kid still have a chance to be homers. He’s got upside, which is all you can ask for from players you’re picking up from waivers.

Which one is the Thyroid Kid?

Outfield: Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson
Can Help In: Average, Steals, Runs

I gave you two, because most leagues require at least three outfielders. These two former Yankee greats have a lot of upside and are in new situations that should showcase this. Let’s start with the Melk Man. He’s trending down in K’s (good), up in BB’s/K (also good), up in OBP (still good), and is still only 25 years old. His line drive percentage has gone up while his fly ball percentage has gone down (almost entirely due to a decrease in his infield fly ball percentage), so he’s making better contact. Melky is also out of the always harsh AL East, into the NL East, and will supposedly be hitting leadoff. He’ll also definitely play all 162 games, seeing as Jason Heyward can cure sickness, disease, or injuries with his touch.

Jackson is a different case, seeing his first prolonged major league “Action” this year. The Yankees dealt him for Curtis Granderson in an attempt to add some much needed power to their lineup (if they hit 1,000 home runs, Brian Cashman wins a free lunch at Legend’s Field) and because they were afraid he couldn’t recognize major league breaking balls. Turns out, he can! He’s having a solid spring and will lead off for Detroit. That lineup is good, he’ll have the green light to run, and we know he won’t be out drinking with newly sober teammate Miggy Cabrera. Your outfield should provide almost all of your steals this year, and Jackson can do that for you. The Yankees had been scouting him since he was 13, so when I was slow dancing at an extended arm’s length away from girls 4 inches taller then me, he had the most famous franchise in American sports watching him. Now he gets his chance, take a shot.

Just because I spent 1,000 words telling you who to pick if you miss out on a position does not mean you should leave any spots open after draft day. Just because a player is going undrafted doesn’t automatically mean you can’t draft him. Regardless, if you need certain statistics, these are some guys to consider. They’re almost all young and almost all unproven, but they wouldn’t be going undrafted if they weren’t. Take a chance, that’s what makes this game fun.

As always, keep the bat on your shoulders.

-Backwards K

Questions? Comments? Follow me on Twitter @J_1t_S and tweet me!

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