Tomorrow is sadly the last day of the regular season, and while the baseball fans in all of us are undoubtedly very excited for playoff baseball to start, it means that the season has nearly ended for our fantasy teams. Hopefully you are happy with the way your season went, and if not, hopefully you learned some valuable lessons to take with you into next season. And best of luck for those of you who are still locked in a tight battle for a championship or a piece of your league’s pot.
But, importantly, in most rotisserie leagues, tomorrow is also the last day to pluck guys off the waiver wire before the season ends and add/drops close. So I’m going to run through a list of players who may be out there in your league right now and could have real value in 2013. I’ll give you a hint about what most of these players have in common (cough, injuries, cough). Let’s go around the diamond offensively to see who you can pick up at the last minute this year to give you both the most off-season trade value and 2013/beyond value:
Catcher – Mike Zunino, Mariners
Yes, he finished the season in Double-A, but the rumors are out there that Zunino will get a chance to enter the 2013 season in the majors. I think that’s probably a little bit of a stretch, but if he continues to perform offensively (.360/.447/.689 with 13 HR and 43 RBI in 161 AB), he will get a chance sooner rather than later. And if your league rules prohibit you from picking up a 2012 draftee, Wilson Ramos should be healthy by spring training (torn ACL) and did hit 15 HR in less than 400 AB in 2011. If you’re in a two-catcher league, he should be owned in 2013.
First Base – Logan Morrison, Marlins
Sadly, Morrison is still better known for his antics on Twitter than for being a baseball player at this point in his career, but there’s still the potential for value in his bat. His plate discipline continues to be his biggest strength, as his 23% swing rate on pitches outside the zone would have been good for 10th best in the majors. In 2013, he should be playing full-time at 1B instead of making a mockery of baseball in the OF (he’s put up a UZR of -25.6 in over 2,000 career innings).
Second Base – Jemile Weeks, Athletics
I may not be the biggest Lil’ Weeks supporter out there, but I definitely did not anticipate him falling on his face like he has in 2012. As someone with a below average strikeout rate, Weeks will always be subjected to the whims of BABIP – but somewhere between his .350 in 2011 and .256 in 2012 lies the truth. He can still hit .275 with 25-30 steals, and he could be this year’s Alcides Escobar.
Shortstop – Jean Segura, Brewers
The promotion of Segura from Double-A shortly after he came over from the Angels was a bit of a surprise and he struggled badly upon arriving in Milwaukee. On September 2nd, Segura was hitting .192/.231/.219 with 1 XBH, 3 SB and a 13-4 K/BB ratio in 73 AB. From then on, he’s hit .343/.418/.457 with 6 XBH, 4 SB and a 10-9 K/BB ratio in 70 AB. Yea I know, SSS and all that. Health has been an issue for him, but he’s played well enough to be the leader in the clubhouse for the SS job next year – and he can run with it.
Third Base – Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
There hasn’t been much of a sample size to work with here (due to him missing over two months with a broken forearm), but Chisenhall improved as a hitter from 2011 to 2012. He raised his walk rate from 3.6% to 5.6% and reduced his strikeout rate from 22.0% to 18.3% — all while raising both his BABIP and ISO, meaning he wasn’t exchanging plate discipline for weaker contact. He could hit .270 with 20 HR next year at a position without much depth.
Outfield – Lorenzo Cain, Royals
Cain is going to be one of my favorite value picks in the spring, if he’s not hyped egregiously during the off-season. If you project his stats out over 150 games, you get a .266 average with 17 HR, 76 RBI, 66 R and 37 SB. Yes, you have to worry about his injury history, but maybe we don’t have to worry about his performance as much as we thought.
Outfield – Brett Gardner, Yankees
Gardner has only registered 35 plate appearances in 2012, so we can’t draw anything from this, but he stole at least 47 bases in each of the past two years (and stole nearly a base every 10 AB the two season prior). Who knows what the Yankees outfield will look like on Opening Day, but if Gardner is in it, he’s a must own in all leagues.
Outfield – Peter Bourjos, Angels
Grabbing Bourjos is a gamble that the Angels will either not resign Torii Hunter or deal Bourjos for help elsewhere. At some point it makes too much sense for them to deal him if they’re not going to play him. As far as his 2012, he had only sporadic playing time after struggling out of the gate and then was hurt. Nothing in Bourjos’ peripherals shows that he was a different player in 2012 than in 2011 – and if given a chance, he could replicate his 2011 season (.270 w/ 10 HR, 20 SB).
Tomorrow I’ll have a post on the pitchers, so stay tuned.