Dynasty Baseball

My 2018 De Facto Favorites

I really try not to get too attached to players. I avoid overpaying for hype or narrative and I tend to diversify my fantasy portfolio. Still, I ended up with nine players that I own in more than half of my leagues this year. They don’t have a lot in common, but I think they’re all worth talking about.

I’m in a pretty diverse set of leagues this year. 10 to 20 teams, 25-40 man rosters, Roto and H2H, redraft, keep 6 and dynasty. All but one are OBP/QS leagues though, with the one straggler being the keeper league that’s been going for 15 years and is never going to change, despite Wins being brought up every offseason. I did supplemental drafts, snake drafts, auctions, slow drafts and even a slow auction (which was great). A few of these guys were holdovers from last year in one league or another, but I took all of them in a draft at some point this spring.

Madison Bumgarner (Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America)

Madison Bumgarner

One of my shares was a post-injury discount buy in an auction, but I paid up for him in a dynasty startup and he was one of my six keepers and team namesake in my home keeper league. That injury hurt.

How Did I Get Him?

Well, in that keeper league, my first act after taking over the team prior to the 2013 season was trading Ian Kinsler for him. I’ve always liked him as a pitcher and I don’t have any doubts about his ability to return to ace-form in 2018 – even after the broken pinkie. I’m no grips expert, but I don’t think he throws anything where the pinkie does much work. I also wasn’t worried about his late-season performance returning from a dirt biking accident. The Giants were already out of it, and while he’s certainly a competitive guy, September was more like an extended rehab stint. I viewed him as just ever so slightly below the top Tier-Of-Four, but he was being drafted 1-2 rounds later with a similar discount in auctions (and I got him for about half price post-injury). I’m sad he’ll miss about two months but not concerned long-term.

Delino DeShields Jr. (Source: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images North America)

Delino DeShields Jr.

Bold Prediction Darling Delino has gotten some buzz since news started circulating that he would be the Rangers’ everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter. He got similar buzz a couple years ago after a 25 steal 2015 campaign, but he lost the confidence of the coaching staff and only ended up playing 74 big league games in 2016. He was again forgotten going into 2017, only to put up an eerily similar line to his 2015 season that got us so excited. He burned enough owners that a lot of people are dismissing his 2017 production. It’s easier to look back now and see his .272 BABIP in 2016 as the fluke. He doesn’t have much for power, but he’s got the wheels to sustain a high BABIP, and the walk rate to get on base at a .340 or better clip and put those same wheels to use on the bases. 40+ bags and a handful of Texas-heat homers with a bevy of runs from atop a solid Rangers offense is pretty reasonable to expect. (That is, until he broke his hand. What is up with players I own breaking their hands???)

While there was buzz, especially later in March, his price just wasn’t the same level it was two years ago. I traded for him as part of a bigger deal in my 20 team dynasty. I paid $3 for him in a dynasty startup and took him in the 12th round of a 12 team redraft. All of those are OBP leagues. I got outbid on him in the auction I did March 24th.

How Did I Get Him?

He was $3 in the startup dynasty Auction in early February. He was a 12th round pick in a redraft. I even traded for him in a 20 team Dynasty league back in November. All of those are OBP leagues too. I missed on him in the deep auction where he went for $19, which is still a decent price but doesn’t leave much room for upside.

Jakob Junis (Source: Norm Hall/Getty Images North America)

Jakob Junis

I wrote up Junis in the Starting Pitching Ranks, and that probably contributed to me taking him my drafts. He’s not going to be great, but he has great control and that makes him less likely to destroy your ratios than other pitchers ranked near him.

How Did I Get Him?

Two of the leagues I took him in are deep leagues (a 20 teamer and a 10 teamer with 10 (!) SP slots) where he still cost next to nothing. The thing those teams have in common is that he’s backing strong top-end starters. I don’t need him to break out and be an SP3. I just need him to not be a disaster. He just feels… safe. I have a soft spot for this profile when it actually works. I’m not saying you should invest heavily, but sometimes you just need a guy like this.

Francisco Mejia, (Source: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America)

Francisco Mejia

It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that we were talking about Mejia being overrated in redraft leagues this year, but that certainly wasn’t my experience. Not showing up in the Catcher list on Yahoo and ESPN, where he’s Util-only, might be part of that, but I think there are enough questions about his role, and a short enough hype-window that he’s just not on that many people’s radars. He didn’t really appear on top prospect lists until 2017’s mid-season lists, then he debuted and hit .154 in a whole 14 PAs. Even when people are taking prospects, they’re grabbing Jorge Alfaro first, who is ranked lower but has been on lists forever.

How Did I Get Him?

I paid up in one startup dynasty league but got him as my last pick in the keep-6 and for $1 in a 2C league after missing out on all the $2 guys I wanted and ending up with Iannetta and Flowers. It might be a while before he gets catcher eligibility as the Indians seem fine with rolling Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez out there. Those guys aren’t exactly good, but they’re fine, and have better defense. I’ve always liked getting catcher-eligible players who will be playing other positions since that means more PAs and less injury risk. He has to get that eligibility for it to pay off though.

Justin Smoak (Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Justin Smoak

After launching 38 bombs in 2017, you’d think his price would have spiked through the roof. NOPE. While I don’t know if anyone is completely buying into the breakout, his draft price still doesn’t reflect the real skill advancements he made. I also think people are actually under-valuing power a little. It seems so plentiful compared to a couple years ago, but you can really fall behind if you only have a bunch of 25-30 HR guys and don’t have any 35+ power upside. Smoak is one of the reasons you can pass on the top tier First Basemen and still have plenty of power.

How Did I Get Him?

Smoak cost my $6 in a startup dynasty, $14 in a deep redraft (both OBP), and a whole 10th round pick in a shallow mixer. I believe in the skills gains. He cut his strikeout rate 12.7% and added .38 points of slugging (85 points of ISO) without sacrificing anywhere else. He’s not going to revert to a .220 hitter.

Logan Morrison (Credit: John Minchillo, Associated Press)

Logan Morrison

After launching 38 bombs in 2017, you’d think his price would have spiked through the roof. NOPE. While I don’t know if anyone is completely buying into the breakout, his draft price still doesn’t reflect the real skill advancements he made. I also think people are actually under-valuing power a little. It seems so plentiful compared to a couple years ago, but you can really fall behind if you only have a bunch of 25-30 HR guys and don’t have any 35+ power upside. Morrison is one of the reasons you can pass on the top tier First Basemen and still have plenty of power.

Yes, I just copy/pasted what I wrote about Smoak because it all applies to Logan Morrison too, except he’ll cost you even less to acquire. Remaining unsigned until late February certainly kept his price down, and he may sit a fair amount against lefties, but even after signing he was a late round flyer type in all but the deepest of leagues.

How Did I Get Him?

I got him as essentially a throw-in when I traded 2016 fantasy playoff MVP Ryon Healy away in my deep dynasty league. I used an 18th round pick on him in a 12 team OBP league and spent $8 in the same league I got Smoak for $14. In short: He’s dirt cheap and all upside.

Andrelton Simmons (Source: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images North America)

Andrelton Simmons

After breaking out in 2017, you’d think Simmons’ price would’ve spiked just like Elvis Andrus and Jean Segura did… but it didn’t. I don’t see a huge difference between the three, yet Simmons, like LoMo, cost you next to nothing. He may hit lower in the lineup, but as I said about Kole Calhoun in our “Guilty Pleasures”, the Angels have more in their lineup than Mike Trout and the shambling corpse of Albert Pujols now. So he should at least have the same run production, even if he hits in the bottom third.

How Did I Get Him?

I thought I’d made a mistake when I strained my back to reach for Ronald Acuna at pick 74 in a 12 team redraft instead of Andrus or Segura. That is until I got Simmons in the 17th round. I similarly was able to wait and get him for $1 in the aforementioned deep auction, as well as the Dynasty slow auction. He was my 25th round pick in a shallow league as a pure backup where I kept Andrus. He’s got guaranteed playing time and doesn’t have to come close to repeating his 2017 to deliver value, so if he does it’s all profit.

Mike Zunino (Source: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images North America)

Mike Zunino

Most of what I said about Smoak and LoMo applies to Zunino too, except he did have a .105 spike in BABIP, so he probably is more like a .220 hitter. He generally improved his batted ball profile (more pull, more hard) so he may not give it all back, but he does strike out more than a third of the time. He still walks around 10% of the time though, and he’s a catcher. How many catchers are going to get you 25 homers?

How Did I Get Him?

Again, he cost me practically nothing. He was a waiver pick up in a 20 team league last year.

Taijuan Walker (Source: Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images North America)

Taijuan Walker

Oh boy, if you want to buy into that #HumidorHype it sure is gonna cost ya! …unless you’re buying Taijuan Walker. While everyone was pumping up Robbie Ray and Zack Godley, Taijuan quietly flew under the radar, despite also having a career year in 2017. He was able to increase his groundball rate and reduce his HR/FB rate when the whole league was trending in the other direction. Now you might point at that HR/FB rate as a point for regression, but the humidor should help offset that. He does live up to his name with his walk rate, but he did swap his cutter for a true slider that I think he’s still learning to control (41% zone rate, though only 0.9% BB rate, suggesting he just didn’t throw it in deeper counts).

How Did I Get Him?

I don’t have in my dynasty leagues, but I scooped him up in all my redrafts. People were still valuing him as the 4.40s ERA pitcher the projection systems laid on him, not the 3.49 ERA pitcher he was last year. I don’t think he repeats that, but like the names above, he doesn’t have to at his price. Anything under 4.00 would represent good value as the 50th starter taken on average, and he’s got SP2 upside if he can stay healthy and make any other improvements.

In Conclusion:

The common thread between these players is that they outperformed expectations in 2017 and people just didn’t believe in their breakouts, so it barely impacted their prices. I liked the underlying gains and bought in at what I felt were discount prices. Several were “security blanket” picks I knew I could get late, which allowed me to invest elsewhere and make some higher upside picks earlier instead of filling their positions early. We’ll see if I was right about them, as all of my teams have at least four of these guys on them, with two having seven of them. I’ve also noticed that I’m heavily invested in Rangers hitters, with shares in everyone but Odor, including multiples of Beltre, Andrus, and Gallo (I picked up Chirinos in every league where I own Zunino when he hit the DL.)

Is there anyone you find yourself owning everywhere? Any breakouts you’re buying that no one else is? Leave them in the comments below.

The Author

Jeff Good

Jeff Good


  1. Drew Klein
    April 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    I’m also in on Junis.
    For me, I somehow kept acquiring Cincinnati outfielders, Duvall and Winker are on a few of my teams and a couple of those also have Schebler. I’m not in on Hamilton though. I’m not a big Reds fan, they just keep hitting just enough home runs to keep me on the line.
    A pitcher that I kept grabbing off waiver wires to fill out the staff is Clayton Richard.

    • Jeff Good
      April 8, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      Yeah, I like Winker in deeper OBP, I got him in one such league. I was out on Duvall/Schebler because of the time share though.
      I was too late to the ClayDick train to own a lot of shares, but he’s definitely underrated and better than most of the guys in his tier.

  2. April 6, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    players I own everywhere
    Joey Lucchesi P SD
    Brandon Woodruff P Mil
    Jack Flaherty P StL
    Mike Soroka P Atl
    Tyler Mahle P Cincy
    Miles Mikolas P StL

  3. April 6, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Clayton Richard is beautiful

  4. April 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Also p Dillon Peters P Mia

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