Here we are: Session Six, the end of the line. After today, your anxiety and depression will instantly disappear, much like it did in Pittsburgh last season. We’re taking on a giant task by trying to decide on five not-so-obvious OF who are going to make leaps in 2014 and help your team for years to come. The big boys (Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, etc.) are owned by other teams and out of your reach. But don’t worry, we’ve got this. Now, I’d like you to stare at this timepiece as I slowly swing it back and forth on its chain. That’s it. You’re calm and in control. Use the breathing techniques we spoke about in Session One-- in through the mouth and out through the nose. Feel free to lie back, close your eyes and get comfortable. Great. Now that you’re relaxed, let’s get started.
5 Outfielders to Target in Keeper Leagues
Marte is going to be a keeper for years. He’s only 25 and has five-tool talent. Last year, his first full season in the majors, he hit .280 with 12 home runs, 26 doubles, 10 triples, 83 runs and 41 stolen bases. In 92 at-bats against southpaws, he ripped off a .402 BA and 1.053 OPS. If fellow outfielder Jose Tabata finally clicks this year in the #2 hole ahead of McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez, look for Marte to cross home plate 100 times. He’s already a top-25 OF. His 20/40 potential will move him rapidly up the list.
Winning the Rookie of the Year award should guarantee a guy a spot in keeper leagues. But just in case, let’s talk about Wil Myers. Called up in June last year, the sweet-swinging then-22-year-old righty contributed in every category the rest of the way. On July 23, my son Andy and I made our first trip to Fenway Park. I told Andy to keep his eyes on the Rays right fielder. Myers didn’t disappoint, hitting a double and a homer. He finished 2013 with a .293 BA, 13 HR, 23 doubles, 50 R, 53 RBI and 5 SB in 335 AB. I raved to Andy while we were in Fenway. Now I’m raving to you. This is a future top-5 stud!
Look to Myers’s right and you’ll see the next guy on the list, Desmond Jennings. Touted as the next Carl Crawford (a few years ago when Crawford was a fantasy beast), Jennings has yet to bust out. In three seasons, his career BA is .250… sprinkled with double-digit homers and 20-30 SB per year. He has all the makings of a five-tool stud, but he hasn’t yet put it all together. This is just a gut call, but I think the guy becomes a household name this season. Full disclaimer: I said this last year, too… and the year before.
Next is a guy I have to drop in my favorite keeper league, where we keep six players each season. I guess it’s a blessing to have to drop such a talented player, but Dominic Brown carried me through several weeks last season, so it’s a difficult decision. Brown busted out in 2013, hitting .272 with 27 HR. He had one stretch where it seemed like he blasted a bomb every day for a month. Only 26 years old, Brown will likely be a keeper for years to come. And I’m going to regret it.
Hamilton’s speed is on everybody’s radar. But his ability to get on base is a legitimate concern. However, if this guy can hit near .250 (and he will because of his ability to beat out balls to the left side of the infield) he could steal 100 bases. Maybe the Reds will consider putting the best pure hitter in baseball, Joey Votto, in the #2 spot in the order. Votto’s presence in the on-deck circle would boost Hamilton’s OBP, and his patience at the plate would give the young lead-off hitter a chance to kick up a lot of dust. Hamilton will be one of the hottest names in baseball very soon.
Adam Eaton, Colby Rasmus, Kole Calhoun, Avisail Garcia and Christian Yelich all have positive upside and will be available in later rounds. And don’t forget about Oscar Taveras. He’ll make a name for himself in St. Louis by midsummer.
OK, I’m going to count to three and say "Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame." When I do, please sit up and raise your right arm over your head, fist clinched. This is the posture you’ll assume when the fantasy baseball season is over and you’ve won your league! It’s been a real pleasure to work with you this week. If you need anything else, feel free to come back any time. Now, as Adrian said to her husband in Rocky II……WIN!