Lottery Tickets for 2017 Fantasy Baseball Drafts

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You're 25 rounds deep into your fantasy baseball draft, your rotation is secure, you're backed up at every position on the field and you've got one pick left to fill out your roster. Sure, you could go with that 10-year veteran SP with a lifetime 4.50 ERA that might get you 10-12 wins. Is that really going to win you any prize money?

When the lights are starting to dim on the final round, why not make a cheap investment on a lottery ticket? You may call them fliers (or flyers) but the term lotto ticket is more appropriate. It doesn't cost much, but there's a chance, however small, that it could pay off big in the end.

Here are a few players that are  being selected outside the top 250 overall, according to NFBC data, that could be worth a shot in the dark near the end of your draft.

Editor's Note: Last chance to join the Monthly Challenge on Fantrax. Free to join, league winners get a full season of Premium access for all sports ($99 value).

 

Late-Round Lotto Tickets

Seth Lugo (SP, NYM) - Many are pegging Robert Gsellman as a sleeper candidate for the back end of the Mets' rotation should injuries continue to hamper their staff. To paraphrase a certain futuristic space doctor, "Why not Lugo?" In eight spot starts from August on, Lugo won five games and posted a 2.67 ERA. He may have encountered some luck in the form of a .230 BABIP and 85.7% LOB%, but he has flashed enough potential in the minors to bet on his talent. After all, have you seen the spin rate on his curveball? Lugo missed out on his chance to join the rotation as Zach Wheeler was deemed ready to pitch. Knowing the Mets' luck, it's just a matter of time before one of their starters hits the DL, leaving the door open for Lugo to repeat his late-season success from 2016.

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) - Smith's value is non-existent outside of dynasty leagues for two reasons: 1) he missed nearly three months of his rookie season with a broken finger and 2) he doesn't have a starting job. Smith is the odd man out in a crowded outfield that includes Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza, Corey Dickerson, and Colby Rasmus. If he can work his way into some playing time, he could very well be this year's Travis Jankowski. Smith stole 16 bases in 72 games last year, despite being nabbed eight times. He will invariably improve his base-stealing technique as he gets older. All he needs is a chance. If you have the extra bench space, it could pay off to swipe this speed demon.

Ben Revere (OF, LAA) - Speaking of speed, Revere didn't get on his horse too often last year because he had a hard time reaching base. He hit .217, suffered an oblique injury, and lost his starting job. In the five previous years, Revere stole more bases than all but Rajai Davis and Dee Gordon while hitting over .300 the last three years. A change of scenery and clean bill of health could make Revere a literal steal in the last round of fantasy drafts. He is owned in just three percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment, so he's there for the taking if you are in free agency mode already.

Mikie Mahtook (OF, DET) - Somehow this former Rays prospect parlayed a .195 average last season into a shot at a starting outfield gig in Detroit. By dealing Cameron Maybin in return for the younger Mahtook, the Tigers are betting on his talent rather than his track record. Aside from the awful average last year, he's also got an awful 7.62 K/BB ratio in his Major League career and has been caught as many times as he's successfully stolen (4/4). The good news is that he is a first-round pick who has hit .272 and flashed decent speed in five minor league seasons. He will surely hit at the bottom of the lineup, but could still be a decent source of runs if he can find his way on base. His only realistic competition at this time is Tyler Collins, who is nothing more than a possible platoon option against righties. The J.D. Martinez injury is keeping the door open for Mahtook to play semi-regularly. If he can separate himself from Collins, it could become a full-time job in a lineup that is still packed with talent.

Nathan Karns (SP, KC) - The Royals are retooling their staff this season and Karns is slotting into the fifth rotation spot after arriving in a trade from Seattle. He posted dismal numbers in 2016 before ending his season unceremoniously with a stint on the 60-day DL due to a lower back strain. A 4.29 BB/9 doesn't inspire hope for a breakout season for a player on his fourth Major League team before the age of 30. Still, some bad luck and injuries may have been at play as indicated by a .327 BABIP and 69% strand rate. Karns posted a FIP of 4.05, compared to his 5.15 ERA and also increased his K rate to 9.64. Things will need to break right for Karns to post favorable ratios, but he is certainly worth taking a chance on in AL-only leagues.

ByungHo Park (1B, MIN) - Park was supposed to be the Korean version of Giancarlo Stanton. Instead, he found his way to the minors and was designated for assignment this spring. The Twins gave him another chance and Park responded by scorching the ball to the tune of .353 with six HR and 13 RBI in 51 AB. Shockingly, the Twins are putting him at Triple-A to start the year, but it may not be long before he reemerges. Park's tremendous power stroke makes him worth monitoring. Last year seemed like a disaster, but a look at advanced stats tell us he still flexed his power. Park finished second in all of MLB in Barrels/Batted Ball Events (18.7 percent), which means he hits the ball extremely hard. If you have an NA spot available, he is a perfect stash. If not, just be prepared to pounce on him if he gets recalled and starts lighting up the outfield in Target Field.

 

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