Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wiggy, Lewis lead NL-only 'Deep Picks'

posted by Pauly
Just to re-introduce myself to the blog, my name is Pauly…I infrequently contributed to Advanced Fantasy Baseball during last season. This year, I am planning a weekly feature, “Pauly’s Pickup of the Week,” which will highlight one hitter and one pitcher each week who should (or will become) a universal legit pickup in fantasy baseball.

As I’m sure you know, in-season pickups can be the difference between contending and bringing up the rear. Last year, for instance, I picked up Jose Bautista in week 2 of the season in one league and week 3 of the season in the other. Needless to say, we all know he made a significant impact :) So look for Pauly’s Pickup of the Week every Friday morning once the season starts.

As for your draft prep…I don’t want to contribute to the glut of projections for top-line players out there. You know where to find that stuff. However, most of these draft previews don’t include deep picks.

Deep picks…those of use in “only” leagues are mostly familiar with the concept of trying to find a very cheap end-game player either as the last pick in your draft; the cheapest pick of your draft; or for reserve drafts. If you are in a deep NL-only, this column may be for you…it’s a list of players who will not be in an opening day lineup this season, but will see enough at-bats to contribute to your fantasy team as a cheap plug-in. There may be quite a few teams picking at least one player from this list – mainly every team that drafts Albert Pujols – meaning they are likely using the “Stars & Scrubs” strategy discussed by Jon earlier this week.

Here are my top 10 NL-only deep picks on offense:

1. Tyler Colvin (OF - CHC): OK, Colvin isn't sneaking up on anybody after hitting 20 HR in 135 games last season. But the bottom line is that he is the Cubs' fourth outfielder right now, and barring injury, he will be riding pine when the first pitch is thrown on opening day. The fact that he isn't starting should push his ADP and auction value down (assuming he wasn't kept), and those HR may come at a bargain in 2011. The rest of the players on this list fall more into the endgame.

2. Ty Wigginton (1B 2B 3B – COL): Heading into the season, Wigginton is likely backing up Todd Helton at first base, Jose Lopez at second base and Ian Stewart at third base. Stewart just returned to spring action on Wednesday, but assuming he is OK for opening day, that means Wigginton will be taking on the “super sub” role in Colorado…and that means a lot of at-bats this season. Wiggy has shown over and over that he can produce with ABs (22 HR last season in 581), and besides, is anyone really counting on Helton to stay healthy? One caveat is because of Wigginton’s elevated numbers last season, he may not be an end-game pick, but if your league mates only pay for starting players, you will get a bargain here.

3. Fred Lewis (OF – CIN): Dusty Baker doesn’t have a pure leadoff hitter in his starting lineup. He says he is going to use Drew Stubbs there for the most part, but let’s face it – it’s an experiment. Lewis, the only pure leadoff hitter on the team, happens to back up every OF position in Cincy. That means as soon as Jonny Gomes starts slumping or Jay Bruce hurts a fingernail, Lewis is leading off. That means the potential for an easy 60-plus runs scored and 15-plus stolen bases. He can legitimately challenge for best OF option on this list.

4. Jason Michaels (OF – HOU): The Astros are a bit of a depth chart mess right now because it is hard to predict what is going to happen with Brett Wallace. As it is right now, Michaels is the universal OF backup in Houston. If Wallace struggles like he did during his cup ‘o coffee last season (.222/.296/319), it will open the door for a lot of playing time for Michaels. Carlos Lee would move to first base and Michaels would become the starting left fielder. If that happens, I wouldn’t expect the world from Michaels, but for a dollar I’d take the shot that he can hit 10 HR and live up to his career .270 average.

5. Daniel Murphy (1B – NYM): Murphy is challenging Luis Castillo for the second base job in New York. Assuming he comes up short, Murphy will still be an excellent source of ABs over the course of the season. I mean how many of us can see Castillo (who did nothing in half a season last year) holding down that job for any extended period? Murphy is coming off a torn MCL which forced him to miss last season – and a chance to compete for the 1B job in NY – but he hit 12 HR in 155 ABs in 2009 and should see more ABs than that this season backing up Castillo and Ike Davis at first.

6. Jerry Hairston Jr. (2B SS – WAS): Hairston will back up Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond up the middle for the Nationals. You have to figure he gets a lot of ABs backing up such a young duo. Last year in San Diego, Hairston put up 10 HR and 9 SB in 430 ABs before suffering a stress fracture in his leg in September. He started 105 games at five different positions (second, short, third, left and right) and six different spots in the batting order. Expect the same in Washington.

7. Jorge Cantu (SD): Cantu backs up both corners (Chase Headley and Brad Hawpe) in San Diego. He has the potential to catch fire and provide you with a month or two of really good production. Just look at his numbers in April last season – he hit .311 with 5 HR and 23 RBI. So the potential is there…the question is, when will it happen? My guess is Cantu will be solid in the first half again this season, and you can expect 10-15 HR over the long haul – not bad for a buck.

8. Jon Jay (OF – STL): Jay was actually a popular late-season pickup last year after posting a .300/.359/.422 line in 105 games. While he hasn’t shown a ton of power or speed, he will hit you a few homers and steal you a few bases – all while keeping his averages respectable. With Lance Berkman in right field for St. Louis, you can expect Jay to see regular action late in games this season.

9 & 10. Mike Fontenot & Mark DeRosa (2B / OF – SF): Both of these guys are coming off down years (which makes them really cheap), and both of them should see a bunch of ABs – at least in the early going – this season. Fontenot will back up all the infield positions in San Francisco outside of catcher; and DeRosa will see plenty of time in the OF and could see time at 3B. With starting second baseman Freddy Sanchez coming off a 111-game season, and Miguel Tejada at SS, there should be plenty of opportunity for Fontenot to thrive in the “super sub” role. He hit 9 HR in back-to-back seasons for Chicago before he struggled last season. DeRosa, who hit 23 HR in 2009 but played in only 26 games last season and had a second wrist surgery – will platoon with Pat Burrell.

Hey I didn’t say these guys didn’t carry any risk :)

See you next week for NL draft day pitching bargains.

-Pauly
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