“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly” — Psalms 26:11
Now that spring training is underway and teams are working on assembling their opening day rosters, it is fun to watch the maneuvers that players and coaches have to make. During the past 2 seasons, I have casually observed the position battles taking place in Florida and Arizona, but without much interest in every detail. However, this Spring is a bit different as I have bent to the will of a friend to return to fantasy baseball after a two year retirement, which sounds like folly as I write this post. I was free! Part of my decision to return rests on my desire to see if I can scale back my obsession while still remaining competitive. I also want to discover if it is as enjoyable in 2017 as it was for me from 1990-2014. My first step was to purchase my favorite fantasy baseball magazine, which is issued by The Sporting News.
I have returned to the same league in which I participated before and was allowed to inherit the keeper list from a guy who has departed. The league is a salary cap points league and keepers remain in the draft round from the previous year. Since the keeper list that was provided to me isn’t stellar, I can understand why the previous player quit. Keepers are only allowed from rounds 3 and beyond and must have been drafted the year before to be eligible, so here are my keepers:
Brian Dozier, round 4: There are many star players being kept in this draft, so Dozier would have likely been selected in round 2-3, so this is a safe choice for me. I can fill a position that is traditionally shallow in fantasy baseball with a guy who hit 42 HRs, 99 RBIs and stole 18 bases. Even if he regresses a bit, I expect 25-30 HRs and a dozen steals.
Justin Verlander, round 13: It was looking like Verlander was heading down that road that so many pitchers take: fading star whose arm was wearing out. He had 3 really bad games before the All-Star break when he gave up 7-8 runs, but was dominant in the 2nd half. He probably lost out on the Cy Young because of those 3 starts. I am certainly concerned about his declining velocity, but he clearly knows how to pitch based on his 2nd half stats.
Evan Gattis, round 15: I am not really excited about this one, but a guy who qualifies at catcher and hit 32 HRs cannot be ignored. The obvious drawback is the lack of clear playing time. Houston has Gattis’ twin as their starting catcher, Brian McCann, and have also filled the DH slot with Carlos Beltran. 1B has a variety of candidates as well, which makes Gattis a part-time player. 40-50 games at catcher, another 40-50 in LF and DH, and pinch hitting appearances likely gives Gattis about 300-350 plate appearances, which could result in 20-25 HRs for the notoriously anemic catcher position. An injury or a trade could improve Gattis’ opportunity, but I will have to be satisfied with his role for now.
Brandon Drury, round 24: Drury filled a utility role by playing in the outfield, 3B, 2B, and one game at 1B. That positional flexibility combined with a strong 2nd half (.821 OPS, including a 1.049 OPS in September/October) makes Drury a worthy gamble late in the draft. Chris Owings and Ketel Marte are the 2 players who could disrupt his playing time, but Marte did not have a strong 2016 and could spend some time in AAA. Owings could play SS if Marte doesn’t, but has also been working on playing in the OF as he prepares for the season, so it appears that Drury has settled in as the regular second baseman.
Those are my 4 unexciting keepers. I will share my complete roster once the draft has been completed.