With the regular season closing-bell bearing down on us like a pack of teenage girls backstage at a Backstreet Boys concert (they are still popular, right?), I have given you all the advice I can. At this point in the season, you know where you stand. Trading deadlines are gone and waiver wires have been picked clean like a “Blue Light Special” aisle at K-Mart (K-Mart still operates stores in North America, right?).
Now that I have dated myself, I wanted to talk about some of fantasy baseball’s biggest difference makers. Let’s get one thing straight: Mike Trout is not a difference maker. If you draft him number one overall, he better be number one over all.
A true difference maker is the 40-year-old slugger drafted in the wee hours of the draft, on name recognition, revisiting his MVP years (Arod), or the middle round pitcher who challenges for the Cy Young Award (Dallas Keuchel).
Difference makers can come in the evil variety as well. It can be a perennial top 10 second baseman, who you spent a top 15 pick on, looking like what we thought the 40-year-old former MVP was going to be (Robinson Cano), or it could be that first round pitcher you drafted putting up the worst numbers of his career based on two of the worst starts you will ever see, from anyone (King Felix).
Difference makers make your team. The great value guys put you over the top, while the terrible value guys take you down from the inside.
Here are some 2015’s biggest fantasy baseball difference makers from the National League…
Brandon Crawford, SS, SF Giants – The #1 SS in fantasy baseball was acquired for nothing off the waiver wire in mostly all leagues. I can’t imagine he was drafted in leagues unless some SF Giants fan grabbed him late. I play in 16-team leagues, and he wasn’t even drafted there. To acquire the #1 producer at a shallow position, for basically free, when other owners were spending 3rd and 4th round picks on the likes of Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes is the definition of a difference maker. POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
Matt Duffy, 2B/3B/SS, SF Giants – Staying with the Giants, here is another infielder who was acquired for nothing. He is the 4th ranked SS, 7th ranked 2B, and 11th ranked 3B. The rookie provides endless value at three positions that can be hard to fill. Duffy and Crawford are the reason the Giants keep winning year in year out, and a big reason why lots of fantasy teams will be bringing home the prize. POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL Brewers (Now Houston Astros) – Carlos Gomez had his share of injury troubles through the first three months of the season, severely hurting his numbers. He was drafted inside the top 12 picks in most leagues, but ranks outside of the top 200. Having a guy as your first round pick who puts up numbers worse than many free agents, can seriously set your team back (take it from me on this one!). NEGATIVE DIFFERENCE
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA Marlins – Bigfoot was mashing homers at a career pace before going down after playing in 74 games. At this point, it doesn’t look like he will be back in 2015. Getting a half of a season from a top 5 pick will make a difference for sure. NEGATIVE DIFFERENCE
Jeurys Familia, RP, NY Mets – Some owners spend all season chasing saves (just ask MLFS’ own Joe Iannone). Familia was anointed the closer after most drafts had taken place. Therefore, he was acquired for basically nothing (are you seeing a theme) off free agency. All he has done is save the 4th most games in all of MLB while ranking as fantasies 2nd best closer. POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
Drew Storen, RP, WAS Nationals – He was one of the biggest difference makers as a draft day bargain closer who performed as one of the league’s best. Then the Nats went out and got Jonathan Papelbon, making Storen useless, save for leagues that score for holds. What a gut punch for the Storen owner. DIVIDED DIFFERENCE
Zack Greinke, SP, LA Dodgers – Greinke perennially perform’s and gets drafted as a 4th or 5th round player. This season, he has been fantasy’s #1 pitcher, and arguably it’s bets player. The best anything taken outside of the top 25 picks will greatly boost any team. POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
Jacob deGrom, SP, NY Mets – Right behind Greinke in the NL Cy Young race, deGrom was taken one to three rounds later than Greinke in drafts. He has performed just as wel,l ranking as a top 10 fantasy player in 2015. He is arguably better than Greinke, given the price. POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
Mailbag has been gone for a while because I have not been receiving many questions. I did receive a lot of very nice comments and some nice debate on my last two articles, What Happens in Coors, Stays in Coors and Super-Power Pitching Pack. I just want to thank those of you who read my stuff and my friends who put up with me pimping my articles to them weekly. Thanks!
Remember to send questions to [twitter-follow screen_name=’theCiccone’] or email@example.com to be featured in future columns.
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Major League Fantasy Football Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Saturday August 22nd from 2-4pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy SportsShow sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in live at 646-915-8596. This week’s topic is team back fields with question marks.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday August 23rd from 7-8:30pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Sports Show sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in live at 646-915-8596. We will be doing our 2015 wrap up.