Last week, I wrote about two MiLB middle infielders that will help teams in 2018. Scott Kingery has demolished pitching this Spring, and he will provide a nice boost to a Phillies team that looks to be on the rise after having a dismal 2017 season. This team has been on a rebuild, and 2018 could be a season in which the team starts to compete. Now, I’m not suggesting they will push for the NL East, but they have a chance to finish second in the division. Atlanta is on a similar rebuild, Miami has completely washed their hands of big contracts and started a “rebuild” and New York will go as far as their starting pitching will take them. The key for the Mets is for their starters to stay healthy. That being said, I mentioned the 2017 monster seasons from rookie first basemen Cody Bellinger and Josh Bell. Again, I recommend tempering expectations this season, but which two specific players can make a positive impact for fantasy teams?
Miguel Andujar – New York Yankees
Minors: .315/.352/.498/16 HR/82 RBI
Majors: .571/.625/.857/0 HR/4 RBI
NFBC ADP: 418
ESPN ADP: Undrafted
Yahoo! ADP: 294
Fantrax ADP: 371
Andujar’s brief stint during the 2017 season proved to be positive. He was able to handle Major League pitching, and was able to plant a seed in the heads of the Yankees organization. He’s competed admirably during this spring slashing .262/.273/.916 with four long balls. The Yankees haven’t made a decision yet, and he’s spent time at first, but Andujar looks to be on the fast track to opening the season as the starting third baseman.
Where do you draft Andujar assuming he’s the starting third baseman? In the drafts I’ve taken part in, Andujar has been available in the later stages of 12-team leagues. There’s no questioning his potential to hit 20+ home runs hitting in the bottom-of-the-order. Even so, with the power at the top of the lineup, Andujar makes for a great pick to score a solid number of runs with the likes of Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez coming to bat with Andujar on base. While Andujar isn’t known to rack up stolen bases, he has accumulated 30 in 43 attempts (69.7%). Given the lineup he’s hitting in, and first-year manager Aaron Boone wanting runners in scoring position for his big boppers, I’d give a fair projection of 10 stolen bases for Andujar. It’s hard to find a better bargain in the later-rounds if Andujar does in fact hitting 20 home runs and steal 10 bases.
What can we expect given a full season of at-bats? Andujar owns a career minor league slash line of .274/.323/.412 with 51 HR and 336 RBI in 596 career games. This averages to around 10 home runs and 56 RBI per season. Given a full season of at-bats, I’d expect Andujar to hit between .260-.275 with 20+ home runs and 70 RBI. Again, I can see him being more aggressive on the base paths making 10+ stolen bases in the realm of possibility. With Openings Day two weeks out, monitor Andujar’s situation. Even if he starts the season in the minors, he’s a solid target in the later rounds of drafts, or off waivers early into the season. More than likely, the three of four players you draft with your final picks would be made available to drop to acquire Andujar. Also, if he gains first base eligibility, he gives you another position to slot him into other than third or utility.
Nick Senzel – Cincinnati Reds
Minors: .321/.391/.514/14 HR/65 RBI
NFBC ADP: 359
ESPN ADP: Undrafted
Yahoo! ADP: Undrafted
Fantrax ADP: 304
The 2016 second overall pick is on the fast-track for the Majors. He’s slashed .315/.393/.514 through two minor league seasons. It’s highly unlikely he breaks camp with the Reds given the fact Super II status will be in play and the Reds will definitely want to gain the extra control of Senzel. Reports out of Spring Training have Senzel getting reps at shortstop, and given the fact the Reds extended Eugenio Suarez make the move to shortstop more likely for Senzel.
I’ve mentioned numerous times of the similarities between Senzel compared to Alex Bregman and Kris Bryant. While Senzel may not have the same power as Bryant, he does possess more power than Bregman, and all three will have been top picks for their respective organizations. Very similar to Bryant’s ascension to the Majors, I see Senzel starting the season in Triple-A seeing his call come in late June. Even then, the possibility of 20+ home runs in highly likely.
Where do you draft Senzel? If it’s a redraft league, you can play it safe not drafting Senzel, but you absolutely need to monitor his status because he will be plucked quickly off waivers. If you don’t want to risk losing out on him via waivers, it’s not a bad idea using one of your final draft picks on him. I’ve mentioned that most final picks don’t stick around your roster all season, and if you aren’t sure who to draft, or you aren’t intrigued by what’s left in the player pool, feel free to select Senzel. Again, you’ll have to practice patience anxiously awaiting his call-up, but once he does he could possess third base and shortstop eligibility. For dynasty/keeper leagues, a middle-to-late-round selections is more than fair for Senzel. Once he gets the call, I don’t see him going back down the to minors. He’s shown his hitting tools are more than ready for MLB pitching.
Assuming he gets the call after the Super II deadline has passed, what can we expect this season? An average anywhere from .280-.300+ is my range, with 20+ home runs. Don’t forget, he will be playing his home games at Great American Ball Park, and it’s very hitter-friendly. The Reds organization finished 14th in runs scored, 13th in home runs, and 14th in RBI. Although they finished dead last in the NL Central, they were in the middle-of-the-pack in turns of offensive production. Given a full season from starting pitcher Luis Castillo and Raisel Iglesias solidifying the closer’s role, the Reds could be in line for a jump in the standings if they get better production from their starting pitchers not named Castillo. Throw in a Major League-ready Nick Senzel, a Pittsburgh Pirates team spiraling downward, and a Cardinals team with a big question mark in the ninth inning, the Reds could easily end the season in third place. While pushing for a Wild Card spot seems unlikely, it’s not impossible if this pitching staff finishes better than their 2017 rank of 29 in MLB. That being said, the Reds want to stay competitive all season, and Nick Senzel will only help booster an offense that has the ability to compete throughout Major League baseball.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and John Gozzi live on Sunday March 18th, 2018 from [7:30]-9pm EST for episode #107 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This is our kick off show for the new 2018 fantasy baseball season. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Marc Foster. Marc has been with the Major League Fantasy Sports community going on 10 years now. He is a 3 time baseball champion, wrote for MLFS for 2 years, and is an occassional radio guest.