Dollar specialsby Victor Wang
January 26, 2009
In this article I'll be looking at a few end gamers who can provide some good value for 2009. By end gamers I mean players you can get for $1 near the end of your auction or at the end of your draft. One thing to keep in mind when taking these players is that often times one ends up evaluating these players based on a limited sample size. For example, you may have cut a player like Jason Kubel early last year only to end up seeing him put up a pretty solid season. This is a topic for another article some time but is something to keep in mind.
Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas: Cruz is a very interesting case. He gets really good projections by pretty much every projection system out there and is slated to start on opening day for Texas. However, part of me feels that he may be overvalued come draft day. There's a little bit of uncertainty around his projections and a lot of owners out there will be looking for the next Ryan Ludwick. Cruz figures to be one of the more popular picks to be that guy. Despite this, if you can get him for cheap or towards the end of your draft, I would highly recommend it.
Joey Devine, RP, Oakland: Brad Ziegler is likely to be Oakland's closer come opening day. However, look for him to face some regression to the mean. Meanwhile, Joey Devine figures to get the first crack at a closer's job should Ziegler falter. Devine displayed a very good skill set in his first season in Oakland. While we have a bit of a limited major league sample size on him, Devine's scouting reports tend to back up his performance from 2008.
Boof Bonser, SP/RP, Minnesota: Look past the ERA from his last two years. Bonser was troubled by a lot of bad luck over the the past few years, including a ridiculously low 57.9% LOB. He has displayed solid skills over the past few years and should see some better luck with his more dependent pitching statistics. The Twins' rotation could be tough to crack but you never know what could happen with injuries. You figure this would be a perfect opportunity for a major league team to buy low and trade for Bonser as well, which would improve his fantasy stock tremendously.
Yusmeiro Petit, SP, Arizona: Petit has always put up some pretty good minor league numbers. However, scouts have always questioned how well his minor league stats would translate to the majors. Petit struggled initially in his first few major league appearances but showed glimmers of some upside in 2008. There are concerns with his flyball rate but if Petit keeps his skills growth up, there is some solid upside here.
Gary Sheffield, OF/Util, Detroit: Sheffield had a pretty brutal year, on the surface at least. However, he had some bad luck with a poor hit rate, granted that he did have pretty low line drive rate. Sheffield still does have a solid set of secondary skills, with solid walk and strikeout rates while maintaining decent power skills. Look for him to bounce back this year. While he does have some potential to collapse, you can deal with that sort of risk if you commit to him during the end of a draft or for cheap at an auction.
Russell Branyan, 3B, Seattle: Branyan has a decent chance to start on the right side of a first base platoon for Seattle. You know what you're going to get with Branyan: a mediocre batting average but very good power. If gets consistent playing time, Branyan can really help with your power numbers. However, you'll need to get some additional batting average support from somewhere else.
Cha Seung Baek, SP, San Diego: Baek was a nice pick up from Seattle last year. His lack of a true out pitch limits his upside potential, but he showed a solid skill set last year. Of course, it helps to be pitching in PETCO park. Baek should be a solid addition to the end of a fantasy rotation, though he might not be able to help much with your win totals.
Victor Wang's work on OPS has been featured in SABR's By the Numbers magazine, and was the 2007 recipient of SABR's Jack Kavanagh Memorial Youth Baseball Research Award. He can be reached via email here.
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