Guides or advice on how to win at fantasy sports are available in abundance. But to sum it all up, in a nutshell, you just have to be able to see an angle on a pick that a lot of other fantasy players do not see.
In my opinion fantasy enthusiasts, even the ones that aren’t that serious, usually know who to pick in the early rounds of a fantasy draft while it’s the mid to late-round picks that are often more challenging. On that note, here’s my take on some American League hitters that might be available in your fantasy draft after all the big names are gone (no particular order, however, a point system is used to convey confidence in the pick).
Joey Rickard – CF, Baltimore Orioles
Joey Rickard has no Major League Baseball experience. However, that promises to change soon. It’s late March and the 24-year-old is still statused as active with Baltimore thanks in large part to strong at-the-plate averages. For example, Rickard is batting .388 in what is now a large enough sample space of at-bats (49) to afford the stellar batting average some credibility.
While Rickard has not shown a lot of power, this is a player that might be available very late in fantasy drafts due to his lack of Major League experience and the low profile Baltimore playing setting. If he can get some platoon work and if he is used when the splits are in his favor then he might be able to maintain decent offensive averages as a part of the Orioles team.
Yunel Escobar – 3B, Anaheim Angels
Yunel Escobar of the Anaheim Angels could very well be a below-the-radar player for the fantasy enthusiasts out there. The third basemen is a little passed his prime at the age of 33. However, it’s not that uncommon for a Major League Baseball player to turn in his best offensive seasons post-30.
Relative to several of his most-recent seasons, 2015 was a good year for Escobar. He turned in an OPS of .790 in a 591 at-bat campaign.
So far in spring training, Escobar has had 44 at bats with a 1.187 OPS. While that’s not a statistic that has been earned in the games that matter, it’s noteworthy that his current 2016 spring training OPS is much higher than his career spring training OPS of .821. Escobar could be poised for a good 2016 season and given his relatively low profile in Major League Baseball, that could make him a good pick for the fantasy enthusiasts out there.
Jose Ramirez – SS, Cleveland Indians
Jose Ramirez is a developing shortstop with the Cleveland Indians who has 180 regular season games to his credit. He has not offered much at the plate over his short career thus far with a career OPS of .644 entering the 2016 season.
However, since he’s playing in a defense-oriented position Ramirez might turn out to be a gem if he can just offer average offensive numbers.
He has hinted at improved at-the-plate production thus far in spring training, entering this weekend with an OPS of 1.117. I find it very head turning with this player that he has four home runs in 46 spring training at-bats this year when he has just 8 regular season career home runs in 564 career regular season at bats.
While it’s true that spring training and the regular season are different beasts, Ramirez still looks as though he could have a breakout year at the plate that might land him a lot more batting opportunities. Double digits for home runs is not out of the question for this 23-year-old shortstop, and perhaps a much-improved OPS of .730 is a realistic goal. For a player in Cleveland, that is not famous, but that is heading in the right direction fantasy enthusiasts might be able to grab this shortstop with a later round pick.
Avisail Garcia – RF, Chicago White Sox
Avisail Garcia’s 2015 season has to be considered a bit of a disappointment at the plate. In 2013 and 2014 combined, Garcia was about average offensively while 2015 saw him post just a .675 OPS in a whopping 553 at-bats.
But so far in spring training, the 24-year old Garcia has been the man for the Chi Sox. Through 42 at bats, Garcia has a 1.101 OPS, and that is well above his career spring training OPS of .754.
This is a guy who was given a lot of at bats in Chicago last season despite little to show for it. If he can keep up his strong play in the regular season, then he promises to be a regular once again despite needing to improve defensively. In fantasy drafts, Garcia promises to be around late so a smart drafter might be able to add a guy with potential for 15 home runs and 65 RBIs.
Veteran Pedro Ciriaco has come to life in spring training for the Texas Rangers. His career OPS in the preseason is just .861 however in 47 at bats in 2016 he has turned in a 1.012 OPS.
With Ciriaco, let’s not forget that this is a guy that knows how to steal bases as well, an offensive contribution that is not reflected in the OPS stat. So far in spring training, he has 4 stolen bases on 4 attempts. If he can turn himself into a regular player with improved batting statistics and good fielding, then he is a threat for double digits when it comes to thefts.