“I will never, ever draft him again.”
It’s said year after year by oblivious fantasy owners who were burned by a certain player. They give up, letting the past cloud their judgment. It happens far too often, as fantasy owners often miss out on a big year from a player they passed up on. Whether it’s age, slumping, injuries, there’s always one or two guys that are touted as undraftable.
Keep the faith, folks.
Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs: Rizzo, a promising first baseman, sat back and watched guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman have absolute monster seasons at the position in 2013, while Rizzo had his fair share of struggles. He batted an ugly .189 against left-handed pitching last year, while hitting just 20 balls in August, resulting in a batting average of .190. However, at times, he showcased that massive upside we all know is inside him, finishing the season with a healthy 23 home runs. His batting average was weak, but he still made a living getting on base. His walk rate climbed to an impressive 11 percent last season, which is a great sign for a very young player who needs to improve his plate discipline. A kid who is still 24-years old and is a power hitter in Wrigley Field, Rizzo will be drafted by me a ton of he’s available. There’s still plenty of time to grow.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers: After first and second finishes on ESPN’s Player Rater, Verlander faltered in 2013, posting his highest ERA (.346) since 2008. He saw an uncharacteristic dip in velocity, which played a role in his off season. However, Verlander is still a very good pitcher, and is a true workhorse, seeing plenty of innings. And he did come on during the postseason last year, sporting a 0.39 ERA during three playoff starts. Because he had a down year, he can now be had at a discount, and if he’s himself, owners will get a top-10 fantasy pitcher on the low.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: Some may be wondering why Bautista is even on this list, but many have been labeling him a bust and shying away from him on draft day. A 33-year old outfielder with recent injury history, Bautista’s draft stock has plummeted a bit as of late, but I still think he’s a relatively safe fantasy option. He’s still one of the premiere power hitters in baseball, managing the second-most home runs (126) since 2010, which is 26 more than the third place hitter. And although his likely .250 batting average is nothing to write home about, you’ll overlook it when he belts at least 30 homers in the process. In 2013, Rogers Centre saw the third-most home runs per game (1.289), while seeing the 6th-most in 2011 (1.186).
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.