Week 1 in fantasy baseball is upon us and that means you’ll now begin a six-month saga of scouring your league’s waiver wire for potential talent.
Whether you just drafted your team yesterday or you’ve been in a keeper league since Bill Clinton was in the White House, the teams that win are the one’s who refuse to sit back and watch.
Now is the time to pounce on lesser-owned guys like Cleveland Indians’ left fielder Michael Brantley and Baltimore Orioles’ infielder Ryan Flaherty. Once they get off to a hot start you’ll regret not taking the opportunity to add them when you had the chance.
» Michael Brantley, LF, Cleveland Indians (70.2 percent owned): Brantley is one of those players who always seems to fall by the wayside in fantasy baseball leagues. He’s probably a better real life player than a fantasy one, and his defensive abilities far outweigh his hitting prowess, but in the last two seasons he’s really stepped it up at the plate.
His hitting really took a leap in 2012 and he improved on that in 2013, batting .284/.332/.396 with career highs in runs (66), home runs (10), RBI (73), and stolen bases (17). He’ll be turning 27 in May and will officially be in his “prime years”, which may be key for a guy who seems to be somewhat of a late bloomer. The Indians signed Brantley to a four-year, $25 million extension in the off-season so his job as an everyday outfielder is pretty secure. The Indians’ first three games of the year are vs. the Oakland A’s, whom Brantley hit .435 (10-for-23) against last season.
» Ryan Flaherty, 2B, Baltimore Orioles (1.4 percent owned on ESPN.com): The Orioles will be without star third baseman Manny Machado (knee) for the start of the season. This has forced manager Buck Showalter to get creative with the lineup. Flaherty, who was originally slated to play second base, will move over to the hot corner while a combination of Jonathan Schoop and Steve Lombardozzi man the keystone. Jemile Weeks could also be in the mix at second, but his bad spring (7-for-41, 1 XBH) — and his poor career in general — could land him in Triple-A.
It’s possible Flaherty garners enough starts at 3B to acquire eligibility there, which would be a huge asset to fantasy owners. “Flash”, as he is known, did some damage in limited time with the Orioles last year, smashing 10 HR and 11 doubles in just 246 at bats. He also hit 6 HR in a mere 153 AB in 2012. His .221 BA isn’t very appetizing, but if it’s sneaky power you’re looking for, Flaherty’s your man.