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Being the mega baseball nerd that I am, I play in a ridiculous amount of fantasy baseball leagues every season. Part of it comes with the territory of being a self-proclaimed “fantasy expert”, but I would only be doing this if I really enjoyed it, and I sure do love me some fantasy baseball. This year the number of fantasy leagues in which I’m a part of is up to seven.

While that may not seem like a very big number, it’s actually quite a bit to keep track of, and even more so when you consider league diversity. I play in seven very unique leagues as far as scoring, settings, and team numbers go, which only adds to the challenge of managing so many teams.

I recently just finished my last draft of the spring, and this year I drafted a total of 120 different players. There are 30 major league teams with 25-man rosters, which means 16% of all players in Major League Baseball are on at least one of my fantasy teams. And that’s not even considering all of the free agents to keep track of throughout the year. Needless to say, it’s a lot of players to follow during the year.

However, there were also quite a few players who I ended up owning in multiple leagues. Some of these were players with ADP values too good to pass up while others were just guys who I’m really bullish on this year.

But the bottom line is that these are all players who I personally drafted on my own teams. As a fantasy writer it’s one thing to tell you who you should draft, but I’m putting my money where my mouth is here and telling you to target the players who I actually drafted. So without further ado, here are 10 players who I own most often in fantasy leagues this year:

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While a standard fantasy baseball league is usually 10-12 teams depending on which platform you use, many avid fantasy players (including myself) opt to go for the “challenge” of participating in deeper leagues. Whether that looks like limiting the player pool to just the American or National League, involving super deep rosters, or playing with many more teams, deep leagues are a fun way to really put your fantasy baseball knowledge and prowess to the test.

Instead of just the top 250 or so that would normally get drafted, the pool of players who will end up on a team can get to near double that number depending on how deep your league is. Needless to say, that’s a lot of players to know come draft day.

It makes sense that one of the toughest parts about drafting in a really deep league is towards the end of the draft. Once all of the well-known players and sleepers have eventually been selected, it leaves managers to really scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill out their roster with players who they may or may not know anything about. If you don’t have some set players to target, then this phase of the draft can seem like blindly throwing darts for your last few selections.

And that’s where this article comes in. Here are five players who are barely getting drafted, if at all, but still have the potential or capability to be useful fantasy assets, especially in those really deep, bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping leagues. And if you haven’t already, make sure you also check out our other positional sleepers:

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Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel are two starters with very different styles of pitching – one relies on strikeouts while the other focuses on ground balls for success — yet they’re similar in the fact that not only do they both play for the Astros, but they were both horrible before last year. Keuchel had tossed 239 career innings of a 5.20 ERA and 1.54 WHIP prior to 2014, and while McHugh had only thrown 47.1 innings up to that point, and his ERA and WHIP were even worse at 8.94 and 1.82, respectively.

Yet both players managed to put it all together last year and each had very fantasy relevant seasons in 2014, with McHugh finishing the year as the 20th-best SP on ESPN’s Player Rater and Keuchel not too far behind him as the 33rd-best SP. But for some reason, fantasy owners aren’t buying the new and improved ‘Stros starters and neither pitcher is getting drafted anywhere close to how they finished last season. Sure, some sort of regression is inevitable, but they’re not going to back to the realm of fantasy atrocity either.

In order to best understand their value, we have to take a deeper look into each pitcher’s peripherals and one of the best (as well as more fun) ways of doing this is with blind resumes to see which other pitchers they most resembled as far as raw skills go.

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Last offseason I took a stab at predicting the statistical effect of a player that makes the transition from the Cuban Serie Nacional to Major League Baseball, specifically looking at what to expect from the then-newest Cuban-come ups, Jose Abreu and Alex Guerrero.

You can read the whole article here, but the basics of what I did was I took the career stats from both Cuba and MLB and averaged them first to a per-season basis, then to a per 500 AB basis to give a general idea of what kind of increase or decrease in production we should expect when players transition from league to league. Some of the key findings in that comparison were the following:

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2014 was a pretty rough year for Dustin Pedroia no matter which way you look at it. Hampered by a wrist injury all season, he ended up hitting just .278 with 7 HR and 6 SB – all career lows for the former four-time-All Star. He finished the year as only the 16th-best fantasy second baseman according to ESPN’s Player Rater, which is especially disappointing considering that he was a top-five 2B in each of the three seasons prior.

A large part of Pedroia’s struggles, however, actually started before the season even began. He had played with a torn ligament in his thumb throughout the 2013 season and had surgery at the end of the year to correct it. Unfortunately, the post-surgery effects were very limiting and it caused Pedroia to have to alter his offseason routine. He wasn’t able to lift weights or do most upper body workouts, which really sapped his power during the year.

Even worse, his thumb ended up getting re-injured once the season started up, but this time it wasn’t nearly as easy to play through. In an interview with WEEI back in November, Pedroia had the following to say about his injury:

It was just frustrating. The year before, I found a way to perform, playing nicked up. The year before it was a loose feeling – I tore that ligament in my thumb and everything just felt loose, so I was able to figure it out and let the ball travel more and just try to slap balls the other way and get hits and not try to drive the ball. This year it was more, I was restricted. I didn’t have any motion. It was so swollen and tight all year, I couldn’t get a feel of how to get through it. It was tough. I fought it all year.

The injury ended up getting so bad that it caused Pedroia’s season to end early, and he had another surgery on September 11 to get it fixed. However, because he got the procedure done much earlier than the previous year, when he had to wait until after winning the World Series, it healed sooner and he was able to have a relatively normal offseason. Having the surgery earlier really seemed to do the trick, and Pedroia compares the different between this offseason and the last to be “night and day,” adding that:

I’ve got all my strength back. I’m lifting like a maniac. I’m pretty excited. Last year at this time I couldn’t hit yet. It’s obvious a lot different offseason this year than last year. I’m full go. I’ve been throwing, hitting, taking some ground balls. I’m ready to go…I’m done with the rehab. I haven’t missed a beat. I haven’t had my strength like normal for few years. I’m excited.”

While we’ll have to wait and see whether Pedroia’s enthusiasm will reflect itself onto the upcoming season, I remain optimistic that we’ll see a solid bounce-back year from him in 2015.

At A Glance

Strengths Neutral Weaknesses
Standard R, BA HR, RBI, SB
Deeper PA, BB, K, 2B, OBP 3B, NetSB, SLG CS
Peripherals K%, BB% GB%, FB%, LD%, HR/FB, ISO

Players With Similar Fantasy Projections

  • Melky Cabrera
  • Daniel Murphy
  • Howie Kendrick

2015 Fantasy Baseball Projection

2015 Projection: 651 PA, 83 R, 11 HR, 72 RBI, 10 SB, .284 AVG

Overall Rank: 90 | 2B Rank: 8

Don’t go overboard on draft day, but I feel confident that we are going to see a big season from Dustin Pedroia in 2015.

Overall we project a nice rebound season from Pedroia, although we remain slightly conservative with that prediction. These projections are meant to give you a baseline on what to expect when drafting a player, and while it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him top these numbers, don’t draft him expecting vintage Pedroia back right away.

If you draft him with the following projections in mind and he exceeds them, then great, but if you expect too much and he doesn’t meet those expectations then it leaves you stuck trying to fill the holes in production where he fell short.

That being said, I think the chance of him topping our initial projection is pretty good, and I personally don’t have a problem with reaching a little bit to acquire him in drafts. In our recent reader mock draft we did on Tuesday, Pedroia was taken 74th overall, and that’s right about where I would be comfortable drafting him. Don’t go overboard on draft day, but I feel confident that we are going to see a big season from Dustin Pedroia in 2015.

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