Le'ts talk fantasy baseball.
No, not the kind of fantasy where the Irish Hammer feeds you chocolates while you ride a white pony led by Ruben Tejada. We're talking about the kind of fantasy where it doesn't matter than the Mets have four first basemen in the field and where R.A. Dickey can lead your team to hardware.
Here are a few Mets players that deserve extra special attention -- once again, not the kind of attention you'd like to lavish upon Justin Turner's ginger locks -- because, suddenly, the Mets uniform serves to hide the fact that there are some serious fantasy sleepers on this team.
Good luck this year, unless you're in a league with me. In which case, it shouldn't be too hard to find out who I like, so please don't go googling. Here's who I like on the Mets:
On a recent podcast, I listed Duda has my favorite fantasy sleeper of the year. Perhaps the Dude's biggest failing -- defense -- doesn't score in fantasy leagues. The Ox may or may not have Ox-like power, but he surely has the contact ability and plate discipline to hit .280+ with a good OBP. If he doesn't take another step forward -- after all the power has not always been there -- then that will come with 20 home runs and a partial platoon problem. Still, his price (ADP ~228, ranked 260 on MDC), makes him an excellent bench bat with the upside of a starting outfielder in leagues of any size. Oh, and he'll get plenty of leash, given the paucity of other options at his position. The team desperately needs his bat, either for offensive or trade value purposes.
It's been a tough couple of years for Wright, yes. He's had the hole in the swing, and the hole in his back. But the 29-year-old is not dead yet, and even his most negative projection (ZiPs -- .269/.351/.447 and 19 home runs, 78 RBI and 20 stolen bases) shows great value at a tough infield position. He's going 33rd, so he has a decent price tag, but that draft position puts him between Adrian Beltre and Ryan Zimmerman. He'll steal more bases than both guys combined, and could easily out-homer one of them... especially if he enjoys better health than the other two veterans. At the right moment, Wright is right for your fantasy team.
Who knows where his power has gone. Probably went to go frolic with his forgotten strikeouts. Anybody watching this team regularly knows that the Hammer is flawed -- he has below-average patience and power and may not be long for the second base position. But the position is so terrible that a .300 batting average, double-digit home runs and a handful of stolen bases actually rates as a top-twelve proposition. He's being picked 231st on average (286th), too, so it's not like he'll cost you much. Now the question is: can he protect his knee on the turn?
We're not worried about Ike Davis, but it seems that some fantasy owners are. Here's a guy with the upside to hit for a strong batting average and a home run total past 25, and he's being picked 173rd on average. Why would you pick Justin Morneau ahead of Davis? Davis' injury was a one-time freak occurrence, at least until he proves that he's injury-prone. Morneau might never play again. Why would you pick Adam Lind ahead of Ike Davis? Davis might not hit .300 with neutral luck, but he won't struggle along to a .250 batting average either. We like Ike and so should all fantasy owners.
Let's welcome Frankie Frank to the team, especially since he saves us from the heartburn Captain Fastball was set to provide us. Now Bobby Parnell isn't even second on the bullpen depth chart. Suddenly, the team has a capable closer, and an obvious handcuff in Ramon Ramirez. It's the perfect setup for a late-draft strategy. Draft Francisco late and enjoy his dominance of the weaker league -- and his first time calling a non-bandbox home -- and keep an eye out for Ramirez, who will be interesting when Francisco takes his yearly vacation on the disabled list. He's going with the 234th pick (ranked 317th) and should rack up 30 saves and nice ratios.
Yes, Dickey is RAD even in fantasy. Well, maybe a little less so in fantasy, where his lack of production in the strikeouts category will hurt his overall value. Plus, knuckleballers seem to be a difficult class of pitchers to project, given the unconventional nature of the pitch and the history of low BABIPs for pitchers that employ it. Still it'll only cost you the 228th pick for a ride-along. That's a great price, considering he returned $7.08 of value last year, or just a few coins less than Jordan Zimmermann ($8.14, 120th pick).
Niese was a replacement-level fantasy pitcher in mixed leagues last year. Well, okay, he was worth two cents, but since your average minimum bid was a dollar, he was actually a little below replacement. Niese also had a 3.36 FIP, which was anything but average (90 FIP-). Why he's spent over 6000 pitches showing a .329 BABIP is anyone's guess. Maybe his 90 MPH gas is too hittable, his curveball is not enough of an out-pitch, and his cutter is just "nice" not "niesty." But, more likely, he finally sees a decent BABIP this year and has an ERA under four for the first time. If he can continue to show the above-average control, he could even have a league-average WHIP. The wins might not be there though. Ah, stupid real-life baseball showing its head again.
In your typical twelve-team mixed fantasy league, these are probably the only fantasy-relevant Mets this year. Sure, if you have a couple DL spots, picking up Johan Santana makes sense. And if you're in a five-outfielder league, Jason Bay could enjoy a few more home runs with the new fences. Ruben Tejada could be a decent deep-league shortstop, since the position is so terrible and his batting average might be okay. Josh Thole's complete lack of power saps his usefulness in most leagues, but then again some of you probably play in 20-team two-catcher leagues -- I know I do -- and those settings make any warm body at the position interesting.
One thing we know is true. Don't ever draft Mike Pelfrey. Don't do it. Just don't.