In 2013, when 10 intrepid members of the ESPN fantasy staff decided to start up a fantasy baseball dynasty league, I opted to select Jose Altuve in Round 5. This pick resulted in a heaping helping of snickering and ridicule when it was made. After all, the Houston second baseman was coming off a fairly lackluster second season in the majors, with a not-so-exciting second-half stat line of a .274 batting average, 2 homers, 10 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.
But it’s not about being heavily criticized. It’s about being proactive and seeing things before they happen.” So eight years later, Chapman got out of the seventh inning, then went to the mound to pitch the eighth inning of Game 6 of the World Series with the score still 7-2. Maddon wasn’t about to use up his best pitcher for one out, with two innings to go, no matter what the pitcher did two days earlier. Chapman set the Indians down in order in the eighth, using a total of 15 pitches between the two innings. The Cubs were one inning away from forcing a do-or-die Game 7.
The 33-year-old De Aza has a .260 career batting average, 51 homers and 258 RBIs for seven teams since breaking into the majors in 2007.
Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox (ADP: 126.0): There’s an absolute hard line between the top three 3B — Arenado, Manny Machado and Kris Bryant — and the rest of the position. In a start-up dynasty draft, however, Devers would be the next hot corner resident on my list. He hit 30 HRs last season, across three levels of play, and that’s not including the pair of round-trippers he swatted in the ALDS against the Astros. Potentially batting between J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts could well yield you sixth-round value from a 21-year-old you might be able to keep on your roster for the next decade.
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta Braves (ADP: 160.1): Brandon Phillips didn’t fall on his face for the Braves last season, which kept Albies at Triple-A until August. Although he started slowly, over the final 28 games of the season, Albies hit .301 with 4 HR, 16 RBI and 6 SB. Given his 30-SB potential and a projected No. 2 spot in the batting order ahead of Freddie Freeman, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him generate top-five value at second base in 2018. Maybe he’s not going to have Trea Turner-sized buzz surrounding him, but I think he very well could end up in the same neighborhood on the Player Rater if everything falls just right.