One Player, Each Team - AL Edition

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Whether it's because of pure talent, the ability to fill the stat sheet, or because they are a massive bargain, there will always be players on teams that I just get enamored with and have to target in my Fantasy Baseball draft.  That is what this piece is for.  I will take you through the American League with the premise of, if you had the ability to draft one player, from each team, who would it be?  This is who they should be...

AL EAST


Baltimore Orioles - The Orioles roster is a barren desert for talent.  Even the safety blanket of Adam Jones and a 20/80 year is no longer available to draft.  And of course, Macahdo and Schoop were shipped out at last season's trade deadline.  You are basically left with the corpse of Chris Davis or Trey Mancini to pick from.  I don't love either, but at least Davis has somewhat of an upside, and Mancini is probably good for 20-25 homers.  Stay clear of Baltimore if you can, but if you're in a very deep league, take your pick of these two guys.

Boston Red Sox - There are so many options on the Red Sox, as there should be when you are the the defending World Series champions.  You have Chris Sale, Andrew Benintendi, of course Mookie Betts, and heck, even David Price.  At the end of the day, the answer is clear though, it is Mookie Betts.  He was your 2018 American League MVP for a reason.  After a "down" year in 2017, where Mookie still batted in over 100 runs, he filled the stat sheet in 2018 to the tune of a .346 average, 32 bombs and 80 RBI's.  Mookie has asked to be dropped in the order to boost that RBI total.  If Cora obliges, somehow Mookie could have an even better year. 2019 is finally the year you could argue Mookie goes number 1 and not Mike Trout. 


New York Yankees  - Another team with so many fantasy options.  Right off the bat you have your Bronx Bombers in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.  You have newly acquired James "Big Maple" Paxton to create a stellar 1-2 punch with Luis Severino.  For the Yankees however, your one player to target is Gary Sanchez.  I REFUSE to believe Gary's performance last season was truly him.  That is not to say the power numbers he showed in 2016 after his call-up, and throughout 2017, was truly him either.  But he has to be somewhere in the middle, and with the catching position being as starved as what it is for offensive production, Sanchez remains the cream of the crop.  With an ADP of around 60, you can still get top tier pitchers and hitters, and be fully capable of rolling the dice with Gary as your 6th pick with the chance of 30+ home run production.


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Tampa Bay Rays - Coming off his Cy Young award winning campaign, Blake Snell would seem like the obvious choice on the surface.  But digging deeper you may find that is not the case.  Listen, if Snell is on the board and I already have a top tier hitter, I am drafting him.  There is no disputing that.  But for Snell, playing on a Rays team that lost 30 home runs when they DFA'd CJ Cron for whatever reason, and lost Wilson Ramos to the Mets, the offensive production that would be supporting Snell is slated to drop.  Expect Snell's wins to drop from roughly 18 to 15, and his sub 2 ERA is probably unachievable for a second straight season.  To get more bang for your buck, look to Tommy Pham.  Pham was super hyped going into last year and grossly disappointed in St. Louis.  But once he was traded to Tampa, the Pham we were hoping for showed up.  Once in a Rays uniform Pham casually spent his time hitting .343 in 174 plate appearances.  With an ADP of over 80, but top 50 player potential, Pham is a guy I am all over this year.

Toronto Blue Jays - So I have the qualms with the Blue Jays.  Let's cut to the chase, the answer is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  But here are the issues.  The first being, everyone has become infatuated with Vladdy Jr and he will be drafted far too high for a rookie, and that includes one year leagues where he is currently being taken in 3rd/4th round territory.  The other issue is Toronto is not very good this year and there is not really anything else on their team currently worth targeting.  Yes there is Justin Smoak still, but we saw him go from 38 homers in 2017 to only 25 a year ago.  Not a great trend.  You basically need to pay the steep price for Vladdy and hope to cash in.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox - Jose Abreu had hit for at least 25 and 100 every single season since entering the majors in 2014, until last year.  He was on pace to do it again for the 5th straight season last year and would have achieved it if not derailed by a abdominal surgery late in the year.  This year he is slated for a lot of DH duty instead of playing the field, which can only help him in his age 32 season.  DH'ing will hopefully keep Abreu healthy and back to at least close to another 25/100 campaign.  Abreu remains one of the safest fantasy picks and should be drafted for that reason alone.

Cleveland Indians - Francisco Lindor.  Lindor is a top 10 talent currently going in the later parts of the second round in drafts.  Yes, it is because he is hurt, but it is nothing severe as he is simply nursing a strained calf and currently slated to only miss one or two weeks of the regular season.  You can survive two weeks without Lindor for the return of having him the next 20.

Detroit Tigers - The Tigers are in full rebuild mode, but still roster the once great Miguel Cabrera.  A healthy Miggy should still warrant at least a bench spot on almost any fantasy team.  While he should be relegated to mainly a DH role (like Abreu, that's a good thing), he still holds first base eligibility, which is ideal.  Before getting hurt last June, Cabrera was batting .299 with three long balls and 22 RBI's.  If it was a full season it would have equated to roughly 15 home runs and almost 90 RBI's while batting basically .300.  If that is not roster worthy, not sure what is.  Currently being drafted with the 160th overall pick in Fantasy Drafts, there is no excuse not to roll the nice on Miguel Cabrera for one more season.

Kansas City Royals - The usual answer on a bad Royals team is Salvador Perez, but he is now out for the entirety of the 2019 season with Tommy John surgery needed on his right elbow.  This now makes Whit Merrifield the Royal to target.  In a time where baseball is seeing less and less speed on the base paths, Merrifield continues to pound that steal column as he's accumulated 79 over the past two seasons.  With little reason not to, Merrifield can expect a season long green light on the basepaths allowing him to push close to 50 bags swiped.  Oh, and batting .300 helps his fantasy value also of course.


Minnesota Twins - Target Field is not a hitter-friendly park, but neither is the cavernous Safeco Field (now named T-Mobile Park), which is where Nelson Cruz has called home for the past four seasons where he has hit 44, 43, 39, and 37 home runs respectively.  Making the jump to Target Field should not scare anyone, as another 35 home runs is not out of the question by any means.  The only knock on Cruz is that he is only UTIL eligible in most leagues.  But that may cause him to drop and drafts and 35 home runs on a discount sure sounds satisfying to me.

AL WEST

Anaheim Angels - Mike Trout. Next.

Houston Astros - The Astros continue to be the cream of the crop in the AL West, and you can pencil them in for another AL West title at a minimum this season.  Their roster remains stockpiled with talent with names like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole.  All those players should be fantasy targets for you, but will all come with a premium price.  If it's bargain shopping you're looking for, look no further than Tyler White.  Evan Gattis is no longer with the team, opening the door for Tyler White to take over full time as DH while occasionally playing first to keep him first base eligible in fantasy.  White earned a mid-season call-up in 2018 and quietly hit .276 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI's over 66 games.  If you were to span that out over a full season, White would have been a 30/100 guy.  His current ADP of 246 is OUTRAGEOUSLY cheap.  There is no excuse at all for anyone not to pull the trigger on White.

Oakland Athletics - Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olsen all bring big time power numbers to the table, but have large holes elsewhere with average, strikeouts and lack of speed.  Not to mention their ADP's respectively are 41, 100, and 99.  Or, you could fall in love with a rookie pitcher yet to step foot on a Major League mound and draft him in the 22nd round; Jesus Luzardo.  Luzardo came over to the Oakland organization a few years back as the return for Gio Gonzalez to Washington.  Between now and then he has checked every single box off in the minors, and has continued this Spring with 5.2 scoreless innings that has seen him strikeout ten.  Luzardo is the top southpaw prospect in the game and there is a very good chance he opens the season in the Oakland rotation. If not, he will be up quite soon.  There is A LOT to like about Luzardo and with him not being taken until roughly the 22nd round in one year leagues, it is very low risk, very high reward.


Seattle Mariners - Robinson Cano.  Gone.  Nelson Cruz.  Gone.  Edwin Diaz.  Gone.  Felix Hernandez.  Not good anymore.  Kyle Seager.  Meh.  Dee Gordon.  Maybe?  He appears to be getting pushed to the nine hole with the acquisition of Mallex Smith.  That hurts any fantasy value he had greatly.  Not sure if you guys have picked up yet that Seattle is not very good and should basically be avoided for fantasy purposes.  If you're going to force me to drop a name though, I guess I will reluctantly say Mitch Haniger.  He finally stayed healthy last season and played all but five games while posting career highs in all categories.  However, with the Mariners being much worse than they were a year ago, you have to be prepared to watch stats like his runs and RBIs to drop off. 

Texas Rangers - How about we end the article with a bit of surprise.  How about Asdrubal Cabrera?  At 32 years old, Cabrera hit 23 long balls and batted in 75 guys while hitting .262.  You can see, Cabrera is not going to hurt you anywhere.  He landed in a real life and fantasy goldmine by signing with Texas allowing him to play 81 games in the launching pad that is Globe Life Park.  With almost no threat to his playing time besides health, Cabrera could easily match if not top those numbers from a year ago.  So you can draft Joey Gallo and his .206 average with the 100th pick of your draft, or fine some additional power elsewhere as you sit back and get each category stuffed by taking Asdrubal Cabrera roughly around the 240th pick.

Be on the lookout for the NL Version next week!


Follow Ryan on Twitter and ask your fantasy questions @BesseBoy.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: One Player, Each Team - AL Edition
One Player, Each Team - AL Edition
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