As we close in on the beginning of the 2019 Major League Baseball season, many of us are finishing off drafts and preparing for the six-month grind of the fantasy season ahead. As we do, the talk shows and chat rooms are filled with advice on who you should draft in the first round, who is the ace pitcher you need to target, and where is the best place to land the next big star of the diamond. But are leagues truly won by focusing on the biggest and brightest, or can we all face facts that the majority of Fantasy Baseball crowns are earned on the backs of those players that fall through the cracks on draft day? After all, anyone can draft Mike Trout and Max Scherzer, but it takes a deft eye to look deep enough for a Max Muncy or a Blake Snell circa 2018.

So how do you uncover the gems that will produce fantasy gold? In my next article I want to focus on tactics for being a better owner and increasing your odds of winning, but for today I offer up one hitter and one pitcher from each MLB team that seriously have a chance to go from dust bin-afterthought to podcast-darling for thousands of wannabe Lenny Melnicks out there.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Christian Walker(1B, looking to usurp Jake Lamb for a bulk of playing time) and Merrill Kelly(SP, Korean league signee channeling the Mikolas magic, sans pornstache)

Atlanta Braves – Cristian Pache(OF, young but skilled; a chance to play this summer?) and Kyle Wright(SP, injured arms provide opening day spot, up to him to seize opportunity)

Baltimore Orioles – Chris Davis(1B – yes, THAT guy; better days are ahead) and Tanner Scott(RP, the beneficiary of, ahem, all of those O’s save chances once M. Givens is traded)

Boston Red Sox – Michael Chavis(3B, an R. Devers slump away from call-up) and Tyler Thornburg (RP, rounding back to form and could see save opp’s should C. Kimbrel stay away)

Chicago Cubs – Jason Heyward(OF, maybe this is the season he finds a swing) and Tyler Chatwood(SP/RP, bounces back from nightmare 2018; could win 10+ if spot available to start)

Chicago White Sox – Daniel Palka(1B/OF, dude crushes the ball and is always overlooked) and Zack Burdi(RP, electrifying arm capable of striking out the side or walking the park at any time)

Cincinnati Reds – Tucker Barnhart(C, yes he is well known, but if you want a boring placeholder to provide average stats across the board, go for Tucker and cross fingers for more!), and Anthony DeSclafani(SP, so amazingly overlooked but capable of providing mid-level returns plus K’s)

Cleveland Indians – Greg Allen(OF, steals upon steals – jump on him in late rounds) and Adam Cimber(RP, should B. Hand get hurt he is next to claim saves, and even if not, good numbers)

Colorado Rockies – Ramel Tapia(OF, any Rox hitter is money if given a chance, but this guy is ready to rock…) and Seung-hwan Oh(RP, just in case Wade Davis gets hurt or joins a circus)

Detroit Tigers – John Hicks(C/1B, hitting in the 4 spot and regular AB =counting numbers) and Joe Jimenez(RP; S. Greene SUCKS – Jimenez will get 30+ saves for this team, as bad as they are)

Houston Astros – Max Stassi(C; R. Chirinos is a HORRIBLE receiver, so…) and Wade Miley(SP, a horrible pitcher elsewhere but in the arms of Astroland coaching, he will flourish and win)

KC Royals – Ryan O’Hearn(1B, nothing between him and opportunity = counting stats!) and Jakob Junis(SP – this dude is a quality pitcher; any other team he is a stud…don’t sleep on him)

LA Angels – Jonathan Lucroy(C, not a person to target beyond waiver wire Catcher grab, but potentially gold move) and Ty Buttrey(RP; do you honestly want to bet on C. Allen all season?)

LA Dodgers – Austin Barnes(C/2B, should get bulk of playing time and at C position that is good) and Clayton Kershaw(SP; his discount due to spring injury concerns = HUGE payoff come Sept.)

Miami Marlins – Starlin Castro(2B, this guy is Mr. Consistency and gold for MI spot) and Caleb Smith(SP – he is literally an ACE and if on a better club would be a top 50 pick in any draft)

Milwaukee Brewers – Orlando Arcia(SS that has a glove that demands his spot in the lineup considering Moose and Shaw around him on the infield, so counting numbers add up) and Brandon Woodruff(SP, only a matter of time before he is literally spoken in terms of Kershaw and Nola)

Minnesota Twins – Jorge Polanco(SS, steady hitter when not suspended and he is back indeed) and Blake Parker(RP that may vulture 15-20 saves in the current landscape of MLB)

NY Mets – Jeff McNeil(2B, the hit tool will play and will produce counting stats) and Steven Matz(SP that is WAY TOO MUCH UNDER APPRECIATED – PLEASE DRAFT HIM!!!)

NY Yankees – Brett Gardner(OF, lineup + ability = counting stats to bank on) and Domingo German(SP, and proof that landing in a soft spot with opportunity can indeed pay off in the end)

Oakland A’s – Marcus Semien(SS; beyond capable of 15/15 for a late round pick) and Mike Fiers(SP; laugh at me later, but a true SP with 170 IP and 12+ wins with good peripherals…well..)

Philadelphia Phillies – Rhys Hoskins(1B – not every bargain is cheap…he is going 2-3 rounds below true value, trust me!) and Nick Pivetta(so undervalued – his counting #’s are beyond sick)

Pittsburgh Pirates – Adam Frazier(2B/OF, and yes, this dude is going to be a 4 category stud sans stolen bases) and Trevor Williams(SP – nothing flashy, but solid wins and okay peripherals)

SD Padres – Franchy Cordero(OF, trust me – this kid is healthy and will produce if given a chance) and Logan Allen(SP; call me sentimental, but I am rooting for this guy to be a huge star…please Google his story if you don’t know about it)

SF Giants – Mac Williamson(OF, crazy nuts power potential if healthy…fingers crossed there) and Dereck Rodriguez(SP – last year was solid in real life, hope can gain in K’s and WHIP)

Seattle Mariners – Jay Bruce(OF, and if he is a shell of his former self he will be a profit over a waiver/zero bid) and Shawn Armstrong(RP, because Hunter Strickland is, well, he is him…)

St. Louis Cardinals – Kolten Wong(2B; if he ever learns patience, he has the hit/speed component) and John Gant(SP, proven in spots and if given opportunity he will deliver wins)

Tampa Bay Rays – Yandy Diaz(1B/3B, solid batting average with power upside) and Diego Castillo(RP; late draft darling is helium driven but very well may be worth the hype)

Texas Rangers – Willie Calhoun(OF; I would start a “Go Fund Me” page if I thought it would drive opportunity for him…) and Drew Smyly(SP, if you need wins and are willing to gamble)

Toronto Blue Jays – Teoscar Hernandez(OF, and a comparison to N. Mazara from Texas if given full tilt) and Ryan Borucki(SP, if you can stomach the lack of K’s, he may deliver everything else)

Washington Nationals – Kurt Suzuki(C, steady player and bat with consistent numbers) and Trevor Rosenthal(RP, inline for saves should S. Doolittle succumb to his usual injuries this season)

Of course, I WILL NOT – I repeat, I WILL NOT guarantee any of these potential players will perform to such a degree that will amount to a veritable hill of beans, but I can promise you this (and if you have read this far, you are at least willing to be adventurous and you are capable of thinking outside of the proverbial box of boring ass middle of the road thinking, so thank you) – if you will seek out players that are off the board, outside of the group-think, you will have a much better chance of winning your fantasy league than the lemmings that just read the Athletic and stroke their music to the usual tunes of MLBtv and SiriusXM. I applaud you, the willing, and I hope you not only consider my players below the bar of the norm but you champion your own potential nuggets that you have uncovered! Best of luck this season ☺

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Questions? Comments? Hit me up via email at mditon.edwards@gmail.com, or on Facebook (search Michael Diton-Edwards)…I am not a fan of twitter and social media, so I am happy to converse via the tried and true landscape of mail.

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