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Having participated in four fantasy baseball league drafts in the last few weeks, I've noticed certain players getting drafted by other team owners well ahead of where I had them ranked. To a large degree, I think these owners were drafting aggressively on spring training numbers, a strategy all of us find tempting. But you need to be careful and selective about relying on spring numbers, or you will end up with a team full of minor leaguers and journeyman.
Here are a few player whose draft stock rose in recent weeks on dazzling spring training numbers, and whether I think those numbers are to be trusted:
Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: Seven home runs this spring helped convince many people he is fully recovered from the leg injury he suffered in the 2011 playoffs. I didn't have Howard among my top 20 first basemen, though I did see him as a sleeper candidate. Upon further review, I'd move him up to No. 17 or 18, but I still wonder how durable he'll prove to be at 33 years old as we get into the second half of the season.
Michael Morse, OF, SEA: Nine HRs in Arizona from a young power hitter who changed venues from Washington to Seattle this off-season. Seattle's park has always been friendly to pitchers, but the fences have been moved in this year. Morse also started the season well, hitting two HRs in the second game of the year, including a mammoth 446-foot shot, and adding a third in Game 3. If you got Morse late in your draft, I think you will be very happy.
Brandon Belt, OF, SF: Another slugger who went yard eight times this spring. Yet, unlike Howard and Morse, Belt has yet to have a solid season in the majors. I don't think he was worth a draft pick this year, though the 24-year-old could be someone to put on your watch list as the season plays on.
Julio Teheran, SP, ATL: The Braves' fifth starter was a hot late-round choice in every draft I was in. Thirty-five strikeouts in 26 spring innings may be the biggest reason, but Teheran has appeared in only seven regular season games over the last two years. With youth and inexperience, you often see a lot of walks coming with impressive strikeout numbers, and you have to think the Braves will watch his pitch counts and innings, too. I see a half-season worth of returns in this investment.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, LAD: I saw a lot of fantasy team owners digging deep into the Dodgers' starting rotation to draft this Korean rookie. No doubt they noticed his 0.91 WHIP this spring. He only walked eight in 27 innings in Arizona, but a control pitcher with no MLB experience may find himself getting hit hard by the big bats early on if he's unwilling to go outside the strike zone occasionally.
* RealGM says White Sox closer Addison Reed's slider could deliver a fantasy payoff.
* Fantasy CPR takes a look at some early-season sleepers. Jean Segura, anyone?
* Rant Sports examines why Yu Darvish owners aren't happy after an almost-perfect game.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on May 22, 2017