It’s still far too early to panic if your team is low in the standings, but at least we are starting to a gather a bit of data to work with. In general, it would be wise to wait a couple of more weeks to determine whether a player is addable or droppable. However, that luxury is not always afforded due to injuries and other factors. Here are the players who are the most popular among the nearly 750 teams in the Bronze Salary Cap Points Challenge game. I have also noted players who have been added or dropped by at least 20 teams to this point in the young season. As usual, I will point out a couple of potential targets at each position heading into Period 4. Beginning next week, I will also highlight players who are most-owned among teams in the top-100 Overall in the standings. This may help you identify which players are making a larger impact on the overall standings.
Gary Sanchez owners just need to be patient. As evidenced by his huge game Wednesday night, the Kraken will be released as scheduled in short order. Contreras has picked it up after a cold start and should be fine going forward. Gattis helps us highlight the fact that there just are not a lot of viable options at catcher. Gattis ranks outside the top-20 catchers in points per game yet ranks sixth at the position in total points. I would not rush to drop him just yet.
Claiming Yadier Molina in and of itself may be a sound move but doing so by dropping Sanchez does not constitute a wise decision. Dropping him for Gattis makes more sense, but still does not strike me as an obvious move. Chris Iannetta and Francisco Cervelli have gotten off to nice starts, but neither offers enough cap savings to justify a claim.
Gallo remains the most popular first baseman, but he has already been dropped in the Texas batting order. He can produce regardless of his lineup slot, but his ceiling may have lowered a touch. Bellinger’s ownership has dipped a bit as he has started slow and cheaper options continue to emerge. Freeman has been an absolute monster in the early going. Olson has not been great but he should be very good for the price.
Smoak and Ramirez continue to be vastly underutilized in this game. When you can find players who produce huge numbers at a deflated price and ownership percentage, you have hit the jackpot. We have seen a few players jump from Bellinger to Smoak recently, and I would expect that trend to continue over the next several weeks. However, Ramirez remains under the radar for now. To this point in the season, Ramirez has been claimed by fewer teams (4) than Yonder Alonso (5).
A fast starter who is not on this list is Milwaukee’s Eric Thames. I would personally rather own Smoak and Ramirez. Thames is no sure thing for everyday at-bats once Christian Yelich returns and is as streaky as they come. The bottom will fall out eventually. If you’re really in the mood for a cheap and productive NL Central first baseman, consider Josh Bell (1730, 9 percent owned) instead. He has not matched Thames yet, but his production is far more sustainable going forward.
Albies continues to impress, though not in the manner in which most of us suspected. Albies has just one stolen base so far but has slugged four home runs already. The power is unsustainable, obviously, but he should continue to hit for a decent average and score a lot of runs in what has so far been an explosive Braves’ offense. Moncada and Merrifield have not done much yet, but neither is an albatross that must be removed. They should be fine.
No second baseman has been claimed or dropped by at least 20 teams. In addition, there are a lot of mid-range second basemen who have exceeded their salaries so far, but none is an obvious add. And I will admit that I have been dragged kicking and screaming onto the Scott Kingery bandwagon, but I’m beginning to get onboard. I have been hesitant because I continue to believe in Cesar Hernandez, and he has not disappointed, ranking sixth at the position in points per game. You know who ranks seventh? Yep. Kingery. He may not be your prototypical everyday second baseman, but he has started eight of eleven games, playing all over the field. Ironically, Kingery’s 14 YTD drops are the second-most at the position. I suspect those owners will come to regret that decision as much as those of us who didn’t start with him to begin with.
Arenado is the only one of the three who rank in the top-10 at the position, but neither Devers nor Bregman is an obvious drop either. No third baseman has been claimed or dropped by at least 20 teams, but Bregman’s 12 drops are the most among third basemen.
All members of this group have an awesome first initial, and they all average at least four points per game. Moustakas has already been dropped by ten owners but has rebounded over the last few games. Chapman has maintained an excellent batting average so far and has struck out in less than 20 percent of his plate appearances, which are promising signs. I still can’t buy Brian Anderson’s hot start, and neither can virtually anyone else. He is owned by just two people so far.
Gregorius is tied with Freddie Freeman for the second-most points among hitters so far. He will not keep up that pace, of course. But he is a potential top-five shortstop this season. Bogaerts got off to a great start but is currently on the 10-day Disabled List, so he should not be claimed by anyone this week. If he is ready to go by next weekend, he will be on the radar of many owners. Anderson joins this group on the strength of his aggressiveness on the basepaths and his improved plate discipline. After attempted 16 stolen bases and drawing just 13 walks in 2017, Anderson has already stolen six bases and drawn four walks. It won’t always be pretty with Anderson, but he makes for an interesting Points play.
Harper continues to be a world beater. He has almost as many points as the last three members of the above group have combined. The owner who dropped Harper must really have a stacked squad. Owners of the “bottom three” on this list are beginning to grow impatient, as they have been the most-dropped outfielders outside of the injured Delino DeShields.
Eaton promptly got hurt right after a fair amount of teams picked him up. It’s sort of his deal. Ronald Acuna is rumored to be called up by Atlanta this weekend. If he is, he will be a pretty popular pickup. Haniger remains productive but is not exactly a must-own. Polanco, on the other hand, might be by the time it’s all said and done. He ranks fifth among hitters in points per game. He has teased before, so I would like to see a little more consistency, especially against left-handed pitching. But he has been impressive so far and has walked in nearly 20 percent of his plate appearances. Perhaps he has finally figured it all out.
Castillo is the only member of this group who has yet to produce, but his peripheral numbers suggest all is not lost. I can understand owners losing patience, especially as cheap options emerge, but I still think Castillo will be fine. The rest of these guys are rock solid, Severino’s Tuesday clunker notwithstanding.
As I mentioned last week, I prefer to pick up pitchers when they are about to make two starts in a given week. It’s a huge advantage in Points formats. Patrick Corbin is currently third among Arizona starters in ownership percentage, but that may not last long. He is exhibiting signs of a breakout and will likely be the most added pitcher this weekend. There don’t appear to be any more obvious claims or drops. If I had to pick a second starter after Corbin, I’d lean towards Lance McCullers, though Wednesday’s disaster will likely scare off would-be buyers.
The players above all got off to shaky starts but have rebounded nicely over the past several days. Felipe Vazquez (formerly Rivero) looked like a different pitcher on Tuesday, although that was probably mostly the name change.
The loss of Corey Knebel forced many owners’ hands, as nearly a third of all teams claimed a reliever over the weekend. I would probably gravitate towards Doolittle, Vazquez, and then Diaz if forced to claim a reliever. I don’t know if I can trust Familia or Boxberger despite their quick starts.