Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN
What a strange state of affairs when Phillips, the former All-Star and fantasy stud, is unowned in the vast majority of fantasy leagues -- mere waiver wire fodder for desperate owners in need of a plug.
Is there any reason to believe that the aging infielder has upside left in the tank?
His manager thinks so. Bryan Price said in February that he expects Phillips to have a "big year," but of course, what else would he say? The comments were hardly corroborated by a spring that saw the second baseman bat just .211 with a 611 OPS.
Once a perennial 20/20 threat, Phillips managed only eight home runs and two stolen bases in 2014. Certainly there's little reason to believe the veteran will return to his prime form, but it's probably too soon to stick a fork in him.
Even while his production has faded across multiple key categories, Phillips' power has remained surprisingly constant. He hit exactly 18 home runs every year from 2010 through 2013, averaging more than 30 doubles. Last year, a thumb injury cost him time and likely affected his slugging output, but had he reached his usual total of around 650 plate appearances his numbers would have extrapolated to 33 doubles and 11 jacks. Not his typical production, but not bad for a middle infielder.
The decline in steals is the most problematic trend for Phillips and that one is less likely to go away. Still, he seems like a pretty good value right now based on how widely available he is. He still figures to provide plenty of pop if healthy, and in Cincinnati's potent lineup that should lead to plenty of opportunities to drive in and score runs.
Drew Stubbs, OF - COL
The 2014 season was a bit of a conundrum for owners of Stubbs. Taking full advantage of the move to Colorado, the outfielder was quite productive, posting a career-high 821 OPS with 15 homers and 20 steals, yet he made the fewest plate appearances of any season since he came into the league as a rookie in 2009.
Relegated to a part-time role with the Rockies, Stubbs amassed only 330 at-bats in 132 games.
Of course, at the outset of last season, the former rising star was coming off three straight campaigns in which he'd finished with an OPS of 686 or below. Now that he's coming off an outstanding year that restored some of his luster, what will it take for him to take on a more prominent role in Colorado's outfield?
Most likely, Stubbs would need one of the three starters entrenched ahead of him -- Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez -- to go down with an injury, or to endure some really profound struggles. But even as a bench player, Stubbs will likely get enough tread to be worth rostering in deep leagues. With his speed and power potential, he can find his way into most games as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner, and he's bound to get a couple starts per week either way.
In the hands of an attentive fantasy owner, Stubbs will be a great weapon. He mashes lefties and crushes at Coors Field, so if you monitor his match-ups and strategically deploy him, he is likely to pay some nice dividends.