Clayton Kershaw went for $117 — or 23.4% of a total team budget– at auction and was totally worth it. He’s that good. But there are a bunch of other players on the opposite end of the cost spectrum who have been good as well. Not Kershaw good, but good. And at $1, they’ve proven to be steals.
The cool thing about dollar players is that the team who nominated them can bask in all the credit. It’s not like a $20 player where five teams were in on the bidding but only one won and gets to look smart.
Here’s a quick look at each team’s best currently-rostered $1 player, starting from the top of our current standings and working down…
TEAM CANADA: SP Martin Perez – 273.5 points, SP53
Getting a borderline top-50 starting pitcher for a buck is just unreal value. His numbers aren’t particularly good though. He’s striking out just 5.43 batters per nine, walking 4.21, and has posted a FIP/xFIP slash of 4.39/4.59. Basically, he’s been super lucky and he’s getting by without particularly good stuff.
But hey, he costs a buck! As of this post, first place Team Canada has only started him three times, so he’s clearly not being relied on too heavily, which is exactly what you want for a guy like Perez.
HUSTLE LOYALTY RESPECT: LF/RF Seth Smith, 228.5 points, OF62
The Mariners’ platoon outfielder was the fourth-to-last player auctioned and at just $1, has rewarded Hustle Loyalty Respect handsomely. Smith has been in HLR’s lineup 14 times to date and has hit at a rate of 4.88 points per game in those opportunities, which is a better than league average clip. He’s a really good bench option.
TRUMPA LOOMPAS: 2B/3B/LF/RF Brandon Drury, 244.4 points, 2B18/3B22
Brandon Drury has thus far been one of the best values in the league. Not only has he hit the hell out of the ball, but he can play three positions. At the absolute worst, he’s a flexible bench player capable of being deployed on days where better players are out. But the Loomps have started him 30 times this year, so he’s played his way into a key role.
Having said that, he’s only hit at a 2.68 points per game rate over the last two weeks. Even if he cools though, he’s still been worth every bit of that dollar investment and with all that positional eligibility, he can still deliver value even if he hits at right around replacement levels.
TBD: 3B Jake Lamb, 312 points, 3B11
Jake Lamb has been on my prospect radar for a while now, so it’s cool to see him getting playing time and making the most of it. For just a buck, TBD has gotten an every day third baseman that is currently outscoring Todd Frazier, Miguel Sano, Adrian Beltre, and Evan Longoria.
Like his Diamondbacks teammate Drury above, Lamb is certainly one of the best $1 buys and one of the better values of any dollar amount leaguewide.
TEAM HYDRA: SS Zack Cozart, 235.3 points, SS13
The shortstop position is no longer as weak as it was, so coming into this year there were a few savvy teams who opted to punt the position knowing that they could come away with a good option for cheap instead of paying a position premium. Hydra didn’t necessarily do that, as they dropped $23 on Marcus Semien at auction, but Cozart made him expendable and their team is better for it.
Cozart won’t wow you most weeks, but at such a negligible cost, he’s proved a really valuable piece to a team vying for a playoff spot.
BEACH BUM: 1B/LF, Hyun Soo Kim, 96.9 points, 1B62
Okay, I realize this looks bad. The Orioles’ international signee has barely played and, in fact, Dan just scooped him up from free agency after the owner who won him at auction opted to cut bait. But the reason he’s here is twofold.
First, there isn’t really a better option on this team. And second, if there’s one owner in this league who I think is capable of recognizing a potentially valuable player that can be had for free and then have the patience to sit on him, it’s Dan. Kim hits when he plays, it’s just a matter of opportunities. On this roster, there’s a good chance he’ll just linger until those opportunities present themselves, at which point value should follow.
THE WILFRED BRIMLEY FIGHTING DIABEETUSES: 2B/3B/SS Danny Espinosa, 172.9 points, SS27
Nothing to see here, move along.
THE FOUNDATION: SS Jean Segura, 298.3 points, SS8
Jean Segura has cooled off considerably from his hot start. Over the last 21 days, he’s been only the 31st ranked shortstop and is hitting at a below replacement level points per game clip. But the first few weeks to his season were insane, illustrating the potential that’s here. You could argue that Segura is the biggest reason The Foundation is 4-4 and not below .500, and in that regard he was definitely a dollar well spent.
WE TALK FANTASY SPORTS: SP Ubaldo Jimenez, 154 points, SP125
WHO’S YOUR HADDY?: RP Addison Reed, 81.7 points, RP24
Admittedly, it’s weird choosing a reliever. But the only other viable option here was Lonnie Chisenhall, and I actually like Reed more. I’m not a big believer in spending big to build a bullpen, so Reed is pretty much exactly what you want: a cheap guy that performs comparably to guys who are paid well. As a top-25 reliever, he’s tremendous value at a position where spending a lot doesn’t seem advisable.
LONG BALL TO LF: SP Mike Foltynewicz, 116 points, SP143
Mike Foltynewicz has only started six games and he hasn’t been particularly good overall, but four of those starts were quite good. Two of them were toxic. The former top prospect is young and still developing, so you need to be cautious about deploying him. In other words, if you’re using him as anything more than your emergency seventh starter, you’re probably not going to fare too well. But for a buck, I really like the risk and the potential for reward.
ROCKY MTN OYSTERS: 3B/LF Adonis Garcia, 91.1 points, 3B58
CAPITAL CITY IRONMEN: LF/RF Michael Saunders, 304.1 points, OF24
Finally, it appears Michael Saunders is healthy. That’s always been his bugaboo. When on the field, he’s always performed well, though right now he’s experiencing a true renaissance. And at just 29-years-old, his low cost and great production suggests plenty of future surplus value as well.
IN LINE 4 THE WIN: N/A
This team does not have a single $1 player on it. That doesn’t mean they don’t have any good values. Just no good values for a buck.
SENIOR SQUIDS: N/A
Um… is this a trend? Remember, we’re going in standings order. Suffice to say, if you do not have a $1 player on your roster, period, you will lose. Let this be a lesson to you.
PRESEASON DOUBLE STUFFS: 1B John Jaso, 235.6 points, 1B29
John Jaso rules. Like Saunders above, he’s always been a really good player, he’s just struggled to stay healthy and put full seasons together. To date, his on-base percentage is a cool .369 and he’s a .362 guy for his career, so he’s basically just doing what he does. He lacks the power you want at 1B, probably, but when you’re walking a lot and barreling up base hits, you’ll take it. In fact, it’s the lack of power that makes guys like Jaso sneaky valuable in this league.
While teams are targeting the big home run hitters because they’re capable of dropping 30 point games, guys like Jaso, who will just quietly put up above average weeks without the long balls, will slip through the cracks.