It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.
It’s a little jarring to run a report from the Fangraphs leaderboard on the Mariners outfield in 2014. It seems like it must be a mistake, because just one name appears – Dustin Ackley. Indeed, if you use the “qualified” filter, they had one solitary mainstay in the outfield in 2014 due to what was mostly a disaster of experiments in center and right field for the better part of the season.
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Eight different players saw time in the San Francisco Giants outfield in 2014 with most at-bats dedicated to Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Michael Morse, Angel Pagan, and to a lesser extent Tyler Colvin and Juan Perez. Out is Colvin and Morse, Pagan now returns ostensibly healthy after back surgery, and in is free agent acquisition Nori Aoki. All three outfield positions seem to be pretty well locked down, assuming good health, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you ought to pencil them into your fantasy lineup.
Thirteen pitchers started games for the Miami Marlins in 2014 including retreads like Brad Penny, Randy Wolf, and Kevin Slowey. They gave 150 innings to Brad Hand and Jacob Turner who combined to be pretty much replacement level, they lost sensation Jose Fernandez to the dreaded Tommy John, they hung Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney out to dry. And still, the Marlins beat almost everyone’s expectations thanks in large part to surprise contributions from Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, and Tom Koehler.
It’s been a long, strange off season for the Atlanta Braves, and there aren’t too many positions around the diamond where fans will see familiar faces when the season starts in 2015. Despite a flurry of moving parts, the Braves rotation still seems to have plenty of stability and certainly enough relevance among the fantasy faithful as we’re now just days away from Spring Training.
Lost are Gavin Floyd, Aaron Harang, and Ervin Santana to free agency. The Braves faced some tough calls on major contributors from prior seasons in Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy but ultimately they lost both of them to free agency as well. They traded Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. They traded Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter for Manny Banuelos. They got Michael Foltynewicz in the Evan Gattis trade. They signed Chien-Ming Wang and Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league contract. Most recently, they picked up Eric Stults on a minor league deal with an invite to camp. Phew.
The Washington Nationals have such an embarrassment of riches in their starting pitching rotation, there has actually been talk of trading wunderkind Stephen Strasburg because, well, they could probably get away with it. Take your pick of #1 starters here, because all five could be featured at the top of the rotation for many teams. Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez make up their normal rotation, making the odd man out a 3-win pitcher from 2014 named Tanner Roark.
In what amounts to a teachable moment for my children, I had to declare a big fat public mea culpa (although my kids don’t study Latin, nor do they give a crap about FIP. So it goes). Not realizing that the S & P had declared Mock Draft Central’s stock officially “junk,” I mistakenly used their average draft position data for a misguided post about finding value at third base some days ago. The comments ran from agitation, exasperation, to contempt, and understandably so. So, yes, I did it and I’m sorry.
The faces at third base have lost a rather big one, literally and figuratively, in a guy named Miggy. Miguel Cabrera was the consensus #1 or #2 overall pick in 2014 no doubt because of his awesomeness but also because his third base eligibility made him, well, awesomer as Marshawn Lynch might say. Out is Miggy, but in is Carlos Santana and…Chris Davis? Who knew. Regardless, even in the wackiest of formats, you’re likely going to need yourself a third baseman, and since everyone loves a bargain, I’m going to toss a few names out there for you to target.
As good as he has been as General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, one wonders if Billy Beane would like a taksies-backsies on Hisashi Iwakuma.
It might be hard to remember that Iwakuma was originally posted all the way back in 2010 when they were still making cars called “Pontiac” and “Saturn”. Oakland won the rights to negotiate with Iwakuma, but recognizing he was a year away from free agency, they may never have been all that serious about securing his services at the asking price of his agent, which was reportedly a little ridiculous. So it goes.
Bud Norris had kind of a reputation as a hard-throwing but hittable right hander who could rack up some decent strikeouts, but had problems with his control and serious problems getting left handed batters out. The latter was an increasing issue as teams continued to stack their lineups with left-handed heavy approaches, and in fact in 2013, Norris gave up more hits to innings pitched than he had in his entire career.
Coming off a pretty fantastic 2013 season, many were bullish on the mustachioed baby-faced Ranger for 2014. But after a freak accident with his pooch left him with microfracture surgery on his knee, Derek Holland was pretty much a lost cause in both real and fantasy baseball. By the time he returned, the Rangers were in the cellar and there wasn’t much reason for Holland to go out there and be quite as fine as he was in years past. Rather, he was merely getting his work in — in preparation for 2015.