For a team that’s in a highly transitional period like the Mets, their infield situation is surprisingly set. Unlike their complete mess of an outfield, starters at all five infield positions are pretty easy to nail down.
But just because we know who is starting on Opening Day hardly means that it will be the same player throughout the season, and nowhere is that more apparent than at catcher. John Buck is clearly nothing more than a placeholder for top prospect Travis D’Arnaud, and if Buck is still starting for this team past July then something has gone horrible, miserably wrong. Since it’s the Mets, that’s always possible, and Buck should get the majority of the playing time for at least the first few weeks of the season. You know what he is by now, and that’s a one-category player who will provide his fair share of power while killing you absolutely everywhere else. Behind him, Anthony Recker is just a Quad-A type who merits no fantasy consideration whatsoever. Read the rest of this entry »
After the complete teardown that happened in Miami this winter, fantasy players might be forgiven for looking at the club as merely “Giancarlo Stanton and 24 guys who aren’t Giancarlo Stanton.” It’s not quite going to be Houston-level bad in South Florida as many expect, but it might be a tough team to watch — if, of course, anyone even shows up at the park to do so. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, the Twins tied for 17th last year in wOBA from their outfield. Over the winter, they said goodbye to 1,211 plate appearances of Denard Span & Ben Revere — traded to the Nationals & Phillies, respectively — and imported no one to replace them. So as you can imagine, there’s a lot of work to be done here. Read the rest of this entry »
One might think that writing about the Detroit infield would be easy. After all, how difficult could it be to say that “Prince Fielder & Miguel Cabrera are great and you should draft them”? Because, they are great. And you should draft them.
We can try to do better, though. Fielder’s debut as a Tiger was nothing short of a success, putting up a season that saw him lead all qualified major league first basemen in wOBA. (Joey Votto, of course, was far ahead, but missed too much time due to injury.) Fielder’s .398 mark was right in line with his .393 career average and there’s little to think he won’t be able to do it again, though it’s interesting to see that he got there somewhat differently than usual. His 30 homers tied for sixth among first basemen and were his lowest since hitting 28 in his rookie season of 2006. That’s partially due to the fact that he set a career low in flyball percentage (33.3%); while his HR/FB rate was within career norms, fewer flyballs is going to equal fewer homers. That’s not entirely a bad thing, because those balls largely turned into line drives, contributing to a career best .313 batting average. Fantasy players would like to see a few more of those hits end up over the fence, though either way, Fielder remains an easy top-three first baseman in all formats. Read the rest of this entry »
Breaking news out of Cincinnati: Joey Votto is awesome. He was awesome in each of his four full seasons leading up to 2012. He was awesome before he injured his knee last year, taking a ridiculous .354/.476/.639 line into the June 30 game in San Francisco that saw him leave after five innings due to the injury. He was a different kind of awesome in 25 September games after returning from surgery, failing to hit a homer but still managing to compile a .316/.505/.421 line. That’s not a typo; Votto had 105 September plate appearances, and despite being on the shelf for two months, he reached 57 times.
I’ll take your standard disclaimers about small sample size and varying September competition and I will reply with, simply, Joey Votto is awesome. That’s not to say he’s infallible, because there’s a conversation to be had about the fact that he never did hit another homer after taking Scott Diamond deep on June 24, which led to his somewhat disappointing total of 14 on the season. That’s fair, but his powerless September showed that he’s more than capable of being a very dangerous hitter even if he’s not going deep; that is, even if he never matches his career-high mark of 37 from 2010, he’s still going to be contributing in the other main offensive categories. It would sure be nice to see him showing some of that past power in the spring, now that he’s so much further from surgery, but at a first base position that is no longer as strong as it used to be, Votto belongs in an elite trio along with Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder. Read the rest of this entry »
Maybe it’s just the optimism that spring brings, but I’m starting to believe the Cubs could have some surprises in them this year. Between two young infield stars, an improving starting rotation, and a surprisingly adequate outfield, Chicago should take nice steps away from last year’s dumpster fire as Theo Epstein & Jed Hoyer continue their rebuilding project. Is that enough to get them into the playoff race? Probably not, but nor should one expect another 101-loss disaster.
Let’s dive deeper into that outfield, where despite numerous efforts to move him, Alfonso Soriano remains the incumbent in left field. (This is me praying the Yankees don’t trade for him to help replace Curtis Granderson before this post goes live.) Soriano has long been saddled by the massive contract that looked foolish from the day he signed it prior to 2007, but that has been somewhat of an unfair burden on him. Soriano has been good-to-very-good in four of the six years he’s been a Cub, and while lousy campaigns in 2009 & 2011 don’t help, he’s averaged 3.3 WAR/year with the team. If not worth the contract, he’s at least been a valuable contributor. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s hard to say that there’s a lot of drama in Angels camp this spring. There’s little doubt about the starting nine, and even the five rotation spots seem pretty secure unless injury issues flare up, most likely with Joe Blanton or Tommy Hanson.
So while Mike Scioscia can focus mainly on getting his team ready for the season without having to make a lot of roster choices — unless they’re the surprise landing spot for Kyle Lohse — the one area that does seem to have some uncertainty is in the bullpen, particularly the ninth inning. The original plan was that Ryan Madson would come to town to be the team’s closer, despite missing all of 2012 before ever throwing a pitch for Cincinnati. Despite the injury, there was merit to the idea; Madson was an effective if under-appreciated arm for years in Philadelphia before putting up 32 saves in 2011 when Brad Lidge finally melted down. Read the rest of this entry »
You might think that being “lucky” enough to write about the potentially dreadful Houston infield might be a source of consternation for me. Not quite! At least I get Jose Altuve, who is potentially the only obvious standard-league draftable player on the entire Astros roster outside of maybe Bud Norris and whomever ends up collecting what few saves there might be. Read the rest of this entry »
As we look into what 2013 might look like for the Dodger infield, keep this fact in mind — on Opening Day of 2012, the starting fivesome was A.J. Ellis (completely untested at the time), James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon, & Juan Uribe. One year later and a few massive expenditures later, we’re likely to see a group that’s 60% different.
The Incumbents: the Law Firm of Ellis & Ellis Read the rest of this entry »
In the coming weeks, we’ll be covering each team’s potential depth charts in an effort to shine a spotlight on the interesting playing time battles that will be waged this spring. Obviously none of these depth charts are set in stone — rather they should function to focus your attention in the right places to find cheap fantasy value.
Here’s all we can say that we know for certain about the Dodger rotation right now, as pitchers & catchers around baseball are reporting to camp: Clayton Kershaw is going to start on Opening Day against the Giants, and Zack Greinke is going to follow him. Read the rest of this entry »