My preseason top 100 rankings continue to grow this week with its third installment featuring many players that have injury concerns and breakout seasons from a year ago. The players that are being revealed today are ones that may be undervalued or overvalued by some but might make or break a fantasy roster. Again, these rankings are a personal opinion and comments and questions are encouraged. If you missed the top 25, follow the links below.
CurtisÂ Granderson, OF (NYY)–Batting average keeps him outside of the top 25, but 30 home runs and 20 stolen bases is definitely attainable.
MarkÂ Teixiera, 1B (NYY)–His batting average has dropped each of the last four seasons, but 39 home runs in 2011 keeps him just outside of the second-round.
Clayton Kershaw, SP (LAA)–Kershaw has improved in each of his three full seasons in the majors, but the lack of run support keep him from getting any higher.
Josh Hamilton, OF (TEX)–Had a solid follow up year last season to his 2010 breakout season in 2010, but 2011 should be more of his baseline.
Felix Hernandez, SP (SEA)–Like Kershaw, if he was on a different team he would be inside the top 20.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B (WAS)–Suffered a torn abdominal muscle that cost him two months in 2011, but should return to his 2009 form if fully healthy.
Matt Holliday, OF (STL)–Battled injuries on and off in 2011, but 25 home runs and 100 RBIs is a nice baseline for him.
TimÂ Lincecum,Â SF (SP)–Finished 2011 with a 13-14 record, but finished 200+ innings and 200+ strikeouts for the fourth season in a row with no signs of slowing down.
ColeÂ Hamels, SP (PHI)–Hamels gets to face off against No. 3 pitchers withÂ RoyÂ HalladayÂ andÂ Cliff LeeÂ ahead of him in the rotation, which gives him plenty of value in this position.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B (SF)–Returned back to elite level in 2011 after a dismal 2010 campaign, which shows good signs of things to come.
DanÂ Uggla, 2B (ATL)–Forget the first half slump in 2011 especially since he still set a career-high in home runs with 36.
Hunter Pence, OF (PHI)–Should be hitting in the clean-up role for the Phillies in 2012 while they wait for Ryan Howard to return from injury.
ZackÂ Greinke, SP (MIL)–Bounced back from a poor 2010 campaign last season and still has the ability to repeat 2009.
Michael Bourn, OF (ATL)–Bourn was finally able to bring his batting average up in 2011 and if he can keep it around the same level this season his stolen base total may be even higher this year.
Carl Crawford, OF (BOS)–Crawford struggled in his first season with the Red Sox, but expect him to settle down and adapt to his role in 2012 and return solid fantasy production.
Jay Bruce, OF (CIN)–Bruce has now increased his home run total three seasons in a row and if the batting average climbs in 2012 he could be a steal at this spot.
JeredÂ Weaver, SP (LAA)–I have a hard time thinking 2011 first half is repeatable, but his season 2010 isnâ€™t a bad baseline.
Nelson Cruz, OF (TEX)–His speed has declined three years in a row and he just canâ€™t seem to stay healthy but still an elite player at his position when he is not injured.
StarlinÂ Castro, SS (CHC)–His first full season with the Cubs was a great sign of things to come so letâ€™s hope he doesnâ€™t suffer a sophomore slump.
Brandon Phillips, 2B (CIN)–Some say consistency is king, and if you believe that than Phillips is the purest model in the fantasy world.
EricÂ Hosmer, 1B (KC)–Great rookie season in 2011 and still has plenty of room to grow.
AsdrubalÂ Cabrera, SS (CLE)–The 2011 power came out of nowhere and will be hard to repeat, but still even two-thirds of the power would be a great investment at his position.
Mike Napoli, C (TEX)–The power was always there, but was given full-time at-bats in 2011 and set career-highs in home runs, RBIs and batting average and should be a lock to finish atop the catcher rankings again this season.
DanÂ Haren, SP (LAA)–Settled down a bit in his first full season with the Angels and is always a solid fantasy pitcher in terms of strikeouts, wins and ERA.
PaulÂ Konerko, 1B (CWS)–The last two seasons Konerko was able to turn the clocks back to his prime years, but at the age of 36 can he do it again? I think so.
Be sure to check back in the upcoming days as I finish off my preseason top 100 rankings!
Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him atÂ firstname.lastname@example.org.Â Also follow him on TwitterÂ @MatthewRBeckÂ for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information.Â
Now that the first full week of Spring Training is under way I think it is time to start ranking the best players leading into the 2012 season and get the party started!Â Now these rankings are my opinion so you may not agree with me but this should at least get the conversation started and make it feel like draft season. When compiling my overall top 100 players entering the season I take in consideration many factors from injuries to position scarcity to surrounding cast and are based on a standard 5 x 5 fantasy format. So sit back and enjoy and feel free to let me know how you feel about where your favorite players are ranked entering the 2012 season!
Miguel Cabrera, 1B (DET)–For the third season in a row Cabrera increased his batting average, while also hitting well over the .300-mark versus both right-handed and left-handed pitchers. He also posted his highest on-base percentage of his career in 2011 which was helped by setting a career-high in walks. Expect these trends to continue as he should finish with at least a .300 BA/30 HR/100 RBI season as the new king of fantasy baseball hitting in arguably the most potent offense in the American League.
Albert Pujols, 1B (LAA)–Pujols only slipped one spot from his usual No. 1 ranking after signing as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels. However, Pujols posed a career-low in batting average for 2011 and failed to reach the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his career. He may require some time to get acquainted to the American League at the start of the season, but in the end he is still Albert Pujols and he is still a fantasy stud that should produce similar number to his career averages.
Matt Kemp, OF (LAD)–It is amazing what a little more focus can do for an athlete, and no one can prove that statement more than Kemp. Prior to the 2011 season, Kemp dedicated himself to the game of baseball and proved he was an MVP-caliber player and ended up being the fantasy baseball MVP. He set career-highs in every counting category in terms of fantasy in 2011 and fell one home run short of joining the 40/40 club. While his season 2011 season will likely be tough to duplicate, he has now shown what his true potential is and is now the best five-tool player in all of fantasy baseball.
Ryan Braun, OF (MIL)–Braun gave us all a big scare this offseason after testing positive for steroids, but in the end he won his appeal and now it is time to move on. In 2011, Braun had his best season as a Brewer, finishing the season with a .332 BA/33 HR/111RBI stat-line, but what even more impressive was his 33 steals. Now that he is given the green-light on the base paths more he can become an even more elite fantasy player. Although he doesnâ€™t have his bash-buddy Price Fielder hitting behind him anymore, he will still be an elite fantasy player in 2012.
Jose Bautista, OF (TOR)–Bautista proved to his doubters that the 2010 season was not a fluke, following up his breakout season with 43 home runs and 103 RBIs to go along with a .302 batting average. His ability to hit for average rather than for strictly power was impressive, but he did cool off in the second half in 2011 (1st Half: .326 BA, 2nd Half: .278 BA). Depending on his position eligibility he may be considered the No. 1 third basemen in fantasy or the No. 3 outfielder but either way he is worthy of a top five pick in fantasy drafts this season.
Evan Longoria, 3B (TB)–I tend to be a little higher on Longoria than most people, but I do have my reasons. If you really breakdown his 2011 season, you would see that he had a career-low hit percentage (24%), which was the first time in his career that he was lower than 30 percent and the main cause for a batting average slide. He also suffered an oblique injury that made him miss time early in the season, but the power was still there despite the â€śdownâ€ť season. As long as he can stay healthy all signs point to a rebound year as fantasyâ€™s No. 1 third basemen.
Justin Upton, OF (ARI)–Upton rebounded nicely from somewhat of a down 2010 season finishing near the top of the MVP voting in the National League. His mix of power and speed puts him in a category of only a few and he still has room to grow at the age of 24. As the Diamondbacks continue to get better, so will Upton and his fantasy value.
Joey Votto, 1B (CIN)–Votto put together yet another solid season in 2011 for the Reds with a .309 BA/29 HR/103 RBI stat-line. Now entering his prime, I expect him to continue to put up similar numbers now that this seems to be his benchmark. Also keep in mind he will be a free-agent at the end of the 2013 season, so he has motivation to continue to improve since he will likely be starting to talk contracts with the Reds.
Robinson Cano, 2B (NYY)–Cano has now done it for three seasons in a row and has now permanently planted himself in the top 10 on my rankings for the foreseeable future. While there really isnâ€™t anything too flashy about Cano, he gets the job done and considering the scarcity at second base, he is a clear-cut favorite to continue his fantasy success.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS (COL)–While many are a lot higher on Tulowitzki that I am, I still consider him to be a top 10 player, just not a top five player. What keeps him in my top 10 is the fact that he is a shortstop and there are very few shortstops that have his skill-set. Expect to see a .300 BA/25 HR/ 100 RBI season out of Tulowitzki this season, but it appears his speed is a thing of the past after two straight seasons of declined stolen bases.
Be sure to check back later in the week as I add to my overall top 100 player rankings for the 2012 season!
Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him atÂ email@example.com.Â Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information.
In my last post I discussed a handful of players that I felt were being overvalued in early mock drafts. For those of you who missed it, you can find itÂ here.
After studying the Average Draft Position (ADP) reports fromÂ Mock Draft CentralÂ I have compiled a list of players that I feel are being undervalued throughout standard mixed leagues. Whether it being from injury concerns or a bad 2011 season, the players listed below are being drafted too late in early mock drafts.
Ryan Braun, OF (MIL)–17.63 ADP–In case you were living under a rock for the last few days Braunâ€™s 50-game suspension to start the 2012 season has been overturned. His ADP has gone moved up 10 points since the news was announced and I expect that number to continue to climb. By the time draft season comes along he should be in the top 10, but as of now he is being undervalued.
Kevin Youkilis, 3B (BOS)–84.06 ADP–Injuries have plagued Youkilis each of the last three seasons, but there is still plenty of juice left in the tank. If he can get avoid the disabled-list for an extended period of time, a seventh round pick for a proven veteran could produce a quality return on investment in most fantasy formats.
Jayson Werth, OF (WAS)–96.92 ADP–I am giving Werth a pass for the 2011 season in the fact that he had to adjust to a new ballclub that didnâ€™t have the surrounding cast like he had in Philadelphia. Although I donâ€™t think he will return to full value from when he was with the Phillies, he still has the potential of getting back to 30 homers with an improved ballclub around him.
Adam Wainwright,Â SP (STL)–106.03 ADP–Since Wainwright has yet to pitch since the 2010 season, this is no surprise to see him being drafted outside of the top 100 in early mock drafts. Early reports form Spring Training indicate that Wainwright is on schedule for Opening Day and if he can return to at least 75 percent of what he was when he last pitched, he will be a steal come draft day.
Jason Heyward, OF (ATL)–106.62 ADP–Heyward suffered from the typical sophomore slump that the majority of young players go through following their rookie season. But if you put everything into consideration, he was bound to fail in 2011 in terms of fantasy. He was being drafted way too early in most drafts last season and in order to live up to expectations he wouldâ€™ve had to stay healthy and not suffer any setbacks all season. With that said, this year he will be on the opposite side of the table in the fact that he may be overlooked in fantasy drafts and as an eighth or ninth round pick as of now he should have no problem outdoing his draft position.
Johnny Cueto, SP (CIN)–113.06 ADP–While I donâ€™t expect Cueto to post a sub-3.00 ERA again like in 2011, he is still a better pitcher than his ADP indicates. He has made strides in improving his ERA each of the last three seasons and has also shown a dip in his WHIP as well. His home ballpark does not help his case, but if he continues to induce groundballs instead of going for strikeouts he will be a great investment this season, especially at his current ADP.
Carlos Beltran, OF (STL)–142.26 ADP–Beltran, who is always an injury concern, posted a four-year high in at-bats in 2011 finishing the season with 520 at-bats. Now playing in a more hitter-friendly division Beltran should be able to duplicate his 2011 production, especially in a solid lineup from top to bottom. There is no reason why outfielders likeÂ Nick MarkakisÂ (122.04 ADP) andÂ Peter BourjosÂ (132.36 ADP) should be going ahead of Beltran considering his situation.
David Freese, 3B (STL)–162.36 ADP–Freese has had a hard time staying healthy in his young career, but when he has been on the field he has done nothing but impress. He has plenty of power-upside to become a top 10 third basemen by seasonâ€™s end and in the Cardinals lineup, he will be looked upon to produce in plenty of situations to produce quality fantasy numbers. As long as he can stay on the field there is not a doubt in my mind that he will out produce his current draft position.
Carlos Marmol, RP (CHC)–166.10 ADP–Marmol fell upon few rough patches in 2011, but when you possess the strikeout ability like he does his fantasy stock should be higher than his current position. He is currently being drafted outside of the top 10 at his position and if he can improve his control enough to hold onto the starting job, he is going to be in the top five next year at this time. With that said he is going to give owners a ton of value if he can revert back to his 2010 version.
Kendrys Morales, 1B (LAA)–220.08 ADP–Although Morales has yet to play a game since the middle of the 2010 season, there is a ton of upside at his current draft position if he can get consistent playing time. In 2009, Morales was an MVP candidate after coming out of now where hitting 34 home runs and 108 RBIs with a .306 BA, but hasnâ€™t played a full season since. WithÂ Albert PujolsÂ playing first and a crowded outfield pushingÂ Bobby AbreuÂ to designated hitter, Morales will have to compete with Abreu for playing time. I expect his ADP to go up with a few good Spring Training games, but for now monitor his progress and jump all over him on draft day if he continues to be overlooked.
*All average draft position data courtesy ofÂ Mock Draft CentralÂ as of February 29, 2012.
Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him atÂ firstname.lastname@example.org.Â Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information.
Fantasy Impact: The Diamondbacks were one of baseballâ€™s biggest surprises in 2011, winning the National League West with a plethora of young talent. We all knew thatÂ Justin UptonÂ was a rising star in the National League, but he put this team on his back and has now become a top outfielder in terms of fantasy. Entering the 2012 season Upton will be drafted in the top 10 of all outfielders, if not the top five, and could essentially become a first round pick for future years with one more solid season. Probably the biggest surprise of 2011 was the Diamondbacks starting pitchers, which produced well over any projections for the season. BothIan KennedyÂ andÂ Daniel HudsonÂ appear to be solid fantasy players from here on out and should be targeted as No. 2 or No. 3 starting pitchers on any fantasy roster. They both still have some upside following breakout seasons so be sure not to overpay for them if the price starts to rise. The Diamondbacks added Trevor Cahill to their starting rotation this offseason and will likely fit in to the No. 3 spot in the rotation for 2012. With a better batting lineup helping him out, Cahill could become a solid fantasy producer in the win column unlike past seasons. The trade for Cahill did come with a heavy price tag since the team had to get rid of two of their top prospects in Jarrod Parker and Collin Cowgill, but the move is due to the face that the team feels they can win now and they should go for it before the door closes on their chances. The addition of Jason Kubel to the Diamondbacks outfield gives them some wiggle room in the outfield due to Kubelâ€™s defensive flexibility. The one player that I am really looking forward to monitoring this Spring Training is Aaron Hill. Hill is only a few years removed from being a top second basemen in fantasy and could really be a great sleeper if he can get some of that production back that he appears to have lost. Consider targeting him in the mid-to-late rounds of this yearâ€™s fantasy drafts because of the value you can get drafting him in that position if he has a bounce-back season.
Fantasy Impact: Unlike the Diamondbacks, the Rockies failed to live up to expectations in 2011, but did produce some quality fantasy players in a disappointing season. This offseason the Rockies made some moves that will benefit the team for the present and for the future of the organization. The addition of veterans like Michael Cuddyer and Ramon Hernandez gives some of the young players on the roster someone to look up to, while also increasing their fantasy value in a new venue. Cuddyer is coming off of an excellent 2011 season in which he was used all over the diamond and will be asked to do the same for the Rockies this season. With a wide range of position eligibility Cuddyer is a player to target in the mid-rounds of this yearâ€™s fantasy drafts to be used as a utility player. Hernandez on the other hand was used mainly in a backup role in 2011 in terms of fantasy, but with an increased role for the Rockies he could once again be fantasy relevant. The starting rotation for the Rockies also will have some changes for 2012 and none bigger than adding Jeremy Guthrie to the rotation. Guthrie will finally get to be on a ballclub that can give him the run support needed to win games and should see increased fantasy production despite the ballpark change. The Rockies decided to part ways with closer Huston Street and will now go to Rafael Betancourt to finish out the ninth inning. Betancourt saw some time last season in the ninth inning and produced solid fantasy production when needed. There really isnâ€™t much competition for the closer role so Betancourt shouldnâ€™t have to worry about playing time. He is not an elite closer by any means, but if you are like me, wait on the closer position and go after players like Betancourt later in fantasy drafts.
Fantasy Impact: Despite having one of the best fantasy players on both offense and defense, the Dodger failed to produce outside of a few big time players. Both Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw had breakout seasons for the Dodgers and are now mentioned with the elite fantasy players in all of baseball. So expect big things once again in 2012, regardless of how good the Dodgers actually are in terms of wins and losses. The Dodgers will have a revamped pitching staff in 2012 outside of Kershaw,Â Ted LillyÂ andÂ Chad BillingsleyÂ after losing Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla this offseason. Aaron Harang was added to help fill the void left by those pitchers, but he is not the player he once was when he was pitching for the Reds. Despite having a solid bounce-back season for the Padres last year Harang will likely not have the same success in a better hitting ballpark. The Dodgers bullpen also lost both Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo, who both had horrible 2011 seasons which leaveÂ Javy GuerraÂ as the teams closer entering Spring Training. While I feelÂ Kenley JansenÂ is better fitted for the role, his control continued to be an issue last season. If Kansen has a solid Spring Training and Guerra slips up, donâ€™t be surprised to see him in the ninth inning role. Overall the Dodgers are a team to keep an eye on this spring with all the moves that have been made to save the team on salaries, but expect the same from the fantasy studs.
Fantasy Impact: The Padres continued to rebuild this offseason, adding young talent along with some veterans to try and be competitive in the National League West. The addition of Yonder Alonso was huge for the future of the franchise, since he was named one of the best prospects in all of baseball just one year ago. He will likely settle in at first base for the long haul after Anthony Rizzo failed to live up to expectations once called up to the big league club. Expect Alonso to have some growing pains along the way, but in dynasty leagues he should be targeted heavily. The addition of veterans Huston Street and Carlos Quentin give the young Padres roster some leadership that they lacked as times last season. Street will settle into the Padres closer role after losing Heath Bell in free-agency this offseason. Due to injuries the last few seasons Street should come at a relatively cheap price this season and should produce more than his draft-day price. The one player that the Padres acquired this offseason that I will be monitoring heavily this Spring Training is Edinson Volquez. After a breakout season just a few seasons ago Volquez has failed to get back to that level of fantasy production, but in the best pitcher park in all of baseball he could return to fantasy stardom like his former teammate Aaron Harang last season. Overall the Padres appear to have a roster assembled to compete for the National League West and there are many players that could have solid fantasy value as well.
Fantasy Impact: The Giants failed to get back to the postseason in 2011 after winning the World Series the year prior and didnâ€™t produce much fantasy value either. The offense took a major hit early in the season when they lostÂ Buster PoseyÂ for the season due to a leg injury, but he is expected to be back for the start of Spring Training, which is good for fantasy owners. If he can get back to his 2010 level Posey could end up being a top five catcher for the 2012 season and be a great asset in any fantasy format. The Giants made small moves this offseason of any significance, which the biggest moves being the addition of both Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to their ailing outfield. Both Cabrera and Pagan had solid 2011 seasons and the Giants are hoping that will carry over to this season. Both players are also outfielders fantasy owners should target in the mid-rounds of this seasons fantasy drafts due to their consistency from last season. Besides those additions, the Giants are pretty much the same team as last year minus a few players or two. Overall the normal players like Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval andÂ Brian WilsonÂ should be targeted in the early rounds of fantasy drafts with the other to be determined as seeing a few Spring Training games.
*All transactions as of February 15, 2011
Matthew Beck is a Fantasy Sports Columnist for Rotoinfo.com. If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail him atÂ email@example.com.Â Also follow him on Twitter @MatthewRBeck for up-to-date Q&A and fantasy information.Â
Rich Harden is done for the 2012 season, but at least he had the decency this time to get things out of the way before the season started so that none of us wasted a draft pick on him. Harden underwent surgery to repair a torn capsule muscle in his shoulder, performed by Dr. James Andrews, and he’s going to miss the entire 2012 campaign. Harden, who has dealt with issues in his shoulder for about five years, underwent the same type of procedure that Johan Santana is trying to come back from right now. It’s no certainty that either player will ever be back to 100 percent of what they used to be, which would be a shame, but even more than that for Harden who has been unable to stay healthy for any appreciable period of time since he started pitching in the bigs.
Adam Wainwright is doing well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and barring a setback, he’s scheduled to start training camp on the same throwing schedule as every other Cardinals hurler meaning he won’t be babied at all (i.e. there will be no restrictions on him). Of course, reports also suggest that he is throwing at about 90 percent, so it remains to be seen what happens when he starts cranking it at 100 percent. Current ADP numbers suggest that people are going pretty much all in with Wainwright, he’s being drafted inside the top-35 at the starters spot, but that seems like a crazy high place for him to be taken given the fact that, even if he is healthy, you can’t legitimately be expecting more than 180-innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, can you? I certainly wouldn’t draft him expecting more than that, and that leaves aside the the issue of performance (many times when a pitcher returns from this surgery, it takes a while for the control to come back). I’d certainly rather draft Matt Garza, Chris Carpenter and Jordan Zimmerman, amongst others, who are being taken after Wainwright.
Nelson Cruz is an elite power hitter, but as anyone who has owned him for any appreciable amount of time can tell you, he’s not someone you can trust to be in the lineup on a daily basis. Just look at his games played totals the past three years: 128, 108 and 124. Despite the extremely limited games played marks, Cruz has still averaged 28 homers, 80 RBI and 15 steals a season the past three years, rather impressive totals given his time on the sidelines. In fact, if Cruz averaged 145 games played the last three years, that’s still giving him a stint on the disabled list, here is what his average 5×5 line would look like the last three years if he maintained his established pace: .278-34-97-80-19. That’s right, he’d have been a 30/20 option the past three years running. Can he get to those levels? With each passing season of injury the stack of questions get higher, and Cruz has to be looked at as more of a power hitter and not a guy who will run (the majority of his issues of late have been hamstring related). Still, his power bat is intriguing because if he could just stay healthy for a full season… The Rangers, recognizing those talents, avoided arbitration with Cruz by agreeing to what is being reported as a two year deal with him.
Jed Lowrie was dealt to the Astros this offseason and he agreed to a one year deal to avoid arbitration with his new employers ($1.15 million). The question is, can he be someone you can count on in mixed leagues? The easy answer is no. For his career Lowrie’s slash line shows his 800 bit league at-bats have produced a .252 batting average, .324 OBP and .408 SLG. How does that compare to the league average? Well, I’m so glad you asked: .263/.330/.415. Obviously Lowrie has failed to match the league average in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. Add in the fact that he’s stolen only three bases in his career, and that he’s averaging 12 homers per 500 at-bats, and I’m just not certain why anyone really cares. Sure he hit .368 last April, but if you remove those 68 at-bats from his ledger he has hit .242 during his big league career. He’s a fine add in NL-only leagues, he’s going to play every day, but I think he’ll be stretched to be a solid option in mixed leagues.
Brett Wallace was drafted 13th overall in 2008. Everyone has always known he could hit (he’s batted .308 with an .868 OPS in four minor league seasons though he has yet to translate that success to the big leagues), but it’s never been clear where he would play on the field. Word out of Houston is that he will take grounders at this base this spring. Drafted as a third baseman, Wallace was moved to first base because of his less than terrific defensive skills. In fact, many think his best position will be DH. Given that the Astros already have one such player manning first base (Carlos Lee), an no real strong option at this base (Chris Johnson and Jimmy Paredes inspire confidence in no one), Wallace’s best bet for playing time would likely be at the hot corner. However, it’s unlikely Wallace’s defensive acumen will be polished enough at third for him to be an every day option there meaning his best case scenario, at present time, looks like him replicating last year’s at-bat total (336) is about what your expectations should be, maybe on the top end. After all, if he hits .248 with a .677 OPS again there’s little chance he will be able to see as much work at the dish for the Astros this year as last.
CHEAP SPEED OPTIONS
Late in drafts it’s all about finding value. Adding a plodding .275-15-70 guy isn’t going to do anything for you, so often times taking a shot on a youngster, or a player with one elite skill, makes a lot of sense. To that end, here are some potentially cheap options, that you can find late in drafts, that might be able to provide you with a speed boost (ADP numbers come from MockDraftCentralBaseballGuys.com).
Rajai Davis (225.6 ADP): It only seems like he runs every time he gets on base. Davis never walks, his career OBP is below the big league average at .319, but he ain’t shy about running when he does make it to first base. The past three years he’s stolen 41, 50 and 34 bases despite averaging just 121 games played each season. Given the options the Blue Jays have in the outfield don’t expect a return to 50 thefts, but he’s proven that he’s a threat for 40.
Alejandro DeAza (225.9): This guys is fast, and he’s even got a little bit of pop. Looking at the White Sox outfield it’s not hard to imagine him getting 400 at-bats, and if he does, 30 steals would be in reach.
Jose Tabata (227.8): He will see a full slate of games this season if he can stay healthy, and per 162 games in his brief career with the Pirates he’s averaged 29 steals. If he’s out there 150 times, he could easily eclipse 25 steals.
Ben Revere (232.3): The youngster stole 34 bases last season thanks to his blazing speed. Each of the past three seasons Revere has swiped at least 40 bases (he stole eight at Triple-A last year), but he’s going to have to substantially increase his OBP to maintain his current steal rate (his OBP with the Twins last year was an anemic .310).
Denard Span (247.1): Said to be healthy and finally over his concussion woes, Span will look to rebound from his worst season as a pro. Not only did he appear in just 70 games, but he batted .021 points below his career mark. His ill health also led to just six steals, that after back-to-back seasons of at least 23. With health, an a spot at the top of the Twins order, look for Span to return to at least the level that he showed in 2010 (.264-3-58-85-26) making him a terrific late target.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.