Category Archives: second base

Spring Training 2013: Non-Roster Invitees With Great Names

Spring Training is upon us, thank goodness, and there is baseball to be seen.  MLB.tv is in full swing and might be the greatest technological advancement of all time until Google starts augmenting reality and we begin living in a real-life science fiction movie (happening).  Anyone can see any team from anywhere.  It’s wonderful to see live baseball, poorly timed swings, and poorly chosen facial hair (here, for example).  The real fun comes in the sheer NUMBER of players involved in this magical time of year.  Sure, the games are therefore often mismatched in terms of competition and sure, some games end in ties (which is gross, but understandable).  But as someone who prides myself on having a widespread knowledge of the most intimately useless knowledge of baseball, Spring Training always serves as a magical time to discover some truly obscure players and some stupendous names.  You might not have had the time to look over the spring training rosters, so I did (thanks, wikipedia!) and culled the best and oddest names I came across, limiting the search for Non-Roster invitees only for the sake of rarity.  Sorry L.J. Hoes – you have my favorite name of the spring, but you’re a 40-man roster man.  Without further ado, some of the most interesting non-roster invitees of the spring:

Gary Sánchez   C   NYY

Though NOT affiliated with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay in ANY way, the name warranted inclusion.  He’s actually a solid prospect.

Slade Heathcott   OF   NYY

Do you know any non-fictional person named Slade?  Exactly.

Matt Buschmann   SP   TB

I’m more of a Coors man, myself.

Brock Bond   IF   SF

Simply an awesome baseball name.  Sounds like one a video game would generate.

Kevin Quackenbush   P   SD

You are welcome.

J. B. Shuck   OF   LAA

Oddly, speaks fluent jive

Kyle Knudson & Dan Rohlfing   C   MIN

twins

Great names.  More to the point, great MLB catcher names.

Adam Weisenburger   C    MIL

wesienmil

Made me think of this (one of my favorite scenes ever).

Nick Struck   P   CHC

I await the day where we can see N. Struck and J. Outman in a boxscore.

Wirfin Obispo   P   ATL

Considering naming my first-born Wirfin.

Yangervis Solarte   IF   TEX

From the club that gives you Elvis…

Sugar Ray Marimon   P   KC

Can’t decide between jokes here.  I just wanna fly?  Something about frosted tips?

BAKER’S DOZEN DOUBLE BONUS!!!

Josh Booty (yes, him)   Knuckleballer   ARZ

Josh Booty

Heh, booty.  Booty-Booty-Booty-Booty Kunckin’ everywhere?  Anyone?

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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, Spring Training, third base

Fantasy Mustache: Second Base

Genuine Tip for a Better Career and Life: Jemile Weeks

I like the Weeks brothers a whole bunch. I’m not entirely sure where this bias comes from(part of it is the sheer joy of screaming RIIIIICK-AYYYYY when you own R. Weeks on a fantasy team.), but I wish the best for both brothers, despite the elder Weeks brother’s implications in a PED scandal.

 

image

Jemile was supposed to be locking down his role at 2B around now. Instead, the A’s have added Jed Lowrie into a crowded infield, leaving Weeks fighting for at bats (no move to the OF, Oakland has 4 very solid ones). Here’s Weeks and his uninspiring projections for 2013;

 

Bill James (only 377 AB!!!): .265 AVG / .337 OBP  / 16 2B / 5 3B /2 HR / 44 R / 28 RBI / 14 SB

 

Let’s be fair, given his unsure spot those numbers are relatively solid.  And shoot Jemile, you’re one step away from a lifestyle of badassery – forget baseball for a second. You’ve got some awesome hair and a wise little patch on your chin, you look like a cool dude. But that cool dude has yet to be the major leaguer once expected. It’s time to grow up and be a man.  Forget solid.  Solid is boring.  You know what’s not boring?

image

THIS.

Damn. That’s a fine mustache. That’s an extra-base hits mustache. That’s a soulful tenor sax solo mustache. A double digit steals mustache. A smooth double play mustache. Dare I say a fedora-worthy mustache (sadly the Mustache Projection Wizard 5000™ does not possess fedora capabilities, so use your imagination).

As always, the numbers don’t lie:

 

Mustache Projection Wizard 5000™ (NOW WITH 545 AB!!!): .299 AVG / .366 OBP  / 33 2B / 15 3B / 9 HR / 88 R / 57 RBI / 33 SB

 

With that mustache, Weeks can become the solid everyday Second Baseman we’ve all expected.  Scott Sizemore can’t grow lip fur like that, I assure you.

The A’s embrace and thrive on personality, even bizarre ones (see: Josh ‘Caveman Lawyer‘ Reddick). Weeks need only a mustache grooming kit to start being another beloved oddity, become Oakland’s starting 2B, rise as a valuable fantasy commodity, and a jumpstart a fine saxaphoning career.

Behold the fuzzy power.

Stay groomed,

-V

 

I’m not doing another Second Base installment, so here, as a special Valentine’s Day gift, here is Dustin Pedroia:

Rest in Piece, Rod Beck

Rest in Piece, Rod Beck

 

 

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, second base, Sleepers

Fantasy Mustache: Second Base

despite this indication, things are not thumbs-in-an-upward-direction for Mr. Beckham. Cool hat, though.

Gordon Beckham needs help.  Tearing through the minors at an absurd pace (259 plate appearances.  That’s no typo, I triple checked), Gordon showed immense promise with a very solid rookie year in 2009.  Hopes were once high, now most fantasy owners would accept a leap to mediocrity.  The last two years, Beckham scraped by with WARs of 1.0 and 0.8, respectively (yuck).  Jamey Carroll tripled that, to put things in context.

Beckham could use any and all help, just look at Bill James’ projected numbers for the young second baseman.

31 2B / 67 R / 15 HR / 62 RBI / .246 AVG / .314 OBP / .712 OPS

Beckham needs to rejuvenate his still young career.  Perhaps his lack of minor league experience has resulted in a fundamental lack of knowledge on some of the deeper hoodoo rituals  (reference, here) and good luck tricks.  I am sure he has studied hours of video, tinkered with his swing, called his high school coach, tried a different pre-game meal etc.  But those are small scale.  Beckham needs a supernatural performance overhaul.  He needs, if you will, a mystical makeover.  He needs a mustache.

image

wow. that’s a fuzzy mouth doormat.

 

SO HE GETS A MUSTACHE.

Look at that thing.  Really look at it.  That is a power mustache.  Look at that face.  The intensity of that gaze is now matched by the intensity of that pushbroom under his nose.

Gone is the meandering young man with the sub-1 WAR.  Enter the Beckham Wrecker, a true force on the field.  With perfect hair atop his head and billowing from his nostrils, he is ready to blossom into the player we once believed in.  Wielding his bats like a Bunyanian axe, a Beckham mustache season will be one to remember.  Here’s the readout from the Mustache Season Processing Unit:

40 2B / 88 R / 22 HR / 99 RBI / .297 AVG / .385 OBP / .820 OPS

Observe.  A mustache really brings up Gordon’s lagging stats.  No longer a free-swinging hooligan, Beckham has refined his approach and game as he has refined his facial hair.  This type of mustache growth demonstrates a commitment.  These follicles need time and care.  The patience and dedication to his upper lip will spill over to his craft and Beckham will no doubt stop being terrible.  This is more than science, people.  This delves into something deeper.  Something spiritual.  A mustache is more than a growth.  It is a statement of faith in yourself, which Beckham clearly needs.

 

And if the mustache doesn’t work, Gordon can always call upon Jobu:

Stay groomed, ‘readers’

 

 

-V

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, offseason, second base

2nd Basemen ADP: While You Were Sleeping…

He's actually throwing her in front of that train. Real twisted film, that one.

ADP is a beautiful, terrible thing.  We as humans love to rank things and it can cloud our judgement to see an arbitrary list.  ADP is an incredibly useful tool, as it pools and averages where others are taking players you might be thinking of taking.  You know and I know that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.  ADP is a barometer, not law.  You know this, I know this… but that doesn’t mean every jabroney in your league knows that.  There’s at least one in every draft.  Someone who takes Chone Figgins in the 4th round.  Who asks if Martin Russell is still available.  Who tries to draft a retired player.  Even the smartest fantasy owners fall victim to ADP (Hand raised.  That sentence makes it sound like a virus).  Between the bimbos and the braniacs drafting with you, you’re all going to at one point rely on ADP as some kind of deciding/tie-breaking factor.  So here are some players not to forget about in 2012.  It’s crazy to think everyone can get a superstud to start at first,it’s a matter of numbers- everyone can’t have Pujols or Votto – just as it’s crazy chasing Amy– it’s just a matter of statistics (and gender preference, but I mean, just watch the movie.  C’mon.).  We don’t all get what we want, just ask the Rolling Stones, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get what we need.  And what you need is good value.  Second Base, for a while, was exceedingly top-heavy position to draft.  Then slowly (see what I did there? Those words don’t go together!), the bottom rose up.  There is value to be had at second throughout the draft, so be alert.  You don’t want a bargain to pass you by… while you were sleeping… (boom, nailed it.)

As always, much love to Mock Draft Central, where you can get all kinds of ADP reports by signing up.

2ND BASEMEN

Second Base may not wow you for fantasy purposes.  Sure there is some elite talent in the likes of Cano, Kinsler and Pedroia, but after that you’re worried about Utley’s health, Rickie Week’s health, or, sigh, Dan Uggla.  But have faith, there are a unique combination of rising young talents and forgotten veterans just waiting to contribute to your team.  Admittedly, some of the second basemen lower in drafts do not offer the same impact across the board as, say, Cano, but if you miss out on the top there are a slew of guys who can contribute to a variety of categories for you.  If you’re looking for some pop from your second baseman and are thinking of taking Dan Uggla, wait a tic, there’s value to come (like Danny Espinosa or Jason Kipnis).

Jemile Weeks (OAK)- ADP 150.55

The younger Weeks is sandwiched in-between two other high-value picks, the aforementioned Espinosa (ADP 147) and Kipnis (ADP 165).  I’ll delve into them briefly.  They’re hot sleepers for most prognosticators  and deservedly so.  Espinosa is an awesome snag for 20-20 in 2012 (he came close in 2011), but he still has some holes in his swing and shouldn’t be trusted to hit above .250.  Kipnis, on the other hand, also has solid 15-20 homer potential with less speed but a higher average.

Weeks is a very different type of player.  Sometimes I think my judgement is skewed on the entire Weeks family due to our buddy Tim’s infatuation with both brothers (it’s intense.).  But I’ve seen Jemile with my own two, borderline superhuman, eyes, in addition to sorting through both his minor league and 2011 numbers, and he’s a unique talent for fantasy, especially in leagues where people are reaching for Ackley or are inexplicably drafting Neil Walker (ADP – 141 – I just don’t get it).  He’s a solid hitter and runs extremely well.  He was impressive if unspectacular in 2011, but imagine these hypothetical numbers: 30 doubles, 10 triples, 30 steals and an average around .300.  Add on his solid eye and manageable K rate and you’re looking at a very productive player at a very reasonable price.  If, by some miracle, the Oakland offense outperforms your local little league team, Weeks could also be a real quiet source of runs.  Even if the A’s stink (likely), Weeks’ ‘individual’ stats, so to speak – triples, steals – will be high production at a low slot.  Orlando Hudson was a pretty valuable chip in fantasy for a while back in the day, and Weeks could put up comparable, solid numbers with a lot more speed. Keep an eye on Jemile and for the love of OshKoshBaGosh don’t draft Neil Walker.

Marco Scutaro (COL) – ADP 253.7

I know, I know, he’s listed as a SS all over, but it is both documented and common sense that he’ll slide over to second in Colorado.  Unless you thought he was unseating Tulo after the deal.  Silly Goose.  You may be reading some of the names on these lists thinking, what the hell kind of league is he in to be looking at Marco Scutaro?  It happens, people.  Our Ducks on the Pond League has 16 people in it, and when you get that large, you need to find production at value.  Scutaro is an excellent example.  Sure his numbers with Boston were fairly tame by fantasy standards but this is an issue of both value and situation.  Scutaro won’t win any foot races or batting titles but he hits productively and gets on base.  Given the proper at bats, he has shown excellent doubles power and in a good lineup, always seems to score runs.  He hits line drives and doesn’t strike out often.  And now he’s in Colorado.

The days of guys suddenly adding 25 homers at Coors are gone (Sorry, Vinny Castilla), but that doesn’t change the park dimensions.  With his solid eye and those gaps, it’s not unreasonable to think Scutaro could push 40 doubles if he stays healthy.  He’ll probably hit somewhere around .275 and have an OBP around the .340-.350 range.  And Colorado has a good lineup, one which he figures to be a sparkplug for (hitting second, according to RotoChamp).  I don’t care what a projection says, if that lineup hits and he’s in that spot, he’ll score 85+ runs.  With double digit-ish homers (in the 7-12 range), isn’t he a steal over a guy like Cliff Pennington in a similar rank (ADP 252)?  Isn’t a safer value pick than Allan Craig (ADP 239), a sleeper for many, but who’s a guy that has struggled to find his way into the lineup?  Maybe that was LaRussa’s doing, but for my money, Scutaro is worth taking a look at as your draft winds down.  Or in a larger league, as you scramble in the teens to find a MI.

This last one is going to make you wonder what I’m on but…..

Freddy Sanchez (SF) – ADP doesn’t even really count but: 445.65!!!!!!!!!

Seriously!  Where’s the love!  Sure lately the man has been more delicate than a house of cards but he’s a very good hitter when healthy (‘professional hitter’ is the term many people with real blogs use).  So let us assume he stays healthy enough for 450-500 AB, which isn’t outside the range of projections (except for RotoChamp, those Debbie Downers).  Given that amount of time, he has demonstrated the ability to hit for a good average with a bunch of doubles.  If you can take a guy who could hit .300 with 30 doubles with the last pick of your draft, wouldn’t you?  More importantly, people based on ADP at Mock Draft Central are taking Brett Hayes and Jamey Carroll ahead of Sanchez.  Take the flier to fill that MI position.  Seriously, Jamey Carroll?

Second Base provides more interesting options than I can remember in years past.  Though it might seem like a Giants bias, discussing Aubrey Huff in the 1B ADP post and Sanchez here is more due to my surprise at their ADP’s than any affinity towards San Francisco.  Not everyone winds up with Cano.  In deeper leagues, you often need to backup your backup.  There are sleepers and there are fillers, second base can provide you with both.  There’s a crop of youngn’s in Espinosa, Weeks, and Kipnis who could soon be considered top-tier.  There are also some old stalwarts who are probably worth a flier in the latter rounds.  Sure someone like Scutaro might be boring.  But sometimes boring helps you win.  Otherwise, Placido Polanco would have been out of a job a long time ago.

But if you want some excitement, there’s always Juan Uribe…

this is in the middle of the 4th inning. He got tired after running down a pop-up. Cuz that's how Juan Uribe rolls. Know about it.

-w

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MLB.com Posts Top 50 Prospects

In one of my favorite moves of the offseason, MLB has released its top 50 prospects list, to be discussed tonight on MLB Network by its excellent, goofball hosts.

Here are the positional breakdowns for all you prospect junkies, hoping for that next big thing.

Enjoy!

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Third Base

Shortstop

Outfield

Left-Hand Pitchers

Right-Hand Pitchers

I love lists like this.  Be sure to check out the discussion at 9 tonight on MLB Network and the Chat on MLB.com on Wednesday.  And for all 4 of our loyal readers, let us know what YOUR thoughts on the prospects for 2011 in the comments (Trevor has lots of opinions)!

 

-w

 

UPDATE: Here’s the list, an article breaking it down a bit, and VIDEO!

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, outfield, pitchers, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, third base

Cheap Thrills, Speed Kills

WARP SPEED!

Every year, I play fantasy baseball.  Every year I come up with a new strategy.  Generally, it consists of eschewing closers in lieu of snagging some extra steals.  Every year I come up short.  Often this is because I stray from my strategy and take a closer over, say Juan Freakin’ Pierre.  Or Jacoby Ellsbury gets soft ribs.  But I digress.  My point is- speed kills.  If you can win the speed categories (3B, SB, R), I maintain that gives you an edge in most leagues.  With that in mind, let us look at some players you can get on the cheap that are going to bring you serious return by way of speed…

Eric Young Jr.

There are really only two things you need to know about EYJ: 1) He’s eligible at 2B AND OF 2) in limited AB Bill James has him stealing 46 bases.  That right there should probably be enough to warrant a late round pick.  But you being the cunning fantasy owner you are, you want more, don’t you?  I’ll oblige.  CAIRO has him stealing 34 bases in similarly few AB’s and ZiPS has him stealing 38.  Believe whoever you like, all these projections are for around 460 AB.  The lack of at bats is due to the presence of the likes of Ian Stewart and Jose Lopez.  I’ll argue til I’m purple (pun intended… you’ll get it) that EYJ’s talent (i.e. SPEED) will give him a leg up (god I’m on fire with the puns) on one of those two.  Now I’m no math major but if the wise Bill James thinks the kid can steal 40+, scouts all think he can steal 40+, and he suddenly gets 550 AB rather than 450, don’t you think he could steal 50 bases?  Maybe?  He’ll be a target of mine in many a draft as a back 2B/MI – but don’t forget he could be Juan Pierre-esque with 40+ steals late in a draft.  If you have a distaste for Pierre as I do, Young Jr. is your late round gem.  And honestly, if you hadn’t heard about him already, you’re probably gonna miss out on him anyway.

Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo had one of my favorite catches of the year, smashing into the wall in Cincinnati.  As a former center fielder, it is pretty ridiculous if you go back and watch the amount of ground Cain covers to pull in the line drive.  Seriously, it is worth watching.  I’ll wait…

While this has nothing to do with Cain’s fantasy potential, it  kind of does.  Cain’s speed is going to be a fantasy asset on a bad Royals team.  While I will not preach that any KC player not named Butler or Soria is instantly ownable, Cain will steal you some bases.  I am not basing this solely off of his spectacular catch, but it honestly gives me reason to believe his speed.  Bill James has him at 33 steals in 512 AB.  ZiPS has him at 21 in 484.  CAIRO thinks he’ll swipe 14 in 433.  These all could be low estimates.  If Cain plays decently, he could quickly find himself atop the KC order.  Heck, even if he bats 9th, he will be getting closer to the 500-600 AB’s than 400-500 range.  Given the opportunity, the fantasy community (hah.) seems to think the kid has 30+ SB potential.  I agree.  And in a young KC lineup, he should be given every opportunity to shine.  by shine I mean steal 40 bases.  I wouldn’t advise drafting Cain, but monitor his Spring and start of the year.  If he can manage to hit between .260 and .270, he could easily steal 30+ bases for you.

Peter Bourjos

I wrote up Bourjos here earlier this month.  I suggest you read it, as I am a very talented man.  While you’re at it, read about Jose Tabata, if you want some slightly-more-expensive steals.  Bourjos figures to get a real shot and given that, is a real threat to steal 30+ bases.  So he’s got that goin’ for him… which is nice…

Coco Crisp

If you know baseball, you know Covelli can fly.  The question now is can he get the healthy At-Bats necessary to be a fantasy impact player again.  Crisp stole 32 bases in 328 plate appearances in 2010, good for one steal every 10.25 times he stepped up, when he managed to stay healthy enough to play.  His base-stealing prowess is undeniable.  What could be problematic this upcoming year is playing time, as the A’s OF looks crowded if that’s where the team plans on using Chris Carter and his Thor-Hammer power.  But you know what Crisp can do with merely 400 PA – steal 35 bases.  Once again I look at projections, none of which have Coco getting 500 AB or even 400 AB, but all seem to think he’ll steal 30 bases- including Bill James, CAIRO, and ZiPS.   So what happens if he gets regular at bats at the top of a revitalized A’s lineup?  He could steal 45-50 bases and score a ton of runs is the answer.  Once again, track his spring training and how the AB’s play out to start the season, but I think Crisp is a heckuva pickup candidate in 2011.

Erick Aybar

The Angels love to run.  Aybar figures to hit first in their lineup, or at least near the top.  This seems like a scheme for stealing success (hooray alliteration and rhyme!).  Aybar stole 22 bases in 2010 at the bottom of the lineup and has a 32 steal season in AAA just 5 years ago.  Bill James undershoots here and has him at 19 steals, as does CAIRO which has him at 18.  CBS has him pegged for 20 and I think these are all not taking into account his spot in the lineup and the lineup’s sudden need for speed.  Let me be the first to beg Mike Scioscia “LET ERICK RUN!”  I don’t care if he spells his name in a silly way, given the green light and top-of-the-order at bats, I bet you a box of jelly donuts Aybar can steal 30 bases.  We shall see.  But he will most likely be available at the end of drafts and is worth a flier on a MI spot, a notoriously weak position in the later rounds.

Cliff Pennington

Great name, let me start off by saying.

Moving on, did you know that Cliff Pennington stole 29 bases last year even though he only hit .250?  I did.  But that’s only because of my considerable knowledge on all things irrelevant in all of life except fantasy baseball.  29 bases!  Let me do some quick math… carry the 7… that’s one off of a 30 steal campaign!  Bill James thinks he can match that in 2011 but I think he can do better.  Let me explain.  With a better lineup & favorable spot in the order ( doublecheck), a better BABIP (check) and a better base stealing eye that only a year of experience can give you (uh… check), shouldn’t a player be able to increase his steal total?  Pennington is likely to be the #9 hitter for the A’s, free to run.  His BABIP last year was a decent .296.  It is not unreasonable to think he could improve that, even slightly, and get on base more often, increasing to the .260-.270 BA range and an OBP of around .340.  These are not unreasonable terms and are only slight improvements on what most projections have him putting forth in 2011.  I am optimistic, if for no other reason because I want to believe.  Like Aybar, you could do worse than Pennington at the end of a draft to fill your MI spot.  I expect 20 steals at a minimum and 35 is not unattainable.  Be aware.

——————————————

 

So there you have it, some really cheap sources of steals (with an unintentional wild wild west coast skew).  More to the point, these guys provide one quality in spades – speed.  Speed kills.  Speed gets steals.  Speed gets runs.  These categories make or break fantasy seasons.  You want more?  Check out my posts about some other cheap-ish speedy guys: Peter Bourjos, Jose Tabata, Will Venable, and Dexter Fowler.  I am of the firm belief that speed can be the ‘X’ factor in winning a fantasy season.  So draft Juan Pierre if you must.  Waste a pick on Nyjer Morgan.  Spend hours debating whether or not Rajai Davis will produce in Toronto (he will, but he was too obvious for this post).  I’ve outlined for you some guys you can have in the last rounds, as pickups, or for less than a few bucks, if you’re into that auction crap.  What you do with the fountain of knowledge that I’ve supplied is up to you.  Just remember, in fantasy, you want cheap thrills.  And speed kills.

 

-w

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Filed under Cajones, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, second base, shortstop

The all-contract year team

Every year there are a few guys who are in a contract year that put up crazy numbers that land them a large contract (Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson come to mind). Sometimes, they are just guys who already produce while others are coming off poor seasons (or careers) and need to rebound (badly). But no matter what they did last year, everything they do this year will be watched and scrutinized, giving them extra incentive to have a huge year. Keep an eye out for these guys:

C: Dionar Navarro

Once the one of the top prospects in the Yankees system, Navarro has fallen on hard times and had a terrible season in 2010. However, he is poised to become the Dodgers starting catcher and may finally tap his talent to prove he can stay in LA for the long haul. He is playing for his major league life and might respond well to the pressure.

1B: Prince Fielder

This is an obvious choice in early rounds but he could put up even bigger numbers this year than he did last year. He has a lot of pressure on him after signing a record arbitration contract, but also has a lot to prove. He is out to prove that he is not an after thought in the 2012 first baseman free agent class which could include Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. Pujols and A-Gon are primed for huge seasons (and contracts) no matter what but Fielder is the real wildcard. He needs to show constant improvement especially after his down year last year in order to get the 7-10 year deal Scott Boras will be looking for.

2B: Rickie Weeks

Looking to build on his solid fantasy season last year, Weeks is in a great position to land a pretty big contract in the offseason. Weeks needs to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that he can be an elite second baseman in the league. He played more games that he has in any other season with the Brewers and his durability will be a factor. Rickie will want to put to bed any doubt that he is a soft player who can put up mediocre stats. If last year is any indication, he will rise to the occasion.

SS: Jose Reyes

Remember when this guy was a one of the top players in all of fantasy? I do too and it wasn’t that long ago. Like Weeks, Reyes put up solid fantasy numbers after a year plagued by injuries. At 27, Reyes is entering his “prime” and will want a contract that will reflect that. Look for him to be a bright spot on an otherwise pretty bad Mets team.

3B: Aramis Ramirez

Yes, he is 32. Yes, he had a bad year last year. But the contract he signs next offseason could be his last professional contract and he will want to make it count. The Cubs should be improved this year which will help him, and the addition of Carlos Pena to the line up will also do wonders. I am not saying you should draft him early (or at all), but look for him to put together a streaky season and pick him up while he is on a hot-streak. As I said before, he is 32 and he knows he has an expiration date, he needs to show teams he hasn’t already past his. This should motivate him to a better season than last year.

OF: Jose Bautista

Another guy who will go early in drafts but also another guy who has a lot to prove. Can he put up the same numbers he did last year or will come back down to earth. (Also, just a note, he is recovering form offseason hernia surgery so keep an eye out for his recovery from that.)

OF: Grady Sizemore

The Indians have an option for Sizemore for $8.5 million or a buyout of $500,000 in 2012. Sizemore needs to prove his worth to the Indians or he might be facing free agency a year early. Especially after two down seasons (including one almost completely lost last year) Sizemore has to come up big. He was once the next can’t-miss superstar, but now he is looking like almost the exact opposite of that. This is a make or break year for him, and he knows it.

OF: Josh Willingham

This should be an interesting season for Willingham who will have to adjust to a new league and a new coast. Other than Navarro, he has to most to lose this season. If he puts up big numbers, he will get a large contract. A real boom-bust guy.

SP: Edwin Jackson

Another guy who is entering his “prime” Jackson has a lot more questions than answers. He can throw the ball nice and fast but can he improve his ERA and WHIP?  There have been other pitchers who had control problems who put together a solid contract year season (see Wright, Jaret) and Jackson could be poised to do just that.

CL: Jonathan Papelbon

Talk about a guy who is pitching with a chip on his shoulder. Pap has more than enough motivation to rebound after last season’s subpar performance and especially after it was reported he would have been non-tendered had the Red Sox signed Mariano Rivera this off-season. This guy is really pitching for his contract because it looks like Daniel Bard (or Bobby Jenks) is poised to take over the Sox  closer role after next season. Paps will come out on fire and put together an extremely impressive fantasy season.

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Filed under catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, second base, shortstop, third base

You should probably draft some Rangers

The unofficial mascot and motto of the 2011 Texas Rangers offense

And by Rangers, I mean the Texas offense, which has the potential to be absurd this year. Let’s take a look at the Ranger’s possible starting nine, (last years numbers are provided).

SS: Elvis Andrus (.265 AVG, 0 HR, 35 RBI, .342 OBP, .301 SLG, 32 SB)

2B: Ian Kinsler (.286, 9, 45, .382, .412)

1B: Jorge Cantu: (.256, 11, 56, .304, .392)

3B: Adrian Beltre (.321, 28, 102, .365, .553)

C: Bengie Molina (.249, 5, 36, .297, .326)

OF: Josh Hamilton (.359, 32, 100, .411, .633)

OF: Nelson Cruz (.318, 22, 78, .374, .567)

OF: David Murphy (.291, 12, 65, .358, .449)

DH: Michael Young (.284, 21, 91, .330, .440)

Other than Molina, those numbers are insane. Plus, Beltre’s numbers were from when he was playing for the Red Sox last year. What the Rangers lost with Cliff Lee in terms of pitching, they made up for in offense with Beltre. It should be noted that the Rangers put up those numbers without him in the lineup. If Beltre produces like he did last year, the Rangers are going to be an offensive force and with the sixth-highest park factor in the majors, the offensive numbers should continue.

While there are some obvious players to draft on this team (Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz) the lesser players like Young and Murphy should also put up better numbers with all the star power around them. Pitchers will be worn out after facing the Rangers 1-5, allowing ample opportunity for the bottom of the order to produce some big numbers.

Especially in deeper leagues, look for the likes of Young in the middle rounds (who will have added value because he will be eligible at multiple positions and will also be forgotten about because of Beltre) and Murphy in the later rounds. Another player to watch this year will be Taylor Teagarden. Due to Molina’s age (36) and lack of offensive production (see above) Teagarden might get a legitament shot this year, and could succeed without so much pressure. (The same goes for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but that is for another post).

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Filed under batter v. pitcher, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, third base

2011 Favorites: Second Base

Look at that form. Just perfect. What a guy.

Unless you have a man-crush on one of them (hand raised, Pedroia jersey present), second base is a wholly unexciting position in fantasy.  While first base gets the likes of Pujols all the way through knuckleheads like Adam Dunn, Second Base has the likes of Pedroia, Utley and…. Rickie Weeks?  Martin Prado?  If Rick-A Weeks excites you, or you trust him immensely, good for you.  I’d like a prescription for whatever happy pills you’re on.  So pay attention!  One position can make or break you in fantasy.  If you miss out on Utley or a top second bagger, you could wind up with the likes of Felipe Lopez.  If you’re starting Felipe Lopez, you’ve probably already conceded the season… Here are my thoughts to help ya’ll out this upcoming season at a decidedly uninspiring position.  Take note:

YOUNG STUDS

Gordan Beckham

This is what Second Base leaves you with- writing blurbs advocating Gordon Beckham.  He had a down year, for sure, but even at his best, he is a necessary and boring player for your team.  However, one stat in Bill James’ projections really stuck out for me: 41 Doubles.  If Gordon Beckham, as James predicts, hits around .275 with 15-20 homers and 40+ doubles he suddenly goes from Placido Polanco to, well, an above average second baseman and very nifty piece to have on your team (especially if you snag him in the later rounds as I have in a few early, early drafts).  I expect an upturn in production from Beckham and that White Sox lineup is ready to mash in 2011.  So I’m taking him in all formats and setting the bar low.  Here’s to hoping I am pleasantly surprised.

 

Neil Walker

I feel as though I could write the same blurb about Neil Walker: 40+ doubles, .270-ish young’n yadda yadda yadda. But I am an honorable man and will dignify Mr. Walker with his own blurb.  Seemingly out of nowhere Walker was a top-flight second baseman last year, which is to say he actually contributed to wins in fantasy rather than being a vacuous hole of a position (can you tell I kinda think it’s Pedroia and everybody else at this position?).  But honestly, Walker was kinda a pickup stud.  Did you realize he hit 12 homers?  Walker could easily put up comparable numbers to Kowie Hendrick Howie Kendrick and I’m betting you can get him later- like I said, kid seems to have this under-the-radar thing figured out.  I’d value Beckham more based on the lineup and team, but the point of the post is this: Neil Walker will do more to help your fantasy team than hurt in 2011.  Draft accordingly.


 

DON’T-FORGET-ABOUT-THESE GUYS

Dan Uggla

Dan Uggla had a phenomenal year last year.  I tried to pry him from my buddy all year and, to my credit, I knew exactly what I was doing.  He had been one of those players I tended to stay away from due to his low-ish average and high K’s, as I had trouble justifying drafting someone as high as him for 30 homers.  Don’t misread that, he is pretty much a guarantee to hit 30+ homers, I’m merely saying I tended to think one could score 30 homers much later in the draft.  But not this year.  Uggla had a MONSTER of a year, catapulting himself into serious 2B discussion, above the rest of the turds in fantasy.  30 homers, 30 doubles, a .280 average, 100 RBI, Uggla put on a clinic.  The move to Hotlanta should do nothing to change these numbers, so long as Uggla keeps his K’s relatively low (say around 150), his walks up, and his BABIP doesn’t dip too far below .300.  Draft him like a notch-below-Pedroia second baseman, someone who will bring serious thunder to your team.

 

THE INCEPTION PLAY(S)

Sean Rodriguez

We, and by ‘we’ I mean ‘Dave,’ at DotP like Sean Rodriguez a lot.  It’s the way he wears his socks.  No but honestly, the same stuff we’ve said about Rodriguez for 2010 carries into 2011… except now he REALLY figures to get some playing time.  With Crawford and Pena gone, as well as Bartlett, the Tampa infield will take a very different look.  Brignac is at short, Zobrist could play some first, I see Rodriguez getting some serious plate appearances.  And though I feel like Bill James shorts him in that area of his predictions (419), I like where his head’s at with some of the other production for Rodriguez.  How does 16 homers, 22 doubles, 2 triples, and 12 steals sound in 419 plate appearances?  Let me tell you how it sounds- it sounds like a late-round steal is what it sounds like.  And with a crapshoot position like 2B, sometimes ya gotta dig deep (hence the upcoming SECOND mindbending Inception pick).

Eric Young Jr.

The man is fast.  That should be enough for the inception play and it kinda is.  The quote from an MLB.com blurb read “could steal 40 bases given significant playing time,” and this seems to be the general consensus among baseball-types.  With Jose Lopez in the fold, who knows how many AB’s he will get but then again, we’re talking about Jose Lopez… so I’m not overly concerned with him getting enough at bats to be relevant.  Neither is the baseball Nostradamus, Bill James.  In 482 plate appearance, James has him stealing 46 bases.  I could leave it at that, but I like to research and type.  No I’m kidding, I’m leaving it at that.  If a steal every ten and a half  times he steps up to the plate isn’t enough to make you draft him in the last couple of rounds, I have nothing to offer you.  Sorry.

 

That’s it, my thoughts on a tough position to speculate in fantasy.  Enjoy the snow if you have it and  Happy Festivus to all.

 

-w

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