2014 Oakland Athletics Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 22

2014 Oakland Athletics Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Prior to 2012, the only baseball related thing that created buzz in Oakland was the blockbuster film, “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. That all changed in 2012 and 2013 when the Athletics became the darling underdogs of Major League Baseball, with only Justin Verlander in the way of them advancing to the ALCS both years. In 2013 we saw unexpected players lead the Athletics in Fantasy (Josh Donaldson, Coco Crisp and Bartolo Colon), while those that we thought would be useful (Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick) turned out to be duds. So what can we expect from the 2014 Oakland Athletics? Can we rely on a guy who’s had only one good, albeit a very good, season? What do we do with the Cuban home run champ? Read on and let us take a closer look at the 2014 Oakland Athletics. Projected 2014 Oakland Athletics “Go-To” Lineup: Coco Crisp, CF Josh Donaldson, 3B Jed Lowrie, SS Yoenis Cespedes, LF Brandon Moss, 1B Josh Reddick, RF Alberto Callaspo, 2B John Jaso, DH Derek Norris, C   Projected Pitchers: SP1 Jarrod Parker, RHP SP2 Scott Kazmir, LHP SP3 Sonny Gray, RHP SP4 Dan Straily, RHP SP5 A.J. Griffin, LHP Setup: Luke Gregerson Closer: Jim Johnson Fantasy Stud: None. Now to clarify this, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think anyone will be a solid pick. My definition of a Fantasy stud is someone who you can take in the top 3-4 rounds and feel confident about them producing for you on a daily basis. I do feel like Yoenis has a shot to return top-round production, but his value lies in him being drafted in the later rounds. Breakout Candidate: Yoenis Cespedes Cespedes struggled last season to build on his tremendous rookie year. His K% went up almost 5 points while his BB% fell by 1.6. That is probably being attributed to him not adjusting to the pitchers the way they did to him, which led to a having a very mediocre season. A mediocre season with a young player, however, brings experience and — for Fantasy players — value. Cespedes has been working on shortening his swing a bit this offseason, and he’s now the 69th player coming...

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MLB Team Previews: Introducing the 2014 Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 22

MLB Team Previews: Introducing the 2014 Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

The best way to get a handle on everything that has happened in baseball over the past offseason is to check out MLB Team Previews, so we gathered 30 Fantasy Baseball writers from 30 different Fantasy sites to chip in one team apiece. As you might know, I consider the Fantasy Baseball industry to be one of the friendliest in the world. It truly is a happy community that’s willing to help out with any project you have going – and this was no different. The Fantasy Football industry, by comparison, is much grumpier/selfish/suspicious/greedy. There are great, friendly sites in the Fantasy Football world, too, but you’ll usually find that they have a face in the Fantasy Baseball world, too. I sent out a tweet on Saturday, and by Monday, I had about 80 percent of the writers lined up. Many sites offered up more than one writer, but we wanted to keep it just one writer per site, so that we could showcase 30 different sites equally. MLB Team Previews Template I created a template (by that, I mean, I essentially stole the template from FantasyTrade411.com with their permission) for each of the writers to use as a general guideline for their previews. Most importantly, these previews are all written from a Fantasy perspective, so don’t expect to see which team has a chance at their divisional crown. Each article will have the following features: Introduction A quick explanation of what this team’s Fantasy prospects are, based on what happened to them last year and in the offseason. Projected Go-To Lineup & Projected Pitchers This is where you’ll see where players are projected to hit/pitch, and should make for quick reference through the spring. These lineups, rotations and bullpens will be culled from the guys at MLB Depth Charts, who post on Baseball Prospectus. Fantasy Stud(s) Which players are the obvious Fantasy superstars who we can expect to be drafted in the early rounds? Breakout Candidate(s) Which players have a chance to go from late- or middle-round picks up to early round picks in 2015? That would indicate they’re in for a much better season than many expect. Sleeper Candidate(s) Which players have a chance to go from...

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2014 LA Angels Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 18

2014 LA Angels Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Center fielder Mike Trout is the engine for this team and is the clear 1.01 in every draft format. However, as in real life, he can’t do it alone and the eternal question of “just how good can he be” echoes. However, look across the diamond. Albert Pujols was that good a decade ago and stayed at that level a long time. Projected 2014 LA Angels “Go-To” Lineup: Erick Aybar, SS Mike Trout, CF Albert Pujols, 1B Josh Hamilton, LF David Freese, 3B Raul Ibanez, DH Howie Kendrick, 2B Kole Calhoun, RF Chris Iannetta, C Projected Pitchers: SP1 Jered Weaver, RHP SP2 C.J. Wilson, LHP SP3 Garrett Richards, RHP SP4 Hector Santiago, LHP SP5 Tyler Skaggs, LHP Others: Joe Blanton Setup: Joe Smith Closer: Ernesto Frieri Fantasy Studs: Trout, Pujols, Weaver and Wilson All four of these players should be drafted in the top rounds. Pujols is much more of a question mark than he’s ever been after an injury-marred 2013, but he could actually be value this season, if you believe he can come back. (I do.) Weaver and Wilson are a solid 1-2 punch and put up consistent innings, which is tough to find. Breakout Candidate: Tyler Skaggs Skaggs could be Dan Haren redux. The D-Backs have done a great job of giving away a bunch of their top pitching prospects. While it worked in the case of the uncoachable Trevor Bauer, Skaggs will be the one they regret most. He’s not the SP3 yet, but he has the talent to eventually nudge Weaver out as the team ace. This year, he should put up solid numbers at a reasonable value. In keeper leagues, push him up your board. Sleeper Candidate: Trevor Lindsey It’s tough to believe in Angels prospects after a flood of overhyped failures over the last decade. One of few solid guys who came through the system is Kendrick — and he could be pushed aside by Lindsey by midseason. Lindsey’s gone level by level and won’t be a star, but he’ll be cheap and adequate. His power is developing and he could be the type of cheap player that a big payroll team needs, while putting up solid enough Fantasy numbers. Bust Candidate:...

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2014 San Francisco Giants Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 16

2014 San Francisco Giants Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

As lucky and wondrous as the San Francisco baseball seasons were in 2010 and 2012, were the years 2011 and 2013 askew. Injuries, sub-par performances, and the cosmic giggle caught up with the Giants — a team built upon pitching the last few years — contributing to real and virtual chaos for the McGowan family and Rotisserie owners, respectively. The Giants basic lineup is unchanged from 2013, save left-field where Mike Morse was signed, ideally to give some pop to a team that has struggled with home runs over the past few years. The question with Morse is naturally his health, but in 2013 San Francisco moved into the season with the idea that Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval, and Marco Scutaro would play full time and that proved not to be the case. Still, Morse goes into spring as the left fielder, with Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco on board to back the flychasers. Of course, Morse can also play first, but therein lies some of the Giants offensive rub, which is also a glut. For, though San Francisco has Brandon Belt, who went .326-7-29 with a .915 OPS over the second half of 2013 to up his value, covering first as primary, the Giants would probably like to move their MVP backstop Buster Posey to that position at some point to preserve his career. But, for now, Buster will catch. To the left of the infield are Scutaro, who is aged at 38, but like a nearby Napa Valley wine, seems to improve with age at the keystone, dependable Brandon Crawford at short (and I think he can hit .270 eventually and who is maybe the best defensive shortstop in the league) and portly yet productive Sandoval at the hot corner. The Giants are saying The Kung Fu Panda (Sandoval) has dropped 40 pounds since the end of last season (neither do they suggest what the baseline of that loss is) so the team looks for improved endurance and performance from their likable third sacker. Projected 2014 San Francisco Giants “Go-To” Lineup: Angel Pagan, CF Marco Scutaro, 2B Brandon Belt, 1B Buster Posey, C Hunter Pence, RF Pablo Sandoval, 3B Michael Morse, LF Brandon Crawford, SS Projected Pitchers:  SP1...

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2014 Colorado Rockies Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 12

2014 Colorado Rockies Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

It’s always good to have a couple of 2014 Colorado Rockies on your squad (batters of course). Three of the top 25 Fantasy performers once again came from the team that calls Coors Field home in 2013, despite Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki missing a combined 110 games. Newcomers like Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon showed promise, and as for the pitching? Well, more of the same unfortunately. The Rox added Brett Anderson and Jordan Lyles to bolster the rotation, as they look to get the most out of talented yet underperforming Drew Stubbs in 2014. Justin Morneau will try to fill the void of retired Todd Helton. Projected 2014 Colorado Rockies “Go-To” Lineup Josh Rutledge Nolan Arenado Carlos Gonzalez Troy Tulowitzki Justin Morneau Michael Cuddyer Wilin Rosario Drew Stubbs Projected Pitchers Jhoulys Chacin Brett Anderson Jorge De La Rosa Tyler Chatwood Jordan Lyles Closer: Rex Brothers Fantasy Studs: Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki Draft at your own risk. Both Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowizki will be two of the first 15 selections in your mixed league drafts, and they come with a ton of risk. CarGo hasn’t played more than 135 games in any of the past three seasons, and Tulowitzki has played 150 games or more just once over his past six seasons. That being said, even with the missed time, you are getting elite production at both positions. CarGo is a first-round selection with elite raw power and 30-steal potential, but it’s Tulo that normally attracts even the most conservative Fantasy owners. Tulo’s power and batting average are basically unmatched at the position, and even with missing 30-plus games, he is arguably the top shortstop in Fantasy Baseball. Michael Cuddyer led the National League in batting average at .331, but at age 34, regression should set in for him. Stealing 10 bases again seems improbable, as well. The Coors Field factor gives Cuddyer a boost at the outfield position, but don’t overpay. Rosario is a top 10 fantasy catcher in mixed leagues, but it’s possible we’ve seen his best over the past two seasons. Breakout Candidate: Nolan Arenado Third Base, especially in the National League, is a bit deeper than in years’ past. Nolan Arenado’s glove...

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2014 Top 50 Prospects For Fantasy Baseball

Feb 12

2014 Top 50 Prospects For Fantasy Baseball

Prospects, Prospects, Prospects! Get your 2014 Top 50 Prospects here! Unlike many years ago, there are now plenty of options when trying to find prospect profiles and rankings. It is also growing more and more common for prospects to be drafted in all types of drafts. Knowing this trend, and the growing popularity of prospects, you need to make sure you are in the know come draft time. You also need to be able to disregard some of the hype, and not draft prospects with the hopes of them all becoming Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. More often than not, when it comes to prospects, that simply is not the case. It is also important to know what kind of rankings you are actually reading, and what they are composed for. My point is, if you are using an MLB top 100 prospects list for example, you will have a great list, but you may also be seeing players that will be great “Major Leaguers,” but perhaps average Fantasy Players. Hopefully, that makes sense. You may also find lists with players ranked in top 30, but they may not actually break into the majors until 2016! In Dynasty leagues, that is fine, but if you are looking to snag prospects with late-season impact, or short-term profit, you need to know their likely arrival date as well. Bottom line — do your research, lower expectations, and have fun. Prospects are easily one of my favorite aspects of Fantasy Baseball, and baseball in general. Knowing how to balance your fake teams to compete now, while taking risks with some prospects can be beneficial, and critical to your squads long-term success. I am not going to say my rankings are the best there is, but I think they will help, and it is a solid list of players who will have an impact in the next season or two. Only a few players projected to arrive after 2015 are in there, and I still deem them valuable — or draft-able — in dynasty/keeper leagues, simply because of their cheap value. I also wrote short breakdowns because I am hoping to have more in-depth profiles on all of my top 50 throughout the offseason...

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2014 Seattle Mariners Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 12

2014 Seattle Mariners Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

From a Fantasy Baseball perspective, the Mariners exceeded expectations last year. A 41-year-old Raul Ibanez led the team with 29 home runs and their starting rotation boasted two Cy Young candidates in perennial superstar Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma finished the year with a 138 ERA+, besting King Felix’s 121. Seattle also has a young core of players who got the opportunity to back up their top-prospect status. A pair of middle infielders, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin and catcher-of-the-future Mike Zunino, all made their major-league debuts in 2013. Zunino was afforded the opportunity to catch at the major league level after former prospect Jesus Montero was a massive disappointment at the plate, as well as behind it. He sported an anemic .208/.264/.327 slash line before being demoted to Triple-A after just 29 games. Projected 2014 Seattle Mariners “Go-To” Lineup Dustin Ackley, CF Kyle Seager, 3B Robinson Cano, 2B Corey Hart, DH Justin Smoak, 1B Logan Morrison, LF Michael Saunders, RF Mike Zunino, C Brad Miller, SS Projected Pitchers SP1 Felix Hernandez, RHP SP2 Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP SP3 Taijuan Walker, RHP SP4 Scott Baker, RHP SP5 James Paxton, LHP Others: Erasmo Ramirez, RHP; Charlie Furbush, LHP; Tom Wilhelmsen RHP SU Danny Farquhar, RHP SU Yoervis Medina, RHP CL Fernando Rodney, RHP Fantasy Studs: Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez Cano is by far the best second baseman in Fantasy Baseball. The only thing that might depress his value is the move to Safeco Field. Ken Woolums from ESPN Stats & Information seems to think that Cano’s ability to change his approach based on where he is playing will enable him to hit well in Seattle. Also according to ESPN Stats & Information, every one of Cano’s home runs over the past three seasons would have been out of Safeco, so his power output should not be adversely affected. Cano will be joining an offense that was about league average last year (OPS+ of 98), while leaving a Yankees offense that was that finished 13th in the American league with an OPS+ of 87. Granted, Ibanez, Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales have departed from the Mariners lineup, they’ve also added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to bolster their supporting cast. Felix...

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