Category Archives: Fantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball SS Preview

Today we rank one of the most intriguing positions in all of baseball: Shortstop.  Ok, so maybe you’re pining for the glory days of power hitting shortstops like NomarJeter and A-Rod, but ladies and gentlemen we are due for a renaissance!  Granted, the value of these players drops off quickly, there is significant value to be had in this group, especially for keeper and dynasty owners. Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar are due to be everyday regulars in 2014, with Addisson RussellJavier BaezCarlos Correaand Francisco Lindor right behind them (Are you paying attention dynasty owners?!).  In the meantime, let’s dive into the shortstop ranks and see how these guys stack up against one another.  As always, Ryan’s individual ranks can be found here and Steven’s can be found here.

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2014 Fantasy Baseball 3rd Base Preview

We continue with our position by position rankings as we get you prepared for upcoming drafts. Yesterday, Ryan (@RYNoonan) released our first base rankings and we continue today as Steven (@SMartano) takes us to the other side of the infield to evaluate third base.  For the composite list, we’ll be using our writers’ rankings, but click on the link for both Steven’s andRyan’s individual positional ranks to see where they differ.  This year, there is significant power and value to be found at third base, but there is some injury risk and a lack of depth as the talent drops off relatively quickly.  Let’s take a look:

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Positional Preview-First Base

Today we launch our 2014 Fantasy Baseball position by position previews. We’ll have a new position featured each day, finishing with our overall Top 300. We’ll be using our writers’ composite rankings as we break things down this week, but click on the link for both Steven’s and Ryan’s individual ranks to see where they differ. Time to start with a position that, unlike past years, you must address early in your draft. Ryan, @RyNoonan kicks us off with a look at First Base.

 

1 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks
2 Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
3 Prince Fielder Rangers
4 Freddie Freeman Braves
5 Chris Davis Orioles
6 Joey Votto Reds
7 Albert Pujols Angels
8 Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers
9 Eric Hosmer Royals
10 Buster Posey Giants
11 Anthony Rizzo Cubs
12 Allen Craig Cardinals
13 Carlos Santana Indians
14 Joe Mauer Twins
15 Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks
16 Jose Abreu White Sox
17 Matt Adams Cardinals
18 Brandon Belt Giants
19 Mike Napoli Red Sox
20 Nick Swisher Indians
21 Brandon Moss Athletics
22 Michael Cuddyer Rockies
23 Corey Hart Mariners
24 Kendrys Morales FA
25 Mark Teixiera Yankees
26 Adam Lind Blue Jays
27 Chris Carter Astros
28 Ryan Howard Phillies
29 Justin Morneau Rockies
30 Victor Martinez Tigers
31 Adam LaRoche Nationals
32 Ike Davis Mets
33 Logan Morrison Mariners
34 Adam Dunn White Sox
35 Mitch Moreland Rangers
36 Yonder Alonso Padres
37 Gaby Sanchez Pirates
38 Mark Reynolds Yankees
39 Brett Wallace Astros
40 Garrett Jones Marlins

 

First things first, Miguel Cabrera is moving to 1B this year, and he’ll be the top ranked player here once eligible. More than likely though, if you own him you’re starting him at 3rd base.

It’s a different era. There just aren’t that many 30+ home run hitters anymore. How many do you think there were in 2013? Go ahead, guess, I’ll wait… Wrong. It was 14. Exactly half as many as 5 years ago, when 28 players hit 30+ HR’s in the 2008 season. Six of the 14 players that did it last year are listed above. The aforementioned Miguel Cabrera would make it 7 and if David Ortiz has 1B eligibility in your league, he’d make 8 of 14. The game has changed, so you need to change your strategy. In 2008 you could wait at 1B because it was so deep, sure the elite guys were worth the early round pick it took to land them, but you could wait and still be happy with your starter. Now, you need to jump into the 1B pool early, and don’t be shy to jump back in again a pick or 2 later. I’ve broken them into tiers. It’s important to separate positional ranks into tiers so you know when its time to buy, or time to wait on the position. You’re able to resist the temptation to fill positional needs too early, and allows you to maximize value throughout the draft.

 

[b]Tier 1[/b]

Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks
Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
Prince Fielder Tigers
Joey Votto Reds
Chris Davis Orioles

 

This is the best of the best and the case can be made for all of them being top 10 overall. Paul Goldschmidt feels really safe for someone with a limit track record, but I have no doubt that he’s a top 5 pick this year. [b]Edwin Encarnacion[/b] has had back to back top 10 seasons and he’ll be even better this year. Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes missed a combined 113 games last year, their return combined with slightly better batted ball luck (.247 BABIP) makes E5 a nice value around pick 10. He’s another guy that you’re starting at 3rd though, most likely. Don’t overreact to ‘down’ years from [b]Prince Fielder[/b] and [b]Joey Votto[/b], they are safe and late first, early 2nd round picks. [b]Chris Davis[/b] is polarizing. Last year’s fantasy MVP scares me a little and I’d let someone else take him, especially if it’s in the top 10.

 

[b]Tier 2[/b]

Freddie Freeman Braves
Albert Pujols Angels
Eric Hosmer Royals
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers
Allen Craig Cardinals
Anthony Rizzo Cubs

 

[b]Freddie Freeman[/b] is getting a lot of early season love, and I understand why. I’m just not quite ready to put him in the group above yet, but he’s still a early round pick. [b]Albert Pujols[/b] has declined, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay away, there’s still value here. He doesn’t run anymore, and his plate discipline metrics have slid to a place where I can’t predict a .300+ average any longer, but he’s still a strong bet to hit .280/30/100. [b]Eric Hosmer[/b] needs to continue his 2nd surge, which saw his GB% drop and his FB% rise. He has a huge ceiling and is still young, but he won’t meet projections if he can’t drive the ball consistently and hit more fly balls. [b]Andrian Gonzalez[/b] is steady and boring. There’s nothing wrong with that, he’ll give you .290/24/100 in his sleep. The move to the OF for the oft-injured Craig isn’t something that excites me, but on a per game basis he’s a top 40 bat. [b]Anthony Rizzo[/b] will continue to grow, and I feel like he’ll make a leap this year, maybe to the top of this tier. If [b]David Ortiz[/b] has 1B eligibility, and he does in Yahoo!, he’s right behind Pujols for me in this tier. I keep hearing how old Papi is, and he keeps raking.

 

[b]Tier 3[/b]

Buster Posey Giants
Carlos Santana Indians
Joe Mauer Twins

 

Catchers with 1B eligibility. We’ll go into details on these 3 in our Catcher Preview, but you’re starting these players at C.

 

[b]Tier 4[/b]

Matt Adams Cardinals
Mike Napoli Red Sox
Mark Trumbo Diamondbacks
Jose Abreu White Sox
Brandon Belt Giants
Brandon Moss Athletics
Michael Cuddyer Rockies

 

By this point you should already have at least one 1B from the tiers above, but if you don’t this is your last chance for a passable starter. These guys all have questions, but there’s power throughout the tier. [b]Matt Adams[/b] just needs at bats. He’ll hit lefties well enough to stay in the lineup, and he mashes right handed pitching. [b]Mike Napoli[/b] and [b]Mark Trumbo[/b] are good additions if your team looks strong in average at this point, both could hit 30 HRs. [b]Jose Abreu[/b] is a young, powerful Cuban beast, playing in HR heaven in Chicago. He’s a mystery of sorts when trying to forecast his plate discipline, but I think the power comes early and often. [b]Brandon Belt[/b] continues to improve, but he’s limited in that park. I can’t see that swing translating into big power numbers in SF, but he won’t hurt you in any category. [b]Brandon Moss[/b] hit 30 homers while in a platoon role, that deserves your attention. If he learns to hit lefties he could be dangerous.

 

[b]Tier 5[/b]

Corey Hart Mariners
Kendrys Morales FA
Nick Swisher Indians
Ryan Howard Phillies
Chris Carter Astros
Victor Martinez Tigers
Mark Teixiera Yankees
Adam Lind Blue Jays
Justin Morneau Rockies
Adam LaRoche Nationals
Ike Davis Mets
Adam Dunn White Sox
Mitch Moreland Rangers
Logan Morrison Mariners
Mark Reynolds Yankees
Garrett Jones Marlins
Paul Konerko White Sox
Yonder Alonso Padres
Brett Wallace Astros

 

This is the last group, and it’s full of guys worth owning. Some for all year and some for their eventual hot week or month. Lots of big power/low average guys here. We’ll learn more about some of these guys as we get closer to the spring, but there’s value to be had here late.

 

Dodgers Extend Clayton Kershaw to Record Setting Deal

Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a 7-year, $215 million contract extension, Jon Heyman has confirmed. The highly anticipated contract shatters previous pitcher extensions including last year’s deal between the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander, which netted the power pitcher a 7-year $180 million extension.Kershaw led the National League in ERA for the past three seasons, throwing more than 200 innings in every year since 2010, and it was clear the Dodgers wanted to lock him up before he was able to test free agency; the deal buys out his final arbitration year and an additional six years. 

Last year, the southpaw curveball ace finished 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA—94% better than park-adjusted league average ERA (ERA+). His 0.92 WHIP and 232 strikeouts in 236 innings propelled him to his second Cy Young Award in the past three seasons.

The Dodgers lock up Kershaw as a stud number one to complement Zack Greinke and Hyun-jin Ryu, who are both signed through the 2018 season. There are rumors they are still interested in at least exploring adding Masahiro Tanaka to their rotation. 

Check back with Blind Side Fantasy Advice for fantasy implications and updated pitcher rankings.

Rakuten Eagles Post Masahiro Tanaka

Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball recently agreed to new terms on a posting system for Japanese players to exit their existing NPB contracts and sign with an MLB team. Under the new system, whichever MLB team signs a posted Japanese player will pay the NPB team what is essentially a $20 million tax. Masahiro Tanaka is the first player to be posted under the new agreement.All MLB teams have 30 days (from Thursday, December 26) to attempt to come to terms with Tanaka, a 25 year old right handed pitcher for the Rakuten Eagles. Tanaka has the option to negotiate and sign with whichever team he wishes – a significant change from the previous posting system, which awarded the player to whichever team had the highest blind-bid. The change is certainly a welcome one from the players’ perspective, as players now have the ability to sign with whichever team they choose, at whatever teams they choose. 

Under the previous system, Texas paid a $51,703,411 posting fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters and gave Darvish a 6-year $56 million contract, and the Red Sox paid the Seibu Lions a $51,111,111.11 posting fee, ultimately agreeing to a 6-year $52 million contract with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Under the new system, Tanaka is likely to earn a greater average annual value (AAV) due to the posting fee limit of $20 million. 

Tanaka is represented by Excel Sports Management (other clients include Clayton Kershaw and Derek Jeter) and it is expected most MLB teams will be interested in at least taking a look at the Japanese star who posted a 24-0 record, 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. His minuscule career home run rate of .5 home runs per nine innings, combined with a 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings makes for an intriguing fantasy play this upcoming season. Even if he does not have the upside of Yu Darvish, Tanaka will certainly be an impact fantasy player.

Check back with Blind Side Fantasy Advice for fantasy implications and updated rankings upon Tanaka’s signing with a major league club.