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Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER OSWALDO ARCIA OUTFIELDER MINNESOTA TWINS

                                            Oswaldo Arcia

With the era of pitching dominance in full force and with major league baseball moving further away from widespread steroid usage, the one statistic in the game that is becoming both increasingly rare and at the same time very valuable is the home run.  Whereas just ten years ago there were a slew of 40-plus home run guys, in today's game you can almost count them on one hand.  The result is that guys who possess the skill of hitting home runs are beyond valuable in today's fantasy baseball and in turn their draft prices every season are extremely expensive.  Thus it becomes imperative that every winter we zone in on potential power sleepers who could supply much-needed pop for a terrific draft price.  While it is certainly tough to find guys who qualify under this heading, one such player exists in the relative anonymity of Minnesota in the form of emerging slugger Oswaldo Arcia.  Turning only 24 this May, the very young Arcia's calling card is his home run swing that resulted in a quietly impressive 20 home runs in 2014 during his first full season.  As the Twins continue to look ahead in their rebuilding plans after such a long run of success prior, Arcia is being looked at their power-hitting outfielder of the present and the future.  So with that said let's check in again on Arcia and find out what he can so as 2015 fantasy baseball gets closer.

First let's look at Arcia's stat total across the board from 2014:

.231
20 HR
57 RBI
46 R
1 SB

In looking at those numbers, other than the home runs Arcia was a big yawn when it came to fantasy baseball impact.  His .231 average was ugly, he drove in only 57 runs with those 20 bombs, and he failed to do anything in the stolen base realm.  However the fact Arcia was able to crack 20 home runs at the very young age of 23 while playing half of his games in the unforgiving Target Field is very impressive.  So let's start digging into the numbers.

As far as the power is concerned, this is going to be Arcia's biggest impact from now until he retires.  Arcia has the kind of natural power that points to a future 30-home run slugger which could come very soon by the looks of it.  With the home runs will go the RBI step-in-step and a 25-HR/80-RBI campaign is not out of the realm of possibility for 2015 as Arcia is now another year further in his development.  Arcia is likely to move up closer to the cleanup spot this season and that could boost his runs total as well which right now is very mediocre.  However when you consider that Arcia put up all those stats last season in only 372 at-bats, one can see just how much more attractive they will look when he gets 550 at-bats as he is expected to do in 2015.  Thus it becomes to easy to see Arcia reaching that 25 home run and 80 RBI level for this season and maybe more if all breaks right.  Of course there are drawbacks and that centers on his complete zero impact in the steals department which is not what you really want from your starting outfielders since speed is very abundant there.  However the biggest issue for Arcia is his batting average which was barely usable last season at .231.  The problem of course lies in his very high K rate which is something we see constantly with young sluggers.  Arcia struck out 127 times in those 372 at-bats last season which is a terrible 31 percent K rate.  That has to improve for Arcia to be more than an outfielder 3 but some more growing pains are likely as he is still young.  If only Arcia can inch toward the .260 mark, his home runs and RBI will be so much more of boost for you.  That is no given of course but Arcia has ever right to improve as he matures as a hitter this season.

When you put it all together, Oswaldo Arcia is the classic kind of late round pick that could pay off handsomely.  It is young guys with upside like Arcia that you ALWAYS want to use your late round picks on instead of boring veterans who can only do down with their numbers.  Arcia may not light the world on fire this season but 25 home runs is extremely valuable in today's game given what we have seen with home runs trending sharply south.  Take a chance here as the power payoff is very promising. 

2015 PROJECTION:  .257 24 HR 71 RBI 59 R 2 SB

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: AROLDIS CHAPMAN/GREG HOLLAND

Generally speaking, Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is considered the number 1 closer in fantasy baseball and in 2015 that rings true once again.  However it is an interesting debate to see who should come next and the two names who seem most worth are the Kansas City Royals' Greg Holland and the Cincinnati Reds' Aroldis Chapman.  So as always let's compare the two according to the four standard categories they qualify for in order to determine who in fact should be picked ahead of the other.

ERA:  For their careers, Holland comes in with a 2.19 ERA while Chapman registers a 2.32 mark.  The difference is a bit more stark over the last two seasons as Holland posted ridiculous 1.21 and 1.44 marks to Chapman's 2.54 and 2.00.  The numbers talk.
ADVANTAGE:  Greg Holland

STRIKEOUTS:  Both Holland and Chapman are monster strikeout guys but the Cuban flamethrower has been setting all sorts of marks with his 100-plus fastball and incredible K rates.  For his career, Chapman has registered an insane 15.32 K/9 while Holland comes in at 12.47.  Both are top-notch in this realm but Chapman is a bit better.
ADVANTAGE  Aroldis Chapman

SAVES:  This one is annoying as saves are subjective and really are a product of the team which makes picking one over the other is tough.  However you have to believe the Royals are a much better team than the Reds who look like they could be headed for a rebuild which means Holland will likely get more chances.  Plus Holland has had better injury luck as well.
ADVANTAGE:  Greg Holland

WHIP:  Chapman has a 0.98 career WHIP to Hollan's 1.07 but the difference is so minute between the two that it would be pointless for us to pick a winner there.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

WINNER:  Greg Holland

Holland is the guy to pick right after Kimbrel comes off the board but it was close as usual.  Holland has had better health and plays on a better team so that alone wins out. 

 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS: 61-80

We are getting deeper and deeper as we continue on with our first look at the 2015 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings.  Let's see who made the cut from 61-80.

61. Nick Markakis:  Markakis is fresh off neck surgery and before that a new deal with the Atlanta Braves where his already limited pop will be further weakened due to the downgrade in ballpark.
62. Steve Pearce:  Pearce was a big help down the stretch last season for the Orioles with above-average power.  Still he was barely hanging on as a major leaguer so those numbers have to be taken with a grain a salt.  At the very least he will get a prime chance to prove they weren't a fluke as the O's need bats after getting decimated in free agency.
63. Dexter Fowler:  Has a new home for the second season in a row but Fowler's value as barely an outfielder 3 remains.  Just never developed into the power/speed dynamo many expected. 
64. Nick Catellanos:  Did all right as a rookie last season but Castellanos lacks pop and is prone to the strikeout which could hurt his average.
65. Angel Pagan:  Injured for most of 2014 and aging, Pagan can still help in spurts with his speed and occasional home runs. 
66. Mike Morse:  Morse still has thunder in his bat and can be a very cheap 20 home runs if he can stay healthy enough. 
67. Dustin Ackley:  Ackley is starting to figure things out as a major league hitter but he still doesn't do enough to make a decent impact in any one category.  Remains a better second base value. 
68. Shane Victorino:  Victorino is fading as his legs are beginning to give out which is a major problem since most of his value comes from running. 
69. Domonic Brown:  Told you all to avoid Brown last season after his previous power "breakout."  Brown's issue with strikeouts made him a bust waiting to happen and that is exactly what occurred in 2014 like I said it would.  Don't bother as the Phillies seem like they are running out of patience. 
70. Adam Eaton:  Has terrific hitting skills with regards to being well over a .300-batter but Eaton has to this point failed to make good on any of the minor league pop he previously showed. 
71. Alejandro De Aza:  Does just enough to qualify annually as an outfielder 3 as De Aza can run a bit and pop some homers.  If that works for you than great. 
72. Oswaldo Arcia:  Very good sleeper candidate here as Arcia has the natural power to smack 30 home runs but the average could be scary. 
73. Dayan Viciedo:  The Cuban slugger can hit you 20 home runs if he plays enough but that is about it. 
74. Avisail Garcia:  Sleeper alert!  Garcia looked like he was going to be break out in 2014 in showing off some impressive power/speed ability but his body failed to cooperate.  The average may not be great initially but this kid is oozing with potential. 
75. Gerardo Parra:  Solid leadoff guy who can net you 15 stolen bases and 75 runs with a decent average.  Use in five outfielder formats. 
76. Brock Holt:  The best thing you can say about Holt is his insane eligibility where he qualifies literally everywhere but catcher and pitcher. 
77. Allen Craig:  Ugly season for Craig in 2014 no doubt but he can't possibly be that bad two years in a row considering he was prior to that one of the better pure hitters.  Take advantage of the steepe discount to find out. 
78. Rajai Davis:  Still can run at 34 but Davis is the definition of an aging veteran who will have nothing but fading skills. 
79. Denard Span:  Quietly had a terrific season in 2014 leading off for the Washington Nationals but again he doesn't move the needle much in any one category.  Still the small contributions across the board puts Span in decent outfielder 3 territory. 
80. Andre Ethier:  Could get more work with Matt Kemp now in San Diego but now Joc Pederson is entering the picture so that is no guarantee.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts. 



2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: MAIKEL FRANCO 3B PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

                                      

On any given "Top Prospect" list for 2015 fantasy baseball, the legitimacy of the names on any given chart would be called into question if it did not include Philadelphia Phillies slugging third baseman Maikel Franco.  While the Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant no doubt get a ton of love as the best third base prospect in the game and rightfully so, Franco no doubt holds significant potential and value as the 2015 fantasy baseball season nears.  While Franco struggled in his first cup of coffee run with the Phillies at the end of last season, the future is very bright at the hot corner for a team clearly in rebuilding mode.  In fact throw out the .179 average and no home runs Franco put up in his 56 at-bat trial in 2014 and instead focus on the minor league numbers that point to the guy eventually profiling as a 25-home run bat for the Phillies.  In fact one can see the potential Franco is already hinting at as he comes off a dominant showing in the Dominican Winter League where he batted .337 with 4 home runs in only 22 games.  At only 22-years-old, Franco has at least four seasons of development and ceiling left to his name as he embarks on a 2015 campaign that could have him in the majors by May.  The Dominican showing should also ease some initial fears last season about Franco when he batted just .257 with 16 home runs in 133 International League games.  While not the greatest campaign, rewinding back to 2013 would show Franco hitting a more interesting .339 with 15 home runs in half of a Double-A season.  So despite some fluctuations, Franco is only scratching the surface of his immense power and eventually could hit for a decent enough average when he gets more experience against big league pitching.  Now as far as what Franco has in store for 2015, the Phillies will begin the year with Cody Asche at third base, with a call-up coming perhaps as early as May.  Initially Franco will alternate hitting home runs and striking out which means a run at 20 bombs is possible to go with a shoddy average.  Which really has been the same path that most young slugger have taken along the way to stardom.  Be sure to save a late round pick for Franco as he could be a nice difference-maker the second half of the 2105 fantasy baseball season.  He will be a good one soon.

2015 PROJECTION:  .261 14 HR 46 RBI 44 R 1 SB



 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 41-60

Numbers 41-60 are up next when it comes to our first look at the 2015 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings.  Let's get right to it.

41. Melky Cabrera:  Successfully posted a nice comeback season in 2014 with the Blue Jays as Cabrera contributed in all five standard categories on a low-impact level.  He widely stayed in a hitter's park after signing with the White Sox. 
42. Lorenzo Cain:  Finally stayed healthy last season and the speed took over as Cain ran at will.  Don't look for much power here and actually Cain has the look of a bust candidate as he can't stay healthy for long and most of his value comes in his speed which can fluctuate.
43. A.J. Pollock:  Former first round pick who was on the way to a breakout season before injury struck.  Pollock could hit 15 home runs and steal 25 with a useful average so he stands as a tremendous value candidate this season.
44. Carlos Beltran:  April was impressive but the rest of the season went downhill for the rapidly aging Beltran in his first go-round with the New York Yankees.  The home runs will fly out on the rare occasions Beltran is healthy and at 39 he is really not worth the trouble anymore.
45. Alex Rios:  Lots of risk in this part of the rankings as Rios fell almost completely off the statistical map last season in Texas of all places.  Still Rios has made a career out of doing what is expected so he could turn a small profit since no one wants him anymore and is on a one-year prove it deal with the Royals who will let him run as often as he wishes.
46. Josh Hamilton:  Don't go near this guy.  Hamilton has been a disaster the last two seasons-plus as his body continues to betray him.  The short power-hitting run was impressive for sure but the train has stopped for good there.
47. Desmond Jennings:  Going the way of B.J. Upton as an ugly average/stolen base guy.  We are past the ceiling years now for Jennings who is really just an ordinary player. 
48. Ben Zobrist:  Continue to play Zobrist in the infield as he gets most of his value there.  He too is aging and seeing his numbers slip more every season.
49. Curtis Granderson:  Still hits home runs but Granderson was no match for the vast dimensions of Citi Field.  He should be a bit better in the average department at the very least though btu more than .260 is wishful thinking.
50. Torii Hunter:  The guy refuses to get old.  Hunter is back for one more season and still carries enough outfielder 3 value.
51. Ben Revere:  Big-time stolen base guy who can be a nice source there, while also putting up a good batting average and solid runs total.  Not a complete one-trick pony.
52. J.D. Martinez:  The average was propped up by a lucky BABIP as Martinez strikes out way too much to be a .300 guy again.  He does however carry some good power value as Martinez will continue to get good pitches to hit batting behind or around Victor Martinez/Miguel Cabrera.
53. Josh Harrison:  Not liking his chances to repeat 2014 as you will read more about in a Bust feature.
54. Leonys Martin:  Nice player who can swat 8-10 home runs and swipe around 25 bags.  That works for me as an outfielder 3.
55. Khris Davis:  Classic poor average slugger, Davis actually made good on the sleeper value from last season. 
56. Brandon Moss:  Will be a threat for nearly 30 home runs as long as the body cooperates and maintains his standing as one of the better buys in the game.
57. Chris Carter:  Squeezes in if your league uses 5 starts as the benchmark.  Massive power as Carter is the new Adam Dunn right on down to the absolutely horrific batting average.
58. Mookie Betts:  Sky is the limit for this burgeoning prospect.  Play him at second base if you can but Betts' all-around ability plays well in the outfield also.
59. Evan Gattis:  You want Gattis at catcher where he could be the very rare guy to swat 30 home runs now that he will the permanent DH for the Houston Astros.
60. Martin Prado:  Stash Prado at second base but leaving the Yankees was a drag on his value.

There you have it.  Check in tomorrow for 61-80. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: JOSH HARRISON 2B/3B/OF PITTSBURGH PIRATES

                                                Josh Harrison                                

One of the more pleasant surprises in 2014 fantasy baseball was the out-of-the-blue arrival of Pittsburgh Pirates utility dynamo Josh Harrison turning seemingly overnight into a multi-position eligible source of five-tool numbers.  What Harrison did last season no one saw coming as his 2012 and 2013 campaigns with the team showed nothing but horrid batting averages and underwhelming numbers that left him as a bench guy at best.  However Harrison took advantage of injuries in the Pittsburgh infield and outfield to man at least starts at four different positions (2B, SS, 3B, and the outfield) and proceeded to put up numbers that were incredibly impressive:

.315
13 HR
52 RBI
77 R
18 SB

If you didn't know any better, you would think that Harrison was the next big thing with regards to his ability to hit for power and also contribute stolen bases and bat .300.  And since Harrison will only be 27 for the 2015 season, it stands to reason that he may even get better from this point on.  However much caution needs to be used when it comes to Harrison this season as far as his fantasy baseball stock is concerned.  His draft price is soaring amid the heightened expectations but one has to wonder if it really is warranted.  There are surely some red flags here that need to be examined and when you put it all together, you can see the risk that Harrison does bring as the 2015 season dawns.

As we already noted, Harrison was pretty much a failed player in his previous tries to stick with the Pirates.  He struck out a ton and struggled to bat even .250 which relegated him to backup status for good reason.  Than there was last season and those previous performances got thrown out the window.  The previous work of Harrison must not be ignored however and it is here where we see potential for trouble.  For one thing, Harrison never hit more than 6 home runs both in the minor and major leagues prior to last season's 13.  Also Harrison benefitted from a BABIP that was a full 80!!! points higher than his previous best in that category which goes a long way in explaining how he was suddenly able to bat .300.  Harrison remains a strikeout prone hitter who will see his average tumble this season when the BABIP corrects itself and moves back toward the mean.  It is not out of the realm of possibility we see Harrison post something like a .270 average instead of last year's .315 given that expected correction.  Throw in the fact Harrison has little patience (only 2 walks) and he could even drop below the .270 mark. 

Now as far as the power is concerned, again Harrison never hit more than 6 previously at any level.  Sure he may have grown into some pop as he reached his prime age but Harrison doubled his home run percentage last season which is something that is very shady to hang your hat on when it comes to predicting more power in 2015.  Jumps like that just don't sustain themselves and Harrison could struggle to hit even 10 this season if that trend goes the way we think it will.  That alone would make Harrison look like a shaky investment this season. 

When you put everything together, Josh Harrison has quite a bit more to prove in order to be trusted as a dependable fantasy baseball 2B, 3B, or outfielder.  The versatility is tremendous and valuable no doubt but the expected drop in his ratios and power/speed numbers could be steep.  We ordinarily always advise against investing in guys who come out of the blue with a surge in numbers and Harrison certainly qualifies under this scenario going into this season.

2015 PROJECTION:  .275 10 HR 54 RBI 81 R 19 SB