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Monday, November 17, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: BRAVES THROW IN TOWEL ON JASON HEYWARD

                                              

The biggest news in the fantasy baseball world Monday came when it was revealed that the Atlanta Braves had given up on young outfielder Jason Heyward by sending him to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Shelby Miller and RP Jordan Walden.  For the Braves, their extreme need for pitching forced them to do the deal but in Heyward they give up a promising outfielder who was touted for stardom when he first came up.  The Cardinals meanwhile never met a project they didn't embrace and so they had no reservations giving up on the hard-throwing but inconsistent Miller.  With that said, lets break the deal down with an eye toward 2015 fantasy baseball.

Jason Heyward:  Heyward obviously is the biggest name in the deal as the multi-tooled outfielder was a guy who oozed potential with his speed and developing power.  Unfortunately Heyward has been a bit of a riddle, prone to extreme swings in production and ultimately letting down his owners since making his debut back in 2010.  It appeared as though Heyward was ready for stardom in 2012 when he posted 27 home runs and stole 21 bases while batting .269.  That type of power/speed game makes all who play fantasy baseball weak in the knees and so Heyward was looked at as an arriving star for the next season.  However over the last two years Heyward has failed to come even close to his 2012 numbers, having hit only 14 and 11 home runs the last two season, to go along with 2 and 20 stolen bases.  Perhaps the biggest issue for Heyward has been his career .262 batting average as ongoing problems with strikeouts have brought down that number for him in his still young career.  The Cardinals clearly see the ability though and we have not given up on Heyward either as at least an outfielder 2 for 2015 fantasy baseball.  Amazing things happen in St. Louis as retread hitters and pitchers have been known to tap into their full potential there due to the coaching and more relaxed atmosphere.  It wouldn't shock us in the least if Heyward made such a leap.  He already is as 20-stolen base guy and he could very well inch back towards the 20 home run mark this season as well.  The average clearly needs work but Heyward is still only turning 26 in August which means he has a few ceiling years left in the tank.  We would buy low on Heyward and his depressed draft price as he could really make that jump we all expected due to the change of scenery.

Shelby Miller:  We ate a lot of crow on Shelby Miller early last season as he was one of our prime pitching sleepers.  After all there was a lot to like here as Miller was a 2009 first round pick who was terrific in his first full major league season in 2013 when he pitched to a 3.06 ERA and 1.21WHIP while striking out 169 batters in only 173.1 innings.  Miller surely looked like the next top power pitcher and being groomed in St. Louis made him even more attractive.  However Miller was utterly horrific early last season as he fought his mechanics badly.  Miller walked the ballpark, gave up a ton of hits, and saw his ERA balloon to the point that he hit the waiver wire in many leagues.  However Miller found himself somewhat in the second half and he ultimately salvaged himself by finishing with a 3.74 ERA.  The underneath numbers were still concerning as Miller got quite a bit of BABIP luck last season which means his ERA should have been a lot worse.  Also his K rate sank badly as he struck out only 127 batters in 183 innings as he looked like a shell of his former self.  Miller himself gets new life in Atlanta but we are scared of the guy,  For one, anytime the Cardinals give up on a young pitcher, that is a big red flag for us.  The ballparks are a wash so Miller doesn't improve there as well.  Either way Miller will be overdrafted due to his 2014 ERA which was a total fluke given how bad he pitched.  We would advise staying away from Miller this season unless you can get the guy as your SP 5 at best during your draft.



 

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