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Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: BEWARE THOSE STARTERS WHO LOVE THE SLIDER

In looking ahead to 2014 fantasy baseball drafts, we once again take a look at a class of starting pitcher who presents some sizable risk based on the simple fact they all love to throw sliders.  It is bad enough that throwing a fastball at 95-plus mph is an extremely unnatural act for the human body's arm but that notion ratchets up even more when the slider is introduced.  While the use of the slider has increased during this era of pitching dominance, there has been a historically high rate of injury for those who tend to throw the pitch more than 20 percent of the time.  While we can never predict injuries, we can put a red flag label on those starters who favor the slider as a tool to break ties in comparable pitchers in a draft and as a means to put as little risk as possible onto your roster this season.  So with that said let's take a look at the key fantasy baseball starters who do throw the slider more than 20 percent of the time base don last season's stats.

1.  Francisco Liriano (36.3 %):  Liriano found new life in Pittsburgh in what we could almost label a dominant season as moving to the National League was just what the fantasy baseball doctor ordered.  However a more than 36 percent dependability on the slider is an extremely big red flag.  The fact of the matter though is that Liriano is still a nicely priced commodity given how many people he has burned in the past so the risk is not tremendous  as far as going bust with a pick.  Remember though there is a Tommy John surgery in his past.

2.  Yu Darvish (31.6 %):  This one is a bit scary since Darvish will go as high as a late second round pick in drafts.  Putting up by far the best K rate in the majors last season, Darvish was beyond dominant at times.  However in pricing Darvish against someone like the always durable Cliff Lee, Madison Bumgarner, and Felix Hernandez, you may want to go with the latter three if you had to make a choice.

3.  John Lackey (30%):  Lackey is no stranger to injury and it took a few years for him to finally become a useful pitcher again.  He could just as easily slide back this season given his heavy usage of sliders.  A guy to avoid.

4.  Ricky Nolasco (27.1%):  Nolasco has been very durable in his career so maybe there is not much to fret about here and the draft price will be cheap as well since no one trusts the guy.  As an SP 5 yu can look past this.

5.  Justin Masterson (26.6%):  Masterson came out of nowhere like Liriano last season to pitch like a near-ace while vastly improving his K rate.  The use of the slider is what allowed Masterson to boost his strikeouts so there is some volatility here.  I have never been a fan and his 2013 season didn't sway me at all as far as being moved to draft him in 2014.  This cements my leery nature surrounding the guy.

6.  Ubaldo Jimenez (25%):  Jimenez is no stranger to elbow issues and like Masterson, it was his increased use of the slider that got him back to being a very good fantasy baseball pitcher last season.  If Jimenez stays in the American League (he is still unsigned as of this writing) than I would absolutely avoid him at all costs.  If he signs in the National League, I will look past this since his draft price should be cheap enough.

7.  Jhoulys Chacin (23.5%):  The trend on this list are guys who shocked with very solid 2013 seasons and Chacin is no doubt a part of that group.  With limited K stuff, Chacin is a marginal fantasy baseball pitcher anyway so I wasn't buying no matter what his slider habits are.

8.  Patrick Corbin (23%):  Corbin upped his K rate as the season went on in 2013 and like the rest of the guys on this list, it was through his use of the slider.  There will be some regression this season in Corbin's numbers anyway and the increased risk of injury make him another guy you should avoid.  Leave him alone this season.

There you have it.  I am not saying to avoid all of these guys but overall you need to keep these trends in mind so that you have a firm idea on all the issues surrounding pitchers this season.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED CATCHER RANKINGS

Time to start updating some of the position rankings with drafts right around the corner.  Today we look at the catchers as I highlight some of the guys I am targeting in continuing my habit of drafting backstops in the late middle rounds. 

1.  Buster Posey
2.  Wilin Rosario:  Tough call between Rosario and McCann but the youth wins out.
3.  Brian McCann:  Move to the Yankees shoots McCann way up.  30 home runs a possibility.
4.  Carlos Santana:  Love the move to the third base as Santana now carries three positions to his name and the counting stats are as good as any catcher.  Now let's just get to work on that average.
5.  Yadier Molina:  Respect the hell out of him but at 32 the stats could start sliding.
6.  Jonathan Lucroy:  As underappreciated as any player in the game.  Last season was completely legit.
7.  Joe Mauer:  The price has finally come down to reasonable levels but Mauer's K rate shot up last season and injuries are becoming a major issue.  Two bad trends in his last season with catcher eligibility. 
8.  Matt Wieters:  Don't sneeze at the 20-plus home runs despite the .240 average. 
9.  Salvador Perez:  The rare catcher who can hit .300 and the power is trending up. 
10. Jason Castro:  Mixed feelings here as Castro has nice pop but a long history of knee injuries and a very high K rate not good.
11. Evan Gattis
12. Wilson Ramos
13. A.J. Pierzynski:  Classic guy you can get in one of the last rounds who will supply you some decent numbers. 
14. Miguel Montero
15. Travis D'Arnaud:  Could be a post-hype sleeper guy made good.  Throw out last season's debut.
16. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
17. Yan Gomes: Getting the chance now to play everyday with Santana moving to third base.  Very interesting.
18. Wellington Castillo
19. Ryan Doumit
20. Carlos Ruiz
21. Yasmani Grandal
22. Nick Hundley

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

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: ALEXANDER GUERRERO NOT GUARANTEED SECOND BASE JOB FOR DODGERS

                                                                   

Despite having a potentially potent bat, the Los Angeles Dodgers are very concerned about the awful fielding of Cuban import 2B Alexander Guerrero to the point he is not guaranteed to have the starting job once the season gets underway.  On a related note, the Dodgers have been talking to Michael Young in gauging whether he would be willing to man second base given how worried they are about Guerrero. 

Analysis:  Not good for Guerrero and his fantasy baseball sleeper label is starting to dim some.  The fact they want Young to play second tells you all you need to know about how they are leery of Guerrero starting with his terrible defense.  Knock Guerrero down on your cheat sheets some. 

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: NEFTALI FELIZ CLOCKED AT 98-MPH

                                                                         

Texas Rangers RP Neftali Feliz was clocked at 98-mph while throwing in the Dominican Winter League.  It was the second of back-to-back appearances by Feliz who is coming back from Tommy John surgery and is aiming to reclaim his closer role. 

Analysis:  Great news here as it looks like Feliz is completely recovered from the procedure.  GM Jon Daniels has said there will be an open competition for the closer role this season which will also include Joakim Soria and Tanner Scheppers but Feliz should be considered the favorite given how good he was in the role before he got hurt.  If you had to draft tomorrow, Feliz is the guy to grab. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: CHRIS JOHNSON 3B ATLANTA BRAVES

                                                                  Chris Johnson

In looking at the batting title race last season in the National League, one had to be surprised by a certain Atlanta Braves third baseman being firmly in the running as summer turned to fall.  Of course I am referring to Chris Johnson who in his first season with the Braves, hit a terrific .321 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI.  No one would argue the Braves turned a profit on their investment of Johnson and even his 2013 fantasy baseball owners did as well since he was plucked off waivers in almost all formats.  However since we don't live in the past, we can argue concretely that Johnson is shaping up as a sizable bust in 2014 fantasy baseball. 

The most obvious argument against Johnson for the upcoming season is that glowing .327 average that we just talked about.  While that number on the surface is very good indeed, looking under the hood would reveal that Johnson was THE most lucky hitter in baseball in 2013 as his BABIP came it at an insane .394.  When you consider .300 is a neutral BABIP number, it is obvious the extreme amount of luck Johnson received last season.  There is no chance in hell Johnson will be able to come even remotely close to repeating such a number and the regression that is as certain as death and taxes in 2014 will rip into that .321 average.  Count on Johnson sliding down quite a bit and it could go as low as the .281 he hit in 2012.  Once you move past the batting average, there really is not much else to talk about in positive terms for Johnson.  Hitting only 12 home runs in 514 at-bats is horrible for any corner hitter and the 68 RBI is another rough number as well.  Also how Johnson scored only 54 runs despite all those hits is a massive mystery and he doesn't even help in the stolen base category as he swiped not one base all of last season. 

When you put things all together, there is really nothing for me to recommend when it comes to Chris Johnson for the 2014 season.  The average in 2013 was a fluke and he does nothing else remotely well.  He is a bench guy at best and not even an impressive guy under that scenario.  Your best option is to leave him be and let Johnson be someone else's bust.

2014 PROJECTION:  .284 11 HR 67 RBI 61 R 1 SB

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP 100

We have been asked repeatedly to post a cumulative TOP 100 for 2014 fantasy baseball among all positions on the field.  So with that said here is how on expert sees the 100 breaking down this season.

1.  Mike Trout
2.  Miguel Cabrera
3.  Paul Goldschmidt
4.  Andrew McCutchen
5.  Adam Jones
6.  Carlos Gonzalez
7.  Chris Davis
8.  Edwin Encarnacion
9.  Joey Votto
10. Robinson Cano
11. Clayton Kershaw
12. Prince Fielder
13. Adrian Beltre
14. Yasiel Puig
15. Troy Tulowitzki
16. Ryan Braun
17. Evan Longoria
18. Hanley Ramirez
19. Max Scherzer
20. Yu Darvish
21. Jacoby Ellsbury
22. Adam Wainwright
23. Felix Hernandez
24. David Wright
25. Jason Kipnis
26. Jose Fernandez
27. Jose Bautista
28. Adrian Gonzalez
29. Stephen Strasburg
30. Cliff Lee
31. Jean Segura
32. Chris Sale
33. Freddie Freeman
34. David Price
35. Madison Bumgarner
36. Carlos Gomez
37. Justin Verlander
38. Giancarlo Stanton
39. Hunter Pence
40. Matt Kemp
41. Jose Reyes
42. Yoenis Cespedes
43. Buster Posey
44. Alex Rios
45. Starling Marte
46. David Ortiz
47. Bryce Harper
48. Craig Kimbrel
49. Shin-Soo Choo
50. Jason Heyward
51. Ryan Zimmerman
52. Desmond Jennings
53. Justin Upton
54. Eric Hosmer
55. Albert Pujols
56. Dustin Pedroia
57. Cole Hamels
58. Matt Carpenter
59. Matt Holliday
60. Wilin Rosario
61. Jayson Werth
62. Manny Machado
63. Zack Greinke
64. Ian Kinsler
65. Josh Donaldson
66. Jay Bruce
67. Allen Craig
68. James Shields
69. Brian McCann
70. Joe Mauer
71. Curtis Granderson
72. Aroldis Chapman
73. Carlos Santana
74. Elvis Andrus
75. Matt Cain
76. Wil Myers
77. Billy Butler
78. Gerrit Cole
79. Michael Wacha
80. Shelby Miller
81. Carlos Beltran
82. Homer Bailey
83. Ian Desmond
84. Greg Holland
85. Hisashi Iwakuma
86. Trevor Rosenthal
87. Gio Gonzalez
88. Anthony Rizzo
89. Koji Uehara
90. Jose Altuve
91. Josh Hamilton
92. Mark Trumbo
93. Billy Hamilton
94. Mike Minor
95. Brandon Phillips
96. Aramis Ramirez
97. Alex Gordon
98. Jordan Zimmerman
99. Austin Jackson
100. Yadier Molina

As always let us hear your thoughts.  Post below.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: IS IT SAFE TO TRUST ERIC HOSMER AGAIN???

                                                                  Eric Hosmer

Few players in all of fantasy baseball the last three seasons have seen their stocks fluctuate as wildly from extreme highs to extreme lows as Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.  Widely considered one of the very best hitting prospects in the game soon after being drafted third overall in the 2008 class, Hosmer rapidly made his way through the team's farm system to the point where he made his debut at the very young age of 22.  It was during that 2011 season where Hosmer put the hype meter into overdrive after hitting .293 with 19 home runs and 11 stolen bases in doing his best Joey Votto impression.  Hosmer seemed liked a natural and since his numbers were already worthy of being a top ten fantasy baseball first baseman as such a crazy young age, the sky was literally the limit.  The next spring saw Hosmer as quite possibly the most sought after sleeper in the game and he would be drafted as high as the fifth round as evidence of this. Expectations went trough the roof as visions of a 30 home runs/20 stolen bases/.300 hitting monster were dancing in his prospective owners' heads.  However like many young players before him, Hosmer crashed and burned to the tune of an ugly .232 average with only 14 home runs in 535 at-bats.  The 16 stolen bases were nice but the overall damage was stark as Hosmer went down as a colossal draft bust.  Just like that Hosmer's once bright future was left in shambles as the fantasy baseball community went to town criticizing the kid and swearing off his name forever.  Despite the fact he was only 23. 

In looking at that crucial and ugly 2012 season, there were a few things to keep in mind.  I noted that season that as disappointing as Hosmer's stats were, the fact he was only 23 was a big deal to keep in mind since he was basically a baby at the major league level.  Opposing pitcher's adjusted to what Hosmer did in 2011 and the kid was struggling to adapt in his own right which is the trend with most young hitters.  A major league hitter usually reaches their prime at around the age of 27 and so Hosmer still had four seasons to go before reaching that point.  However the hype was so great that the reaction was very ugly from the fantasy baseball realm. 

In further diagnosing what went wrong that season, it was clear to see why Hosmer had trouble.  For one, his ground ball rate shot was up from his 2011 debut which is obviously not what you want to see if you expect home runs.  The more balls hit on the ground means the fewer balls that can travel in the air and out of ballparks.  In addition, Hosmer saw a spike in his K rate as he worked on the fly to figure out his issues.  As long as Hosmer kept hitting the ball on the ground, his power upside was limited.  However the speed was still terrific for a first baseman with the 16 steals and there was still pedigree left to his name. 

Thus it was shaping up as a crucial year for Hosmer and his development in 2013 as he needed to do his best to cut into the strikeouts and start elevating more baseballs.  After some more struggles out of the gate as he hit only 1 home run total in April and May, Hosmer seemed to click into something with his batting approach.  A 6 home run June was accompanied by a .303 average and from that point on through the rest of the season, Hosmer was money.  Here is what his production looked like the last three months of his 2013 campaign.

July:  4 HR .324
August:  4 HR .323
September:  2 HR .324

One glance at those numbers are surely going to get the hype meter back into overdrive when it comes to Hosmer this season.  For the season Hosmer would finish with a .302 average with 17 home runs and 79 RBI in addition to 86 runs and 11 steals.  It is obvious there was some major discovery in Hosmer's swing that had him hitting like a batting champ the last three months of last season and that sets the stage for what could be a huge breakout 2014 campaign.  Remember the sky was always the limit for Hosmer and he would be just the latest in a growing class of post-hype sleepers made good such as Homer Bailey, Adam Jones, Alex Gordon, and Matt Wieters.  While Hosmer is likely never going to hit 30 home runs unless he continues to make inroads with his fly ball rate, he absolutely could approach 25 with around 90 RBI and 90 runs scored.  In addition Hosmer is almost a lock for a .300 average and likely more if he can stay on the tear he was in the second half of last season.  Finally Hosmer has speed that only Paul Goldschmidt can match at first base and 15 steals is surely in the realm of possibility from what we have seen.  When you put all the numbers together, the picture actually starts to look a bit like what we saw out of Paul Goldschmidt in 2012. 

All in all, I am ready to go back into the well on Eric Hosmer this season and so should you.  I have shouted out to anyone who would listen about the great values post-hype sleepers habitually are and Hosmer absolutely qualifies under such a heading.  The guy can flat out hit and his ability to contribute across the board is possibly significant.  Be aggressive there.

2014 PROJECTION:  .308 23 HR 88 RBI 96 R 16 SB


2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: PETER BOURJOS OUTFIELDER ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

                                                              Peter Bourjos

Yes this guy again.  No doubt that is probably the collective response to the title of this article as outfielder Peter Bourjos has shown up on sleepers lists for the last four years now but during that time has more often than not been a complete letdown.  Blessed with blazing speed that screams out "stolen base asset" and underrated pop, Bourjos ultimately flamed out in Los Angeles with the Angels due to injuries stumping his growth.  This offseason saw the Angels throw in the towel on Bourjos by sending him to the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade, with the latter looking to shore up their outfield defense.  Defense of course is not a fantasy baseball category but Bourjos retains some sleeper value at least for one more season due to his new locale and for the fact he is still only 27.  So with that said let's dig in a bit more and find out what Bourjos could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season. 

In looking back at Bourjos' career, one has to look at his 2011 season for an idea of what he could supply numbers-wise with good health.  During that year, Bourjos hit .271 with 12 home runs and 22 stolen bases in only 502 at-bats.  At the age of only 24 no less.  So the tools are certainly there for Bourjos and the opportunity in St. Louis is key since he was in and out of the lineup often with the Angels and pushed up and down the order which is tough on any hitter.  Also perhaps no other organization in baseball regarding both their hitters and pitchers has had more players turn around their careers in their locale than in St. Louis. 

As far as Bourjos and his ability is concerned, there is a nice combination of speed and pop here on a Carlos Gomez-light level.  Bourjos has 15 home run pop and the speed to steal 25 bases if all breaks right.  It is still too early with regards to knowing where Bourjos will hit in the order but if his health cooperates, that possible 15/25 season can be accompanied by around 70 runs scored and around 60 RBI with a .260-ish batting average.  The average is shaky no doubt which can be blamed on a high K rate and some issues against righties but the power/speed ability is what would lead you to make a speculative pick here late in your draft.

As I said earlier we have been down this road multiple times with Bourjos in the past.  However there will be next to no competition for his services this season which means you can use one of your last picks to see if he can finally make good on his ability. 

2014 PROJECTION:  .268 14 HR 59 RBI 74 R 16 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS WON'T SIGN SS STEPHEN DREW

                                                            

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson went on record Tuesday saying the team is not going to sign free agent SS Stephen Drew despite the depressed market the player is currently seeing.  The Mets are planning on Ruben Tejada to be their everyday shortstop once again this season, while the New York Yankees, Oakland A's, and Boston Red Sox are still in contact with his agent Scott Boras.

Analysis:  Drew has little fantasy baseball as he doesn't much of anything great and is more known for his defense.  Just like with Michael Bourn last season, it is looking like Drew will be that last free agent who signs late. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JOE MAUER CATCHER MINNESOTA TWINS

                                                             Joe Mauer

The catching fraternity in fantasy baseball is undergoing a major renovation with a lot of it not good for the overall strength of this group.  Specifically speaking, both Mike Napoli and Victor Martinez will no longer carry eligibility at the catcher spot which is a big negative to say the least.  Both Napoli and Martinez were considered top five catching options in fantasy baseball terms but their move to full time first baseman or DH's removed the C from next to his name.  After the 2014 season Joe Mauer will also join that group as the Minnesota Twins have now made the firm decision to move their best hitter to first base full time in order to save wear and tear on his aging body.  So with Mauer now getting out from behind the plate and the nicks and fatigue that comes with it, let's take a look at what the two-time batting champion could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.

The last three seasons I have qualified Mauer as a draft bust due to the fact his name value far exceeded the actual production he put forth on the field since his outlier for the ages 2009 season when he clubbed 28 home runs with an insane .365 average.  Almost immediately Mauer turned back into the light on pop hitter he always had been as he hit only 10 home runs the next season in 2010 and than proceeded to smack only 3, 10, and 11 from 2011 through 2013 which continued to speak to his mediocrity there.  The story will remain the same for Mauer in 2014 as this is clearly who he is as he turns 31 in April which is well past his ceiling years.  However the fact Mauer will be getting out from behind the plate should give a slight boost to his overall numbers so Mauer has a chance to be closer to 15 home runs than 10.  Good but not great. 

In moving past the home runs, Mauer has more than proven himself to be one of the best pure hitters in baseball as his two batting titles show and he carries an extremely good .323 career average which speaks to his major strength there.  The last two seasons Mauer has hit .319 and .324 which is amazing for any hitter, especially for a catcher and that stat is no doubt his best asset in fantasy baseball.  With all those hits also comes very good counting stats in both runs and RBI.  Mauer should be in line for 80 runs and 80 RBI is he can stay on the field which getting away catching will improve his chances of doing such.  Finally, you can forget about anything in the way of steals at his age.  While Mauer was a guy who could steal between 7-10 bags in the past, those days are finished as injuries and age refuse to allow them back into the equation of his game. 

When you put everything together, Joe Mauer remains a top 5 or 6 fantasy baseball catcher.  The fact he plays every day is a big plus in addition to the swell batting average which will help your overall team mark in a big way.  However Mauer is getting hurt more and more lately as he ages and his power has very little going for it.  The draft price has finally come down to levels where I no longer have to label him a bust but Mauer still carries risk given the injury threat.

2014 PROJECTION:  .315 11 HR 75 RBI 71 R 4 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

1.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage under the pic of the guides.  This is quickest method of delivery.


2.  Purchase through our publisher which can be found here: 
https://www.createspace.com/4473542

3.  Purchase through Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1492925365/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1384013357&sr=8-4&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball

or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: WILIN ROSARIO/YADIER MOLINA

It is time once again to check in on another 2014 fantasy baseball draft debate and today we go into the catching fraternity to see who should be picked right behind consensus number 1 backstop Buster Posey in the hierarchy of those who don the tools of ignorance.  Two prime contenders for such a title are the Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario and the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina.  As always we will compare the two in all five of the relevant hitting ROTO categories in order to see who comes out on top.

RUNS:  This is an absolute dead heat as both Rosario and Molina have finished in the mid-60's when it comes to runs scored during the last two seasons.  Nothing will change going forward in their projections with that stat.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

HOME RUNS:  Molina hit 22 home runs in 2012 but that was the only time he reached the hallowed 20 mark for a catcher and overall that total was an outlier based on his career stats which showed he never came close to such a tally before.  Rosario meanwhile has hit 21 and 28 home runs the last two seasons which is a benchmark number for him that Molina just doesn't possess.  Also with Rosario being only 25, there is still some small window left for him to add to that home run total.  Plus playing your home games in Coors Field instantly puts one as the favorite there.
ADVANTAGE:  Wilin Rosario

AVERAGE:  Molina was in the batting title race for much of last season as he ultimately finished with a splendid .319 mark.  Molina has hit at least .305 in each of the last three seasons and he is one of the toughest hitters to strike out in the game.  Meanwhile Rosario is prone to striking out despite putting up some decent average the last two seasons in the form of a .272 and .292 mark.  Molina is the much better pure hitter and is a lock for .300 while Rosario will not likely come close to that average area code due to the K's.
ADVANTAGE:  Yadier Molina

RBI:  Last season Molina drove in 80 runs while Rosario came in at 79.  It doesn't get any closer than that unless they were even.  Both men will be thrust in the middle of the batting order again which means more RBI opportunities are on the way.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

STOLEN BASES:  Both guys have a bit of speed with Molina having stolen as many as 12 bases in a season while Rosario has swiped four bags both in his 2012 and 2013 campaigns.  Molina is now turning 32 though and only took 3 last season which means age could be a factor now.  Nothing too concrete to declare a winner.
ADVANTAGE:  EVEN

All right so both men take one category with the other three coming in even.  When that happens it is time to look at INTANGIBLES to break the tie.

INTANGIBLES:  As I noted earlier, Rosario is much younger at 25 to Molina's 32.  He has upside to his game and has hit as many as 28 home runs in a season which Molina has not even come close to reaching.  Also catchers tend to drop off quick once they turn 30 and while Molina is still hitting at a very high level, it would shock no one if he tailed off.  He also got nicked up a bit last season which is another red flag to worry about when it comes to Molina this season.  Rosario is the guy.
ADVANTAGE:  Wilin Rosario

WINNER:  Wilin Rosario

Rosario is my number 2 fantasy baseball catcher behind Posey and for good reason.  He could lead the position in home runs this season and also supply 80 RBI and a solid average.  That is great production from a catcher and his youth makes him the one to pick over Molina this season in your draft.

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER BRANDON BEACHY SP ATLANTA BRAVES

                                                             Brandon Beachy

For those who have been with me for years, you will remember how I shouted to the rafters heading into the 2012 fantasy baseball season the terrific idea of reaching for emerging Atlanta Braves SP Brandon Beachy.  I thought the sky was the limit for Beachy who had some of the best stuff I had seen in awhile from a young pitcher.  Blessed with tremendous movement on his pitches to go with a fastball that could touch 95, Beachy was destined for big things.  That is exactly what we saw early on that 2012 season as Beachy was arguably the best pitcher in the game that April and for the early part of the year overall.  In his first 81 innings that season, Beachy had a miniscule 2.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 68 K's.  However Beachy would not throw any more innings that season as he elbow soon began barking a very bad sound.  The result was Tommy John surgery which would keep Beachy out until the end of the following July.  As with almost all pitchers coming off Tommy John, Beachy had to fight through rust and being able to trust his stuff again.  After getting bombed in his one July start, Beachy proceeded to reel off a 2.73 ERA and 0.84 WHIP August in four additional starts before the team shut him down so as not to overwork him too much and get him ready for 2014.  So with 2014 fast approaching, Beachy has pronounced himself 100 percent healthy and ready to turn back into an ace in training. 

Getting back to who Brandon Beachy the pitcher is, before the surgery his ability to miss bats and generate outs should be back in full force now that he has put almost two full seasons since the surgery in the rearview mirror.  We all saw how terrific Adam Wainwright was in his Cy Young worthy season in 2013 when he himself had two full years beyond Tommy John surgery to get an idea of how potent Beachy could be.  Keep in mind with regards to strikeouts that Beachy punched out a crazy 169 batters in only 141.2 innings in 2011 before he tailed that number back a bit in 2012 by pitching more to contact.  In addition Beachy's hit rate has consistently been top notch since coming into the majors which will drastically push down the ERA and WHIP to potentially very low levels.  The walk rate is not exceptional but that is just because of the rapid movement on his pitches. 
The only issue to worry about other than health is Beachy's ability to stay solid the whole season as he could be screaming or oxygen when August gets underway. 

All in all, Brandon Beachy is a tremendous sleeper pitcher to target in drafts due to the massive upside and top notch stuff he has in the arsenal.  Beachy has ace-like ability which he showed before he underwent the Tommy John surgery.  I was a fan before and am a fan again. 

2014 PROJECTION:  12-7 3.34 ERA 1.14 WHIP 167 K

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANAYZER: SALVADOR PEREZ CATCHER KANSAS CITY ROYALS

                                                             Salvador Pérez

When it came to last season's prime fantasy baseball draft sleepers as posted by yours truly, one name that kept coming up was Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.  The rare catcher who can hit .300 who was coming off a 2012 campaign where he finished as hot as any hitter in the game on the way to 11 home runs in only 289 at-bats, Perez was clearly on the upswing at a shallow position which made me push him on your at a very high level.  However Perez started out making me look bad last season as he went into the All Star Break hitting .284 with a grand total of only 4 home runs.  Needless to say more than a few e-mails came in reminding me of how I missed the boat on that prediction.  Fantasy baseball is a marathon and not a sprint though and Perez came through in the end by going on another second half tear to the tune of a .303 average with 9 home runs.  In the end Perez' final 2013 numbers looked like this:

.292 13 HR 79 RBI 48 R 0 SB

So for the second season in a row, Perez finished as a top ten fantasy baseball catcher with little to no fanfare.  The .292 average followed up 2012's .301 mark which speaks to how well Perez handles the strike zone and how he is that rare catcher who can help you in that category.  Owners of guys like Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Matt Wieters can all tell you how frustrating the bad average a catcher brings can be.  Perez instead will give you a boost there even though he doesn't walk too much.  In addition, Perez has a decent but not great home runs swing that still has some untapped potential since he is only turning 24 this season . That means Perez has at least three more years to go before he reaches his prime and so an uptick in home runs is very possible and even likely.  While predicting 20 is a bit of a reach at this point, 15-18 is in the ballpark to go with possibly as many as 80 RBI.  While Perez was buried a bit too low in the lineup last season (mostly between 6-8), the team has said publicly they are ready to move him up and give him more responsibility on that front. 

As far as the rest of the numbers are concerned, Perez won't score much more than 50 runs unless he does move up in the order.  Also forget about speed as Perez has not stolen a base during the last two seasons.  The catching fraternity is not known for their speed however so nothing to worry about there.

All in all, Salvador Perez is on a nice upward plane in his development and he should be owned as a rock solid top ten fantasy baseball catcher.  The draft price will come cheap as the sleeper rub has worn off but Perez can easily supply you a .300 average with around 15 home runs and 75 RBI which is very nice numbers from a catcher.  I am buying.

2014 PROJECTION:  .294 16 HR 75 RBI 54 R 1 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

NEW POLL ADDED

I put up a new poll regarding how you would handle saves in your draft.  Go to the homepage and vote.  Will check the results after a week.

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: LEONYS MARTIN OUTFIELDER TEXAS RANGERS

                                                                Leonys Martín

With the era of pitching dominance well under way, more and more MLB teams are employing the use of smallball to try and scratch out runs in this much more offensively curtailed era.  Thus the increase of stolen bases over the last few seasons which also has coincided with the top in home runs.  With steals being in massive abundance for 2014, there is little sense in using an early pick on a specialist such as Michael Bourn.  Instead if you want to make a splash in steals art t a nice affordable price, look no further than Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin.  Martin of course burst onto the scene last season when he stole 36 bases in only 457 at-bats while also adding a bonus 8 home runs.  So with that intriguing campaign in the books, let's see what Martin could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season. 

In looking at the total numbers Martin put up in 2013, we already mentioned the 36 steals and 8 home runs.  However Martin also batted .260 with 66 runs and 49 RBI.  At this point there is some debate as to where Martin could bat in the Rangers' lineup this season.  If Elvis Andrus stays in the number 2 spot, Martin could very well bat leadoff which would mean 40 steals is a lock and 50 is entirely possible.  Also Martin would be able to easily hit the 80 runs mark as well with likely a few more thrown in with huge boppers Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, and Nelson Cruz hitting behind him.  However even if Martin hits towards the bottom of the order, he should be able to threaten 40 steals due to his very aggressive approach to that part of the game.  The runs however would take a firm hit. 

Looking at the rest of Martin's game, the .260 average leaves a lot to be desired and some big time struggles against lefties will not help.  Also like most speed guys, forget about seeing more than 50 or so RBI.  However Martin is not just a pure speed guy like a Juan Pierre.  The fact he added 8 home runs last season shows he can help just a bit there which is a nice bonus.

All in all, Leonys Martin looks like a nice place for your to look for your stolen bases this season.  Martin offers a bit of pop and upside to make him somewhat more interesting but be sure you are not buying him for that part of his game. 

2014 PROJECTION:  .272 7 HR 59 RBI 81 R 44 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

1.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage under the pic of the guides.  This is quickest method of delivery.


2.  Purchase through our publisher which can be found here: 
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3.  Purchase through Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1492925365/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1384013357&sr=8-4&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball

or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: BRANDON PHILLIPS 2B CINCINNATI REDS

                                                             Brandon Phillips 

Once again it is time to identify a prime 2014 fantasy baseball draft bust as we continue to steer you clear of some dangerous players this season.  One such case is aging Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips who by the numbers is coming off a terrific 2013 campaign where he drove in a career-high 103 runs with 18 homers at a power-starved spot.  However despite the glowing numbers, there are more than a few reasons to be concerned about making an investment here for this season.  Let's take a look at why.  First let's post Phillips' complete 2013 so that we can set up the direction the rest of this article will take. 

.261 18 HR 108 RBI 80 R 5 SB

Clearly there are some things to like here such as the extreme RBI total for a second baseman and the 18 home runs.  Phillips was trusted to bat cleanup for much of 2013 which is a tall responsibility that he surely came through with.  However I am here to tell you there is almost ZERO chance Phillips matches that number this season and even reaching 90 is looking like a tall order.  When looking under the hood, Phillips was NUMBER 1 in all of baseball in 2013 when it came to the amount of runners on base when he came to bat.  Having both on-base monsters Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto hitting ahead of him was the prime reason for this and at least in Choo's case, he is no longer on the team after signing a free agent deal with the Texas Rangers.  Less men on base mean fewer RBI opportunities and Phillips is likely to see a drastic drop in his overall number there with Choo out of town and his runners in scoring position number going back to a more level spot.  The 18 home runs are very repeatable though as has unbelievably finished at that exact number the last FOUR seasons.  However if the Reds have Phillips batting cleanup again as expected, you can forget his past as a 90-plus runs guy and the 80 he had last season would be more likely in his range. 

Now let's get to the batting average and stolen bases.  As far as the average is concerned, Phillips is only a career .271 hitter.  He hits lefties better than righties which is not the ratio you want any of your hitters to have since there are obviously so many more righthanded pitchers in the game.  However in Phillips' defense, he has hit at least .276 the four seasons prior to 2013 so he is likely to see a slight boost up from last year's .261 number.  However anything under .280 is just a mediocre average so Phillips won't be a help there. 

Finally we get to the stolen bases or utter lack thereof of them given the fact Phillips is now turning 33.  The last time Phillips stole 20 or more bases was back in 2009 and despite being in the mid-teens the last three years, the drop to only 5 last season was a big red flag.  Obviously players begin to lose their speed after turning 30 and by the looks of things last season, Phillips is reaching that point.  If Phillips does reach double-figures again, consider it a nice surprising bonus.  Project him in the mid-single digits and go from there.

When you put it all together, Brandon Phillips has some decent negatives going for him in steals and average while also accepting how his RBI total will slip as well.  That is three potentially problem categories out of 5 which makes Phillips look like a declining stock you should not invest it.  Yes second base is shallow but projecting Phillips based on what he did last season is foolhardy and will likely lead to massive disappointment going forward into the 2014 campaign.

2014 PROJECTION:  .275 19 HR 91 RBI 82 R 7 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

1.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage under the pic of the guides.  This is quickest method of delivery.


2.  Purchase through our publisher which can be found here: 
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3.  Purchase through Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1492925365/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1384013357&sr=8-4&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball

or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS AND MATT GARZA FINALIZE FOUR-YEAR DEAL

                                                           

The Milwaukee Brewers and SP Matt Garza finally finalized their four-year commitment for $52 million on Sunday.  The deal was agreed upon late last week but Garza first needed to pass his physical which apparently showed no issues.

Analysis:  Good deal for both sides as Garza gets to stay in the easier National League where he upped his K rate to nearly a batter per inning.  He remains a solid SP 4 with the upside for a 3 if he can stay healthy which is a big IF. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MARTIN PRADO 2B, 3B, OUTFIELDER ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

                                                              Martín Prado

Sometimes a player in better in real life than in fantasy baseball and one such case in my opinion is Arizona Diamondbacks 2B/3B/outfielder Martin Prado.  Blessed with tremendous yearly versatility that allows Prado to play all over the field, his hitting is not too shabby either as evidenced by his career .293 batting average.  However when you break down all the numbers, perhaps the most valuable aspect of Prado is the fact he is eligible at three positions in 2014 fantasy baseball, with two being shallow in both second and third base.  With that said let's dig in a bit deeper and see what Prado could provide his prospective fantasy baseball owners this week.  As always before we go any further let's take a look at what Prado did in 2013 when it came to his numbers.

.282 14 HR 82 RBI 70 R 3 SB

As I noted earlier, Prado is a terrific pure hitter who is a lock to be in the .285-.310 range which of course is a very nice place to be in fantasy baseball terms.  However the rest of the overall package leaves you wanting as Prado just doesn't do anything else great.  Forget about steals as Prado has only once hit double-digits in stolen bases with an outlier 17 in 2012.  Consider that in his other five seasons, the most steals Prado has had were a grand total of five which is where he should be graded going forward especially as he continues to age.  Than there is the power which again Prado is not great at.  14 home runs plays well at second base no doubt but not at third base and not in the outfield.  Prado has hit between 11 and 15 home runs the last five seasons so we know he will end up in that neighborhood once again this season.  And the 82 RBI Prado yielded in 2013 was also clearly in outlier territory as his previous career-high was only 70 in 2012.  Knock that 82 to around 2012's 70 and that is where Prado is likely to be hanging around.  Finally as far as the runs were concerned, Prado has scored as many as 100 in a season and has fluctuated wildly in the past so anywhere from 70-100 is the target area. 

When you put it all together, Martin Prado works as a nice second base option but is much less as a third base or outfield stock.  There is something to be said for Prado's durability and consistency but the fact he doesn't light up any one category leaves you wishing he would provide more.  That is the kind of bat I really don't want on my roster.  Shoot higher than this.

2014 PROJECTION:  .293 15 HR 73 RBI 86 R 4 SB


2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JOSH DONALDSON 3B OAKLAND A'S

                                                               Josh Donaldson

I have gotten more than a few e-mails lately regarding Oakland A's third baseman Josh Donaldson who seemed to come out of nowhere in 2013 and instantly transform himself into a top 7 every week starter at the hot corner.  Invariably the same questions always gets asked and that is:  is Josh Donaldson a one-year wonder or is he legit?  Might as well answer all of those e-mails in one fell swoop so let's get at it.

Looking back at Donaldson's awesome 2013 season, the numbers certainly screamed out top level fantasy baseball third baseman.  Donaldson batted .301 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI while also scoring 89 runs and swiping 5 bases.  All those numbers earned Donaldson a sixth place finish in the American League MVP voting which even the man's mom wouldn't have foreseen when the season got underway.  How did Donaldson come out of nowhere like that and literally turn into an overnight sensation?  Well in actuality Donaldson didn't come out of nowhere overnight and instead quietly began making a name for himself during the second half of 2012 when nobody was watching. 

In taking a trip down memory lane, Donaldson hit .290 during the last three months of the 2012 season and was a scorching hot .335 at Triple-A.  When you combine Donaldson's MLB and Triple-A numbers in 2012, the result was 22 home runs and 9 stolen bases.  Thus Donaldson went into 2013 confident which showed as he smacked the baseball right out of the gates and never let up. 

Now as far as tackling the numbers from last season, pretty much everything checks out positively.  Donaldson's walk and K rates were in very solid territory and his 14.2 percent HR/FB rate is also very likely to be repeated.  A .333 BABIP is a bit high however so knock down Donaldson's average to around .285-.290 and all else looks good.  At 28-yars-old you can forget about any surge in any one category since Donaldson is now flat into his prime but the 24 HR/93 RBI/89 R/5 SB numbers from last season are all in play to be repeated.  That makes Donaldson a clear top 7 fantasy baseball third baseman behind Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Adrian Beltre, and Manny Machado in my opinion.  The guy is absolutely legit and other than a slight drop in batting average, will be just as solid a player as he was last season.

2014 PROJECTION:  .288 25 HR 95 RBI 91 R 5 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

1.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage under the pic of the guides.  This is quickest method of delivery.


2.  Purchase through our publisher which can be found here: 
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3.  Purchase through Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1492925365/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1384013357&sr=8-4&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball

or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

Friday, January 24, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSERS I LIKE/HATE MORE THAN YOU

Just the closers and starting pitchers left when it comes to 2014 fantasy baseball players I like/hate more than you.  Let's see where those who man the ninth inning currently stand.

CLOSERS I LIKE MORE THAN YOU

Bobby Parnell:  Parnell performed very well in his first full season as a closer in 2013 in pitching to a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.  Despite having a 100-mph fastball, Parnell is not a huge strikeout guy but he surely did a terrific job last season.  The fact Parnell is coming back from neck surgery is a worry but both he and the team say he will be ready to go for Opening Day.  Cheap and effective saves.  Sounds great to me.

Grant Balfour:  Two years running now I have boosted for Balfour and both seasons he ended up as one of my closers.  He is likely going to be a nice buy once again as many will steer clear after the while physical exam stuff that got his deal nixed with the Baltimore Orioles.  The Rays didn't care what was found and Balfour will close for the team who plays more close games than anyone in the league. 

Jim Henderson:  Henderson struck out 75 guys in only 60 innings last season which is insanely good to go with a 2.70 ERA.  However his draft price will be cheaper than it should since he only netted 28 saves due to injury and Francisco Rodriguez serving a stint as closer.  I always say to target closers who are cheap and who have average a K/IP.  Here you go.

Jesse Crain:  Signed with Houston late and has inside track to the closer job.  A Henderson clone in that he too puts up crazy K rates and nice ERA's.  A bad team for sure but saves are still going to be there no matter how rough the Astros are.

CLOSERS I HATE MORE THAN YOU

Craig Kimbrel/Aroldis Chapman/Greg Holland/Jonathan Papelbon, Koji Uehara/ Kenley Jansen:  I put all of these guys together because they will all likely be the first closers off the board in drafts.  None of them will be on any of my rosters right after the draft as I refuse to pick a closer in the early rounds or even in the early middle rounds.  Waste of a pick for a stock that will help you in only one category. 

Trevor Rosenthal:  Love the makeup when it comes to this fireballing kid but the hype will be in overdrive and thus he will fall out of my price range.

Be sure to let us know who you like or hate more than me.  Post below.

FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: CARLOS SANTANA CATCHER/1B/3B CLEVELAND INDIANS

                                                                    Carlos Santana           

A big bit of news that may have fallen under the radar last week was the revelation by Cleveland Indians catcher/1B Carlos Santana that he would be moving to third base for the 2014 season.  With the Indians wanting to keep catcher Yan Gomes' bat in the lineup and get Santana and his terrible defense from behind the plate, the plan was out into place with an eye towards Opening Day.  The big news there for potential Santana fantasy baseball owners is the fact that he continues to retain catcher eligibility for at least one more season to go with first base, while also adding the hot corner which will give him unheard of versatility for a guy known for donning the tools of ignorance.  So with all that said let's take a closer look at Santana and what he could provide those same owners this season in fantasy baseball.
Turning 28-years-old in 2014, Santana is into his prime hitting years which means we are likely done talking about any untapped ceiling or the potential for more numbers on the way.  That can be looked at as a bit of a disappointment after all the hype Santana had coming up from the minors as a top hitting catching prospect.  Be that as it may Santana is still a top notch hitting catcher who is a top five option once again in fantasy baseball terms.  The power is the calling card for Santana as he has hit 27, 18, and 20 home runs the last three seasons with RBI totals of 79, 76, and 64 respectively.  Santana has been very consistent on both fronts and he should be right in the realm of 25 home runs and 75 RBI once again this season.  In addition Santana's duties at first base, DH, and now 3B make him one of the rare catching-eligible players who is in the lineup almost every game which does wonders for his counting stats.  That has allowed Santana to post three consecutive seasons of 70-plus runs which he should once again reach in 2014. 

Now let's get to the negatives which really only concern Santana's batting average.  Santana is a career .254 hitter which is obviously not a good number by any means and the main problem is a sky high K rate that shows no signs of getting any better.  Three straight seasons now Santana has struck out over 100 times and hitting .260 is the smart prediction based on that level of strikeout rate.  Heck we will sign for the .268 he hit last season in a second.  It is amazing how different a player looks when they are hitting .239 like Santana did in 2011 or the .268 from last season.  The latter is where we want to aim for and it is entirely possibly if Santana can even make a small improvement in his K rate.

When you add everything together, Carlos Santana once again is a top five catching option whose three position eligibility is very valuable.  This is a proven commodity who will play everyday and keep you from having to look for replacements on the days a catcher typically misses with having to rest.  However with Gomes now a clear part of the present and future, we could be looking at the last season of Santana behind the plate which is a bummer since he carries his most value there.  Overall though if you want to grab a catcher early, Santana is a very safe place to look.

2014 PROJECTION:  .263 26 HR 78 RBI 77 R 4 SB

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: MATT GARZA SP MILWAUKEE BREWERS

                                                               Matt Garza

The starting pitching market finally began to take shape again on Thursday as the Milwaukee Brewers and SP Matt Garza agreed on a four-year deal worth $52 million dollars pending a physical.  For Garza, the move is a positive one when it comes to his fantasy baseball value as he stays in the National League where he showed his best career K rate while with the Chicago Cubs.  The move is also a bit of a risk for the Brewers given the utter lack of health Garza has had at times in his career, with the latest being elbow woes that allowed him to toss only 145.1 innings last season.  With the inks barely dry on the contract though let's take a closer look at what Garza could provide his fantasy baseball owners in 2014. 

As far as those 145.1 innings looked last season, Garza pitched to a nice 3.82 ERA while striking out 136 batters which is a very nice K rate once again.  Since moving from Tampa Bay to the National League with the Cubs before the 2011 season (not including the second half of 2013 when he was dealt to the Texas Rangers), Garza has averaged just a bit less than a K/IP which is a terrific ratio for any pitcher to have and makes him very valuable in innings capped leagues.  In addition Garza has a career ERA of 3.84 which includes never having had his season long number there reach the 4.00 mark which speaks to his consistency.  The decision for Garza to go back to the National League was a decent one for his numbers as his ERA will be closer to 3.50 than the 3.75 he stayed around while in the American League.  In addition Garza's WHIP will likely fall to a very nice 1.15 area code in the NL after being perennially in the 1.25 realm when with the Rays.  Again very nice ratios indeed there. 

Now for the negatives.  Garza has been a mess health-wise the last three seasons and his elbow has barked on more than one occasions which is always very scary.  The chance for re-injury is very high and makes investing in Garza a bit harrowing.  However Garza never is an expensive stock and with him coming off a nondescript 2013 season that ended poorly in Texas, his draft price will never be lower.  You could likely get Garza as cheap as an SP 5 this season where at that point he would be a very good buy.  The problem is never the numbers with Garza.  Instead it is his utter lack of health that has drove us all nuts during his recent seasons.  I for one am very interested in drafting Garza as an SP 5 and those who play in innings capped leagues like I do should be intrigued as well.  As long as you grade him out properly as an SP 5 pitcher, you should be able to turn a nice profit on the guy for this season.

2014 PROJECTION:  11-7 3.48 ERA 1.15 WHIP 165 K

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

1.  Use the BUY NOW tab at the top of the homepage under the pic of the guides.  This is quickest method of delivery.


2.  Purchase through our publisher which can be found here: 
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3.  Purchase through Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1492925365/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1384013357&sr=8-4&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball

or the post-free agency edition here:  http://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1494373556/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1389191600&sr=8-5&keywords=2014+fantasy+baseball   

FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE BREAKING NEWS: RAYS TO SIGN CLOSER GRANT BALFOUR

                                                              

The Tampa Bar Rays will sign free agent closer Grant Balfour to a contract according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.  This comes a month after Balfour had his contract with the Baltimore Orioles nixed due to issues that showed up in his physical.  With Balfour coming back to town, he will push Heath Bell into a setup gig.

Analysis:  Nice landing spot for Balfour who has been a terrific and underrated closer the last two seasons.  This is the kind of closer yours truly will invest in as Balfour always comes cheaper than his numbers show and the issue with his physical will score some more people away as well.  Draft him with confidence. 

FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS SIGN SP MATT GARZA TO FOUR-YEAR DEAL WORTH $52 MILLION

                                                             

After Masahiro Tanaka finally signed, the fallout for the rest of the free agents starting pitcher's began to take shape as the Milwaukee Brewers signed SP Matt Garza to a four-year deal worth $52 million.  The contract is pending a physical which is no slam dunk with Garza's history of elbow woes.

Analysis:  Garza is a very solid pitcher who is even a bit underrated but his arm and elbow issues greatly cloud his fantasy baseball outlook.  Capable of striking out a batter per inning to go along with a 3.50 ERA, Garza is a smart pick as your SP 5 this season with some upside. 

2014 YAHOO FANTASY BASEBALL BEGINS TUE. FEB. 4

2024 Yahoo Fantasy Baseball this season begins Tuesday Feb. 4th.  I get asked this a ton every year so I wanted to make sure I got it out of the way quickly.  There you go. 



2014 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: CAN MARK TEIXEIRA TURN BACK THE CLOCK IN?

                                                               Mark Teixeira

One of the more interesting and mysterious fantasy baseball cases going into the 2014 season is that of forgotten New York Yankees slugging 1B Mark Teixeira.  A say forgotten because Teixeira was certainly out of sight and out of mind in 2013 after playing in only 15 games the entire season due to a wrist injury in the form of a partially torn tendon sheath that eventually needed surgery.  That marked the low point of what was becoming a trend of injury-marred seasons that included underperformances at the dish.  Once finding himself as a late first round draft pick due to a monster bat that 39 home runs with 122 RBI while hitting .292 back in his first season in New York in 2009, Teixeira is now being left out of the top 12 when it comes to fantasy baseball first baseman for this season.  That means UTIL/CI status or even bench duty for a guy who is still 34 years old and who still hit another 39 home runs as recently as 2011.  So what really is going on here?  Is Teixeira in fact done as a prime time fantasy baseball slugger or can he be a sneaky good bounce back candidate?  Let's find out.

First's lets take a look at some trends starting with Teixeira's games played the last five seasons which reads 156, 158, 156, 123, and 15.  Teixeira accumulated 609, 601, and 589 at-bats from 2009 through 2011 which is about as good as you can get when it comes to durability.  Even before that stretch, Teixeira was almost never injured during his stays with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels, and Texas Rangers and was considered to be a very dependable guy in the lineup always.  However like with all players who sail past the age of 30, the aches and pains begin to pile up and injury eventually takes over which we saw in 2012 when Teixeira played in only 123 games as he dealt with o DL stints.  You name it and it hurt Teixeira that season and that 2013 brought the wrist injury during spring training and the grand total of only 15 games played.  First baseman like Teixeira have bigger bodies that break down more quickly than others so this is a very valid concern and places a red flag on his stock on that aspect of his game alone.

Now let's get to the batting average which reads like this the last four seasons not counting 2013 when he played in only 15 games:  .292, .256, 248, .251.  When Teixeira was first coming up and through his years in Texas, LA, and Atl., he was a .300 hitter with the 40 home runs pop which turned him into a huge superstar hitter.  However soon after coming to Yankee Stadium and their luring short rightfield porch, Teixeira started getting into the awful pull habit that now permeates his game and is taking a large chunk out of his average.  Teixeira has admitted as much recently and he also tellingly said last season that he is not worried about average anymore since the Yankees really want him to slug home runs.  This is certainly not what you want to hear as a prospective owner as I have said many times over how a bad batting average helps offset some of the power given.  Case in point this guy.  Now in looking deeper under the hood, Teixeira is taking fewer walks while his contact rate has dropped some.  Not good trends again which could get worse as he continues to age.

Now as far as the rest of the package is concerned, Teixeira still possesses a very powerful bat that could almost guarantee you 25 home runs and 80 RBI which is nothing to sneeze at in this day and age of the pitcher.  The short rightfield porch is tailor made for Teixeira and if he can somewhat stay on the field for 450 at-bats, will provide CI or UTIL value for sure.  However this is far from what we saw earlier in his career and when you combine the average woes and brittle body, makes Teixeira no longer and every day starter at the very precious first base spot.

2014 PROJECTION:  .257 25 HR 86 RBI 78 R 1 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NEED ALL YOUR HELP THIS TIME AROUND

All right gang very rarely do I ask for a favor but after six years of dutifully helping you all win your fantasy leagues, I am asking for a solid for the first time.  Outside of fantasy sports (yes I do actually dabble in some other things), I am an avid outdoorsman.  That led me to eventually developing a product line of hunting/fishing recorder logbooks.  How it works is every time you go out for a hunt or a fishing expedition, you would use the corresponding recorder logbook to record information from the day such as date, number of game seen, weather, wind direction, game harvested, etc.  Needless to say there was some immediate interest on a number of fronts and I presented them to both Duck Commander and Bass Pro Shop of which I have yet to get a decision on whether they will carry them.  I created a facebook page for the company (www.outdoormikes.com) and I need ALL of you to LIKE it for me which can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/outdoormikes Please do me a solid there and LIKE it.  It would be much appreciated.  And pick one up at the website if you wish.  Thanks again. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: EARLY FORECAST CALLING FOR SNOWSTORM FOR SUPER BOWL

The NFL's worst nightmare may be about to come true as early reports indicate a snowstorm for Super Bowl Sunday in 10 days.  CBS New York's Lonnie Quinn went on radio Wednesday saying that models are showing the storm to fall on or slightly before the Super Bowl.  The NFL has toyed with the idea of moving the Super Bowl to Saturday or Friday ahead of a storm but no plans are currently in place to do so yet.

Analysis:  Wow.  The Farmer's Almanac called it, predicting a storm for Super Bowl weekend and here we go.  This one has to be watched closely and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might have his hand forced.   Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: WHAT DO WE DO WITH MASAHIRO TANAKA IN DRAFTS?

Obviously the big news of the day is the blockbuster 7-year deal worth $155 million the New York Yankees gave Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka to serve as a front of the rotation weapon.  The problem for the fantasy baseball community however is how should he be graded when it comes to drafts?  Complicated problem no doubt due to the mixed history of Japanese pitchers coming over to the States and heaven's knows the Yankees have been front and center with bad experiences with Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu while also hitting big with Hiroki Kuroda who didn't sign with them in the first place like the other two guys did.  So with all that said is Tanaka more Yu Darvish or Igawa?  Or somewhere in between? 

We profiled Tanaka a few weeks ago and really the scouting reports remains the same.  For those who missed the previous article, Tanaka features two above-average pitchers in his fastball and curve while also showcasing as good as it gets control.  That will put Tanaka in line to yield a very attractive WHIP since he won't be beating himself with walks and has tough stuff overall to make solid contact on.  As far as his recent results were concerned, Tanaka put up three straights campaigns with an ERA under 2.00 while with the Rakuten Eagles and that is very impressive no matter who it is against.  Also try a 1.9 KBB/9 which shows you how good his control is.  As far as the strikeouts are concerned, Tanaka is no Yu Darvish who can rear back and pick up K's at will.  While Darvish is a strikeout monster, Tanaka is more likely to be in the 180 range with the possibility of getting close to 200 as a rookie due to the unfamiliarity of his stuff.  When you put it all together, Tanaka looks like a classic SP 2 in fantasy baseball terms.  As with all prized foreign imports, the price tends to get a bit wacky, especially when he signs with the Yankees.  The AL East is a challenge for all pitchers and like any starter Tanaka would have a better ERA and WHIP in the National League without debate.  However since his control is good, Tanaka will not be as susceptible to blowups like other AL East starters. 

When it comes to the draft, settle on Tanaka being a SP 2 and react accordingly.  Don't jump in and reach as there still remains mystery of how his body will respond to the grueling major league schedule and long season.  However Tanaka is the real deal in our opinion and should be highly valued in the draft to a point.  Stay disciplined and you won't get hurt. 

2014 PROJECTION:  15-7 3.29 ERA 1.10 WHIP 186 K

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PADRES SIGN RP ERIC O'FLAHERTY TO TWO-YEAR DEAL WORTH $7 MILLION

                                                            

The San Diego Padres continued making their bullpen into one of baseball's best on Wednesday after signing RP Eric O'Flaherty to a two-year deal worth $7 million.  O'Flaherty is coming back from Tommy John surgery after being almost unhittable for two years with the Atlanta Braves and doesn't figure to return until the middle of the summer.  However the extra year could have O'Flaherty as a potential future closer.  He joins Joaquin Benoit in front of closer Huston Street to serve as a terrific back end of the bullpen.

Analysis:  No fantasy baseball movement here but a nice deal nonetheless for O'Flaherty.  It really speaks to the importance of top relievers who can still get a haul even when coming back from surgery.  Those in holds leagues could look here later on during the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: YANKS REEL IN MASAHIRO TANAKA WITH Y-YEAR DEAL FOR $155 MILLION

                                                            

The New York Yankees Wednesday and it cost an arm and leg for them to do so.  The Yankees and prized Japanese free agent ace SP Masahiro Tanaka agreed on a 7-yar contract worth $155 million.  In addition the Yankees have to pay a $20 million fee to the Rakuten Eagles for Tanaka's services.  It will go down as the fifth richest contract ever given to a pitcher despite the fact Tanaka has never thrown an MLB pitch. 

Analysis:  Wow what a chunk of change that was.  The Yankees were desperate for pitching and were willing to overpay for Tanaka.  Money spoke here despite Tanaka's wife saying she wanted to live on the West Coast.  Now with Tanaka joining Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees have had a crazy offseason with massive spending.  Tanaka should be graded as a low end SP 2 due to the mystery factor but his stuff is considered to be near ace-like.  Stay tuned for more later. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYER: JUSTIN UPTON OUTFIELDER ATLANTA BRAVES

                                                                Justin Upton

It seemed like all the waiting had finally paid off.  After his thumb healed and after getting traded to a new organization that also employed his older brother, things were certainly looking up for outfielder Justin Upton early in the 2013 season.  No one was better during the month of April as it looked like Upton was unleashing all of the potential greatness many had predicted going back to when he was the first overall pick of the 2005 draft as he slammed an incredible 12 home runs and 19 RBI while batting .298 before May showed up.  However true to his career-long form, Upton went back to his old inconsistent ways.  As April turned to May, Upton lost his ability to hit almost overnight as he smacked a grand total of only two home runs for the months with an awful .211 average.  The gaping holes in Upton's swing re-appeared and his fantasy baseball owners were getting set to buckle in for four more months of a wild ride.  When it was all said and done, Upton still had a very good 2013 season as evidenced by his final overall numbers:

.263 27 HR 70 RBI 94 R 8 SB

In looking deeper into the numbers, the huge problem was the 161 strikeouts in Upton's 558 at-bats.  That is a crazy high number which showed up in his mediocre batting average.  Also opposing pitchers were not so keen on giving Upton fastballs to hit after April was through which is why he hit only 15 the last five months of the season.  In addition, Upton showed less interest in stealing bases in taking only 8 in 9 attempts which was down from the 18 and 21 of the previous two seasons.  This summer Upton will turn 27-years-old which means he is now entering his prime years and likely has just this upcoming season to possibly tap into more ceiling.  However we are more likely seeing Upton for what he is and what he will continue to be which is a high K slugger who will hit between 25-30 home runs and around 80-90 RBI with 90 runs scored.  That has been his baseline since coming into the league and it really hasn't changed much.  The two stats that could sway things in the positive or negative direction though are the steals and average.  The fact Upton's put up a career-high in K's last season is a red flag for his ability to improve the average this season.  However keep in mind Upton did hit .289 and .280 the two seasons prior so there is hope.  The strikeout rate was so much higher last season than it was in 2012 and 2011 that we can possibly consider it a bit of an outlier.  With a second season in Atlanta, Upton could relax some more and improve.  However I am more inclined to say Upton will be more likely to hit .270 than .280 given what we saw recently.  As far as the steals are concerned, Upton could be stealing less due to the fact the Braves as a team don't tale many bases.  Even brother B.J. saw a sharp decline in steals so this could be a team mandate issue.  However Upton has good speed and is a smart base stealer so he could get back to the 15 mark no problem if he wishes.

When you put everything together, Upton looks like a low end outfielder 1 with a vanishing upside.  Count on good numbers in RBI, home runs, and runs while having some uncertainty with both his stolen bases and batting average.  We like him but don't love him like we once did when he first arrived on the scene a few seasons ago.

2014 PROJECTION:  .275 28 HR 91 RBI 95 R 14 SB

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: DODGERS OUTFIELDER MATT KEMP WON'T BE READY FOR OPENING DAY

                                                                

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp will not be ready to play when the 2014 season kicks off according to his agent Dave Stewart.  Kemp is currently rehabbing from both shoulder and ankle surgery performed last October.  Stewart did say that Kemp is running and swinging a bat but is at only "60 percent." 

Analysis:  Not good.  Kemp has been a disaster the last two years as he constantly is dealing with injuries.  His fantasy baseball draft stock has sunk tremendously as a result and now he can be looked at as nothing more than an outfielder 2 stock. 

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS TRIVIA: LAST SIX YEARS

Name the ONLY starting pitcher in all of baseball who has had at least an ERA of 3.80 or LOWER and at least a WHIP of 1.21 or LOWER each of the last SIX seasons?  (Hint:  It is NOT Clayton Kershaw). 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PLAYER'S UNION WANTED TO EXPEL ALEX RODRIGUEZ FROM UNION

                                                               

According to Yahoo Sports, the MLB Player's Union voted unanimously to expel suspended New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez from the organization.  The union did indicate that such a movement would be illegal however. 

Analysis:  I can't imagine Rodriguez being welcomed back into any MLB clubhouse.  He is beyond a circus act now and should find it very difficult to resume his career after his 2104 suspension is completed.