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Saturday, January 31, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED CLOSER RANKINGS

Already some closer happenings are shaking up the 2015 fantasy baseball closer rankings so let's take a look at how things now look.

1.  Craig Kimbrel:  Has gotten a legitimate challenge from Greg Holland but for now Kimbrel remains the top of the heap among closers due to the fact he has done it longer.
2.  Greg Holland:  Holland was the best closer in baseball last season as he has fully ascended to the top tier at a very volatile position.  Finally having worked through past control problems, Holland is almost unhittable. 
3.  Aroldis Chapman:  Rumors swirl that he could be dealt but Chapman was utterly ridiculous last season when he came back from the batted ball to the face.  Best K rate in baseball.
4.  David Robertson:  Deserved every penny he got from the Chicago White Sox as Robertson successfully replaced Mariano Rivera last season for the Yankees with his customary high K/low ER/WHIOP statistics. 
5.  Jonathan Papelbon:  Never doubt the guy which I told you all prior to last season when he was widely written off.  Yes the K rate has sunk but Paps had arguably one of his best seasons in 2014.  Still going strong.  Could be on the move to Milwaukee by the time you read this. 
6.  Steve Cishek:  Check out this guys numbers over the last four season and than you will understand why I have him here. 
7.  Glen Perkins:  The lefty remains underrated and dependable. 
8.  Dellin Betances:  Ready to challenge Chapman in the ultimate K rate race among relievers.  Should be fully up to the task of replacing Robertson as Yankees closer.
9.  Huston Street:  Was completely dominant in 2014 and actually stayed healthy. 
10. Cody Allen:  Like the potential of this kid as well.  Has the classic high K stuff to continue on his breakout 2014.
11. Fernando Rodney:  Can't argue with his incredible numbers the last two seasons but Rodney is quite old and always prone to the blowup.
12. Kenley Jansen:  Was surprisingly hittable for stretches of last season but K rate immense and his team provides tons of chances. 
13. Zach Britton:  The K rate is not overly impressive for a closer but Britton was terrific stepping into the closer role for the playoff-bound Baltimore Orioles last season.
14. Trevor Rosenthal:  There were some rocky moments but Rosenthal did a decent enough job in his first full go-round as closer.
15. Koji Uehara:  Looked old the second half of last season as the hit rat skyrocketed.  Could be a bust candidate in 2015 like Joe Nathan was last season due to age.
16. Mark Melancon:  I really can't say anything bad about the guy in his first full season as closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Will only improve from here on out.
17. Tyler Clippard:  Now the clear favorite for saves in Oakland with Sean Doolittle starting the season on the DL.  With Clippard being a righty and a dominant setup man for years, he could run with the gig. 
18. Jenrry Mejia:  Could be replaced by Jeurys Familia so keep tabs on this early in camp.
19. Santiago Casilla:  The back of the San Francisco Giants bullpen seems to always be in flux but Casilla was by far the best closer for the team last season.
20. Drew Storen:  Think Storen will break camp as the closer for the Washington Nationals and he should be good as long as playoff games are not on the line.
21. Hector Rondon:  Has Jason Motte breathing down his neck so Rondon has to quickly show that his last season breakout was no fluke.
22. Joaquin Benoit:  Quiet and effective, Benoit is the perfect value closer play to target. 
23. Will Smith/K-Rod:  Rodiguez has yet to sign as a free agent and if he does the high-K Smith is the perfect replacement.  The Jonathan Papelbon rumors continue as well.
24. Jake McGee/Erneso Frieri:  McGee would be in the top 15 if he weren't going to miss April after surgery.  The veteran Frieri should get first crack but Brad Boxberger is one to watch as he could run with the gig if he gets off to a hot start as closer.
25. Neftali Feliz:  The velocity has not come back since surgery and Feliz' FIP ERA was almost 5.00 last season.  Significant bust potential. 
26. Joe Nathan:  He can't be any worse than he was in 2014 right?
27. Brett Cecil:  Still no clarity yet at the back of the Toronto bullpen after Casey Janssen defected as a free agent.  Consider Cecil the favorite for now but rumors are the team is considering Francisco Rodriguez. 
28. LaTroy Hawkins:  It was a surprisingly very good season out of the ageless Hawkins in 2014 but he remains prone to a blowup that will cost him his job and he also is a prime threat to be traded.
29. Luke Gregerson:  Should be the favorite for saves right now in the revamped Houston bullpen.  Has failed in numerous chances in the past when closing games so this is no sure thing.
30. Addison Reed:  I just can't stand the kid as Reed continues to get pounded on a yearly basis despite great stuff. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ROUGNED ODOR 2B TEXAS RANGERS

We continue to run through some prime 2015 fantasy baseball draft sleepers and today we look back into the infield at a burgeoning power-hitting talent in the form of the Texas Rangers' Rougned Odor.  After a crazy injury epidemic took out almost the entire Rangers lineup at one point, the team was forced to call up 20-year-old Odor ahead of his development schedule.  Clearly there were going to be some growing pains considering how young Odor was and how he was literally being thrust into a major league lineup overnight.  However when the smoke cleared by the end of 201, Odor proved himself capable of being an impact hitter and someone who carries with him significant fantasy baseball potential at a shallow second base position as 2015 dawns.  So with that said let's dig in more on Odor and find out what he could provide his owners this season. 

As far as the numbers were concerned, Odor managed to put up the following line as a rookie last season:  .259 9 HR 48 RBI 39 R 4 SB

When looking at those numbers, it is easy to see that Odor has some intriguing tools that will lead to more gains across the board as he continues to mature.  Consider that Odor put up those numbers in only 386 at-bats last season, which means that his counting stats as a whole are heading upwards as he amasses 550 at-bats this season health permitting.  Now as far as the rate stats are concerned, Odor was a buzzy name in prospect circles before his promotion in 2014, particularly with his speed as he swiped 32 bags in 2013.  His power is also developing nicely and on schedule as Odor was on pace for 15 home runs with a full allotment of at-bats last season.  When you combine the home runs with top-end speed that will allow Odor to eventually become a 20-plus stolen base guy when he gets his timing down, one can see just how interesting he becomes.  And that is without even mentioning his prime hitting ballpark. 

As far as the rest of the numbers are concerned, Odor has to cut down on his strikeouts or else hitting .275 this season will be his absolute ceiling and more realistically he could be around the .260 mark again in 2014.  Odor is not unlike any other young hitter in that respect however so his K rate is not overly alarming yet.  And depending on where the Rangers bat Odor this season, he could put up over 70 runs and collect 60-plus RBI is he does in fact continue with his development. 

When you put it all together, Rougned Odor is the classic middle infield sleeper who should be on most lists this season.  Middle infield help is always appreciated and attractive given how shallow those spots have historically been and Odor clearly fits the bill on that front.  Save a late round pick for this possible 15-HR/20-SB impact second baseman this spring.

2015 PROJECTION:  .267 14 HR 65 R 61 RBI 11 SB

 

Friday, January 30, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: LOGAN MORRISON 1B/OUTFIELER

                                         Logan Morrison

It is time once again to check in on another 2015 fantasy baseball draft sleeper and today we revisit Seattle Mariners 1B/OF Logan Morrison who most people know more for his Twitter exploits than anything he has done on the baseball field.  One couldn't blame that line of thinking of course as Morrison has seen his last THREE seasons ruined by injuries, poor performance, and run-ins with management.  So why does Morrison qualify as a 2015 fantasy baseball sleeper?  Let's dig in and find out. 

The prime reason Morrison is even being mentioned is due to the fact his best skill is the home run ball and I don't need to remind you all of how scarce that commodity is becoming in today's fantasy baseball.  And Morrison has shown in the past that he can be a help there, specifically in 2011 when he smacked 23 home runs in only 462 at-bats for the Miami Marlins.  Of course the Marlins soon gave up on Morrison in shipping him off to the Seattle Mariners prior to 2014 after he battled with management, was constantly dealing with knee injuries, and saw his numbers tumble across the board.  Given a fresh start with the Mariners in 2014, it was more of the same for Morrison when it came to injuries as he played in only 99 games and accumulated 336 at-bats.  The result was only 11 home runs but Morrison was able to hit .262 which was his highest mark since his 2008 rookie debut.  And since Morrison is turning a still young 28 in 2015, there is still time for him to make good on his potential.

In dissecting the numbers, a major issue for Morrison is his propensity to strike out which is directly tied into his ugly career .251 batting average.  Morrison did lower his K rate from his earlier seasons with the Marlins which gives some hope that he won't be another average-killer for his owners.  In addition, Morrison boosted his slugging percentage last season from .375 to .420 which is a decent leap.  That could mean Morrison is tapping into his power again like he did earlier in his career and the Mariners will surely give him another chance to help their always impotent lineup.   Still the home runs and RBI are where Morrison will make his hay as a fantasy baseball bat and everything else will be a bonus if it checks out positively.

When you put it all together, Logan Morrison is still worth a very late round grab to see if he can finally focus on the field and unleash some of his 20-plus power.  The ballpark is unforgiving of course but the fact Morrison hit 23 home runs in Marlins uniform in their pitching park gives one reason to think he can replicate that again.  With home runs as scarce as they are, Morrison is worth one last chance to see if he can be a help to you. 

2015 PROJECTION:  .259 16 HR 62 RBI 52 R 2 SB

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 81-100

The last batch of 2015 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings are upon us as we check in on numbers 81-100. 

81. Austin Jackson:  Gets a new start with the Seattle Mariners after coming over in a trade last season but Jackson has been trending in the wrong direction for a few years now.  Just never broke through as the star some thought he could be. 
82. Logan Morrison:  Don't forget about this Twitter-loving slugger as Morrison looked good when on the field last season and he is fully capable of making a run at 20 home runs at a dirt cheap rate as long as his body cooperates. 
83. Chris Coghlan:  Came back from baseball Siberia last season with the Cubs in showcasing some old power/speed juice.  Not optimistic about an encore so don't go crazy here.
84. Nick Swisher:  Looks completely shot and is really not worth messing with as Swisher qualifies as a fading veteran which is someone you never want to invest in.
85. Juan Lagares:  The tools are interesting here as Lagares hit for a decent average last season and can run like the wind.  Still Lagares has very little power and his ceiling is limited overall as the average is anything but stable. 
86. Carl Crawford:  Actually had one of his better seasons in 2014 which is not saying much considering what a joke Crawford has been.  The legs can still net 20 steals but you don't want to deal with this aggravation. 
87. Coco Crisp:  One of my all-time favorites, Crisp himself is fading as his steals are eroding quick and the body is always prone to injury. 
88. Colby Rasmus:  Can pop home runs but it comes with a horrid .230 average. 
89. Will Venable:  Fell completely on his face in 2014 after that surprising 20/20 campaign the season prior.  No thank you.
90. Michael Bourn:  Told you TWO years ago Bourn was shot and since than he has done nothing but prove me right.  Legs are shot which means there is nothing left to talk about. 
91. Matt Joyce:  A pronounced first half stud and second half dud, work with Joyce accordingly. 
92. B.J. Upton:  Please. 
93. Jared Dyson:  Terrific late round steals grab. 
94. Sam Fuld:  Runs very well and could get a chance at leadoff.  Another example of cheap speed. 
95. Travis Snider:  We have been waiting for 50-something years for Snider's potential to reveal itself.  Enough. 
96. Ichiro Suzuki:  Still a professional hitter but Suzuki is just hanging on now in his quest for 3,000 hits. 
97. Eric Young Jr.:  If he could figure out how to get on first base, Young Jr. could lead the league in steals. 
98. Seth Smith:  Had his moments at times the last three seasons but only in a 15-home run case. 
99. Emilio Bonifacio:  Will run like crazy if he can get on base but that has been a career-long issue.
100.Daniel Nava:  As mediocre as one can get. 

 

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

 

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: CHRISTIAN YELICH OUTFIELDER MIAMI MARLINS

                                                Christian Yelich

I will do my best not to drool throughout this posting.  For the second year in a row, yours truly is bestowing "Sleeper" status on burgeoning star Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich.  While not a star yet in terms of numbers, the top will eventually blow off on the potential the speedster possesses as 2015 fantasy baseball draws near.  So how can a guy be a sleeper for two years in a row?  Simple:  the draft price remains depressed (it does thanks for Yelich wearing a Marlins uniform as many automatically downgrade unproven hitters due to spacious park) and the player in question has not yet busted through on his numbers (Yelich hasn't).  So without further delay let's get right to it.

As always in posts like this, let's check out the numbers Yelich put forth in 2014:

.284
9 HR
54 RBI
94 R
21 SB

In looking at the numbers, they only hint at the potential the 23-year-old brings to the table for 2015.  Right now speed in the form of stolen bases and runs are the best attributes for Yelich to give to his owners as he has now established himself in the always precious leadoff spot.  With the Marlins having a rapidly improving power lineup behind him, Yelich should be close to or surpass 100 runs scored.  In addition, Yelich has the classic look of a 30-plus stolen base guy and that could also be in play for 2015 as well since he was successfully on 75 percent of his attempts last season and thus gaining confidence in that area. 

Now as far as the batting average is concerned, Yelich has a bit of work to do there but again at his very young age, that is to be expected.  For one, his 20.8 percent K rate is a bit too high but in Yelich's defense, that was an improvement from the 24.2 of the previous season so he is trending in the right direction.  He also did a bit better against lefties last season which was a previously major weakness.

Finally, let's get to the power.  Yelich is growing into his body and thus will gain more power as he continues to age.  The 9 home runs last season in 582 at-bats is on the low side no doubt but again he was only 22 in 2014 which means Yelich has about four or five more years of growing in terms of his power and thus could eventually be a mid-teens to low-20's home run guy.  While I don't think we are there yet with Yelich, I think he is heading in that direction for sure. 

When you put it all together, Christian Yelich is on the way to becoming a big-time fantasy baseball outfielder who could graduate in to a 1 very soon.  The talent is too obvious and high-end to not think it will happen and the screen of playing for he Marlins puts him in even better investment terms.  I love the potential here and am a firm believer Yelich will be a star soon.  It could happen as soon as this season.  Get him and be aggressive in doing so.

2015 PROJECTION:  .288 11 HR 59 RBI 99 R 32 SB

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL OUTFIELDER RANKINGS 21-40

Up next as we continue to take a look at the first installment of 2015 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings are numbers 21-40.  Let's get right to it.

21. Matt Kemp:  After two years ruined by injuries, Kemp showed he is far from done after cracking 25 home runs in a nice comeback season in 2014.  Getting traded to San Diego and Petco Park is more of a ballpark drag for a guy who has spent his career in pitching parks.  Also Kemp's days as more than a 10-15 base stealer look finished.
22. Starling Marte:  Marte continues to post decent average despite a horrific K rate.  If he loses that BABIP luck, the bottom could fall out.  Still this is a 15 HR/35 SB near-outfielder 1.
23. Hanley Ramirez:  Ramirez will pick up outfield eligibility a few games or weeks into the season depending on your league.  His first go-round in a prime hitting park should be very good.  Keep him at shortstop however.
24. George Springer:  Listen Springer has some issues to work through before he becomes an outfielder 1 star, namely his horrific K rate and hesitancy to steal like he did in the minors.  Otherwise the power is immense here and it is only a matter of time before Springer makes good on all that natural talent.
25. Brett Gardner:  Don't count on Gardner replicating the 17 home runs he smacked last season as that was 9 more than his previous high.  Still this is a guy who can help in three categories but Gardner's days as a 40-steal guy are gone for good.
26. Jay Bruce:  Rough year for Bruce in 2014 as injuries and more strikeouts combined to ruin his numbers.  Bruce remains in his prime though and is a proven 30-home run guy which is very valuable in today's game.  Solid bounce back on tap.
27. Jason Heyward:  Gets a fresh start in St. Louis where magical things happen.  The talent has always been there and Heyward continues to make incremental gains each season despite the high K rate and sometimes ugly average.  I am still buying.
28. Matt Holliday:  Still a very professional hitter but the air is leaking out everywhere.  Move on unless you can snag him as an outfielder 3.
29. Marcell Ozuna:  What a nice job this kid did as a rookie last season in showing a potent power bat.  Has a few years of ceiling left and time to improve on the mediocre average.  Bright future.
30. Alex Gordon:  Counting stats are always impressive as Gordon annually amasses very high playe appearances.  The power and speed are just ordinary however and the average is settling in the .260 range.
31. Michael Cuddyer:  Now 35, leaving Colorado for Citi Field, and increasingly injury-prone.  I wouldn't touch.
32. Ryan Zimmerman:  Picked up outfield eligibility last season but keep Zimmerman at the hot corner if you can.
33. ChristianYelich:  I absolutely love this kid.  The talent is clearly evident and Yelich could quickly turn into a 20 HR/40 SB monster.  Draft aggressively.
34. Rusney Castillo:  Has hit no matter where he plays.  There is some Carlos Gomez ability here for a very affordable draft price.  Could be the next Cuban star.
35. Shin-Soo Choo:  What a disaster 2014 was for Choo who did nothing right despite moving to a prime hitter's park in Texas.  The age is creeping up but a tidy profit could be had here as there is no way Choo is anywhere near that bad again.
36. Will Myers:  Like Matt Kemp, Myers gets a new start in San Diego where health and a high K rate have been big challenges.  Was never as high on him as others and so far I am right.  Strikes out way too much which will hurt his power as opposing pitchers have no reason to throw him anything to drive.
37. Marlon Byrd:  Can't argue with the very good pop Byrd has shown the last two seasons no matter how he is doing it. 
38. Kole Calhoun:  Doesn't run much for a leadoff guy but Calhoun could lead the majors in runs scored fronting a truly potent Angels lineup, in addition to popping 15 home runs.  Buy, buy, buy.
39. Jayson Werth:  Saying he will be back for the opener after shoulder surgery but even if he is not, Werth is "worth" investing due to his very cheap draft price and always decent numbers.
40. Gregory Polanco:  Was not ready when promoted last season and the results showed.  Still Polanco has Andrew McCutchen ability with regards to hitting .300 with pop and speed. 

There you have it.  Check back for numbers 41-60 tomorrow.

 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: FELIX HERNANDEZ/STEPHEN STRASBURG

It is time for another 2015 fantasy baseball Draft Debate and today we check out the starting pitching fraternity as we decide who should be picked after Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer come off the board.  The two top candidates for that slot are Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez and Washington Nationals number 1 Stephen Strasburg.  As always we compare the two in the four relevant standard league categories as we determine who in fact should come out on top.

ERA:  Hernandez came in a full run lower than Strasburg last season, posting a 2.14 ERA to the latter's 3.14.  This despite the fact both reside in prime pitching parks.  Strasburg gave up a bit more hits than usual while Hernandez was unhittable at times.  The Mariners ace gets the nod.
ADVANTAGE:  Felix Hernandez

WINS:  This one is all Strasburg as the Hernandez annually sees low win totals despite excellent pitching as a result of some awful run support.  He did win one more game than Strasburg last season but the Nationals are quite possibly the best team on paper heading into 2015 so he has the better chance at chasing a win total in the high teens.
ADVANTAGE:  Stephen Strasburg

WHIP:  The 0.92 WHIP Hernandez posted last season was the lowest of his career while Strasburg went for a 1.12 mark.  For their careers though Strasburg is better at 1.09 to Hernandez' 1.17.  Prior to last season Hernandez' WHIP was never lower than 1.13 from 2012 through last year while Strasburg was under than 1.13 mark the last two years. 
ADVANTAGE:  Stephen Strasburg

STRIKEOUTS:  Strasburg punched out 242 batters in 215 innings while Hernandez went for 248 in 236.  Clearly Strasburg was better on a per inning basis but the bigger picture is that the Nationals ace fails to throw for a high amount of innings due to injury and sometimes poor pitch efficiency.  Hernandez meanwhile is as durable as a pitcher can get and that should count for an extra something on draft day.
ADVANTAGE:  Felix Hernandez

WINNER:  Felix Hernandez

Hernandez is the choice here as his ace ability and better durability give him the nod over Strasburg.  There is no shame in owning Strasburg but his ugly delivery could lead to more injury problems and missed outings. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SHOULDER INJURY FOR SEAN DOOLITTEL OPENS CLOSER DOOR FOR TYLER CLIPPARD

                                           

The Oakland A's announced early Sunday that All-Star closer Sean Doolittle will miss the start of the 2015 season after it was discovered he had a slight tear of the rotator cuff in his left pitching shoulder.  Doolittle had an injection into the shoulder in order to begin the healing process but he is not expected to be ready when games start counting in April.  The fallout here is significant as the recent trade acquisition of top setup man Tyler Clippard could change the initial look at the closer situation for the team.  Clippard has been a dominant setup man for the Washington Nationals over the last five seasons and he even has picked up some saves along the way when filling in short-term for the team's closer.  With Doolittle now out of commission for at least the start of the season, Clippard is the easy call to begin closing games. 

Now there are a few other variables worth mentioning here, with the first being that there already was a discrimination regarding lefthanded closers like Doolittle.  Most managers want their top lefty for matchups in the seventh and eighth innings despite Doolittle getting a long look at closer last season.  The arrival of Clippard even before Doolittle's injury could have possible been a means to get the latter back into setup.  Meanwhile there is no guarantee Doolittle will be back in mid-April as rotator cuffs are major deals that could lead to surgery that would finish him off for good with regards to 2015.  Thus Clippard takes on even more appeal and value.  Right now if drafts were to be held tomorrow, Clippard is the easy call as a medium-tiered closer who has top ten upside. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL/FANTASY BASEBALL HOT WIFE OF THE DAY: LAUREN TANNEHILL (RYAN TANNEHILL)

 
Lauren Tannehill (wife of Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill). 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL TOP 20 OUTFIELDERS

We didn't forget about the outfielder as we take our first look at the Top 20 for 2015 fantasy baseball.

1.  Mike Trout:  The slam-dunk number 1 pick in all formats.  The K rate shot up and the steals fell off the map as maybe Trout is settling in as a prime run-producer after getting moved out of the leadoff spot.  Still 40 home runs is not out of the question.  A true gem.
2.  Giancarlo Stanton:  Bets pure power hitter in the game even threw in some new tricks in 2014 as he stole some bases and put up a decent average.  As long as injury doesn't strike, Stanton will reach the 40 home runs mark.
3.  Andrew McCutchen:  Almost won another MVP last season and McCutchen is flat in his power/speed prime.
4.  Adam Jones:  Durable, extremely productive, and in his prime.  Nothing more you want here out of your top outfielder.
5.  Carlos Gomez:  Has settled in as a 20 HR/40 SB/.280 hitting outfielder 1 after some pronounced early career struggles. 
6.  Jose Bautista:  Had nice comeback season in 2014 as the power trended back up and Bautista stayed healthy.  Picked up first base eligibility to go with the outfield.
7.  Jacoby Ellsbury:  Now 32 and always an injury risk but Ellsbury was better than the numbers showed last season.  Power picked up in his first go-round as a Yankee but days of 50 steals could be finished due to age.
8.  Justin Upton:  Strangely got traded again as Upton supplies rare power in today's game.  Still strikes out a ton but 25-30 home runs is very valuable. 
9.  Nelson Cruz:  Stay away.  Cruz set to be a big bust in moving from homer-haven Baltimore to spacious Safeco Field.  Has long history of leg injuries as well and home runs could drop by as many as 15.
10. Yoenis Cespedes:  Now that he was moved out of Boston, Cespedes will fail to reach 30 home runs again. 
11. Michael Brantley:  Advanced stats checked out which means Brantley's 2014 breakout was legit.  Just keep in mind it took a ton of at-bats for Brantley to hit 20 home runs so don't look for growth there.
12. Yasiel Puig:  Really like the depressed draft price on Puig this season after he hit only 15 home runs a year ago.  This kid has a ton of skills that will explode in one huge season as soon as 2015.
13. Bryce Harper:  Remember that Harper is still only 23 after it seems like he has been around forever.  A few things though is that Harper's steals could already be vanishing and his penchant for injuries is a major drawback on his potential. 
14. Hunter Pence:  Love him.  Always have and always will.  Perennially disrespected and always gives up terrific five category numbers without blowing any one statistic away to help keep the price down. 
15. Billy Hamilton:  Speed is monstrous and 60 steals is likely if Hamilton can even bat just .260. 
16. Lucas Duda:  30 home runs is nothing to sneeze at even if it comes with a shoddy average as Duda can't hit lefties at all.
17. Ryan Braun:  Thumb injury clearly took a toll on Braun's numbers last season but also a year off the PED's likely played a factor as well.  Tough call here but too many worries for me. 
18. Carlos Gonzalez:  Rampant injuries are ruining Gonzalez right before our eyes.  Was always a big fan until he bombed for me and many others last season.  Athletic ability could be eroding now due to all the injuries. 
19. Charlie Blackmon:  After May Blackmon came back to earth for his owners last season but he still has the ability to do a nice Hunter Pence impression with fewer home runs and more stolen bases. 
20. Corey Dickerson:  Severe splits between the home and road as most Colorado Rockies hitters have and Dickerson was horrible as a base-stealer.  Still this is a giy who can bat. 300 with over 20 home runs.  We are buying.

There you have it.  Check back for 21-40 soon.

 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: JASON KIPNIS (FINGER) HAS PIN REMOVED SATURDAY

Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis had the pin removed from the finger he had surgically repaired last December and will start swinging a bat in early February. 

Analysis:  Kipnis has to earn a lot of trust back after a truly horrific 2014 season when he went as high as a second round pick in most fantasy baseball leagues.  He is still young and talented enough to get himself back to a 20 HR/30 SB monster but his very high K rate is a big problem across the board.  It is imperative for Kipnis to make inroads there or a repeat of 2014 could be likely. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TIGERS GM DOMBROWSKI CLAIMS MIGUEL CABRERA (ANKLE SURGERY) TO BE READY FOR START OF SEASON

Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski claimed on Saturday that star 1B Miguel Cabrera will be ready for the start of the 2015 season or very shortly after as he continues to recover from ankle surgery at the end of 2014.  Cabrera will be evaluated again on February 15th which is when he could possibly be cleared for baseball activities.

Analysis:  Good signs here and overall we continue to say that Cabrera will be just fine for the start of the 2015 fantasy baseball season.  His numbers were down a bit in 2014 due to being somewhat hobbled and full health could easily being Cabrera back to MVP status and all the glory numbers that went with it.  Don't let him slip past the number 2 spot in drafts still. 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: JONATHAN LUCROY/DEVIN MESORACO

Time for another 2015 fantasy baseball draft debate and today we go into the catching realm right behind top-tiered Buster Posey.  Once Posey's name is off the board, it is an open debate about who should be the next catcher drafted (if Carlos Santana still qualifies in your league, than bump him ahead of the two in this post).  Two of the prime candidates for that honor are the Milwaukee Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy and the Cincinnati Reds' Devin Mesoraco.  As always let's compare the two according to the five standard ROTO categories to see who comes out on top.

RUNS:  Lucroy was the winner here last season as he scored 73 runs to Mesoraco's 54 but the latter had 201 fewer at-bats which means he was actually on pace for around 80.  Both men figure to hit smack in the middle of the lineup again but Mesoraco gets the slight edge.
ADVANTAGE:  Devin Mesoraco

AVERAGE:  Over the last three seasons Lucroy has batted .320, .280, and .301.  Meanwhile in Mesocaro's breakout in 2014, he batted a decent enough .273.  Mesoraco doesn't profile as anything close to a .300 hitter while Lucroy is right there on a yearly basis.
ADVANTAGE:  Jonathan Lucroy

STOLEN BASES:  No contest here as Lucroy has stolen 17 bases over the last three seasons, while Mesoraco will be lucky to get more than 2 if he even gets that.  Again you don't look for steals out of your catcher but we have to weigh all of the numbers in a debate like this.
ADVANTAGE:  Jonathan Lucroy

RBI:  Lucroy went for 82 RBI in 2013 but his BABIP was a bit out of whack which means that the 69 he put up last season were more in tune with where he is at potential-wise.  Mesoraco put up 80 RBI in his breakout and his power-hitting ways and ballpark will continue to help there.
ADVANTAGE:  Devin Mesoraco

HOME RUNS:  Lucroy is competitive here as he has hit as many as 18 home runs but Mesoraco smacked 25 last season and is the definition of a hulking power hitter.  Mesoraco still has some more untapped potential which could lead to another home run or two added to his bottom line.  He is the choice.
ADVANTAGE:  Devin Mesoraco

WINNER:  Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco is a guy we ranked ahead of Lucroy officially in our 2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide and now you can see why in more detail.  Lucroy is already at his statistical norms while Mesoraco still has a but more growth he can tap into.  The Reds backstop is the winner.

 
The 2015 Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide is on sale for an additional $3.00 off for a limited time.  If you haven't already done so, please use the BUY NOW tab below or on the homepage to pick up your copy.   


FANTASY FOOTBALL/BASEBALL HOT WIFE PIC OF THE DAY: JESSIE JAMES (ERIC DECKER)


Jessie James (wife of New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker). 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JOEY VOTTO 1B CINCINNATI REDS

One of the biggest busts of the 2014 fantasy baseball season undoubtedly was Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto who for the second year in a row dealt with injuries that stole a sizable chunk of his season.  After knee surgery wiped out a portion of his 2012 campaign, a serious quad issue felled Votto for a large portion of 2014.  The end result was Votto a grand total of only 6 home runs in 220 at-bats for the Reds in 2014, as his batting average also tumbled to an ugly .255 which is very low for the perennial .300 he routinely posts.  Despite the fact Votto is still a young 31, his immediate outlook as 2015 fantasy baseball dawns is murky for a few reasons. 

The first issue of course is the injuries as Votto has battled health problems in two of the last three seasons, with the most serious being the knee issue that has propped up more than once.  There was talk that Votto has a degenerative problem with his knee and it is that reason his power and hitting numbers are falling in step.  In addition to the poor health, Votto has been more than a bit annoying with his extremely high walk rate.  While in real baseball Votto’s walk rate is applauded, in fantasy baseball is it more than a bit aggravating as it cuts down on his counting stats more than a little.  If Votto is walking to first base, he is not swinging the bat and driving in runs or smashing home runs.  It is those numbers that count in our game and not walks.  There is no guarantee Votto will change that approach to his game and there also is no guarantee he won’t deal with injuries again.  However as I stated earlier, Votto is only 31 and still in his hitting prime.  He is not a 30-home run guy and more of a 20-25 which we will gladly accept but the batting average has to go along for the ride as well.  The .255 looks like a clear outlier considering Votto is a career.300 hitter so we can probably throw that out until proven otherwise.  2015 is a very important season for Votto as he has to prove he can reclaim his name as one of the best pure hitters in baseball and capable of being a 25 HR/90 RBI/.300 above-average fantasy baseball first baseman.  We think Votto will move closer to those numbers but maybe not all the way due to the health.  Either way Votto should still be picked as a starting top ten first baseman for 2015 and at least for this season, we need to have faith that his past ability has not faded completely yet.

 

                                      
 

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: KEN GILES RP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES


The hot news of the day Friday was the on the verge trade that would center on the Philadelphia Phillies dealing perennial All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Phillies have been trying to deal Papelbon for the better part of the last year as they are clearly in a rebuilding mode and want to get out from the remaining two years of his contract.  With the Brewers currently having an opening at closer after so far not re-signing last season’s stopper Francisco Rodriguez, Papelbon is a very good alternative considering he is coming off one of his best seasons in 2014 when he recorded a 2.04 ERA and 0.90 WHIP.  While Papelbon’s new address doesn’t change his fantasy baseball value much, the new opening at the back end of the Phillies’ bullpen certainly carries some major intrigue for 2015 fantasy baseball.  Of course we are referring to the expected promotion of top setup man Ken Giles to the closer role if the Phillies do in fact want to go with youth.  A relative unknown prior to last season, Giles burst upon the scene after an early call-up and proceeded to reel off monstrous power numbers to the tune of a 1.38 ERA and 0.79 WHIP while striking out an insane 64 batters in only 45.2 innings.  If anyone would be considered the front-runner to open the season as the Phillies’ closer, Giles would surely be it.

As far as Giles the pitcher is concerned, heat is the name of the game here as Giles can reach the high-90’s with an explosive fastball that has some movement to it.  Right off the bat, the extreme heat Giles throws makes him a natural for the closer role as ne has a pronounced ability to collect strikeouts by the bunch.  What really elevated Giles to special territory last season however was the fact he successfully worked through some early control problems to post an insane 5.82 K/BB ratio which is as good as it can get.  Since Giles no longer is beating himself with the walks, his natural power stuff takes center stage with astonishing results.  At only 24 years old, Giles has an incredibly bright future who reminds me of a Craig Kimbrel or a Greg Holland with his makeup.  The only hiccup could be if the Phillies don’t give Giles the immediate closer call due to his age and relative inexperience.  With proven closers still sitting on he market such as Casey Janssen and Rafael Soriano, the Phils could give either of these veterans a one-year deal as a bridge for Giles to graduate to the closer gig.  Either way it is only a matter of time before Giles is mowing them down in the ninth inning.  

Thus as far as 2015 fantasy baseball is concerned, the trade of Papelbon puts Giles right into the top sleeper grouping as drafts get ready to get started.  We could see 90-plus strikeouts and 30-plus saves with a 2.00 ERA if all breaks right here.  Giles could easily be a top ten fantasy baseball closer this season and begin what could be a terrific career if he gets the call to man the ninth inning. 

2015 PROJECTION:  2.25 ERA 0.97 WHIP 37 S

 

 

 

 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS ON VERGE OF TRADING FOR JONATHAN PAPELBON.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies are moving close to a deal that will center on closer Jonathan Papelbon.  Talks heated up early Friday and it appears both sides are moving close to a deal.

Analysis:  Wow that was fast.  It appears the Phillies will finally get out from under Papelbons contract and could be poised to move fireballing Ken Giles into the ninth inning.  Giles could be a sweet fantasy baseball closer value this season under that scenario as long as the team doesn't ink a veteran such as Casey Jansaen or Rafael Soriano.    

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BREWERS TRYING TO LAND JONATHAN PAPELBON FROM PHILLIES

The Milwaukee Brewers have opened up talks with the Philadelphia Phillies regarding closer Jonathan Papelbon according to multiple reports.  With the team not yet having re-signed previous closer Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers have turned to the Phillies who have been attempting to move Papelbon all offseason.

Analysis:  Interesting.  Papelbon continues to pitch very well and actually had one of his best season ever in 2014 despite a dropping K rate.  He remains a top ten closer. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JAVEIR BAEZ 2B/SS CHICAGO CUBS

                                              Javier Báez

The hype meter is already well into overdrive when it comes to Chicago Cubs top infield prospect Javier Baez.  The power-hitting dynamo has been compared to Troy Tulowitzki with regards to his home run ability that is very rare for any middle infielder.  Baez began to show what all the fuss was about in his late season promotion in 2014 when he swatted 9 home runs in only 213 at-bats.  When you throw in the 5 bases Baez stole, one could understand why the fantasy baseball community is going ga-ga over the kid.  However for those of you who have followed us closely going back to Baez’ debut, we have always thrown caution to the wind when it came to the Baez hype.  In fact we continue to reiterate that investing in Baez for the 2015 fantasy baseball season is a bad decision due to his ridiculously inflated draft price as expectations continue to get out of hand.  The biggest issue we had then and continue to hold at this present moment when it comes to Baez is his utter lack of plate discipline and sky-high strikeout rate.  We saw this through the home runs in Baez’ 2014 debut as well when he proceeded to strike out a monstrous 95 times in those 213 at-bats.  That is nearly a 50 percent K rate which is unfathomable and went a long way toward Baez hitting only .169 last season.  Many choose to ignore this very crucial aspect of Baez as 2015 draft draw near as the see him through the rose colored power/speed ability and the fact he qualifies at both shortstop and second base which are two very shallow positions.  Again we strongly stress to see the big picture when it comes to Baez and understand that there is a very good chance he struggles to even bat .250 this season which will take a ton of shine off of whatever he supplies in the power department.  In addition, if Baez struggles mightily out of the gate this season, the Cubs could quickly send him back down to the minor leagues in order to find his swing.  We have seen this development take place way too many times with hyped prospects in the past so this is not something to sneer at and think it won’t happen given his stature.  To put this issue further into focus, Baez has thus far gone 0-for-9 in the Puerto Rican Winter League which includes six strikeouts.  That came on the heels of Baez striking out in half of his at-bats in the Puerto Rican regular season as well which followed MLB’s finish.  Just ugly numbers all the way around and thus we seriously have to question what kind of performance we will get out of such a hyped player this season.  We would stay away from Baez unless he comes cheap in drafts as this is a classic case of the hype getting past the point where an investment makes any sense given the numbers we are seeing out of the kid.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: TOM BRADY DENIES KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT DEFLATED FOOTBALLS

                                      

Just hours after his head coach flatly denied knowing anything about "deflategate," New England Patriots QB Tom Brady went along with the same defense in his late Thursday news conference.  Brady denied having any knowledge about the deflated footballs and expressed his sadness over the fact the issue is overshadowing the team's trip to the Super Bowl.

Analysis:  He better be telling the truth.  Both Brady's and Belichick's legacies are on the line here and neither mane seemed convincing.  Clearly someone knows something about this whole mess, especially after it was found that all the Indianapolis Colts' footballs were deemed legal at halftime of the game while 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were not.  This is getting real ugly as the Super Bowl gets set to take center stage.  The NFL continues to investigate and almost anything could happen out of this. 

 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: NATS OUTFIELDER JAYSON WERTH (SHOULDER SURGERY) AIMING FOR RETURN AT START OF SEASON

                                           

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth stated on Thursday that he is aiming to return to the team for the opener despite undergoing shoulder surgery two weeks ago.  Werth had surgery to repair his AC joint and typically the recovery is between 2-3 months which puts him at or near the opener. 

Analysis:  Werth is a guy who is always a good investment due to the fact he gets drafted much lower than his solid outfielder 2 numbers suggest.  He is aging a bit however and with that comes increased injury risk like we are already seeing.  Still if he does return even in mid-April, five-plus months of Werth at a cheap draft price is a good deal.

 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: JURICKSON PROFAR PROGRESSING TO THROWING AT 60 FEET

                                            

Rehabbing Texas Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar moved to throwing at 60 feet on Thursday as he continues to make progress from the serious shoulder injury that completely ruined his 2014 season.  The Rangers are continuing to say Profar could be ready for the start of spring training but he needs to be cleared first with an MRI that will be done a week from now. 

Analysis:  Profar's once shining prospect status has dimmed considerably due to how long he has been out.  He is in severe need to major league at-bats or any kind of work for that matter.  With Profar having missed so much time, there is almost zero chance he will break camp with the Rangers.  He is nothing but a late round stash. 

 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL SHORTSTOP DRAFT TIERS

The shortstops are up next as we continue with out look at the 2015 fantasy baseball draft tiers. 

Tier 1

Troy Tulowitzki-Hanley Ramirez

-Tulo and HanRam are once again the top of the heap when it comes to the shortstop class for 2015 but each of these guys is seriously risky to invest in as well.  Tulowitzki in particular is more of a bust candidate as he has now gone 7 straight years with at least one DL stint.  The point that needs to be emphasized here is that as great a hitter as Tulowitzki it, he had serious hip surgery that calls into question his future as a top performer at the dish.  The hip is very important with regards to generating power in the swing and Tulowitzki is a monster risk on that alone.  Ramirez meanwhile is interesting in that he gets to play in a hitter's park for the first time in his career after spending his previous years in Miami and Los Angeles with the Dodgers.  Ramirez is the guy I would pick if you choose to go shortstop in the first two rounds despite his own checkered injury history.

Tier 2

Jose Reyes-Ian Desmond-Starlin Castro

You would do just fine with any of these three as your starting shortstop and honestly they are much better values than the high-cost of Tulo and Ramirez.  In particular we continue to sing the praises of Desmond despite the sometimes ugly batting average.  Find me another shortstop who has gone 20/20 in each of the last three seasons.  It will be a long search as Desmond is the only one to do it plus his durability counts for extra at this injury-prone spot.  As far as Reyes is concerned, his stolen base attempts continue to decline as he is now 32 years old.  He too remains a prime injury risk whose numbers in the speed department will continue to sink.

Tier 3

Elvis Andrus-Jimmy Rollins-Alexei Ramirez-Danny Santana-Erick Aybar

You can start seeing the lack of depth here as all of the guys have solid drawbacks.  Rollins shocked us by hitting 17 home runs and stealing 28 bases at the age of 35 but again investing in aging players is always a huge risk considering the steep dropoff that came come at any time.  Plus Rollins struggles to hit even .240.  Andrus meanwhile is a guy we correctly have labeled "overrated" as he is only an asset in runs and steals and even those stats took a dive last season as the Rangers lineup was decimated by injuries.  Finally Santana opened eyes with very good runs, steals, and batting average numbers last season in his debut and he even popped a few home runs.  The best part is that his advanced stats were legitimate which makes an investment here smart.

Tier 4

Alcides Escobar-Jean Segura-Xander Bogaerts-Jhonny Peralta-Asdrubal Cabrera-Javier Baez-Jed Lowrie-J.J. Hardy-Jung-Ho Sang

Things are getting ugly here as all of these guys leave a lot to be desired.  Baez, Bogaerts, Sang are the two you want to target here due to the vast upside.

Tier 5

Jose Ramirez-Wilmer Flores-Andrelton Simmons-Brandon Crawford-Brad Miller-Jordy Mercer

Ghastly names in this group so pretty much you got to take a shot in the dark with a Flores who has good power or a Miller who has some power/speed talent. 

As always let us hear what you think.  Post below. 


The 2015 Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide is on sale for an additional $3.00 off for a limited time.  If you haven't already done so, please use the BUY NOW tab below or on the homepage to pick up your copy. 
 


2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JACOBY ELLBURY OUTFIELDER NEW YORK YANKEES

                                         Jacoby Ellsbury

The New York Yankees were the stars of the 2014 Hot Stove Season as they put out huge contracts to a slew of players such as catcher Brian McCann, Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  The added bonus in signing Ellsbury of course is the fact the Yankees stole him away from the arch-rival Boston Red Sox.  Despite the fact Ellsbury was 30 years old, the Yanks showed no hesitancy in giving him a mammoth seven-year deal to be their leadoff batter and five-tool dynamo.  Now with regards to 2014 fantasy baseball, Ellsbury carried some extra intrigue due to the fact his lefty bat was a perfect match for the short porch in rightfield which figured to add some home runs to the paltry 9 he hit in 2013.  While it doesn't warrant repeating, the 32 home runs Ellsbury hit back in 2009 will go down as one of the biggest outlier numbers we have seen in quite some time in fantasy baseball terms.  In 6 of the other 7 seasons Ellsbury was in the majors, he didn't even reach double-digits in home runs which speaks to how crazy that 2009 total was.  Be that as it may, the thinking was that Ellsbury would at least reach the mid-teens and maybe even approach 20 now that he would be calling Yankee Stadium home.  And those home runs would match up splendidly with Ellsbury's unparalleled speed which had gone past as much as 70 stolen bases in a given season.  Ths despite the annual injury risk Ellsbury presented, his 2014 draft price went as high as the late first round. 

Now as far as the 2014 results were concerned, let's take a quick trip down memory lane in revisiting the numbers.

.271
16 HR
70 RBI
71 R
39 SB

When looking at the numbers, all together they were very impressive indeed and as a total they qualified Ellsbury once again into outfielder 1 status.  However in looking a bit deeper at those numbers, one could see they were a bit wonky when it came to Ellsbury's career.  We will begin with the runs total which was a low 71 considering Ellsbury batted leadoff or third in the order all season which are two prime run-scoring spots in the lineup.  The easy call was to forecast Ellsbury for at least 90 runs and maybe even 100 but the fell well sort of that mark.  A lot of the blame though was not Ellsbury's as the Yankee lineup struggled badly all season to the point that they were a stremable team to take advantage of in 2014 when it came to using pitchers.  Thus Ellsbury was a victim of the ineptitude around him in the Yankee order as rampant injuries and down numbers from veteran guys stalled his runs total.  With the Yankee lineup fortified a bit and now having a for now healthy Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran to go with Brett Gardner and Brian McCann, Ellsbury should easily go past 80 runs and likely approach 90.  Ellsbury could bat anywhere from first to third depending on how Joe Girardi chooses to employ Brett Gardner.  If Ellsbury does bat third, he will likely post 80-plus RBI.  In the leadoff slot dial that back to 60-70-plus. 

Not let's get to the home runs as Ellsbury did what was expected in 2014 as far as adding to his 9 the previous season, no doubt helped by his new park.  20 was a bit too optimistic a total but the 16 was pretty much on target with what Ellsbury was capable as a Yankee.  The same number stands a good chance to be repeated as well as Ellsbury's lefty swing is tailor made for the short porch in right.  And those home runs look fantastic with all of those stolen bases.  Ellsbury was a force once again last season with 39 and it is that part of his game that is the clear strongest that he brings to the table.  Ellsbury has twice stolen 50 bases and once went for an insane 70 which proves few are better at that part of the game.  However there are a few things to keep in mind here, with the first being Ellsbruy's age as he goes into the 2015 season at 32 years old.  Now 32 is not old but for a speedster it is older than let's say a slugger.  Speed is the first skill that goes from a ballplayer and we see a similar situation unfolding in Toronto with Jose Reyes.  Ellsbury's drop to 39 was a loss of 13 from the previous season and we could see a few more fall by the wayside as he continues to age.  Now he should still be a lock for 30 and he very well could go back above 40 for one more season.  Just keep in mind though that the past is the past and Ellsbury can't turn the clock back there with regards to his speed. 

Finally we get to the batting average as Ellsbury was a bit disappointing there last season with his .271 mark.  Now this is a not a batting champ hitter by any means but Ellsbury is still a very solid .293 career hitter.  With his speed, Ellsbury can beat the BABIP angle somewhat so projecting him at least around .280 is accurate.  While I don't see Ellsbury reaching much above .300, he could even approach that number as well since he still is in his hitting prime. 

When you put things all together, Jacoby Ellsbury once again is a clear outfielder 1 for 2015 fantasy baseball.  He remains a five-tool player who can contribute across the board in all five standard categories for a hitter.  While the injury risk is still sizable, especially as he begins to age a bit, Ellsbury is still a very good choice to anchor your outfield this season.

2015 PROJECTION:  .288 14 HR 77 RBI 92 R 37 SB

 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT DEBATE: ANTHONY RENDON/JOSE ALTUVE 2B

Robinson Cano is no longer the clear front-runner at the top of the second baseman rankings as 2015 fantasy baseball draws near.  The 2014 season brought two names right into his tier for 2015 as both Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals has amazing breakout campaigns that opened more than a few eyes.  While Cano will still be the number 1 guy off the board among second baseman, the discussion between who should go next is a tough call between Altuve and Rendon.  As always let us compare the two in the five standard hitting categories in order to determine who in fact should be picked ahead of the other. 

RUNS:  Rendon took this one easily last season in scoring 111 runs to Altuve's modest 85.  The Nationals have the more impressive batting lineup and that alone makes it likely Rendon will repeat as the winner in that area.
ADVANTAGE:  Anthony Rendon

STOLEN BASES:  No contest here as Altuve was an absolute beast in the steals department as he swiped an insane 56 bags.  Rendon shocked many by stealing 17 as he had only 1 the previous season.  Altuve will likely be there in challenging for the major league lead in steals once again.
ADVANTAGE:  Jose Altuve

AVERAGE:  Altuve won the batting title in the NL with his .341 mark which beat Rendon's .287 average by a wide margin.  Rendon is likely to challenge the .300 mark this season but even if you factor the expected drop in average for Altuve this season, he is still capable of being in the .315 range.
ADVANTAGE:  Jose Altuve

RBI:  Rendon drove in 83 RBI to Altuve's 59 last season and once again his place in the middle of a better Washington lineup gives him the nod.
ADVANTAGE:  Anthony Rendon

HOME RUNS:  Rendon continues to develop his power as he hit 21 home runs last season and has some more talent to tap into there.  He likely will top out at 25 eventually but even if he doesn't get there this season, Altuve won't even hit double-digits this season.
ADVANTAGE:  Anthony Rendon

WINNER:  Anthony Rendon

It was close yet again but Rendon is the way to go.  He offers more ability in three of the five categories and still has untapped ceiling to go even higher in value.  Be sure to make Rendon the second guy off the board after Robinson Cano. 

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL SECOND BASEMAN TIERS

                                          Robinson Canó

The second baseman are up next as far as the 2015 fantasy baseball draft tiers so let's get right to where all the top guys reside.

Tier 1

Robinson Cano-Anthony Rendon-Jose Altue

-Cano finally has some company when it comes to the ultimate tier as the Washington Nationals' Rendon performed like a first round pick in his stunning 2014 breakout.  Rendon showed speed he didn't hint at previously and that has suddenly turned him into a five-tool monster.  Cano meanwhile hit only 14 home runs in his first season in Seattle which can't be a shock considering his spacious ballpark.  Still he will be excellent in RBI, runs, and average, and could sneak close to 20 bombs again.

As far as Altuve is concerned, we obviously can't expect another .341 average as his BABIP was way in the lucky zone.  However he is only 25 which means some of his terrific gains last season were legit as he moved close to his prime years.  A .315 average with 80-plus runs and 40-plus stolen bases are a lock and that alone makes him a near first round guy.  Anything more is a bonus. 

Tier 2

Jason Kipnis-Dee Gordon-Ian Kinsler-Brian Dozier-Dustin Pedroia

-Again Tier 2 is where some questions begin to drop up starting with Kipnis and Pedroia who both are coming off ugly seasons in 2014.  There is a difference between the tow however in that Kipnis is still young at 28 while Pedroia is an "old" 31 due to all the wear and tear of playing second base for so long.  We hate Kipnis' ugly batting average due to all the K's but he is capable of a 20/30 season if he can just improve his discipline a bit.

Kinsler shocked us all with a big year with the Detroit Tigers last season but he is getting way up there at 33 and his steals are not firmly under 20 for good.  Meanwhile Gordon has to show his .289 batting average from last season was not a fluke or built on the generous BABIP luck he had.  Finally Dozier is a very good talent with 20/20 ability but his average issues are even more pronounced than Kipnis. 

Tier 3

Daniel Murphy-Neil Walker-Chase Utley-Ben Zobrist-Kolten Wong

There are some very good values here and honestly if I were to not get anyone from Tier 1, I would rather wait and get someone from here than in the scary bunch that is Tier 2 considering the draft price.  Murphy, Walker, and Zobrist all supply very good numbers for a cheap cost, while Wong is on the cusp of a big season.  Utley however is a big risk due to his age and ugly injury history.  You want to avoid investing in aging players like him if you can.

Tier 4

Aaron Hill-Brandon Phillips-Javier Baez-Howie Kendrick

Kendrick is the guy you pick when you wait until the very last rounds to get your second baseman.  He will never hurt you but you won't win your league because of him either.  Baez has immense power potential but his 30-plus percent K rate in his debut last season could make it tough for him to hit .250 or to stick in the league altogether. 

Tier 5

Jurickson Profar-Jedd Gyorko-Scooter Gennett-Roughned Odor-Jonathan Schoop

Other than Profar who is not even a guarantee to make a decent impact after missing so much time, the rest of this bunch leaves a lot to be desired if you have to choose form among these guys.

There you have it.  Let us hear your thoughts.