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Sunday, February 26, 2017

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts is the consensus number 2 player in 2017 fantasy baseball coming off his insane 2016 campaign where he established himself as the best five-tool player in the game behind Mike Trout.  Betts got off to a nice spring start Saturday when he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.  What is interesting is that it will be second baseman Dustin Pedroia and NOT Betts who will lead off for the Red Sox this season, helping the fantasy baseball value of both.  For Pedroia, it will lead to 100-plus runs and his customary .300 average, while Betts can pad his RBI and other five categories.

-It looks like the New York Mets are already looking for a way to get Michael Conforto's bat on the field as manager Terry Collins said Saturday he will allow Neil Walker and Jay Bruce to get reps there.  It just how happened that incumbent first baseman Lucas Duda was sidelined for Saturday's game with renewed back pain that goes back to 2016.  With Duda now clearly being a guy who we can say has a chronic back problem, Conforto could very well claim a starting outfield spot, with Bruce manning first.  Conforto has a home run and two RBI already this spring in two games and his post-hype sleeper upside is very immense.  Count me as a firm believer in the ability.

-Nelson Cruz is already on the home run board as he hit his first of the spring on Saturday.  After swatting 43 a year ago, Cruz is right there as one of the best low-end outfielder 1's in fantasy baseball this season.  He is aging a bit but Cruz is showing no signs of letting up.  What is perhaps most impressive is the fact Cruz is doing his best career work later in his career and at a prime pitching outpost.

-Mike Montgomery pitched a scoreless inning with two walks in his spring debut for the Chicago Cubs.  Manager Joe Maddon went on record saying both Montgomery and Brett Anderson could split the fifth spot to protect their health and innings, with the former carrying some solid upside as a power arm.  Not the worst way to spend a late round pick.

-Washington Nats outfielder Bryce Harper seems set to destroy opposing pitching as he went 2-for-2 Saturday with a mammoth home run.  With Harper's shoulder now healthy, it wouldn't shock me in the least if he brought back his 2015 video game numbers.

-Anyone who has been a firm reader of this site knows how much love I have for Christian Yelich and his overall ability.  While he has been too groundball heavy thus far in his career, he launched a home run Saturday which was perhaps a nice sign moving forward.  Coming off a 21-home run season where he collected 98 RBI, and batted .298, Yelich can go even higher in 2017 given the fact he is just 25.  While he ran less last season, Yelich could easily be a 25-stolen base guy to go with a .315 average and 20-plus home runs.  I want him.

-Victor Martinez cracked a home run Saturday as part of his 1-for-3 day.  While Martinez is approaching 40, the fact he DH's on most days preserves his body and makes one think he can squeeze out one more decent year.  He has hit for big power in two of the last three years but the hom runs can be a bit volatile overall with Martinez.

-Hector Neris did himself no favors by blowing a save for the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.  While he did get the win, Neris did not give the Phils management a reason not to go back to the soft-tossing Jeanmar Gomez to close games to start 2016.  I am thinking more and more Joaquin Benoit is the handcuff to Gomez.

-I absolutely want Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco on all of my teams.  Polanco stole two bases on Saturday as part of his 3-for-3 day.  While he was hampered by injuries last season, a fully healthy Polanco could easily vault himself to top tier outfielder 1 status this season.

-Maikel Franco went yard twice Saturday for the Phillies and keep in mind this is a guy I have liked for awhile now.  Off a somewhat disappointing but still solid 2016, Franco comes a bit cheap in 2017 fantasy baseball which makes for a nice buying opportunity.  I would pounce.

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