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Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: DEVIN MESORACO (HIP, SHOULDER) OUT FOR START OF SEASON

                                                             

On and on it goes with Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco who will begin the 2017 season on the disabled list as he continues to try and fight his way back from serious hip and shoulder trouble.  Mesoraco has been an absolute disaster physically since his big 2014 breakout for the Reds and his very good upside is being completely derailed as a result.  Down the road Mesoraco could gain fantasy baseball relevancy but for now he should only be owned in deeper two-catcher leagues.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: STEVEN MATZ ALREADY INJURED, DEJA VU

                                                              

Here we go again.  It wouldn't be a fantasy baseball season without Steven Matz being injured and he didn't even get out of spring training before his latest health woe, this time irritation in his left pitching elbow.  Matz has been scratched from his latest spring start as a result and this was the same elbow that the lefty underwent surgery on last summer to remove a bone spur.  GM Sandy Alderson has already stated that nothing is structurally wrong with Matz' elbow but he also went on to say he doesn't understand why he continues to deal with problems in the joint.  What we can pretty much say though is that Matz simply can't stay healthy and that always undermines the very good annual upside he brings to the fantasy baseball table.  A highly-touted prospect, Matz already has had Tommy John surgery and a slew of other ailments that have resulted in procedures or long stints on the DL.  It could be that Matz' delivery is putting strain on his joints and leading to injury much in the way we see from Stephen Strasburg but for now, there is the strong chance he will be on the DL when the season gets underway.  That means Seth Lugo will join Robert Gsellman to round out the Met rotation to begin April.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-A fast start to his spring has pretty much kept up for New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto who went 2-for-3 Saturday, including his third home run. Conforto had not homered in weeks but his smooth and compact swing is obvious.  Right now there is still not path for consistent starting status for Conforto given the crowded Mets outfield but the outlook overall remains very bright.

-Tanner Roark was very good on Saturday as he gave up 1 run on 3 hits in his 5.1 innings versus the Houston Astros.  Roark did a long stint in the WBC but he has been terrific overall this spring as he continues his upward plane in his young career.  While you would like some more strikeouts out of Roark, he has more than proven his worth a solid SP 3.

-Lance McCullers did not have his best stuff on Saturday as he gave up 4 runs and 6 hits in 3.1 innings versus the Washington Nationals.  That inflated his spring ERA to a nasty 6.00 but McCullers is still missing a ton of bats and likely working through some rust after all the games he missed a year ago.  Still love the vast power upside here but again the threat of injury is very high.

-Greg Bird is simply insane right now as he the hulking first baseman slammed his seventh spring home run on Saturday and is now up to .444 in exhibition play.  I have to admit that I am surprised at how well Bird has done considering how much time he has missed previous to the new season but it now looks like we could be looking at the new Mark Teixeira.

-Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-3 with his third spring home run but the average concerns persist at he has hit just .244.  Bradley Jr. struggled badly in the second half of last season with his average and that is something I have talked about as an issue for his 2017 value.

-Corey Dickerson continues his spring tear as he swatted his fourth home run and totes a .367 average.  I have said it countless times this spring about the dirt cheap 25-home run potential of Dickerson and that should never be overlooked no matter the fact he doesn't call Coors Field home anymore.

-Tyler Glasnow tantalizes with his strikeout ability which he showed on Saturday versus the Detroit Tigers.  Collecting 9 strikeouts in just 4 innings, Glasnow gave up just two earned runs with just one walk.  That makes it two starts in a row with Glasnow showing good control and once that happens consistently, his top-end stuff could vault him into top-20 territory among starters.

-The prospects of Blake Snell starting the season with the Tampa Bay Rays grew more dim on Saturday as he gave up 4 runs in 4,2 innings.  Snell has walked the ballpark all spring and his big strikeout ability is being completely overshadowed by that problem.  I spoke highly of Snell leading up to the spring training but even I can't make excuses for how rough he has been on the hill.

-Jason Heyward still stinks but at least he went yard in his 1-for-3 day Saturday.  It is amazing that this is the same guy who looked like a future stud when coming up with the Atlanta Braves but Heyward can't hit anymore.  He should not be drafted.

-Albert Pujols is rounding into form after a slow start to spring training due to offseason foot surgery.  He went 1-for-3 with his second spring home run Saturday but his fantasy baseball outlook at the age of 37 is of Pujols simply being a power specialist.

-Taijuan Walker got blasted for six runs (4 earned) versus the Los Angeles Angels Saturday and he remains homer-prone which is a bad matchup in Arizona.  I drafted him very late in the Experts League but I don't plan to use him initially.  He remains a clear enigma.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: DAVID PRICE LIKELY DOWN UNTIL MAY

A beyond rough spring has now evolved into the realization that Boston Red Sox ace David Price will be out of commission until May.  Having already missed almost all of spring training with the elbow scare that has pretty much shut Price down, he faces likely all of the month of April to tune up for the regular season.  Having already seen his 2017 fantasy baseball draft price sink like the Titanic, Price is looking like one big mess who is not worth getting involved in under any circumstances.  Last season Price saw his fastball velocity decline and his ERA and home run rates soared.  Years of heavy usage early in his career could already be catching up to Price by the looks of it and so he is one you still want to completely avoid this spring.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: SHOULDER A NON-STORY FOR GREGORY POLANCO

With the 2017 fantasy baseball season just a week-and-a-half away, the last thing you want to see if one of your prime hitters or pitchers come down with a physical ailment.  That is why it was somewhat disconcerting to see Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco scratched from his exhibition start Saturday with what the team is calling left shoulder soreness.  It appears as though this is just a precautionary move and that Polanco is simply going to be day-to-day, which means alarms should not be blaring when it comes to his prospects to begin the season on time.  Of course you always have to check back on things like this and Polanco carries quite a bit of hype this season as many feel he is sitting on a major breakout.  I like Polanco as much as the next guy and was willing to pay to get him but overall this seems like nothing to concern yourself with.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: COLBY RASMUS (HIP) WON'T BE ABLE TO ANSWER BELL OPENING DAY

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus will begin the 2017 season on the DL with a stubborn hip injury that has impacted a large portion of his spring training preparation.  The Rays made the news official Saturday as Rasmus still has not played the field yet in exhibition games but they also said he could return somewhere between 7-14 days into the season.  While he was once a highly touted prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, Rasmus has become a journeyman slugger who can only help in home runs and RBI, while also destroying your team batting average.  In other words, only draft him as a backup in deeper mixed leagues.


Friday, March 24, 2017

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JON GRAY FORCED OUT WITH APPARENT INJURY

After giving up 7 consecutive hits in the third inning versus the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray was forced out of his Friday exhibition outing.  Gray's velocity was also down which added to the alarms as he was soon headed to the dugout after the seventh hit. There was no obvious pain or pointing to any joint on Gray but this is something that needs to be watched closely.  Gray has been one of my favorite sleepers for fantasy baseball this season but this could derail those thoughts.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: J.D. MARTINEZ OUT 3-4 WEEKS WITH LISFRANC SPRAIN

Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot which was officially diagnosed on Friday.  Martinez will need to be in a foot for 7-10 days and will not be cleared for full baseball activities until mid-April.  Throw in a rehab stint and it could be May before we see Martinez again.  This is what we have been anticipating all along and so at least the shock is muted.  Still this is a big loss as Martinez is a 30-home run bat with a nice average thrown in.  This is not how you want to start the season with any of your players and this marks the second season in a row Martinez has been dealing with injuries.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: CARLOS RODON LIKELY DL'ED TO START SEASON

It has been a strange spring for Chicago White Sox emerging power pitcher Carlos Rodon.  Right at the start of camp and into the first batch of games, the White Sox held Rodon out in order to baby his young arm a bit like with what the Mets did with Jacob DeGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndegaard.  Unlike Rodon though, 3/4th's of the Mets' arms were coming off surgery and so there was speculation that maybe something was up.  The White Sox and Rodon never revealed anything though and so spring training went on as scheduled.  Only now we have learned that Rodon is headed for an MRI due to "tightness" in his left biceps.  The White Sox did their best to tamp down any worries here as they said they don't believe there is any structural issues but until the MRI comes back, Rodon is not out of the woods.  Even without any structural damage, Rodon is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season and so a DL stint is in the cards here.  Rodon is one of those classic young and very hard-throwing arms that make for a classic Tommy John case and while this is not the issue here right now, it lends credence to the fact he is quite risky this season.  In addition, Rodon is one of those speculation picks where we anticipate a jump in production but that is not obviously guaranteed.  For now check back for some updates on Rodon's progress but downgrade him if you haven't drafted yet.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WRAPUP: MIGUEL CABRERA (BACK) MAY NOT BE READY FOR OPENER

Some news and notes on the injury front with the season less than two weeks away.

-Some potentially big news was shared Thursday when Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera admitted he played through a back injury during the WBC and that he may not be ready to go for Opening Day.  Cabrera hit just .190 during the tournament as he was clearly hampered physically and so yet he goes down as another casualty of the exhibition.  Getting up there in age at 34, Cabrera's big body is always prone to breaking down as we have seen from other hefty sluggers like Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder.  This is something to watch closely over the next ten days.

-Luis Valbuena is only of interest in AL-only leagues but he will be down 4-6 weeks with a Grade 1 hamstring strain.  The Los Angeles Angels third baseman has always hit for solid power but his annually horrific batting averages make him an option just in AL-only and very deep mixers.

-Yasmany Tomas continues to say he will be ready to go for the opener despite still being limited by an oblique strain.  Tomas is scheduled to do some higher intensity work in the cage on Friday which will go a long way in determining how ready he is for game action.  A very underrated outfielder in fantasy baseball, Tomas can hit 25-30 home runs for a quite affordable draft cost.

-Having not played since March 12, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock has stressed out his fantasy baseball owners once again.  Coming off a lost 2016 on account of injury, Pollock was a popular buy low outfielder at the draft table.  However his groin injury is a reminder that he always seems to be nicked up and so Pollock is no guarantee to make good on that draft cost.  He still has time to get himself ready to go but he needs to start getting at-bats soon.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS: 81-100

80. Alex Wood:  Always interesting given the strikeout ability and worth a late round stab again coming off decent 2016 comeback.
81. Ivan Nova:  Re-upped in Pittsburgh which was smart since Nova pitched great there after coming over in a deal with the New York Yankees.  Soft-tosser for sure but Pittsburgh has turned struggling pitchers like Nova into useful players in the past.
82. Mike Foltynewicz:  Control has been the main issue holding back Folty and his impactful strikeout ability.  Showed signs late in 2016 that he could be breaking through a bit there.
83. Adam Conley:  While the ERA was decent, Conley doesn't strike out many guys and his lucky BABIP last season means his ratios will go up.
84. Trevor Bauer:  Stop chasing the breakout that looks like it will never arrive.
85. Tyler Skaggs:  Returned from Tommy John with decent results and don't forget the fact Skaggs was once a decent prospect.
86. Jharel Cotton:  Joins Sean Manaea as pitching prospect for the A's that are worth checking out.
87. Colin McHugh:  Still capable of 175 K's but McHugh's ratios have been all over the map.
88. Drew Smyly:  Let us down royally as a sleeper pick for 2016 as Smyly couldn't keep the baseball in the park.  Still has a live arm though.
89. Francisco Liriano:  Fell flat on his face last season aftre a string of three terrific years with the Pirates.  Now in Toronto full-time?  Forget it.
90. Jordan Zimmerman:  Was a total disaster for Tigers in 2016.  Velocity continuing to dip and always had mediocre K rate even prior to that.
91. Mike Fiers:  Strikes guys out still but Fiers is old and fading news.
92. C.C. Sabbathia:  Came back with an ERA under 4.00 for the first time in years last season but Sabbathia can't keep the baseball in the park and his overall fastball struggles to hit 90.
93. Dylan Bundy:  Once again carries sleeper intrigue but Bundy has had a rough spring to say the least.
94. Miguel Gonzalez:  Boring but useful ratios.
95. Jose Berrios:  Was not ready for major league hitters in 2016 but Berrios worth another look.
96. Luis Severino:  Could land in the bullpen again but Severino will be given one last chance to stick in the rotation this season.  
97. Anthony DeScalfani:  Injuries have completely derailed DeScalfani thus far with no end in sight.
98. Robert Gsellman:  Will take the fifth starter's spot for the New York Mets but likely as a placeholder for Zach Wheeler.
99. Jaime Garcia:  Solid veteran who always supplies decent ratios.
100.Dan Straily:  Capable of some strikeouts and maybe a decent ERA if all breaks right.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: SCRATCH ANDREW SUSAC AS TWO-CATCHER POTENTIAL SLEEPER

Another day and more injuries in and around the world of fantasy baseball as the new season is now less then two weeks away.  This time we have Milwaukee Brewers prospective starting catcher Andrew Susac heading for tests on his neck which has been bothering him since camp opened.  Susac complained of worsening pain in the neck on Thursday which prompted the battery of tests and the Brewers apparently don't feel good about the situation as evidenced by the announcement that third-string catcher Manny Pina will make the team.  Susac was not on a bunch of fantasy baseball sleeper lists this spring but in two catcher formats he had some value as a guy who can run a bit and also hit the odd home run.  Forget that now as Susac will likely open the season on the DL and both Pina and Jeff Bandy have little to no value.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STARTING PITCHING UPDATED RANKINGS: 41-80

41. Steven Matz:  Health is the only thing that holds the lefty Matz back as he has averaged a K/IP and posted 2.27 and 3.40 ERA's his first two years in the league.  Honestly though Matz can't be counted on to supply a full season which means he can't be ranked any higher than this.
42. Jameson Taillon:  Now two full years out from Tommy John surgery, the big strikeout potential of Taillon could start to show up this season.  Big upside.
43. J.A. Happ:  Yes Happ has been a different pitcher since overhauling his approach beginning in 2015 but he got a very lucky .268 BABIP to help him post a tough to repeat 3.18 ERA.  Add in the awful home park and Happ is a very solid bust candidate.
44. Tanner Roark:  Take away Roark's brutal bullpen stint at the start of last season and what we have is a 3.00 ERA starter.  The K rate is mediocre but Roark will win a bunch of games in Washington with solid ratios.
45. Carlos Rodon:  Starting to put it all together now as Rodon pitched like a number 2 the second half of last season.  With improving control, Rodon's explosive stuff could really launch him into something special.
46. Robbie Ray:  I bet you didn't know Ray struck out 218 batters in just 174.1 innings last season.  Yes the 4.90 ERA was ghastly but Ray was unlucky BOTH in his strand rate and BABIP.
47. Sean Manaea:  Batters hit just .263 against the lefty last season and Manaea recorded a splendid 2.44 ERA his last 13 starts.  This is one stock heading upwards and you have to love the home park.
48. Matt Shoemaker:  Has been a quietly impressive strikeout artist since becoming a starter with the Angels and the draft price will be low coming off that scary HBP to the head at the end of 2016.
49. Jerad Eickhoff:  Doesn't get talked about as much as Aaron Nola or Vince Velasquez but Eickhoff might have the best polish of the three.  While he doesn't have the K rate of those two, Eickhoff's control is very impressive for a young pitcher.
50. Marco Estrada:  Has now beaten the BABIP curve two years running and somehow is carving out good numbers in Toronto of all places despite a tendency to give up home runs.  You get the feeling a blowup and correction is on the way.  I won't go near him this season.
51. Kevin Gausman:  Hate the AL East which is why I have Gausman here despite some continued growth in 2016.  Upping the K rate as he goes along as well which adds to the positive outlook.
52. Joe Ross:  Dealt with injuries which hurt his 2016 campaign but Ross has registered ERA's of 3.64 and 3.43 each of the last two years.
53. Lance Lynn:  Great buying opportunity here for a guy who always wins games and has struck out 200 batters as recently as 2014.  Lynn has looked great this spring as well to add to the upside.
54. Vince Velasquez:  Another young kid who can really deliver the heat.  Unfortunately Velasquez may not be able to physically hold up as a starter given his health woes.
55. Taijuan Walker:  Gets a fresh start in Arizona but that is not a good match for a guy who gives up home runs.  Walker was very hyped coming up but that light has dimmed.
56. Michael Pineda:  Struck out 207 batters last season and dealt with some horrid BABIP luck as well which points to a turnaround.
57. Daniel Norris:  Overshadowed by Michael Fulmer but shouldn't be.  Jon Gary clone who could really take off this season.
58.  Jeff Samardzjia:  The old high-K rates from his Chicago Cubs days are no more but Samardzjia works well in a spacious park as your SP 4.
59. Eduardo Rodriguez:  Once over his knee problems, Rodriguez looked like a different pitcher for the better last season.  Hate the division however.
60. Matt Moore:  Moore has some of the old bite back on his stuff moving further away from TJ surgery but control woes still undermine him.
61. Sonny Gray:  I sounded the alarms here starting in early 2015 as Gray began to lose velocity.  The bottom completely fell out last year and while it is impossible to imagine such a horrid repeat, Gray's K/9 has dropped each of the last three seasons.  Look on by.
62. Julio Urias:  Likely will start the year in the minors as the Dodgers look to keep Urias' innings down but the outlook is very bright for this strikeout-inducing kid.
63. Gio Gonzalez:  Still striking guys out at a solid clip but Gio is becoming more hittable than ever.
64. Jeremy Hellickson:  Quality back-end arm who won't hurt you.
65. Zach Davies:  Opened eyes with very solid pitching for a bad team in 2016.  K rate better than advertised as well.
66. Jason Hammel:  Made a career out of being a first half gem and a second half dud.
67. Ian Kennedy:  Getting into the boring but effective veteran hurlers now.
67. Jake Odorizzi:  See above.
68. Drew Pomeranz:  Had a typical drop across the board going from San Diego to Boston and had elbow woes as well.  Yet another scare took place this spring so Pomeranz is sinking fast.
69. Adam Wainwright:  Age and severe drop in velocity now make Wainwright nothing more than a back-end innings eater.
70. Blake Snell:  It simply has not happened for Snell who continues to walk the ballpark and now his rotation spot is not a given. Big disappointment thus far.
71. Joe Musgrove:  Poised and polished pitcher who lacks to-end K stuff.
72. Steven Wright:  Do you really want to trust a knuckleball pitcher?
73. Chris Tillman:  Always good for wins and a modest ERA  but Tillman has to get back onto a mound which has not happened this spring.
74. Ervin Santana:  Santana pretty much the same pitcher as Tillman but just older.
75. Alex Cobb:  Another year removed from TJ surgery could help Cobb go back to being the interesting sleeper he was prior to the surgery.
76. Hisashi Iwakuma:  Losing velocity and numbers inching up everywhere.
77. Tyler Glasnow:  Another young hurler for the Pirates who can strike guys out.  Needs to stop walking so many hitters though as Glasnow is in the same boat as Snell.
78. Scott Kazmir:  Is is past time to move beyond this guy.  Always injury prone and starting to get hit hard again.
79. Bartolo Colon:  We have learned never to doubt Colon's ability to post useful ratios but he will struggle to strike out 125 batters.
80. Junior Guerra:  Former Mexican League product surprised with his overall 2016 results but he screams out one year wonder.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

-Matt Carpenter already seems like he has his swing in order as he missed a huge chunk of spring training with back problems.  He went 2-for-3 on Wed. and has a homer at 5-for-15 overall since his return.  Carpenter has a very smooth swing and has really upped the power the last two years.  I am on board.

-It was an encouraging outing for Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer on Wednesday as he went 4.2 innings and gave up two runs versus the St. Louis Cardinals.  The big thing is that Scherzer was able to use his customary two-finger grip on his fastball and all systems seem to be a go.  It has been a trying spring and a nervous one too for Scherzer's fantasy baseball owners but at least he is now on track to be ready for the start of the season which seemed impossible a week ago.

-Carlos Martinez got the nod to start the opener for the Cardinals this season and he showed why by tossing five shutout innings versus the Nationals Wednesday.  As always, the shoulder risks are sizable here as Martinez has a tough delivery and goes max force on every pitch.  Also his K/9 dipped sharply last season which was disturbing when you consider shoulder trouble can sap numbers there.  Martinez is someone to watch closely early on when it comes to the K's but for now he seems good to go.

-Daniel Norris gave up two runs in five innings and struck out five Toronto Blue Jay hitters and so far he has a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings.  I have been on record touting Norris all spring as he seems like the next big power pitcher for the Tigers and his very affordable ADP makes his especially one to target.

-There may not be a worse pitcher this spring then Phil Hughes.  He was destroyed again on Wed. to the tune of 5 ER and 9 H in 2 IP and he looks completely shot as a pitcher.  It is getting ugly.

-The velocity is still not up to his Cy Young season in 2015 but Dallas Keuchel has thrown well this spring which included his 2 ER outing in 5 innings on Wednesday.  The damage was severe last season and so Keuchel should only be graded as an SP 3 at best.

-Maikel Franco has really struggled this spring as his average has dropped to .208 after an 0-for-3 outing Wednesday.  Remember that Franco is still just 24 and will go through some more growing pains but he already has a 25-home run season under his belt and remains with tremendous upside.

-Jeanmar Gomez is doing his best to show he deserves to still be the closer for the Phillies as he tossed another scoreless inning on Wednesday and for the spring he has given up just 1 run in a total of 8.2 frames.  Yes he is a soft-tosser and will eventually get exposed but he seems safe to begin the season in the ninth inning.  Sorry Hector Neris owners.

-Vince Velasquez has been striking out batters at a very high clip this spring as he punched out 7 in just 5.2 innings on Wednesday versus the NY Yankees.  While he did give up four earned runs, Velasquez has now punched out 18 batters in just 14.2 innings which speaks to how potent his stuff can be.  Of course there will be an innings limit and Velasquez has trouble staying healthy so that is an issue and overall he should be drafted as an SP 4 only.

-Greg Bird celebrated his official coronation as the Yankee first baseman to begin 2017 but homering TWICE Wednesday which brought his spring total to six.  Bird is also hitting well over .400 as he has drastically cut down the strikeouts that undermined him to a degree in his 2015 debut.  Upwards we go.

-It is getting ridiculous with Masahiro Tanaka who tossed another 5.1 scoreless innings on Wednesday versus the Phillies.  For the spring now Tanaka has not given up a run in 18.2 innings and his K rate has ticked up as well.  The UCL issue in his elbow is a non-story for now and he has put himself into low-end ace level this season.

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2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GREG BIRD OFFICIALLY NAMED STARTING FIRST BASEMAN

Thank you Captain Obvious. The New York Yankees made the easiest confirmation of the spring when they officially endorsed Greg Bird as their starting first baseman to begin the 2017 season.  Having come back from missing the entire 2016 season due a shoulder injury that required surgery, Bird has been on a year from the jump in spring games as he currently totes a crazy good .421 average with 4 home runs in 16 games.  Bird has shown no issues whatsoever in terms of the shoulder and his selectivity at the plate has been markedly improved this spring compared to his strikeout-prone ways when he debuted in 2015.  Alas Bird is no Aaron Judge in terms of having massive strikeout problems and he has a history of rapidly improving the second go-round at a given level.  With natural 30 home run power, Bird is looking like a terrific upside sleeper for 2017 fantasy baseball.  I admit I was lukewarm on Bird coming into the spring but he has fully won me over as a slugger who can destroy righty pitching.  The average may still lag a bit this season given that Bird still has issues against lefties (in fact Chris Carter is likely to play first base when a southpaw is on the mound) but his power is tremendous and .275 is not out of the question.  Upwards we go.

UPDATE:  Two more home runs during Wednesday's exhibition game!  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED TOP 40 STARTING PITCHERS

1.  Clayton Kershaw:  Simply the best with no debate.  The only question is whether you want to spend a first round pick on a starting pitcher.
2.  Madison Bumgarner:  One day Bumgarner’s arm is going to fall off after all of these very high inning yearly totals but not yet.  Punched out a career-best 251 batters last season.
3.  Max Scherzer:  Believe it or not, Scherzer is not that far behind Kershaw as he is more durable and has the same type of massive strikeout stuff.  I did drop him down behind Bumgarner though given the fractured knuckle that has dominated talk around Scherzer this spring.
4.  Corey Kluber:  Already has a Cy Young and was worthy of a second one last season.  Rock solid and dependable ace. 
5.  Noah Syndegaard:  There is always the worry that Syndegaard’s elbow will explode on any one pitch given the fact he throws harder on average than any pitcher in the game but on stuff alone this guy is a monster.
6.  Johnny Cueto:  The numbers don’t lie here as Cueto consistently puts up miniscule ERA’s and WHIP’s but with a K rate that falls slightly below the aces listed above him.
7.  Chris Sale:  Has proved more durable the last few years and you can count on one hand pitchers who have such unhittable stuff.  Keep in mind though Sale goes into the offensive haven that is the AL East and into the launching pad that is Fenway Park.  Also Sale’s K/9 rate declined sharply last season as he admitted pitching more to contact.
8.  Jake Arrieta:  We told you to avoid Arrieta going into last season and that proved good advice as his ERA went from 1.77 to 3.10 and Arrieta lost his control in posting a gross 3.47 BB/9.  There is legitimate concern that Arrieta is a major injury waiting to happen given his very high inning totals the last few seasons.
9.  Stephen Strasburg:  Same story as always:  wonderful and dominant power pitcher but also as big an injury risk as you can get.  We suggest you avoid him based on the latter.
10. Justin Verlander:  Came back with a vengeance last season when us and many others wrote him of.  Kudos to Verlander but we still get the feeling his arm is going to bounce soon after so many innings. 
11. Jacob DeGrom:  It was a frustrating year for DeGrom last season as he had an ulnar nerve repaired in his elbow but his 3.04 ERA and K/IP still show ace ability.  His comeback this spring has been phenomenal however as DeGrom has hit 97 routinely on the gun and been as dominant as any starter in exhibition play.  
12. Jon Lester:  There have been a ton of innings on Lester’s arm as well the last few seasons but he is holding up well coming off a career-best 2.44 ERA campaign.  Keep in mind that Lester got a decent amount of BABIP luck last season and his adjusted ERA was a full run higher.  Draft him as a 3.30 ERA guy. 
13. Yu Darvish:  Darvish came back from Tommy John surgery and immediately began striking everyone out like he did before.  While his walks are always very annoying, Darvish looks ready to reclaim his fantasy baseball ace status. 
14. Chris Archer:  Go get him.  Archer is a strikeout machine whose 4.02 ERA might scare some people.  Don’t let that fool you as Archer had some poor BABIP luck and the 233 strikeouts and youth at the age of 28 show how potent he can be.
15. Carlos Martinez:  You always have to worry about the shoulder as Martinez has had yearly problem with the joint but the numbers (3.01 and 3.04 ERA’s the last two years) are beyond impressive.
16. Kyle Hendricks:  Already have talked at length about how Hendricks will be drafted too high this season as his 2016 was not as good as the surface numbers indicate.  Hendricks got a great deal of BABIP luck last season and his K/9 rate was just slightly above average.  More of a 3.20 ERA guy which is where you should have Hendricks penciled in when it comes to his draft spot.
17. Masahiro Tanaka:  Speaking of TJ risk, Tanaka continues to pitch with a tear in his UCL but is doing just fine coming off a 3.07 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  He literally has almost been unhittable this spring and Tanaka's strikeouts have come back to very impressive levels in the small sample size.  
18. Cole Hamels:  Still pitched like an ace despite moving into an offensive haven that is Texas last season but keep in mind Hamels’ 3.45 BB/9 was a career-worst performance there. 
19. Danny Duffy:  Like with Carlos Carrasco, a curbed walk rate has allowed Duffy’s potent strikeout stuff to get launched.  Get on board.
20. David Price:  Now we may know why Price's fastball dropped 2 mph last season and his ERA straddled 4.00.  An elbow injury this spring will have Price beginning 2017 on the DL but the big thing is that no Tommy John was needed.  That is YET.  
21. Gerrit Cole:  Tread very  carefully here as Cole had more arm problems last season (second time in three years) and his K/9 rate cratered.  Sizable Tommy John risk.
22. Jose Quintana:  No this is not a typo as the durable Quintana continues to get better and comes off a 2016 campaign where he reached high's in ERA (3.07), WHIP (1.16) and strikeouts (181).
23. Kenta Maeda:  MRI shows all sorts of elbow trouble that could blow up at a moment's notice but Maeda's 9.29 K/9 rate shows how much he fooled batters as a rookie.
24. Aaron Sanchez:  I suggest avoiding Sanchez this season as his K/9 is mediocre and he comes off a MASSIVE uptick in innings compared to 2015.  This almost always leads to depressed numbers and health woes the following season.
25. Lance McCullers:  Massive strikeout upside here but McCuller's control was hideous last season and his high-octane stuff makes health iffy.
26. Rick Porcello:  Love the durability here but Porcello got some sizable BABIP luck last season and the benefit of the Red Sox lineup supplying a bunch of run support.  Decent pitcher no doubt but Porcello is more an SP 3 than a Cy Young winner.
27. Felix Hernandez:  This is a huge drop in the rankings for Hernandez but understandable as he comes off two rough seasons in a row.  The fastball velocity is down 5-mph and counting and Hernandez is also losing his control (3.82 BB/9).  Avoid.
28. Michael Fulmer:  Was the definition of ridiculous at times during his rookie season for the Tigers but keep in mind Fulmer is a not a huge strikeout guy.  Beware of a slight sophomore slump as well.
29. Jon Gray:  all the advanced indicators are suggesting Gray is going to be a 200-K ace-level starter as soon as 2017; home ballpark be damned.
30. Carlos Carrasco:  Few in the industry were more bullish on this guy than I was and for good reason.  Unfortunately Carrasco is going the other way now as his velocity dipped last season, the home run began flying out at a very high rate, and now he has gotten destroyed this spring before injury issues sidelined him.  Avoid.  
31. Marcus Stroman:  Many will shy away from Stroman after his tough (4.37 ERA) campaign last season but his vast FIVE pitch arsenal and splendid control point to SP 2 status.
32. Danny Salazar:  The poor control reared its ugly head again last season and Salazar's rough delivery got him injured as well.  While we love the extreme strikeout stuff, Salazar is a big boom-or-bust pitcher.
33. John Lackey:  Actually reached a new career-high in strikeouts last season at the age of 37 and Lackey is as dogged as a pitcher gets.  Can still be quite useful as an SP 3 for another season.
34. Aaron Nola:  Again this is me being a firm believer in the ability that Nola has.  Like with Jon Gray, all the advanced metrics say Nola will be an ace-like starter and he was every bit of that the first two months of last season before injuries hit.
35. James Paxton:  Group Paxton in with Nola and Gray for vast upside.  Advanced numbers suggested Paxton has upper-level stuff which he has shown in spurts the last two seasons.
36. Rich Hill:  What a story this guy is as Hill is defying every trend or prediction at the age of 37.  Hill still strikes guys out at a level that an ace would and a 2.12 ERA last season pretty much says it all in terms of current ability.
37. Julio Teheran:  Good pitcher on a bad team so wins will be tough to come by.
39. Dallas Keuchel:  Correctly said Keuchel would go bust last season and boy did he as the ERA spiked to 4.55 and the health went bad.  While I think Keuchel will be better this time around, he is still nothing more than SP 3/4.
39. Matt Harvey:  Coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey has struggled badly and his velocity is sitting in the low-90's which is a problem.  Scary times for Harvey whose stock continues to sink.
40. Zack Greinke:  The velocity is still slightly leaking and Grienke was torched at Chase Field all of 2016 which are big potential problems.  Downward we go as Greinke's fastball was sitting only in the high-80's this spring until his last outing.  Bad signs all around.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: CARLOS GOMEZ OUTFIELDER TEXAS RANGERS

While the most recent story on Texas Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez was a bit concerning due to the veteran injuring his shoulder on a slide into third base during an exhibition game Tuesday, the bigger theme here centers on the big spring performance the former first round fantasy baseball star has had.  In terms of the injury, team brass have said they think Gomez will be fine and it sounded like a precautionary deal.  Tests will be performed but it seems like Gomez avoided disaster.  On the hitting front, Gomez has been terrific this spring as the triple he hit that led into the injury raised his exhibition average to a scorching .344 to go with 3 home runs and 9 RBI.  Gomez has hit with authority from the jump in spring training and it continues the very good work he did with the Rangers during the second half of last season after he washed out in Houston with the Astros so badly that it led to his release.  Still quite young at the age of 31, Gomez was talked up by this peanut stand as a comeback player for 2017 fantasy baseball given both his ballpark and the fact he was finally healthy after battling stubborn injuries the last few seasons.  It was likely those injuries led to the abysmal numbers Gomez put up in 2015 and the first half of 2016 that led to the release but it seemed like he was back to his old self as a big fantasy baseball help once he latched on with the Rangers during the second half as he batted .284 with 8 home runs in just 33 games.  The Rangers liked what they saw enough that they brought Gomez back in free agency and he has done nothing but hit since.  So again what we have here is a healthy and still young player who is operating in one of the best offensive parks in baseball and whose power is still very much in play given what we have seen.  Gomez also still picked up 18 stolen bases last season so his legs are working just fine as long as he is healthy.  As long as the shoulder checks out, Gomez should be drafted in the middle rounds as a nice comeback and rare veteran upside play.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SHOULDER STRAIN LIKELY TO KEEP DIDI GREGORIOUS OUT UNTIL MAY

Wow.  The news is not good when it comes to New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious who came down with a shoulder injury during his stint with Team Netherlands in the WBC.  Further testing while back in Tampa with the Yanks confirmed that Gregorious suffered a right shoulder strain that will likely keep him out for most or all of April.  Coming off a nice breakout season in 2016 when he reached the 20-home run plateau, Gregorious will now be replaced by Tyler Wade to begin the year.  While Gleybar Torres has been insane in hitting well over .400 this spring for the team, GM Brian Cashman has been adamant that his shortstop prospect will start in the minors.  Clearly the Yanks are concerned about rushing Torres but they also want to save an arbitration year as we see with almost all top prospects.  Not a good situation for Gregorious owners but nothing disastrous either.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: COREY SEAGER (OBLIQUE) ALMOST ALL THE WAY BACK

It has been somewhat of a scary few weeks for the fantasy baseball owners of Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, what with the young hitting dynamo battling a stubborn oblique injury that at one time looked like it was going to derail him from taking part in Opening Day.  Alas all seems well on the Seager front now as manager Dave Roberts announced on Tuesday that he would man the DH spot for the team in their exhibition game on Thursday and all goes well, eventually progress to returning to the field next week.  This is great news in that Seager still has a bit less than two weeks to get himself ready for the opener and while a slow start to the 2017 season may be likely given all the spring workouts he has missed, there is nothing overall holding him back from being a stud fantasy baseball star.  The only knock on Seager may be that he doesn't run much but this is a future batting champion waiting to happen who also can threaten 30 home runs and 90-plus runs and RBI.  Yes the late first round price tag is extreme given the fact Seager has minimal MLB experience but consider that money well spent.  


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: KODA GLOVER LOOKING LIKE A CLOSER UPSET

We should have seen this coming that's for sure,  As soon as Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker began using reliever Koda Glove in a string of ninth inning appearances in spring training exhibition games, it was becoming easy to see what the man had in mind in terms of his closer situation.  With the Nats having not re-signed Mark Melancon during free agency, the assumption all along was that hard-throwing Shawn Kelly would be the man to close games for the NL East contenders.  Alas Baker had a lot of good things to say about the 23-year-old Glover right from the start of camp and his usage has suggested he is very much leaning toward using the kid to finish games at the start of the season.  Glover has been dominant this spring as he has a 1.13 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 11 K's in just 8 innings pitched so far.  Having a fastball that approaches triple-digits, Glover seems like a natural fit in the ninth and so those who already invested in Kelly have to be more that a bit perturbed by this.  Kelly has certainly pitched very well himself the last two years but his experience closing games has been dicey at best.  So as of right now, Glover has to be considered the guy to own as far as saves are concerned for the Nationals and that qualifies as a big upset for sure with the season two weeks away.


Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: MONDAY

-Johnny Cueto got off to a late start this spring with the San Francisco Giants due to a visa issue but he looked like his old ace self Monday by throwing five innings of one-run ball.  Cueto gave up just one hit and struck out 3 against the White Sox and already sees up to speed.  Going back to the NL worked wonders for Cueto going back to his dominant ace ways in fantasy baseball and that should be his calling again in 2017.

-Reynaldo Lopez is an unrefined young power pitcher who really struggles with control and that will make him more of a fantasy baseball story in 2018 then this season.  He looked good Monday though as he gave up just two hits in throwing six scoreless innings for the White Sox against the Giants, while striking out four.  Lopez also did not walk anyone which is huge as his horrid control is what is holding him back from being a bigger sleeper this season.  We wouldn't run out to draft Lopez but a last round pick makes some sense given the pedigree.

-Francisco Liriano has been a strikeout machine with the Toronto Blue Jays this spring as he picked up 10 more K's Monday in his outing versus the Minnesota Twins.  Liriano did give up two runs in four innings but overall he has 18 K's in his three spring outings.  Tremendous stuff for Liriano who is showing he is not done yet from being a fantasy baseball help off his awful 2016 but his home park in Rogers Center make him very scary every time he goes out in a start in his new home.

-Wow it just has not been good for Blake Snell this spring as he was shelled again Monday to the tune of four earned runs in five innings versus the Pittsburgh Pirates,  Snells control has been disgusting as well with 8 walks in just 14 innings.  I was a big booster of Snell and his extreme strikeout potential but at this rate, he may not even make the team out of camp.  Snell's next start is a big one but I would now hold back on drafting him.

-While the talk of Yankee camp has been their insane collection of young players, outfielder Matt Holliday has been terrific this spring as he slammed his third home run of the spring Monday.  Holliday is ancient at 37 but he is hitting .306 and seems a good bet for 25 home runs for the cost of a very late round pick.  Again veterans are always good values if they are healthy since no one wants to draft them and a great hitter like Holliday seems to still be able to offer something.

-Koda Glover may just be winning the closer derby for the Washington Nationals as he pitched in the ninth inning on Monday.  While manager Dusty Baker has not said what his thoughts are on the subject, we do know he likes having Shawn Kelly in setup and Glover has been nearly flawless this spring.  Pick up Glover immediately if you drafted and move him up your boards if you haven't done so.

-It was a mixed-bag outing for Matt Harvey Monday as he gave up 3 runs in 4.1 innings but he struck out four and hit the mid-90's with his fastball for the first time this spring.  This is a positive as far as the velocity is concerned but Harvey is still in big uncharted territory in terms of his outlook coming back from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

-Matt Kemp went 0-for-3 Monday and is hitting just .231 without a single home run.  This is what you call a non-spring story though as Kemp is a veteran still in his prime who will be just fine hitting behind Freddie Freeman in the Atlanta Braves lineup.

-Another closer development is in Colorado where Greg Holland could be getting set to steal the gig away from Adam Ottavino.  Holland struck out two Monday in his scoreless outing and if you didn't know any better, you would have no idea he is making his way back from Tommy John surgery. Holland his 94 on the gun Monday and his K's are already popping.  Go get him.

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2017 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED OUTFIELDER RANKINGS

1.  Mike Trout:  The most obvious pick of any position anywhere.  Trout ran at will again last season after a two-year break to go with his tremendous contributions in the other four categories.  Should be the top pick in all leagues.
2.  Mookie Betts:  Blew the doors off of any projection anyone had for Betts last season as he exploded to 31 home runs and 113 RBI.  Throw in 26 steals, 122 runs scored, and a .318 average and you can call Betts a close second to Mike Trout in all league drafts.
3.  Bryce Harper:  Dealt with nagging injuries which help explain the sizable drop in Harper's numbers last season.  This is still the same guy who had a video game-like 2015 campaign and also keep in mind Harper ran like he was a rookie again last season with 21 steals.  Look for Harper going right back to the 40-home run plateau with good health.
4.  Charlie Blackmon:  Blackmon seemingly gets better each and every season but he is now trading steals for home runs which we will take.  There is a big home/road split as expected (.900 OPS at home/.727 on road) but the end numbers are still terrific.
5.  Trea Turner:  While he will be the Nats' every day shortstop this season, Turner still retains outfielder and second base eligibility for 2017 which is icing on the cake.  While we are a bit skeptical of the vast rise in HR rate as a rookie last season, Turner should challenge for the stolen base title while hitting .300 or better.  Along with Gary Sanchez, no one player will be fought over more in drafts.
6.  Ryan Braun:  The guy is a jerk personally but I can't argue with the very good back-to-back seasons Braun had in 2015 and 2016.  While he is running a bit less as he ages (down to 16 steals a year ago), Braun is still mashing (30 homers) and plays through injuries.
7.  Starling Marte:  Marte still strikes out a lot but his live drive rate is very good and he ran so much more in 2016 (career-best 47 steals) which helped overcome a dip in power (9 homers).  Look for Marte to bring those two numbers close together this season which will keep a firm outfielder 1.
8.  Nelson Cruz:  Despite moving from Baltimore to spacious Safeco Field in Seattle, Nelson Cruz is now working on three straight 40-home run seasons.  Always underrated, Cruz is aging a bit at 37 but shows no signs of slipping.  Try him out as your main outfield power source for one more season at least.
9.  Yoenis Cespedes:  Cespedes leaves some people wanting more but it is time to appreciate the fact the Cuban has upped his average to a helpful range the last two seasons while still pounding out home runs at a 30-plus clip.  Also you won't find many hitters who have had a hotter spring than Cespedes who has sent homers all over outfield walls.
10. Gregory Polanco:  While Polanco is still not a finished product due to his shaky average, Polanco is on the cusp of being the next Starling Marte in terms of being a 20-home run and 30-stolen base outfielder.  Get on board now as Polanco is ready to push himself into outfielder 1 status.
11. George Springer:  I personally am a bit cool to Springer as he seems like he is settling into a .260 hitter whose speed declined to just 9 steals last season.  The 29 home runs were nice on the surface but Springer did that in a massive 744 at-bats which takes some shine off.  We can accept the shaky average if Springer is running but that doesn't look like it is part of the equation anymore.
12. A.J,. Pollock:  Consider last season a throw out year and start over for 2017.  Keep in mind Pollock hit 20 home runs, stole 39 bases, scored 111 runs. collected 76 RBI, and batted .315 just two years ago.  Still just 29, Pollock is the real deal.  Unfortunately injuries are becoming a common theme here as Pollock suffered a groin injury in camp that has kept him sidelined.  Not good.
13. Mark Trumbo:  Massive power and I personally made a huge profit on Trumbo last season as I recommended you all buy very low after he signed with Baltimore.  He is still without a home as of this writing but Trumbo is a 40-home run masher who will supply 100-RBI as well.  Just keep in mind the ugly average that goes along the ride.
14. Giancarlo Stanton:  I think Stanton is now firmly in the "overrated" bin as his monstrous home runs and Home Run Derby displays push up his draft slot beyond where it should be.  Given that Stanton still has never hit 40 home runs and has averaged just 115 games played per year in hsi career, some prudence should be in order here when it comes to where you select Stanton.  Also Stanton has stopped running and his average is ugly considering how much he strikes out.  Resist the temptation to reach for the name brand.
15. Ian Desmond:  Desmond takes a plunge down the rankings given the broken hand he suffered in an exhibition game.  Literally a tough break to begin his intriguing run with the Colorado Rockies.
16. Andrew McCutchen:  This could be too low to rank McCutchen but he showed some very disturbing signs last season ins swiping just 6 bases and batting an ugly .256.  Injuries could have played a role but that is what 2017 will determine.
17. Carlos Gonzalez:  CarGo has evened up his home/road splits the last two years and he has found some more durability as well which is always a big plus for the previously health-averse outfielder.  The steals are long gone but 25-30 home runs is a certainty.
18. J.D. Martinez:  The Detroit outfielder has settled into being a 30-home run guy with a .280 average but nothing in the way of speed.  That works nicely as a top-end outfielder 2.  However Martinez may have suffered a broken foot which would keep him out for all of April.
19. Christian Yelich:  Yelich is a future batting champ who comes off a strange 2016 where the steals anticipated never materialized but the power was better than anyone thought.  This stock is still moving upwards but Yelich remains a bit of a puzzle.
20. Adam Jones:  You can write in ink 25-30 home runs and 90 RBI for Jones each and every season but the steals are gone for good.  Dependable as heck but Jones is no longer as flashy as he once was a few seasons ago.
21.  Justin Upton:  It took Upton four months to find a comfort zone in his first season in Detroit but overall he remains a flawed hitter who runs extremely hot and cold.  Upton's average is now firmly in the liability realm and he doesn't seem as interested in running much anymore.  As overrated as it gets.
22. Jose Bautista:  Back in Toronto where Bautista remains in a prime power park.  Home runs and RBI are pretty much the total calling card for the 36-year-old as Bautista has hit just .250 and .234 the last two years.  Joins Upton as more name brand than actual production.
23. David Dahl:  Call me overly bullish on the Rockies youngster but this is a potential five-category Charlie Blackmon-clone who will never come cheaper.  Unfortunately Dahl has battled the injury bug this spring that has kept him from some much-needed experience in games.
23. Lorenzo Cain:  Injuries derailed Cain's numbers in 2016 but he is still a guy who can contribute in all five standard ROTO categories when he right.  While the power is not likely to leave the teens, Cain will be excellent everywhere else.
24. Michael Brantley:  Tough to slot Brantley as he missed pretty much all of 2016 with ongoing shoulder trouble and he still is not 100 percent.  He is one of the best pure hitters in the game and Brantley at full health can perform like a top 20 guy.
25. Odubel Herrera:  Discussed my love Herrera in more depth the other day but in short, this is already a give-tool guy who has some room to get even better.
26. Kyle Schwarber:  Easy 30 home runs here and maybe a re-acquisition of catcher eligibility.  But boy does Schwarber have no position on the diamond.
27. Matt Kemp:  We are starting to get into the power guys who don't run and that is what Kemp is now.  He comes off a 35-home run campaign that showed that he is far from done despite losing almost all his speed.
28. Dexter Fowler:  Not my cup of tea as Fowler is a decent but not impactful fantasy baseball player.  He will do a little of this and a little of that but the move to St. Louis takes away some of his already modest power.
29. Billy Hamilton:  You all know how I feel about Hamilton who is grossly overpriced each and every season and 2017 will be no different.  This is a gadget guy all the way but one who could win the steals category for you by himself.  I still think you wait ten rounds and draft Jarrod Dyson or someone like that later.
30. Jackie Bradley Jr.:  Bradley Jr. really came into his own in 2016 but his second half struggles were a bit of a red flag.  It could be that opposing pitchers got a handle on Bradley whose .267 average was actually as good as you could expect given his strikeout tendencies.  With just modest speed, (9 steals), Bradley could go bust for you.
31. Andrew Benintendi:  Like with David Dalh, Andrew Benintendi is right there as the best hitting sleeper for 2017 fantasy baseball.  The injury issues he suffered last season with the Red Sox will be a blessing in disguise as it should keep this future five-tool stud's price down a bit.  Maybe.
32. Marcell Ozuna:  Two of the last three years now we have seen Ozuna go off with his power but his average is a bit shaky and he doesn't run which limits the overall upside.
33. Adam Eaton:  Amazing to this day how much the Washington Nationals gave up to get Eaton.  Now Eaton is a nice player who can go 15/15 with a .290 average which is very nice but don't let that trade fool you into thinking he is a star.
34. Hunter Pence:  Age shows mercy on no one and Pence is all of a sudden injury prone as he has dealt with missed games for large stretches of the last two seasons.  Still he batted .289 with 13 homers and 1 steal in just 395 at-bats last season so the hitting numbers are still there.  Now just an outfielder 3 though.
35. Stephen Piscotty:  Yes Piscotty is one of "MY GUYS" but this youngster is a terrific pure hitter who tapped into some new power in 2016 (22 home runs) and who can take the odd base (7 steals).  Unfortunately Piscotty has been awful this spring which is somewhat disturbing,
36. Byron Buxton:  The much-hyped Twins prospect showed signs of finally tapping into his vast potential last season but he still has holes in his swing which need to be covered.  It is still not too late for him to realize those 20/30 seasons.
37. Josh Reddick:  Reddick is Adam Eaton but with more injuries.  In fact Reddick has more power than Eaton and could pass him if he can stay on the field.
38. Khris Davis:  You get massive power here but a hurtful batting average from the "K" version of "Chris" Davis.
39. Kole Calhoun:  Calhoun is solid and steady but keep in mind what you get here.  That is a good power bat with decent counting numbers and nothing in the way of speed.  Also Calhoun;s average has become a bit of an issue as well.
40. Nomar Mazara:  Likely only going to move up from here as long as Mazara proves his terrific 2016 (.266/20 HR) is no fluke.  No speed to be had here though.
42. Yasmany Tomas:  Tomas is underrated now after some initial hype coming out Cuba.  Yes he has not become a star many thought he would but 31 home runs and a .270 average works nicely in your outfielder 3 spot.
43. Carlos Beltran:  Older than dirt but Beltran showed in slamming 29 home runs last season that he will likely put up numbers right up until he retires.
44. David Peralta:  This is me giving Peralta a total mulligan on his no-show and injury-marred 2016.  Keep in mind Peralta hit 17 home runs, stole 9 bases, and batted ,273 in 2015.  Intriguing five-category talent.
45. Randal Grichuk:  Another guy who I won't chase as Grichuk's average is a killer but there is no denying his massive power.  Poor average and big power hitting outfielders are a dime a dozen so never chase them.
46. Curtis Granderson:  See above.
47. Ender Inciarte:  Lots to like here for a very cheap price as Inciarte is a true leadoff guy who can threaten 90 runs and 25 steals while hitting .300.  He also can knock the odd homer as well.
48. Matt Holliday:  Like Carlos Beltran with the New York Yankees last season, Matt Holliday could have one big 30-home run year left in his bat in that park.
49. Keon Broxton:  Ignore Billy Hamilton and instead snag this guy a few rounds later.  Broxton has speed to burn and he also hit 9 home runs in just 207 at-bats last season.
50. Kevin Kiermaier:  Sports Illustrated called Keirmaier the most underrated player in baseball and while we won;t go that far, he has quietly been very good in terms of fantasy baseball-related numbers the last two years in posting power/speed ratios of 10/18 and 12/21.
51. Yasiel Puig:  Who knows with the mercurial Puig who has all the natural talent in the world but who can't keep his head on straight.
52. Carlos Gomez:  Back in Texas where Gomez saved his quickly fading career the second half of last season.  There is still some power/speed numbers to be had here but it looks like Gomez' days of batting .280 are finished.
53. Adam Duvall:  Again another guy who can really collect the power numbers but put a hurt on your average.
54. Joc Pederson:  I was a big fan prior to 2015 but no longer as Pederson is a huge average-killer whose minor league steals never made it to the majors.
55. Jorge Soler:  Post-hype sleeper alert here as Soler gets a fresh start in Kansas City to show his minor league promise was not a fluke.
56. Corey Dickerson:  Bombed the first half of last season as Dickerson dealt with his new spacious surroundings with the Rays but finished with 24 homers. Has had a crazy hot spring​.
57. Jacoby Ellsbury:  While he might be able to swipe another 20 bags, Ellsbury's average is sinking and his power is in hiding.  Throw in all the typical injuries and Ellsbury should be avoided.
58. Jay Bruce:  If you want 30 home runs and a .260 average at best, this is your guy.
59. Michael Conforto:  I still believe Conforto is set to be a big hitting star but the Mets' outfield is a bit crowded.
60. Brett Gardner:  Now nothing more than a 15-20 steal guy who can pop some home runs.  The flash has long left the station.
61. Leonys Martin:  Found some power to go with the always solid speed last season but Martin finished terribly.  He remains a firm outfielder 3 player this season.
62. Rajai Davis:  Always seems to find the at-bats and put up big steal numbers.  Aging but Davis swiped 43 bags a year ago and will start for the A's.
63. Max Kepler:  Opened eyes by hitting 17 homers and stealing 6 bases in just 396 at-bats.  Struggled badly against lefties though and Kepler was horrible in September.  
64. Tyler Naquin:  All in all Naquin was excellent replacing Michael Brantley as he went 14/6 and batted .296.  Was not much of a prospect though so Naquin could easily come back to earth.  Also not guaranteed playing time with a healthy Brantley.  
65. Michael Saunders:  Love the landing spot in Philadelphia where Saunders' good power can remain potent.  Just understand though Saunders doesn't run anymore (1 steal last two years) and his average is always ugly.  
66. Jason Heyward:  Was beyond brutal in his first go-round with the Cubs but Heyward can only go up from here.  Good for 20 steals and a few homers if all breaks right.
67. Melvin Upton:  Quietly had a nice year with 20 homers and 27 steals and now plays home games in Toronto.  Yes please despite the ugly average.
68. Domingo Santana:  Yet another outfielder who can hit homers but struggles with the average.  Santana could land a prominent spot in the Milwaukee order again this season,
69. Hunter Renfroe:  Talked about him earlier in day but in summary, big power potential.  
70. Alex Gordon:  Aging and coming off a terrible season.  Gordon's speed is long gone and his average is falling under the weight of an increased K rate.
71. Andrew Toles:  Could catch on with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toles has hit at all levels.  Mostly a lottery pick.
72. Steven Souza:  Has some power/speed juice but a good average for Souza is .250.  
73. Cameron Maybin:  Has had a tough time staying healthy lately but Maybin was actually pretty darn good on a per game basis the last two seasons.  
74. Mallex Smith:  Could steal a crazy amount of bases as long as the hits keep falling.
75. Jarrod Dyson:  Another speed demon who could pile up steals in a hurry.  
76. Aaron Judge:  Not sure if Judge will even make the team but the power is immense.  Could lose the starting rightfield job to Aaron Hicks though.  
77. Nick Markakis:  Now mostly a decent average and good runs/RBI guy and not much else.  
78. Jayson Werth:  He has no more speed and an average that keep dipping but Werth at least can pop some homers.  
79. Roman Quinn:  Stole 41 bags last season in the minors for the Phillies but could be blocked after Saunders signed. 
80. Avisail Garcia:  The hype has not matched the results here and so Garcia is nothing more than a backup bat.
81. Manuel Margot:  See our Draft Sleepers for details on this speedster.  Looks like a young version of Ben Revere.
82. Gerardo Parra:  Back in the fantasy baseball fold as Parra will not play regularly to begin the year with David Dahl and Ian Desmond's status uncertain.
83. Shin-Soo Choo:  Can still hit for power in a great ballpark but Choo's injuries and total elimination of speed make him just a boring veteran.
84. Ben Revere:  Healthy, fresh start, and good track record makes Revere a good guy to buy low on as your speed merchant.
85. Scott Schebler:  Hit .311 with 13 homers at Triple-A last season and will get a good chance to stick on the rebuilding Reds this season.
86. Denard Span:  Shocked with 21 home runs last season but that number is a big outlier for Span and his career.  Drop to just 5 steals and a shoddy .266 average shows Span's age.
87. Hyun-Soo Kim:  Kim showed in part-time duty last season that he can handle the bat but he needs to play more to gain additional fantasy baseball prominence.
88. Mitch Haniger:  Has hit all spring and has enough speed to be a 15/15 or better.
89. Alex Dickerson:  Power/speed guy who lit up Triple-A last season (.382 in two months there) but Dickerson is already 27 and has to show he is not another Quad-A guy.
90. Angel Pagan:  Can still run a bit and hit around .280 but Pagan is clearly on the down slop of his career.
91. Seth Smith:  If you play him just against lefties in a platoon on your roster, Smith can help with his power.
92. Kevin Pillar:  Was very disappointing last season when it looked like Pillar was on the verge of becoming a decent power/speed guy.  Now likely getting squeezed out of a meaningful role.
93. Colby Rasmus:  We have tired of the all-or-nothing game of Rasmus who will destroy your team average while hitting some bombs.
94. Paulo Orlando:  Get set to move up Orlando is he nets a starting job this spring as he is a solid hitter who can run.
95. Brandon Drury:  Opened some eyes with good overall hitting early on last season but Drury is just a bench outfielder.
96. Nori Aoki:  Can hit .280 in his sleep but Aoki is not running anymore.
97. Franklin Gutierrez:  The nice 2015 story didn;t carry over into 2017.  Gutierrez could already be out of chances in Seattle.
98. Michael Taylor:  Only has value if injures open up an opportunity.
99. Trayce Thompson:  Yet another in a huge fraternity of guys who can hit for power and not average.
100.Aaron Hicks:  Primed to steal the rightfield spot from Aaron Judge in a big upset.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: CT SCAN ON TAP FOR JD MARTINEZ, HINTING AT BREAK IN FOOT

                                                             

The news just gets worse for Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez as he is headed for a CT scan on his foot to likely confirm a break.  The fact Martinez has had X-Rays, an MRI, and now a CT scan almost confirms that Martinez suffered a broken foot as there would be no need for all of these extra tests if the team didn't think there was a reason to do so.  This is a potentially huge blow to Martinez' fantasy baseball owners' who will likely be without the slugger for April if a break is found.  Tough way to start the season.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: JULIO URIAS' OUTLOOK NOT LOOKING AS POTENT WITH DODGERS LIKELY KEEPING HIM IN THE MINORS TO BEGIN 2017

Los Angeles Dodgers pitching phenom Julio Urias is unlikely to break camp with the team according to manager Dave Roberts and instead will be ramped up in the minor leagues or extended spring training to begin 2017.  Urias has only thrown 5.2 innings this spring for the Dodgers and so he remains well behind the rest of the staff in preparation for the new season.  Urias of course is considered one of the more prominent pitching prospects in baseball and his upside is massive in fantasy baseball given his power stuff.  Still Urias is very raw and needs a season or two to find his MLB footing.  His overall 2017 fantasy baseball outlook is not as great as you may think given the innings limits he will face and the control he has to work out.  A tremendous talent for sure but Urias may be more a story for 2018 then 2017.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: BIG SPRING FOR DIGI GREGORIOUS DERAILED BY WBC SHOULDER INJURY

                                                                  

Ahhhh the WBC.  Every fantasy baseball player dreads this annual exhibition given the chance of injury to prime hitters and pitchers, which invariably happens during the event.  This time around, we already have dodged a major injury scare with Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and now we get news that New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious is headed for an MRI due to an injured shoulder.  Gregorious was being flown back from the WBC where he suffered the injury and the Yanks themselves have been very vague on what exactly took place there.  Meanwhile, Gregorious was having a big spring both with the Yankees and with team Netherlands in the WBC in hitting for authority and the power he showed last season.  While you don't like the fact Gregorious doesn't run much, he was quietly very good in 2016 with 20 home runs and a .276 average in 562 at-bats.  Gregorious still had a smidge of upside left to his name which makes his injury so much more disappointing.  Stay tuned for the MRI results but as always, prepare for the worst.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SUNDAY

-Maybe we should take up a collection for the Chicago White Sox front office so that we can pay for whatever the team will lose in future arbitration by having Yoan Moncada make the team out of camp.  Moncada has been an absolute beast with the bat of late, having gone 3-for-5 Sunday as he now has 11 RBI in his last 7 spring games.  Already with 30-steal speed and power that is beginning to emerge in full force, Moncada is deserving with the nod of being the number 1 hitting prospect in the game.  He will be a first round monster before you know it and those who draft him will see results by June the latest.

-Matt Bush continues to put up zeroes this spring, adding two more on Sunday without giving up a hit and striking out two.  I have said from the beginning of spring training that it is only a matter of time before Bush takes over the Texas closer gig from soft-tossing Sam Dyson and so he is worth drafting in all formats.

-Carlos Gomez continues to show us he is perhaps not done yet as a prime fantasy baseball outfielder as he hit his third spring homer Sunday and upped his average to .333.  The ultimate buy low this spring, Gomez still can run a bit and his power should be solid in the Texas launching pad.

-I have been all over Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies as a major breakout pitcher this season and so far this spring he has held to my prediction.  Gray struck out 7 Oakland A's in his five-inning outing of one-run ball.  For the spring now, Gray has a composite 1.42 ERA and looks every bit as a guy who is ready to ascend to upper tier status despite the home ballpark.

-Matt Shoemaker was not great Sunday as he gave up 4 runs (2 earned) in 4 innings but he is missing bats with 18 total K's in 13 total innings.  I like the value here as Shoemaker has been good in two of the last three years and his K/9 rate should go over 8.00.

-Carlos Rodon tossed four scoreless innings with 5 K's for the Chicago White Sox on Sunday and seems like he is firing on all cylinders after starting the spring behind the rest of the staff.  I like Jon Gray better as a breakout power arm given the NL advantage but Rodon is another young starter who seems set to make a nice jump.

-Gerrit Cole brought back some nice memories of his big 2015 breakout Sunday when he gave up just one run in five innings while striking out five.  So far there have been no elbow issues for Cole like the ones that undermined his 2016 and he presents good bounce back upside.

-Tony Watson was destroyed Sunday by giving up 5 runs in just .2 innings for the Pirates against the Toronto Blue Jays.  With Daniel Hudson dominating this spring, I have said numerous times that there could be a quick change here out of the gates considering how poorly Watson has pitched.  Watch this situation closely.

-Jacob DeGrom finally looked human Sunday as he gave up four runs in 5.1 innings.  Keep in mind though that DeGrom started out with 1 runs in 5 innings before he tired in the sixth.  He has been dominant all spring and is set to be another major comeback story.

-Hanley Ramirez is still not playing first base due to his balky shoulder but he slugged his third home run of the spring on Sunday.  He can DH in the AL of course which helps but Ramirez is going to be one of the bigger injury risks this season.

-Stephen Strasburg gave up two runs in 4.1 innings while striking out 3 Sunday.  Again Strasburg worked out of the stretch during the outing but his 7.30 ERA shows that his new approach may not be to his advantage.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: JD MARTINEZ MRI REVEALS A BREAK?

Updating an earlier item, Detroit Tigers outfielder JD Martinez' MRI results on his injured foot are in and they are may not be good as the team is now seeking a second opinion on what was revealed.  That could mean a possible fracture or break because the Tigers would not be going for a second opinion on a simple sprain.  This could be news that wipes out April for Martinez is there is in fact a break and so his fantasy baseball owners would already be facing a big setback.  Stay tuned.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: TRICEPS INJURY LIKELY TO DL DREW POMERANZ FOR START OF 2017

Boston Red Sox oft-injured pitcher Drew Pomeranz was forced out of his Sunday exhibition start with what the team is calling tightness in his left triceps.  Pomeranz of course just recently returned from a stem cell procedure in his elbow last October and now this for a guy who all of a sudden can't stay on the mound.  A first half revelation in 2016 given the nice dimensions of Petco Park, Pomeranz' numbers predictably sank after coming over to the Red Sox via trade into the much tougher AL.  His 2017 fantasy baseball value is nothing more than as an SP 4 and the injury pushes him more toward SP 5 status.  I am not buying.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SKIN IRRITATION IN FOOT A NON-STORY FOR LANCE McCULLERS

Alarms began to blare when Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers was forced out of his Sunday spring start after striking out five batters in just 3.2 innings.  No stranger to injury, this time it was a foot irritation and nothing more for McCullers who of course missed a huge chunk of 2016 with elbow/shoulder trouble.  McCullers has been a strikeout machine since returning to the spring rotation for the Astros and his ceiling is incredibly high given the power stuff.  He reminds me of a young Kerry Wood on that front, right on down to the injury issues but McCullers could be a swell value if he somehow stays healthy.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL BRIEF: MICHAEL BRANTLEY (SHOULDER) SET TO MAKE SPRING DEBUT

A big day is on tap for Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley on Monday as he is set to make his long-waited spring training debut for the team.  Brantley of course is coming back from a second shoulder surgery which has sent his fantasy baseball stock for the 2017 season plummeting to late round territory.  Having been handles with kid gloves to this point, Brantley has not suffered any sort of setbacks which is a very positive development considering all the trouble he has had the last two years.  There is the chance for supreme value here as Brantley is one of the better pure hitters in the game with enough power and speed to be a 15/15 guy.  Yes I have been a big critic of Brantley in the past but that was when he was ridiculously being graded as an OF 1.  With his stock dropping so low, I am now interested in Brantley again like I was with Mark Trumbo a year ago which paid off nicely. The same setup is in play here so Brantley should be targeted in all fantasy baseball leagues.  

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: AARON HICKS COULD UPSET AARON JUDGE IN YANKEE OUTFIELD

In what can only be described as an upset, there are increasing signs that Aaron Hicks and NOT Aaron Judge will claim the starting rightfield job for the New York Yankees to begin the 2017 season.  While Judge has bettered Hicks in average (.270-.258), the latter has played much better defense and the former is mired in a slump that has him just 2-for-his-last-14.  Judge has major strikeout problems that have improved this spring but it is telling that manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman have both sung the praises of Hicks.  Obviously this is a big blow to Judge and his fantasy baseball owners who were looking at his 25-home run upside but for now it looks like things are not going to work out for the rookie.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: J.D. MARTINEZ (FOOT) SET FOR MRI

Updating an earlier item, Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez is headed for an MRI on his injured foot.  Martinez was tentatively diagnosed with a mid-foot sprain which he suffered in Saturday's game but the MRI will give a more detailed look to see if there are any fractures or ligament damage.
Analysis:  The Tigers are being proactive here which is good, so there is no need to panic just yet.  However it is concerning that there is at least a chance there could be something more amiss here.  Martinez has become a bit injury prone the last two years but when healthy, is a dependable average/power hitter.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: SCRATCH MARTIN PRADO FROM OPENER DUE TO HAMSTRING

Miami Marlins infielder Martin Prado will not be ready to go when the 2017 season gets underway after officially being diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain.  Prado suffered the injury last Wednesday during the WBC and he becomes the latest player to get hurt in the tournament.  As far as fantasy baseball is concerned, Prado is a better real-life player then one in our fake game due to the fact he is mostly an empty batting average with no power or speed.  Nice player but this is not earth-shattering news by any means.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-Robert Gsellman has pretty much solidified the fifth starter's spot in the New York Mets rotation as he continued his strong spring by giving up just one run in five innings against the St. Louis Cardinals.  While Gsellman's K/9 rate won't be that impressive, he has more than shown he has the stuff to get major league hitter's out given his strong second half of 2016.  He has some value in NL-only leagues but in mixers it would have to go deep.

-Michael Wacha had his first mediocre outing of the spring Saturday as he yielded 3 runs and 5 hits in just 4 innings against the Mets.  He struck out four and for the spring Wacha has a terrific 2.65 ERA.  Alas his stuff is simply a notch or two below when he first broke in with the Cardinals and I wouldn't trust him as more than an SP 5.

-Dylan Bundy was horrible again on Saturday as he gave up 3 runs and 4 hits in 4 innings.  Bundy is simply not getting outs and the New York Yankee hitters had no trouble catching up to his stuff.  At one time Bundy was a highly acclaimed prospect but now I wouldn't even draft him.

-The bad C.C. Sabathia from 2014 and 2015 has been back this spring as he now has a 9.45 ERA after giving up 3 runs in 4 innings Saturday versus the Orioles.  You really don't want to bother here at all as Sabathia is on fumes and barely hits the upper-80's with his fastball now.

-Gary Sanchez went 1-for-3 and is toting a .361 average with 4 home runs this spring.  I have been a big doubter of Sanchez as I want to see him cut down his strikeouts and he has a sophomore slump to face off against.  The talent is insane though both offensively and defensively.  The draft price has been insane though and so the margin for error is thin.

-Maikel Franco has really struggled of late and so it was nice to see him hit a grand slam which was his fourth home run of the spring Saturday.  Franco is still only hitting .213 but he comes off a 25-home run campaign at the age of 24 and I still am a big fan of the upside.  Only unknown variable is how high will the average go.

-Jeremy Hellickson was fooling no one on Saturday as he gave up 8 runs (5 earned) in 5 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  While Hellickson had a decent year in 2016, he is just an SP 5 with zero upside.

-Tyler Glasnow is still hanging on by his fingernails to a rotation spot with the Pirates and so he needed the decent outing on Saturday where he gave up one run in four innings.  Glasnow did walk two and again the control is simply brutal here and what keeps Glasnow's big strikeout ability much less interesting.  We wouldn't go here unless in NL-only formats given the growing pains.

-Trea Turner is one of the most overpriced and overhyped players I have ever seen for someone who has not even played a full season in the majors.  Yes his numbers were insanely good in his 2016 debut but Turner has to prove that level of performance again and ward off a sophomore slump.  So far Turner is struggling as he his hitting just .229 with one homers and 3 steals this spring.  The first round is too early.

-Rick Porcello's spring ERA rose to a horrid 8.10 as he gave up five runs in four innings on Saturday.  I won't touch Porcello in fantasy baseball leagues this season given the expected rise in his ERA off such good BABIP luck a year ago.  Also Porcello doesn't have the K stuff to overcome that correction in terms of posting a helpful ERA.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: J.D. MARTINEZ UNCERTAIN FOR OPENING DAY WITH FOOT SPRAIN

Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez likely avoided disaster when he came out of the team's exhibition game limping early Saturday but his status for Opening Day is very much in doubt after he was diagnosed with a mid-foot sprain.  Martinez was seen on crutches in the team's locker room but apparently no breaks or fractures were found.  A foot sprain is not such a small thing though as it can be a 7-14 day recovery timetable and that puts Martinez' Opening Day in doubt.  Yes there is still a chance Martinez will be able to go but consider that 50/50.  The bigger thing to take away from this is the fact Martinez avoided disaster and so his status as a .low-end outfielder 1 on the strength of a 30-home run and 90-RBI bat remains his expected output this season.


2017 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED CLOSER RANKINGS

Here are the second look at the 2017 fantasy baseball closer rankings but as always this is a fluid situation.

1.  Aroldis Chapman:  Simply the best but slightly concerned his arm could bounce a little off insane postseason workload.
2.  Kenley Jansen:  Only thing that has ever held back Jansen is health.  Has the insane K rate down pat.
3.  Zach Britton:  Pushed his K/9 to one per inning each of last two seasons and 0.54 ERA in 2016 was one of the statistics of the entire season.  Early oblique scare now a non-issue.
4.  Seung Hwan Oh:  Yes he is legit.
5.  Mark Melancon:  Doesn't have the K rates of the guys above him but Melancon has been as good as any closer the last three seasons.
6.  Craig Kimbrel:  Some ominous signs developing here such as a growing ill health and a BB/9 that somehow went over 5.00 last season.  I won't tough him.
7.  Alex Colome:  Lump Colome in with Hwan Oh as new closing stars on the block.  Has a high risk of being traded at deadline though and possibly into a setup role so know that before paying.
8.  Edwin Diaz:  Meet my new favorite closer for 2017.  Truly silly K rate.
9.  Roberto Osuna:  Gives up some home runs but Osuna has logged ERA's under 3.00 first two seasons.
10. Cody Allen:  Always struggled in April but Terry Francona sticks with him.  87 K's in 68 innings last season show how potent Allen can be.
11. Wade Davis:  Truly remarkable dominance since becoming a closer but MAJOR elbow red flags,  Too risky at such a lofty price and Davis has not been very good this spring which adds to the concern.  Trending downward.
12. Kelvin Herrera:  Takes over full-time at closer for the Royals with Davis in Chicago with the Cubs.
13. David Roberston:  Proceed with caution here as Robertson's ERA has gone over 3.40 each of last two seasons and he gives up a lot of home runs.  A trade to Washington has been rumored all spring but nothing yet.
14. Ken Giles:  Still a bit rough around the edges but Giles has arguably the best fastball among closers outside of Chapman and Jansen.
15. Jeurys Familia:  Likely faces a one month suspension so back Familia up with Addison Reed.
16. A.J. Ramos:  Walks way too many batters which makes any Ramos closing appearance dicey but can't argue with 2,81 ERA and high K rate.  Watch for Kyle Barraclough too.
17. Shawn Kelly:  Right now it is Kelly who is in line to close for Washington but David Robertson looms as a trade target.
18. Adam Ottavino:  Big arm and always dominates when healthy.  Watch for heat from Greg Holland though.
19. Raisel Iglesias:  Could grow into the closer role this season for Cincy as Iglesias logged a 1.98 ERA and high K rate once moved to bullpen in 2016.
20. Cam Bedrosian:  No one knows how the Angels bullpen situation will shake out but Bedrosian showed before getting hurt last season that he has skills.  Also with Huston Street out until maybe May, Bedrosian is lacking competition for the gig.
21. Francisco Rodriguez:  Continues to lose velocity and Rodriguez is now a home run waiting to happen.  Could be out of job by June.  Avoid.
22. Tony Watson:  Didn't exactly lock things down after becoming Pirates closer last season.
23. Sam Dyson:  Watch for Matt Bush here as Dyson doesn't have the K rate to keep closing games.
24. Carter Capps:  This is me saying it will be Capps who will close for the Padres over Brandon Maurer.  Maurer had a 4.52 ERA last season and Capps was the strikeout wonder before undergoing Tommy John.  Capps could be a top ten guy easy if he gets the gig.
25. Ryan Madson:  Was not impressed by Madson in the least last season and Sean Doolittle could steal it by the end of spring training.
26. Neftali Feliz:  Could close in Milwaukee but has to stay healthy and prove he is back to being a strikeout weapon.
27. Jeanmar Gomez:  The Phillies really have to be kidding themselves going into the season with Gomez as the closer.  It simple won't work and so Hector Neris needs to be owned in all leagues.
28. Glen Perkins:  Who knows with his health and declining fastball.  On the positive side though, Perkins has thrown a bunch of bullpen sessions with no issues yet.
29. Jim Johnson:  Older then dirt veteran actually was good last season but that could be a one-year blip.  I don't trust him one bit.
30. Fernando Rodney:  Give me a break.

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: FRIDAY

-Yes Clayton Kershaw is human.  Either that or he was simply toying around with his stuff Friday as he gave up four runs and six hits in five innings.  I mean is there even any reason to go into this?  Kershaw is the clear top fantasy baseball starter by a mile and only ill health can derail him.

-Hunter Renfroe is another one of those San Diego Padre hitting prospects (along with the injured Alex Dickerson and Manuel Margot) who we in the fantasy baseball community should be monitoring for different reasons.  While Margot is built for runs and speed, Renfroe offers intriguing power and RBI potential but at the expense of batting average.  Still Renfroe is hitting .302 this spring with one home run.  Petco Park is a drag on power as we all know but Renfroe should be drafted as a late round pick given the fact he may bat cleanup. 
 
-Joc Pederson hit his fourth home run of the spring Friday but he is still hitting just .242.  It doesn't seem like Pederson will ever have the plate discipline to be anything but a poor average hitter and his utter lack of steals has been one of the more aggravating subjects in fantasy baseball the last few seasons.  I don't want anything to do with this guy as hitters like Pederson are a dime a dozen.  

-Billy Hamilton swiped two more bags but like with Joc Pederson, this tiger can't change his stripes as he is batting a horrid .219.  Hamilton won't be able to hold a leadoff spot throughout the whole season if this keeps up and while we all love the boatload of steals, go for Jarrod Dyson who is a hell of a lot cheaper and will hit for a better average.  

-I have never been a fan of Brandon Finnegan and that won't change this spring after seeing him get hit around Friday to the tune of 3 runs and 6 hits in 4 innings.  Finnegan is one of those guys who throws hard but who doesn't get the high amount of K's you would expect.  Throw in some BABIP luck last season and Finnegan is not someone I want to toy with despite his youth.  

-Corey Kluber gave up two runs and just 3 hits in 5 innings against the Reds as he continues to tune up for the approaching season.  The innings have been very high in totality the last three years and a slight dip in velocity in 2016 is somewhat cause for concern.  However once his annual April struggles are behind him, the durable Kluber is a safe bet to supply ace production.  

-The good Danny Salazar showed up Friday as he gave up four hits and struck out 9 in just 5 innings versus the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers couldn't touch Salazar and the latter walked just two.  When Salazar doesn't walk the ballpark, he can throw no-hit stuff.  That is as fine a line as the guy travels.  

-The Shelby Miller spring comeback story continued on Friday as he struck out 8 batters and gave up just one run in 3.1 innings versus the Seattle Mariners.  There is no way in hell Miller can be anywhere near as putrid as he was a year ago and his stuff surely seems like it has more life on it this spring.  Yes he got destroyed his last time out but Miller is earning rave reviews from the staff in Arizona and he at least is worth a look but only as an SP 5.

-Ryan Braun went yard for the first time this spring as he connected off Nate Karns of the Mariners.  Braun has come along slowly as an aging and injury-impacted player the last few years (injuries no doubt as a result of steroids) but he showed in 2016 that he is still capable of bit production in the OF 1 realm.  

-Chris Owings is having a nice spring as he is hitting .371 after a 2-for-3 day Friday.  Owings will lead off for the D-Backs and he has good versatility to help at multiple spots.  Overall Owings has not lived up to his initial hype but 10 home runs and 20 steals is possible.

-Ryon Healy is doing a good job carrying over his nice 2016 debut as he slugged his fourth home run of the spring and is batting a nice .323.  Healy has 25-home run power and while his average could be a bit volatile, we are not talking Ryan Schimpf territory here.  

-Ryan Madson was sharp Friday as he stuck out 3 in his one inning.  Madson was up and down more than a roller coaster last season but figure he gets the first crack at the A's closer job.  His margin for error is quite small though as Santiago Casilla waits behind him for his chance.  

-With Brett Lawrie out of town with the White Sox, Tyler Saladino becomes much more interesting.  He is having a big spring as he is hitting .406 with 3 home runs.  A guy known more for his speed, Saladino looks like he has made some nice improvements at the dish and so this is a story worth following.  

-Steven Matz was sharp again Friday like he has in every start this spring.  Matz have up one run in 3.2 innings and for the spring has just a 1.04 ERA.  He did walk 3 today but health again is the only issue that could derail the supremely talented Matz.  

-There are no words.  Adam Wainwright somehow managed to give up 10 runs in just 1.2 innings Friday.  Wainwright looked completely shot as a pitcher and I began sounding the alarm on this guy back in 2015 and for good reason.  The fastball is a joke now and Wainwright is getting by on his name only.  Avoid completely this season.  

-Eduardo Rodriguez struck out six in four scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox as he continues to boost his fantasy baseball stock.  With 13 K's in 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA, Rodriguez seems fully healthy now and ready to continue his ascension.  The division is beyond rough as you know but Rodriguez' upside is well worth chasing as your SP 5.

-Dee Gordon is hitting just .172 this spring but he did swipe a base and go 2-for-3 on Friday.  It will be interesting to see the post-steroids Gordon for a full season in 2017 not that the chemicals are seemingly out of his system.  The average sank when he came back last season after his blockbuster 2015, so this is a valid concern.  

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