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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: BRAD PEACOCK SP HOUSTON ASTROS

Whenever a team wins a World Series in any given year, there undoubtedly are surprise contributions supplied from all corners of the roster to help put the team over the top.  For the 2018 Houston Astros, Brad Peacock was that guy from the pitching standpoint as the veteran put forth an unexpected career-year as a swingman between the rotation and bullpen, highlighted by some tremendous work in the playoffs.  The end result were the following numbers in Peacock's 132 innings with Astros last season:

13-2
3.00 ERA
1.19 WHIP
10.98 K/9 rate

Looking at the numbers, Peacock was terrific for the Astros and what really stands out was the strikeout rate as those really piled up to the tune of 161 whiffs in 132 innings.  What is interesting is that Peacock is no prospect as he heads into the 2018 fantasy baseball season at the age of 30 and only now has cemented a spot with the team's rotation after years of going back-and-forth from the minors to the majors with unimpressive results with the big-league club.  Like with rotation-mate Charlie Morton, Peacock picked up velocity midway through his career and the results showed with a sizable leap in his K/9.  While there could be some outlier to Peacock's strikeouts a year ago, his stuff surely carried some nice bite to it last season and his 0.68 HR/9 rate was impressive as well considering how many home runs went sailing out of ballparks in 2017.  The issue now is that as it currently stands, Peacock doesn't have a spot in the Astros rotation as they are set with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, Dallas Keuchel, and Morton.  However in particular with the cases of McCullers and Keuchel, injuries will likely be a factor again for the Astros rotation this season and so Peacock will surely find himself in the rotation before too long.  Prior to that, Peacock will be used out of the bullpen where he can really pick up the K's by the bunches and thus help in inning-capped leagues.  So overall, Peacock is well-worth checking out as a late-round pick who has some rare upside for a veteran pitcher an d this is the case even though he doesn't currently have that rotation spot as of this writing.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: HAMATE SURGERY TO KNOCK YULI GURRIEL OUT UNTIL MAY

Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is likely out until mid-May due to needing to undergo hamate surgery on his hand. A typical recovery time for the surgery is 6-8 weeks and Gurriel will need a stint of rehab to get up to speed on game action as well. Throw in his five game suspension which has still not been served for a derogatory gesture in last year's playoffs and Gurriel is nothing but a late mid-round pick by the looks of it. While Gurriel has shown a .300 bat in short order, his power is just modest by today's standards which serve as yet another knock on his outlook.  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: TUESDAY

-New York Yankees third base Miguel Andujar is certainly making the assumed decision by the team to have him begin 2018 in the minors after the trade for Brandon Drury as he homered for the second time this spring on Tuesday.  Andujar has a bat advanced beyond his year as he can both hit for power and average but the assumption was Drury would man third at least to begin the season.  It is now at least plausible the Yanks could re-think those plans if Andujar continues to rake and Drury could easily slide to second base with Gleybar Torres going down instead.  Something to watch closely over the next few weeks.

-Taijuan Walker all of a sudden becomes a pitcher of interest in fantasy baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks installing a humidor at Chase Field as home runs were always his biggest problem outside of health.  Walker was once a top prospect in the Seattle system due to his ability to miss bats and he did pitch to a solid 3.49 ERA a year ago despite the homers.  He gave up one run in one inning in his spring debut on Tuesday but Walker should be bumped up a bit on your cheat sheets as a post-hype sleeper.

-Jeff Samardizjia got pounded Tuesday by giving up four runs in just 1.2 innings but he does carry good bounce back upside after his ERA spiked last season due to some fluky bad luck.  Despite this, Samardizjia does seem to never pitch as good as his peripherals suggest so he is far from a lock.

-Jon Lester is a guy I will avoid in all of my fantasy baseball drafts this season as I think his arm is shot from some insane workloads in his career and his first spring outing was a struggle as he gave up one run and walked 2 in 1.2 IP.  These guys only have so many bullets in the chamber as we see with Felix Hernandez these days and so Lester is an aging vet best left to someone else. 

-Gio Gonzalez tossed two scoreless inning and punched out two for the Washington Nats but he is another guy I am leery of as his ERA was a total fluke a year ago do to some very generous BABIP luck. 

-Jon Gray remains a bit of a tease given his high K rate and once again he carries some solid upside for 2018 fantasy baseball despite his home park.  Gray gave up two runs in 2 innings pitched Tuesday and he actually pitched better at home then the road in 2017.  You won't have to pay much to find out if 2018 is the year Gray puts it all together and so you can see this investment pay off handsomely as your SP 5.

-James Paxton just goes out and dominates when he is healthy and he did so Tuesday by tossing two scoreless frames.  He is a strikeout machine when on the hill but we all know that Paxton is arguably one of the most injury-prone pitchers in all of fantasy baseball which caps any anticipation here. 

-Kenta Maeda is another post-hype sleeper who could really pay off this season on a very good Los Angeles Dodgers team.  Maeda pitched two scoreless innings and struck out one on Tuesday and he has done nothing but miss bats since coming over from Japan.  Always possessing impeccable control, Maeda has a lot going for him in 2018. 

-Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Soler homered twice on Tuesday in reminding the fantasy baseball community he is still in the major leagues and that he still has some big power to offer. Unfortunately, Soler falls in the Rusney Castillo boat in terms of Cuban busts so far but the Royals will give him yet another chance to make it.  Keep watching him this spring. 

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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

By Michael Wong

Jupiter, Fla.--The St. Louis Cardinals want you to know they should not be forgotten.  With teams like the New York Yankees, World Series-winning Houston Astros, and always the Washington Nationals getting a ton of the contending pop coming into spring training, the Cardinals want to make a point that they are still very much a force to be reckoned with.  One of the most well-run organizations in baseball, the Cards endured a rare down year in 2017 at 83-79 (by their standards that is a down year) and there are more questions than usual this spring.  So with that said, let's check in on some of the fantasy baseball-related items surrounding them as spring training games are fully underway.

1.  How legit was Tommy Pham's 2017 breakout?  Wow there are a million moving parts worth discussing here but the bottom line is that Pham was excellent in 2017 to say the least.  Undrafted in most leagues, Pham didn't even make the Cardinals out of spring training before taking advantage of an early promotion to post tremendous five-tool numbers that included a .306 average, 23 home runs, and 25 steals.  Now keep in mind Pham had never hit for that type of power before and his average was propped up sky-high .368 BABIP as well.  Added to the risk is that Pham has a long injury history to be aware of as well.  So how do we proceed here?  Well for one thing, don't draft Pham as an OF 1 despite the numbers suggesting he is.  You ideally want to select Pham as a top OF 2 and no more and if he gets selected above that level, let him go without a thought.  There is too much uncertainty here to depend on a full encore and so going the above route is the proper way to handle this.

2.  Doesn't Carlos Martinez leave you a tad uneasy to invest in him as an ace?  I think so and for a number of reasons.  While there is no doubting the power arsenal that Martinez brings to the table, his 3.64 ERA and was far from ace-worthy a year ago.  In fact, that number should have been worse as Martinez' .284 BABIP was quite lucky and his adjusted FIP of 3.91 was quite elevated.  Finally, Martinez has a long history of both poor control and shoulder problems and so that is quite a number of red flags for a guy who is being priced as a fantasy baseball ace.

3.  Who is going to close?  Manager Mike Matheny said at the start of spring training that the Cards don't currently have a closer but there are a few candidates who could emerge here.  The veteran candidates include Bud Norris and Luke Gregerson who both have dabbled in the ninth inning with mixed results in the past.  Then there is lefty Tyler Lyons who has the best "closer-like" repertoire but who is still very green as a major leaguer.  If we had to hedge right this very moment, Lyons would be the guy to target in fantasy baseball drafts but this is a very fluid situation.

4.  Luke Weaver has the goods!  There is much attention being focused on top Cardinals pitching prospect Luke Weaver and for good reason as he comes off a big 2017 minor league performance and looked far from over-matched in his 60.1 major league frames last season.  Weaver collects strikeouts by the bunches which instantly gets the sleeper radar blaring but there is a long injury history to be aware of temper things some.  As long as you resist the urge to pay through the nose, Weaver is one of the top sleeper pitchers to target this spring.

5.  Paul DeJong should be handled with care in drafts.  The Fantasy Sports Boss already sounded the bust alarms on the shortstop DeJong who exploded overnight last season by cracking 25 home runs and batting .285 in just 103 games in his debut with the Cardinals.  Clearly, DeJong caught major league pitchers off guard a year ago and now these same hurlers will have a clear plan on how to attack his weaknesses.  There are weaknesses in DeJong's swing as his 28.0 K/9 rate was horrible with the Cardinals last season and to make matters worse, he doesn't offset that by drawing walks (4.7 BB/9).  Throw in a very lucky .349 BABIP last season and DeJong carries some major bust potential in the draft.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARCUS STROMAN DEALING WITH SHOULDER INFLAMMATION

Toronto Blue Jays ace pitcher Marcus Stroman will be shut down for a few days as he battles through a bout of shoulder inflammation. Already this spring a number of pitchers are dealing with injury and Stroman joins Feliz Hernandez and Kevin Gausman as health victims during the last 24 hours. We have said countless times that shoulder injuries are so much worse for pitchers than an elbow problem and so this is no small matter. It already should be cause to drop Stroman a bit on your cheat sheets. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: MONDAY

-Another day and another debut for Los Angeles Angels Japanese rookie Shohei Ohtani.  This time Ohtani was hitting and not pitching and he impressed there as well by walking twice and hitting an RBI single.  Overall, the outlook on Ohtani as a hitter is a bit less valuable than pitching as the pitching side of things will take Ohtani out of more than a few games with the bat in his hands.  That will hurt his counting stats and considering the high draft cost with regard to the hype, Ohtani is best avoided as a hitter. 

-Whit Merrifield has to prove in 2018 that his 2017 breakout was no fluke and so far, so good on that front as he hit a home run and doubled Monday.  Merrifield will always steal a bunch of bases on the order of 25-30 but his average and power have to be proven this season since they were not part of his statistical equation prior to 2017.  The price is not outrageous here though and so Merrifield is not the worst investment even with the questions about his true talents. 

-Paul Goldschmidt homered and went 2-for-2 overall for the Arizona Diamondbacks but of course, the main piece of conversation here is how much the humidor will hurt his home run total.  That is a very valid concern as the humidor is expected to decrease the number of home runs in Chase Field by 25-30 percent and so Goldy will undoubtedly lose numbers there.  Without the humidor Goldy was the locked-in number 3 player for 2018 fantasy baseball but now he is sliding more toward the middle of the round.

-Francisco Mejia is the must own catching prospect for 2018 fantasy baseball as his bat is advanced beyond his year and the power is burgeoning as well.  Mejia homered Monday to give the Cleveland Indians more to think about in terms of how they want to handle the position to begin the year.  Right now the best guess is they will go with the veterans first and then give Mejia a call in May.  Be that as it may, Mejia is a sleeper you all want to have in bold this spring on your cheat sheets. 

-Jonathan Schoop cracked a home run Monday which was his first of the spring and put to rest any concern about the bursitis he was dealing with.  Schoop was a power monster at second base a year ago and it looks like he will be a top option there again based on that skill.  Count as among those who still want steals from their middle infielders but Schoop should be around .280 with 30 homers once again this season.

-Kyle Tucker homered for the second day in a row for the Houston Astros but don't get too pumped up since there is no chance he breaks camp with the team.  The Astros have no spot for Tucker at the moment and the earliest he would likely be up would be July if at all.  The talent is undeniable though and Tucker should remain at the top of all prospect lists. 

-Noah Syndegaard was back to his monster self as he fired off a string of 100-mph fastballs that helped him toss two scoreless innings in his first spring start. There was no hint of any physical issue with Thor and he should be a slam-dunk top five starting pitcher as long he is healthy.  The injury risk is extremely high though and so you need to say your prayers before investing. 

-Justin Verlander went toe-to-toe with Syndegaard in tossing two scoreless frames in his first spring start.  While I do worry about the endless amount of innings on his arm, Verlander will aim for 20 wins on the Astros this season and another 200 strikeouts. 

-Jameson Taillon has already been discussed here as a fantasy baseball sleeper for 2018 and he is looking even more attractive considering how he is being ignored in drafts.  Taillon tossed two scoreless innings with three strikeouts on Monday and so he is off to a nice start.  Bump Taillon up a bit in your rankings. 

-Michael Kopech looks like the next Noah Syndegaard as he fireballed his way to two scoreless innings Monday where he stuck out three Oakland A's.  Walks will be a problem as they are for almost every young hard-thrower but the talent is obvious.  Count on Kopech being up sometime in May or June and then look out. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING INJURY NEWS: KING FELIX EXITS AFTER COMEBACKER

Seattle Mariners ace pitcher Felix Hernandez was forced out of his spring start Monday after getting nailed by a comebacker on his hand.  Medical personnel quickly ran out to King Felix who came out of the game soon thereafter.  An update is expected soon. 

Analysis:  Oh boy.  Right away we got to worry about a broken hand here for Hernandez who prior to this season, was on a steep decline performance-wise given the massive workloads he had earlier in his career.  Right now Hernandez was nothing but an SP 5 at best before the injury but this could quickly make him irrelevant for the start of the season. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: KEVIN GAUSMAN EXITS AFTER COLLISION

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman was forced out of his spring start Monday after being involved in a collision while tracking a fly ball behind home plate.  Gausman collided with Tigers outfielder Jeimer Candelario who was in the on-deck circle and was soon locked at by a trainer.  It appeared the trainer was gauging whether or not Gausman had suffered a concussion and he soon left the field to be tested.  Candelario himself exited the game with a knee injury suffered in the collision but the bigger news from a fantasy baseball perspective is Gausman.  While concussions are nothing to sneer at, the fact is doesn't appear to be related to Gausman's arm or knees is a big deal.  If a concussion is diagnosed, expect Gausman to miss his next spring start in order to be cautious but overall this doesn't appear to be a big deal.  Gausman has some remaining upside in terms of fantasy baseball but being in the AL East is never a positive and he remains quite hittable to this point in his career. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: LOGAN MORRISON 1B MINNESOTA TWINS

In a year where home runs flew out at a record pace a year ago, a slew of previously ignored hitters in the fantasy baseball community seemed to gather significant value overnight.  Included among this group was veteran/underachieving first baseman Logan Morrison who who came roaring out of the 2017 gates with home run after home run and proceeded to finish the year with the following numbers for the Tampa Bay Rays:

.246
38 HR
85 RBI
75 R
2 SB

Clearly the power jumps out here as 38 home runs is a massive total no matter the year and so Morrison was looking to cash in as he approached free agency this past winter.  Unfortunately for him, the market was as cold as ever and Morrison just signed Sunday with the Minnesota Twins for all of one-year and $6.5 million.  Morrison is expected to play first base and DH for the Twins in 2018 and also make some starts in the outfield as well.  While that is good for his position eligibility, Morrison is really nothing but a fringe fantasy baseball bat this season despite all the homers a year ago.  The reason is that home runs are much less valuable then they were as recently as 2015 and that especially is true when you hit for such a poor average like Morrison did with his .246 mark last season.  There are dozens of guys on the waiver wire who can hit for good power but supply an ugly average and so Morrison is likely going to be added and dropped numerous times this season depending on how hot or cold he is with the bat.  Having struck out at a 24.8 K/9 clip a year ago, the holes in Morrison's swing is apparent and again, we are talking about an overall mediocre player both in real life and in fantasy baseball.  You can do better.

2018 PROJECTION:  .248 27 HR 83 RBI 71 R 1 SB  


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SUNDAY

-San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner got roughed up badly in his first spring outing as he gave up three runs in just 1.2 IP against the Chicago Cubs.  On the positive side, Bumgarner struck out five and really made just one bad pitch in giving up a bomb to Ian Happ.  While there is some concern about the dip in velocity after coming back from shoulder surgery a year ago, Bumgarner seems set to be a top-tier fantasy baseball ace yet again this season.

-Matt Wieters cracked a home run as part of a 2-for-2 day and there is some hope he can have a bounce-back campaign this season for the Washington Nats.  Wieters hit just .225 last season but he is still young enough to post a comeback year if possible.  He really just has two catcher value but could grow into single consideration if he dials back to his early Baltimore days.

-Luis Castillo is one of the most prominent "must have" fantasy baseball pitching sleepers this season and he got his spring off to a nice start by tossing two scoreless frames with one K.  The strikeout stuff is immense here and Castillo could be able to throw a full season since he went up in innings a year ago.  Get on board.

-Last year at this time I was all over Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Blake Snell but maybe I was just a year early.  While Snell struggled badly with control last season and soon found himself back in the minors, he finished strong and seems to have found some rhythm as he got off to a good spring start Sunday.  Snell struck out 4 in two scoreless frames versus the Detroit Tigers and if he can get the control under wraps, there is big potential here.

-Aaron Nola gave up three runs in two innings versus the New York Yankees which is fine by me since I hope this keeps the fantasy baseball draft cost down a bit.  I am in love with Nola and have been for years as you all know and that won't change no matter how rough the spring.

-Gerrit Cole tossed two scoreless innings in his Houston Astros debut Sunday and struck out two.  While you don't like any pitcher moving from the NL to the AL, Cole has good stuff and strong SP 2 potential on the Astros.

-While I have always been leery of Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer through all of his inconsistent seasons, he looked good in 2017 and may finally be ready to unleash the stuff that made him such a lauded power pitching prospect in the first place.  Bauer was dominant on Sunday as he struck out SIX Cincinnati Reds in two IP and entering into his prime, the arrow is pointing upwards here. 

-Austin Hedges is yet another intriguing catcher off to a decent start as he homered Sunday and comes off a 2017 debut where he cracked 18 bombs as a rookie.  The average will be a problem as it is for 80 percent of the catchers out there but Hedges has some remaining upside to improve.

-One of my favorite sleepers for 2018 fantasy baseball is Detroit Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos who homered Sunday and is a good bet for near 30 homers in 2018.  Castellanos really improved as a hitter the second half of 2017 as he hit the baseball harder than ever and also improved his plate approach.  The name elicits a yawn in the fantasy baseball community right now and so that means you may be able to get him for a song. 




2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Dunedin, Fla.--The Toronto Blue Jays want everyone to know it is not just the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and everyone else in the AL East.  On the fringe of contention for the last five years or so, the Blue Jays front office certainly earns a medal for trying hard this offseason as they went out and signed a slew of modestly-priced veteran players to plug some leaks around the roster.  Whether it will result in the Jays making the AL East a three-team race in another matter but for now, let's check in on some of the fantasy baseball-related matter circling here around camp.

1.  Can Josh Donaldson be trusted again as a top-tier third baseman?  The former AL MVP was the epitome of what a first-round pick in fantasy baseball should look like over from both in 2015 and 2016 when he clubbed 41 and 37 home runs respectively and filled the other columns outside of steals.  Well, 2017 was a bit of a different story as Donaldson dealt with an injury-plagued first half that resulted in a major dip in numbers (.261. 9 homers) and then went nuclear in the second half (.276, 24 homers) to remind us all how talented he is.  Donaldson is aging a bit as he turned 32 last December and his K/9 spiked to 22.4 which was a bit disturbing.  Still, the power remains immense and a run back toward 40 homers with full health is a decent bet.  However, there is cause for caution here as playing third base is rough on the body and we could be seeing some erosion now from Donaldson as a result.

2.  Roberto Osuna remains a top-tier closer.  While on the surface it may look like the Blue Jays stopper had a bad season, the fact of the matter is that Roberto Osuna remains a good as it gets in terms of ninth-inning arms going forward.  Yes, there was a slew of blown save and his ERA spiked to 3.38 (up from 2.68 the year prior) but the advanced metrics all show a top-of-the-line arm.  For one thing, Osuna's K/9 shot way up to a dominant 11.67 and both his control (1.27 BB/9) and home runs (0.42 HR/9) were stellar.  Instead, just chalk up the ERA rise to some bad luck and buy back fully here for 2018.

3.  Boy, that rotation looks underrated.  Yes, it does as the Blue Jays welcome back Aaron Sanchez from a blister-ruined 2017 and also are fronted by ace Marcus Stroman.  Throw in decent support chips J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada and the Jays have some toys to work with.  In terms of fantasy baseball, however, the story changes some as Stroman is really the only one you want to chase here and even he lacks the K's to be more than a low-end SP arm.  Estrada and Happ are both aging and Sanchez had one of the luckiest "good" seasons in recent memory in 2016 before it all went wrong health-wise last year.  Throw in the brutal ballpark and you don't want to be owning many Jays hurlers.

4.  The rest of the roster looks pretty rough.  That is an understatement as Troy Tulowitzki, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, and Kendrys Morales are all aging and fading veterans you want to avoid Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, and Devon Travis are all about fading potential.

5.  What about Yangervis Solarte?  Sure Solarte remains a decent stick and always carries some useful eligibility but you really can do a whole lot better there.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: DOMINIC SMITH HEADED FOR MRI ON QUAD

Boy has New York Mets first base prospect Dominic Smith had a rough start to the spring.  Just a day after being benched by new manager Mickey Callaway due to stupidly being late to a team meeting, Smith is now headed for an MRI on his quad which he complained was sore after Saturday's game.  Right now the Mets are calling it a "strain" but trouble with the quad is never a good thing as this often is a multi-week absence.  The good news for Smith is that it comes early in spring training and thus he has time to get ready for the start of the season.  Be that as it may, Smith was not likely to make the Mets once camp ended as Adrian Gonzalez is expected to be the starting first baseman.  At this present time, Smith has little-to-no fantasy baseball value. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: SATURDAY

-Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Relamuto continues to show the Washington Nationals why they should trade for him as he went 2-2 with a home run Saturday.  With power that jumped up to a career-best 17 home runs a year ago to go with annually useful averages and uncanny speed for the position, Realmuto should be right there as the next catcher off the board once Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey go.

-Tanner Roark had a terrible 2017 for the Nats but he got his spring off to a nice start by tossing two shutout frames Saturday.  Roark struck out three and gave up just one hit but he barely has SP 5 value coming into the new season.

-It was a rough outing for Rays youngster Jacob Faria as he gave up 3 earned runs in just .2 IP versus Boston. Nothing to worry about here as Boston will do this to a lot of pitchers this year and Faria misses enough bats to be worth a late-round pick.

-Colorado Rockies first baseman Ryan McMahon went 2-for-3 Saturday and is slated already to be the starter there to begin 2018.  While we are not talking about a ton of power here just yet, McMahon is a terrific natural hitter who should be around .300 with a good amount of countings statistics right out of the gate.  Big fan of his.

-Nolan Arenado already has his home run swing in order as he went yard Saturday for the Rockies.  Arenado is our third ranked player overall for 2018 fantasy baseball who really is nothing short of a monster in runs, RBI, and homers; while also hitting near .300.  Don't let him get past the third pick.

-Nothing gets the fantasy baseball excitement meter going more than a young catcher hitting an early spring home runs as Philadelphia Phillies backstop Jorge Alfaro did Saturday.  While there is no denying Alfaro's power, he is Mike Zunino all the way in terms of his insane K rates making me a .230-ish hitter.  Don't overvalue based on anything Alfaro does this spring.

-Dylan Bundy got destroyed Saturday in giving up 5 runs in just 2 innings versus the Phillies.  Bundy is a guy I have sounded the alarm on constantly going back to last season when BABIP and strand rate luck helped keep his ERA down below where it should have been.  With just an all right K rate being a bad match for the AL East, Bundy is a major bust candidate this season.

-Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a home run as he looks to put a very tough 2017 behind him.  A popular sleeper a year ago, Polanco had constant hamstring trouble that derailed his entire season.  The talent is still there however and the much cheaper draft cost should make him attractive once again.

-Ronald Acuna went 0-for-3 with 2 K's and so he stinks.  Now talking more seriously, Acuna is the most talented outside prospect since Mike Trout and should be up by the end of April.  Get ready to pay.

-Shohei Ohtani looked decent in his spring pitching debut by giving up 1 earned run and struck out 2 in 1.1 IP.  Ohtani gave up two hits and generally threw well as attention will now turn to his hitting as there will be some time before his next outing as the Angels go with a six-man rotation.  The six-man rotation will cut down some of the counting pitching numbers on Ohtani which knocks down his value on that side of thing a bit and we don't have a read on his hitting just yet.

-The hype meter is going to get insane for Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras if he keeps having days like he did Saturday when he went 1-for-2 with a home run.  While strikeouts remain an issue and a threat to his average, Contreras has 30-home run power that could fully reveal itself this season.  We like him so much that picking Contreras over Buster Posey is the way to go from this peanut stand.



******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: DUSTIN FOWLER OUTFIELDER OAKLAND A'S

The 2017 MLB campaign of Oakland A's centerfielder Dustin Fowler was one that belongs in the "you can't make this stuff up" bin.  Having been promoted by the New York Yankees to make his debut last summer, Fowler didn't even make it through the game before he suffered a gruesome ruptured patellar in his knee crashing into the wall tracking down a pop fly along the first base side.  That ended Fowler's debut before it could pick up traction and before you knew it, the Yanks had dealt Fowler as a headliner in the trade for pitcher Sonny Gray.  Now half a year removed from the injury, Fowler is progressing nicely and is aiming to be the team's starting centerfielder on Opening Day.  While he has not been cleared for full activities just yet, Fowler is expected to be ready for the opener as he has had no issues in his rehab.  So let's dig in a bit deeper on Fowler in order to preview what he could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.

As far as some history on Fowler is concerned, he was originally just an 18th round pick by the Yanks in 2013 but he put himself on the prospect map with a big 2016 when he put up the following numbers in Double-A:

.281
12 HR
25 SB
67 R
88 RBI

Those are very fantasy baseball friendly numbers and surely makes Fowler someone worthy of our sleeper attention.  The A's are a rebuilding team that will give Fowler a bunch of leash this season and so he has a great chance to putting some helpful power/speed numbers as soon as the start of 2018.  Now Fowler needs to work on his plate discipline since he is allergic to walks which will hurt the average but the power/speed game is worth paying attention to this spring.  So do yourself a favor and place Fowler on your fantasy baseball cheat sheets as he is well off the radar going into drafts. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: ATLANTA BRAVES

By Michael Wong

Kissiimmee, Fla.--Offensive is en vogue in Atlanta.  That is the clear conclusion drawn from the first season of MLB baseball at the new ballpark in Atlanta named SunTust Park and to say the home runs were flying out of there at a high rate would be a gross understatement.  It quickly became clear that the Braves' new home would slant heavily to the offense and so players who now call the place home need to get a firm boost for 2018 fantasy baseball.  It is with that backdrop that we take a look at the major storylines from a fantasy baseball angle centering around the Braves this season.

1.  When will Ronald Acuna make his much-anticipated arrival?  There is not a more hot-button topic surrounding the Braves this spring than the MLB status of arguably the top prospect in all of baseball in outfielder Ronald Acuna.  The hype is well-earned here as Acuna looked like the next great five-tool monster who can literally hit the ground running right of the gate if the Braves choose to go that route.  What we do instead foresee happening is that the Braves will stash Acuna in the minors until mid-April like the Chicago Cubs first did with Kris Bryant in order to save a year of arbitration and then the promotion should take place to much fanfare.  In terms of expectations, Acuna hit a combined 21 home runs, stole 45 bases, and batted .326 at Double-A and .344 at TRiple-A a year ago.  That is some crazy fantasy baseball category juice and so it is understandable the urge to reach for Acuna this spring.  Usually, we urge some caution in situations like this but in Acuna's case, we will make a big exception to buy heavily.

2.  Why doesn't Ender Inciarte get his due?  Speaking of Braves outfielders with category juice, one of this site's favorites remain leadoff man Ender Inciarte.  While light on power (just 11 home runs in a massive 718 at-bats a year ago), Inciarte has proven to be a nice asset in runs, average, and steals.  He hit .304, scored 93 runs, and stole 22 bags a year ago and the plan for 2018 is that Inciarte will be asked to run even more.  With an ADP that is VERY affordable, we don't see many better buys than this.

3.  Can Sean Newcomb breath life into what looks like a shaky Braves rotation?  This is the one area that looks very sketchy for the Braves going into 2018 as they currently have washed-up vets Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy joining "ace" Julio Teheran who was simply abysmal a year ago.  Enter hard-throwing youngster Sean Newcomb who can strike out the ballpark but also walk them as well.  While it is obvious Newcomb has a ton of work to do on his control, he has the type of swing-and-miss stuff which makes him a decent late-round upside bet.

4.  Freddie Freeman 2018 MVP?  You better believe it as Freeman was headed there last season before some unfortunate injury luck stole a chunk of games from his bottom line.  Still, despite just accumulating 514 at-bats last season, Freeman slammed 28 home runs and batted .307 while adding third base eligibility.  All here among the Fantasy Sports Boss staff LOVE Freeman and think a true MVP campaign is in the offing.

5.  Ozzie Albies getting a bit overshadowed by Ronald Acuna?  Just a bit as Acuna is getting an insane amount of hype, while Albies is flying a bit under the prospect radar on his own team.  Yes, Albies doesn't have the five-tool game that Acuna possesses but there is still an abundance of talent from the second baseman that should bear fruit in 2018.  Albies is a big base-stealing threat who can pilfer 25 or more bags this season and he also has the ability to hit for average and score runs.  Think Ender Inciarte at second base and so bid accordingly.


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

Friday, February 23, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP

Yes the WRAPUP is back and better than ever.  Arguably our most popular feature here by a mile, let's check in one some pertinent results from the first day of spring training games Friday.

-New York Yankees infielder Tyler Wade went 2-for-2 with a double in his exhibition debut Friday and at least initially show the team he should be under consideration for the shortstop position.  With newly-acquired third baseman Brandon Drury manning the hot corner, the Yanks could turn to Wade in order to buy some service time for top shortstop prospect Gleybar Torres.  Be that as it may, Wade has zero fantasy baseball value and this blurb is only to discuss how it impacts Torres who is looking like a future star.

-Jack Flaherty fired two scoreless innings for the St. Louis Cardinals but he is slated to begin the year in the minors barring injuries to any other member of the team's rotation.  Luke Weaver is the guy you want in terms of a rookie Cardinals starter anyways.

-Kevin Kiermaier will be the Rays' number three batter this season and I already have spoken about how underrated he is.  This is a 15/15 outfielder at the very least and the counting stats should improve from the number three slot as well.

-Dillon Peters intrigues me as a former top pitching prospect who has fought through some terrible injuries to make himself relevant for the 2018 Miami Marlins.  Peters fired two shutout frames Friday and struck out three in his spring debut and so his next outing will be one to watch to see if this story has traction.

-Zack Wheeler pitched a scoreless inning with 2 K's for the Mets in his spring debut.  Wheeler is fighting for the number 5 spot in the team's rotation but the signing of Jason Vargas currently leaves him out of the running.  While still capable of picking up K's with a high-end fastball, Wheeler's career-long lack of control and propensity for getting injured make him almost a non-story.

-Victor Robles picked up a double in his spring debut for the Washington Nats Friday but unlike Ronald Acuna, he has no path to begin the year with the team.  Right now the Nats outfield goes four deep and so Robles is more of a June candidate to debut, while Acuna should be up by mid-April.


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: WILLY ADAMES SS TAMPA BAY RAYS

If it seems like we have constantly been writing about the Rays over the last week, that is because we have been given the fact that have served as constant headline news with their trades (Steven Souza, Corey Dickerson), DFA's (Dickerson), signings (Carlos Gomez), and injury issues (Brent Honeywell).  So with so much roster turnover of late, now is a good time to check in on top Rays shortstop prospect Willy Adames who figures to make his presence felt at the major league level in 2018.  While he won't likely break camp with the frugal Rays in order for the team to preserve his Super 2 status, Adams won't be held down for long given his ability.  With that said, let's take a closer look at this budding talent.

Still just 22-years-old, Adames comes off a very solid 2017 campaign at Triple-A where he hit 10 home runs, stole 11 bases, and batted .277.  Yes, the numbers don't exactly jump off the page but Adames is only now growing into his body physically and will only add power as we go along.  He already has good speed to steal some bases and an 11.2 BB/9 clip from a year ago show Adames has a good eye as well.  The signs are there for Adames to be a batting average asset down the road given the high amount of walks he collects but he also does tend to strike out which will at least initially hold him down in that category in 2018.  Instead, we need to think longer term here as Adames can be a 15/15/.280 guy before too long and so especially in AL-only formats, he should be planted on your cheat sheets as a very late round grab.  The upside is not as vast as let's say an Ozzie Albies in the infield but Adames will likely be a positive weapon in fantasy baseball before you know it.


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: YOENIS CESPEDES GIVES UP GOLF TO PRESERVE LEGS

New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had some good news both for the team's front office and those who plan to own him for 2018 fantasy baseball:  the gold clubs are being put away for the season.  Anyone who owned Cespedes over the last two seasons in fantasy baseball know all too well the chronic quad/hamstring injuries the Cuban slugger has suffered from and the constant torque of swinging a golf ball on literally a daily basis (he played before almost every game from 2016-17) have become a flash point with the Mets organization.  With that said, Cespedes vowed on Thursday to put the clubs away until October and with him also swearing off the monster weightlifting program he was on last season, some good injury vibes could be headed his way in 2018.  Right now Cespedes is coming as cheap as ever in fantasy baseball drafts given the injuries he went through a year ago and that means he makes for a terrific buy-low opportunity.  A healthy Cespedes can club 30 home runs, score 90, and drive in 100 and so this has to be taken as a major positive in terms of his future outlook. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BRENT HONEYWELL HEADED FOR TOMMY JOHN AFTER TORN UCL DISCOVERED

Updating an earlier item, Tampa Bay Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has a torn UCL in his elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery that will keep him out for the entire 2018 season.  Honeywell left a throwing session in visible pain early on Thursday and while initial speculation by the team's front office believed the UCL was not involved, subsequent testing confirmed the tear and the need for surgery.  It has surely been an eventful few weeks for the Rays who have been torn apart in the media for their trades of Steven Souza and release of Corey Dickerson and now they lose one of their few positive talking points before a spring game was even played.  This is the same scenario that unfolded last spring with top St. Louis Cardinals pitching prospect Alex Reyes and it is another reminder that young starters who throw hard (looking at you Noah Syndegaard, Carlos Martinez, Aaron Nola, Lance McCullers, Luis Castillo, Dinelson Lamet) are very big risks for 2018 fantasy baseball. 


Thursday, February 22, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: PIRATES PICK UP ALL-STAR OUTFIELDER COREY DICKERSON FROM RAYS

The Tampa Bay Rays were at it again in terms of wheeling and dealing on Thursday as they sent 2017 All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Daniel Hudson, infielder Tristan Gray, and cash.  Last season Dickerson earned an All-Star nod as he belted 27 home runs and batted .282 for the Rays but the team shockingly DFA'd him earlier this week as part of a series of moves that also included the signing of Carlos Gomez and the trade of Steven Souza to the D-Backs.  In terms of Dickerson, he will remain in a pitching-leaning ballpark with the Pirates and pretty much replaces the traded Andrew McCutchen in the outfield in joining Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco.  Dickerson's arrival also means that Pirates outfield prospect Austin Meadows won't be a factor at the major league level for awhile as well.  In the end, Dickerson remains a very affordable 25-home run bat who also will help with decent counting stats and an average that won't kill you.  Keep him firmly in the OF 3 realm on your cheat sheets this spring.


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BRENT HONEYWELL DIAGNOSED WITH FOREARM STRAIN

Updating an earlier item, Tampa Bay Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has been diagnosed with a strained forearm and will head for additional testing to see if the UCL in his elbow is damaged. 

Analysis:  Not good. A forearm arm is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery and so Honeywell may be done in 2018 before throwing a pitch that counts. Obviously this is horrendous news for all involved and Honeywell becomes potentially the 2018 version of Alex Reyes last season around this time in spring training. 

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING INJURY NEWS: BRENT HONEYWELL SUFFERS APPARENT INJURY AT CAMP THURSDAY

In what could be a very disconcerting bit of news, top Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect Brent Honeywell exited the field from team workouts Thursday with a team trainer after suffering an apparent injury.  A field reporter said that Honeywell was uttering profanities and clearly was upset and so now we have to think there is a problem with his elbow.  Honeywell of course is the type of young, hard-throwing pitcher that is always a risk for Tommy John surgery and so we now may have our first big casualty of the spring.  As if things can't get any worse for the Rays who have earned a ton of scorn lately with the trades of Evan Longoria, Steven Souza, and cutting of All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson.  Stay tuned.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SIGNING FALLOUT: CARLOS GOMEZ MESSING UP PLANS IN TAMPA

Yeah so that whole Mallex Smith fantasy baseball sleeper thing lasted all of 24 hours.  That is how long it took the Tampa Bay Rays to sign veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez to a one-year deal on Wednesday that effectively takes the corner spot that could have gone to Smith and his 30-stolen base speed for 2018 and thus the team once again draws the ire of the fantasy baseball community.  Gomez will now join Kevin Kiermaier and Denard Span as the starting options in the outfield for the Rays this season and thus Smith is out of a chance at least for now and likely will begin 2018 in the minors.  Now as far as Gomez is concerned, the move to Tampa is a decent one for his fantasy baseball stock as he will get an everyday gig to himself and thus have the chance to put up some useful counting numbers once again.  Despite the move, Gomez is an old 32 and is clearly in the journeyman phase of his career as he has moved from Milwaukee to Houston to Texas and now Tampa Bay the last two seasons.  Last year Gomez showed he was not done entirely yet though as he put up the following numbers:

.255
17 HR
51 RBI
51 R
13 SB

Those numbers are not horrible but they straddle the OF 3/4 landscape in leagues that start three at the position and now Gomez moved into a pitcher's park after being in a major offensive haven with the Rangers a year ago.  Never a batting average help even during his brief first-round fantasy baseball days due to a high total of yearly strikeouts, Gomez is now into the boring veteran phase of his career that will have him as nothing more than a late-round pick.  Considering the ballpark downgrade and average hit, you are best left avoiding Gomez this season. 


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: WASHINGTON NATIONALS

By Michael Wong

West Palm Beach, Fla.--Is THIS finally the year the Washington Nationals win it all?  It seems like the last five years this has been the ultimate question centering around the team's spring training and that effort so far has been an abject failure despite some very impressive regular seasons performances.  2018 takes on some extra urgency with the free agency status of outfielder Bryce Harper and the fact a major chunk of the rest of the team are on short-term deals.  So with that said, here are some of the fantasy baseball storylines centering around the team this spring.

1.  Is Bryce Harper overrated in terms of fantasy baseball?  There is not a more hyped player in the game on a yearly basis outside of maybe Mike Trout than Bryce Harper.  Unlike Trout however, Harper has not put forth the blockbuster numbers on a yearly basis as a status like that would require.  The fact of the matter is that Harper has reached 30 home runs just ONCE in six MLB seasons and he has also has NEVER reached 100 RBI.  Throw in some serious injuries over the years and a constant ebb-and-flow in the steals column and Harper is quite volatile for a guy who is a locked-in first-round pick this spring.

2.  Anthony Rendon should absolutely be considered a top tier third baseman.  This goes without saying as Rendon put forth an MVP campaign in 2017 when he clubbed 25 home runs, collected 100 RBI, scored 81 runs, and batted .301.  Locked in the middle of a loaded lineup, Rendon's natural hitting ability has jived nicely with his burgeoning power.  Add in the fact Rendon will come cheaper than the Kris Bryants, Nolan Arenados, and Manny Machados of the word and this is one terrific fantasy baseball buy.

3.  How many more Cy Youngs can Max Scherzer win?  It seems like each and every season Scherzer is a candidate for the Cy Young and 2018 should be no different.  This site has constantly stuck with the opinion that Scherzer is a better pitching investment than Clayton Kershaw given the fact he has much better durability and we stand to that mantra for 2018 as well.  Still in his prime years, Scherzer should come close to or hit 20 wins with his customary monster K totals and splendid ratios.  

4.  What is the status of Daniel Murphys knee?  Microfracture surgery was performed on Murphy last winter and that is a very scary surgery for any player at any position.  This is especially true for someone who is moving toward his mid-30's like Muprhy is.  While the Nats keep saying Murphy will be ready for Opening Day, this is looking like quite the scary investment given what we know here.

5.  Remember to not forget about Adam Eaton!  It is easy to do so after Eaton missed virtually all of 2018 recovering from a torn ACL but he is expected to be 100 percent for Opening Day and thus front a massive lineup that should make scoring 100 runs easy as pie.  Throw in some moderate speed and power and Eaton could be a snaky OF 2 play this spring.  


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: FORREST WHITLEY PINCHED 50 GAMES FOR PED'S

                                                                  

Ugh.  These guys never learn and I guess they start early as it was revealed Wednesday that top Houston Astros pitching prospect Forrest Whitley was suspended 50 games for a PED violation.  While it was not known what substance Whitley tested positive for, he is now going to be out for the 50 games and thus eat into a major chunk of development time prior to any possible promotion.  Prior to the suspension, Whitley was right there as one of the very best pitching prospects in baseball as he registered a 2.83 ERA and punched out a massive 143 innings in 92.1 innings last season in the minors but now any possible arrival with the Astros as soon as May will likely be pushed back until July or even later.  As a result, Whitley needs to be knocked down a few pegs in your cheat sheets with regards to 2018 fantasy baseball but he should still be a major person of interest given the talent level we are discussing. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: SIGNING OF CAMERON MAYBIN COMPLICATES THINGS FOR LEWIS BRINSON

The Miami Marlins have made it an art form to tick off their fans this offseason as they set forth on a massive rebuilding effort that included trading away second baseman Dee Gordon, and outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna.  They stepped things up on Wednesday by actually annoying their fans by SIGNING someone when they came to terms with 30-year-old journeyman outfielder Cameron Maybin.  The reason Maybin's arrival figure to cause some more agita to the Miami fans is his presence may now give the team reason to send top outfield prospect Lewis Brinson to the minor leagues to begin the year and gain some more seasoning.  Maybin is nothing but a placeholder on a one-year deal but the Marlins could very well option Brinson to save some long-term money instead.  Now as far as Maybin is concerned, this is his second go-round with the Marlins as he was once part of the Dontrelle Willis trade and he has made stops in Detroit (twice), in Los Angeles with the Angels, San Diego, and Atlanta.  Through it all, he has been a poor average hitter whose best asset has been stealing bases.  Maybin actually did the latter at a high rate in 2017 as he swiped 33 bags and hit 10 home runs but batted just .228.  The same scenario should be in play again this season and so those who use five starting outfielders can have some use for Maybin.  Ultimately though, his arrival in Miami is more annoying than a positive. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: WILLIE CALHOUN OUTFIELDER TEXAS RANGERS

Sometimes a hitter just has "It."  That certain "It" centers on a hitter's innate ability to not only consistently put bat to ball but also control the strike zone with a keen eye.  Some present-day examples of such hitters include Joey Votto, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Jose Altuve; all guys who should hear their names called during the first two rounds of mixed league fantasy baseball drafts this spring.  Well a new member to that illustrious group may be ready to reveal himself down in Texas in the form of outfielder Willie Calhoun who carries all the same traits of those listed above and who is primed to be one of the very best rookies in the game this season.  Having turned just 23 this past November, Calhoun is slated for an everyday outfield role on the Rangers this season and he comes of a huge 2017 campaign in the minors which include a total of 31 home runs, 93 RBI, 80 runs scored, and averages of .298 (Dodgers) and .310 (Rangers) among the two Triple-A stops he made last season.  Needless to say, those are some very impressive offensive numbers and looking under the advanced hood shows even greater ability.  It is here where we really can see what a terrific pure hitter Calhoun is as his 11.8 K/9 (Dodgers) and 10.0 K/9 (Rangers) at Triple-A last season show extreme contact ability that will lead to a string of .300 averages at the major league level and that is without even taking into account how great hitting in Texas can be.  Add in the monster power and Calhoun looks like he may be the next big .300-hitting/30-HR slugger that draws comparisons to a Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez.  In case you forgot, both of those guys are OF 1's on ability alone and Calhoun could become that guy before too long.  This kid is going to be a real player and now is the time to get him into bold lettering on your cheat sheets.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: YANKS PICK UP BRANDON DRURY FOR 3B, D-BACKS LAND STEVEN SOUZA IN SPRING BLOCKBUSTER

The New York Yankees have seemingly been connected to Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Brandon Drury going back to last summer and they finally got their man late Tuesday via a three-team deal that also included the Tampa Bay Rays.  The other big name in the deal is Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. who becomes the latest talented player to be dealt away by Tampa Bay which has earned the wrath of Kevin Kiermaier and other alumni from the team.  Let's break it all down by a player:

Brandon Drury:  The Yankees clearly made this move for Drury to fill third base and thus give top prospect Miguel Andujar more time to develop.  It also removed the possibility of the Yanks beginning 2018 with two rookies on the left side in Andujar and shortstop Gleybar Torres.  As far as Drury is concerned, the 25-year-old batted .267 with 13 home runs in jusy 480 at-bats and now he gets to stay in a prime hitter's park in moving to Yankee Stadium.  While Drury doesn't walk much, his 21.5 K/9 was decent enough but his average doesn't figure to help.  Overall, this is an AL-only starting play and a backup option in mixed leagues.

Steven Souza Jr.:  Souza's move from Tampa Bay to Arizona is certainly a ballpark improvement but with the humidor being added to Chase Field this season, it may not result in the total spike offensively one would think.  Regardless, Souza had a tremendous 2017 where he slugged a career-best 30 home runs, stole 16 bases, and batted just .239.  The 30/16 power/speed combo stands out big-time here and that keeps Souza as a top OF 3 options.  He can't be graded any higher due to the fact his average is an annual problem due to a K/9 rate that is always very high.  Last season was no different in the latter category as Souza's 29.0 K/9 rate was nasty and that is why the average will remain an issue.

Meanwhile, the Rays get two prospects in second baseman Nick Solak and lefty Anthony Banda as they try and continue their rebuild.


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: MICHAEL CONFORTO (SHOULDER) HITTING OFF TEE

                                                                   

New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto is making steady progress in his recovery from a very serious shoulder operation last summer as he was able to hit off a tee Tuesday at the team's spring training complex.  While Conforto is not due back to the team until sometime in May after he severely dislocated his shoulder on a swing last summer, the fact he is hitting off a tee is a very positive development nonetheless.  The Mets and Conforto are sort of in uncharted injury territory as it is extremely rare for a hitter to dislocate his shoulder on something as routine as a swing and so trying to nail down exactly when he will be able to return is tough.  Be that as it may, Conforto was spectacular in his breakout campaign a year ago before the injury and his very depressed draft cost this time around makes him a potential steal if he can give you five good months.  Take today's news as a positive and feel a bit more secure in investing in Conforto going forward.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: TAMPA BAY RAYS

By Michael Wong

Port Charlotte, Fla.--The Tampa Bay Rays made the news this week but not for anything good if you asked some of the players down here in Port Charlotte.  Specifically speaking, the Rays trading away pitcher Jake Odorizzi and cutting loose 2017 All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson led veteran Kevin Kiermaier to opine publicly how disappointed he was with the transactions.  It also led to the team former All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria (who was dealt to the San Francisco Giants weeks ago) to say pretty much the same thing.  The moves do signal that ownership believes the Rays can't compete with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox this season and actuality, this is not the worst strategy to take as the team looks to rebuild again.  With that said, here are some fantasy baseball topics that need to be discussed with an eye toward 2018.

1.  So who else should be on the move soon?  Well, you can start with closer Alex Colome who had a bit of an inconsistent 2017 campaign in terms of being the next guy to go.  The Rays as a rebuilding team don't have a need for a closer like Colome and so it should only be a matter of time before he is shipped elsewhere.  That means those who have an interest in drafting Colome this spring need to realize they are not likely going to get six months of saves from him this season and so you may want to take a pass here.  In addition, Kiermaier could also be on the move as well.

2.  Christian Arroyo will now take over third base for Longoria!  The main return from the Giants in the Longoria deal is Arroyo who was the 25th overall selection in the 2013 draft.  Right now Arroyo is really more known for his glove than his offensive game and so he should only have minimal interest in AL-only formats.

3.  Don't sleep on Wilson Ramos as your under-the-radar catcher option.  It seems like every season the talented but injury-prone Ramos gets overlooked in fantasy baseball drafts but that just means you can take advantage without paying too much for his services.  Ramos is the rare catcher that can hit for power and also not kill you in the average department and the plan is for him to DH on the days he is not behind the plate which means very good counting stats are on tap here as well.  If you choose to wait on drafting catcher this spring as you should, Ramos is a terrific place to look for your catcher.

4.  Let's talk about Chris Archer.  When will the talent catch up to the ratios?  Our own Fantasy Sports Boss loves Archer each and every season and there certainly is a lot to like here.  For one thing, Archer is one of the very best strikeout artists in the major leagues with massive K totals of 252, 233, and 249 the last three years.  The issue with Archer is that his ERA's have hovered at or above the 4.00 mark during that span which is much higher than one would expect given all the K's.  The main reason for this is the fact Archer continues to give up home runs by the boatload and this can be a very frustrating thing to deal with in terms of fantasy baseball.  With XFIP and FIP ERA's that go quite a bit lower than Archer's actual numbers there showing how good he can be if the home runs come down, the interest needs to remain high here given the major talent at hand.

5.  Jacob Faria and Blake Snell seem like the next wave in power arms coming from the Rays system huh?  Yes, sir as both Snell and Faria can miss bats just like Archer, David Price, and soon Brett Honeywell.  While Honeywell may not be up until June, Faria and Snell both should break camp with the Rays and thus both carry some intriguing fantasy baseball upside.  We prefer Faria over Snell given his better peripherals and control but either guy is what you use a late-round pick on.


******PICK UP YOUR COPY OF OUR 2018 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT GUIDE THROUGH AMAZON HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Sports-Baseball-Draft-Guide/dp/1978333773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518955583&sr=8-4&keywords=2018+fantasy+baseball

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PROSPECT WATCH: NICK SENZEL GETTING CHANCE TO STICK AT SS OR 3B THIS SPRING

Cincinnati Reds top infield prospect Nick Senzel is getting reps both at shortstop and third base this spring as the team looks for every way to get him onto the field from the jump this season.  The second overall pick in the 2016 drafts, Senzel was terrific both at A-Ball and Double-A last season for the Reds as he hit .305 and .340 respectively at both levels and hit a combined 14 home runs and stole 14 bases.  The power/speed/average game is very apparent here and since the Reds are in full rebuild mode, Senzel has an excellent chance of supplying fantasy baseball numbers right away this season.  He needs to be moved up cheat sheets and quickly. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE NEWS: PHILS AND JAKE ARRIETA STEPPING UP TALKS

The Philadelphia Phillies have stepped up contract talks with free agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta according to multiple sources, with one saying there could be a framework for a deal already in place.  With big name free agents having found homes in recent days, Arrieta and third baseman Mike Moustakas become the top names left on the board.  The Phillies have made some moves this winter to try and get back into contention but they remain in need of an ace-level starter which Arrieta qualifies for.

Analysis:  Arrieta is an interesting name for 2018 fantasy baseball as he has a somewhat hot-and-cold 2018 campaign and has seen his fastball velocity dip a bit the last two seasons as well.  Throw in the always high injury risk here and Arrieta is not without red flags.  However he still showed he is capable of missing bats last season and thus he can make the SP 2 grade in 2018 no matter where he signs. 


Monday, February 19, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: KEVIN KIERMAIER REMAINS QUITE UNDERRATED

While the Tampa Bay Rays continue to try and trade away anything that is not nailed down (with the latest being the release of outfielder Corey Dickerson and trade of SP Jake Odorizzi), one guy that remains on the roster and who has very impressive value both offensively and defensively is Kevin Kiermaier.  The speedy outfielder already has a firm reputation of being arguably the best defensive player at his position in the game but Kiermaier's offensive game has really developed the last two seasons as well.  In fact, despite many in the fantasy baseball community collectively yawning when they hear his name, Kiermaier has put up HR/SB ratios of 12/21 and 15/16 the last two seasons which are very impressive ratios to say the least.  Despite that very solid level of production, Kiermaier is still being widely ignored in early 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.  The reason for this is twofold, with the first being the fact that Kiermaier has been a batting average liability throughout his still-young career, which included marks of just .263, .246, and .276 the last three seasons.  Kiermaier tends to strike out too much (23.5 K/9 a year ago) and with just all right walk rates, don't count on things changing much here going forward.  In addition, Kiermaier gets knocked because of the screen in Tampa Bay which is right at the top of the list of the most irrelevant teams in all of baseball.  With the Rays drawing just barely over $1 million, that doesn't figure to change.  The bright side here is that this will help you at the draft this spring since Kiermaier is just now reaching his prime at the age of 27 and remains very capable of at the very least a 15/15 ratio in the HR/SB columns and if he hits .270, then the overall picture looks even better.  There are few outfielders who can come cheaper and still put forth good OF 3 numbers and Kiermaier fits this bill squarely this spring.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE SIGNINGS: J.D. MARTINEZ FINALLY LANDS IN BOSTON

After week of back-and-forth discussing that sometimes turned nasty, the Boston Red Sox and free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez finally came to an agreement on a deal late Monday.  Martinez gets well over $100 million in the deal but the exact figure is not yet known at this point.  In terms of fantasy baseball, Martinez re-solidified his OF 1 standing in signing into one of the best offensive parks in the game.  He comes off a ridiculous 2017 campaign where Martinez slammed 45 home runs and collected 108 RBI in just 489 at-bats last season.  Reaching the 40-home run mark is very much in play again for Martinez this season and he should find his name being called in the third round of most mixers this spring.  Still in his prime at the age of 30, Martinez is a firm four-category producer (HR, RBI, R, average) in fantasy baseball 2018 and his being released by the Houston Astros a few years ago remains one of the more ridiculed moves in recent MLB history. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SLEEPER ALERT: RYAN McMAHON BEGINNING CAMP AS STARTING 1B

The Colorado Rockies have confirmed that first base prospect Ryan McMahon will begin spring training as the team's starter at the position, while last year's incumbent Ian Desmond will shift to the outfield.  The fact the Rockies already have named McMahon the starter is quite a statement in terms of their confidence in the kid and their expectations for 2018.  Having been drafted in the second round back in 2013 by the Rockies, McMahon put himself firmly on the prospect radar a year ago by hitting 20 home runs and stealing 11 bases combined at Double-A and Triple-A; while also batting .an insane .326 and .372 at both levels respectively.  While it is fair to question the overall power of McMahon, he will surely get a home ballpark boost there and the average has been scorching at any level.  Throw in some bonus steals and there is a lot going on here for 2018 fantasy baseball. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL HOT STOVE SIGNINGS: CHRIS TILLMAN RE-UPPING WITH ORIOLES

Just days after signing free agent starter Andrew Cashner, the Baltimore Orioles reportedly have reached an agreement with veteran Chris Tillman to return to the team in 2018.  Having logged multiple productive years in the team's rotation, Tillman had a putrid 2017 campaign where he got hurt and put forth the following numbers:

1-7
7.84 ERA
1.89 WHIP
93.0 IP

Clearly, those numbers need to be completely tossed aside and since Tillman will be just 30 this April, he should be able to come back and post a decent year like he did previously if he can stay healthy.  Keep in mind that from 2012-16, Tillman logged an ERA under 4.00 in three of those four campaigns despite pitching in the always tough AL East.  Be that as it may, Tillman' typically mediocre K/9 rate mostly keeps him in SP 5 territory in all fantasy baseball leagues.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: TROY TULOWITZKI (FOOT) NOT A GIVEN FOR OPENER

No stranger to injury, Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is not guaranteed to be ready for Opening Day as he continues to recover from missing the last two months of last season with ligament damage in his foot.  Tulo is also dealing with a bone spur in the same foot and was noticeably limping during his early days in spring training.  In terms of fantasy baseball, Tulo has pretty much lost all relevancy in standard mixed leagues given his declining overall offensive production and due to the injuries that have been a constant throughout his career (including his first-round days with the Colorado Rockies).  While at one time Tulo was a five-tool superstar in fantasy baseball, he should pretty much be ignored at drafts this spring and that was going to be the case even without the latest injury issue.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: PITTSBURGH PIRATES

By Michael Wong

Bradenton, Fla.--The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to have raised the white flag on the 2018 baseball season before even one meaningful pitch has been thrown.  At least this is what has been intimated by none other than the team's prospective starting third baseman David Freese.  It was Freese who sounded the alarm at the start of camp in regards to the offseason maneuverings by the Pirates which included trading away the team's former All-Star MVP in outfielder Andrew McCutchen.  While the Pirates had a nice run of contention, this is a team that is undertaking a rebuild despite not saying so publicly.  Let's check out some of the more prominent fantasy baseball related questions as spring training gets fully underway here with a full-squad workout on tap Monday.

1.  Can Starling Marte move past last year's PED suspension to fill McCutchen's spot at the top of the outfield hierarchy?  While it was Dee Gordon in 2016, it was Marte last season who served as the biggest name suspended 80 games by MLB for testing positive for a banned substance.  Needless to say, Marte's owners got burned badly as they had to wait for his return through the majority of the first-half of the year.  When he did return, Marte still showed off his big-time athleticism in stealing 21 bases in just 309 at-bats; while also hitting .275 with 7 home runs.  Obviously coming back from a PED suspension, we have to wonder how much of Marte's previous level of production was inflated by the juice but at the very least, he should remain one of the more potent base stealers in the game and that statistic is getting tougher to come by every season.  Even if Marte hits just 10-15 home runs, he should be in line for 40 steals, 80-plus runs, and a solid average.  This is still a low-end OF 1 who can be had for the price of an OF 2.

2.  Jameson Taillon seems poised to graduate into a top-shelf pitching talent!  Boy if anyone deserves a complete do-over from 2017, it was Taillon who thankfully was able to beat back a bout with testicular cancer and other less serious injury issues.  While his 4.44 ERA and 1.48 WHIP were no doubt ugly in his 133.2 innings, Taillon has the stuff that makes him a future front-of-the-rotation arm.  Keep in mind that Taillon was the second overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft who put up some very impressive minor league performances prior to arriving with the Pirates.  Now while Taillon doesn't have the major strikeout ability to make te ace grade in fantasy baseball, he does have the stuff to be a solid SP 3 if all breaks right in 2018 for the cost of pennies on the dollar.  

3.  Don't forget about Gregory Polanco in terms of 2018 reclamation projects!  It is hard to imagine that a 26-year-old player can be considered a reclamation project but that is what happens when you have a horrible season all the way around like Gregory Polanco had in 2017.  Battling endless leg/hamstring problems, that kept him planted on the DL, Polanco hit just .251 with 11 home runs and 8 steals in 411 at-bats.  Polanco previously was considered the next in line with regards to the Pirates churning out five-tool outfielders and while he still has that potential, this looks like a make-or-break year for the guy.  Be that as it may, the draft cost has dropped sharply here which means a tidy profit could be had as well if you buy low.

4.  Will Felipe Rivero get traded?  That is the risk that those who invest in the Pirates closer are facing as a top-shelf bullpen arm on a rebuilding team is never a good match.  There is a solid chance Rivero gets moved by the July 31 trade deadline and the risk of landing in a situation where he will pitch in setup would obviously destroy his at the moment impressive fantasy baseball value.  As a closer right now, Rivero is a top five stopper as he comes off a dominant 2017 campaign where he seemingly punched out every batter he faced.  The risk is there though for him to not be earning saves when leagues are decided.

5.  Can Josh Bell hit for consistent power?  Whether or not Bell can replicate his 2017 power output will ultimately determine where his fantasy baseball value will sit in 2018. Previous to last season, Bell was known more for a decent average and moderate power but he reversed course there with the Pirates last season as he batted just .255 but with 26 home runs.  It is very possible that Bell grew into his power at the age of 25 but having never performed at that level previously there, be careful of it being an outlier.  


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY WATCH: PIRATES SP JOE MUSGROVE TO BE SHUT DOWN A "FEW DAYS" DUE TO SORE SHOULDER

By Michael Wong

Bradenton, Fla.--Recently-acquired Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Joe Musgrove will be shut down for "a few days" after the righty came down with a bout of shoulder soreness on Sunday.  The soreness forced Musgrove to scatch his scheduled bullpen sessions and some testing may be on tap now according to a team source connected to the front office.  Having just come over to the team in the Gerrit Cole trade, Musgrove had a good shot at securing a starting rotation spot this spring.  While he had only marginal value in NL-only formats with regards to fantasy baseball, Musgrove is already now going to be behind in spring workouts. 


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ZACK GREINKE SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

That major gust of wind that emanated from our West early on during the 2017 MLB season was a collective sigh of relief from the Arizona Diamondbacks front office and managerial staff when it came to the performance of ace pitcher Zack Greinke.  After all, it was just the year prior where Greinke did a complete face plant during the first year of his six-year deal worth $206.5 million with the D-Backs when he looked nothing like an ace in recording a 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and struck out just 134 batters in 158.2 innings.  Certainly not the return on investment the team was looking for and Greinke overnight became a pariah of the fantasy baseball community as a result.

Fast forward to the end of 2017 and Greinke did more than enough to re-graduate himself into a fantasy baseball ace as he recorded the following numbers:

17-7
3.20 ERA
1.07 WHIP
215 K in 202.1 IP (9.56 K/9)

Those were once again SP 1 number but they came with an SP 3 price tag in terms of 2017 drafts.  Clearly, Greinke won't come that cheap again this season but now many are wondering which guy will show up in 2018.  Should those in the fantasy baseball community disregard that worthless 2016 campaign or should some trepidation be felt since Greinke will be 34 and with a lot of mileage on his arm this season?  Well count this peanut stand as a firm BUYER on Greinke and for a number of reasons.  The first is that Greinke figured out how to tame Chase Field last season unlike in 2016 and that went a long way toward fixing his problems.  Overall, Greinke went 13-1 with a 2.87 ERA at Chase Field last season and now we have the humidor coming to the ballpark for 2018 as well which will only help him further.  Perhaps the greatest weakness of Greinke over the years has been his propensity for giving up home runs and his 1.11 HR/9 last season was not great despite the swell overall numbers. The humidor will surely take away a batch of homers from Chase Field this season and again, this will only serve to boost Greinke's ratios.  In addition, Greinke's K's came all the way back last season as he went back over 200 strikeouts despite a fastball average velocity that has been dipping going back to 2015.  While Greinke is getting up there at 34, count on at least one more very good season out of the guy for a moderate draft cost.

All in all, Zack Greinke should be fully trusted for 2018 fantasy baseball and he can make the grade as your staff ace once again.  The humidor and statistical comeback from last season combined should see to this.

2018 PROJECTION:  16-8 3.22 ERA 1.10 WHIP 198 K  


Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: ARRIVAL OF ERIC HOSMER SEND WIL MYERS BACK TO THE OUTFIELD

We already have discussed in-depth earlier in the day what the arrival of first baseman Eric Hosmer to the San Diego Padres means for his fantasy baseball value but there are some other ramifications in play as well.  The biggest is the fact that the Padres' incumbent first baseman Wil Myers will now shift back into the outfield which was the position he held when first coming up with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Myers had lost outfield eligibility for 2018 fantasy baseball prior to the transaction but he will now gain it back after between 5-20 games at the position depending on your league's rules.  Added versatility is always a bonus for a player's fantasy baseball value and so Myers should be bumped up a bit to the fourth-round range.  While Myers' batting average has never been pretty, he has quietly been one of the better power/speed options in the game the last two years in recording splits of 28/28 and 30/20 respectively in terms of those two categories.  That is a very nice ratio for fantasy baseball purposes and so any average hit can be looked over some when it comes to Myers.

In addition, you can forget both Hunter Renfroe and Jose Pirela as fantasy baseball options for 2018 given the arrival of Hosmer.  There was a chance for either Renfroe or Pirela to claim an outfield spot prior to the Hosmer signing but that went out the window.  Take both guys off of your cheat sheets this spring.


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2018 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ERIC HOSMER 1B SAN DIEGO PADRES

He just had to pick the Padres didn't he?  As a longtime fan of Eric Hosmer and someone who has made more than a few excuses for the guy in the past through some disappointing campaigns, to say I was annoyed that he signed on with the Padres late Saturday night is a big understatement.  Of course, I can't blame Hosmer for passing up $144 million he got from San Diego but from a fantasy baseball perspective, this is not an ideal landing spot obviously.  By now we all know that Petco Park is as big an offensive drain as you can when it comes to offense/runs and Hosmer's 2018 fantasy baseball value takes a hit due to the landing spot alone.  This is especially true for a guy like Hosmer who has been killing worms for years as one of the more pronounced ground-ball hitters in the game and he could have used any advantage a new home ballpark could have given him leaving Kansas City which is no picnic for hitters either.  Be that as it may, this is what we have to deal with so let's dig back in here by revisiting Hosmer's 2018 numbers:

.318
25 HR
94 RBI
98 R
6 SB

As a former third overall pick in the 2008 draft, Hosmer always had had the pedigree and so his numbers above look pretty darn good on paper.  On paper is the key word here though as Hosmer remained an extreme ground-ball guy last season with a very high 55.6 of his balls sailing through the grass and just 22.0 becoming flies.  That is a horrific ratio for sure but Hosmer still made it work enough to smack 25 homers for the second year in a row.  What needs to be said though is that it took over 650 at-bats each season for Hosmer to get there so his home run rate is actually pretty bad and when you consider how the long ball went crazy all across baseball last season, 25 is not looking as impressive as it once did. 

Making matters worse for Hosmer, there is the fact that his .318 average from last season looks fluky as well.  Hosmer's .351 BABIP a year ago was incredibly lucky and one of the highest marks in baseball.  Keep in mind that previous to last season, Hosmer only hit over .300 once in his previous six MLB campaigns and so we need to job back his expected batting average for 2018 to the .300 range.  Yes, .300 is still an impressive place to be but you certainly can't pay for .318.  Finally, while Hosmer was a double-digit stolen base guy as recently as 2013, he has just 11 total the last two years and at the age of 28, already seems like he is finished running.

When you put it all together, Eric Hosmer looks like a top ten fantasy baseball first baseman once again for 2018 but you need to strongly resist the urge to pay for his 2017 numbers.  Hosmer simply hits too many balls on the ground to be anything more than a 25 home run guy AT BEST and his new home ballpark will cause the average to dip as well.  This guy could go down as one of the more overrated bats in spring drafts. 

2018 PROJECTION:  .303 23 HR 95 RBI 93 R 5 SB  

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE FALLOUT: RAYS ACQUIRE 1B C.J. CRON FROM ANGELS, DFA COREY DICKERSON

In what can only be described as a shocker, the Tampa Bay Rays DFA's outfielder Corey Dickerson late Saturday after completing a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for first baseman C.J. Cron.  The Rays bought low on Cron who has hinted at above-average power/pure hitting ability the last few seasons with the Angels but who at the same time has never been able to put a complete season together.  Meanwhile, the Rays DFA Dickerson who hit 27 home runs, drove in 84 runs, and batted .282 for the team in 2017. 

Now as far as Cron is concerned, he hit 16 home runs in just 373 at-bats last season which was a terrific ratio but his .248 average left a lot to be desired.  Again, Cron has hinted at some very good ability with the bat and but he remains rough around the edges as shown by his high 25.7 K/9 and underwhelming 5.9 BB/9 ratios from a year ago.  Be that as it may, he will get consistent playing time for the first time in his career with the Rays this season and so 20 home runs is absolutely in play here for 2018 and thus some fantasy baseball sleeper value.

With regards to Dickerson, expect him to find a new home shortly and he remains a very solid OF 3 in terms of fantasy baseball given his proven 25-home run power and decent batting averages in the past.  If Dickeson can find a better hitting ballpark, his value will go up even more so.


2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: MIAMI MARLINS

By Michael Wong

Jupiter, Fla.--So what's left?  That is the question centering on the 2018 Miami Marlins who were once again stripped of almost all their workable parts during the winter as new CEO Derek Jeter went to work overhauling the minor league system and opening up payroll for the future.  Gone in trades are All-Star outfielders Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, and emerging star outfielder Christian Yelich.  What remains is a collection of young players and aging veterans who will have to endure what could be a brutal 2018 campaign.  So with that said, let's try to dig into the few fantasy baseball issues surrounding the team.

1.  Will there be any saves to collect?  No many that's for sure.  Right now veteran sinkerballer Brad Ziegler has to be considered the front-runner for saves but honestly he should be at the very bottom of the closer rankings given his soft-tossing stuff and coming off a rough 2017 campaign.  The better thing to do here is to speculate on future closers, of which the Marlins have two in Kyle Barraclough and the more intriguing Drew Steckenrider.  Steckenrider has a ton of potential as a high-K guy like Barraclough but both men really need to curb the walks.  Either way, not many saves will be showing up here.

2.  How long will J.T. Realmuto stick around?  It certainly looks like Realmuto is the next one to go and there figures to be a ton of interested in the smooth-hitting catcher.  Realmuto has really developed into a fine player and he is the rare catcher in fantasy baseball who can contribute in all five standard ROTO categories.  The Washington Nationals remain very interested here and a deal could occur at any time.  Like with Stanton and Yelich, any deal to a more offensive ballpark will add even more value to Realmuto's name.

3.  Justin Bour remains a tremendous value!  While his name elicits a yawn in the fantasy baseball community, first baseman Justin Bour continues to quietly put up very solid numbers every season.   Having improved against lefties in 2017, Bour can supply an easy 25 homers and 80 RBI with a .280 average is he can dodge the injuries that have derailed him the last few seasons.  That would work tremendously in your UTIL or CI spot.  

4.  Lewis Brinson could have a Byron Buxton 2017 breakout in 2018.  The comparisons between top Marlins outfield prospect Lewis Brinson and the Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton are clear as both guys have been lauded for insane potential/skills but also have struggled to hit when given the chance against major league pitching.  It took Buxton three seasons of chances with the Twins before the proverbial light bulb began to go off last season and Brinson may need another year himself before going down that path.  Still, Brinson can run like the wind and his power is really becoming potent.  We could be looking at a 15/30 season as soon as 2018 but there will be average issues.

5.  Are there are starters here who can help?  The biggest red flag on the 2018 Miami Marlins is the rotation which looks to be one of the very worst in all of baseball.  When you are fronted by journeyman Dan Straily, you have problems.  Straily himself is the only arm worth checking out in drafts and only as your SP 5.  Dillon Peters is also interesting but he is more of a guy to watch early on in the season then someone you want to draft.


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