Baseball Season Kick-Off

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Fantasy Baseball

Hard to believe, but its time to start thinking about baseball season.
Now, for this first post of the preseason, I considered an analysis of all the off-season activity, I considered an early sleeper/bust type post. I considered going back to last season and posting some of my best and worst picks.
But at the end of the day, I thought I would give you some insight into the things that are on my mind. They wont all be organized thoughts, but some guys I know I will be targeting or avoiding in drafts, and some random opinions.
I will have positional rankings coming soon, as well as sleepers, busts and all the other pre-season goodies that you guys eat up.
First of all, I actually thought of this laying in bed last night and scribbled it down, but this is the off the top of my head 2012 All-”guys you are going to want on your team” Team.
Ultimately, the best drafts are when you get the most value out of every spot and so I assembled a team of guys that I think will be drafted later than they should be.
At catcher, I think you’re going to want Mike Napoli. If Jesus Montero is catcher-eligible, I think he should do well, but since he’s generally DH-only right now I’ll take Nap.
At first base, I think you’re going to want Adam Dunn. He might be the most valuable player this year relative to his draft position. After one of the worst seasons in baseball history, I think he’ll be the cheapest 25 HR/80 RBI on the board.
At second, I’m going to take Jed Lowrie. He should start at shortstop for Houston, which will add to his value, and I could see .275, and 15-20 home runs, which is great from a middle-infield spot.
Moving over to third, I do this every year, but I still want Ian Stewart. Maybe a change of venue will awaken that 30/100 potential that has been lying in wait. (A much more expensive option, but I think David Wright will be undervalued, and by that I mean he might fall to the third round in some drafts)
At shortstop, things are very ugly, but after the top 10 or so (who will all go very early), I think Dee Gordon presents great value. He can hit for a decent average and will steal a ton of bases. Also, with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier behind him, Gordon could score 90 runs.
Logan Morrison is my pick in left field, without hesitation. I love his game and to finally see the power emerge is just another bonus. (I’m not touching Carl Crawford before the fourth round, but I think .280, 13 HR, 40 SB and 90 runs is possible)
Despite having a breakout 2011 campaign, I think Cameron Maybin will go overlooked in drafts this year and I’d love to get him late, even playing in San Diego. If Andrew McCutchen falls past the second round, snatch him up. He is a personal favorite, but he’s also 30/40 waiting to happen. If Mike Trout gets over 350 at bats, you’re going to want him. But that’s no guarantee.
In right field, he may come at a heavier price than some of these other guys, but Mike Stanton is a dark horse MVP candidate with Ryan Braun suspended for the first 50. (By the way, I don’t want anyone shocked when Miami gives Philadelphia a run for the division and Atlanta finishes third)
On the mound, Yu Darvish is going to be criminally overdrafted. Think 13 wins, 3.50 ERA and 175 Ks. But as far as guys you will want, I’ll be looking at Justin Masterson. Call me a believer. Doug Fister is underrated. Michael Pineda might win 18+ with 180+ Ks, if you can tolerate a 3.6 ERA and maybe 1.35 WHIP. I also really like Edinson Volquez for ERA and strikeouts if you can stand a losing record.
I go back and forth on Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman and Neftali Feliz. But I’ll probably be staying away for now.
I do like Daniel Bard as a starter, though he might not last in the rotation if his arm can’t handle the innings.
Coming out of the bullpen, closers are scary. About half of those who start the season pitching the ninth, don’t end that way. I think Jordan Walden will be solid, as well as that top group that we all know about.
That’s my 2012 All-”guys you will want on your team” Team.
Some other thoughts going into the year… Phil Hughes showed revival late last year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a year equal to or better than Ivan Nova’s 2011.
For those of you wondering, no, I don’t see Bryce Hyper coming up before perhaps a September cup of coffee.
People are saying the Angels and their overloaded outfield might let Mike Trout play the first half of the year in the minors, but I can’t imagine they keep him down. If he shows in spring training that he can do it… they signed Pujols and Lewis to win NOW, and every year you wait, the older Albert gets, so I think you let Trout play center field and leave the veterans to duke it out for the corners.
Mat Latos will win a lot more, but I worry about his ERA and WHIP.
Big questions surround Adam Wainwright and Josh Johnson returning from injury. Wainwright will probably fall just shy of my top-15 starting pitchers. Johnson is a hard one to figured. He’s one of the best when he goes, but how many starts can you bet on? He’ll probably be in the 30s for me because of his injury history. You might get 15 elite starts, but you may only get 20 total.
I love Jordan Zimmerman this year. What we saw the first half of last year is an idea of what I think he’ll do all of this year. Stephen Strasburg will be great and I think will also be wildly overdrafted. But Zimmerman might just out-pitch him. This might sound crazy, but Strasburg and Zimmerman might challenge Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain as the second best 1-2 punch in the National League (after Halladay and Lee/Hamels, whichever ace you’d put second.
Finally, for those of you who followed my “Walking the Walk” in football season, that team won the league championship, thanks to 46 from Aaron Rodgers and big day from CJ Spiller.
For baseball season, I’ll be “Walking the Walk” with my 18-team keeper league, which is currently weighing a keeper dilemma, but I’ll get into the details in my WTW introduction coming soon.
Keep an eye out for positional rankings, sleepers and busts, WTW and some Q&A sessions as spring training approaches. And I’ll tell you another thing, remember how I said Miami might challenge Philly in the east, with Atlanta trailing? If Washington finds a way to sign Prince Fielder, Atlanta might fall to fourth in that division and the Nats could be right there with Miami and the Phillies.

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