Fantasy Articles

For all of us fantasy baseball nerds, baseball season began after the Super Bowl.  We've combed through every bit of statistical data available so that we can be prepared for spring training and have come up with these questions:

  1. Can Jacoby Ellsbury hit 30 HR again?
  2. Will Adam Dunn ever be the same?
  3. Why do we continue to get burned every year by the Drew Stubbs, Stephen Drew or B.J Upton-type players that always tease us into drafting them time and time again?
  4. If healthy, can Brian Roberts, Justin Morneau, and Alex Rodriguez return to past form?
  5. How much regression/bounce-back do we put into our projections for this year after 2011 performances like Justin Verlander's insanely low .236 BABIP and 80% Strand Rate, Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun's batting average (both above .330) or Mike Napoli's .350 BABIP which drove his .300 avg.?
  6. After his first season of 600+ AB is this finally what we have been waiting for from Ian Kinsler? Is there even more growth possible?

cabrera_melky

Who will be the next Melky Cabrera?
These are six examples of some of the questions that we have been asking ourselves this offseason leading up to spring training.  Here is the question we should be asking as fantasy owners: Who will be the next Melky Cabrera?  I have many theories on this, but first, let's discuss how we can spot these things.

 

During spring training in 2011, Marlon Byrd and Melky Cabrera both hit .488, Alex Cora hit .400, Jason Heyward hit .419. All the players coming off of down years were "ready to bounce-back and contribute."

Let's play the spot the cliché game; did you find it?  The mainstream media will all be focused on one thing -- updating the masses about players everyone knows and cares about.  You, on the other hand, as an educated fantasy baseball player, can focus on more important things, such as: Who will win the starting left field job for the Mariners, Orioles and Reds?

Let's harken back to the statistic from earlier last spring between Byrd and Cabrera.  They both produced at an outstanding level for that all "important month" that we seem to base our entire season projections on.

But in all seriousness, Cabrera's outbreak should have been more noted among fantasy circles, but it wasn't. Why? The answer is simple; he was on the Royals and nobody cared.  Why should his outbreak have been noted?  Because he's always shown decent skills in a limited role, he's on the right side of 30, and he finally got playing time.  Maybe if we had all just paid attention to the right types of players in spring training last year, we all would've drafted Melky Cabrera for most likely no more than $7 at our draft day auction and been the lucky recipients of his $31 dollar end of the year Rotisserie value.

And, besides, how often do you really win your league by how good your first two draft picks are (or highest priced in an auction draft)?  You win your league by those late endgame picks that hardly cost you anything on draft day -- the guys who fly under the radar.

Now with all of that said, we must now focus our attention to the answer of this year's 2012 spring training question: Who will be the next Melky Cabrera?  Well, to do that, we must focus on the position battles for this spring.  Let's go over the candidates. (My pick is in bold font.)

The Melky Award Candidates in no particular order:

  1. Baltimore Orioles LF: Nolan Reimold, Endy Chavez
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks LF: Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra
  3. Chicago White Sox CF (or RF, but I think Rios's days in CF are numbered): Alejandro de Aza, Kosuke Fukudome
  4. Cincinnati Reds LF: Chris Heisey, Ryan Ludwick
  5. Colorado Rockies CF: Dexter Fowler, Eric Young Jr., Charlie Blackmon (insert obligatory Jim Tracy managed team warning here)
  6. Detroit Tigers RF: Brennan Boesch, Ryan Raburn, Andy Dirks, Don Kelly, Brandon Inge
  7. Minnesota Twins DH: Ryan Doumit, Morneau and Mauer nursing their latest injury
  8. Minnesota Twins 2B: Alexi Casilla, Luke Hughes, Tsuyoshi Nishioka
  9. Minnesota Twins SS: Trevor Plouffe, Jamey Carroll
  10. Seattle Mariners LF: Mike Carp, Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson (Carp should spend time at DH and 1B as well)
  11. St. Louis Cardinals RF: Allen Craig, Jon Jay
  12. Oakland Athletics all 3 outfield spots, First Base, DH: Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Carter, Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Coco Crisp, Manny Ramirez, Colin Cowgill, Michael Taylor, Johnny Gomes, any current outfielder in the Free Agent Pool who will take a walk -- all options noted for reader entertainment value. Does anyone know what Billy Beane is doing? Just pay attention to all of them; the prediction? A crapshoot will ensue during Spring Training.
  13. Philadelphia Phillies LF: John Mayberry Jr., Juan Pierre, Dominic Brown, Laynce Nix (Brown not ready just yet)
  14. Texas Rangers 1B: Mitch Moreland, Brad Hawpe, Conor Jackson

My two favorites for this year's award are actually Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, both Mets who have zero competition whatsoever for the starting gig.  However, this list has a very specific idea behind it.  All of these players mentioned have major league ready skills. However, they also must have never had a true stranglehold chance at a full time role (possibly due to injury, as is the case with Ryan Doumit in particular) or have suspect defensive skills (Jason Kubel) that have caused their roles to be limited up to this point.

These characteristics eliminate prospects and exciting superstars who the media will be hyping up, thus ensuring that this list contains the under the radar boring no-names who will most likely stay cheap on draft day.  Unless of course, you draft at the end of spring training and one of these names has batted .488.

Final Thoughts:

  • Draft skills not stats
  • Draft skills not names
  • Draft skills not playing time projections (someone always gets injured)
  • Do your own research during spring training
  • Watch the games, take notes, and don't focus on just the superstars

And, most importantly, ignore the media stories about players. You know the ones I'm talking about: "Player X feels great this spring and says he will have a big year."  Make sure you watch these players and see these things for yourself.

When all else fails, remember the Golden Rule of Interviews. Do you really think Adam Dunn would've answered the 2011 Spring Training question:  "So how will you fit in with the White Sox this year, what kind of an impact will you make on the team this year?" "Well I think I'm going to hit sub-.100 against lefties, hit only 11 home runs, bat 100 points lower in batting average than last year, and lose my starting job?"