One of the hardest things about writing about fantasy baseball is that you often have to give up a lot of your secrets. But hey, that’s part of the gig. And for the upcoming season there is a lot of good information that will affect drafts and real player performance which really should be noted.
Some of them are simple, like the fact that the fences over in Seattle’s Safeco Field are being moved in for the upcoming season. That’s one of those little facts that a handful of pundits are gleefully touting in suggesting that it make a lot of Mariners hitters a lot more valuable. It certainly won’t hurt their offense, but enthusiasm needs to be tempered here. The fences aren’t being moved in that much. Only about five feet in most places, and a maximum of 12, which is only in the deepest part of the park. That should help boost offense, but it’s not going to help an extra 5% of baseballs leave the park. That said, I’ve moved a few Mariners hitters up in my player rankings, but not so much because of the fences being moved, but because the team has improved its offense in the offseason.
For the pitchers it might get very interesting. Certainly it’s going to affect them a bit, but it won’t make King Felix into less of a Cy Young candidate. For other pitchers, especially those who have high fly ball rates, the move will directly affect their ERA.
Another park where fence movement is going to be an important effect is over in San Diego where an extreme pitchers’ park (PETCO) is being converted to something much more neutral. There at least the movement of fences is going to be somewhat more dramatic averaging greater than 10 feet almost everywhere where they are being shifted.
It means that you should probably at least slightly downgrade Padres and Mariners hurlers while giving a slight nudge up in value to players like Kyle Seager, Carlos Quentin, Dustin Ackley, Kendry Morales, Chase Headley and even Jason Bay, who apparently will get another chance to salvage his career, and (Padres hitters) .
That said, don’t expect either of those parks to become hitter friendly, but they’ll be a lot closer to neutral than they’ve ever played before.
I’ve also downgraded almost all of my rookie picks (especially in auction leagues) due to Trout inflation. Yeah, everyone is looking for the next Mike Trout and it’s clearly reflected in the prices people are paying for them -- even those who aren’t quite as highly touted as the top talents. That’s not to say that it’s a waste of draft dollars to grab them but it’s gamble, a big gamble as probably no more than 10% of all touted rookies turn into stars, fantasy or otherwise, and only a small fraction, maybe as low as a fraction of one percent of those actually manage to do it in their rookie year.
Of course I’ll be following the rookies, looking for the breakout candidates to start showing me what they can do. Of the well hyped variety there are definitely more than a few of interest including Oscar Taveres and Jurickson Profar, who are getting written up like they are the next Bryce Harper.
Still the biggest sin isn’t just overpaying for a rookie, but overpaying for one who then fails to deliver even a fraction of the goods you pay for. Thus, I’ll be skipping the hype and only getting these guys in my drafts at either a fair price for a big gamble, or via scavenging the waiver wire when I begin to see the skills holding their own at a Major League level. I suggest you do the same.