Pitching is a sore fantasy point for the Milwaukee Brewers and it will not be much better in real life! That means if you have a Brewer on your team, he better be an offensive player. They have got quite a bit of talent there.
1B Prince Fielder – The big guy in real life is a Big Guy in fantasy baseball. Last year, Fielder, who became a vegetarian in the offseason, clubbed 50 home runs, which led the National League. Combine that with 119 RBIs and a .288 average, and Fielder is making himself a top 10 fantasy candidate. Let us hope he spends less time worrying on defense, as he did this offseason, and more time working on becoming a more elite fantasy player.
2B/OF Rickie Weeks – Weeks needs to be moved to the outfield, but because of a crowded outfield situation, he remains eligible at second base. Good for you, bad for the Brewers. He has a good eye at the plate, putting up a .374 OBP, despite having only a .235 batting average. With a healthy season, Weeks came into last year with thumb troubles, he could become a 25-25 guy. That would place him in the elite category with Robinson Cano and Chase Utley. Don’t forget about this guy!
SS JJ Hardy – So, which Hardy are fantasy players going to get in 2008? The shortstop hit 18 homers before the All Star Break, but only eight after. His on-base percentage dropped by nearly 30 points and his slugging 70 after the break, as well. Consistency is important, and you should expect him to be somewhere in the middle of last year’s drastic splits. Expect .270/20/75, which are very good numbers for a shortstop.
OF Corey Hart – To most fantasy players, Hart is just an average player. He’s not especially power nor going to steal a ton of bases nor hit for a tremendous average. However, he’s better than Jeff Francoeur, a player going for higher price tags (or higher picks, depending on your draft format). Hart is a 25/25 man with a near .300 average. Sounds like a really good number two or three option in the outfield.
C Jason Kendall – Kendall looked done with the Oakland A’s last year, but he turned back the calendar when he re-joined the National League. Just take a look at his splits: .226/.261/.281 in 292 ABs with Oakland, and .270/.362/.356 with the Cubs. If he can approach those figures with the Brewers, and there is a good chance he can, he should make a good pick in NL Only drafts.
OF Mike Cameron – When considering whether or not you should draft Cameron, don’t forget he will miss 25 games because of a positive test. That’s nearly 1/8 of the season. If he’s around for the entire season, he could produce 27-30 homers and 22 stolen bases, along with a higher batting average than the .261 he put up last season. Downgrade accordingly.
SP Jeff Suppan / SP Dave Bush / SP Chris Capuano – These three are nothing but average pitchers who are more valuable in real life because of their innings, but nothing spectacular in fantasy ball. Bush may be the better bet, since he does well when ESPN’s fantasy expert Eric Karabell doesn’t draft him. Well, folks, Karabell did not draft Bush this year. Suppan and Capuano are just “if you’re desperate” guys.
3B Bill Hall – Hall is moving back to third base due to Ryan Braun’s horrendous defense. He said that he did not feel as into the game in the outfield and thought a move to the infield should improve his offense. Will he hit 35 home runs, as he did the last time he didn’t roam the outfield? That remains to be seen.
SP Ben Sheets – Whenever he pitches, Sheets is capable of being a fantasy ace. But therein lies the rub. Is Sheets going to stay healthy? Afflicted with the common disease of being right handed and short, scouts backed off of Sheets due to health concerns. Fantasy owners in recent season have, too, and it may be time for you to as well. However, Sheets is fighting for a new contract, so you should at least keep your eye on his right arm, shoulder, and legs.
RP Eric Gagne – If you want a bigger gamble than Sheets, just take a gander at Gagne. He was very effective with the Texas Rangers last year, and then stuck up the joint while with the Boston Red Sox. Maybe his poor performance with the Red Sox came as a result of not being used as a closer or maybe he was performing over his head with the Rangers. Only time will tell. One more thing to keep an eye on: Gagne was named in the Mitchell report and will likely have to answer questions about his involvement with performance enhancing substances.
The Great Debate
3B/OF Ryan Braun – Braun, a former first round pick, made huge strides at the major league level last season. In case you didn’t hear, he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award on the merit of a .322 batting average, 34 homers, and 97 RBIs in only 113 games. The big question concerning him is if he’ll do it again. Those are pretty lofty numbers. Consider the following: If you project those over an entire season, Braun would finish with nearly 50 homers and 140 RBIs. Can he do it again? That is for you to decide with a late first round pick.
Youngsters to Watch
SP Yovani Gallardo – In 110.1 innings last season, Gallardo put up a 3.67 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Those are very solid numbers for a rookie. Heck, those are good numbers for even a veteran. More importantly, Gallardo is a strikeout machine, sending 101 back to the bench. Keep an eye on him, since he is one to watch.
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