There are a few worthy gems on the Devil Rays squad, but if you find yourself scouring too long here, it’s not going to end well. Manager Joe Madden loves to run and he’s got the personnel to do it. Expect a ton of stolen bases up and down this lineup. Other than that, the pickings are rather slim.
OF Carl Crawford – Here’s an example of why fantasy baseball is so different from real baseball. If there were a draft held of all major league players, Crawford would not be a late first round talent. His career .326 on base percentage (albeit .348 last season) is not good. The only things he brings to the table are stolen bases and a high batting average. However, in fantasy baseball, he should be taken within the first 15 picks of most normal (i.e. 5x5) drafts. Expect 55 stolen bases, a .300 batting average, 95 runs scored, about 20 homers, and 80 RBIs, a solid contributor in all five categories.
SP Scott Kazmir – The only thing keeping Kazmir out of the top tier is his health, or lack thereof. Over the previous two seasons, he hasn’t topped 200 innings. Because of that, he’s lacking in wins (10 each season) and strikeouts (never more than 175). If this 6-1 lefty can keep pitching for an entire season, he’s the cheap man’s Johan Santana. Yeah, he’s that good and Victor Zambrano is that bad.
1B/2B/3B/OF Ty Wigginton – Wigginton is a multi-position eligible player, perfect for fantasy teams everywhere. The power has been there the last few seasons, but it took him a while to get to an acceptable batting average (.275 last year). Stick Wigginton at second base on your team and receive a .270-ish batting average, 25 homers, and a decent number of RBIs, and runs scored.
OF Delmon Young – I wanted to place Young in the third tier, but he has too much talent for me to do that. Last year, the Devil Rays right fielder hit .317 with 3 homers in only 30 games. It would be nice if he didn’t strike out 24 times and walk only once, and that has been something he needed to work on throughout his minor league career. However, I’m going to be optimistic on this youngster, projecting a .280 batting average, 25 homers, 80 RBIs, 80 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. And the only thing he’ll be throwing is a baseball.
OF Rocco Baldelli – Baldelli is another player real opposing GMs covet, but they won’t part with the amount of talent required by the Devil Rays in return. I don’t know why the DRays’ asking price (two future stars, one of whom is a pitcher) is so high. He’s got a career .329 OBP, struck out 70 times compared to only 14 walks (5 to 1) last season, and doesn’t have big-time power. The only place where the Rhode Island native contributes is batting average and triples. Expect a .290 average, 15-20 stolen bases, 15-20 homers, and 80 runs scored.
OF Jonny Gomes – A back injury cut short Gomes’ season last year, but if he had played an entire year, his power would’ve been apparent to fantasy owners everywhere. In about 400 ABs the previous two seasons, Gomes has hit 21 and 20 homers. Project that over 600 ABs, and he can get you 30 homers, 80 RBIs, 90 runs scored, albeit with a semi-low batting average.
2B Jorge Cantu – Battling injuries for much of last season, Cantu did not hit like he did in 2005 -- .286/28/117. But without considering injuries, I predicted a decline in his fantasy stats due to his propensity of striking out. So, which Cantu is going to show up next year? Thankfully no one will draft him, so you’ll have a chance to pick him up in the last round if you want to gamble he reaches 2005 again. If not, guys chosen in the last round are the types of talent you’ll find on the waiver wire, anyway. I’m not betting on his return to prominence, however.
3B Akinori Iwamura – This lesser-represented Japanese import has the chance to do some damage. His home run totals the previous three years in Japan have been 44, 30, and 32. That probably translates to 20-25 homers, 80 RBIs, and a .260 batting average. Hey, that’s Eric Chavez, isn’t it?
RP Seth McClung – This power right hander can throw in the upper 90s, easily. That’s a good thing. However, the question mark revolving around him is if he’ll make a successful transition to closing. McClung was a starter in the part, but he moved to the bullpen last season. His 4.83 ERA in that role showed he wasn’t quite there yet. Is he there now? I don’t know. Dan Miceli and others are ready to take over. If you draft McClung, I wish you the best of luck.
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