Robinson Cano (NYY)- Cano is already 30 and in the middle of a potential Hall of Fame career, but he is probably going to regress in the short term just a tad. He is still a worthy first-round pick.Â His HR total last year was something close to a miracle; he had a 26% FB%, almost matched by his HR/FB rate of 24%. Even Yankee Stadium isnâ€™t buoying him that much again.
Dustin Pedroia (BOS)- He is a good example of in-season regression, as his 2H was close to superb. Aside form 2010, he has been a solid and consistent source of fantasy greatness, and his speed makes him close to Cano. He has better control of the strike zone and there is no reason for concern.
Ian Kinsler (TEX)- There is a tremendous gap between the top two picks here and Kinsler. Unlike the top two he is a legitimate 30-30 candidate. However, he is maddeningly inconsistent, He may be a value choice this year because of that inconsistency, but a .250 BA is always a possibility.
Ben Zobrist (TB) -see AL SS-but notice how high he is in every position he qualifies for; he is the goods.
Jason Kipnis (CLE)- His mediocre 2H may be your saving grace at getting him for a profit. Half-to-half consistency is a myth and recency bias will make people believe he will be worse than he is. Donâ€™t be one of them. His HR/FB rate plummeted from 2011, but otherwise 2012 was a nice consolidation season on his way to stardom, and he should have little trouble producing a dollar value close to his age (25).
Jose Altuve (HOU)-He looks like the second coming of Howie Kendrick, minus the power but with a lot more speed. He will get touted as a potential batting champ, but, like Kendrick, you cannot be that good with a mediocre BB/K rate, and Altuve is likely to K twice as often as he BB. He will be a good player, but a 50 point drop in BA is a 50-50 shot. 2013 may also be a growth year; this is why we do not know as much as we all think we do. This is a tough game.
Howie Kendrick (LAA)-Speak of the devil. He has changed from â€œperennial disappointmentâ€ to â€œsolid contributor.â€ If only he would take more walks he might be a superstar, but for now he is a 15-15-.290 player, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Omar Infante (DET)-If Kendrick is a 15-15-.290 player, Infante is a 10-15-.290 player; just a tad below. Infante debuted early in the majors (in 2003) and it took him a while to make it. One wonders how many other players would have had a similar career path if only a team had patience. His new digs resulted in a higher SBO% and there is no reason to think he cannot repeat that number, as his speed is unchanged.
Jeff Keppinger (CHW) I once wrote in this space that he might eventually be a batting champion, and he came reasonably close last year. High contact, good walk players will often hit .320 when they get a few more balls to fall in, and that is exactly what he did last year, hitting .325 for his trouble. The chances he does it again are zero, but he has a .290 BA skill set. It remains to be seen whether the increased PA he gets in Chicago will be a positive or negative.
Dustin Ackley (SEA)- Anyone who thought his 2011 was real deserved what they got last year, as gravity and regression hit him square in the face, much as we thought. He increased his contact rate last year, so that is a positive, but the pendulum will definitely be swinging up this year, and where it stops nobody knows. He will be a big value, so donâ€™t be shy in going the extra buck or round. He still has a good shot at stardom.
Johnny Giavotella (KC)- He looks a lot like Jeff Keppinger and Howie Kendrick et al. in that he makes good contact and needs to take a few more walks. Two years and almost 400 AB have left him with a .240-ish BA and on the verge of losing his job, so it is time for him to fish or cut bait. We are willing to give him another chance.
Jemile Weeks (OAK)- Few players saw their star dim as much as Weeks did last year, and he was eventually benched. The Aâ€™s were so sick of him that they brought in Jed Lowrie, so he needs a change of scenery. But he is young, fast, skilled and deserves a second chance. Last year was a good example of BA regression, and this year will be a good example of a positive regression, if he gets any chance.
Brian Roberts (BAL)- Yes that is a fork sticking out of his back. There is a good chance that he gives up the job full-time to Alexi Casilla. He has the job to start so he merits a higher ranking, but not by much.
Kelly Johnson (TB)- The Rays know what they are doing, and in an OBP league he merits a higher ranking, but two years and 1000 AB of a sub-.230 BA tell the story. His contact rates of 82%-75%-70%-69% over the last four years tells an even better story.
Chris Getz (KC)-Getz is a mediocre player who might back in to playing time if Johnny Giavotella spits the but again, and for that reason he deserves a look in AL-only leagues. He has the speed to be a fantasy asset, even in limited playing time, just as he was last year, and we think he gets more PA than last year, making him a good choice among the â€œ15 SB for a buckâ€ group.
Alexi Casilla (BAL)- The above blurb for Chris Getz applies equally as well to Casilla, only we think his chance of PA is a bit better than Getzâ€™ but his speed is not as good. His 21 SB last year (in 299 AB) was a result of a huge 32% SBO, and that is unlikely to repeat. Consider him â€œ12 SB for a buck.â€
Ryan Roberts (TB)- A good example of a player that looked good on the surface, but with bad batting skills was a mirage. His close to 20-20 season in 2011 is now obviously an outlier, but the skills remain, so if he can get AB at Kelly Johnsonâ€™s expense, he might be a 12-12 guy.
Jamey Carroll (MIN)- The once proud Twins franchise is now resorting to starting career utility man Carroll as their 2B. At age 38 he still has good control of the strike zone, so he shouldnâ€™t kill you in BA, and might chip in 10 SB with the wind at his back, but that is a best case scenario.
Scott Sizemore (OAK)-We actually liked him a bit before the Aâ€™s got Lowrie, since it was clear they wanted Anyone But Jemile Weeks as their starter. Now, he is not even Al-only worthy. He may be ahead of Weeks on the depth chart, so that is one positive, since Lowrie is not sure thing for 600 AB. With 11 HR last year and no reason to think he cannot do that again in a similar number of AB, consider him part of the â€œ10 HR for a buckâ€ crowd if things break right. It all depends on how they view Weeks; if Weeks goes on to greener pastures or AA, Sizemore will jump up the list.
Maicer Izturis (LAA)- The erstwhile Jack of All Trades now looks like the â€œTen of All Trades.â€ Now in Toronto to back up Emilio Bonifacio, the recent acquisitions will, barring a miracle, make it tough for him to get 200 AB. But, like some others down here, he has at least one skill (speed) that makes him worth a look if things change or break right.
Jurickson Profar (TEX)- We include him only because he is a big name among prospect speculators, but if he ends up on your mixed league team you screwed up your draft. He may start the year in the minors, but he might not; either way, unless something happens to Kinsler or Andrus, he is a waiver wire player in mixed leagues at best.
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