Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fantasy Funkhouser: Not That There's Anything Wrong with That

Man crushes are more than OK in fantasy baseball. Not that there's anything wrong with them in real life. (UnderArmour)
With the fantasy season about to kick off, I wanted to list some players I've had my eye on heading into drafts. These aren't necessarily sleepers, just undervalued players. I don't think any rank in the top 40 or so of standard Yahoo! leagues, which is fine as I've mentioned Bryce Harper enough and pegged Joey Votto as my NL MVP. I guess the best way to look at these players is that I think they can produce a lot of upside compared to where they are being drafted. They're guys that I want on my team, not that there's anything wrong with that. I did something similar about a year ago minus the cool title.

One interesting note, I do tend to like a fair amount of Mariners, Brewers, and Mets. I know it's just fantasy sports, but that has to mean something for their real life chances, no?

Anyways, onward!

Looking good with that firstbase glove, Mike. (espn.com)
C - Mike Napoli, BOS: I don't understand the fear/hate out there for Napoli.  A lot of people are saying, "Oh you'll never get his 2011 year." And I agree with them. I'm not expecting a .330 AVG, but the power is real, and Napoli has my favorite caveat of any catcher ... he plays 1B. Best part is that unlike Carlos Santana or Joe Mauer he'll be playing 1B all the time. That's mucho at bats in a small home park. If he doesn't lead all "catchers" in homers this year I'll be surprised.

Also, for his degenerative hip injury that cost him his initial 3 year contract with Boston; he's always had this. It was just diagnosed when he underwent his physical. It's in the very early stages, and may even be controlled with proper medication. I understand Boston being hesitant committing to him for three years, but I'm only involved in the Mike Napoli business for one.

He'll do - Jesus Montero, SEA: Speaking of guys that used to be "catchers," Montero no longer has this luxury. However, I do like his bat. His ADP has him going way at the end of the draft. Definitely worth it if you want to wait.

I can't see too good. Is that Adrian Gonzalez over there? (cbssports.com)
1B - Allen Craig, STL: For first basemen that actually are listed as such, Craig is a great pick for this year. He had a solid 2012 posting .307/.354/.522 in 119 games. Craig does carry injury concerns with him, but stuck at first for the upcoming season, I see him putting up comparable numbers to Adrian Gonzalez in 2013.

He'll do - Chris Davis, BAL: Crush broke a lot of hearts back in 2009. He seemed destined to be a third base masher who would hit 30 homers in his sleep. Well, that didn't happen. Davis finally broke the 30-HR plateau in Baltimore, and he's no longer a 3B. Davis might be a post-hype sleeper, but there are concerns about his career high strike out rate he posted last year, so he'll definitely be hit or miss. The power is real, and he'll have regular playing time. Just a matter if you can deal with the ups and downs.

I'll be seeing you on my bench.

2B - Kyle Seager, SEA: Out of all second basemen last year, Seager ranked 2nd in RBI and T-4th in homers. That is all.

He'll do - Rickie Weeks, MIL: Many have written off Rickie Weeks, and I don't blame any of you. However, it is a thin position, and while Weeks will never have a 2010 season again, he is able to fill out 4 of 5 fantasy categories pretty well. Injuries always loom, so I wouldn't be comfortable with him as my only available 2B on the roster.


Plouffe dropping bombs. (Getty)
3B - Will Middlebrooks, BOS: Early projections in 2013 made Middlebrooks look like a monster. He has power, but limited walks and high K's can always spell disaster. He is coming off a broken wrist, so if he shows he's healthy, 20 homers is in the bank.

He'll do - Trevor Plouffe, MIN: Similar to Middlebrooks in the power department, Plouffe can be streaky, but with Minny's home park being more friendly to righties than lefties, he has a Josh Willingham-ish year in him somewhere. Just needs the plate appearances.

Prado still rocking the chain with the D'Backs. (si.com)

SS - Martin Prado, ARZ: The former Atlanta Brave added another trick to his goodie bag, shortstop eligibility. Prado's stats underwhelmed if placed at 3B or OF, but at SS, his high average, moderate pop, and run scoring acumen fit nicely. Along with some flexibility, his value takes a big jump.

He'll do - Andrelton Simmons, ATL: Responsible for replacing the SS portion of Martin Prado is the young Simmons. The defensive whiz has shown some pop late last season into this year's World Baseball Classic. It's possible he gets overwhelmed and while his glove is good enough to keep him in the line-up, he may drop lower in the batting order if his lumber struggles. Still though, I'd give him a shot at the 15/15 season many are projecting the super hyped Josh Rutledge to get.

Time for more running in the Motor City. (Getty)
OF - Austin Jackson, DET: Jackson will either be dynamite this year or take a couple steps back. That's the risk in taking him. He was also the nameless OF I mentioned a week ago. After playing ping pong with the idea in my brain, I'm going with breakout. His swing alterations appear to be legit, and if Jim Leyland removes the parking boot from Jackson's right leg, then his value can really take off. If only his park was a little smaller, I could see him hitting 20 homers. If there's a guy poised to make a big jump into the Top 25 players, he'd be my pick.

They'll do - 
Norichika Aoki, MIL: Had a fantastic rookie year. The Japanese hitman didn't forget to pack his skills on his way to Brewers camp last year. Brought in as insurance for Ryan Braun possibly being suspended, an early season injury to Corey Hart led to Aoki getting 151 games in. Hart moved to 1B and now Aoki is the everyday leadoff hitter/RF. I can easily see his entire stat line take a bump up in 2013.

Adam Eaton, ARZ: Injuries; boooooo!

Starling Marte, PIT: It was pointed out to me that Marte barely eclipsed the number of at bats last year to no longer be considered a rookie. If he hadn't, he'd be my NL Rookie of the Year pick. Strikeouts are an issue for this young OF, but he manages to make it work.

Michael Saunders, SEA: 19 HR, 27 SB, 71 R. Those are impressive numbers for a guy drowining under the radar. If Seattle's offense picks it up this year, we could see a lot more out of the 27 year-old Canadian.

Domonic Brown, PHI: Yes, spring training stats don't matter, we all know this. Dom Brown has the pedigree through, and now - apparently/finally - an everyday spot in the line-up. He may never reach the highest heights that scouts and fans wanted him to, but he can bump over 15 baseballs over the wall to go along with double digit steals.


A Matt Harvey fastball coming at you. (northjersey.com)
SP - Max Scherzer, DET: Needs to keep the pitch count down. Scherzer is erratic, but appeared to put things together last year. All signs point to a big year.

They'll do -
Matt Harvey, NYM: This is a total mancrush pick. I have two thoughts on young pitchers. They take at least 2-4 years to fully develop and that learning curve is steeper than you think. This applies 95% of the time. Do I think Harvey is in that other 5%? I do. Also, I don't think he'll have an innings limit this season. Between the 59.1 IP he threw in a Mets uniform, he also threw an additional 110 IN in the minors. As a college grad his arm can take him to 200 IP, and at that K rate - oh, boy!

Josh Johnson, TOR: This doesn't have anything to do with his spring training, but more his overall health. Johnson looks good. Johnson is in that weird realm where 1-2 years ago he was being drafted as the Johnson of old, which he's not. Now, that lingering after taste is giving us all a bitter beer face about him, thus underrating him. Johnson could be primed for a major bounce back year.

Alexi Ogando, TEX: Back in the rotation after he pitched like an all-star in his first go around, Ogando is a great late round pick. The confines he pitches in as well as his slightly depressing K total can undercut him from reaching the heights of great value, but he's a starter, no doubt.

Tommy Milone, OAK & Alex Cobb, TB: Milone and Cobb kept crossing paths as I reviewed potential sleepers. Initially, I really liked Milone. He started gaining some sleeper steam until that was derailed by Cobb who has unquestionably become the sleeper darling of 2013. All the while I was jostling Milone's rank around as I like him as much as Cobb. I'd be happy riding into the season with either of these pitchers.

Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA: Had a sneaky good second half after he was converted into a starter. The strikeouts are low, but the rest is solid.

Wandy Rodriguez, PIT: Kind of a dull pick, but he hasn't been bad in Pittsburgh.

Andrew Cashner, SD: Big K's, Big GB%, Big Park.

If ... (Getty)

RP - Sergio Romo, SF: There are a lot of if's with Romo. Obviously, closers are far from a sure thing - so with Romo carrying around a few more ? than the average closer, I'm not taking him over Craig Kimbrel or Jonathan Papelbon, but if he's healthy he can be one of the nastiest closers in baseball.

They'll do -
Addison Reed, CHA: Reed didn't have great numbers last year outside of his K's, but he's a young pitcher, and I think he'll find his zone in 2013.

Glen Perkins, MIN: Perkins is solid, and unless he gets traded to a non-closer role, he's one of the least threatened closers you'll find this far down in the daft.

Kenley Jansen, LAD: The icing on the cake for Jansen is if he takes over closing duties from Brandon League. I don't think he will, but he's still a K machine and valuable in week to week formats.

Carlos Marmol, CHN: This just has the feel of a good Marmol year. This is without a doubt the least confident player I have listed on here, but with everyone just assuming Marmol blows up, I can see him holding steady. He only blew one save over the second half of the year last year.

The Funkman is on vacation this week.

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