Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fantasy Funkhouser: They Told Me To Do It

When it comes to players like Rick Porcello, seeing will be believing in 2014.

Fantasy Funkhouser will review all things Fantasy Baseball. After all, life is a small sample size.

As you may or may not have noticed, the baseball season has started. I've been sitting on this article for about 2 weeks, so before things get out of hand, it's time to just shove off and give you my list of guys whose opinion I have of them are completely created by the experts out there. Personally, from an emotional standpoint, I have zero interest in these characters, but people smarter than me are constantly saying that these guys are going to break big in 2014. I've selected some position players and pitchers that have been regularly brought up across all kinds of  formats with people gushing all over them. So against my personal better judgment I've based my rankings on these players by trusting the experts and not myself. They're on my teams, I upped their auction price, and I'm holding on for the ride. Here's the list.

Brandon Belt, 1B +San Francisco Giants 
What the experts say: Belt is the golden child of the sabermatricians out there. They rave about his swing, his approach at the plate, and all the good stuff like that. He even changed his swing! Oh, they love that. Also, after finally getting regular playing time against lefties, Belt was able to shine in the second half of 2013 going .326/.390/.525. For a guy that has average power and plays in a pitcher friendly park that particularly zaps lefty power unless you're Barry Lamar Bonds, this is eye catching. Belt is expected to bat 2nd or 3rd this season against righties, putting OBP skills to good use. And so far, he has two dingers, including this one last night against lefty Wade Miley. Color me curious. If all plays out like the experts say, he's a comparable Eric Hosmer without the high ceiling or at least can approach Freddie Freeman status, so long as Freddie doesn't become a 40 HR hitter.



What I think: The guy is just awkward looking, and while his short swing from the left side of the box will help him make solid contact, if he only cracks 15 HR this year and/or loses playing time - that's a ho-hum year. His second half can't be denied, but it seems a little too good to be true.

Alex Gordon, OF +Kansas City Royals 
What the experts say: The uber prospect that made good on his potential. Gordon is a category filler putting up solid but not great numbers across the board. We probably won't see another 2011 year out of him, but that year was what he needed to justify to all of us that he was here to stay.

What I think: He is a solid roto player, no doubt, but without that 2011 ceiling should he be going higher than Ben Zobrist, Austin Jackson, Desmond Jennings, and Carlos Beltran? Also, Gordon will be batting lower in the order to start the season, decreasing his run scoring ability. This could open up some more RBI opportunities and give him the option to run a bit more, but I think this is an overall negative. Also, he's such an elite fielder, that you have to be mindful when reading up on how much experts love him - considering not everything is 100% fantasy related.

Mark Trumbo, OF +Arizona Diamondbacks 
What the experts say: He's moving to a better hitters park! He's going to hit 40 home runs!

What I think: When I heard Todd Zola gush all over Trumbo, I was blown away. Sure the power is there, but Trumbo has been so inconsistent and prone to strike out so much that it usually leads to him falling off a cliff in the 2nd half. I was really blown away from the praise coming Trumbo's way.

Season Monthly G PA HR R RBI SB AVG
Total 1st Half 257 1047 61 132 161 14 0.268
Total 2nd Half 203 824 35 89 129 4 0.227
*Fangraphs


Xander Bogaerts, SS +Boston Red Sox 
What the experts say: He's a future multiple time All-Star. He has a cool approach to the plate, and when he was inserted into a World Series' lineup he wasn't phased at all. The power is coming, and some sites have him ranked as a top 5 SS for 2014.

What I think: I'm a fan of the X-man. I have no doubt he'll be a very solid baseball player. I do worry about him being my everyday SS in fantasy, as I think he's probably a little bit away from starting to capitalize on his potential.

Khris Davis, OF +Milwaukee Brewers 
What the experts say: He has the power and now an everyday spot in an underrated Brewers' lineup. He can approach 30 HR and hit for a decent average.

What I think: Every year experts go nuts over young power hitters. Whether it's Kyle Blanks or Wily Mo Pena or Giancarlo Stanton there are a lot more misses than hits. People were right about Stanton, but Blanks and Pena are and became barely serviceable pinch hitters. Davis has a real likelihood of being exposed when playing everyday.

Will a new approach help make Ivan Nova a superstar? (bronxbaseballdaily.com)

Ivan Nova, SP +Yankees 101 
What the experts think: Nova battled through health issues again last year, but very quietly put together his best ERA and WHIP in his Yankee career. He improved his control and ditched throwing his average fastball so much in favor of distributing those pitches to a cutter and sinker. This took his K's a step down, but improved his ground ball percentage and thus his sparkling ratios.

What I think: This guy never stays health, and he's prone to blow up as much as Gavin Floyd in his prime. He's an unreliable starter in a brutal division who happens to pitch in a terrible park. He's frustrating and I won't feel good putting him out there 80% of the time.

Rick Porcello, SP +Detroit Tigers  
What the experts think: Porcello has finally started to figure out his pitching. He's generating more ground balls, striking more batters out, and all of that points to even more improvement in 2014. He's a player that should easily out perform his auction day purchase price.

What I think: If there's a pitching version of Brandon Belt, it's Porcello. Experts love all of his underlying stats, except for the fact that when he's on the mound he hardly strikes anyone out and can't be trusted start after start. His bad outings (see the first picture in this article) are enough to off-set any discrepancy between his ERA and FIP. Also with Jose Iglesias out most of the year, he won't have the benefit of that slick fielding shortstop to gobble up all his grounders.

Koji Uehara, RP +Boston Red Sox 
What the experts think: Uehara has one of the most unhittable pitches in all of baseball, his splitter. He had the best season of any closer in 2013 and remained unhittable throughout the playoffs. But, he's old and he's always had the injury bugaboo following him. His high usage last year and propensity to give up home runs make him unlikely to repeat last year's success this year. He's outside the top 5 closers in fantasy.

What I think: Not every expert is going to make you want to draft a player. In this case, the experts have kept me away from Uehara this year. I have always like Koji back to his Baltimore days, and having him on several teams last year, I can say that he was dynamite. It bothers me that a lot of the things experts are pointing at are not statistical based but eventuality based. It's likely he'll get hurt, it's likely he won't be as successful. I think Uehara can still be a top 5 closer, but the experts have kept me away.

Corey Kluber, SP +Cleveland Indians 
What the experts think: I've written about Kluber, I like Kluber. I hope he does well.

What I think: I've written about Kluber, I like Kluber. I hope he does well. Hey, we're all in the Kluber fan club whether we want to be or not.

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