Thursday, January 31, 2013

NL Only 2013 Fantasy Baseball SS Rankings

You found more fantasy baseball advice for the Shortstop position in NL Only leagues. The Top 5 for 2013 are big roto players, but after that, there is a huge drop with some potentials who could break through in 2013.

The Big 5:
Hanley Ramirez - LAD - After bitterly disappointing 2011 Hanley had a strong 2012. Everything was really good except the batting average. Now that Hanley is situated in LA good chance 2013 is a return to past roto glory. Hanley also qualifies at 3B.

Troy Tulowitzki - COL - It's all about health with Tulo. In his 6 year career has broken 150 games just twice. Last year he played in 47 games, in 2010 missed 40 games, and 2008 missed 61 games. Tulo's days of stealing 20 bases are a thing of the past too. I believe he can put up a big year if and play 140+ games.

Starlin Castro - CHI - Power and Speed were up from his rookie year but runs and average were down. Castro does not have a good supporting cast around him.  Castro now has 2.5 years in the big leagues and is super talented so its only a matter of time before he's the number 1 roto SS in the NL.

Ian Desmond - WAS - Despite missing 34 games last season Desmond had a 20/20 season and hit for a career high .292. All fantasy players realized that Desmond had power and speed potential but the average was a nice surprise. I wouldn't count on that average again expect in the .270's but his other numbers are legit.

Jimmy Rollins - PHI - Getting older but still good for upper teens in HR's, low to mid 20's in steals, 90 runs and mid 60's RBI's. Probably will only hit between .250 - .260. He is now 34 and has been in the league 13 years so a lot of miles on that body.

Young SS With Upside:
Jean Segura - MIL - Most likely to make the biggest impact of the young NL Shortstops. Has great bat speed, great speed in general and could develop mid teens power. However to start the year I expect Milwaukee to bat Segura towards the bottom of the lineup. By the 2nd half he could be their number 2 hitter. So be patient.

Everth Cabrera - SD - Had 44 steals in 398 AB's last year for the Pads. Has to get that batting average up though. Was a .300 hitter in AAA so if Cabrera can hit .270 instead of .246 like he did last year he will be a force in SB's and R's.

Andrelton Simmons - ATL - Had a great audition for the Braves last year but remember he only had 166 AB's due to injury. Word is he will be the Braves leadoff hitter. Won't give you much power but good chance hits for a plus average with 15 plus steals and a lot of runs scored.

Zack Cozart - CIN - Has pop but like Cabrera has to get that batting average up. If he could hit in the 2 hole instead of the 7 hole then his numbers would be dramatically better. So where Cozart hits in the lineup will be huge for his fantasy value.

Ruben Tejada - NY - No power and no speed. Should hit for a good average and score some runs but that's it.

Adeiny Hechevarria - MIA - Part of the fire sale trade with Toronto. Could be a good player but there will be growing pains in 2013. Not much power here either. At best end of draft flyer.

The Old Guard - Rafael Furcal, Clint Barmes, Cliff Pennington and Brandon Crawford. In my opinion, the only one who can give you positive value is Furcal and given his age and MLB experience I wouldn't count on more than 135 games played. Still, Furcal can give you solid value as long as he's the Cards leadoff hitter, so if you can get him cheap he can help. Barmes might get you 10HR's but won't do much else and hit .230. Pennington can give you decent value if he can hit .260 but don't count on it as he'll probably hit at the bottom of the lineup. Crawford is a negative root so player stay away.

NL King - C. Lizza
You can follow me on Twitter @ TheNLKing

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Like 'em, Love 'em, Leave 'em! First is Second!

Time for another rousing edition of Like 'em, Love 'em, Leave 'em. I want to address First Base with this round because...well, I have noticed a certain anomalous situation I get myself into with mock drafts (last year's real draft too for that matter.) Since First Base is usually a deep position, I wait on my 1B. And wait. And wait. And wait.

And wait.

Literally, about the 20th 1B off the board. I load up on other positions and wait for Brandon Moss or Justin Morneau (yes, I second The Fantasy Man's thoughts on Morneau as well.)

If I have a late first round pick, I'll take a Pujols or Votto or Fielder, and I'm not against taking an Adrian Gonzalez or Freddie Freeman later on. Sometimes though, I value depth at other positions so much that I wait for that gem.

That said, I'm interested to hear your thoughts, kind reader, and tell me if I take too rosy a view on these latter-level options. Keep in mind, these are with the mentality that I'm picking for a starting position rather than depth.

Let's start with the two guys I mentioned and one other guy: Brandon Moss, Justin Morneau, Lance Berkman

The early ADP has Berkman about 2-3 rounds behind the other two. Despite that, I think Berkman is the easy pick here. The reason being...he's DH'ing. In Texas. I mean...that is just beautiful. I could DH in Texas and hit .200, so imagine what a competent, though aging hitter could do. The bonus there, as I mentioned with the Catchers, as a DH, he has less risk of getting injured.

Then it gets interesting...Moss is in Oakland and he ain't Canseco or McGwire (controversies aside.) He isn't getting a lot of attention outside of “Power Sleeper” title, but he hit .291 in about half a season and still blasted 21 HR's. That said...if Morneau is healthy again, he's a safe bet for a .280 average and 20+ HR. I can't say a guy with lingering concussion issues is the “safer” pick, but I'm debating which guy could net me more in a trade if I try to upgrade at 1B. If a week into the season, these guys are both hitting .350 and have a couple homers (and let's say their teams are both looking sharp,) do I get more in return for Morneau, who has the track record of success, or Moss, who doesn't have the track record of concussions?

If I'm in this spot, I might draft Moss and take my chances (largely because of some of the people I play against, they like the new blood), but I'm putting the “Like” tag on Morneau. If a quietly consistent player is good enough in that spot, I may just roll with him.

Next round:
Eric Hosmer, Ike Davis, Kendrys Morales

Morales becomes more and more interesting as the season approaches. He was traded to Seattle (bad) where they are moving the fences in (good), and now he may be sandwiched between Mike Morse and Jesus Montero (pretty good). Not the worst place to be. Not the best either. Seattle will still likely be a pitcher's park, but the lineup should help him do better than we thought a few weeks ago.

Yet, I feel trepidation from many of you kind readers. Morales is a guy I'm putting on the fence, I'll live without him if I don't get him late, but I'll feel pretty good with him if I happen to draft him in the last 1/3rd of the draft. Then there's Hosmer, who didn't have a sophomore slump so much as a sophomore dump. This guy was very good for me when I got into this undesirable position a couple years ago, and I can't think that last year showed us who he is going to be as a pro. I'm a sucker for good batting averages, so that helps his argument. Tough to say where he'll be in the lineup though, so if I'm really looking for Runs over RBI's, I'm going to be tentative about taking him.

And then there's Ike Davis, a good sleeper pick for his power, but is he a guy you want to rely on if you get this low? I want a guy who could be a Top 10 guy at this position, and I just don't know that Davis has that in him. Injuries, batting average, RBIs, any of those could limit his value very easily (although the RBIs should be okay, not great, just okay.) Not to mention, I don't like their lineup as a whole.

So needless to say, if I don't have a 1B by this point, I hate myself, but I think I'm going to say I “Love” Hosmer, I “Like” Morales, and I'll “Leave” Davis. Hosmer is the only one I could make any argument for as a potential Top 10 1B. I'm going Morales over Davis because an okay batting average, with a little help from a good lineup, will find Runs and RBI's; I don't need to hope they come along. I like Seattle's lineup much more than the Mets'. I grant you, I'll need some faith either way regardless.

Next time, I'll hold a memorial service for the Fantasy position of Second Base.

By David Bobke

Monday, January 28, 2013

NL Only 2013 Fantasy Baseball 2B Rankings

Today I'd like to present fantasy baseball advice for the position of 2B for NL Only leagues.  Yeah, let's just say that this position is not exactly loaded with talent for 2013.  If you've missed them, you can get my NL Only C and 1B Rankings are already posted.  Also you can follow the NL King (I'm not The Fantasy Man ;) on twitter @ TheNLKing.

Similar to the catcher position, a solid 2B option is scarce in NL Only leagues and in many drafts these players go at an inflated price. This is something to watch out for as you want to pick your spots if you're forced to overpay on draft day. It's one thing to overpay on a Clayton Kershaw or a Matt Kemp but it's another thing to over pay on a Brandon Phillips or Aaron Hill. Second base is such a tricky position that there are a number of talented 2B in terms of Fantasy Baseball in the NL but these players are very inconsistent. One year they are a Fantasy Baseball studs and the next they're duds.  For example, Rickie Weeks and Aaron Hill immediately come to mind. That makes creating a solid draft strategy very difficult for fantasy managers in analyzing players. In my opinion, there are currently no elite players at 2B in the NL. Let's break it down my rankings....

Brandon Phillips - CIN - Over the last 5 years has hit between 18-21 HR, has driven in at least 77 Runs in 4 of the last 5 years, has scored at least 80 runs the last 5 years, has stolen between 14-16 bases last 3 years and has hit between .275 - .281, 3 of the last 4 years. Also has played at least 141 games the last 7 years. My friends, thats consistency and value across the board. Not elite stats but a notch below.

Aaron Hill - ARZ - Hill is coming off a tremendous year last season.  I would consider him elite if it wasn't for the fact Hill hit .205 in 2010 and in 2011 had just 8HR's while hitting .246.  Hill is on a good team, plays in a ballpark where the ball flies and is also playing for a new contract as he's a free agent after the 2013 season. All those signs post to another strong campaign for 2013. However, the last time Hill had a big year was 2009 which he followed with a poor year in 2010. Because of his inconsistency it's very scary to pay on draft day a price for Hill based on his stats from last year.

Rickie Weeks - MIL - Considering Weeks was hitting .199 at the all-star break his final stat line was amazing. Weeks has the talent to break 20HR's and 15SB's which is a great combo. However, last season was only the second time in his career that he broke 130 games played. In addition Weeks has had a number of seasons including last year where he hit in the .230's. That kind of batting average is a killer. Because of questions regarding his health and his batting average he's a huge risk.

Neil Walker - PIT - Walker is showing himself to be what I call a "Steady Eddie". Puts up good numbers across the board. Nothing sexy just solid and consistent. Given the NL 2B that's a lot to like.

Danny Espinosa - WAS - After a putrid 1st 5-6 weeks, Espinoza really got going from that point on. Davey Johnson sat down with Espinosa regarding his approach. There is a lot to like here as Espinosa can easily be a 20/20 guy and for the 2013 season qualifies at both 2B and SS. The key with Espiniosa is his batting average. Last year he hit .247 up from .236 the year before. If Espinosa can add a few more points to his batting average and hit .260 you would really have something here. Again that's a big IF.  Only problem is Espinosa has a torn rotator cuff and as of January 29th, plans to play through it opting out of surgery according to reports.

Dan Uggla - ATL - Uggla is coming off his worst year as he failed to break 20 HR's for the first time in his 7 year career. Uggla hit a career low of .220 in 2012. The problem going into last season was fantasy owners were spoiled with a slightly better BA the last couple of years when earlier in his career he was more a .240's hitter. In a future article, I will break down batting average and how to put a team together but that kind of average is a drag for your team. To have a player like that he must be dominant in the other categories and in Uggla's case that would be HR, R and RBI. This is a big season for Uggla and quite frankly he has been a very up and down player. I would need a good discount to buy Uggla on draft day.

Josh Rutledge - COL - Rutledge showed a lot of good things last year in roughly a half a season. However, it is a small sample and the league will adjust to Rutledge while expectations are high. How does Rutledge handle all that? Again, there is much to like but with questions to be answered.

Chase Utley - PHI - He is now 35 and has bad knees. Given his body, it's hard to see Utley going back to being one of the top Fantasy Players in the NL. If Utley can play 130 games and give you good value be very happy. Having said that, he's a huge health risk to say the least.

Marco Scutaro - SF - Coming off a great year but is now 38 and is still likely to provide only single digits in HR's and SB's. Also now plays in a big ballpark. Also qualifies at SS which is an added bonus. I like to call Scutaro "serviceable". Basically, he won't kill you but won't add much extra value either.

Daniel Murphy - NYM - I know he stole 10 bases last year and is a plus batting average guy who is capable of breaking .300, but, I have never been high on Murphy who is no longer a position eligibility stud. Murphy only qualifies for 2B in 2013. You could however do worse in the NL at 2B.  Just don't pay a high price for Murphy on draft day.

Mark Ellis - LAD - Going to hit at the bottom of the Dodger lineup with probably a sub .260 average. Throws in a few stats but really not much. Try and get someone better. I've seen predictions that he could possibly bat lead off but past history should be all you need to decide if there is value here r not in your draft.

The Rest: Donovan Solano (MIA), Daniel Descalso (STL), Darwin Barney (CHI), Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista (SD). Really all of these guys at best should fall under as end-of-the-draft buys for your middle infield position at best. I believe that almost all of these players will bat at the botttom of their teams lineups which makes their value very small. The only one who I can see having decent value is Solano because there are so few players in Miami. If Solano can be the Marlins number two hitter he may be able to hit for a good average throw in 10 to 15 steals and score some runs for you, but's that's a big if. Keep on an eye on where Solano is projected to hit in the lineup during the Spring.

NL King - C. Lizza

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Like 'em? I LOVE 'em! Fantasy Baseball Advice

By David Bobke

Here's a couple reasons I'm writing his article...

A) I want to hear more about certain players, and what better way to drum up talk about them than to write an article about them. And B) I want to play the game “Like 'em, Love 'em, Leave 'em.” (If anyone can come up with a better name, please leave a comment, I'll consider changing it.) I know of a few other names for the game, one of which is NOT family friendly (so don't even suggest it!), but if you're not familiar with the game I'm talking about, you'll catch on quickly.

I'm going to start with a couple Catcher editions of the game. Here's the first...

Jesus Montero, Salvador Perez, Victor Martinez

If given a choice of these three with no other parameters, I'll take V-Mart, or “Love 'em” as the name would suggest. He's coming off an ACL injury and he's 34...but...he'll DH. He'll qualify at C, but play DH, greatly reducing the chances he'll get hurt during the season...and you have to love guys like that. In the mocks I've done so far, V-Mart is barely cracking the top 10 at C, and again, love guys like that. Mike has him #3 on his list of Catchers; I can't say I would draft V-Mart as the third Catcher in the draft, but I love the value of a guy like this that will probably go no sooner than 7th in my drafts. I love knowing that I can wait to draft my C for quite a while if I'm certain Martinez will come back strong. This guy is averaging 10th among Catchers in my early mock drafting, and barring injury, I can virtually guarantee he'll average higher than that by the time draft season kicks into high gear.

Now I'm supposed to pick my “Like 'em” pick, the guy I would take next if I had to take 2 of these guys, but would pass on if I could only select one. And this is difficult because I'm buying in heavily on 2nd year guys this year. I like Montero, I like the fences in Seattle moving in, but I also respect what Perez could do coming off his injury. I think Perez is in a better (potentially) lineup with Escobar, Hosmer, and Moustakas potentially being whatever they can be along with Butler and Gordon. I guess...I feel like I know what I'm going to get more consistently with Montero. He'll be DH-ing, so there's more chance he'll be starting every day than Perez. That's the clincher for me. So, I'll “Like” Montero and “Leave” Perez. (Update: M's acquired Mike Morse, further backing the idea of taking Montero over Perez)

Let's stay at C and throw a few more names out that Mike made specific comments on:

Geovany Soto, J.P. Arencibia, A.J. Pierzynski

I “Love” Pierzynski here. He's a big mouth and might be a punk depending on which side of the fence you're on, but he had terrific value last year. I should know, I owned him! He won't start every day, but he didn't last year with the White Sox either, and he was still easily a Top 10 Catcher. I'd like to see him get a DH appearance now and then, but I doubt they'll do that, especially with Berkman around. Nonetheless, If I'm at this point of a draft where I need one of these guys, I'm taking A.J. in a heartbeat.
I'm in “Like” with Arencibia. I don't like these “all power, no average” guys AT ALL, but I'll take that over brutal play like what I expect from Soto. I absolutely do not trust Soto. J.P. is in a very good lineup, and he could come up with some really good games if you can take the shot in the Batting Average category. I'm happy to take “all power, no average” over “no power, or anything else for that matter.”

By David Bobke

Friday, January 25, 2013

NL Only 2013 Fantasy Baseball Catchers Rankings

Hey everybody, NL King here! Happy 2013! It's been a while. I hope everyone is refreshed and getting ready for another fun season of fantasy baseball. I feel once we head into the two weeks into the Super Bowl it's a great time to start your fantasy baseball research and prep for the upcoming season. Today we take a look at the NL Only Catchers.

First, a few basic principles to the catching position in terms of putting your team together in NL Only leagues. A good-to-great roto catcher almost always goes at an inflated price on draft day. This is even more true in an NL only league. Do not fall in that trap. There are no Mike Piazza's in his prime currently in the NL in terms of fantsy value, not even Buster Posey. Catchers easily get hurt and catchers in many cases wear down in the 2nd half especially from a stats point of view. My personal advice is to stay away from catchers that can give you some pop but kill your average. With those thoughts let's break it down.

Buster Posey - SF - The only elite catcher in the NL. Showed the horrible injury in 2011 did not effect him at all. Posey will be a dominant hitter but with no steals. If you can get him great just don't overpay based on the injury risk to catchers.

Yadier Molina - STL - Every year this guy gets better with the bat. Last year Molina had career highs in every category. Molina use to be a nice steady player to have that would not cost you a lot on draft day. Those days are gone and given the amount of games Molina has played in his career do not pay on a draft day a price based on last season.

Miguel Montero - ARZ - Montero has stayed healthy the last two seasons and has been able to put up very good numbers to be a #1 catcher on your team. I expect more of the same as long as he stays healthy. Safe bet.

Brian McCann - ATL - McCann really struggled last season and maybe all those games played in prior years has caught up to him a bit. McCann is most likely going to miss the beginning of the season due to injury. Follow his progress in MLB spring training. McCann is playing for a contract as he is a free agent after the 2013 season so if he slips in your draft I think he is a good gamble and just maybe has one more elite year for a catcher left in him.

Wilin Rosario - COL - He always had pop in the minors but I don't know if he is truly a .270 hitter. Rosario did hit .249 in AA in 400+ AB's in 2011. Expect pop especially in Colorado but beware of a .sub .250 Avg.

Jonathan LuCroy - MIL - I wanted to see that 2011 was not a fluke and although LuCroy missed a chunk of the season last year due to injury he had another strong season. I like him but I am still wary.

Carlos Ruiz - PHI - Do not expect a repeat of last season and will miss the 1st 25 games do to PED suspension However should put up a steady year.

Russell Martin - PIT - Going from Yankee Stadium and their lineup to Pittsburgh ballpark and their lineup Martin's numbers will come way down but his average will still be poor. Let someone else draft him.

Wilson Ramos - WAS - Will split time with Kurt Suzuki and is coming back from a major injury but if he goes cheap in your draft perfect guy to grab to fill one of your two spots at catcher.

AJ Ellis - LAD - I have to see it again but again last year went for a bargain in almost every draft and put up solid numbers. That's what your looking for in terms of your catchers. If his draft day price is based on his stats from last year then let someone else draft him.

Michael McKenry - PIT - Even though he is #2 catcher in Pitt I thimk he will get a fair amount of AB's and has some pop. I also think McKenry can hit around .250 this year. McKenry found something in the 2nd half last season.

Ramon Hernandez - I know he is the backup in Colorado but if he goes cheap could be a great #2 catcher for your squad.

Players to avoid because they're average killers - Kurt Suzki, John Buck, Nick Hundley.

Nice End Game Draft Buys or Sleeper picks - Ryan Hanigan, Martin Maldonado, Eric Kratz.

Sleeper Alert - Devin Mesoraco is still a talented youg kid who can swing the bat and still plays in a  in a bam box with a strong lineup in Cincinnati. If he goes cheap on draft day then pounce. Welington Castillo of the Cubs showed pop in the minors and is going to get a chance to play. If he can hit .250 I think he can be a nice addition to your squad. Again pick up if he goes cheap in your draft.

The Grandal Effect - Yasmani Grandal of the San Diego Padres should be on the top of this list but due to a PED 50 game suspension we will not see him until at least Memorial Day and probably well into June as I am sure the Padres will start him in the minors for a bit. Having said that this kid can hit and if at the end of your draft he is still on the board and you need a slot for your 2nd catcher, Grandal would be a great play for your team for the second half. Also if your in a keeper league he would be a steal for next year and beyond.

I will be doing articles every few days. Glad to be back.

NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Thumbs Up for Uncomplicated Fantasy Baseball Advice

By David Bobke

If I'm gonna be honest, I think that the smarter we get in Fantasy, the dumber we become.

Mike just posted about his strategy and advice to fantasy baseball players. While I, in my two years of playing Fantasy Baseball think Mike's out of his mind, respect Mike's opinion regardless of whether I agree with him or not, I think he's nuts, but apart from that he is spot on with his article Uncomplicated Fantasy Baseball Advice For 2013. Keep the draft strategy simple, don't overcomplicate things and cheat whenever possible.

In particular, I want to throw my support behind Mike for President his third point, “Choose Experience Over Unproven Upside.”

Case in point, last year's draft. 10 teamer. Fifth round comes up, and I went with the guy my peeps told me to trust. Paul Konerko.

I took a ribbing in the draft chat room. I trusted my experts, they had my back. No Desmond Jennings or Brett Lawrie (both 6th Rounders in this draft) for me.  Konerko was solid all year. I look at that pick, and I'm still pleased with that pick and I rub it in every time I talk to my opponents. He did tail off later in the season, but he still proved to be good enough for what I needed through the year.

I took a ribbing for my Joe Mauer pick later on as well, but my peeps came through there too. They said he was healthy, and I could honestly tell you that I trusted him to stay fairly healthy all year.

“Whoa,” said one snotball opponent of my worthy opponents, “that's way early for Mauer!” Nevermind that he was one of the “top available players,” according to the website in question. I thought I'd rather have him than Matt Moore. I took Mauer in the 10th, he wound up a top 70 player.

And again, I can laugh at the non-believer I call a friend.

Eric Hosmer...Jesus Montero...more guys I liked, but not where they were being selected.

I can't say that you should never draft young players who haven't given a full year or two of service in the majors yet, but...more often than not...WAY more often than not...that pick will burn you. Dee Gordon may not have done too much damage to your team, but he may not have been worth what you paid for him.

Now I'll admit, if I have the third pick, I'm tempted to take Mike Trout. I can probably deal him off for some great players right after the draft, however,  I am taking some risk there. Being the Fantasy Gambler that I am, I'd probably risk it.

I'll finish with this: If you wanna ride “The Next Big Thing,” then be willing to crash with them too. Remember, Brock Lesnar was dubbed “The Next Big Thing” in WWE. They had big plans for him because he had everything he would need to be a superstar heel. He was gone before long (granted, he may be back now, but if you were in a Fantasy Wrestling keeper league back then, you couldn't have been too pleased!)

Yes, I used a pro wrestling reference. I went there. I'm just saying, if you pick a young, unproven player, don't think you're King Crap. If you end up watching him fail miserably, you will find there is nothing worse except listening to Kriss Kross dubbed into Chinese .

David Bobke

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NL Only 2013 Fantasy Baseball 1B Rankings

Thank you for supporting the NL King and taking a look at my NL Only fantasy baseball advice articles. You can follow me on Twitterand join my army @TheNLKing. Today we break down NL Only First Base 1B rankings. I am going to break it up into two groups called the Old Guard and the New Guard. As the late great Jackie Gleason once said "And Away We Go."

Old Guard:
Joey Votto - CIN - Quite simply, Votto is the best 1B in the NL as well as one of the top NL roto hitters. The only question is regarding last summers' knee injury. Is Votto's knee 100%? When he came back from his knee surgery in early September he was just a singles hitter.  Follow Votto's spring training closely and see how his knee is doing. If the knee is 100% with no issues put him #1 on your 1B rankings and one of the top players to get in your draft.

Adrian Gonzalez - Gonzalez has another change of scenery as he leaves the microscope of Boston. However there are huge expectations on the Dodgers this year and will be interesting to see how A-Gone handles that? Is Gonzalez one of these players better off in a small market like San Diego where no one bothers him and he can just put up numbers? I believe with the talent around him should be at least 25-100-80-.285+ hitter in Hollywood.

Ryan Howard - PHI - Howard came back in the second half and while posted a poor average did have strong power numbers for 67 games. Howard days of those monster years of 50 HR's and 135RBI+ are over. However, Howard should still be a guy who will give you low 30's in HR's with 100+RBI and  80+R's but figure on a batting average around .250.

Adam LaRoche - WAS -  Finally signed with the Nats. He is coming off a career year but there is a lot of talent around LaRoche which should help his numbers. LaRoche is a very streaky player in his career so if you wind up getting him you must stay the course. While I don't think LaRoche will have the year he had last season he should give you solid value in 2013.

Corey Hart -MIL - I would have Hart 3rd on this list if it wasn't for his recent knee injury. They are still sorting out that injury but it seems like Hart will have to have surgery and miss the 1st 4-6 weeks. Also Hart is a free agent after the season and if the Brewers are not contending will they trade Hart this summer? Again a safe bet when healthy but there are some major questions.

Garret Jones / Gaby Sanchez - PIT - Going into last season if I asked any roto owner who was the better player they would say hands down Gaby Sanchez. But Jones had a career year and Sanchez had a year to forget. Having said that , if Jones goes back to being a .240 mistake hitter and Sanchez goes back to being the solid hitter he is it's Sanchez who will be the starting 1B for the Bucs. Also while Jones can qualifies for OF which adds that extra value.

Todd Helton - On the last year of his mega deal. Helton will be 40 years old in August and quite frankly unless he can show he is healthy and can be productive the Rockies have other options for 1B and they will move on from Peyton Manning's former backup QB at Tennessee. Follow his spring but even with a strong spring he is nothing more than a late draft flyer.

New Guard:
Paul Goldschmidt - ARI - He was a quiet 5 category player last year. That ball jumps in Arizona and the D-Backs have a nice supporting cast even if they trade Justin Upton. He won't be cheap come draft day but a strong pickup.

Ike Davis - NYM - Started the season very slow due to what was probably effects of Valley Fever but having said that Davis still finished with 32HR's and 90RBI's. Throw out Davis average last year he is at worst a .260 hitter.

Allen Craig - STL - If I knew he would play at least 145 games next year I would have him 2nd on this list. Has run into the injury bug which is the only red flag here. Also qualifies for the OF.

Freddie Freeman - ATL - His R's and RBI's jumped last year and if he can turn some of his doubles (33 last year and 32 in 2011) into HR's then Freeman will become 30HR - 100RBI guy. Also with ChipperFreeman to be more of a run producer. I also think he is better than a .259 hitter. now gone the Braves will be counting on

Anthony Rizzo - CHC - Goes to show you with young talented players that sometimes a little patience can really pay off. Granted it was just 85 games but great half a season for Rizzo. However, the league will adjust to Rizzo and he'll have to be ready for that. While I believe Rizzo will be a really good player there could be some growing pains in 2013.

Brandon Belt - SF - Finished up the season very strong and if Belt is going to reach his potential and be the Giants 1B for the next few years this is the year Belt has to distinguish himself. I think it's 50/50 Belt takes that positive step so based on that do not overpay on draft day.

Logan Morrison - MIA - Very talented BUT needs to stay healthy and be a lot more consistent. As I write this there are questions if Logo will be ready for opening day. On top of that anyone on the Marlins seens to be trade bait as well. Morrison also qualifies for the OF. Follow his spring to see how he is health wise. Could be a nice pickup if he goes cheap in your draft.

Yonder Alonso - SD - Was a line drive hitter when he was in the Reds system and then moved to Petco. If you can get him for cheap price on draft day he could be a bit of a stat filler as your 3rd corner.

Join my Twitter army @TheNLKing.

Next up, 2B which is lost cause in the NL.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Fantasy Man's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Hitters

Fantasy baseball advice for the new year! Happy New Year Everyone! Here's a late Christmas present from The Fantasy Man to you.  Maybe its the gift that keeps on giving all the way through September, maybe its a regift that has you cursing me out in May. Either way, here are my 2013 fantasy baseball sleepers....

How I personally define the term "Sleeper":

The typical idea behind the "sleeper" is finding a player deep at the end of the draft that no one is thinking about. This is a player you draft which in turn will provide you with the same type of stats you would normally receive from a player drafted much higher in the draft.  This is where you accumulate "value".  The more value you accumulate in the draft, the better your chances are of finishing in the money.  The problem is, with readily and easily accessible information on the Internet, it seems everyone knows who he sleepers are.

My idea of a sleeper is a little less general but also a bit "out there" as well. I have different levels of sleepers which if researched correctly, will boost your chances of competing later in the season....for me at least.  A few concepts regarding "sleepers" in my draft strategy include:

Level 1 Sleeper: Drafting solid players in mid rounds that you recognize could produce higher round type numbers

Level 2 Sleeper: Drafting full-time forgotten players deep in draft as "sleepers" over your typical grab and stash rookie. I'm talking about the players the magazines/other sites won't risk mentioning as sleepers but will "potentially" provide excellent value as everyday players.

Super Sleeper (Level 3) - This is more the grab and stash type player for leagues with deep benches. I'm not talking about drafting top prospects, I'm talking about drafting a player that no one else is talking about.

The main concept and really my personally strategy through out a draft is to choose players that I feel are going to help me every day. Remember, this is a game of predictions. No magazine or "expert" knows what a player will do for sure, its all guesswork, much of the time regurgitated from one source to another. So the faster you realize that, the better.  He who guesses best, wins. Stats, past history, current trends, all give us clues to the mysteries of every players' 2013 season.  Your own research (watching players, following stats, reading real news) also offers clues to the mystery. With that said, here are my 3 levels of sleepers in 2013.  These are the players I will start to gravitate to in drafts quite consistently....

Level 1 Sleepers:  The Poor Man's Jacoby Ellsbury
One of my go to strategies is to find players who do it all and possess a BA/Power/Speed combo.  Players who do all, will bat in the top of middle of the order, and get you RBI and Runs. So I'm looking to accumulate HR and or SB with BA in mind.  That's typical of all fantasy baseball managers but here's where I'm aiming in 2013....

2013 Projection for Jacoby Ellsbury as per CBS:  .293/17HR/66RBI/34SB

Desmond Jennings, OF - I like to scour draft rankings looking for the next 2010 Jacoby Ellsbury.... approximately .290+/20HR/50SB/100R (expecting 30HR+ is outrageous) .... so anyone in that vicinity of any combination of those numbers is a "Poor Mans Jacoby Ellsbury" meaning I can potentially get Ellsbury-like numbers later in the draft.  So while the average league drafts Ellsbury in round 2-3, I might look at Jennings in 5-7.  He's 26, has amazing speed and possesses power.  The 10 HR he hit in limited AB in 2011 that got everyone worked up for a great 2012 season, just throw it out the window.  The CBS projection for 2013 is  .266/15HR/56RBI/37SB which you can compare to Ellsbury's projection above.  Nuff' said!  Jennings has .290+ BA potential, just look at his minor league numbers.  So here's a potential Jacoby Ellsbury 3-5 rounds later.  That's value.  This allows you to draft a power bat or a scarcer position earlier rather then choosing Ellsbury.

Carlos Gomez, OF - The great thing about Gomez is there's not a ton of believers out there yet. I just read a magazine projection that his power last season (19HR in 415AB) was "uncharacteristic".  Really?  This guy hasn't played a full season since 2008 when he was 23.  His poor performance over the years is well documented but doesn't anyone remember how highly touted he was while in the Mets' farm system?  In 2011, in limited time, Gomez hit 8 HR in 231 AB. Project that over a full season of 600AB and your in the 20-25 range.  CBS projects a stat line of .256/23HR/54RBI/35SB..... HELLO!  That's in 465 AB.... whats the projection for 600AB?!  Point is, this guy is 27, he's 6'4" with blazing speed so the size is obviously there, he's a great defender, he's certainly shown maturity over the last two years and my favorite point..... he's was extremely consistent once he became the starter in the second half of the season. Look up the his second half stats.  He's a free swinger, many times has no clue at the plate but he showed he hit righties and lefties evenly last season.  Don't let the over analyzing "experts" punk you here.  I'm a believer. I don't dive deep into the stats because my main thought here is that he's matured more then anything.  Skills and tools have always been there, now he has a full-time job to build on as he starts to enter his prime. This is the last year he'll be somewhat cheap. Look at the projection! Don't get punked!

You can now pass on Ellsbury, grab Jennings in the early middle rounds and grab Gomez just after Jennings.  There's probably 60% of your speed just in these two players both primed for breakouts if they stay healthy.  Call me crazy... or just call me, maybe.

Level 2 Sleepers:  The Forgotten
You can pretty much find these guys at the end of any draft but these are the type of players that turn fantasy managers into fantasy geniuses.  Get lucky with one or two of these players and your odds of winning increase dramatically.  In no particular order...

Carlos Quentin, OF - One full season yielded great results. Quentin hit 16 HR in 284AB last season and SD moving fences in slightly.
Brian Roberts, 2B - A healthy Roberts will yield you .280+/25+SB at minimum
Gordon Beckham, 2B - '11 and '12 were almost identical butt he hit 6 more HR, more BB, less K in '12
Stephen Drew, SS - I'm thinking new scenery, healthy, in prime and so much talent he's a nice flier
Chris Carter, 1B - Hit 16 HR in 216 AB last season but with 83 K, will probably platoon but power is legit, he's a right handed version of Ryan Howard minus a lot of batting average
Dexter Fowler, OF - Same numbers every year but step up in '12, turns 27 in March, I love the upside

Level 3 Sleepers:  The Super Sleeper
I like to look for players that no one else is thinking about, including the magazines and other fantasy sites.  I guarantee this is the only place your going to see Nolan Reimold on a sleeper list.  So that means either I'm the worlds worst Fantasy Baseball Advice guy or..... there really is something there to talk about.....

Fernando Martinez, OF - Once a big time Mets prospect, Martinez was never able to impress. Houston picked him up last season and he hit .300+ in AAA, then came up and hit 6HR in 116 AB with a .237BA but hit .262 from Mid August on. There's 15-20 HR potential here and he's only 24.
Dominic Brown, OF - No one is thinking of this guy, two or three failed break out attempts so far in majors but minor league numbers and short majors stints suggest potential 20/20.
Nolan Reimold, OF - You zig, I zag.... while everyone looking at Nate McLouth late, I like what Nolan Reimold did in his 67 AB last year before getting hurt.  Look at his minor leave numbers and what he did last year in that small sample. If healthy, he's still likely an everyday player especially if Nate McLouth cannot sustain.
Jerry Sands, OF - The Pittsburgh OF looks crowded as is but Sands has 25+ power if he gets playing time.  This is more a grab and stash type player with a decent chance to crack the lineup or get traded in spring training to a team in which he can start.
Evereth Cabrera, SS - This guy punked everyone in 2010, disappeared in 2011, and then came back last May to steal 44 bases and lead the NL. Bad news is you get no power and a low BA, good news is you get SB, Runs, and OBP. He's got an everyday job and still only 26.  Considering how weak SS is this year, I'm not sure he's going to be a super sleeper but he's received no hype and is why I decided to spot him here.
Ian Stewart, 3B - He's the exact type of player that I like to include on this list.  A perennial sleeper bust and he'll probably bust again this year too.  However, the one year I don't add him and you know what happens?  Exactly.  Stewart has 20+ HR potential for sure and can drive in runs but his BA potential is just horrible. I like Stewart as an end game flier for the power potential. He's 27 and on a one year deal and will have to beat out a few guys to be a starter so if he has a strong spring, we may be on to something here.....