Fantasy Baseball 2014: San Diego Padres Hitting and Pitching Projections


Jul 15, 2013; Flushing , NY, USA; National League infielder Everth Cabrera (2) of the San Diego Padres grabs his bat during the National League workout day for the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres will be a surprisingly decent team in 2014, mostly on the strength of their depth. This doesn’t help their fantasy baseball potential however. In fact, it hurts it.

Fantasy owners don’t want depth. They want a start player who sucks up every available at bat like a Dyson vacuum. (Dyson(TM), twice the suction!).  The real life Padres will benefit form their on field depth, while fantasy owners will suffer because several players (particularly the outfielders) will be in time share situations.

But what I really want to talk about are the burritos at Petco Park. Rubio’s, baby. Rubio’s.

[table id=235 /]

Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Everth Cabrera, Jedd Gyorko, Chase Headley, Will Venable

I’ll get to Cabrera below, so let’s just move to the West Virginia boy, Jedd Gyorko.

Jedd Gyorko – along with Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco – was part of a fine collection of college baseball players recently drafted out of West Virginia University. Gyroko has some warts, but after an up and down season showed definitively that he has some power. You could do worse than 20+ home run power out of a thin 2B position.

Chase Headley‘s breakout 2012 season was clearly the outlier. Yet he’ll garner too much attention based upon that one season. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have value, but there are a lot of fine players at the 3B position and one of those should be drafted instead. If you play in a league that utilizes the CI position, consider Headley there.

Will Venable is coming off an age 30 breakout season that know one saw coming. But everyone can see it coming that he’ll fall back to earth this season. In 2013 he put up a sneaky sexy line that showed a strong balance of power and speed. He won’t have enough homers to sniff another 20/20 in 2014, yet there will be an owner or two in your league that bids too much on him based upon last season’s numbers. Make sure that owner isn’t you.

[table id=241 /]

Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Josh Johnson, Tyson Ross

Andrew Cashner pitched like a fiery fiend the 2nd half of 2013. In fact, the season was fun to watch. He went from a quasi-sleeper in the preseason to pitching hi-hum to begin it. He then morphed into a popular stream target into a must start pitcher to close the season.

That makes it hard to nail down how he’ll be valued going into the 2014 draft. I’m inclined to think that his end-of-season superiority will be the most fresh in drafter’s thoughts, which will lead him to be drafted on the higher side. I’d draft him even with a reach. I see no reason to think his 2014 will be anything less than what he showed at the end of 2013.

Ian Kennedy didn’t have the immediate bounce back that many were predicting when he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yet he did show that he can still miss some bats. But Petco should help him as he has a tendency to give up the long ball. He also has a pretty good defense playing behind (except for the thick-legged Carlos Quentin). He could serve as a nice back of the fantasy rotation option for owners, provided you don’t pay too much for him.

Josh Johnson was an absolute fantasy ace when he was pitching well. Shoulder issues have sapped him of that, but there is still hope that he can reverse his career trend and dominate once again. I think he illustrates a shrewd reclamation experiment by the Padres. I wouldn’t draft him, but he’s a player I’ll casually follow to see how he’s looking early in the season.

Tyson Ross saw his fastball velocity increase as the season went along. But the new 94+ mph fastball still doesn’t have anything on his slider, which generated a massive 50% whiff rate. Shhhh…don’t the the guys in my leagues, but I’m targeting Ross as a late round sleeper pitcher.

Fantasy Star: None

Again, the Padres represent better real life players than fantasy ones. The one exception might be Everth Cabrera, who because of his stolen base potential is actually a better fantasy player than he is perhaps a real life player.

In fantasy you want consistent production – either across the board or truly excelling in one or two categories. Instead, Padres have players who will be over-valued fantasy wise because of career seasons or stuck in fantasy hell because of platoon/injury situation.

Because of this there truly isn’t a fantasy star that shines from the Padres. We’re not even talking about superstars like Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. The Padres lack even a marginal fantasy star like Yoenis Cespedes or Kyle Seager.

A perfect example is the catcher situation for the Padres. Nick Hundley is simply a placeholder until Yasmani Grandal returns from injury. Hundley doesn’t have the talent to be fantasy relevant, while Grandel won’t get the at bats to be relevant. Hence, neither player is relevant for fantasy purposes, even though they’ll both contribute on the field for the real life Padres.

But the Friars have can’t-be-beaten burritos at Petco Park, so there is that.

Fantasy Bust: Cameron Maybin

Maybin will battle for the 4th outfielder job for the Padres and will likely serve as a backup to Venable and an occasional platoon.

It’s hard to imagine that Maybin is this 26 years old, because it’s easy to forget he had his MLB debut at age 20. After 40 stolen bases in 20111, he was vastly overvalued in 2012, and burned many a fantasy owner.

It’s time to realize that he’s most likely to never really break out and that it’s more common that it’s not for players to not reach their full potential. Don’t draft him.

Prospect Watch: Austin Hedges

In my opinion, Hedges is catcher’s mitts down the best catching prospect in baseball. His arm is so strong I’d pay to see him pitch and he might be the only catcher that can gun down his teammate, Everth Cabrera.

But therein sums up the frustration shared before about many of the Padres: he’s a much better real life player than a fantasy player. His shiny prospect status is almost entirely predicated on his defense, which doesn’t help a whit in fantasy.

Fantasy Sleeper: Everth Cabrera

Overlooking Everth Cabrera late in the draft would be pure baloney. Nay, not bologna, the journeyman infielder of the processed lunch meats, which at least some people enjoy for their scrappiness. More like pimento loaf. Everyone hates that.

Overlooking Everth Cabrera late in the draft would be pure pimento loaf.

Granted, Cabrera is coming off a PED suspension, he’s not really the high-OBP guy you want leading off, and his batting average is realistically in the .250 range. But boy howdy, he’s fast.

In addition to his raw speed, he’s a very smart baserunner. He’ll score some runs and he has consistently been atop the MLB leaderboards in stolen bases, taking the extra bag at a very high success rate. You could do much worse from a thin shortstop position, like Alcides Escobar, for example.

In fact, Elvis Andrus will be drafted rounds and rounds ahead of Cabrera, despite the fact that had he not lost 50 games due to suspension, Cabrera was on pace to match or blow past nearly every number of what may be considered a fantasy career year for Andrus.

Final Thoughts

The San Francisco Giants have gotten all the World Series championships from the division. The Los Angeles Dodgers have gotten all the press and attention from the division. The Arizona Diamondbacks have gotten all the Kevin Tower(y) eyebrow-raising scrappiness in the division. The Colorado Rockies still have a team in the division.

But San Diego has quietly pieced together a fine team in the division. It’s not a team that can compete in such a heavy division, but it’s at least a team to take seriously.

Just don’t take the Padres too seriously when it comes to fantasy.

Further Reading