AL Central: Spring Training Battles


Sep 1, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Minnesota Twins designated hitter Kennys Vargas (19) slides into second base for a double during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Minnesota Twins defeated Baltimore Orioles 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For fantasy owners, there will be multiple position battles, players, and storylines to watch. With Spring Training already started up, hopefully this article guides fantasy owners to what to watch for.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox – Jose Quintana

The White Sox re-tooled this offseason by bringing in the likes of Melky Cabrera, Adam Laroche, David Robertson and Jeff Samardzija.

While there don’t seem to be many fantasy relevant battles, I don’t think anyone will be touching the Chi-Sox C or 2B options in drafts, there is one guy that has quietly put up solid numbers the last two seasons.

Jose Quintana is often overlooked by the dominance of Chris Sale, but over the last two seasons Quintana has really cemented himself as a solid fantasy pitcher worth taking on draft day.

Over the last two seasons Quintana has averaged 200 innings, posted a 3.50 E.R.A. and tossed 170 Ks. These are solid SP 3 or 4 numbers, these type of guys don’t blow anyone away and are not sexy, but they win you championships because they stabilize your pitching staff.

Cleveland Indians – Rotation and Moss’s Health

2014 should be deemed the year of the Kluber. Corey Kluber absolutely busted out of being a mid-rotation arm and fully cemented himself as a fantasy ace and eventual Cy Young winner.

Unfortunately for Indian fans, he could not pitch every day, and the rest of the rotation really failed to deliver. Going into the season, guys like Trevor Bauer, Justin Masterson, and Danny Salazar were supposed to take the next step and help solidify the rotation.

Masterson basically pitched himself out of town, Bauer failed to harness his potential once again and Salazar had an uneven season even resulting in being sent down. However, a bright spot in the rotation came in the form of Carlos Carrasco.

All throughout this off-season you will see Carrasco be atop many sleeper or breakout lists, so monitor his spring to see if he has truly figured something out and is worth the reach that he will warrant on draft day.

I was torn between adding either Kipnis or Moss’s health as something to watch, but I went with Moss as he is often overlooked on draft day. Over the last three seasons moss has hit 21, 30, and 25 HRs, yet we often never see his name associated with the premier power bats.

Keep in mind that he also did this by hitting in the Grand Canyon that is the Coliseum. He had 21 HRs in the first half last year, but he was slowed down by a hip injury that required surgery this off-season. He is expected to be cleared by mid-March, so monitor his progress and target him as a leading power option on draft day.

Detroit Tigers- Miggy, V-Mart, and Verlander

There is no other team in the league that is banking on health more than the Tigers going into the 2015 season.

Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the league, whether it be on one foot or not, but he had ankle surgery in the off-season that seemed a little more severe than we thought. He was recently cleared for baseball activities and he seems on track for opening day.  Monitor him close because other league mates may be scared off by his injury, which could allow you to slide in and take arguably the best fantasy player in baseball.

Victor Martinez was struck again by a knee ailment this off-season. He lost his entire 2013 season due to an injury similar to this one, so there will be many eyes watching his rehab in order to determine whether or not owners can be confident in taking him.  We all know what Victor did last season as he put up monstrous numbers, healthy or not he was not going to repeat those stats, but he is a great hitter who produces solidly in three categories.

It seems as though he has dodged missing major time and he should be ready for the season, but diligent owners have to watch him closely.

The artist formerly known as Justin Verlander is trying to bounce back from a career worst year in 2014.

He attributed his struggles to not being properly ready for last season while recovering from core surgery. As fantasy owners, we can only hope that is true because Verlander’s stock has never been this low.  If he resembles anything like the old Verlander this spring, he will definitely be someone to buy low on because we know that even if he pitches to half of what he can do, he will provide ample value.

Kansas City Royals – Cain and Hosmer

For years now we have been waiting for Eric Hosmer to finally tap into the potential that scouts and fans rave about. We have patiently waited as we have expected him to take the next step in producing more power stats that would bump him up into the upper echelon of fantasy 1B.

The Royals made a great run last year and fantasy owners should hope that Hosmer takes his postseason success and parlays that into a better 2015 fantasy season.

He should never kill you in average, but 9 HR’s and 58 RBI’s is not something you are looking for in a power position like 1B. Watch him in the spring and see if he can generate more pop that would get him back into the 20 HR range.

Another postseason darling was Lorenzo Cain. Cain has the potential to combine power and speed that would make you think that 10 HR/25 SB’s was a real possibility ever year.

For whatever reason though he has never really produced like many thought he would. But he had a killer postseason and he serves as intriguing OF 4 or 5 candidate as he can provide a decent average and chip in with some speed. Monitor his spring because he could be on the verge of a breakout year.

Minnesota Twins – Kennys Vargas

Major League Baseball has become a pitching dominant league that has made it extremely hard for fantasy owners to find power bats.

For fantasy owners, discovering power options can be a vital source in filling out a starting roster due to the more premium power options being selected high in drafts. That brings me to the case of Kennys Vargas.  Vargas is a huge dude at 6’5″ 289, and can absolutely hammer the ball. He shows the same power potential of another former Twin prospect, David Ortiz.

While fantasy owners can only wish Vargas could produce a Papi like season, it does not mean that he cannot have some really nice value. Last year Vargas hit 9 HR’s and drove in 38 RBI’s in only 215 AB’s. With the power being evident and the Twins having a sneaky good lineup, fantasy owners should be watching Vargas closely as he could easily hit 20 HR’s and drive in 60 to 80 RBI’s. It makes even more enticing that owners can get him for their CI or UTIL spot later in drafts, so do not sleep on him.

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NL East, AL East, NL Central