NL West: Spring Training Battles

Mar 2, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson (65) runs the bases against the San Diego Padres in the second inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-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.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks – Yasmany Tomas and 3B

Every year it seems as though we get another Cuban sensation that comes into the league and peaks fantasy owners interest and intrigue. Whether it has been Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, or Yasiel Puig, we have all seen that Cuban players can provide immediate and immense fantasy production.

Any of these guys could be a bust (like Dayan Viciedo), so the spring can be a great barometer for how they will translate.

For Yasmany Tomas, his stick should definitely translate into the big leagues, but his position and fielding appears to be the main question.

If Tomas can play average defense at 3B, he should earn the job. But if he does not, he will kicked to the outfield where AB’s and playing time will be harder to come by as the Arizona Diamondbacks have an assortment of OF options, thus killing his counting stats and fantasy value.

Colorado Rockies – Rosario Conundrum and the LF Platoon

It seems like every year the story line in Rockies camp should be if Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez can survive to even make opening day. Fantasy owners are all familiar with this song and dance, so restating it as something to watch for is just beating a dead horse.

Therefore, a player to watch is Wilin Rosario. Rosario has seen his meteoric rise from top-5 fantasy catcher to now becoming nothing more than bench fodder on the Rockies. Many owners banked on the 20 HRs and were mightily disappointed last year.

The guy has not forgotten how to hit so fantasy owners should monitor him to see if he can get off to a hot start and separate himself from the weak hitting catchers competing with him. The 20 HR upside could still be there so pay attention.

Another battle to watch for will be in LF. Last season, Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs served as an extremely effective platoon. Dickerson had a career year though and he clearly showed that he has a higher fantasy ceiling compared to Stubbs.

Fantasy owners should monitor Dickerson during the spring, especially his AB’s against lefties, because if he can show a better approach against lefties (.253 AVG against lefties compared to .328 against righties) he will certainly demand more playing time and work towards proving his worth as a upper-round OF target on draft day.

Los Angeles Dodgers – CF Job

Behind the potential modern day Bash Brothers, (Baez and Bryant), Joc Pederson has the talent to capture NL rookie of the year honors and provide substantial fantasy stats.

However, Pederson is competing with the likes of Carl Crawford, Andre Either, and Scott Van Slyke for a starting OF job. However, with Matt Kemp being shipped out, it definitely opens the door for Joc Pederson to run away with the CF job.  I have no doubts that Pederson is the best defensive option in the LA outfield, and he has shown throughout the minors that he also has a good eye at the plate.

Fantasy owners need to monitor the competition and hope that Pederson takes the job because all the stats point to him potentially putting up 20/20 numbers. The potential is there for a big season, so fantasy owners should pay close attention. 

San Diego Padres – Gyorko Rebound

By the time you read this, A.J. Preller may have traded or signed someone else in what has proven to be an incredibly busy offseason. With the additions of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, and James Shields, the Padres will certainly will have a new look.

However the infield still remains a major question mark, and fantasy owners will probably only looking at drafting one Padres IF. The guy fantasy owners should be focusing on is the rebound of Jedd Gyorko. 20 HRs from 2B is extremely valuable, which makes Gyorko’s bounce back even more compelling.

Fantasy owners can just write off 2014 as a lost year Gyorko played through nagging injuries the whole year. Fantasy owners should pay close attention in the spring to make sure none of these injuries are still plaguing him because this year could serve as a career year for him with an improved lineup helping his counting stats. Do not expect a high average or any speed, but the power is legit and worth gambling on especially at a MI position.

San Francisco Giants – Matt Cain’s Elbow  

Fantasy owners over the last 5 years have invested many picks on members of the Gigantes rotation. Whether it be Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, or Tim Lincecum, fantasy owners have continually invested.

Lincecum’s value has seem to come and gone and Matt Cain has struggled over the last couple years. Bumgarner single-handedly won the Giants a ring, so all fantasy owners with a pulse know his value (even though I would watch him closely as well, after throwing nearly 300 innings last year).

This is probably the last chance for Cain to provide any fantasy value though. He had both his ankle and elbow cleaned up in the offseason, and I would advise owners to see if Cain looks good in the spring. If Cain can possibly resemble anything close to what he once was, you could definitely spend a late round pick on him and be pleasantly surprised by the value you get.

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NL East, AL East, NL Central, AL Central