Sep 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstopHanley Ramirez
reacts against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Here we are! Pitchers and catchers have reported, and Spring Training is in full swing (pun intended). Most of us will start having fantasy baseball drafts very soon, and we here at Fantasy CPR are no different. It is time to dust off the notes from last season, and check out which players could have an impact on your fantasy league.
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For each team, I will rundown the projected lineup, players to watch, and a complete list of 2014 stats to get you prepared for your upcoming fantasy drafts. We will start in the American League East, home of two of the most polarizing forces in Major League Baseball, and home to three of the top five payrolls in baseball.
In case you missed any:
Boston Red Sox 2015 Projected Starting Lineup:
C: Christian Vazquez (.240, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 0 SB in 55 games)
1B: Mike Napoli (.248, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (.278, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 6 SB)
3B: Pablo Sandoval (.279, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 0 SB) with San Francisco
SS: Xander Bogaerts (.240, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 2 SB)
LF: Hanley Ramirez (.283, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 14 SB) with Dodgers
CF: Rusney Castillo (.333, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB in ten games)
RF: Mookie Betts (.291, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 7 SB in 52 games)
DH: David Ortiz (.263, 35 HR, 104 RBI, 0 SB)
There are many new faces, and young faces with the Red Sox. They also have one of the deepest benches in the major leagues with guys such as Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr., Daniel Nava, and Brock Holt. All of them started more than 50 games last year with the exception of Victorino. That should mean adequate rest for the veterans, which is nothing but annoying for fantasy owners.
Despite down years last year, Sandoval, Pedroia, and Hanley Ramirez are being valued highly in drafts. Part of it has to do with the revamped lineup. The other part is mostly optimism. The optimism that comes with being in a new place for both Sandoval and Ramirez. The rejuventaion that many think Pedroia will have in this lineup.
Based on numbers alone, Pedroia is no longer a top five second baseman. He is barely top ten. However, he is still being drafted as the fifth second baseman off the board in most of the mocks that I have seen. I would expect a slight uptick in Pedroia’s numbers, but not enough to make him a top five second baseman. The only one he might butt out of the top five would be Jason Kipnis, but the steals that Kipnis provides likely will make him a more popular choice. Pedroia’s greatest asset will likely be RBI and average. He might net you a few more runs scored than some in the top five, but not enough to make up for the lack of power and speed.
Napoli is a fringe fantasy option in standard leagues. His average will only hurt you, and he does not have great power. 20 homers at first base is relatively easy to come by. Add to that the fact that he has been hampered by nagging injuries in each of the last two years and the fact that the Sox have a suitable replacement in Allen Craig, and Napoli is not worth the risk, even in 12 team standard leagues. In anything larger he is worth owning, but don’t reach for him. Craig might be a better option depending on how Spring goes. He definitely has more upside.
Hanley’s value takes a hit with his move to the outfield. His numbers are no longer good as a shallow position, be it either 3B or SS. If he is still eligible there in your league, then he will put up numbers worthy of fantasy ownership. Don’t overpay for his numbers in the outfield. He is a middle round pick at best, but I have seen him go as high as the middle of the eighth. There is too much risk attached to that for me, and not all of it has to do with health.
The Red Sox have some great sleeper candidates here. Sandoval should be back among the top ten at 3B, especially if he can get his average back around .300. He is currently the 13th third baseman off the board on average. He should outdo his draft position.
Bogaerts had his troubles last year, but a lot of that had to do with youth and inconsistent playing time. If he struggles they could always move Hanley back to SS, but the team wants Bogaerts to succeed. His minor league numbers bordered on great. Bogaerts should be a top 10 SS this year, but he is also being drafted there. In redraft leagues, I would take him around the 8th SS off the board, and higher in keeper or dynasty leagues. I honestly like him better than Jimmy Rollins and Erick Aybar this year.
Rusney Castillo is the wild card. His stats in Cuba, and in his first ten games in the majors, point towards him having a nice 2015 campaign. Add in the fact that he is in his prime at 27 years old, and you have the makings of a guy that is going to be overdrafted. He is a strong 25-25 candidate, but I have seen him go as early as the fourth round. Ahead of such established guys as Matt Kemp and Carlos Gonzalez. Just keep that in mind if you want Castillo and think you can wait.
Ortiz is a constant 30-100 threat and posts a decent batting average. The only place that he can hurt you is that he has to be used in your UTIL slot. Still, his value will slip because of this. If you are in a league with more than one UTIL slot, Ortiz is a great source of cheap power without the abnormally low batting average that usually comes with such players.
Mookie Betts was solid as a rookie last year. He won’t wow you in any category, but if he does bat leadoff in this order, he will score you a lot of runs. And he is a threat for 30+ steals. Keep in mind that he is only 21, so he is much more valuable in keeper or dynasty leagues. He will go early in those drafts. In redraft leagues, he is still a solid bet in rounds 8-10.
Next: Lets Take A Look At The Rotation
Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcherRick Porcello
(21) talks to the media before game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Red Sox Projected 2015 Starting Rotation:
Rick Porcello (15-13, 3.43 ERA, 129K) with Detroit
Clay Buchholz (8-11, 5.34 ERA, 132K)
Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34 ERA, 183K) with Arizona
Justin Masterson (7-9, 5.88 ERA, 116K) with Cleveland/St Louis
Joe Kelly (6-4, 4.20 ERA, 66K) 7 starts in St Louis, 10 in Boston
Koji Uehara (6-5, 2.52 ERA, 26/31 saves, 80K)
I know, I’m thinking the same thing you are. The Sox spend all of that money, and the rotation still looks like this? Porcello is likely the ace of this staff, and he was the number 4 starter in Detroit last year. Now, that doesn’t mean that Porcello is a bad pitcher. He is not. He is also not a staff ace. He doesn’t strike out enough batters, and his WHIP is a bit higher than you would like. That said, he is still only 26 years old, and has dropped his ERA and WHIP in every year since 2010. He is a strong addition to your staff in the late rounds in standard leagues.
Buchholz had a strong 2013 in 16 starts, but that certainly didn’t translate to last season. He had his worst season in the league since his first full season in 2008. While it is likely that he won’t be as bad as last season, he is still not worth owning in standard leagues. He should have a nice wins total, but is it worth the damage to your WHIP? His career high in strikeouts was last year as well, so he won’t even be a boon there. He should only be considered in deep leagues, and even then on a matchup basis.
Miley had his worst of his three full seasons last year, but he did post a career high in strikeouts. While he likely won’t lower his ERA to 3.33 like it was in 2012, he should still be in the high 3’s to low 4’s. Add in the fact that he is a threat to post 200 strikeouts, and he might be the highest drafted pitcher on the Boston staff. He should up his wins total, and if he can get his ERA and WHIP closer to his career numbers of 3.79 and 1.32 respectively, he will be a strong late middle round selection.
Justin Masterson had a dreadful 2014. If you can believe it, he was even worse with the Cardinals, where his ERA was over 7.00 after a trade sent him there. Masterson returns to the team where he made his MLB debut in 2008. In 15 career starts and 67 total appearances for Boston, Masterson had a 9-8 record and a 4.18 ERA with 135 strikeouts in 160.1 innings pitched. If he can get his numbers around that level, the Sox will be happy. That still isn’t enough to make him fantasy relevant in standard leagues. He will only be an option in deep leagues or leagues without an innings cap when the matchup is right.
Joe Kelly is the wild card of the rotation. He has the most upside of anyone in the rotation. As expected, his numbers took a little bit of a hit moving to the AL East at the end of July, but he showed flashes of brilliance in his first two years in St Louis. He is not a big strikeout guy, but he will likely have fantasy relevance with that lineup behind him. When you take into account his career 3.41 ERA, the potential is there for an ERA in the high 3’s with a double digit win total. He is worth a late round flier in any standard league.
Uehara had a great year in relative obscurity last year in Boston. He racked up 80 strikeouts in 64.1 innings pitched, and sported a nice 0.92 WHIP. Those numbers could put him in the top five at closer if he sees an increase in saves because of an increase in chances. The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that Uehara is 39 years old, and was removed from the closer role in late August after a miserable month. The team chalked it up to back problems, but be wary of drafting an old closer with back problems. Only take Uehara late enough to where his risk is acceptable.
Junichi Tazawa and Alexi Ogando would seem to be the heir apparent if Uehara’s back is a problem. Edward Mujica had the role for a spell last year, but his 3.90 ERA and 1.38 ERA are tough to take for a middle reliever. Ogando had a miserable year last year. The only guys I would really recommend drafting for holds from this bullpen are Tazawa and Anthony Varvaro. Savvy owners will take a late shot at Mujica, but have a quick trigger if he is dragging you down.
A prospect to watch would be 22 year old lefty Henry Owens. He was terrific at AA and AAA last season, and could force the Red Sox’s hand if he starts off the year at Pawtucket strong again. Especially if Masterson or Kelly struggle. Regardless, Owens will be up by September 1st at the latest. He is best left for dynasty and keeper leagues unless he makes the team out of Spring Training.
Stay tuned to Fantasy CPR as our rundown continues!
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