February 22, 2013
Five to Watch
National League Hitters
While it’s true that spring training statistics are barely worth the internet parchment on which they are printed, spring training performances are another story. Racking up impressive statistics has little to no value to you, the fantasy player, but overall performances beget changes in player roles and confidence (or lack thereof) in player health. And it’s the contextual nature of the performance that is a net positive or negative for a player’s fantasy value in the upcoming season. To paraphrase a modern-day proverb, Rick Porcello doesn’t have to be faster than the bear—he just has to be faster than Drew Smyly to get a fantasy bump for the 2013 season.
This mini-series will focus on players who have a chance to increase or decrease their fantasy values based on their performances during spring training. And we’ll continue today by looking at some National League hitters.
It’s not easy being a rookie trying to catch Dusty Baker’s eye. Just ask Todd Frazier, who hit .305/.349/.508 with eight homers and 32 RBI in 46 games while Joey Votto was sidelined because of knee surgery, and then found himself right back behind Scott Rolen on the depth chart upon Votto’s return. And that’s the Scott Rolen who had a 716 OPS in 2012.
Of course, the Dusty Baker effect would be less important if Mesoraco was making an impact on the field in 2012. In 54 games, Mesoraco hit .212 with five homers and 14 RBI. In fact, his performance was so disappointing to the organization that he was demoted to Triple-A for a spell in late August and was eventually left off the Reds’ post-season roster. However, despite the struggles, there were some small, positive signs at the plate. Mesoraco’s 17.9 percent strikeout rate and 9.2 percent walk rate were both better than his career minor-league marks (18.2% and 9.1%, respectively).
Mesoraco enters spring training not only as the backup to Ryan Hanigan, but also facing a competition with Miguel Olivo for a roster spot. Yes, that Miguel Olivo. As things stand, he’s not worth drafting in any one-catcher leagues, outside of deep NL-only formats. Even in two-catcher leagues, he’s nothing more than a flier. However, if Mesoraco can show enough offensively and defensively during the spring, he could work himself into at least an even timeshare with Hanigan—which would make owning him a much more attractive proposition.