February 15, 2013
Five to Watch
American 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 start by looking at some American League hitters.
The 24-year old Cuban import hasn’t had much success at the major-league level so far (he’s hit .204 with no homers and three steals in 54 at-bats), though some of those struggles can be attributed to his usage. After all, he’s accumulated a total of 60 plate appearances, despite being on the Rangers’ roster for 111 days between 2011 and 2012.
It’s been a very different story in the minor leagues, however. In 260 plate appearances at Triple-A in 2012, Martin hit .359/.422/.610 with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases. While those numbers are certainly enhanced by the high-octane offensive environment of the Pacific Coast Leaguethey didn’t come out of thin air. Martin has enough pop and speed to be solidly in the double-digits in both categories, with the ability to hit for average on top of that. It all adds up to a very attractive package for fantasy owners, if he can make the adjustments necessary at the major-league level.
Fortunately for Martin, barring a surprising position change by either Ian Kinsler or Jurickson Profar, the biggest hurdle to every-day playing time in April is 29-year-old career reserve, and fan favorite, Craig Gentry. Gentry did perform admirably in 269 plate appearances in 2012, hitting .304/.367/.392, but his career 650 OPS against right-handed pitching doesn’t bode well for success in a full-time role.