The merits of Jason Kipnis, Ian Desmond, and Brian McCann as keepers are debated in this week's Reaper.
Brian McCann| Atlanta Braves Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): Fringe NL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
McCann had a down year in 2012 but still managed to reach 20 home runs for the fifth straight season. He retained his plate discipline but finished with an ugly .230 average. His BABIP was well below his career mark, yet his batted ball data fell right in line with his norms. This would seem to indicate he was unlucky last year and should rebound this year, but it isn't that cut and dry.
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Injury disappointments Jacoby Ellsbury and Jayson Werth highlight this week's Reaper.
Jacoby Ellsbury| Boston Red Sox
Shallow (30 Keepers): Fringe Medium (60 Keepers): Yes Deep (90 Keepers): Yes AL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Ellsbury followed up his monstrous 2011 season with a shoulder-subluxed and ineffective 2012 that burned those expecting a repeat. All told, he played 74 games, batted .271, hit four homers, and stole 14 bags. Now that the price has come way down, a healthy Ellsbury is an intriguing asset for 2013.
A late start and slow fade kept Todd Frazier from doing better in the Rookie of the Year balloting, but the Reds’ third baseman still had a fine season, earning $13 in NL-only leagues and $2 in mixed leagues. From the start of May to the end of August, Frazier hit .290/.347/.540 with 18 homers in 369 plate appearances. Among players with at least 450 plate appearances for the season, his .225 overall ISO ranked him 27th overall and sixth among third base qualifiers.
The Pirates and Red Sox closer situations get the first Reaper treatment of 2013.
Jason Grilli| Pirates Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): No Super Deep (200 Keepers): Fringe
So much has happened since our last installment of Keeper Reaper: Relievers. Christmas and New Year’s came and went. The fiscal cliff was (sort of) avoided. And, of equal importance to all of that, the Pirates traded their closer and named a new one.
How worthy of your keeper slots are Jason Kubel, Corey Hart, and Coco Crisp?
Jason Kubel| Arizona Diamondbacks
Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): No Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Owning Jason Kubel last year was a lot like being the aptly named (since this is a baseball article) Tom Hanson from 500 Days of Summer. If you jump between different days of his season, one day you’re running gleefully through IKEA but on the next you discover the sink is broken, all your sinks are broken. Moving from plumbing back to baseball, for Kubel this means his season was very bipolar. The week of July 15 he was the hottest hitter in the game while swatting five homers, yet in August and September he couldn’t manage to hit above .200.
2012 surprise Aoki joins an on-the-move Hunter and Victorino in this week's Reaper.
Norichika Aoki | Milwaukee Brewers Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
In his first MLB season, the 30-year-old Aoki surprised almost everyone with 10 homers, 30 steals, and a .290 average. His end-of-year line was rated 90th overall by our PFM, turning a nice profit for those who invested a buck or late-round pick to own him. Despite being expected to fill a fourth outfielder role for Milwaukee when signed, Aoki managed to carve out 588 plate appearances for himself with his productive play. Beyond normal aging concerns for any player past 30 though, there is reason to be skeptical that Aoki can retain his top 100 status for next year.
Let’s focus for a minute. We are talking about 12 starts. At least with breakout stars like Chris Sale and Wade Miley it was a full season of work; both topped 190 innings. Medlen threw 138 in all, just 84 of which came as a starter. Mind you, they were an elite 84 innings, but that doesn’t mean you start relying on him as you would a Jake Peavy or James Shields, let alone a Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw. The equation changes when we get into auction leagues because he is almost assuredly a cheap asset, but for the purposes of our exercise here, we’re talking straight draft where there aren’t differing costs.
Dan takes a look at four more fringe-keepable relievers in this week's Reaper.
Brandon League | Dodgers
Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): Fringe Super Deep (200 Keepers): Fringe
Brandon League, newly rich and the Dodgers’ undisputed closer, probably feels pretty fortunate right now. By midseason 2012 (his walk year), he was toiling in middle relief in a no-name Mariners bullpen after being demoted in favor of Tom Wilhemsen, an obscure 28-year-old rookie. Then, he was fortuitously bailed out of that bleak situation when he was acquired by the Dodgers. It was one of many moves Los Angeles made during the 2012 season that foreshadowed what has become an offseason in which they’ve spent lavishly—including on the likes of League, who inked a fat three-year deal before his market ever really took shape.
Next season, Youkilis changes from one set of pinstripes to another, a move that will have Sox fans of both colors, and even Yankee fans, trying to adjust to the change. For fantasy owners, however, a far more important question is whether the Greek God of Walks will change from the player who earned just over a buck in Medium leagues last season.
Old standbys Neil Walker and Alexei Ramirez join young studs Starlin Castro and Jurickson Profar in this week's Reaper.
Neil Walker | Pittsburgh Pirates Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): No NL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Walker won't find his name mentioned with the elite at the second base position, but he's a solid option at the keystone. He brings a well-rounded 5x5 line to the table, though he's not an efficient base-stealer and shouldn't be counted on to steal more than a handful of bags.
Cespedes, Reddick, A-Jax, and Granderson make up Paul's first batch of keeper candidates.
Yoenis Cespedes | Oakland A’s
Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): Yes Deep (90 Keepers): Yes AL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Cespedes, Oakland’s big free-agent splash of last offseason, debuted in the spring to a multitude of swirling questions. Would his Cuban League stats translate to the majors? Does his viral training video of him doing four-foot squat jumps substantiate his baseball abilities? Is he really the perfect combination of speed and power? Fairly early into the season it became clear that the answer to all of these questions was, indeed, yes. By the end of April, he was batting .250 and had already tallied five homers and four steals, proving himself a valuable fantasy asset.
Michael kicks off his keeper analysis with a look at corner infielders involved in notable offseason deals, including the redoubtable David Wright and the eminently doubtable James Loney.
With the Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror, the Hot Stove League continues to crank up, and big deals seem to appear every day in Transaction Analysis. To start our own Hot Stove League, I’m playing Keeper Reaper catch-up by looking at some of the bigger deals that went down during our postseason fantasy hiatus. Each of the keeper league designations is linked to a PFM page with 2012 dollar values for that size league.
If you’re interested in hearing about a corner infielder or designated hitter, please leave a suggestion in the comments section.