In the debut edition of their new column, Ben and Craig start a tour of the best young players in each division.
There are plenty of reasons why people love dynasty leagues. To some, they do a better job of simulating the feeling of being a GM, as your decisions have ramifications beyond a single season. They foster closer connections between owners, given the sizeable time commitment, and add an element of reading your opponents, too. They require expansive knowledge of a wide group of MLB and MiLB players, and they require a relentless attention to detail throughout the season.
Yes, dynasty leagues are growing in popularity, and as they grow it becomes important for us to deliver content that caters specifically to dynasty league owners. And that’s why Craig and I will seek to put aside our differences once a week in order to impart the collective wisdom that we’ve siphoned off of others and would like to pass off as our own.
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The senior-circuit bats might provide nice value on draft day.
Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
Rizzo’s 2013 season boils down to a lack of singles. He notched 65 extra-base hits and generated a healthy 11 percent walk rate, but those types of things get mitigated in a big way fantasy-wise when you hit .233. His ADP is typically in the 100 range, and I think he can outperform that position this year. He has his issues with left-handed pitchers, but he also posted a .258 BABIP, which I think points to at least a bit of bad luck. If he gets the average in the .260 range, he makes a big jump in value considering the power potential. I think it’s a jump he can make considering the plate discipline and manageable 18.4 percent strikeout rate.
Rizzo is being judged off of what can only be described as a disappointing 2013, and that’s fair. But that assessment also creates an attractive value pick in the middle rounds of drafts.
A look at the value picks at the keystone for your drafts and auctions this spring.
Once viewed as one of fantasy’s most shallow positions, second base has enjoyed a multi-year run as a fantasy-friendlier position thanks to a mix of established stars and new young talent creeping into the game. That’s reflected in the staff choices below, as a nice mix of players young and old comprise this collection of second baseman we think you should target in 2014.
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
Matt Carptenter is an interesting case in that he's likely to regress some next year but I doubt that his numbers will fall off drastically enough to drop him below guys like Ben Zobrist and Ian Kinsler in 2B rankings. I doubt he scores 126 runs again but Carpenter holds a very solid 10 percent walk rate and he did put up 73 extra-base hits in 2013. The lineup behind him is very solid as well, and he has the opportunity to tease 100 runs scored again. He's not above Cano, Pedroia, or Kipnis, but he should be a very valuable 2B again this year. —Mauricio Rubio
Petco Park can turn most any pitcher into a fantasy asset, but the Padres' position-player depth limits the appeal of their bats.
The best thing the Padres have going for them in real life is depth. Of course that just clouds the picture when it comes to fantasy. Still, the Padres have a reservoir of talent at the minor-league level, with enough of it bubbling toward the surface that they are of interest to deep leaguers. They have enough useful pieces at the major league level to be of interest to shallow players as well, with Chase Headley’s resurgence and Carlos Quentin’s good health being the keys to a lineup that struggled to produce counting stats in 2013. While one of those things will be sure to fail us going forward (Quentin’s health), the other has a good chance of staying true.
A relatively quiet offseason means that the Padres aren’t drastically different than they were before. The additions of Joaquin Benoit and Seth Smith add depth (there’s that word again), but lack impact. There were no waves made about the closer role, and the outfield picture only got murkier. Health will be paramount though, as a seemingly inordinate number of position players, pitchers and prospects have seen the disabled list in recent years. Still though, this Padres team seems the same as previous incarnations, with much of the talent (and fantasy value) being provided by the pitching staff.
A look at players who might be available to help your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres
A June groin injury followed by an awful July caused a number of standard mixed-league owners to run for the exits, as Gyorko is only owned in about 29% of ESPN leagues. If he’s available in your mixer, snatch him up. Even without taking the injuries into account, since May, Gyorko has been an offensive force. His ISO in May, June, and August has been no lower than .242. In other words, Gyorko is a legit source of power at a middle infield position. Unless you’re in a points league that penalizes severely for hitter strikeouts, there’s no way Gyorko should be a free agent. —Mike Gianella
Baseball has finally arrived! And so has the much-anticipated Top 101 prospects list put together by Professor Parks and BP's minor league crew. With the opening of Spring Training, we get a mix of prospects from this list, less talented minor leaguers who still could have a big league future, and established veterans and superstars showing up in the same box score on a daily basis. I'll be keeping you updated on the performances of the more notable minor leaguers. By mid-March, many of the best prospects will be back in minor league camp getting much-needed at-bats. Some, however, have a legitimate shot at breaking camp with the big league club, a few will open some eyes before starting the season in the minors, and some could disappoint. Here's what's happened so far through the first four days worth of games ...
Ten NL Prospects Who Could Start the Season in the major leagues.
Yesterday,I listed ten American League prospects that will be competing for a big league job in Spring Training and have a legitimate chance to start the season in the majors. Here's a look at ten National League prospects.
Interesting backstories dominate after this weekend's games, with surprise performances, defensive shifts, reclaimed prospect status, disappointing contracts, and accelerated big-league arrivals all on display.
Matt Barnes, RHP, Red Sox (High-A Salem)
Throughout the entire month of April, it was pretty clear that Barnes didn't belong in Low-A, as the 2011 first-round pick allowed just one run over 26 2/3 innings while striking out 42. On Saturday, Barnes showed that he might not belong in High-A either, as he whiffed 12 over six four-hit innings in his Carolina League debut. Just as important as the numbers, Barnes has started to break out the secondary stuff, as after relying primarily on a fastball that can touch 97 in Greenville, he was generating swings and misses with a curveball that has been an inconsistent pitch in the past. His ceiling hasn't changed yet, but his timetable is quickly accelerating.