Junior-circuit bats to keep an eye on during the second half of spring training.
Ah, spring training. That glorious time of year when we do things like get excited about Lonnie Chisenhall’s on-base percentage (he’s going to break out this year, I thought last year). But while paying attention to storylines related to health and position battles is important, it’s also important to use this time to start looking toward April.
The first couple of months of the regular season are an important time for building your second-half strategy. By now, most fantasy teams are being drafted, and once you’ve had a chance to evaluate how your draft went and determine what you expect the strengths and weaknesses of your squad will be, the next step in the dance is figuring out ways you might be able to leverage those strengths to address your weaknesses during the season. I like to use April and May as an open audition to figure out which players will make the most sense to try to acquire come summertime, and to that end, spring training can be a good time to start building a list of players to monitor. Here are five hitters that I’d just as soon hold off on drafting for the time being, but who may be worth a closer look out of the gate for targeted help as the season rolls on.
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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
Down 2-0 but back at home, the Tigers need a win to avoid an elimination game.
The Giants held serve at AT&T Park, winning the first two games of the series by thrashing Justin Verlander behind Barry Zito in the opener and riding Madison Bumgarner in a duel with Doug Fister on Thursday night. Now, it’s up to the Tigers to take at least two of three in Detroit to send the series back to San Francisco. Step one is winning tonight’s Game Three, which may hinge on one offering by each starter that is crucial to his success.
The tater trots for April 9: Pablo dances, LaHair blasts one to Sheffield, St. Louis' trio of shots, and De Aza's leadoff beauty.
The allure of Opening Week is finally gone. While some teams are still celebrating (or awaiting) their home openers, others are already back to midseason form. In Houston, 17,095 paid to see the hometown boys beat the Braves. In Oakland, the stellar Royals/A's matchup only brought out 10,054 paid attendees. One of those is bound to change on Tuesday, as the Astros plan to hold their first throwback game of the year. In honor of their 50th anniversary, the team will be wearing old Houston Colt .45s jerseys, smoking gun and all.
The tater trots for August 2: five multi-home run games and a couple of notable shots in the Cubs game. The home run call for Jose Reyes' shot is something special.
Yesterday, I made a special note of the four multiple home run days hit across the league on Monday. Well, if four was special on Monday, then the five on Tuesday must be even more special. Of course, there were forty-two home runs hit in total on Tuesday as opposed to the twenty-six on Monday, so maybe that dilutes it somehow. I doubt Ryan Howard, Alfonso Soriano, Garrett Jones, Mark Teixeira, and Omar Infante would care, though.
Though some players look like absolute busts at the beginning of the season, could they hold value at the end of the year?
Jose Lopez | FLA | 2B/3B: Lopez was considered a sleeper pick by many coming into 2011, but has been a complete bust thus far; he had a terrible stint with the Rockies, who released him a couple weeks ago. He recently signed on with the Marlins, though, and after spending just four days in the minors, he was called back to the Show yesterday.
While there’s no denying he has been a drain on fantasy teams this year, this is a guy who had posted double-digit homers five years running coming into 2011, and really the only truly out-of-line marks from his stint in Colorado were his BABIP (which is highly unstable) and, to a smaller extent, his power.
Hot Spots begins its offseason moves coverage with three Marlins-related names.
As fellow Hot Spotter Rob McQuown alluded to yesterday, Hot Spots is back in the offseason to cover some of the various moving parts of Hot Stove season and how they might affect your fantasy teams. Moving parts means more to fantasy players than just a new team name in front of their favorite stars. It also can bring more (or less) playing time, increased opportunities for success, and all sorts of other considerations that fantasy players should keep in mind. We hope that we can provide that for you this offseason.