Tag Archive | "Keeper League"

Help Wanted: Six Prospects Coming Soon

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Help Wanted: Six Prospects Coming Soon

Posted on 09 July 2012 by T.J. McDonald

We are now on the brink of the second half of the baseball season and whether you are a team in an existing keeper league looking for the next big thing or  a yearly owner in the thick of the playoff race, the following six prospects projected to be called up after the break could impact any and all fantasy teams.

Starling Marte- CF/RF/LF Pittsburgh Pirates

Jose Tabata‘s recent demotion opens the door for a Starling Marte callup in the near future.  the club promoted Gorkys Hernandez  to replace Tabata but Hernandez is thought by most industry insiders to be nothing more than a stop gap until Marte is ready for the big  leagues.  Marte has recently played in right field, left field and center field the past week for the Indianapolis Indians, Pittsburgh’s AAA afflite. Marte’s natural position is center field but with Andrew McCutchen locked in center for the forseeable future Marte’s transition to right or left is needed to open at spot for him on the big league club.  With Marte playing right or left and McCutchen in center the hopes of Pittsburgh finally becoming a winning franchise again become that much more promising. Marte is batting .291 with a .846 OPS 9HRs & 18 SBs on the year. projected call up shortly after the all-star break.

Wil Myers- RF Kansas City Royals

Wil Myers has been on fire this year in the minors with a minor league leading 27 HRs over both AA and AAA,  and .315 & 14 HRs in the AAA Pacific Coast League. Which however is generally know as a hitter friendly league.  The key question with Myers, who’s game seems ready for the big leagues, is does the power translate to the next level? He only had 5 HR in 2009, 14 HRs in 2010 & 8 HR in 2011. Whuile that may give some doubts, it may just be that his game has reached its potential this year.  Jeff Franceour as well as the pending health of Lorenzo Cain, currently on a rehab assignment, are blocking the potential call up of Myers.  The Kansas City Royals are rumored to be shopping Franceour which would immediately open a spot for Myers with the big league club. Projected call up Late July or early August

Nick Franklin- SS Seattle Mariners

Nick Franklin was recently promoted to AAA at the same time another highly rated Mariner’s prospect was, starting pitcher prospect Danny Hutlzen.  Franklin could possibly play Short stop, second base or third base but projects at short stop long term.  He was hitting .329 with 9 SB and a .349 OBP in AA but has struggled in his short time in AAA since his call up.  In 66 ABs in AAA he has hit only .227 with a .311 OBP so he does have some work to do before he takes his game to the next level.  Projected call up September

Danny Hultzen- SP Seattle Mariners

Recently promoted to AAA at same time as Nick Franklin.  Has so far struggled a little in AAA, 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA, 15 SO & 12 BB in 12.0 IP.  Was dominate in AA however, 8-3 1.19 ERA 10 earned runs 79 SO 32 BB in 75.1 IP.  Projected call up August. Much like another highly rated pitching prospect Trevor Bauer who recently has made the jump to the big leagues, be leery of rough initial starts with walks being a possible issue.

Tyler Skaggs- SP Arizona Diamondbacks

Recently promoted to AAA. is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA, 6 SO & 2 BB in two starts at AAA. Has a combined 3.05 ERA, 77 SO & 23 BB in AA & AAA. Had 9.17 K/9 ratio in AA.  Projected call up September at the latest with only Joe Saunders currently coming back from a shoulder injury & Josh Collmenter, who is moving to long relief once Saunders returns with many thinking that is what Collmenter is best suited for, blocking his promotion to the big leagues. Once Skaggs joins highly rated prospect Trevor Bauer, who recently made his big league debut,  in the rotation the DiamondBacks should have one of the better rotations in baseball for many years to come.

Matt Harvey- SP New York Mets

Currently in AAA with a 7-4 3.39 ERA, 102 SO & 42 BB in 98.1 IP.  Projected callup September. The Mets rotation is currently full with great to decent options in starters 1 through 5 but any injury to a starting pitcher would open a spot for him in the rotation and could lead to an earlier callup.

All of the six prospects above should be up in the second half of the baseball season and whether you are a contending team or a rebuilding one could be valuable additions to any and all fantasy teams.  Feel free to comment in the comment section and be sure to follow me on twitter @FantaszyrTJ for more fantasy baseball news and discussion.

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Drafting From The Dark Side: A Newbie’s View Of First Real Fantasy Action

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Drafting From The Dark Side: A Newbie’s View Of First Real Fantasy Action

Posted on 07 April 2012 by Jeff Coleman

Chapter 1: “The (Clumsy) Arrival Of The Korriban Sith Lords”

As one of the writers for Full Spectrum, and a bit of a baseball / stats nut, I jumped at the chance Daniel offered to be a part of the inaugural FSBB Fantasy Baseball League. I figured it would be a fun and interesting way to interact with my fellow writers and readers, doing something we all feel passionate about. But then it dawned on me.

This would be my first major foray into fantasy baseball. You know, with one’s credibility and heart and knowledge on the line. And since I’m writing for a fantasy baseball site about fantasy baseball…

Hoo’boy.

SO, I decided to do my due diligence and research, looked at some of my normal sites for news and views, and tried to catch the buzz around spring training. But even with all that done, I felt a little under-prepared once March 25th, 5pm rolled around. However, it was too late to turn around at that point… Well, I was the #5 pick of the draft, so I still had time to turn around.

I heard the little jingle that signified it was my turn to pick. Too late now.

So with injury reports in hand (or more appropriately, at my fingertips), a little insider information at my back, and the voice of David Stern in my head…

“With the fifth pick in the 2012 Full Spectrum Fantasy Baseball League, the Korriban Sith Lords select… Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees.”

I hear several of you saying, “Uhm… Jeff…? Wasn’t the Grandy-Man out recently with a sore elbow?” Yes. Yes he was. But not at the time of the draft.

I hear others of you saying, “Jeff…? He’s a Yankee! Why?” These are probably my fellow Indians fans… And the folks that won’t like my second round pick, either.

Granderson is a talent. Good power, above average speed… He’s a run-producer and coming into his own in the peak of his career at age 31. I wouldn’t say keeper league material; the natural fall-off of players is coming soon for him, he has a high number of strikeouts, and his average is a little less than stellar. Overall though, he’s definitely good for a one-year contract for the Sith Lords. Besides… The Yankees, the Evil Empire, Sith Lords. It all makes sense.

Grandy is my Darth Vader.

In the second round, I picked up Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox. Now this is the pick of my top five that I’m dreading down the road. Youk is known for his hitting prowess, hitting around .280 or above his whole career (save his rookie season and last season). Decent RBI numbers and a reasonable K/BB ratio give a solid overall performer. The only nagging thing is that Youk has been a bit of a ‘porcelain god’ the last few seasons. Injuries have robbed him of some time during those crucial peak years, and he’s already banged up this spring (stiff lower back a few days after the draft). To quote ESPN’s fantasy assessment of Youk: “… While the injury risk is still quite prevalent, when he is on the field, Youkilis should perform at his customary levels…”. I would expect a little tail-off of his numbers due to age and normal decline, but the injury bug distresses me. That is the one thing I can see Spring Training being a sign of, as injuries there tend to either affect a player longer, remain nagging all season, or (at worst) re-occur during the season. I’m hoping for the best from Youk (purely for my team’s sake, of course), but am already plotting out an ‘emergency exit strategy’ as we speak.

My first pitcher came in the next round in the guise of Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke. Transitioning from one league to another is usually a pain for a pitcher, having to learn new batters and getting used to not batting (or in this case, now batting). Zack seemed to take it well in stride, posting numbers (16-6, 3.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 19 HR, 201 K, 45 BB) that were comparable to his career averages (10-9, 3.82, 1.26, 16, 142, 41). Greinke was showing signs of steady improvement in Kansas City (save 2010), and I see no reason that Greinke won’t continue that trend with his first year in the NL behind him. Zack is 28, still young;  he bounced back from a fractured rib quite handily in ’10, displaying a resiliency that should keep him in the Brew Crew’s rotation for several full seasons to come. Barring any major arm or elbow injury, he should enjoy continued success at the peak of his career.

A couple of other solid picks in the draft were the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki (Round 5) and Carlos Beltran from the St. Louis Cardinals (Round 9). Ichiro had an atypical off-year batting average wise. At 38 years of age, most fans would probably say that Ichiro is on the verge of becoming a non-factor. However, he was his normal speedster self (40/47 SB), and most of the rest of his offensive production was similar to his career averages with only one game played less. While Ichiro is certainly in the twilight of his career, he is more than capable of touching .300 again, adding in solid production numbers across the board and his trademark speed. Carlos Beltran came back like gangbusters after microfracture surgery, batting .300 overall in 142 games. Beltran played in more games last season than he had since ’08 (161). Another player that has crested his best years, the fact that he played the majority of the season after major surgery gives good hope for continued resiliency and opportunity to produce for the Cards. His overall numbers may diminish, and he is definitely not the running threat he once was, but Carlos is still a viable, solid hitter. The Cards will need a good year out of Beltran to return to playoff contention in the post-Pujols era, and Carlos looks poised to deliver.

While I managed to avoid the “Home Team Syndrome” that new fantasy players can fall into, I did pick up two familiar names to Cleveland Indians fans: Ubaldo Jimenez and Vinnie Pestano. Pestano I have lauded over in two of my previous articles, and was a pretty easy choice to make: I have to back up all my love for the “Bullpen Mafioso”. Ubaldo, however, would seem like a head-scratcher of a choice, given the league and team adjustment after a mid-season trade, diminished velocity on his fastball, and now a looming 5-game suspension from the MLB front offices. Looking at Jimenez in Spring Training this year, he found a good chunk of the speed he had originally “lost”. This bodes well in a pitcher’s park like Progressive Field. Ubaldo also showed a bit for fire and vinegar with the plunk of Troy Tulowitzki in his last spring start. I won’t vilify or condone the action itself, but I will say that it is nice to see someone with a fire in them on the Indians squad. That kind of thing is contagious, and was something the team lacked a bit of last year as they were plummeting out of the AL Central race. Jimenez won’t be a leader in the clubhouse, but I feel he will be a much-needed spark and a more than serviceable pitcher. Not league-best, but mid-3 ERA with 150+ Ks.

Here is the complete rundown of how my draft evolved:

Pick #5 (Round #1) Curtis Granderson (CF, NYY)
Pick #28 (Round #2) Kevin Youkilis (3B, BOS)
Pick #37 (Round #3) Zack Greinke (SP, MIL)
Pick #60 (Round #4) Chris Young (CF, ARI)
Pick #69 (Round #5) Ichiro Suzuki (RF, SEA)
Pick #92 (Round #6) Howard Kendrick (2B, LAA)
Pick #101 (Round #7) Ubaldo Jimenez (SP, CLE)
Pick #124 (Round #8) Neil Walker (2B, PIT)
Pick #133 (Round #9) Carlos Beltran (RF, STL)
Pick #156 (Round #10) Brandon Beachy (SP, ATL)
Pick #165 (Round #11) Jordan Walden (RP, LAA)
Pick #188 (Round #12) Adam Dunn (1B, CWS)
Pick #197 (Round #13) Daniel Bard (RP, BOS)
Pick #220 (Round #14) Yadier Molina (C, STL)
Pick #229 (Round #15) Vinnie Pestano (RP, CLE)
Pick #252 (Round #16) Sean Rodriguez (SS, TB)
Pick #261 (Round #17) Alex Rios (CF, CWS)
Pick #284 (Round #18) Chris Davis (3B, BAL)
Pick #293 (Round #19) J.D. Martinez (LF, HOU)
Pick #316 (Round #20) Scott Downs (RP, LAA)
Pick #325 (Round #21) Will Venable (RF, SD)
Pick #348 (Round #22) Fernando Salas (RP, STL)
Pick #357 (Round #23) Alfredo Aceves (RP, BOS)
Pick #380 (Round #24) Chris Capuano (SP, LAD)
Pick #389 (Round #25) Brad Peacock (SP, OAK)

 

Overall not too bad of a draft. I only had to make one post-draft move (Brad Peacock didn’t make the Oakland roster, so he was dropped in favor of Matt Harrison, starting pitcher from Texas). But I could always use a little draft grading.

Any pick-ups that look suspect? Any sleepers I stumbled upon? Give me a comment below, or hit me up at Twitter at @JCPronkFan48!

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Finding Keepers: Cleveland Indians

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Finding Keepers: Cleveland Indians

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Jeff Coleman

The Cleveland Indians are as much of an enigma in the fantasy baseball world as they are on the real baseball diamond. There are players that show enough flashes of talent to give fantasy GMs hope, but wind up either bowing out with injuries (Grady Sizemore), pure lack of overall production (Matt LaPorta), or some other off-the-field ‘excitement’ (Fausto Carmona / Roberto Hernandez).

This is enough to make any fantasy GM wonder: Are there any keeper-worthy prospects on the Tribe roster? The reality of the Indians’ piecemeal situation, especially in the outfield, would make the answer seem like a ‘no’. However, there are a few players that I would recommend for extended looks in a Keeper League.

  • RP Vinnie Pestano – It is difficult to judge a player off of only one year of Major League numbers, but Pestano was honestly dominant for a majority of the 2011 season. Sporting a sub-3.00 ERA, sub-1.20 WHIP, and around a 3.0 K/BB ratio throughout his career, both Majors and Minors, Pestano has shown a consistency that is very promising. He is also the best candidate on the Indians staff to poach saves from closer Chris Perez should the need arise. Pestano’s current ADP of 241.96 might make eyebrows raise, and his rankings in the “Big 3″ fantasy sites (ESPN #286, out of the top 100 RP on Yahoo!, out of the top 300 total on CBS) may leave owners wondering if my sanity has left me. However, I see Pestano growing into a solid, reliable, league-defining set-up man that will be worth setting aside a roster spot for.
  • RF Shin-Soo Choo – A tumultuous 2011 campaign seemed to have Choo on the ropes; off-the-field issues, injuries, and contract talk were predominant, and as a result his stats suffered greatly. A quiet off-season (and a stint with the South Korean Army) later, Choo seems more humbled, wiser, and ready to get his focus back onto baseball. Choo, even nearing the age of 30, has the potential to continue as a consistent .290/75/20/75/20 5×5 threat for several years, and the Indians will be relying on him heavily to produce if they have a chance in the AL Central. With an ADP of 63.50, and relatively high Big 3 rankings  (ESPN #75, Yahoo! #9 OF, CBS #75), a lot of folks are figuring for Choo to bounce back to the player of old.
  • SS Asdrubal Cabrera – Most people were surprised by AsCab’s power surge last year (25 HR, 92 RBI), but lost in that was another solid hitting (.273 BA) and running (17/22 SB) season. While we shouldn’t expect another power-laden season in 2012, the Indians will be expecting him to fill a major contributing and leadership role with the team this year. A line of .275/70/15/70/15 in your 5×5 league is not out of the question. Many folks have seen the low risk/high reward of the Tribe’s shortstop; Cabrera’s ADP sits at 78.96 (ahead of Rollins and Jeter), and the Big 3 set him as follows: ESPN #63, Yahoo! #5 SS, and CBS #86.
  • 2B Jason Kipnis – The Twitter hashtag #WeAreAllKipnesses made an appearance in the 2011 season when Jason Kipnis was called up to the Indians in July. The rookie wasn’t an instant hit, but put together an amazing month of August on the way to a final 5×5 of .272/24/7/19/5. Obviously using a keeper pick on anyone without a proven Big League record is inherently high-risk. But like Pestano, Kipnis has proven himself solid and consistent in his minor league career. With the chances high for the starting 2B job out of Spring Training, Kipnis’ upside is well worth the risk. His current ADP is 166.32, good enough to be in the top 15 in 2B league-wide. The Big 3 are equally kind, ranking him at #170 at ESPN, the #3 2B at Yahoo!, and #245 at CBS.

The Indians have a lot of decent pieces… But there are very few that will likely be breaking into Opening Day and producing consistently enough for recommendation. Plus there is the fact that the years past have proven that the weirdest things can happen in the City By The Lake. The above 4 players I see as key (and near untouchable) cogs in the quest to return the Indians to the dominance they had in the mid- to late-90′s.

Do you agree or disagree with my keeper recommendations? I’d love to get the conversations going with Tribe fans and non-fans alike! Go ahead and comment below, or feel free to follow me on Twitter (@JCPronkFan48) and continue the conversation there, too.

NOTE: All ADP values are from Mock Draft Central as of March 26, 2012.

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Finding Keepers:Toronto Blue Jays

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Finding Keepers:Toronto Blue Jays

Posted on 21 March 2012 by Gary Marchese

The Toronto Blue Jays are probably a better team then they seem.  They happen to play in the toughest division in baseball the American League East.  The Blue Jays have been winning 80-85 games which is very good considering they have to take on the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays 19 times a year each.  Here is a look at some guys on their roster who are potential keepers for your fantasy baseball team.

RF Jose Bautista, He is now one of the premier power hitters in the game if not the premier one.  He is a high on base guy also because teams walk him so much.  He wasn’t a fluke two years ago because he followed it up last year.  In the last two years he has hit 97 homeruns.  His best year before the last couple of years was 16 homeruns in one season.  He has also driven in 227 runs and walked 232 times.  Bautista has finally found a home in Toronto and is playing regularly now.

SP Ricky Romero, He is a good young lefty pitcher.  In the last three years he has won 13, 14 and 15 games in that order and lowered his ERA each year.  He had his best year last year when he was 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA.  He is also doing this in the AL East which is impressive.  Romero is a pitcher you would want on your team, any team especially a keeper league.

SS Yunel Escobar has always had a lot of talent.  He started in Atlanta and then was traded to Toronto.  He seems to have settled in as the leadoff hitter there now.  He had a year last year of 290, 11 and 48.  He wont hit many homeruns but has some pop and wont drive in too many runs but he isn’t supposed too.  He will hit for a good average though and has the potential to steal some bases.  I wouldn’t mind building a team around this player.

3B Brett Lawrie is an exciting young player.  We don’t know what he will be yet or his full potential.  He seems to be well on his way though and I wouldn’t want to part with him if he was on my fantasy team.  He made the majors last year and hit 293 with nine homeruns and 25 RBI in 43 games.  He also had a 373 on base percentage.  He looks like a very impressive young man.  I wouldn’t want to part with this guy at all.

Closer Francisco Cordero is a pretty good closer and has been for a while.  He isn’t great but I think you know what your getting with him.  The closer position is important and you want a reliable guy in that position.  If you can’t have Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Papelbon why not a guy like Cordero.  In the last three years he has had 37, 40 and 39 saves.  You can count on getting 35+ saves from him.  His ERA could be in the high twos or low threes but that won’t kill your overall team ERA.

C J.P. Arencibia is a catcher with power.  He hit 23 homeruns last year with 78 RBI.  In the minor leagues in 2010 he hit 32 homeruns.  If your looking for power from the catching position then I would keep him around on my team.  If your looking for average your not going to get it as he only hit 219 last year.

If there is anyone on this list that you feel I have missed please let me know.  You can comment on the article and if you have twitter you can reach me @gmarchesej.  Thanks for reading as always and I hope you continue to enjoy my colleagues and I finding keepers articles.

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DOs And DONTs: Texas Rangers

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DOs And DONTs: Texas Rangers

Posted on 12 March 2012 by Jeff Coleman

Greetings once again, baseball and fantasy fans! In this edition of DO’s And DON’Ts, we will be taking a look at the AL Champion Texas Rangers. Coming off a stellar run in the 2011 Regular Season, the boys from Arlington ran into the tenacious St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic. Playing tooth and nail with their opponents, the Rangers ended up just short of capping a season of hope and promise with the World Series title they failed to nab in 2010.

Some folks like Texas more than others...

The Rangers have made some interesting moves in the off-season, and some pieces of their puzzle have shuffled off to elsewhere (apparently C.J. Wilson, pictured above, didn’t find enough to like about Texas). But we are hoping to sort through the craziness and give you some people to play, and people to maybe not like so much:

  • DON’T look for Yu Darvish to be the next Cy Young (instantly).

The Japanese phenom was the Rangers’ biggest pick-up in the offseason as they tried to offset the losses of Wilson and Brandon Webb to free agency. The (Hokkaido) Nippon Ham Fighters’ ace put up straight amazing numbers in his Pacific League career, tallying over 1000 Ks in five years, winning no less than 12 games, and averaging an ERA of 1.72 and a WHIP of 0.890. Numbers like that would be enough to make any team thrilled to have his services, and Texas got the luck of the draw. However, the track record for pitchers coming over from Japan is spotty at best. Darvish has the raw talent and seasoning to be a multiple All-Star caliber talent. The thing he does NOT have is Major League experience. The talent levels ARE different from Japan to the States, and it will take Darvish some time to establish a repertoire against MLB-style batters. The Rangers will likely throw him into the rotation immediately out of need and talent, and he will struggle to start as he gets into the groove. If someone has the stomach to handle the downs as well as the ups (especially in a keeper league), Yu Darvish will come into his own and be a major boon for them.

This one is a little hard to read, but there are several facets to Josh Hamilton’s potential year. He dealt with a broken arm (ouch) in April and May of last year, but recovered well. He had surgery to repair a sports hernia (again ouch) this past November, but stated at Rangers camp recently that the rehab went well. He is coming off of a second relapse in his substance abuse recovery earlier this year, but seems to have found renewed strength, drive, and determination. Plus, he is coming into his free agency season, but has stated that he will not discuss his contract once the Regular Season starts. It’s not hard to cheer for a guy to succeed in the face of so much chaos, but it is hard to see where there might be a bright side. Purely stats-wise, Hamilton’s numbers in 2011 were a few shades lower than his career averages, but were certainly no low water marks: Sporting an OPS of .882, a BAbip (Batting Average on balls in play) of .319, and slugging 25 HR in a year where you miss the majority of the first two months is nothing short of eye-catching. You have to dig deep to find a statistical flaw in Hamilton’s game; his infield pops have been on a consistent rise in his career (7% last season, up from 5% in 2010), and his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 3.6 and RAR (Runs Above Replacement) of 38 were nearly halved from 2010, a campaign that saw him have only a handful more plate appearances (571) than 2011 (538). Stats like those are a long way to go to find a vulnerability in someone’s game. The bigger deciding factor this year for Hamilton’s performance will be his mental character and toughness. Will the off-field distractions upend him? Will he be able to keep his focus on baseball with contact talks looming? I will be pulling for Hamilton to persevere, but I have seen stranger things happen.

  • DON’T expect a big year from Ian Kinsler, but DON’T be too surprised by one either.

Kinsler is one of those talents that you feel hasn’t come into his own, mostly due to injuries suffered in almost each of his six seasons in the Majors (he wasn’t put on the DL at all last year, but was on paternity leave briefly in June for the birth of his second child). The surface number of a .255 BA from last year did not show that he took advantage of being on the field for the most games in a season (155) in his career, but career numbers in runs (121), total bases (296) and walks (89) show some promise. Kinsler is tough to pin down; he has not put together two back-to-back seasons where he has played over 125 games. His power numbers seem to peak when his average is low, and when he bats better, he has less punch. His game is very Jekyll / Hyde, or maybe more appropriately Bruce Banner / Incredible Hulk, and there seems to be very little consistency. However, digging deeper, his OPS has stayed relatively steady (anywhere from .794 to last year’s .832, with the .893 from ’08 as the outlying stat), and his WAR / RAR numbers have been largely similar after his rookie year. It is hard to say which Kinsler we’ll get this year (by the stats, he’s due for a higher average / lower power season), but last season proved that he can play just about the entire year. Another full, DL-free season could start normalizing his numbers and give a more accurate fantasy picture of Kinsler’s worth. All that being said, he’s a definite draft in the earlier rounds, and will provide some statistical boosts. He might hurt you in some categories, but it is that hint and hope of the five-tool player that makes him an attractive draft target.

  • DO take a flyer on Adrian Beltre, but DON’T mortgage the farm on him.

Beltre is one of those players that has shown consistency in the past, scattered with flashes of astounding brilliance and holes in his game that people learned to accept. Blessed with B+ / A- power with 310 career HRs, he’s also shown little patience as power hitters tend to, “sporting” 1219 Ks and a K/BB ratio of 2.24 through his 14 seasons. His early career showed glimpses of secondary tools in his arsenal with his above-average speed, though that is starting to fade later in his career. His defense is a relative liability, though that won’t factor in most fantasy leagues. The bigger concern in my eyes is an inconsistent batting average. His career average is .276, but he’s hit below that in nine out of 14 seasons, including six seasons of .265 or below. Your heavy power hitters still should have an above-average… Uhm… Average; a consistent .275 makes just that many more opportunities for good things to happen. At a 38% XBH career clip, Beltre has a very good tendency to turn hits into big trouble for opposing pitchers. If he could perform like he has the past two seasons in average (.321 in 2010, .296 in 2011), Adrian Beltre will be a HUGE boon for the Rangers. Age and durability are a key, but he has said he’s feeling good, with no lingering effects from the bruised knee that he sustained in last year’s postseason. If the Rangers have Beltre’s services for over 135 games this season, they will be a beast to handle in the AL.

Ulnar Collateral Ligament reconstruction used to be a fickle thing. In 1974, when Dr. Frank Jobe first performed the procedure on the slick, sinker-balling southpaw known as Tommy John. The chances of a pitcher recovering enough to ever throw again were 1-in-100. As of ’09, the procedure has a complete recovery rate of anywhere between 85 and 92 percent. With a combination of increased conditioning and the pure fact that there is a strong ‘ligament’ in place as opposed to the degrading UCL, most pitchers find that they’re able to throw close to what they could at the peak of their careers after the approximately year-long recovery. Joe Nathan is now 2 years out, and he is ready to get back to business. Last year was obviously an off year for Nathan, the months of April and August being rather damning in the final picture. But still, the (career-wise) anomalous 4.84 ERA was netted with 14-17 saves converted, 43 Ks, a .222 average against, and only walking 14. Looking into the deep stat lines, you can see a 79% contact rate (that includes hits AND fouls), a sharp jump from the 67% rate in ’09. Also evident are a dip in his K ratio (32.8% to 22.5%), a jump in his extra base ratio (6.3% to 9.4%), and also his balls-in-play ratio (55% to 64%) is elevated. This seems to indicate that Nathan was still finding his stride after recovery, or that maybe he was coming back too soon. I firmly believe that Joe Nathan is in-line to get back to his better days; going to a team where he has already been told that he’s the closer without a shadow of a doubt is good for one’s psyche. He has the tools and experience to pitch lights out. With the Tommy John well-behind him, and a full off-season and Spring Training in the realm of “normal”, I expect Nathan to hit the Arlington mound running and not look back.

As I stated in my last article about the Indians, don’t look at this as a Bible to evaluate the talent of the Rangers for your own fantasy roster. Only the fantasy GM knows best what their needs and play style are. However, look at this article (and the other DO’s And DON’Ts articles our excellent writers have published) as “food for thought” and a general guide of insights.

Did I miss a spring stud that looks to bust out in a big way? Did I tout someone that is looking to hit the skids, or worse: the waiver wire? Go ahead and hit the comments below, or find me on Twitter at @JCPronkFan48.

(As a side note, I would like to send my heartfelt sympathies and blessings to the victims of last Friday’s rash of storms and tornadoes. I managed to volunteer in Henryville, IN as a representative of the Air Force Reserves on Saturday the 3rd, and it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Baseball fans, if you can help these unfortunates in any way at all, please do so… Any little bit helps.)

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