Monday, March 24, 2014

Fantasy baseball sleepers and busts: Catchers and First Base

Once and Future Depressed Guy
I don't know about you, but whenever I read one of these columns, and the writer feels compelled to tell me about their personal history or how Average Draft Position and relative value is a thing... I just feel like I'm in a restaurant, and the waiter is telling me about their recent surgical procedure, or that they have forks. In other words, I Don't Care and Yes, Fine, Stop Telling Me That Water Is Wet. This will be a series so that the posts don't get crazy long. So, without any ado...  

Sleepers - Catcher  

Jason Castro, Houston. Castro's young, has hit in the minors, and should hit in the middle of the order of an almost has to be better lineup this year. It wasn't too long that people talked about how Houston was a bandbox, and while I still suspect he's going to lack for RBI opportunities, there's a reasonable chance of Top 6 production from a no-name guy.  

Devin Mesoraco, Cincy. Sort of a post-hype situation here; catchers tend to come to offense later. The park is still a bandbox, and with Dusty Baker and his tendency towards backup catcher fetish work gone, Mesoraco might see 110+ starts in a good situation.  

Alex Avila, Detroit. Just a feel thing here, and you really aren't going to need him outside of the deepest of leagues, but it wasn't that long ago that Avila was an All-Star and huge value due to his surprising power. If he's finally healthy again, he could surprise, and the Tiger offense is going to be insanely productive this year.  

Busts - Catcher 

Evan Gattis, Braves. I don't need to tell you about BABIP here, right? Suffice it to say that Gattis started the year hot, but didn't finish that way, and now has the FT job behind the plate. With Atlanta's rotation in disarray and the youngster feeling the heat to take over for Brian McCann, there's too much risk for my blood.  

Yadier Molina, Cards. Last year says career to me. The Cards are going to coast this year, and there will be more ABs spread among bench players. Molina's still a fine option, but he's not going to be as good this year, and you'll be able to get similar or better numbers (Salvador Perez, Wilson Ramos) later, and for a lot less.

 Buster Posey, Giants. He's the best in real baseball, but can't quite stay healthy, and with Brandon Belt finally emerging, the volume starts at 1B aren't going to happen. Don't pay for his defense and leadership.  

Sleepers - First Base 

 Billy Butler, Royals. I'm aggro on KC this year, and BB will be in the middle of a lot of good things this year. Coming off last year's disappointing 62 Runs, 15 HRs and 82 RBIs, people will forget about the top tier OBP and BA. I'm thinking he gets to 80 / 25 / 95, which in this age, is downright tasty.  

Justin Morneau, Rockies. He's never going to be what he was, but there's something a little ludicrous about the everyday first baseman in the best hitters' park in baseball going undrafted. He's still just 33, too, and this will be the first season where his home park will help him. If you can use 80 / 20 / 80 with a .270 average, grab him late.

Jose Abreu, White Sox. This isn't a case of grabbing an untested and erratic electric bat from Cuba, a la Puig and Cespedes; Abreu is 27 already and a legend in his native land. He's also going to be an every day player on the South Side (Paul Konerko's ABs are charity, and Adam Dunn isn't going to see time at first). Depending on your draft, he could be a bit of an unknown entity.

 Busts - First Base 

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies. The luck this man hit into last year was downright staggering, and it's not as if he's in a good age for sustaining excellence. The position flexibility is a help, but I think he falls apart this year; he's got something of a tendency towards it. Mark Trumbo, DiamondBacks. I don't get the fascination here; dude is a wind machine who is a wind machine that doesn't walk, so he's got clear collapse potential, not to mention some real issues in categories where you need full production. Even if the power does come in, and he hits a career high of, woo, 35, that's a lot to give up for a few homers more.

Anthony Rizzo, Cubs. Could it be that there's just no there there? As much as a target of the bounce-back community as the bust list, Rizzo's 63-point OPS drop in 2013 a the time when he should be on the rise is just that polarizing. He's hit in Arizona this spring, and showed some patience during the washout year of .233 / 71 / 23 / 80, but I see him being treated like last year never happened in some drafts. Tie it to the still poor NL lineup that the Cubs trot out there, and I'm not seeing enough here to want to get on the bandwagon.

David Ortiz, Red Sox. He's got to get old eventually, right? The 38-year-old is coming off a World Series run (i.e., deep play), can always sit a spell for Boston's deep options, and might succumb to one of those slow starts that have marked many of the past few years. When he's on a roll, there's very few that are better, and Sox Fan should be completely in the tank for him. But I doubt that you are thinking you'll get .290, 75 / 25 / 85 from him, and that's with health. There's no ceiling here.

Tomorrow, second base and shortstop. Share and enjoy.

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