We’re heading into week four! There are a lot of changes coming with players hitting the disabled list and players behind them getting some extra playing time. Here’s a recap of who were among the top added and dropped in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues during week three and what to do now.
Week Three Pops
Chris Johnson, Atlanta Braves, 1B/3B: ESPN +73.9%
My undying love of Chris Johnson pays off in week three as my “predicted pop” each of the last two weeks finally gets added in the ton of leagues, I even talked about him on this week’s podcast. I also did pretty well with “pops” Tony Cingrani, Daniel Nava, and Joaquin Benoit. If you grabbed Johnson I would use him this week on the road against the Rockies and he should get DH at-bats against the Tigers. With Freddie Freeman’s return though, Johnson will soon be back in a platoon with Juan Francisco. Sell high while he’s leading the NL in batting average!
Edward Mujica, St. Louis Cardinals, RP: ESPN +50.1%
Who’s gonna be the closer for Mike Matheny’s squad? Jason Motte seems destined for Tommy John surgery. Mitchell Boggs has been horrendous in 2013 and that might be an understatement. Trevor Rosenthal is an intriguing option, but it looks like the job for now belongs to journeyman Edward Mujica. If he can keep the job for the season I’d expect 30 saves. Grab him while you still can.
Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants, SS: ESPN +68.2%
To quote Randolph and Mortimer Duke from “Trading Places” get in there and SELL SELL SELL! I don’t think he’s remotely this good. He’s a great glove at shortstop, but a career .242 hitter and is already one home run short of the four he hit last year in 435 at-bats. There’s some growth here, but if you can get Derek Jeter’s owner to overpay for him at shortstop or middle infielder, you have to pull the trigger on a trade.
Predicting next week’s pops: Brett Anderson, Athletics, SP, Lorenzo Cain, Royals, OF, Wandy Rodriguez, Pirates, SP
Week Three Drops
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, SS: ESPN -36.3%
It’s no longer time to hold on to the Yankees captain as his ankle injury will now keep him out through the All-star break. In standard leagues that only have one DL spot, there are better players (Jose Reyes, Jered Weaver, Ryan Zimmerman) for you to be using your DL spot on. Even when he comes back I don’t think we see the player you’re expecting and there will be not as much speed. Just a batting average play at best.
Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals, 3B: ESPN -33%
The Royals really have a chance to contend this year but Moustakas and teammate Eric Hosmer are going to have to pick up the pace. Moustakas is never going to hit for average, but you were hoping there would be a chance at a 25-30 home run season. Instead he hasn’t gone yard this season and has just one RBI on the year. I still slightly believe, so if he’s been dropped in your league, throw him on a watch list as May and June were his best month in 2012.
Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants, SP: ESPN -30.4%
Is there a pitcher that can have one bad start and elicit such a drop-off as Barry Zito? He gets rocked on the road by the Brewers (9 earned runs), but hasn’t given up a single run in 21 innings at AT&T Park this season with 3 wins. He’s a match-up play, but one of my favorite match-up spot starts this season, especially at home. I just wish he could drop under 50% so I can use him for #MapesFantasySpecial’s again.
Predicting next week’s drops: Adam Dunn, White Sox, 1B, Kendrys Morales, Mariners 1B, and Dan Haren, Nationals, SP
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Last season, the AL Central was not only the weakest top to bottom in the American League, but you could also argue it was the weakest in all of baseball. While no team last surpassed 88 wins, the AL representative in the World Series came from the Central. Will Detroit win the division for a 3rd straight year? Or will the White Sox be able to fend off a Tigers push? Will Cleveland’s new manager Terry Francona bring back playoff baseball for the Indians? Are the Royals finally ‘there’?
Chicago White Sox: Chicago looks to be primed to make a run at an AL Central title this year and it starts with their rotation. The 1-2 punch of Chris Sale and Jake Peavy will provide solid outings all year but the injury to John Danks might prove to be too costly. It’ll be up to Dylan Axelrod to step up in Danks’ absence. The two biggest question marks for the lineup are will Adam Dunn mash all season long again and can Paul Konerko stay healthy and lead the way in what may be his last season?
Cleveland Indians: The Indians have a lot to be excited about heading into this season and it starts with accomplished manager, Terry Francona. The sheer experience Francona brings to the clubhouse will propel Cleveland past last season’s 68 wins. New additions Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Reynolds provide the ability to score runs with Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. The real concern with the Indians will be the starting rotation. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers are going to have to carry the load if this team is going to be successful in 2013.
Detroit Tigers: The defending AL Champs have everyone back from last year with a key addition in Torii Hunter and a healthy Victor Martinez. This team is built to win now and should run away with the division. But there is one giant hole; the role of closer. The Tigers will start the season with a closer by committee strategy that will rotate Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, and Octavio Dotel. The rotation is the best in the league with a perennial Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez., and Rick Porcello. Expect to see this team deep in October.
Kansas City Royals: Every year for the past 5 years, the talk about the Royals has been “they are 1 or 2 years away”. This organization has plenty of young talent but its put up or shut up time. James Shields and Ervin Santana join 2012 mid-season acquisition Jeremy Guthrie to form the 2nd best pitching staff in the Central. If Butler, Moustakas, and co. can stay healthy, the KC Royals will be playing meaningful games through September and might see some post-season action.
Minnesota Twins: When you’re Opening Day starter is Vance Worley, you have seen better days. To make this season a success, the Twins need to break up the M&M boys. It makes more sense for Morneau to be dealt purely based on contract size, unless the Twinkies want to absorb some of Joe Mauer’s $23M/year deal. Josh Willingham provided much of the offense last year while having a career year. The only way I can see this team avoiding a 100-loss season is if Willingham duplicates his 2012 stats AND they do not trade Mauer or Morneau. It might be more beneficial to bite the bullet this year and start stocking up for 2014.
Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox
Michael Bourn – Cleveland Indians
Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals
Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham – Minnesota Twins
Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
James Shields – Kansas City Royals
Rookie of the Year
Aaron Hicks – Minnesota Twins
Will the Tigers run away with this division? Is this the last time you can see the M&M boys in Twins uniforms? Comment below!
– Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R)
Commissioner Bud Selig announced today that the MLB All-Star Game would return to Cincinnati for the first time since 1988 when the Reds played at Riverfront Stadium. It will be the first All-Star Game played at Great American Ballpark, which will join Riverfront Stadium and Crosley Field as Queen City ballparks that have hosted the mid-season classic. With Great American Ballpark hosting the 2015 game, it will leave just Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PETCO Park in San Diego, Nationals Park in Washington D.C., Marlins Park in Miami, Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, and New Yankee Stadium in The Bronx as the only current stadiums not to have hosted the All-Star Game. The Reds franchise will join the Minnesota Twins (who are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field) to host the festivities in THREE different ballparks.
Here’s the glorious part about Great American Ballpark having the All-Star Game in its confines. It also gets to host the Home Run Derby! If there ever was a stadium that is perfectly set up for a derby, it’s the stadium that is lovingly called “the Great American Small-Park.” I’m already getting excited to see the games best mashers blasting homers. We could be there all night! Even better, is the Ohio River beyond the right field wall gives lefties a great target to go for. I mean if Juan Francisco could do it in an actual game in 2011, I think the game’s best could do it in a home run derby. I almost want to fast-forward to 2015 now to see it play out. I haven’t been this excited for a home run derby since Ken Griffey Jr. took aim at the warehouse beyond Camden Yards.
I couldn’t resist thinking ahead to 2015 and who could actually be participating in the 2015 Home Run Derby. I’m going to use the 2012 format to project who will be launching mammos in Cincinnati.
Captain Bryce Harper: The obvious player for this. He’ll be 22 and a possible superstar by 2015 if everything goes according to plan. Even better that he hits left-handed so the Ohio River will be in play. If this video from when Harper is any indication of his derby abilities, there will more splashdowns than a water park.
Joey Votto or Jay Bruce: Have to get one of the hometown guys into the competition. I don’t want a Billy Butler situation here. Both are lefties which plays into my Ohio River hopes. I think that Bruce is the more likely of the two to participate as he’ll be in his prime at 28 years old. He also could be a legit 40-homer player by then.
Giancarlo Stanton: This one I’m not sure on. He could be in the American League for all I know. We all missed out on Stanton participating in the 2012 Home Run Derby in Kansas City, but I think he’ll return for the derby in 2013 at Citi Field. That gives him a year to sit out in 2014 (sorry Twins fans) and come back to defend a potential title the way that Prince Fielder did this past year. I can’t have eight left-handed batters though sadly. This also gives me an excuse to show this video again. HE BROKE A SCOREBOARD.
Jason Heyward: Alright a bit of a homer pick. Pun intended. Heyward showed that he has the potential to be a 35-homer player in 2012 when he blasted 27 yicketties. If the power continues to develop, he’ll be 25 for the 2015 All-Star Game and quite possibly could be the best right fielder in the game at that point. Also helps that, you guessed it, he’s left-handed!
Other potential derby participants: Ike Davis, Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton and Anthony Rizzo
Captain Prince Fielder: I went back and forth on who potentially would be the captain for the American League. I settled on Fielder, who I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a couple years off after winning the derby in 2012. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s a two-time champion, and he’s left handed. He’s going to want to eventually match Ken Griffey Jr. with three derby titles and I think he might wait til Cincinnati to do it. Plus, he has experience hitting it in the water.
Adam Dunn: Hear me out on this one! A) He’s left handed B) He’s never participated in a Home Run Derby C) It’d be nice for him to have his first one in Cincinnati where he used to play. He’ll still only be 35 at that point. If he was ever going to give it a go, I think the lure of doing it in the Queen City would be enough for him. Especially with the Ohio River calling his name.
Yoenis Céspedes: If Céspedes was left-handed he’d be a dream for this future derby. However, he will still be a great option. He’ll be in the heart of his prime at 29 years old. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a potential All-Star for Oakland. We all know he has some major power too. Especially after seeing this.
Wil Myers: The game isn’t until 2015! I have to have one player that hasn’t even played in the Majors yet to speculate on, right? I’m going to go with Tampa Bay’s future star in Wil Myers. Myers has the best power potential of any prospect right now. I’m deeply saddened though that I’ve now put three righties on the American League side. Maybe Robinson Cano won’t be broken up and come back to try the derby again?
Other potential derby participants: Mark Trumbo, Robinson Cano, Dayan Viciedo, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer
Who would you want to see take aim at the Ohio River in the 2015 Home Run Derby? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
What about the guys you don’t think about as being consistently great throughout their careers, who still might have half a decade or more left in them?
Did you know CC Sabathia, health pending, could reach 300 wins? Or that Adrian Beltre and Juan Pierre both have a shot at cracking 3,000 hits?
Those numbers typically lock a player into Cooperstown. But in a day and age when even Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa will find it difficult to cross that threshold, the following players’ cases become very debatable, regardless of the numbers:
The case for Paul Konerko:
Paulie has become one of the most beloved players in Chicago based on his big, consistent offensive numbers over 14 seasons with the White Sox. At age 36, you have to imagine Father Time is catching up with him and his production will eventually diminish. As it stands now, Konerko is a career .283 hitter with 417 homers.
Konerko doesn’t have any individual awards (yet) to add to his resume, but he does have the 2005 World Series ring, and a legitimate chance at 500 home runs. In a full season, he’s good for at least 25 dingers. If Konerko maintains that average through the next three seasons, you’re talking about a guy who is going to be just single digits away from 500.
Much like Jim Thome, Konerko could play into his 40’s as DH and accumulate 500 and beyond by the time he hangs up the cleats. Do 500 home runs, a pretty good average, and a glaring lack of individual accolades put Konerko in the Hall of Fame?
Verdict: Yes. If Konerko gets to 500 home runs, he should be in. On honor alone (Konerko was never linked to PED’s), Konerko is more worthy than home run hitters such as Mark McGwire. Not to mention his all-around game was better.
The case for Adrian Beltre:
It’s all about health for Beltre. It still blows my mind that this guy has almost 2,100 career hits. So many years of anonymity in Los Angeles and disappointment in Seattle made Beltre forgotten until his 2010 resurgence with Boston. And Beltre has been in the bigs since he was 19, so despite being just 33 years old today, he’s in his 15th season.
If Beltre’s (who has been fairly lucky health-wise over his career) body doesn’t start breaking down with age, he has a very legitimate shot to reach not just the 3,000 hit milestone; but 500 home runs as well. Reaching either number makes you a very strong candidate – both means you’re definitely in.
Assuming Beltre will play at least six more seasons (he would be 39 then), whether it be at the hot corner or as a 1B/DH, seasonal averages would have to be fairly mild to reach both milestones. It would require about 150 hits and 25 home runs per season from now on. I think that is very attainable.
Verdict: He’s in. I don’t think he’ll quite get to 500 home runs. But the 3,000 hit club will welcome Beltre around age 40 in his final season. That, plus solid power numbers, a good average and multiple Gold Glove awards will get him in.
The case for Juan Pierre:
I know, I know. I sincerely hope you weren’t drinking something that may have the ability to destroy your laptop, because chances are you just dropped said drink all over the keyboard. Now pick your jaw off the floor at my suggestion and examine the facts.
Despite being immensely underrated, kicked to the curb by multiple fan bases and underutilized by multiple managers, Pierre has quietly made a borderline Hall of Fame case for himself. In 13 seasons with six different teams, Pierre is hitting .296. He will be a hot two-week stretch away from 2,200 career hits at the end of 2012, and he’s only 34.
Not to mention that Pierre has stolen 588 bases and has a .989 fielding percentage, those hits speak for themselves. He has been mostly healthy his whole career, and could legitimately have 2,500 hits by age 36. At that point he knows it takes five full seasons at the most to reach the coveted 3,000.
Verdict: He doesn’t quite make the cut, and the dream title of “most anonymous Hall of Famer” dies with it. I think Pierre will stop getting small contracts from teams in need of a stolen base threatas he ages, and that will keep him around 2,800 hits.
The case for C.C. Sabathia:
The discussion starts and ends with “health” for the big boy, Sabathia. Arm troubles this season, at age 32, are very worrisome for the next great hope of a 300-game winner. He has 192 wins thus far in a career that has seen him ridden by various managers like a horse in the Kentucky Derby.
All that piggy backing has to catch up to Sabathia at some point, which is a damn shame. He’s one of my favorite pitches to watch and hails from the same region as I do, so I have a soft spot for C.C. But even with 250 or more wins, at least one Cy Young and at least one World Series ring, I don’t think his resume will cut it.
The halls of Cooperstown are decorated with the greatest hurlers to ever play the game. Even if Sabathia manages to stay healthy enough to be a regular starter until age 40, it would take an average of 13-14 wins to reach the milestone of 300 that guarantees you the Hall of Fame. I just don’t see it happening, especially as he gets older.
Verdict: I think I made it pretty clear – so close, yet so far for C.C. However, if Sabathia stays healthy for the majority of the next six or so seasons, he could rack up over 250 wins and over 3,000 strikeouts, which gives him an outside shot.
The case for Adam Dunn:
This one disgusts me. That being said, Dunn has put up gargantuan power numbers for most of his Major League career, and home runs are King in baseball, so we must discuss. As a 32-year-old, Dunn has already racked up 402 home runs. He is a DH most days, first baseman occasionally. Either way, that means no wear and tear on his body.
That also means he could pull a Jim Thome and play until his great grand children are in the minors. If Dunn is going to average 30 or more home runs for the next decade, as he very well could, then people won’t care how paltry the batting average or how many times he swings and misses.
There it is – the reason this case disgusts me. We are basing it solely on the amount of times a tight end (what? Might as well be – 6’6″ and 285 lbs) can swing really hard and hit a ball really far. Dunn will likely approach 600 career home runs. He will likely hit about .220 for his career. He will definitely strike out over 3,000 times. That’s all.
Verdict: Sigh…he’ll be in. Unless Dunn suffers a career-ending injury, there will be a plaque dedicated to the gigantic man who slugged mammoth homers sometimes, struck out most of the time.
Comment below – who else should we make a Hall of Fame case for? Did we swing and miss on any of these guys? And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:
– Jeremy Dorn @Jamblinman
The 2011-2012 offseason in baseball saw some ridiculously good free agent contracts get handed out. For every Heath Bell, there seemed to be three or four C.J. Wilson’s last winter. Even with the great year Wilson is having, he barely cracked my top 10 free agent acquisitions.
So who did? Hard to imagine I could even put together a list without including brilliant signings such as Yu Darvish, Joe Nathan or Mark Buehrle.
Yet…I did. To narrow the field a bit, I made certain groups of players ineligible for the list. Players who re-signed either during the 2011 season or right after to extensions with the same team (i.e. David Ortiz, Yadier Molina, Rafael Furcal, Jimmy Rollins, C.C. Sabathia) are not eligible.
Similarly, players who were free agents for a grand total of 14 minutes before getting their options picked up (i.e. Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips, Robinson Cano, Ryan Dempster, Edwin Encarnacion), don’t factor in.
Keeping in mind that these are only free agent acquisitions, not trade acquisitions, is your favorite team’s big signing on the list? Read on to find out:
10. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
While A-Ram hasn’t exactly filled the gigantic shoes left by Prince Fielder in Milwaukee, he’s been a steady presence in the middle of their lineup. So far, he’s hitting .281 with 11 homers and 59 RBI in an underwhelming lineup. The standings clearly reflect how much the Brew Crew misses Fielder though, no matter how well Ramirez plays.
9. C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels
C.J. falls in at number nine, for being the second best pitcher in the best starting rotation in baseball (now that Greinke has been acquired). Though he was a lesser signing in comparison to his new teammate Albert Pujols, he has been a better deal and his 9-7 record with a 2.88 ERA makes that point hard to argue.
8. Chris Capuano, Los Angeles Dodgers
What a pleasant surprise for the equally surprising Dodgers. They signed Capuano on a small, two-year contract to fill a spot in the back of the rotation and to say the results have been exceptional are an understatement. Cappy has been the second best starter on the team behind Clayton Kershaw, putting up a line of 10-6/3.13/1.21 with 113 K’s and just 38 BBs.
7. Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees
The man that Capuano essentially replaced in Los Angeles is now wearing pinstripes and making Brian Cashman look like an absolute genius (again). I knew it was a mistake when my Dodgers let Kuroda walk. He has been the most consistent overall pitcher in numbers and health for the Yanks this season, posting a 10-7 record with a 3.34 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
6. Jonathan Broxton, Kansas City Royals
Another former Dodger, Broxton struggled mightily in his last season and a half in Los Angeles, before getting picked up by K.C. Broxton and his mammoth frame always came with a fragile mind, but he seems to have regained his velocity and command with the Royals. Even though they are losing a lot, Broxton has 23 saves and a 2.27 ERA.
5. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
The lesser celebrated major offensive signing of the winter was Fielder, overshadowed by his former NL Central counterpart Albert Pujols. But it’s Fielder who is putting up better all-around numbers and helping to carry a now first-place Detroit Tigers ball club. Fielder is hitting .308 with 15 homers and 70 RBI through 99 games.
What a pick up for the D’backs. Kubel has been the most surprising overall free agent on this list, considering he wasn’t necessarily brought in to be a huge run producer in the middle of the lineup. He was supposed to be a guy who could provide some pop, maybe splitting time in the outfield. Now at .298/22/72 (NL-leading), there’s no doubt he is a starter.
3. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
This off season, I was telling anyone who would listen that Josh Willingham would be the biggest steal of the winter. Nobody wanted him, even though he single-handedly carried a terrible A’s offense in 2011. Now he’s a treasure for the Twins to cherish, as he’s only hit .271 with 25 homers and 72 RBI, including some super clutch hits.
2. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics
Plenty of skeptics laughed when Billy Beane came out of nowhere to sign Cespedes last winter to a four-year, $36 million deal. A 17-3 month of July later, led by Cespedes’ bat, and not only are the A’s geniuses for signing him, but they are a legit playoff contender. Largely in thanks to Cespedes’ .301/13/50 line.
1. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
Albert Pujols’ replacement has been everything the Cardinals hoped for…and a lot more. In fact, he’s been a lot more than Pujols has been for his new team in Los Angeles. Beltran is absolutely ripping it up for St. Louis, hitting .287 with 22 homers and 71 RBI. For the record, Pujols’ line: .277/18/61. Whoops!
Just missed the cut: Darvish, TEX/Buehrle, MIA/Nathan, TEX/Albert Pujols, LAA/Jose Reyes, MIA/Jerry Hairston, Jr., LAD/Scott Hairston, NYM/Cody Ross, BOS/Wei-Yin Chen, BAL/Bartolo Colon, OAK/Aaron Harang, LAD/Ben Sheets, ATL/Roy Oswalt, TEX/Jonathan Papelbon, PHI/Michael Cuddyer, COL
– Jeremy (@Jamblinman)