Cue the band, blow up the floatation devices and begin the procession! Pitchers and catchers have reported, but are you prepared for your fantasy season? The top five free agents all left their teams for greener pastors. Let’s see where they went and what it means as I whet your appetite for a full-scale assault on all things fantasy baseball. I’m super excited to show you whose stock is rising and whose stock is plummeting faster than the Black Eyed Peas Halftime show.
5. Adam Dunn, DH Chicago White Sox
I am targeting “The Big Donkey” this season in all of my fantasy drafts. He is your classic, traditional slugger who posts eye-popping home run and RBI totals. He’s nothing to write home about in the batting average department but he can carry a team in on base percentage. Dunn’s move to the American league may bring some pause, but don’t be fooled. He now plays in the bandbox they refer to as U.S Cellular field with some of the friendliest power alleys in all of baseball. Additionally, he goes from being a one-man band in Washington to having secret service-like lineup protection in Chicago.
4. Victor Martinez, Catcher Detroit Tigers
I am deeply unmoved by V-Mart’s move from Boston to Detroit. Hitters hit and Victor’s season was no flash in the pan as he has put together quite the career resume with the Cleveland Indians and most recently with the Boston Red Sox. You can anticipate 18-22 bombs, 75-100 RBI’s and about a .300 average from the new Tiger backstop. To me, this talented catcher is a safe choice, which is often better then a volatile one. At one point in your draft, you will have to select a player based on upside in order to contend for a championship. It will cost a high selection to get V-Mart but if he remains healthy, you can take solace on the fact that you will likely get precisely what you paid for.
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3. Jayson Werth, OF Washington Nationals
Jayson Werth leaving the Philadelphia Phillies for the Nationals was pretty shocking. As a result of the team downgrade, we likely won’t see Werth in the middle of a pennant race come September. The former Phillies slugger definitely has a knack for performing his best when the games mean the most. It’s that same mental toughness Werth uses to succeed under pressure that will help him remain zeroed in during meaningless games down the stretch. His production will remain mostly consistent in an improving Nationals lineup that includes a budding star in third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
2. Carl Crawford, OF Boston Red Sox
Crawford is one of the most unique talents in the game. He represents a rare breed, the five-tool player. For that reason, he needs to be selected in the first round of your fantasy draft, and that does not change with his move from Tampa to Boston. Crawford has hit at a .317 clip at Fenway Park in his career and should have no trouble getting comfortable at home. He is in a lineup comparable to the Rays, with the exception of no one as dangerous as Evan Longoria batting behind him. Assuming fellow speedster Jacoby Ellsbury and former MVP Dustin Pedroia hit in front of him, Crawford may see his stolen bases drop off. I love Crawford because he contributes to every category but I feel he takes a small step back in his first season in Boston.
1. Cliff Lee LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee is a machine, his pinpoint control and strikeouts-to-walk ratio is unheard of. Considering he is likely to be healthy for a full season and is regaining the luxury of facing the pitcher’s spot in the order, National League hitters should be in for a long season. There may be none better when it comes to posting a good WHIP. He allows few hits and fewer walks. A good WHIP often leads to a good ERA, which often leads to a high win total. You catch my drift?