Fantasy Baseball – Spring Training Position Battles
Today officially marks the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. It’s an odd date to start, considering that some teams are still involved with Spring Training. Most teams have trimmed down their roster to 25 at this point, meaning that the position battle competitions have come to an end. Let’s take a look at the winners, and see who can help your fantasy team.
LF Eric Thames, Toronto Blue Jays - While GM Alex Anthopoulos claimed that Travis Snider had a chance, it was fairly obvious that it was Thames job to lose. And with a solid Spring Training,Thames ensured that he would remain the Jays starting left fielder.
Thames has a solid track record of hitting in the minors for power so he should be a solid option as an outfielder. He probably won’t bat higher than 6th so adjust your expectations accordingly. Still, he’s in a strong lineup and could be a good source for home runs and RBI.
Travis Snider loses out here, and it’s unknown when he’ll have a legitimate shot again with the Jays. Realistically there isn’t anybody who should be blocking Snider, but the Jays decided they’d rather start him off in the minors and call him up for good later in the year. Keep an eye on him, as at age 24 he may finally be ready for a breakout season.
“Shortstop” Mike Aviles, Boston Red Sox - I’ve made it no secret that I think the Red Sox have taken a step back this season. Moving Marco Scutaro might have been one of the worst moves that they made, and they didn’t acquire anybody to replace his production. Jose Iglesias had an outside chance of being named the shortstop, but he was demoted to AAA.
Avilesis the winner of the shortstop position for Boston, although it’s questionable if he even has the ability to play it. His defensive scores have been poor, although he’s done well at short in limited play. His bat has been a disappointment, as he has a career 737 OPS. He’s unlikely to be a good source of HR, RBI or SB, so he doesn’t have much fantasy value either.
3B Jack Hannahan and Casey Kotchman, Cleveland Indians- Cleveland decided to go with the veterans this time around, choosing Hannahan and Kotchman to play on the corners. Hannahan won’t give you any offence, but he’s a fantastic defender. Kotchman might have some value in terms of batting average, but that’s not what you really want out of your first baseman.
This move was designed to give Lonnie Chisenhall more time to develop in the minors. He looked fairly overmatched in his limited time last season, striking out 49 times while walking 8 times in 212 at bats. So there’s clearly some pitch recognition issues for him to work on in AAA.
The other loser of this position battle belongs too Matt LaPorta. While he’s been given 900+ at bats, he still hasn’t figured out how to hit major league pitching. And as a 27 year old, it’s just unlikely he’ll ever amount to being a league average hitter.