Fantasy Baseball Draft 2013: Recapping Fourth Round
1) I Love Griffey- Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays: Many feel that Encarnacion may be a one-hit wonder. Me? Not so much. Since I love Griffey so much, I often watched the Reds play when he was on the team and I was very impressed with Encarnacion. His stellar breakout season in 2012 impressed me even more. Encarnacion hit 42 home runs (4th in AL), drove in 110 runs (3rd in AL) and batted a solid .280. Not to mention, he stole 13 bases, which is an added bonus from a 30-year old first baseman. Of course, some regression is expected, considering his career-high in home runs before last year was 26. Still, he is a legitimate candidate for at least 30 home runs and the Blue Jays lineup is far better than last year.
2) Team 9- Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies: Despite his stellar numbers in 2012, one number was rather ugly for fantasy owners. Six, as in six wins for Lee last season certainly hurt his fantasy value quite a bit. Lee finished the year with 207 strikeouts (4th in NL), an ERA of 3.16 and an impressive WHIP of 1.11 (6th in NL). Imagine the fantasy season he would have put together if the Phillies hadn’t afforded him a fourth-worst 3.20 runs of support last year. It’s hard to believe that the Phillies offense will be nearly as bad in 2013 and Lee’s resume makes him a very safe fantasy pitcher.
3) Team 8- Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies: Part of a strong rotation, Hamels was easily the Phillies best pitcher last season. He sported an ERA of 3.05 to go along with a WHIP of 1.12. His 216 strikeouts also ranked third in the entire National League. Consistency has been a strong point of Hamels, winning double digit games in every year since the 2007 season. He has also posted at least 190 strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. Hamels is as trustworthy as it gets and may finally make a case for the Cy Young award this season. Be comfortable having him as your ace.
4) Team 7- Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers: After four straight seasons with 30 or more homers in San Diego, Gonzalez’s totals took a hit in Boston. In his two seasons at Fenway, he hit a combined 42 home runs. You can probably thank the Green Monster for that, as Gonzo hit 82 doubles during his two seasons as a member of the Red Sox. A change of scenery may be good for the 30-year old, but don’t expect him to return to the days of 35+ home runs anytime soon. However, he is a safe bet to bat for average, hitting at least .290 in each of the last four seasons.
5) Team 6- Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles: Outfield is one of the most exciting positions in fantasy baseball, large in part to thrilling young talent such as Jones. 2012 was a career year for Jones, setting highs in home runs (32), batting average (.287) and stolen bases (16). He is an underrated power hitter with above average speed, making him a legitimate candidate for a 20/20 guy. Don’t expect the same production this season from Jones, as the Orioles may have overachieved a bit last year, but there is no doubt that he will be very good for fantasy owners as he prepares to hit the prime of his career.
6) Team 5- Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels: Weaver is coming off an absolute monster 2012 campaign. He led the American League in wins (20), win percentage (.800) and WHIP (1.02). Unfortunately, his strikeout numbers fell off significantly, posting 142 compared to his 198 from 2011. This may indicate that his velocity isn’t quite where it used to be, but the 30-year old is still under strong consideration as a fantasy ace, especially with that powerhouse of a lineup supporting him. Weaver is an ace, but more of a bottom tier one.
7) Team 4- Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs: For the most part in fantasy, shortstop is a rather ugly position. Castro, on the other hand, is not ugly at all. And no, I am not judging his appearance. Castro may have taken a bit of a step back last year, seeing his average, hits and runs decrease, while seeing his strikeouts increase. At 22-years old, Castro has a tremendous ceiling and considering the current state of the shortstop position, needs to be drafted in the earlier rounds.
8) Team 3- Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds: Bruce is quickly emerging into one of the premiere power hitters in all of baseball. He hit an impressive 34 home runs last season, ranking second among players in the National League. However, his fantasy kryptonite would have to be batting average. His career batting averages since the 2008 season are as follows; .254, .223, .281, .256 and .252. Not exactly a promising average hitter if you ask me. Still, Bruce is a safe candidate for 30-40 home runs and 90-100 RBI. Not to mention, batting behind a healthy Joey Votto certainly can’t hurt his value.
9) Team 2- Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals: Perhaps in the shadows of the historical season young Mike Trout put together last year, Harper was certainly no slouch either. Harper’s Rookie of the Year campaign consisted of 22 home runs, 59 RBI and 18 stolen bases… at age 19. Pretty impressive if you ask me. This kid can only get better and is a serious candidate for 25-30 home runs, 85-100 RBI and at least 25 steals, making him a huge fantasy commodity. If he can improve on his plate discipline, owners may see his batting average climb upward. He’ll be batting in the heart of a strong lineup in Washington and it’ll be fun to watch him continue to improve.
10) Team 1- Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals: There is a lot of exciting, young talent in Kansas City and Butler is no exception. A career year a season ago, Butler was a stud, batting for .313, hitting 29 home runs and 107 RBI. Only 11 players in all of baseball hit for at least .300 and 25 home runs. Another reason to love Butler is his dual eligibility at DH mainly, but also at the first base position. Batting average may be a given for Butler, as the 27-year old has batted at least .307 over the past three seasons. Also, the fact that the majority of his games are played at DH, durability isn’t really a concern for him.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.