Fantasy Baseball Draft 2013: Recapping Round Seven
(61) Team 1- Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays: Lawrie’s 2012 campaign wasn’t anything to brag about, hitting just 11 home runs and 48 RBI. I’ve been high on Lawrie heading into 2013, but a rib injury has his Opening Day status in question. Rumblings out of Toronto indicate that he must play an exhibition game this weekend to have a chance to start the season as the Jays’ third baseman. Hopefully he is able to suit up because he has some tremendous upside, batting in a powerful lineup consisting of Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and more. Health has already been an issue for the young Lawrie, which is certainly troubling. He has a high ceiling and could be a candidate for at least 20 home runs and 10-15 stolen bases… when healthy.
(62) Team 2- Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals: Replacing a guy like Albert Pujols certainly isn’t easy, but Craig did a terrific job at least making fans forget about Pujols for a little while. He batted an impressive .307 (6th in NL) while hitting 22 home runs and 92 RBI. After playing just 119 games combined during the the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined, Craig managed to stay relatively healthy in 2012, playing in 119 contests. Craig played 44 more games this year than in 2011 and if that trend continues to climb upward, I like him as one of the better second tier fantasy first basemen. Not to mention, he is also eligible at the outfield position, only boosting his fantasy value even more.
(63) Team 3- Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians: I like to think of him as the Bourn Identity. No, not because he goes around killing people like a boss, but rather because you know who he is every year (hence the identity). He sporadically bats for average, will likely hit less than six or seven home runs and less than 50 or 60 RBI. So, how is he even relevant in fantasy baseball? Speed kills, my friends. Bourn is arguably the best base stealer in baseball, stealing 42 last season (tied for 3rd in league). In his career, he has swiped 40 bags or more five times. Bourn will also get on base, sporting a career OBP of .339. Of course, the move from Atlanta to Cleveland certainly hurts, considering how talented the Braves lineup is. Still, he will bat leadoff for the Indians, guaranteeing boatloads of at-bats.
(64) Team 4- Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians: It was the tale of two halves a season for Kipnis in 2012. He was strong in the first half of the season, but during the second half, batted just .233. Kipnis still hit 14 home runs and stole an impressive 31 bases during the season, and considering how shallow the second base position always seems to be, I like the upside that Kipnis can be a 20/20 guy in 2013. No doubt he should be at least a top 10 fantasy second baseman and has the potential to improve on his power, while still stealing a handful of bags.
(65) Team 5- Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox: What a breakout season for Sale in 2012. The 23-year old won 17 games (4th in AL), posted an ERA of 3.05 (4th in AL) and struck out 192 batters. His terrific 2012 campaign has earned him the positions as Chicago’s Opening Day starter for 2013. I am very high on Sale this season and he could end up being an AL Cy Young candidate, quite frankly. His awkward throwing style threw batters off to start the season, but it appeared that they caught up to him in the second half, as he posted a 4.03 ERA after the All Star break. Still, there is no doubt that this kid has tremendous upside.
(66) Team 6- Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers: Jackson saw increased power and average totals in 2012. After batting a dismal .249 in 2011, Jackson batted a career high .300 on the dot last season, while also hitting six more home runs from 2011. He also posted a healthy OBP of .377, helping him score 103 runs, which tied for fifth among all players. His 12 steals were solid, but I feel like his ceiling in that department is a bit higher. I like his value here in the seventh round because he is about to hit his prime and could become a possible 20/20 guy down the road as he continues to improve his power.
(67) Team 7- Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles: 2012′s league leader in saves (51), Johnson is the second relief pitcher taken in this draft. Don’t expect Johnson to eclipse 50 saves in 2013 because the O’s ridiculous amount of one-run contests is unlikely to repeat. The fact that he only struck out 41 batters makes me hope they he can post a ton of saves again. Still, the Orioles are an up-and-coming team with a ton of talent and play in the AL East that certainly is not what it used to be. Having said that, Johnson can still produce a good year in 2013, but don’t expect numbers equivalent to a season ago.
(68) Team 8- Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals: Last season was by far Desmond’s best. He was one of just three shortstops to hit at least 20 home runs and steal 20 bases, while being the only one of the group to bat above .260. His 25 home runs, 73 RBI, 72 runs, 150 hits and .335 OBP were all career highs for Desmond. Hitting in a strong lineup coming off of his best season, there is no question that Desmond is a top three fantasy shortstop. Now 27-years old, Desmond is prepared to hit his prime, which could lead to big things for fantasy owners and the Nationals organization.
(69) Team 9- Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds: Watching the Reds quite often over the years, I believed Cueto had the potential to become one of the better pitchers in baseball. In 2012, he backed me up, producing a very solid season. His 19 wins ranked third among National League pitchers as well as his 2.78 ERA. An impressive aspect of Cueto’s success in 2012 was the fact that he had been pitching at Great American Ballpark, one of the most hitter friendly environments in baseball. A legitimate number two option for mixed leagues, Cueto has put himself on fantasy radars.
(70) Team 10- Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays: Despite his low totals from a season ago, Jennings posted career highs in RBI and home runs. With B.J. Upton in Atlanta, Jennings will assume the role of center fielder for the Rays in 2013. Hitting his prime this season and having three years in which he has improved under his belt, Jennings could be a candidate for a breakout year. His speed is clearly his biggest skill. If he can improve his OBP (just .327 in 2012), he certainly has the potential to steal anywhere between 40-50 bases. It also wouldn’t hurt if he lowered his strike out totals (120 in 2012). Don’t be surprised if his bat improves in 2013 and as long as he gets on base, watch him fly around the bags.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.