Author Archive

Hunter Pence, No. 1 Outfielder?

At first glance, the question posed by this article’s title might seem a bit strange; Hunter Pence, if anything, comes to mind as a prototypical — perhaps the quintessential — No. 2 outfielder in fantasy. He doesn’t hurt you in any major category, he never gets injured and the final results, while rarely flashy, get the job done — especially if you have a true bopper anchoring your outfield and can afford to make Pence more of a supporting part of your fantasy squad.

In fact, Pence was ranked No. 15 in Zach Sanders’ preseason outfielder rankings, which, in a sense, was the definition of a No. 2 outfielder in standard leagues. But in his age-31 season, the Marv from Home Alone lookalike contest winner put together another solid, well-rounded effort, finishing with a .277 average, 20 homers, 106 runs, 74 RBIs and 13 steals — nothing flashy, perhaps, but good enough to finish 10th among players at his position.
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Jacoby Ellsbury In The Bronx

In his first season in New York, Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t crack under the pressure of a $153 million contract, hitting in Yankee Stadium didn’t kill his swing and despite something of an injury label, he managed to appear in 149 games, putting together what can only be described as another fine season for those who drafted him as a top outfielder.

At the same time, he struck out more frequently than he had before at the big league level, his batting average finished 20 points below his career mark and he posted his lowest OBP over the course of a full season, finishing 13th among outfielders in Zach Sanders’ rankings despite being tabbed as a top-five option before the year.
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Jason Heyward Powers Down

It’s hard not to fall in love with the fantasy potential of Jason Heyward, especially for those of us who can’t forget the can’t-miss hype surrounding his debut and a rookie season that seemed like the precursor to imminent superstardom. So it’s difficult to shake the tinge of disappointment that’s come to hang around Heyward in the past couple of years, not necessarily because he’s done anything wrong — he is, after all, just 25 years old and boasts a career .345 wOBA — but because in him we see fantasy studliness, and can’t help but feel let down each year when he falls short of making good on his immense potential.
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Jose Reyes Bounces Back … At Least For Now

It’s been more than a decade since Jose Reyes broke into the majors, and for this Mets fan, who grew up in Shea’s baseball wasteland of the ’90s when the likes of Jay Payton, Paul Wilson and Rey Ordonez were paraded around as can’t-miss future superstars, the teenaged shortstop’s arrival was indescribably refreshing and exciting. Here, at last, was a homegrown all-star who was a natural leadoff hitter, excellent fielder and stolen base machine whose energy, smile, youth and awe-inspiring talent seemed to spell the coming of better days in Flushing.

Eleven years and two teams later, it’s still a bit unsettling to talk about Reyes as an aging ballplayer, though his injury history and 31 years of age make it unavoidable. But the star power continues to shine, as Reyes this year finished second among all shortstops in Zach Sanders’ end of the year rankings, first at the position in standard CBS formats and 36th overall on ESPN’s Player Rater, re-establishing his credentials as an early-round candidate after an injury-marred 2013 campaign.
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Manny Machado, Marked Down?

If it doesn’t seem all that long ago that Manny Machado was the darling of prospect hounds and fantasy dreamers, well, that’s because it hasn’t been; the 2010 first round draft pick made his debut just two seasons ago, broke out as an all-star last year and was barely drinking age on opening day back in April.
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Daniel Murphy: Underwhelming or underappreciated?

In 2013, Daniel Murphy defied all expectations by vaunting into the top-five tier of fantasy second basemen, making him one of the best bargains at the keystone sack and a tempting draft target back in March. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite keep up the good vibes, as Murphy, despite making his first all-star team this year, slipped from No. 4 to No. 9 at the position in both Zach Sanders’ rankings and ESPN’s Player Rater.

Depending on your point of view, that’s either disappointing or merely the result of a limited offensive player regressing to his mean. Regardless, Murphy, who long ago established himself as a legitimate major league hitter, continued his steady ways at the dish:
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Dioner Navarro’s Value Finds Its Way North

A quick skim through Zach Sanders’ catcher rankings reveals some familiar faces.

Buster Posey sits at the top. Breakout sensation Devin Mesoraco is third. Evan Gattis, Miguel Montero and Travis d’Arnaud are all there.

And ranking eighth: Dioner Navarro?
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Revisiting Karl de Vries’ Bold 2014 Predictions

Looking back on this column is like reviewing a high school yearbook photo from freshman year: the pimples can’t be Photoshopped away, the hair style screams what was he thinking?? and in hindsight, it’s no mystery that none of the girls wanted to date me. In a way, it’s fitting that this piece is being published on the same week of Yom Kippur; just as the holiest day on the Jewish calendar implores Jews worldwide to atone for their sins, so must I answer for some of these predictions.
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The Keeper Case for Travis d’Arnaud

The curtain has not yet come down on the 2014 regular season, but if you’re like me, flushed out of the playoffs with not a whole lot to do except look ahead to next year, you’re probably already mulling over your keepers. For me, no one quite draws my eye like Travis d’Arnaud, who I took in the last round of my 12-team, mixed H2H single-catcher league as a stasher and rode through what’s been a roller coaster-like season for him.

A keeper backstop is an uncommon and risky venture. Catchers, after all, get hurt. They don’t steal bases. They don’t hit for a high average. It’s a rare bird who notches more than 20 home runs, and rarer still the ones who knock in more than 80 RBIs. It’s a position that typically offers a terrible return on investment, which makes keepers a premium commodity — especially when they come at a post-hype price tag.
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Nicholas Tropeano & Nate Karns: Deep League Wire

All good things must come to an end, and for the purposes of this space, that means this is my final deep league wire column of the 2014 season. It’s been a lot of fun plunging the depths of the fantasy dumpster with you, and I appreciate you joining me each week in our ongoing quest to find cheap value in deep leagues.

But the fantasy playoffs are still ongoing in many leagues, so now is not the time for us to rest on our laurels. Let’s take a look at two young hurlers who could provide help with strikeouts in AL-only leagues this week.
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