Todd Helton and Rangers’, Nats’ CF Playing Time Battles

One of the keys to winning at fantasy baseball, especially in deep leagues, is to have players that will actually, you know, spend time on the field. No matter how much ability a player possesses, they are useless if they aren’t getting playing time. I am going to look during this preseason for possible changes in playtime for various players.

Todd Helton –- The Rockies plan on playing Helton in only 100 to 110 games in 2012 even if he is healthy.

While Helton is not a top-flight first baseman, any starting 1B is useful in a NL-only or deep league. But the Rockies limiting his games to 110, even if he is healthy, is a problem. Owners will have to be diligent in checking their lineups before every Rockies game. If the owner is in a league with weekly lineups, Helton can be expected to miss two games a week.

Helton may still be able to hit the ball with decent power. Also, when in the lineup, especially at home, he will have plenty of Run and RBI opportunities. I just don’t find him worth the effort to own though. Look elsewhere for cheap help with the 1B or Utility position.

Rangers center field Position –- The Rangers are set on moving Josh Hamilton to left field. This move opens up the center field job with the candidates being Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon. All three players have decent speed and should hit for about a .275 batting average. They are all pretty close to being the same player.

I think Martin, the #79th-highest rated prospect in Baseball America’s top 100 list, will separate himself from the other two for the following couple of reasons. The first is that he has a bit more power. While it is not a ton more power, he at least projects to have an ISO greater than .100. The other two do not. The second reason is that Martin is two years younger than Borbon and four years younger than Gentry. Even if for some reason Martin does not have the CF job immediately out of spring training, I expect him to get it within a month or two.

Nationals CF Position -– It looks like for now that Rick Ankiel is the solution that the Nationals see for their lack of a CF. The same Rick Ankiel whose batting average has not topped .239 over that last three seasons. A sub-.240 number is not going to cut it when he can barely reach double-digit home runs. The Nationals will look for CF help as teams are forced to make roster cuts later in spring training and Ankiel will have to move on. The only value I see for him is in a 10-team NL-East-only league.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

11 Responses to “Todd Helton and Rangers’, Nats’ CF Playing Time Battles”

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  1. Glomp says:

    Jayson Werth has been playing mostly centerfield this spring. So, there’s that.

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  2. bpasinko says:

    Rick Ankiel, 14 team NL-Only, 5 OFS, I have him at $7, should I keep him?

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    • Cookierojas16 says:

      I wouldn’t. I’m in an 11-team 6 OF$300 NL and a 12 team 5 OF $280 NL league. Ankiel was not kept for $6 in either this year.

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    • Jason B says:

      I think bp’s question was asked with tongue firmly planted in cheek, no?

      It could be a legitimate question if posed thusly: 16-team, NL East only, 8 OF, $1200 budget, should I keep Ankiel at $7?


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  3. Sean says:

    You neglected to mention that Helton is still a flat-out baller vs righties

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  4. philosofool says:

    I disagree about Ankiel, sort of. The Nats are almost certain to seek a platoon partner for him. He couldn’t hit lefties when he could hit. I have no idea what free agent RHB they would look for, but all he has to do is play decent center field and post a .650 OPS to out perform Ankiel.

    Additonally, I think the Nats are serious about giving Harper a look this spring, and Ankiel may not make the opening day roster.

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    • David says:

      Harper won’t be the opening day RF. Not unless he absolutely blows the doors off in Spring Training. On the other hand, he will in all likelihood be called up very early.

      Opening day will find Ankiel or Bernardina in CF, but by June it will be Werth. Neither of them is worth paying for in fantasy.

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  5. Randy says:

    I’m currently watching the Nats vs Stros game from yesterday. Mike Rizzo was on the air for an entire inning and stated that Harper’s readiness will not be judged by the numbers in spring training, but by whether he appears to handle himself at the major league level (professionally, mentally, emotionally, plus basic fundamentals). That leads me to believe there is a greater than 50/50 chance (based on those factors) that he will make the team out of spring training. That being said, it doesn’t factor in the possibility of him staying down to keep his clock from ticking. The worse case scenario is that we see Bernadina in CF for a the first few months, then Harper called up and Werth moved to CF for the rest of the season. In that case, acquiring an outfielder doesn’t seem like a necessity.

    I’m still an advocate, though, of them acquiring a CFer, moving Werth to LF, and moving Morse to 1B. I just don’t think they are considering it an option right now. An injury or trade of LaRoche would need to happen, but I suspect the move could be justified based on performance alone as I have a hard time believing LaRoche can put up the numbers to warrant a starting gig at 1B anymore.

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    • David says:

      Barring something extraordinary (major LaRoce injury, or Nats in contention and a sexy stud CF available at the trade deadline), no one’s moving LaRoche’s contract out of the starting lineup in 2012.

      The move you suggest will happen for 2013 when LaRoche is off the books.

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  6. grassyjones says:

    Let’s revisit L.Martin, who projects better RoS ’12 and all of ’13, Martin or Starling Marte? Both are in situations that have gotten me interested, the impending demotion of Tabata/Presley and the platoon job Martin has landed since the M.Moreland injury.

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