|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 3/11/1974 | Team: Angels | Position: DH|
Profile: Abreu is clearly in the twilight on his career, and the sun could finally set in 2012. With Albert Pujols now taking up Mark Trumbo’s old spot in the Halos lineup, Abreu could be the odd man out should the team choose to go with a slightly more defense-friendly lineup featuring Albert Callaspo at third base. Abreu still knows how to get on base, but at this point in his career, that’s all he can really do. If you think the veteran will get 400 at bats and you need an OBP specialist for some reason or another, Abreu should still be available on the waiver wire, so you won’t need to spend a draft pick on him. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: With Albert Pujols now taking up Mark Trumbo’s old spot in the Halos lineup, Abreu could be the odd man out. At this point, Abreu is just an OBP specialist who should find a comfortable spot on the waiver wire.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/26/1988 | Team: Mariners | Position: 2B|
Profile: It was a fine debut season for the 23-year-old Ackley. He hit for average and power, and even managed to steal six bases in 376 plate appearances. His strikeout rate was a tad high, but Minor League rates suggest he could improve in that category. Second base is still a relatively weak position, and Ackley now becomes one of the better options there. With a full season under his belt, he might hit 15-20 home runs and steal 10-15 bases. He’s only going to get better from here. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Ackley had a nice debut season and should build on it in his sophomore year. He’s got the potential for double-digit power and steals at a weak fantasy position.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/21/1987 | Team: Orioles | Position: 2B|
Profile: Adams could be in line for playing time depending on Brian Roberts’ health situation. He’s got average power for a second baseman, but will strike out too much to post a strong average. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 2/12/1986 | Team: Athletics | Position: 1B|
Profile: Allen has great pop and good plate discipline from the left side of the dish, but the problems in his game may be insurmountable. He has serious problems making contact with the ball; so much so that a strikeout rate below the 30% mark would actually be a big-time improvement. Allen has the ability to hit 25-plus bombs if given the chance to play regularly, but will anyone be able to stomach his problems long enough to give him that chance? The 26-year-old will have to compete hard for a job in Oakland, and now that the team has accrued a bevy of outfielders, they are rumored to be looking for a trade partner for Allen. Take him as a flier in deep keeper leagues or deep AL-only leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Allen has the ability to hit 25-plus bombs if given the chance to play regularly, but will anyone be able to stomach his problems with strikeouts long enough to give him that chance?
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/8/1987 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: Alonso will hit enough to play anywhere if his Minor League numbers (.296/.374/.486 in 409 plate appearances at Triple-A) and 2011 Major League cameo (.330/.398/.545 in 98 PAs) are any indication, but he faces a tougher peer group at first base than he would have in left field. If Alonso can forget his new home park and stay within himself rather than becoming pull happy and trying to make the power numbers appear out of nowhere, he has a far better chance of being a fantasy asset. There’s plenty to like, especially in NL-only where he has less competition, but you can’t blame anyone in redraft leagues for waiting a season to see how he’ll handle the National League West in general and PETCO Park specifically. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: A more mature player with Alonso’s skills moving into PETCO Park wouldn’t be cause for much concern, but he never had no-doubt power on his way up and now his home park won’t help. Hopefully, the Padres’ coaches will be able to help him stay within himself and produce a well-rounded player.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/6/1990 | Team: Astros | Position: 2B|
Profile: Altuve’s short stature and free-swinging approach make him an easy player to root for, but it doesn’t necessarily make him a strong fantasy option. There’s some upside here, however. Altuve is only 21-years-old, has hit for strong averages over his career, and displays speed on the base-paths. Due to his hacktastic approach, his value will likely be very dependent on his BABIP next season. A middle infielder capable of hitting .290 with 20+ steals has value. A middle infielder that hits .250 with no plate discipline, not so much. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Altuve shouldn’t be relied on as a starter in mixed leagues, but he’s shown enough skill to be a late-round sleeper or an injury replacement.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 2/6/1987 | Team: Pirates | Position: 3B|
Profile: Pedro entered 2011 with the chance to really break out. Instead he fell right on his face. In 2010, he hit 29 home runs between his time in the minors and majors. He was able to put up an okay .256 average. It took a .341 batting average on balls in play to keep his average that high since he had a 30% strikeout rate. The batting average on balls in play wasn’t totally out of line with the .335 BABIP he put up in the minors. In 2012, that BABIP fell like a rock and the rest of his stats came with it — his average went from .256 to .191. It wasn’t just his average that took a hit, as Alvarez’ home runs were down 75% (16 to four) while his plate appearances were only down 32% (386 to 262). He is not hitting the ball hard enough to strike out 30% of the time. Only Mark Reynolds and Drew Stubbs had a strikeout percentage over 30% among all qualified hitters in 2011. There is little sign of his strikeout rate declining, so it will be imperative for him to have a high BABIP to be an everyday starter. In 2012, a late round or $1 flier might be a good idea. The key for him to have more value, though, is to get his strikeout rate in the 20% range and I just don’t see that happening. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Pedro Alvarez doesn’t hit with enough power to be an effective fantasy player if he continues to strike out over 30% of the time.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/6/1989 | Team: Angels | Position: 2B/OF|
Profile: Amarista, 22, got a cup of joe last year and is both versatile –- he can play second, short and outfield –- and speedy enough to carve out a career as a utility man. But the Angels are overcrowded at the moment, so his 2012 impact will be minimal. (Jason Catania)
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/16/1978 | Position: 2B|
Profile: It’s been about five years since Amezaga had any fantasy value, and that’s not likely to change in 2011. He might come up and steal some bases at some point, but otherwise don’t bother. (Mike Axisa)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/25/1984 | Team: Orioles | Position: 2B|
Profile: Andino more than held his own as 2011’s ‘Brian Roberts injury replacement’ at the keystone. At first glance, his .263/.327/.344 triple-slash isn’t awe-inspiring. Okay, maybe not at second glance, either. Still, Andino was a versatile piece for a pretty bad Orioles club, playing 100-plus innings at three different spots without embarrassing himself. He knows how to field, take a walk (career 7.3 percent rate), and steal a base or two. As far as utility infielders go, a team could do worse. With Roberts and J.J. Hardy up the middle, Andino is a good injury replacement/utility infielder. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Andino is the kind of guy to target if your draft completely falls apart up the middle. That’s about it. He’ll probably carry a passable average, may swipe a bag or two, and can fill in across the diamond. But if you’ve drafted Andino, you probably haven’t prepared.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 8/26/1988 | Team: Rangers | Position: SS|
Profile: Andrus does two things extremely well, steal bases and score runs. Among shortstops only Jose Reyes scored more runs and only Reyes and Bonifacio stole more bases. His average is middling-to-poor and he has very little power. Despite stealing 30-plus bases in each of his three seasons he very rarely hits a triple. He’s been a bit of an anomaly the past two seasons, posting a higher OPS on the road then at hitter-friendly Arlington (not that you’re drafting him for his OPS prowess). He’ll be atop the Rangers potent lineup once again, and unless they suddenly morph into the Seattle Mariners, they figure to be amongst the league leaders in runs scored. He’s a good $15, 5th-6th round value. (Erik Hahmann)
Quick Opinion: Don’t overspend if shortstops fly off the board early. He’s a good player but far from elite, even at his position. If he keeps his OBP in the .340-.350 range then 40 stolen bases and 90 runs scored are well within his reach.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/10/1985 | Team: Orioles | Position: OF|
Profile: Over the past two seasons, Angle has stolen 67 bases while being caught just 10 times. He’ll probably be a fifth-outfielder/pinch runner with the Orioles and will be a cheap source of steals when he does play. Can he play second base? (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 7/19/1979 | Position: OF|
Profile: Slick Rick had another miserable season at the plate in 2011, showing little of the home run power that made him fantasy-worthy during his Cardinals days and taking two trips to the disabled list for a sprained wrist and a strained rib cage muscle. Ankiel batted just .239/.296/.363 and clubbed nine homers in 415 plate appearances, and that was with him enjoying the platoon advantage nearly 80 percent of the time. A free agent at press time, Ankiel’s career prospects are bleak. He’s a platoon bat who shouldn’t see the light of day against lefties, and even that utility is questionable given his injury history and recent lack of power (his ISO has slipped from the low-.200s with St. Louis to just .124 this past year). (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Is it too late to convert back to the mound? It’d be shocking if Ankiel secures regular playing time in 2012. His best-case scenario is being a righty-bopping half of a platoon — if he can avoid injury and regain his power stroke. Neither of those things is terribly likely.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/8/1985 | Team: Orioles | Position: 2B|
Profile: Through 2007, there was little reason to think that Antonelli was going to be anything less than an average major leaguer. He’d posted good Minor League numbers, including a line of .307/.404/.491 between High- and Double-A in 2007, demonstrating excellent plate discipline (83:94 strikeouts to walks in 629 plate appearances) and above-average power for a second baseman. And he entered 2008 as Baseball America’s 50th overall prospect. A combination of injury and miserable ball-in-play figures rendered him a shadow of himself between 2008 and ’10, though. Last season marked a great recovery, as Antonelli slashed .297/.393/.460 (.342 BABIP) with a 47:59 BB:K in 359 plate appearances for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate Syracuse. Signed to a Major League contract by new Orioles GM Dan Duquette, Antonelli will compete for time at both second and third base. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: A former prospect, Antonelli overcame a three-year stretch of injuries and weak contact to post good Triple-A numbers in 2011. Signed to a big league deal in the offseason, he’ll compete for time in the Oriole infield.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/5/1986 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: C|
Profile: J.P. Arencibia came as advertised: a power-hitting catcher who won’t take a walk, and who struggles to make contact. In his first full season as the everyday catcher in Toronto, Arencibia delighted by hitting 23 home runs and driving in 78 runs. There’s little doubt he can match those numbers in 2012, but he’s got a lot of work to do moving forward. Mainly: Improving his .219 batting average, and .283 on-base percentage. Those numbers are nasty. With Jeff Mathis set to be the back-up catcher in Toronto, Arencibia will again carry the load for the Blue Jays behind the plate in 2012, and is the type of high risk/high reward player you’ll want to select in the later rounds of your league’s draft. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: With J.P. Arencibia penciled in as Toronto’s number one catcher, you know what you’re going to get: power numbers, and little else. Look away from the batting average and on-base percentage; they’re hideous. Draft him, sure. But late. And not for much. You’ve been warned.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 1/29/1987 | Team: Tigers | Position: C|
Profile: Avila always showed power and patience in the Minor Leagues. He’s also a strong defensive catcher. Kudos to the Tigers for developing another skilled player at a skill position. But, like Austin Jackson before him showed, not all breakouts are created equal. Avila’s .366 batting average on balls in play is not likely to be repeatable, and with his strikeout rate and batted ball profile, he’s likely to have a much worse batting average in his sophomore season. That’s okay. The power and patience should stick around, and the catching position as a whole puts up poor batting averages. Just don’t draft Avila as a .300 hitter. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: The power, patience and defense are all real. Avila will be a good player this year. He just won’t have as nice of a batting average.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/13/1981 | Team: Red Sox | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: The Red Sox committed to Aviles as their utility infielder in 2012 after trading Jed Lowrie to Houston, and then upped the ante by trading away Marco Scutaro. Aviles might even get into an offense/defense platoon with Nick Punto at short, which would make him a sleeper in deeper leagues. He put together some nice fantasy seasons with the Royals in 2008 (.325, 10 home runs, eight RBI) and 2010 (.304, eight home runs, 14 stolen bases), and even last year he managed to swat seven homers and steal 14 bases in just 91 games (309 plate appearances). Just 19.8% of his career balls in play have been pulled though, so Aviles won’t get too much help from the Green Monster during his home games at Fenway, where routine fly balls to left turn into doubles. There’s a chance he could see some time in right field against left-handed pitchers, but those starts figure to be few and far between. Aviles has value if he can get his batting average back over .300, but he won’t have a ton of power or speed. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Aviles could provide double-digit homers and steals with regular playing time, but it remains to be seen how the Red Sox infield will shake out in 2012.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 1/14/1984 | Team: Angels | Position: SS|
Profile: 2011 Erick Aybar looked a heck of a lot like 2009 Erick Aybar, but the newer model flashed a bit of power last year. Aybar’s fly ball percentage dropped while his home runs per fly ball doubled his previous career marks in route to hitting a career best 10 home runs. His low strikeout rate will help keep his batting average at a reasonable level, but adding a few home runs to his resume will help even more. Even if Aybar can’t keep up with his 2011 power numbers, he’s a nice late round shortstop option. Expect him to hit .275 with five homers and 25 steals and then hope for even more. Hitting at the top of a lineup that includes Albert Pujols is always a plus, and Aybar could potentially score 80+ runs this season if the Angels allow him to hit leadoff. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Aybar will hit for a solid average and steal you some bases, and the addition of Albert Pujols to the Angels’ lineup should allow him to cross the dish more often.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 6/21/1981 | Team: Cubs | Position: 1B/2B|
Profile: Baker’s infield flexibility and lefty-mashing talents make him a strong bet to get 200 plate appearances each year, but as a liability against righties, he would need a few injuries to Ian Stewart or Darwin Barney in order to open consistent opportunities. He has shown flashes of power, but his true talent level appears to be near league average with the bat (~99 wRC+) and above average with the glove. Deep leagues with deep benches could use him as a plug-and-play, but that’s about it. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: As a decent defender and a lefty masher, the 30-year-old Baker does not offer much in the way of fantasy value.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/20/1981 | Team: Padres | Position: C|
Profile: The Moneyballer does take a walk. In OBP leagues, his .356 career on-base percentage is also a positive. But in a good year, he puts up about league-average power and batting average, which isn’t super exciting in most fantasy leagues. Now add in the fact that he’s moved to San Diego, where there’s an incumbent catcher who seems decent enough (Nick Hundley), and then remember he’s missed most of the past two years coming back from Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t a great defensive catcher before the injuries, either. It’s not a thrilling package. But Baker can help if he’s kept away from southpaws, and if the Padres can stand his throwing problems, he could even matter in deep two-catcher leagues. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: As long as you don’t let him see a lefty, John Baker can help your real-life team. Unfortunately, those skills don’t really translate to fantasy — unless a powerless mediocre batting average plays at catcher in your league.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 3/30/1978 | Position: C|
Profile: Bard signed a Minor League contract with the Mariners in 2010 and played poorly. He then signed a Minor League contract in 2011 and played poorly. The next step was inevitable: he signed a Major League deal with the Dodgers, backing up Rod Barajas. There’s a a good chance Bard sees upwards of 200 plate appearances; there’s a better chance that you won’t want to witness them. (Patrick Dubuque)
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 3/6/1979 | Team: Pirates | Position: SS|
Profile: Now with his third team in three years, Barmes has always been a plus defender, but that doesn’t matter much in this context. His bat rebounded some in 2011 after a disastrous final season in Colorado, but he was still below average offensively, and a move to PNC park isn’t likely to help. He’s doesn’t post a particularly high average, nor a good on-base percentage, his days of double-digit steals are gone, and while he might slip 10 over the wall, I wouldn’t bet on it. NL-Only players could do worse, but think of Barmes last-ditch option rather than a player worth counting on. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Barmes may have been a popular name for bargain-hunting teams this offseason, but the National League has a fair number of better options at shortstop, making him an largely unappealing fantasy option.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/8/1985 | Team: Cubs | Position: 2B|
Profile: Defense will probably always be his calling card, but Barney can steal a few bags and — under new manager Dale Sveum — he might get more green lights. Still, even if his true talent is probably around .290 wOBA, his defense makes him an acceptable starter or a strong utility player — so he certainly should start through 2012 and have a nice long career, though maybe not as a starter. And definitely not as a fantasy star. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Barney’s batting average, which should hang around the .270s, and his occasional steals present the only true fantasy values he offers.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 10/30/1979 | Team: Padres | Position: SS|
Profile: Of all qualified hitters last season, Bartlett’s .307 slugging percentage was the worst in baseball. So he’s not going to hit for power. His batting average is also extremely dependent on his batting average on balls in play. He will steal some bases, but it’s worth noting that he was caught more often than usual last season. If that’s the first sign that he’s losing his effectiveness on the bases, Bartlett could be in for a big fall next season. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Bartlett is a borderline fantasy option because he plays at such a weak position. If he slips an further, he’s not likely to be a fantasy asset.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/16/1985 | Team: Athletics | Position: 1B|
Profile: One year after posting a .393 OBP, Barton found himself back in Triple-A at midseason in 2011, unable to repeat his success. His one primary skill — drawing walks and getting on-base — has limited value in fantasy, even in OBP leagues. A first baseman needs to bring power and run production to the table, and Barton has never topped 13 homers in a single season, majors or minors. He’s proven to be a bit of a fly ball hitter in his 1,765 plate appearances with the Athletics (just 36.5% grounders), but the ballpark in Oakland just eats up anything less than a mammoth blast. That said, Barton’s isolated slugging percentage is just .145 on the road and .159 in the minors, so there doesn’t appear to be much untapped potential in there. The Athletics have a glut of first base/designated hitter types, guys who can both hit for power and get on base, so Barton is going to have to take some major step forwards in short order next season. Until he does, he’s not worth a fantasy roster spot, especially not at first base. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: The on-base numbers are fantastic, but first baseman who can’t hit for power are close to useless in fantasy leagues. The Athletics other first base/designated hitter types could force Barton out of the picture early next season, too.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 10/19/1980 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: OF|
Profile: It’s hard to believe, but Jose Bautista topped his monster 2010 season with an even better 2011 campaign. While both his home run and RBI totals dropped last season, Bautista led all of Major League Baseball — and it wasn’t even close — with a walk rate of 20.2%, leading people to mention Bautista and the great Barry Bonds in the same sentence. Thanks to his incredible patience at the plate, Bautista registered his second-lowest strikeout rate of his career, all while spending time in right field and at third base for the Blue Jays. After a scorching start to the season in April and May, Bautista cooled considerably, especially after the All Star break, but he still put up MVP-type numbers in Toronto. We’ll have to wait and see whether Bautista can hit .300 again — he finished 2011 batting .302. With a .309 batting average on balls in play in 2011, and a better lineup around Bautista in 2012, there’s no reason to think he can’t. But this we do know: Bautista’s a stud, one of the most productive hitters in baseball, and if you have the chance to draft him, and don’t, it might be time to take a good, hard look in the mirror, and question your life choices. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Bautista’s 2011 was magical, as he finished second to only Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury in WAR. The risk the Blue Jays took in signing Bautista long-term after his monster 2010 season looks to be paying off, and should you have the chance to draft Bautista, no matter what league you’re in, do it. You won’t regret it.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 12/7/1984 | Position: OF|
Profile: Mike Baxter is one of those ‘tweeners’ that never showed enough power, speed or glove to stick at any position. At 27 years old, he’s going to attend spring training with the Mets to try to make the Major League team without any options remaining. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 9/20/1978 | Team: Mets | Position: OF|
Profile: Despite average-ish batting averages on balls in play and a strikeout rate within a sniff of the league number, Bay has settled in with a bad batting average. That might be okay if he had his old power, but that disappeared with his move to the National League. He’ll still steal you double-digit bags because he’s aware on the basepaths, and with a little love from the new walls in Citi Field, he might be able to manage 15-20 home runs in 2012. Still, if that comes with a mediocre batting average, it’s not that useful. Pick him in your final rounds if your outfield could use some help, but don’t put too many eggs in that basket. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Oh baybee, Jason’s lost what we need. The power’s gone, the batting average has tanked, and Mets fans are ready for the day he’s no longer patrolling left field in Citi. At least they moved the walls in!
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/16/1986 | Team: White Sox | Position: 2B|
Profile: Supposedly a polished prospect that would hit the majors quickly. Gordon Beckham proved the report correct by managing 430 .270/.347/.460 plate appearances a year after he was drafted. Unfortunately, all Beckham has done since is regress. His walk rate, strikeout rate, swinging strike rate, reach rate and isolated power have all gone in the wrong direction since. Since he’s now been pretty terrible for 1000+ PAs and was only good for those first 400 PAs, it’s hard to keep waiting for that bounce back. If you set your sites on 2010 as a possibility, then he might make for a decent pick: .250 with double-digit home runs and five stolen bases doesn’t make for a ton of upside, though. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Don’t keep waiting for Gordon Beckham to be the Gordon Beckham he debuted as. Since 2009, he’s spent twice as long being below average as he did being (slightly) above average.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/13/1986 | Team: Orioles | Position: 3B|
Profile: After a successful 2009, Bell has done little to convince the Orioles that he’s the future at third base. Though his Major League performance has been terrible, Bell has shown some pop throughout his minor league career. With Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds in the fold, Bell will have to fight for playing time in 2012. He’s the best defender of the bunch, and might actually get his opportunity. He’s going to have to cut down on his 34.5% strikeout rate to keep the job at third, but at least the other two guys have the same problem. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Bell hasn’t shown much since 2009, but might finally have an opportunity for playing time this season. He’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts in order to be a serviceable fantasy option.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/20/1988 | Team: Giants | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: “Belt was not in the lineup Wednesday” is not the game story you want associated with your prized rookie first baseman with the killer Minor League stats. Belt fought for his freedom all year — he showed power, patience and athleticism — but the batting average wasn’t there. And so he lost his playing time, got hurt, and ended up back in Triple-A a couple times. Who knows if the back-and-forth hurt the Baby Giraffe. He still raked in the minors, still showed power and patience and a few too many strikeouts in the bigs. There are fewer veterans left in front of Belt on the Giants’ roster this year, and the team needs someone to step up to help Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval in that lineup. So he’ll finally get to show some of his upside as a power-and-patience first baseman (outfielder for now) with some wheels (for now). He can handle the outfield (for now) and is definitely worthy of your late-draft investment. Just remember how they’ve treated him in the past. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Free the Belt. Brandon has power and patience and speed — and could easily trim the strikeouts some this season. He has a starting job, right?
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 4/24/1977 | Team: Cardinals | Position: OF|
Profile: Beltran has the daunting task of helping replace Albert Pujols in St. Louis, but he won’t have to live up to those expectations to make him worthy of having on your fantasy team. He is still a dynamic offensive player when he’s healthy, and hopefully the Cardinals’ training staff will able to keep him on the field for at least 140 games in 2012. While the ballpark in St. Louis won’t help Beltran’s power numbers, hitters like Lance Berkman, Pujols, and Matt Holliday have shown it doesn’t have to completely put a damper on home runs. Look for Beltran to hit around .290 with 20 homers and at least 80 runs and RBI. While he’s no longer a top fantasy outfielder, his line should still be good enough to warrant a mid-round draft pick, especially in OBP leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: “Blame” Beltran is still a dynamic offensive player when he’s healthy, and hopefully the Cardinals’ training staff will able to keep him on the field for at least 140 games in 2012. While he’s no longer a top fantasy outfielder, his line should still be good enough to warrant a mid-round draft pick, especially in OBP leagues.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 4/7/1979 | Team: Rangers | Position: 3B|
Profile: Beltre was a top three performer in four of the five traditional scoring categories last season (among third baseman), with the lone exception being stolen bases. He leads all third baseman in homers (60, assuming Mark Reynolds is a first baseman going forward), RBI (207), and batting average (.309) while placing second in runs scored (166) over the last two seasons, and there’s no reason to expect less going forward. Although it seems like Beltre has been around forever, he’s still only 33 in April and close enough to his prime years that age-related decline isn’t a huge concern just yet. With a great home park to hit in and a deep lineup around him, he’s at worst a top three fantasy third baseman in 2012, with his only significant drawback being his lack of walks (6.8% career) and somewhat limited value in OBP leagues. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: One of the three best fantasy third baseman in the game, Beltre hits for average and power with a great lineup and home ballpark. Just make sure you’re cognizant of his OBP shortcomings in those leagues where it matters.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 3/5/1988 | Team: Twins | Position: OF|
Profile: One of the toolsier outfield prospects around, Benson has yet to put it all together, but he’s close. The 24-year-old was called up last September from Double-A to get his feet wet –- and because the Twins had more than a few injury issues. A 2006 second-round pick, he sustained much of the success from his breakout 2010 (27 home runs and 19 stolen bases across High- and Double-A), by slashing .285/.388/.495 in 2011. It’s somewhat curious that the Twins had him repeat at New Britain, but he has battled injuries over his six seasons, and he is strikeout-prone at times (24%). The raw skills, though, make for an intriguing package that could put up several years of 15-plus homers and steals, despite a mediocre average. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: The Twins probably hoped Benson would be ready to step into their 2012 Opening Day lineup, especially with outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel reaching free agency. That would be rushing things a bit, but he should get a shot after mid-season. Caution: His adjustment period could be trying.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 2/10/1976 | Team: Cardinals | Position: OF|
Profile: Berkman is a good lesson in why even for old guys, one down season (relatively speaking) does not mean a player is “done.” He was mediocre for the Astros and Yankees in 2010, but utterly destroyed the ball (as well as the eyes of people scouting outfield defense, it must be admitted) as the right fielder for the Cardinals in 2011. Injury is a bit of concern, but with Albert Pujols gone in St. Louis, Berkman can move to first base, which should help with that potential issue. No, he is not Prince Albert or Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez. No, he is not what he was during his near-Hall-of-Fame peak of a few seasons ago. What he will do is get on base, drive in runs, and hit for power. A .270/.380/.480 line may not be as thrilling as some, but in this run environment, it will definitely get the job done at first base. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Don’t expect Berkman to repeat his fantastic comeback year of 2011 in 2012, but he’s definitely one of the best first base buys of draft day after the “big boys.”
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 6/12/1984 | Team: Nationals | Position: OF|
Profile: Bernadina was one of those classic “best shape of his life” stories in spring training, arriving looking like he could put 70s-era Arnold Schwarzenegger in a headlock. That extra beefcake didn’t translate into batting prowess, however, as he shuttled between Triple-A Syracuse and Washington while posting a .243/.301/.362 MLB line in 337 plate appearances. He stayed swift on the bases at least, with 17 stolen bases in 20 tries. “The Shark” could get a shot at the center field job in 2012, but the team is actively seeking another solution. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: People often speak of Bernadina in terms of potential, but he is 27 years old with a .242/.304/.363 triple-slash in nearly 900 MLB plate appearances. While his speed makes him intriguing, Bernadina doesn’t seem to have the walks and power to merit a starting spot. He could always try for Mr. Universe or become a C-grade action hero, though.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/31/1982 | Team: Royals | Position: SS|
Profile: Betancourt is much maligned around the league, and quite frankly, it is well earned. For the third straight year his on-base percentage was below .290 and his batting average was below .260. He provides very little value in a fantasy context besides a few home runs — 29 over the past two years. However, he won’t have a starting role in Kansas City and when he does play, he will likely be too low in the lineup to make much of an impact. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Betancourt supplies more power than they typical shortstop. Without a starting job in Kansas City next season, he likely won’t reach 10 home runs for the third straight year.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 11/2/1981 | Team: Orioles | Position: 3B|
Profile: Switch-hitting Wilson Betemit, traded by Kansas City to Detroit last July, ended up putting up some of the best offensive numbers of his career in 2010, thanks in large part to a .391 batting average on balls in play. Most of Betemit’s success came batting left-handed: he owned right-handed pitching last year, hitting .303, and, a free agent, Betemit should find a job as a platoon player in 2011. Betemit spent most of 2010 at third base and, while he’s no wizard in the field, he’s proven over the past two seasons that, as a part-time player, he can hit for a high average and contribute. Betemit strikes out too much, and walks too little, to be a top fantasy option, but if you’re in a deep league and can capitalize on Betemit’s splits, he could be an option for your bench. When you’re late in your draft, like the Pearl Jam song goes, “… can’t find a Betemit.” (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: After a mid-season trade to Detroit, Betemit went on a tear, putting up a .373 wOBA and 140 wRC+ in 40 games with the Tigers. Over the past two years, thanks to elevated batting averages on balls in play, he’s proven he can hit. Betemit could fill out your roster’s bench, as long as you only promise to play him against right-handed started pitchers. No, seriously, promise.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/22/1982 | Position: 3B/OF|
Profile: The fact that there’s a comment here at all is proof that we wrote a lot of Second Opinion comments this year. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 7/1/1986 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: After following up a good Double-A campaign in 2010 with an excellent showing in the Arizona Fall League, Blackmon’s prospect stock rose, dispelling concerns about his age/level situation. Nor did his first exposure to Triple-A do anything to challenge those revised assessments: in 272 plate appearances at Colorado Springs, Blackmon slashed .342/.396/.576 (.361 BABIP). All of that — combined with the ineffectiveness of, and an injury to, Dexter Fowler — opened up a spot in the Rockies’ left field for Blackmon in early June. The move was short-lived, however: about 100 plate appearances into his major-league career, Blackmon suffered a broken left foot and spent the remainder of the season on the DL. In the meantime, the Rockies’ outfield situation has gotten even less friendly, as Fowler batted .288/.381/.498 (.361 BABIP) from July 15th on and then the club signed Michael Cuddyer in December. At least Seth Smith is goine, leaving the fourth outfielder job available. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: With his contact ability, decent power, and athleticism, Blackmon profiles as at least an average major-league outfielder; however, the resurgence of Dexter Fowler and signing of Michael Cuddyer leave him fewer opportunities in Colorado.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 8/23/1973 | Team: Rockies | Position: 3B|
Profile: Blake is coming off what is easily his least productive season in his long career with a wOBA of .314, as he hit just .252 with only four home runs over 239 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His isolated slugging percentage was terrible .119 (career .178) and his typical ability to drive fastballs quickly evaporated as he was a negative against the pitch by linear weights pitch-type values — the first time in his career as a regular. But even at 38, Blake could find new life as a member of the Colorado Rockies as he’s still demonstrated an ability to hit lefties, and it’s looking increasingly likely that he will get consistent at-bats. Again, that sort of thing is always good news when you play at Coors Field. If he stays healthy, Blake could be a dirt cheap option for above average production at third. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: The promise of Coors makes Blake interesting, and even at 38 years old, Blake could very well post some numbers to help your fantasy squad. Don’t hang your hat on him, but in deeper leagues, don’t totally fall asleep on him.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 8/29/1971 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: C|
Profile: As Miguel Montero’s backup, Blanco enjoyed a power outburst at the age of 40. Obviously, that is unlikely to be repeated, and given his .228 career batting average, he can be safely ignored. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/11/1986 | Team: Padres | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: It’s been a rough last couple of seasons for Blanks. After bursting on the scene with 10 home runs in just 172 at bats in 2009, he’s struggled to hit for power or average the last two seasons. Even though he cut his strikeout rate to an acceptable level (and his afro), anyone that strikes out 26.8% of the time is going to struggle to hit for average consistently. The Padres are still young, however, and Blanks’ size and power potential are intriguing, so he should get an opportunity to prove he belongs at some point this season — maybe when Carlos Quentin gets hurt. He’s got the potential to hit 25+ home runs, but his home park probably knocks him down to about 20ish dongers. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Blanks hasn’t been a great option the last two seasons, but he still has an interesting size/power combination. He might not provide a strong average, but he could be a cheap source of power if he gets enough playing time.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 11/27/1977 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: SS/OF|
Profile: If Stephen Drew struggles to recover from his injury, Bloomquist could be pressed into more playing time early in the season. He should continue to be a cheap source of steals and nothing more. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/9/1983 | Position: OF|
Profile: Boggs continues to show intriguing walk rates and power numbers in the minor leagues. However, it won’t amount to a Major League career unless he can cut down on the strikeouts. (Jack Moore)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 2/18/1984 | Team: Astros | Position: OF|
Profile: A cursory look over Bogusevic’s stat line might have you penciling him in near the end of your draft as a great sleeper, and a .287/.348/.457 year will do that. Beware, however, as Bogusevic is a strict platoon player, amassing just 15 plate appearances against left-handed pitching all year and never getting a start against an opponent with a left-handed starter. If you’re in a league deep enough to use platoon players rather than strictly full-time players (ottoneu, with its deep benches, does come to mind), Bogusevic is a decent option, but it would behoove you to have a partner in mind when you take him. He’s a half-time player at best; add in the fact that he doesn’t hit many home runs or steal many bases and he becomes a decidedly less compelling option. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Shallow leaguers should stay away from Bogusevic as he’s extremely unlikely to play more than 100 games. In deep NL-only leagues, he should produce a decent average, but little else as a part-time player.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/23/1985 | Team: Marlins | Position: SS/OF|
Profile: In 2011, Emilio Bonifacio had a career year. He posted a triple-slash line of .296/.360/.393 with 78 runs scored and 40 stolen bases. Those stolen bases were good for a tie for fourth in all of baseball, ahead of some premier speedsters. Bonifacio, 26, will also have great versatility headed into 2012 with eligibility at third base, second base, shortstop, and outfield. The big issue is that we’ve never seen this kind of production Bonifacio, and the concern that there will be a letdown in 2011 back towards his career norms. His batting average was buoyed by some good fortune with a .372 batting average on balls in play but with a 24% line drive rate and just a 23% fly ball rate, he earned almost all of it with an expected BABIP north of .360. It’s probably optimistic to think he can repeat, but that doesn’t mean Bonifacio doesn’t still have a lot of value. He can be a great asset with his speed and his versatility would no doubt come in handy when injuries strike. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: A carbon-copy repeat performance isn’t likely for Bonifacio, but his plus speed and eligibility at shortstop, second base, third base and outfield make him a commodity worth owning.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 2/20/1986 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: After struggling as the Rangers’ de facto starting center fielder in 2010 (.276/.309/.340, 15 SB in 22 attempts), Borbon tanked to begin 2011, pulled his hamstring, was kept at Triple-A after rehabbing and then tore ligaments in his ankle in the minors, necessitating season-ending surgery in July. Borbon could get another shot at the job in 2012, but that’s far from certain with Craig Gentry (.271/.347/.346, 18-for-18 in steals) profiling similarly and $15 million Cuban signee Leonys Martin (.295/.362/.421 between AA and AAA) getting a big league quickie in September. Texas could also go with Josh Hamilton in center more often, if they think his body can take it. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: The 26-year-old has next to no pop and works the count like a Corey Patterson clone. His game is all about speed, and that makes his leg ailments all the more troubling. Borbon’s wheels make him worth watching, but Gentry is basically a healthy Borbon and Martin has higher upside. He could be headed for fourth outfielderdom.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/4/1982 | Team: Astros | Position: OF|
Profile: For deep leaguers, Bourgeois was a pretty nice find as he stole 31 bases in just 93 games and backed it up with a solid .294 average, even if he didn’t add anything in the power categories. He’ll be 30 this season and will struggle to get playing time away from Jordan Schafer in center field. He could find a home in right, though he’ll fight for playing time with Brian Bogusevic there. If he can claim the starting job anywhere, I like him as a cheap speed option — a poor man’s Michael Bourn if you will — but if he’s stuck in a platoon or part-time role, it’s going to be much harder for him to get the number of steals necessary for him to be a great option in that sense. He’s worth following through the early part of the season, that much is sure. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: In deep leagues, Bourgeois’ speed makes him worth the risk that he won’t get a ton of playing time. Shallower league players may want to wait and see how the Astros outfield shakes out before committing time and treasure to Bourgeois.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/31/1987 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: Prior to 2011, Bourjos was somewhat of a fantasy conundrum. The center fielder had amazing speed and utilized it to focus on stealing bases for most of his Minor League career. But in 2010, that all changed, and Bourjos began developing somewhat of a power stroke. Bourjos found most of his old ways in 2011, as he was more content with making solid contact and allowing his wheels to do the talking. In the last two months of last season, he showed some of his power potential, hitting six homers in August and another three in September. Bourjos has the complete fantasy package if he could only cut down on his strikeouts and work on making contact more often. He has the speed to steal 40 bases and post high batting averages on balls in play — and the power to hit 20 homers. Whether he can do both at the same time is debatable, but it’s hard not to like what Bourjos can bring to your team in 2012. Don’t rely on him to do any one thing; instead, draft him with the hopes that he can help you in any number of categories. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Bourjos may be better known for his defensive prowess, but he has the potential to be a versatile fantasy contributor. He’s worth a chance as your fourth outfielder in standard leagues, and he could even slot into the third outfield spot if you decide to draft two big outfield pieces early on.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 12/27/1982 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: Bourn was seen as a pure stolen base specialist when the Astros gave him a full-time role in before the 2005 season, and his batting average only reinforced that image. However, he has since proven that he can provide owners with a decent batting average despite a lack of power and a merely average strikeout rate. Bourn has hit over .280 in two of the past three seasons, and he’s even taken walks and provided value to owners playing in OBP leagues. He was already scoring 90 runs a year with the Astros, so moving to a more potent Braves lineup will help him cross the plate even more often. Bourn is still on the right side of 30, so he still has the ability to essentially carry your stolen base category in roto leagues as long as Atlanta lets him do his thing on the basepaths. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Bourn can carry your stolen base category, despite his narrow, slight shoulders. He’ll also hit at least .275 and score about 100 runs, making him a relatively low risk piece of your roster.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 7/8/1983 | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: The free agent has decent power and makes acceptable contact, but loathes the base on balls and has struggled to maintain a league average batting average on balls in play. Bowker might see some playing time and deliver in the power categories if he signs with a contender, but he likely has no place on a rebuilding team. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 4/15/1978 | Position: OF|
Profile: If Milton Bradley signs with a team, make no mistake: we all win. The Rockies have talked to his agent, and if he were to sign there, hilarity and a .310 wOBA would ensue. (Patrick Dubuque)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/15/1987 | Team: Indians | Position: OF|
Profile: The Indians have been waiting for Brantley’s on-base skills, demonstrated on a regular basis in the minors, to appear on the field in Cleveland. Brantley’s Minor League walk rates have always been above 10%, while in MLB he has yet to break 7%. Brantley has 30 stolen base potential (he stole 50 across all levels in 2009), but he has to get that walk rate up and reach base more often to take advantage of it. While there are some who feel Brantley has some untapped power potential, the chances are he won’t contribute a ton in the way home runs. His average isn’t terrible and should come in around .270, but his overall value is going to rely on SB and runs. With Sizemore potentially returning to his leadoff slot, Brantley will likely find himself hitting near the bottom of the order, which will negatively impact his value as well. If you need some speed from your outfielder, especially in an ottoneu 5×5 where you can plug him in for extra plate appearances, Brantley could be a low-cost source of speed, but don’t expect much else. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: If he can get the opportunities, Brantley has the ability to steal some bases, but you shouldn’t count on him for more than 15-20 SB with 30 SB upside. There may also be some untapped power potential, too.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 12/19/1975 | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: His old player skills are getting old these days, as Branyan became a part-time player who couldn’t even muster a .300 OBP in 146 plate appearances despite a 14.3% walk rate in 2011. His power declined for the second straight year, both in terms of homeruns and isolated slugging percentage. Even at his best, Branyan was a source of homers and little else, routinely hitting in the mid-.200’s without enough playing time to accumulate roster-worthy RBI totals. Unless he falls into a platoon first base/designated hitter job unexpectedly, Russell The Muscle offers little fantasy value, even in an OBP league where his walks are useful. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Branyan has been relegated to part-time duty over the last year or so, meaning his walks and homers aren’t enough to overcome the expected production of his position in fantasy. Unless he surprisingly lands a regular lineup spot and reverts to 2009 form, Branyan’s not rosterable.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/17/1983 | Team: Brewers | Position: OF|
Profile: Braun posted by far the best season of his career in 2011, with a .332/.397/.597 line, 33 home runs, 109 runs, 111 RBIs, and the cherry on top, a whopping 33 stolen bases. The question isn’t if he can keep up the excellent hitting — even at his worst, he’s some 30% better than the average MLB hitter. The question is how valuable he an be if he’s out for 50 games. This situation gives the perfect reminder of the value of replacement level in a fantasy context — if Braun is suspended, his drafting team won’t just get Braun’s 100 games out of his roster spot, they’ll get his 100 games plus the 50-60 games of his replacement, and that is likely better than many of the mid-range outfielders who will go in the third or fourth rounds of drafts. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Braun’s value is obviously diminished by a possible suspension, but make no mistake: he could be the best hitter in the National League.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/16/1986 | Team: Rays | Position: SS|
Profile: Brignac’s chances at earning the starting shortstop job in 2011 rely heavily on his ability to hit not-terribly. His defense is near-elite, but his hitting so far has been atrocious. To the fantasy owner, Brignac is a last chance solution — and only if he gets a starting role. His slash from 2009 through 2010 seems like a reasonable high hope for Brignac: .261/.305/.399. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: As a starter, Brignac highest upside offensively is probably around 90 wRC+ with 10 homers and a half-dozen steals.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/3/1987 | Team: Phillies | Position: OF|
Profile: Entering the 2011 season, both Baseball America and FanGraphs ranked Brown fourth overall on their respective top-100 prospect lists. With Jayson Werth having departed for Washington in free agency and an aged Raul Ibanez manning left field, it appeared as though Brown — who’d posted excellent offensive numbers between Double- and Triple-A in 2010 — could play a significant role in the 2011 version of the team. When the Phils promoted their top prospect to the majors in late May, it seemed likely that he’d remain with the club. A trade for Hunter Pence at the end of July saw Brown return to the minors, however, and now GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has said (at the beginning of October, at least) that he’d prefer to see Brown get 500 or 600 at-bats in Triple-A this season. Given the opportunity, he could provide value across the board. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Just 24, Brown already has the tools/skills to provide value across the board; however, as of press time, he’s expected to begin the season at Triple-A Lehigh valley.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/3/1987 | Team: Reds | Position: OF|
Profile: Bruce has power, and that’s why you draft him. Bruce also has the ability to add on the basepaths and in the field, so he’s a good young real-life outfielder. He also has flaws — his swinging strike rate suggests that he’ll always strike out more than league average. Unfortunately, the patience, defense, and good base running won’t help you in your fantasy leagues (other than the five or so stolen bases). So you’re left with a player that won’t put up a plus batting average and will hit you 30 or so home runs. With the state of power as it is today, that’s still a very valuable fantasy player. Just don’t have visions of a .300 batting average dancing in your head when you draft him. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: It won’t come with a good batting average, but real-man power like Jay Bruce has is a rarer commodity these days.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/7/1980 | Team: Marlins | Position: C|
Profile: In his first free agency foray, Buck landed a nice three-year, $17 million deal. Not bad for a catcher who entered 2011 with a .722 OPS. And just like his pay, Buck’s 2011 season couldn’t have been much more disparate than his 2010. He set a career-high with a 10.2 percent walk rate, and managed to slice his whiffs by a healthy four percent. But with that went Buck’s BABIP, down to .268 from his high-water .335 mark in 2010. As a result, Buck’s ISO tumbled 70 points, and his wOBA 45 points as well. For a guy that generally doesn’t generate rave reviews for his leather, Buck needs to pop a few home runs to keep his value. He still managed 16 long balls in 2011, but everything else suffered. With top prospect J.T. Realmuto still at least a couple years away, the Fish will need a moderate rebound from Buck to keep the deal from busting. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Where to nab Buck in a 5×5 hinges a lot on whether you think his true talent level was in 2010 or 2011. Chances are, he’s somewhere in between: his power will be beneficial at catcher, but he’ll provide little else. Sort of like an older J.P. Arencibia.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/18/1983 | Position: OF|
Profile: Just nine days before his 28th birthday, Buck signed a Minor League deal with the Houston Astros, his second move in two seasons after spending the beginning of his career with the Oakland A’s. In 2007, Buck seemed like part of the future in Oakland, putting up .288/.377/.474 line in 82 games, adding seven home runs and four stolen bases at 24 years old, but every single one of those numbers has proven to be a career high. He came to Cleveland on a Minor League deal last year and a rash of injuries created some playing time for Buck, giving him 50 games and 160 plate appearances to show what he could do, but what he did show was very little: no power and a poor batting average. He proved to be a decent defender, as he has been for much of his career. Buck will find himself fighting for playing time in Houston, although the Astros have outfield space after moving both Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence in trades last season. From a fantasy perspective, Buck brings very little to the table, and barring an unexpected return of his 2007 success, he won’t be worth owning. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: Buck is a solid fourth outfielder for a Major League team — a lefty bat and decent glove off the bench, with experience in both corner spots (and even a few games in center). For a fantasy team, he is best left unowned.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 10/10/1976 | Position: OF|
Profile: Burrell has a degenerative condition in his right foot that cannot be corrected by surgery. All indications are that he will retire this offseason. It’s too bad, because Burrell still has power — he hit seven home runs in 219 plate appearances in 2011. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/17/1985 | Team: Giants | Position: 2B|
Profile: Burriss knows the Fresno to San Francisco route well, having traveled from the Giants Triple-A team to their San Francisco affiliate many times in last three seasons. In 2012, Giants will be relying on Burriss as utility infielder, despite his career wOBA of .276. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 9/12/1980 | Position: 3B|
Profile: The one-time top prospect finally returned to the majors after a three-year layoff, displaying the same skills he did that made him a disappointment to begin with. Given his inability to take a walk and complete lack of power, it would be a surprise if he garners 100 at-bats again. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/9/1983 | Team: Twins | Position: C|
Profile: In any other organization, Butera would be Double-A roster glue. He’s a good chemistry guy whose dad also played for the Twins, and is the inexplicable personal catcher for Carl Pavano, despite similar numbers when the veteran tosses to Joe Mauer. All this while providing absolutely nothing with the stick. (Brandon Warne)
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/18/1986 | Team: Royals | Position: DH|
Profile: Billy Butler does not hit like your typical first baseman/DH. His walk rate (once intentional walks are removed) is only average, and after a nice power “breakout” in 2009, he really took a step back in 2010 and 2011 when it came to hitting home runs. Butler will be 26 next season, so it is not as if he is on the steep part fo the aging curve any more, either. Despite all of this, he is still worth more than hole-filling consideration. For one thing, walks and power typically peak later than other skills. For another, Butler’s good plate discipline and contact skills give him good base to work from. Moreover, Butler is never hurt, which means that he very reliable in terms of counting stats for fantasy. Finally, and perhaps surprisingly, the Royals actually have an okay offense, and expected regression from players like Alex Gordon and Jeff Francouer will probably be counter-acted by improvements from Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. That will increase Butler’s value as well. Don’t treat him like a superstar, but don’t simply pay for what he has done, either — don’t be the person who passes on him right before he has a power spike in his mid-to-late 20s. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Billy Butler is a DH — only without much power. That will lead many to underrate him. However, Butler still has enough potential to make him more than just a spot-filler.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 8/30/1977 | Team: Cubs | Position: OF|
Profile: After getting plunked in the face, Marlon Byrd’s 2011 was not likely to go too well. Whether it was an aftereffect of the injury or not, Byrd hit for a 93 wRC+ and had a generally down year with the bat. At age 34, it is hard to see him improving on his 2010 career year (107 wRC+, 4.4 WAR), but he should be able to match or do a touch better than his .281/.339/.420 career slash. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Good for a few homers, a few steals, and an above average batting average and on-base percentage, Byrd makes an decent outfield bench option for teams in deep leagues.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 4/18/1983 | Team: Tigers | Position: 1B|
Profile: Changing leagues hasn’t changed anything for Cabrera the past four years, especially when considering the last two have been by far his best in the big leagues. There’s almost nothing the right-handed Venezuelan slugger can’t do with the stick. In 2011, Cabrera hit at home (1.011 OPS), on the road (1.055), in the first half (.980), in the second half (1.100), versus righties (1.047), versus lefties (.990), in wins (1.058), and in losses (.998). Seven of his last eight seasons have resulted in 30-plus dongs, and six of his last seven have resulted in a .300 or better average. Out of breath yet? Simply put, Cabrera’s on a Hall of Fame path that’ll only be stopped by unfortunate injury, or a more severe bout with his personal demons. He’s that good. And now he looks like he’ll be a third baseman, which makes him a consensus top-three pick at worst. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Cabrera will be one of the first five hitters selected in your draft. First base isn’t as deep as you remember, and now he might be a third baseman — so take a ride in the Miggy Cab on this one. We promise it’s safe.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/17/1986 | Team: Padres | Position: SS|
Profile: After a breakout 2009, Cabrera failed to live up to expectations in 2010, and was sent to Triple-A last season. He walks at a decent clip and steals bases, but strikes out far too much for who won’t contribute any power. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/13/1985 | Team: Indians | Position: SS|
Profile: After hitting 18 home runs in the first four years of his Major League career, Cabrera broke out for 25 in 2011. The rest of his stats, though, were right in line with what you would expect. A career .281 hitter with a .343 OBP put up a .273/.332 line in 2011. He stole 17 bases and scored 87 runs — similar numbers to his last full season (17 SB and 81 R in 2009). So if you can pencil Asdrubal in for 15+ SB, a .275-.280 average, and 80+ runs, the only question left is whether his power outburst will keep him over 20 HR and 90 RBI. It was reported during the season that Cabrera made a change to his swing that led to more HR, and a player reaching his power potential at age 25 is far from unheard of. Expect another 20 HR year and feel comfortable with him as top five shortstop in 2012. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: A sudden show of power in 2011 turned Cabrera from a decent fantasy play to a near-elite shortstop. Bet on the power being real and expect another big season from the 26-year-old Venezuelan.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 8/11/1984 | Team: Giants | Position: OF|
Profile: Melky had a great fantasy season by any standards in 2011, but don’t expect a repeat. First, he never had an average over .280 in his career before last year. 2011’s batting average was pumped up by a .332 batting average on balls in play. Did the 27 year-old begin hitting the ball any differently explain the change in BABIP? Nope. Career line drive rates: 19%, 2011: 20%. Career ground-ball rates: 49%, 2011: 47%. Career fly ball rates: 32%, 2011: 33%. Generally he has had the same batted ball profile over his career. With the Royals in 2011, he got the chance to hit quite often (706 plate appearances) at the top of a decent lineup. Both of these led to the high number of run, RBI and stolen base opportunities. So what to expect for 2012? Just plan on the 2011 version, but a little worse across the board. Double digit homers and steals with a .275 average. The run and RBI numbers will be determined by were he hits in the Giants’ lineup, and wether or not the Giants lineup can improve around him. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: The Milkman delivered to his fantasy owners in 2011, but don’t expect a repeat in 2012.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 11/2/1974 | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: The sun is setting on Orlando Cabrera’s career. At 37 years old, and after part-time stints with Cleveland and San Francisco in 2011, Cabrera’s looking for a full-time job in 2012 and likely won’t find one. For the fourth straight season, Cabrera saw his wOBA decline, to a career-low .254 in 2011. Never one to take a base on balls, Cabrera’s walk rate reached new lows in 2011, and his strikeout rate reached new highs. Getting old is no fun; not to experience, or to watch. If 2011 taught us anything, it’s that Cabrera can no longer catch up to a Major League fastball. Known as a winner, and a reliable defensive shortstop, even Cabrera’s glove let him down last summer. There may be a spot for Cabrera on a team’s bench in 2012, but probably not one on your fantasy team’s. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Becoming a part-time player has sped up the decline of Orlando Cabrera, and 2011 was, offensively, the worst season of his career. A free agent, he might catch on with a winning, postseason-bound team to provide some depth, but he isn’t worth your fantasy consideration. And he might be in the process of filing his retirement papers right now.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/13/1986 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: In 2012, Lorenzo Cain could be a great sleeper pick. He was part of the trade that brought Zack Greinke to the Brewers, but then spent much of 2011 season in the minors and got a September call up. While in the minors in 2011, he developed a power stroke (16 home runs) that he never showed previously. He may not be able transfer this new power to the majors, but it would be nice. Cain looks like he could probably put up 10 homers, a .280 average and 15 steals. Much of his potential 2012 value will come from where he hits in the Royals lineup. He has already been given the job in center according to the Royals’ management. If he hits at the top of the order, he will see a significant increase in his counting stats because of the increase in plate appearances. Also, the hitters behind him should be able to drive him if on base. Finally, Ned Yost loves to get runners going, so he will get a decent number of steals. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Lorenzo Cain’s fantasy value jumped once he was given the starting centerfield job from the Royals. It will go up even more if he ends up hitting first or second in the Royals lineup.
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 5/4/1974 | Team: Reds | Position: 3B|
Profile: Cairo opens the season as Scott Rolen’s deep understudy at third base, but with both he and Rolen heading into the age-37 season, it’s more or less just a crapshoot as to who gets hurt first. Rolen’s extended absence in 2011 meant that Cairo was able to amass his large number of plate appearances since 2007, and he didn’t squander the chance, hitting .265/.330/.412 with eight home runs. Obviously it’s not a jaw-dropping line from a fantasy prospective, but be more concerned about a healthy Scott Rolen or Todd Frazier cutting into Cairo’s time than his ability to repeat that performance. If choosing between Reds third baseman in NL-only, gamble on what Rolen might give than live with Cairo’s guaranteed mediocrity. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Cairo’s playing time will be spotty at best, and when he plays, he’ll be as middling as he’s been since 1996. Depending on the health of Scott Rolen and the performance of Todd Frazier, Cairo may not even qualify as a good injury replacement
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/19/1983 | Team: Angels | Position: 3B|
Profile: Callaspo, 28, had far more value when he qualified at both second base and third base, providing handy versatility and middle infield eligibility. He’s likely to qualify only at third base entering 2012 and while there isn’t a wealth of talent at third, Callaspo doesn’t do much to get your fantasy heart racing. He’s unlikely to approach double-digits in home runs or steals, and given his historic slot in the lineup, you can’t count on much more than 50 runs and RBI. He might not be a black hole at any traditional 5×5 category, but he’s also certainly not going to help you win any of them either. Now with the glut of first basemen, DHes and outfielders on his team, you have to think the team will be tempted to try Mark Trumbo at third once his foot heals. Callaspo is a late-round deep leaguer at best. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Callaspo is a decent guy to have around in case injury strikes, but he shouldn’t be starting on any self-respecting fantasy squad.
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 1/8/1973 | Position: OF|
Profile: After 33 dreadful games with the Red Sox, Mike Cameron managed to make himself underrated again. Despite a frustrating end with the Marlins, he actually managed a league average wOBA in 45 games. He’s unsigned, and he’s hinted at retirement, but given the right situation he could be a useful spot starter (in OBP leagues). (Patrick Dubuque)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/30/1986 | Team: Cubs | Position: OF|
Profile: Campana’s strong defense in 2011 helped him earn a quick 1.5 WAR playing part-time with the Cubs. If the team manages to trade Alfonso Soriano or Marlon Byrd, Campana becomes a strong candidate for significant playing time in the outfield. His hitting might be weak, but he’s got all the speed and instincts to steal 50 bases or more. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: If the Cubs find trade partners for Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd, Campana could get significant playing time — and lots of steals with it.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 10/22/1982 | Team: Yankees | Position: 2B|
Profile: Cano didn’t retain the modest boost in walks that he enjoyed in 2010, as an increase in outside swing rate (from 37 to a Vlad-esque 42 percent) lowered his rate of free passes taken from 8.2 to 5.6 percent. The ebullient lefty swinger did have the best power season of his career, though, belting 28 home runs and leading all second basemen with a .231 isolated slugging percentage. Since 2009, he’s been a first base-worthy hitter playing at an up-the-middle spot. While Cano has never been known for speed, he did take eight bases in 10 tries, also a career best. At 29, Cano is in the prime of his career and plays in a park well suited to his high-contact, high power hacking. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Cano doesn’t have the plate discipline or wheels of a Kinsler, Pedroia or Zobrist, but his elite slugging makes him a top-three option at the keystone.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 1/30/1982 | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: Once a promising yet stone-handed middle infielder, Cantu has gone from an asset to almost a non-entity, and he still won’t turn 30 until just before 2012 spring training opens up. An ardent follower of the two-on, two-off approach (two good seasons, two bad seasons), Cantu was especially bad in 2011. As in ‘getting cut from the San Diego Padres’ offense bad. His triple-slash of .194/.232/.285 (.226 wOBA) was so bad that he was cut loose in June, and didn’t resurface after that. Cantu was claimed by the Rockies, but a PCL-aided .778 OPS has done nothing for his offseason prospects, as Jorge has generated little interest on the free agent market. Since first basemen who can’t hit or field don’t typically keep jobs for long, Cantu isn’t likely to have much fantasy value. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: He signed in January to be a backup. Why is he on your fantasy baseball radar?
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/11/1986 | Team: Indians | Position: DH|
Profile: The Rays actually snatched up Canzler as a Minor League free agent prior to 2011, and before the season was out, the 25-year-old had made his debut. Capable of manning multiple spots, Canzler could be a Joe Maddon specialty in a utility role. He’s not a sure thing to stick on the 25-man, but the versatility and bat (.314/.401/.530 at Triple-A) could make him a reserve in very deep AL-onlies. (Jason Catania)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/30/1986 | Team: Mariners | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: How you feel about baseball’s favorite Chris Elliott look-alike is probably dependent on your expectations. Before the season, Carp was a quad-A nobody; by August he was the Mariners’ second-best hitter. (Snickering is allowed.) He cooled badly in September, however, and his statistics are riddled with red flags. His new aggressive approach uncovered surprising power, but it also caused him to strike out more than four times as much as he walked. His batting average on balls in play is unsustainable (although buoyed by a strong 24.8% line drive rate). His defense is best described as earnest, which will cut into his playing time. In fact, the fan poll and the Bill James predictions are nearly identical, except that the fans expect 548 plate appearances, and James guesses 292. Split the difference and assume fifteen home runs and a .250-.260 average. Deeper benches and ottoneu leagues could use a piece like this at the right price, even if he doesn’t have much upside beyond. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: Before the season, Carp was a quad-A nobody; by August he was the Mariners’ second-best hitter. (Snickering is allowed.) He cooled badly in September, however, and his statistics are riddled with red flags. Split the difference and assume fifteen home runs and a .250-.260 average.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/26/1985 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 3B|
Profile: Carpenter is in a situation similar to that of former St. Louis farmhands David Freese and Allen Craig in that he’s a bit old for a prospect (26) and owns a solid minor-league résumé (.300 batting average and .408 OBP) –- but is currently blocked from becoming a potential regular in the majors. Ironically, it’s Freese –- only the 2011 World Series MVP -– who is now in Carpenter’s way. But that’s not necessarily as bad as it seems, either, considering Freese has been one of the more injury-prone players in baseball recently. Carpenter could find himself getting more time than most National League bench players, because Freese has yet to play even 100 games in his two years as the Opening Day third baseman. Plus, Carpenter saw limited action while Freese was out last year, and showed that he has the capable bat and elite eye (15:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio) to get the job done if needed over long stretches. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: A polished lefty hitter, Carpenter is ready to embark on a career as a valuable real-life reserve, but his fantasy value is limited by the lack of a starting job, not to mention prototypical power for a third baseman. If he breaks camp with the Cards, he might be a bench play in deep NL-onlies -– perhaps as a handcuff for Freese owners.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/11/1987 | Team: Indians | Position: OF|
Profile: The 24-year old speedster can certainly steal bases, but he doesn’t do much more. He has never hit a Major League home run, and has only three over his last two years in Triple-A. His Triple-A average sat between .268 and .287, but in Cleveland that fell to .243. Paired with only a 7% walk rate, that meant very few opportunities for him to ply his trade, and yet he still managed 10 steals in 226 PA. With some improvement in his approach and luck (his .293 batting average on balls in play was low for a guy with his speed and GB tendencies), he could easily be a threat for 30+ steals in a full season of work, but the chances are slim that he will get anywhere near that this year. The Indians outfield is set with Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley and Grady Sizemore, and the Tribe will turn to Shelley Duncan and possibly Jason Donald as OF reserves before Carrera. Thomas Neal, Trevor Crowe and some others might even get a look first. If Carrera does play, feel free to pick him up if you need steals and can afford to take the hit in just about everything else, but don’t hold your breath. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: The outfielder could add some stolen bases to a speed-hungry fantasy team, but he would have to get playing time for that to happen, and right now, that doesn’t look likely. Even if he does play, only pick him up if you are desperate for steals.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 10/3/1982 | Position: OF|
Profile: Carroll’s value lies in his defense. His bat hasn’t carried him to a consistent MLB job yet, but as long as he owns one of the best outfield arms in the game, he’ll keep getting shots. (Jack Moore)
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 2/18/1974 | Team: Twins | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Jamey Carroll superficially resembles Willie Bloomquist — a scrappy white guy who announcers love and actually is pretty terrible at baseball. But the truth is that Carroll plays good defense at second, and gets on base enough that he is not an offensive sinkhole. Whether or not signing him to be a full-time shortstop at 38 years old was a good idea for the Twins is another question entirely. Carroll is going to get plenty of playing time because the Twins don’t really have another choice, and he is not awful offensively for the position. But keep in mind that old guys break, and Carroll does not have the steals that would expect from his stereotype — maybe 15 if everything goes right. There is value there, and he should be drafted in most leagues, but keep things in perspective. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Carroll is a “scrappy” little guy who gets on-base surprisingly often given his lack of pop. However, he does not steal enough bases to add real value on offense for a fantasy team.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 12/18/1986 | Team: Athletics | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: Carter is a massive man with unbelievable raw power, but he has some big-time problems making contact with such a puny baseball. The A’s would love him to figure things out and contribute at the big league level, but he’s going to have to compete with guys like Brandon Allen, Daric Barton, Johnny Gomes and Kila Ka’aihue for playing time at first base and in the corner outfield. Carter is worth hanging onto if you have him for cheap in dynasty leagues, but he has too many obstacles to success to make him a worthwhile addition in other leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Carter looks like a big-time power hitter, but his problems making contact will probably sink his Major League career.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/20/1984 | Team: Twins | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Casilla may compete with Ben Revere to hit atop the order should injury prevent Denard Span from starting the season on time. He is locked in to playing time at the keystone in 2012, with his lone competition coming from Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who belly-flopped in his first season stateside and may end up in Rochester to start the season. Casilla has had spurts in which he’s shown to be a capable every-day player, including the first half of 2008, and parts of each of the last two campaigns. However, the same issues that have dogged Alexi early in his career continue to dog him now as he enters his seventh big league season with the Twins. A lot of it is inconsistency; inconsistency at the plate, inconsistency in the field, an inconsistency in his effort. The last part is not a thing Ron Gardenhire will stand for, but with middle infield depth always a shortage in the Twins organization, the club has no choice but to turn over the keys at the keystone to Casilla one more time in 2012. When he’s right, Casilla will put the ball in play, take a walk, and run the bases swiftly and deftly. When he’s not, he’ll forget to tag up, forget to cover his base, or make any of a veritable plethora of offenses that gets him in Gardenhire’s doghouse. It’s put up or shut up time with Casilla in 2012. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Casilla may be one of the sneakier options at second base. He usually is pretty good at making contact, and is fleet enough afoot to swipe 30 bases if the Twins turn him loose.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/24/1990 | Team: Cubs | Position: SS|
Profile: Entering the 2012 season as a 22-year-old, Starlin Castro already has 1221 career PAs and 5.6 WAR. Castro has had somewhat of an empty batting average so far, leading the league in hits in 2011, but sporting only a 109 wRC+ and a .125 isolated slugging percentage (5.5% home runs per fly ball). His defensive struggles — if they continue — may eventually shuffle him off to third or second base. Until then, he is a shortstop poised to improve even more on his .307/.341/.432 slash in 2012. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: A little speed, growing power, and a prime position make Castro one of the top young shortstops in the league — a cornerstone to both real and fantasy teams.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 3/1/1976 | Position: C|
Profile: Castro’s a backup catcher you keep around because he can show some power against lefties. Not fantasy relevant, in other words. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/2/1983 | Team: Mets | Position: SS|
Profile: Ronny Cedeno’s only hope for any 2011 fantasy value came from being the starting shortstop for the Pirates. Then the Pirates signed Clint Barmes and released Cedeno. He can’t hit for power (10 home runs in the last two full seasons), and has even less speed (eight stolen bases in the last two seasons). His career batting average of .246 is horrible considering he has no other fantasy traits. The 29-year-old has little chance to show any improvement in the future. Now that he is on the Mets, hope he is good enough to be a backup middle infielder and then wait for someone else to get hurt. If all of that doesn’t happen, there is no reason to think about Cedeno again this year. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: There is nothing to see here unless you are looking for the one player with less fantasy value than Will Rhymes.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/6/1986 | Team: Yankees | Position: C|
Profile: Even on a run-augmenting team like the Yankees, the backup catcher is not usually fantasy relevant. Then you have to add in the fact that the Yankees have Austin Romine and Jesus Montero coming up behind Russ Martin, too. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 10/8/1986 | Team: Cardinals | Position: OF|
Profile: Chambers’ best attribute is his speed, though he does possess decent skills everywhere else, with a bit of pop and respectable patience. He strikes out a little too much, though, for someone with limited power and it will take several injuries to even earn a call-up. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 2/7/1978 | Team: Orioles | Position: OF|
Profile: Returning to the majors for the first time since then-M’s teammate Yuni Betancourt blew up his knee in a 2009 collision, Chavez continued to cover the gaps, run the bases well and turned in what counts as a high-power year by his modest standards. Chavez batted .301/.323/.426, hit a career-high-tying five homers and stole 10 bases in 15 attempts in 274 PA after Julio Borbon went down with an ankle injury. A free agent at press time, Chavez might move on if the Rangers are confident in Borbon’s health. Craig Gentry and prospect Leonys Martin are in the mix, too, and Josh Hamilton doesn’t embarrass himself in center field. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: 2011 represents the absolute apex of Chavez’s fantasy value: a high average, a dash of power and some steals in a part-time role. He’ll probably continue to be more valuable in real life than in fantasy leagues.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 12/7/1977 | Position: 3B|
Profile: Eric Chavez played 58 games in 2011 with the New York Yankees, the most baseball he’s played since 2007 in Oakland. While he proved that he can still play Major League defense at third base, he struggled offensively, registering a .294 wOBA and 79 wRC+. At this point in his career, Chavez is a backup, and while it’s rumored the Yankees are interested in retaining his services, without a job, and without guaranteed at-bats, Chavez’s fantasy value goes from little to none. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Chavez played more games than he did in years in 2011, and while his successful return to baseball makes for a good story, his health is where his comeback ends. Chavez doesn’t get on base enough, hit for power, or get enough at-bats for you to consider drafting him.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/5/1984 | Team: Rays | Position: C|
Profile: The now 28-year-old catcher allowed 21 steals and only caught two would-be pilferers in his 19 games with the MLB club in 2011. At the moment, Chirinos is third or fourth in line for more playing time at the top level, but when he does get there, offense will be his calling card. The former infielder has strong defensive upside, but his offense has been at times phenomenal in the minors, so he is well worth watching if ineffectiveness or injuries open a spot for him. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton will need to go down with ineffectiveness or injury before Robinson’s strong bat sticks in the majors.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 10/4/1988 | Team: Indians | Position: 3B|
Profile: The Indians have refused to name Chisenhall their opening day third baseman, asking him to earn the position in camp, but he is the odds-on favorite for the position, and projects to play there almost every day in 2012. The top prospect made a name for himself with a sweet swing and a great approach at the plate (16.1% strikeout rate in Triple-A last year with a 9.6% walk rate), but that fell apart when he made the leap to Cleveland. In just over a third of a season, Chisenhall walked just eight times (just seven times unintentionally) and paired a putrid 3.6% BB-rate with a K-rate of 22%. However, the rest of his skills stayed solid — he maintained a .160 ISO, not far from his Triple-A numbers, and hit decently on balls in play. Assuming he can bring the strikeouts down and the walks up (and as he adjusts to MLB pitching, both of those things should happen) he should settle in as a .275-.280 hitter with 20 HR power and solid RBI numbers, since he will likely be hitting behind guys like Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner. The question is, will that happen in 2012 or later? Chisenhall may not be a safe bet as your opening day starter at 3B, but he is well-worth owning and could prove to be a solid, inexpensive play at the season goes on. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: 2011 was a disappointing debut for the highly-touted prospect, but the future is still bright. He could pay dividends for owners who take a draft day flyer on him.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 7/13/1982 | Team: Indians | Position: OF|
Profile: 2011 was a clear aberration for Choo, a far cry from the consistently solid seasons he put up in 2008, 2009, and 2010. A number of issues marred Choo’s season, starting with a DUI early in the year and followed by a broken thumb that severely limited his playing time. But despite the weak season — particularly the .259 average — Choo still managed eight home runs and 12 stolen base in just over half a season’s work. In fact, after returning from the thumb injury (and then departing again due to an oblique injury), Choo was red hot, hitting three HR with a nearly .350 AVG in just 12 games. A career-low batting average on balls in play and a repeat of his regularly high line drive rate suggest that Choo didn’t suffer from some significant change in skills. Choo really seemed to suffer from the fallout from the DUI, and that coupled with the injuries may have simply resulted in a down year. Prior to the season, a fantasy owner would have expected a .300 AVG, 20 HR, 20 SB, and good R/RBI numbers — those numbers will likely return in 2012. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: Off-field problems and injuries put a damper on Choo’s 2011 and fantasy players who grabbed him early in drafts or at a high price in auction got burned. But with those issues behind him, expect Choo to return to form in 2012.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/30/1980 | Position: OF|
Profile: In 300+ plate appearances with the Giants Double-A team, Christian posted a .329 wOBA. In the more offensive-minded Pacific Coast League, Christian had a .455 wOBA in just under 300 PAs. The outfielder will compete for a bench spot with the Giants in 2012. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/18/1985 | Team: Marlins | Position: OF|
Profile: My how the mighty have fallen. Just two seasons removed from winning the Rookie of the Year award, Coghlan hit just .230/.296/.368 and earned himself a trip back to Triple-A. While much of Coghlan’s struggles can be attributed to a poor .263 batting average on balls in play (compared to .332 for his career), Coghlan’s poor play may have cost him a full-time gig in 2012. With Emilio Bonifacio emerging as a solid option, and Bryan Peterson playing well in a limited role, Coghlan may be fighting for a job this spring. Coghlan’s a solid bet to improve this season, but it’s unclear if he’ll receive enough playing time to make it count for fantasy owners. A move back to second base would really increase his value, but that seems unlikely at this time. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Coghlan completely collapsed last season and may have played his way out of a job. He’ll perform better in 2012, but his value is extremely limited in the outfield as he won’t hit for much power or steal many bases.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/5/1985 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: With legit power and putrid patience, Colvin has all the makings of Jeff Francoeur 2.0 — which is not a happy comparison. If Colvin can win enough playing time in Colorado, or benefit from a trade or two, he could legitimately hit 30+ homers in Denver’s thin air, but his strikeout-heavy, walk-limited approach will continue to limit his fantasy value in real life and in OBP leagues. And the Rockies wanted Dexter Fowler to strike out less… (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: With the fourth outfielder spot open, Colvin could get the opportunity to show his power, but his awful OBP may ensure he cannot hold that playing time long.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/29/1988 | Team: Angels | Position: C|
Profile: Conger is one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. During his time in the Minor Leagues, the 24-year-old hit from both sides of the plate, walked a good deal and kept his strikeouts to a minimum — all while hitting for power. The Angels gave him a shot in the majors in 2011, but he was delegated to a backup role and eventually sent back down to Triple-A. Jeff Mathis is out of the way, but the Angels have brought Chris Iannetta into the fold to be the everyday backstop. If Conger can work his way into some playing via injury or poor performance, he has the ability to put up good numbers if he adjusts to big league pitching. He’s worth holding on to in dynasty leagues, but it’s not likely he’ll get enough playing time to be relevant in other formats. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Conger has a lot of promise, but he’s blocked by Chris Iannetta at the moment. If you can stash him in dynasty leagues, go for it, but he’s not going to be worth having on your roster in other formats this year.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/16/1980 | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: Conrad was on the Braves roster all season, but played sparingly. A good walk rate and decent power translated into a league-average bat when he did play, but he was set free by the Braves and may now need to fight his way back to the majors. (Paul Swydan)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/1/1983 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: Much like the similarly named George Costanza, Jason Heyward owners (and probably Heyward himself) couldn’t stand Jose Constanza last summer when he started stealing Heyward’s playing time. But truth be told, Constanza made a good case for keeping himself in the lineup. He doesn’t have much power, but he has above-average speed, and has shown the ability to generate good batting averages through high batting averages on balls in play throughout his entire pro career. Assuming Heyward has moved past the shoulder problems that limited his effectiveness last season, Constanza’s best route to playing time is probably the inevitable Chipper Jones injury, which would push Martin Prado to the infield. Just don’t google the youtube video of Constanza’s swing — or do, but try not to laugh. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Constanza might not hit .300 again if given extended playing time, but he should be a decent speed and average guy. If he gets the chance to play regularly, he’ll have some value, but that may not happen if the Braves trade Martin Prado for outfield help. Think fourth outfielder.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/12/1987 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: The No. 17 pick in 2008 had fallen short of expectations through his first three seasons, but the 25-year-old Cooper may have salvaged his career last year after finishing second in the minors with a .364 average, leading with 51 doubles and sporting a ridiculous 43:67 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 467 Triple-A at-bats. Granted, the hitter-friendly PCL helped and his power (just nine home runs) is below-average for first base, but he has a good approach at the dish. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Cooper isn’t a young pup and there’s not much more development left in his game, so he could start off 2012 on the Opening Day roster as a useful bench bat with the ability to fill in at first or DH. An AL-only Watch Lister.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 10/18/1975 | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: Despite having been a part-time player for the last seven years, Alex has now compiled almost as many wins above replacement (5.6) as his brother Joey did (6.5) in almost the same number of plate appearances (3825 vs. 4279). Still, not particularly close to an average offensive player — even for a shortstop. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 8/21/1970 | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Counsell’s reign as Mr. Utility in Milwaukee is over. Well, at least his reign on the field, as he’s a front office man now. (Jack Moore)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/22/1985 | Team: Marlins | Position: OF|
Profile: If Chris Coghlan is healthy and Emilio Bonifacio plays center field — both things that are probables as of now — then Scott Cousins will end up as the fifth outfielder. That doesn’t leave the lefty with much to get excited about. He doesn’t walk enough, he struck out at an average rate in the minors and won’t do any better in the majors, has about average power, and looks mostly like a defense-first replacement at best. Even if he had a little speed and pop coming up in the minors, he lost almost 100 games to a back injury last year and health is a question mark coming into 2012. Too much risk, not enough potential reward — three people would probably have to go down before he’d get a crack at daily work. Then again, it seems injuries follow him around. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Mostly known for ending Buster Posey’s season, Cousins missed most of 2011 with an injury of his own. Then again, as a third lefty in a crowded outfield, he probably doesn’t have much upside once healthy.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/22/1986 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: Fresh off being traded to Oakland, this winter Cowgill should have a clearer path to playing time because the A’s outfield is empty. That will give the 25-year-old a real shot to prove he can translate his breakout 2011 at Triple-A into some success at the big-league level. Cowgill tore up the Pacific Coast League, hitting .354/.430/.554 with 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases over 98 games. As impressive as those numbers were, they were certainly aided by his playing in a hitter’s league and in a hitter’s park, which helps explain why scouts see more of a fourth outfielder or, at best, perhaps a second-division regular. Cowgill doesn’t possess any elite skill, but he also doesn’t have any glaring hole or weakness, either. Combined with his gamer approach and the ability to play all three outfield spots, that should make him a useful big leaguer. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: The best thing going for Cowgill in 2012? Opportunity. Given the dearth of outfield options in Oakland, he should have a spot on the 25-man roster, and quite possibly a starting job. As long as he performs passably, Cowgill could spend the entire season in the bigs. That alone will make him rosterable in deep AL-only leagues.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/12/1985 | Team: Reds | Position: SS|
Profile: Zach Cozart seems like he should be younger, but he’s entering his age 26 season and he has all of 38 plate appearances as a major leaguer, so prognosticators struggle to pin down exactly what kind of a player he’ll be over a full season. Cozart has great potential with plus speed and decent power at a premium position. Should he nail down the leadoff slot with the Reds out of Spring Training, you can likely take 90+ runs to the bank. He may struggle to hit north of .260, but he’s likely to steal as many as 20 bases and add 14-15 home runs. Shortstop isn’t the deepest of positions and Cozart could pretty easily rank in the second tier by mid-season. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Cozart is a bit of a wild card due to his lack of major league experience, but he profiles as a double-digit home run and steals shortstop who shouldn’t be too much of a drain with his batting average. He has the tools to be a good fantasy league shortstop, but there may be growing pains.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 7/18/1984 | Team: Cardinals | Position: OF|
Profile: Allen Craig looked like a guy who was set to be good, and potentially more than that, in 2012. With Albert Pujols gone and Lance Berkman moving to first, Craig was slated to start in right field, and a .280/.340/.480 line was a reasonable, perhaps even conservative, expectation. However, Craig got hurt and will miss at least the first month of the season. To make matters worse (for Craig, at least), the Cardinals have signed Carlos Beltran to play right field. Craig is still worth drafting in most leagues, just do not overspend. He will get some playing time with Beltran and Matt Holliday both having recent injury issues. He might also get some time at first base if Berkman goes down. But Craig can’t play center field, and neither can Beltran, so when all of those other (well-paid) guys are healthy, there really isn’t a place for Craig to play. Which is a shame, because when he is healthy, he really hits quite well. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Craig is probably a better hitter than his overrated teammte David Freese, but injury and playing time issues make him more of a “draft and stash” guy at this point.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 8/5/1981 | Team: Red Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: Well, few saw this coming. Crawford had one of the most frustrating Red Sox debuts in team history, but there are reasons to still be optimistic. His plate discipline completely eroded, as he posted a full-season worst 0.22 walk per strikeout rate, but that might not last. Crawford’s swinging strike percentage was lower than it was in 2007 and 2008, and he had lower strikeout rate marks in both years, and it wasn’t much different than his 2010 mark, when he also had a lower K%. Crawford didn’t post a wOBA better than .348 in any month of the season, but after an awful April in which he hit just .155, he was better the rest of the way — from May first to the end of the season, he hit .279/.309/.447 with 10 homers and 14 stolen bases. If he stays healthy — a hamstring injury robbed him of nearly a month’s worth of games, and may have bothered him before that, and he had offseason wrist surgery — he could rebound this season back close to his previous levels, but you certainly shouldn’t pay a premium for him like you would have last year. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: He had a confounding first year in Red Sox Nation, but Crawford should be better this year. If you can get him at a discount, he could end up paying dividends, but don’t overpay and bank on a rebound.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/21/1987 | Team: Giants | Position: SS|
Profile: Crawford made his Major League debut with the Giants in late May, hitting a grand slam against the Brewers at Miller Park. Unfortunately for the Giants, that was not an indicator of things to come from Crawford offensively in 2011. In 220 plate appearances with the Giants, Crawford posted a triple slash of .204/.288/.296. Yes, he had a well-below-the-mean batting average on balls in play of .226 but he also made a lot of soft contact, showing almost no power at all. HIs claim to fame is his glove. He recorded six Defensive Runs Saved in only 500+ innings at short. With the Giants unwilling to spend on a free agent, they head into 2012 with the Crawford as the expected everyday shortstop. (Wendy Thurm)
Quick Opinion: A glove-first shortstop that was never a top prospect and was rushed to the big leagues, Crawford may have an everyday job in San Francisco, but his bat probably won’t play in most fantasy leagues.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 11/1/1979 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: Crisp has a very valuable skillset for fantasy owners, especially those in OBP and outfield-specific leagues. He hits from both sides of the plate and steals a large number of bases when he’s healthy, but the key for him is staying on the field. Even if he does stay on the field, there’s no guarantee he gets to play every day. Draft him as a stolen-base specialist with a serviceable batting average and good OBP, but don’t count on him to carry you in any one category. Crisp is best served as a backup fantasy outfielder. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Crisp can provide you with steals and a respectable batting average, but he has to stay healthy in order to do so.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/17/1983 | Position: OF|
Profile: When he plays, Trevor Crowe shows good speed and could be a cheap source of stolen bases. But he is buried on the Indians depth chart and will hurt you in every other category — and is therfore probably not worth your time. (Chad Young)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 7/1/1980 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: One of the stickiest labels to shed is the quad-A label, but Cruz is one of the few that did so, and he did so with aplomb. Before his brief 2008 coming-out party, Cruz had sputtered around three different organizations, pounding Triple-A pitching at a near 1.000 OPS clip, while being similarly baffled by big leaguers to the tune of a .666 OPS. The Rangers altered Cruz’ approach a bit, opening his stance to see the pitcher a bit better, and he hasn’t looked back, as he’s hit .283/.345/.540 since, including a solid, if a bit disappointing .821 OPS in 2011. Still, that mark was good for a .352 wOBA (and likely affected by a .288 BABIP), and that’s something Cruz would have never dreamed of five years ago. He’s a key cog on arguably the best offense in the American League. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Cruz may not have replicated his amazing 2010, but as far as fantasy players are concerned, he’s a nice asset. He’ll hit in a wonderful Rangers lineup again in 2012, and as long as your league doesn’t count OBP, Cruz will be a pretty high pick in pretty much any league. Now if he could just stay on the field for more than 120 games…
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 3/27/1979 | Team: Rockies | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: Long considered the backbone of some very good Twins clubs, Cuddyer has packed his bags and is headed to the Mile-High City. He has always had platoon splits favoring him against lefties, but never more than this season (.993/.728). Cuddyer has long been lauded for his defensive versatility, but that’s more a testament to his willingness than his ability (-44.5 runs below average spread across six different positions). It’s also more of a benefit to fantasy teams than in reality. The Twins will miss him more in the clubhouse than on the field. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Cuddyer doesn’t hit righties, and doesn’t field particularly well, but none of that may matter at Coors. Keep an eye on him as he’ll typically drive in and score a pile of runs, keep a steady batting average around .270, and should hit more home runs in the thin Denver air. If he has any additional position eligibility, he’ll be a big-time fantasy contributor in 2012.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/24/1986 | Team: Indians | Position: OF|
Profile: Cunningham is changing locations, but not necessarily roles, as he will continue to be a reserve outfielder for his new team, the Cleveland Indians. Cunningham, 25, has shown some pop in the minors but that hasn’t translated to the major league level in his roughly 400 plate appearances from 2008-11. In approximately 1000 Triple-A at-bats, Cunningham averaged .304/.377/.492 with 32 home runs, so there’s certainly potential — but at the major league level, however, he owns a career .231/.290/.375 line. While he’s likely to flash more power in Cleveland than he did in San Diego, his reserve role is going to make him relevant in only the deepest of leagues. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Cunningham would be interesting if injury takes down one of the Cleveland regulars, but as a fourth outfielder, he can only be relied on for about 200 plate appearances, and he’s done little at the Major League level to suggest those will be quality at bats for your fantasy squad.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 1/7/1979 | Team: Astros | Position: DH|
Profile: Between 2007 and 2010, Cust averaged 24 home runs and .370 wOBA a season with the Athletics. Unfortunately, he breathed in some of the toxic cloud of failure lingering around Safeco Field, and hit a whopping three home runs in nearly half a season before getting released. The Astros picked him up cheap and he may get some run, but he’s well into his decline phase and plate discipline can only take you so far, especially when you can’t do anything with the ball when they throw it down the middle. His isolated slugging percentage has dropped every year since he became a regular, and without power, he’s not worth much. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: The Astros signed Cust to a cheap contract, but he’s well into his decline phase and plate discipline can only take you so far, especially when you can’t do anything with the ball when they throw it down the middle.
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