|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/21/1987 | Team: Pirates | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: D’Arnaud is a high-percentage base thief and bears a passing resemblance to a young George Clooney, so he’s got that going for him. But alas, his bat is more Men Who Stare at Goats-worthy than Ocean’s Eleven-caliber. He’ll see meaningful playing time only if he can pull an inside job and lock Clint Barmes in a clubhouse stall. (David Golebiewski)
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 11/5/1973 | Position: DH|
Profile: Damon posted his lowest wOBA (.328) in 14 seasons last year, but he was still a solid depth fantasy player by clubbing 16 homers to go with his 19 steals and a .261 average. His walk rate (7.9%) dropped big time after five straight years in double digits, so he wasn’t as valuable as usual in OBP leagues, but Damon plays every single day (600+ plate appearances in 14 straight seasons) and helps in all categories. He’s more of third outfielder on most fantasy rosters these days, one capable of a .260+ average with double digit homers and steals, but at age 38 and with all those miles on those legs, the end could be near. He remains unsigned as of this writing, but obviously his home ballpark will impact his expected production. Damon is still valuable, but be careful not to overdo it. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Damon remains productive as a player that can contribute in all five traditional offensive categories, but there’s a lot of miles on those 38-year-old legs and his new home ballpark remains an unknown. Be careful not to overstate his true value on draft day.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/19/1987 | Team: Padres | Position: 3B|
Profile: A second-round pick in 2008, Darnell made his debut last August after tearing up Double-A (.333/.434/.604), and he’s nearly ready to contribute in San Diego. Since he’s not likely to stick at the hot corner –- the organization already started transitioning him to left field last year –- the 25-year-old’s bat is going to have to carry him. That’s usually a dicey proposition at PetCo, but Darnell does have the power to reach homer totals in the mid-teens as a major-leaguer, and his plate discipline is a big asset; he sports a 14% walk rate and has whiffed only 16% of the time. His biggest problem, though, is that the Padres have other –- and better –- players coming up behind him, so he’ll need to take advantage of his window. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: A half-season at Triple-A would do Darnell some good. Not only would it give him a chance to improve, it would also buy the Padres time to clear a path for him (by trading Kyle Blanks or Will Venable). In 2012 and beyond, Darnell could be a fantasy platoon candidate who posts better stats on the road, and he’ll have value in OBP leagues.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/22/1987 | Team: Mets | Position: 1B|
Profile: Mets fans like Ike, but the rest of the league is uncertain. He didn’t hit a single home run in his first year in the Minor Leagues and only hit 19 home runs in his full rookie season, so they’re right to be worried. Davis seems to have developed a hitch in his swing that allows him to achieve average first-baseman type power, but it might also rob him of a .300 average since it has led to a higher strikeout rate. His patience and defense will assure him of keeping his major league job, and the moving fences in Citi can only help. At the very least, Davis’ ankle is healed and he says he’s ready to go this season. With the two big boppers out of the National League, at least, he’s a top NL-only option. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: It’s unclear exactly how much power Ike Davis has. The floor on his 2012 — something like .270 and 20ish home runs — is not quite mixed-league material. On the other hand, there’s upside beyond.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/19/1980 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: OF|
Profile: A setback while recovering from a torn hamstring ended what was a very disappointing, injury-filled first year in Toronto for Rajai Davis. His .238 batting average was the lowest of his career since becoming an everyday player in 2008 with Oakland, as Davis struggled mightily against right-handed pitching, something he’d been successful at in both 2009 and 2010. The injuries took their toll on Davis’ running game, too, in which he specializes. Davis’ 34 stolen bases were a three-year low, and his stolen base percentage dropped, too. Now that he’s scheduled to be the back-up center fielder to Colby Rasmus, what little fantasy value Davis does have — as a speedster, at the very least — has been reduced. Davis could perhaps fill out your bench in a deeper league, maybe, but that’s about it. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: The move from Oakland to Toronto wasn’t a smooth one for Rajai Davis, who struggled mightily in 2011. With Colby Rasmus entrenched in center field in Toronto in 2012, Davis has little fantasy value other than to swipe you a base from time to time.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/17/1986 | Team: Orioles | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: It may be hard to believe, but Chris Davis is only going to be 26 years old when the 2012 season begins. He’s had a long, hard road over the past few years since he had a great partial season with the Rangers in 2008. He hasn’t even come close to replicating those eighty games since, but he has consistently shown that there is a great deal of power in his boomstick, and when he does make contact, the ball is going to be hit hard. The Orioles seem content to give him somewhat of a chance to be their third baseman, but odds are he’ll have to prove he can hit early in the season to hold on to his job. Davis’ value is going to almost be completely tied to his batting average on balls in play; if he hits .350 on balls in play, then there’s a chance that he’ll be a valuable fantasy commodity, due to his third base eligibility. But, odds are he won’t be able to consistently bat .350 on balls in play, so giving him a roster spot is foolhardy in most leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Davis has great power potential, but he still strikes out far too often. Relying on a high batting average on balls in play would be a fools’ errand, so don’t buy into the third baseman unless he limits the strikeouts.
Alejandro De Aza
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/11/1984 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: There is no doubt in my mind that part of why De Aza looked so good during his two months in the majors was that he was taking playing time away from Alex Rios, who spent most of 2011 staring up at replacement level. This is not to say De Aza isn’t a good player in his own right. Assuming the team does not re-sign Juan Pierre, he should get plenty of playing time to steal around 20 bases and post a solid batting average. The power he showed during his call-up isn’t totally incongruous with his performance in the high minors, but I still feel like he’ll be fortunate to hit 15 home runs as an everyday starter. If the White Sox do choose to use him as their fourth outfielder or as a rover, double digit home runs could be out of his reach. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Taking De Aza’s 54 game cup of coffee in 2011 as an exemplar of his likely 2012 production may lead to disappointment, but if he can simply match his Minor League production, he’ll be a worthwhile player, especially for those who play in leagues with LF, CF, and RF spots rather than generalized outfields.
Ivan De Jesus
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/1/1987 | Team: Dodgers | Position: 2B|
Profile: While DeJesus is probably ready for the big leagues, the Dodgers have done their best to keep him stored in Triple-A for another season. With Mark Ellis, Adam Kennedy, and Jerry Hairston, Jr. in front of him, it’s hard to imagine DeJesus seeing much time in the big leagues in 2012. Even if he does see the field, DeJesus doesn’t bring much power or speed to your roster. He will, however, put up a decent batting average and a good OBP. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: DeJesus is blocked by not one, not two, but three veterans at second base. He could have a decent batting average and OBP, but his other numbers won’t be up to snuff.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/20/1979 | Team: Cubs | Position: OF|
Profile: DeJesus may be one of the more underrated players in all of baseball, but his fantasy value tends to be only slightly understated. Despite playing less than 135 games for the Oakland A’s last season, DeJesus was able to hit 10 homers and score 60 runs. His batting average, however, suffered, and the left-handed hitter posted a career low .240 mark thanks to a sub-par batting average on balls in play and an almost unexplainable strikeout rate. Now that DeJesus gets a crack at the National League, he should be able to continue hitting .280 or higher with double-digit homers, making him a solid bench outfielder in standard leagues and a nice pickup in NL-only, OBP and linear weights ottoneu formats. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: DeJesus has a long history of being a solid real-life outfielder in the American League. Now, he gets to hit in the National League Central that suits his handedness. He should be your bench outfielder in standard leagues and a starter in OBP formats.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 7/15/1980 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: Over the past two seasons in San Diego, Denorfia has received 650 plate appearances, amounting to just over a full season. In that time, the 31-year-old has hit 16 homers while stealing 19 bases and hitting .274 and scoring 79 times. It’s pretty clear that he is best used as a platoon player and fourth outfielder, and the Padres are well aware of this. But, if he can find his way into playing every day, the right-hander becomes an interesting fantasy pickup. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Denorfia isn’t in line for full-time at bats, so you shouldn’t be drafting him. If he does find his way into playing every day, you should keep an eye on him and snatch him up if you need an outfielder.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 2/26/1975 | Team: Nationals | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: DeRosa had two lost seasons with the Giants due to a recurring injury to the tendons in his left wrist. In 57 plate appearances in the final two months of 2011, DeRosa posted a wOBA of .372. He’s still unsigned for 2012. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/19/1986 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 3B|
Profile: Filling a super-utility role for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, Descalso should qualify at second, third, and shortstop in 2012. The 25-year-old infielder is a little tough to figure out. He has shown flashes of moderate power and even decent speed in the minors, but over his 375 at-bats in 2011, he had absolutely zero power (.086 isolated slugging) and only managed to swipe a pair of bags. He’s expected to be the Cardinals everyday second baseman, so over 500+ at-bats, it’s possible he could produce five or six home runs and a concomitant number of steals, but unles the team envisions him as a leadoff hitter, he’s not going to contribute at any category above fantasy replacement level. Because of his position eligibility, he might be nice to stash away in deep leagues for emergency purposes, but he’s not likely to be a significant fantasy contributor. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Descalso is versatile, with eligibility at shortstop, second base, and third base, but he carries a pretty unintimidating stick and won’t help your fantasy squad outside of being an emergency fill-in.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/20/1985 | Team: Nationals | Position: SS|
Profile: Desmond stole 25 bags during his sophomore season, but he otherwise aggravated owners by showing precious little patience or power while batting just .253/.298/.358. Desmond’s outside swing percentage did dip somewhat (from 33 percent to a league-average 31 percent), but he often let strikes go by, swinging at just 61 percent of in-zone pitches (65 percent average). That led to lots of pitcher’s counts, trots back to the dugout, and fewer chances to show off his base-stealing chops (and yet, both Jim Riggleman and Davey Johnson thought it was a good idea to hit him leadoff; even Congress agrees that’s stupid). Also not helping his long-term playing prospects: Desmond ranks ahead of only Hanley Ramirez, Yuni Betancourt and Asdrubal Cabrera in UZR/150 among qualified shortstops since 2010. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Desmond, 26, could find himself on the bench if his low-OBP ways and clunky fielding continue. Second baseman Steve Lombardozzi is big league-ready, and Danny Espinosa could slide over to short. There’s not much upside here, outside of steals.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/20/1985 | Position: 2B/3B/OF|
Profile: DeWitt’s defense is weak and his hitting has yet to blossom. Theo Epstein’s latest emphasis has been improving the Cubs defensively, so DeWitt will likely need a slew of injuries or ineffectiveness to find himself starting. If the Cubs can get him back to Triple-A, the 26-year-old might be able to improve his defense enough to challenge for a starting spot, but until then, he will be relegated to pinch-hitting bench duties. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Unless he can make dramatics strides on defense in Spring Training, DeWitt will be waiting for injuries to get starting-level plate appearances.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 3/3/1978 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: The definition of a platoon bat, Diaz parlayed a a big batting-average-on-balls-in-play-fueled 2009 and a decent 2010 season with the Braves into a two-year deal with the Pirates last offseason, only to get traded back to Atlanta at the deadline. The 34-year-old is a borderline star against left-handers (.329/.368/.506 career, a .375 wOBA) but a total dud against righties (.264/.319/.369 career, a .304 wOBA), which limits his fantasy value given the sporadic starts. One on hand though, there are a ton of lefties in the National League East, so Diaz figures to see more starts than the usual 25-75 split associated with right-handed platoon bats. Injuries could result in more playing time, but otherwise Diaz is a spare fantasy part unless he reverts to his 2009 form, which is unlikely since it’s an extreme outlier in his otherwise unspectacular career. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Injuries could get Diaz more playing time that the typical right-handed platoon bat, but he doesn’t have much value unless he reverts back to 2009 form.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/10/1982 | Team: Yankees | Position: OF|
Profile: Dickerson showed some promise as a rookie in Cincinnati in 2008, carrying a .432 wOBA (and .410 BABIP) in 132 plate appearances. It’s been all downhill since, as Dickerson has ‘hit’ .256/.334/.346 in the meantime, while showing a shocking inability to make contact at the big league level, twice whiffing in over 30 percent of his plate appearances, allbeit in a limited sample size. He’s a capable defender at all three outfield positions, and has carried a .750 OPS thus far in about a season’s full of plate appearances. That’ll probably keep affording him the opportunity to stick at the big league level, but only if his recent run of whiffs proves fleeting. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: He’s a utility outfielder at best right now, and as a result you should run screaming the other way.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/24/1986 | Team: Tigers | Position: OF|
Profile: It took Andy Dirks three years to work his way through the Detroit Tigers farm system, and he made his professional debut in 2011, playing all three outfield positions and hitting .251 with seven home runs in 78 games. Like most young players who make it to the majors, Dirks struggled to get on base. While his strikeout rate was certainly above average, his walk rate was far too low, keeping his on-base percentage below the .300 mark. Dirks is a versatile outfielder to have around, and he’ll most likely be competing for the fourth outfielder’s job with the Tigers in 2012, which means he’s unlikely to be a hot fantasy commodity come draft day. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Dirks made his pro debut with the Tigers in 2011, playing all three outfield positions and hitting .251. Since he’s competing for a fourth outfielder’s job, he won’t have enough value to warrant a spot on your roster.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/2/1978 | Team: Marlins | Position: 3B|
Profile: Dobbs has made a pretty good living out of being a pinch-hitter and part-time utility man. In fact, some of his player pages officially list him as a pinch-hitter first, and nearly 20 percent of his career knocks have come as a super-sub. Dobbs doesn’t do anything particularly well, as his .296 career wOBA and -9.2 fielding runs would attest, but he still managed to hang on as a 25th man who’s seen the bulk of his at bats in the National League, a league which would certainly appreciate his talents that much more. Dobbs recently re-upped with the Fish, on a two-year deal no less, and will continue to help off the bench for the near future. He just won’t help your fantasy team, most likely. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Unless someone is in one of those bizarro fantasy pinch-hitter leagues — fantasy umpire leagues exist, after all — Dobbs carries next to no value. Not only will he be squeezed out of his more prominent role from 2011, but he offers no speed, no pop, and a .264 career batting average isn’t worth writing home about, either. Who still writes home, anyway?
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/28/1989 | Team: Marlins | Position: 3B|
Profile: An injury-plagued 2011 season derailed the Marlins’ Matt Dominguez as the third baseman who was supposed to be entrenched at the position entering the 2012 season now finds himself on the outside looking in. Few, if any, question Dominguez’ defense, but his bat is likely not ready to face big-league pitching day-in and day-out — it requires more seasoning at the Triple-A level. At his peak, Dominguez projects as a league-average third baseman offensively with above average to plus defense. This offers plenty of value, but Dominguez is the type who will be more valuable on the field than in fantasy lineups. In single season leagues, he’s a definite “pass”, but has keeper and dynasty league value as a guy who is likely to log regular at bats for a number of seasons. Now that his path to Florida is unclear, it might be time to add him as Dominguez’ value is at rock bottom. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: The Marlins’ Matt Dominguez should carve out a long career as a top defender at the hot corner who should provide enough offense to provide value for a number of seasons.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/4/1984 | Team: Indians | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Donald is going to be in a super-utility role for the Indians in 2012, backing up youngsters Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenall at second and third, respectively, possibly getting time behind Asdrubal Cabrera at short, and even taking reps at first base and the corner outfield slots. And the Indians are not without cause in their effort to find playing time for the former Phillies prospect who came over as part of the Cliff Lee trade. While Donald’s .318/.364/.402 line in 2011 was heavily BABIP-inflated, he also put up a strikeout rate higher than expected and a walk rate lower than expected. Regression across the board should leave Donald a decent bat, particularly when he is able to play a middle infield position. Donald is also a right-handed hitter who fares quite well against lefties (.328/.405/.481 with three home runs in 131 career at-bats vs. southpaws) and provides decent speed with double-digit stolen base potential. He isn’t going to make or break your fantasy team, but is worth a flyer in deeper leagues and worth keeping an eye on in others. With playing time, he could prove to be a valuable bench player, particularly if you can platoon him and only use him against left-handers. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: Donald is likely to be in a super-utility role for the Indians, and should get a decent number of plate appearances. If you can keep him on your bench when he faces righties, he can provide solid offense, including decent pop and good speed, from a middle infield position.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/3/1981 | Team: Twins | Position: C|
Profile: When healthy, Doumit is a good option as a source of power from the catcher position. If he his able to play in 120 or so games, he could put up double-digit home runs and have the runs and RBI to go with them. His career average of .271 is not horrible. The problem with Doumit is staying on the field. Since the beginning of 2006, he has been on the disabled list eight times for a total of 331 games. He has played in over 100 games only twice during that time frame (2008 and 2010). The problem with missing so much time is that it becomes hard to get a good read on his talent level and how/if it is being effected by his injuries. The second key for his 2012 fantasy value, besides being healthy, is his role in Minnesota. Will he split time at catcher with Joe Mauer? Will he play in the outfield as he has in the past? Where will he hit in the anemic Minnesota lineup? These are question that have not been addressed yet. No matter what, deep benches like those in ottoneu could use extra plate appearances from Doumit’s bat. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Doumit can hit the ball with a decent amount power for a catcher. Questions remain around his playing time because of past injuries and his role with the Twins.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 3/19/1984 | Team: Astros | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: In a limited role last season, Downs’ .276/.347/.518 slash line looks pretty promising. Problem is, it’s unclear Downs will get a chance to improve on that line in 2012. He’s currently listed as a backup at each of the Astros infield positions and has been mentioned as a candidate to play right field. If he does happen to claim a full-time role, he has some value based on his multiple position eligibility. While he’s never hit for all that much power in his career, his 10 home runs in 222 plate appearances last season shows that he could be a valuable asset in the middle infield. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Downs performed well in a limited role last season, but isn’t guaranteed a full-time job in 2012. He should provide solid power as a middle infielder, but would likely be stretched at a corner position. He’s no more than an injury replacement until he receives a full-time role.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 3/16/1983 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: SS|
Profile: Stephen Drew’s 2011 was cut short by an ankle injury that forced him out for the remainder of his season after just 86 games and 354 plate appearances. When he left, things weren’t going particularly well offensively either, posting a .252/.317/.396 line with just five home runs. Drew will be 29 by the beginning of 2012, and we’ve likely seen the best of his offensive output already. His swinging strike rate has escalated for three consecutive years and at 8.7%, it doesn’t represent anything particularly alarming, but he doesn’t demonstrate contact skills to improve upon his 21% strikeout rate. Over the course of the season, Drew can likely be counted on for home runs in the low teens, he’ll flirt with double-digit steals, and he should hit something close to his .270 career average. As a shortstop, he represents something a little better than a warm body in standard leagues, but he’s not a player you should expect to break out in any particular way. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Drew is 29 and there’s no current guarantee he will be ready for Spring Training. He’s coming off one of his worst offensive seasons, so his cost may be low, and Drew shouldn’t be a black hole at any counting stat. As a shortstop, that’s still pretty handy.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 11/20/1975 | Position: OF|
Profile: Drew has little value beyond being a late-round flier. His health and skills have degraded to the point that he is no longer a good fantasy option. Plus, he’s retired. (Jeff Zimmerman)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 2/3/1986 | Team: Mets | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: El Dudarino didn’t show power in college, and only started perculating once he reached the high minors. But the 6’4″ 250-pounder did start making some hard contact once he hit Double-A, and he hasn’t looked back. He’s abided to the tune of a .195 isolated slugging percentage so far, and in a full season that should produce 20-25 home runs, especially once the Mets move the fences in this offseason. The plate discipline has also tasted like a decent white russian so far: He walks at an above-average rate and strikes out less than league average. Expect a decent batting average and better-than league average power, which plays in fantasy outfields that are any deeper than ten-team and three-deep. But, well, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion, man. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: It’s almost like Lucas Duda peed on someone’s carpet — here’s a guy that believes in something, but isn’t drafted in all leagues. He can show above-average patience, strike out less than the league, and show enough power to matter in your fantasy outfield. Plus, he’ll be as cheap as a Creedence Clearwater tape, so he has that going for him.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/29/1979 | Team: Indians | Position: DH/OF|
Profile: Shelley Duncan has never played more than 85 big league games in a season, but this may be the year he finally cracks 100. He is one of the few right-handed bats the Indians have right now, and while he may not have a position as of today, it is hard to see it staying that way. Matt Laporta is not long for first base, the Indians outfield has proven itself to be quite injury-prone, as has DH Travis Hafner. All of this has opened up multiple opportunities for Duncan to get regular at-bats. Duncan impressed the Indians brass by hitting 11 home runs and driving in 47 in just 247 plate appearances in 2011, including a .365/.340/.602 with seven home runs in 26 September games — given a shot to be an everyday player, Duncan emerged as one of the best bats on the team. Without an everyday job, Duncan will be tough to own in fantasy, but he should be both 1B and OF eligible, and when someone on the Indians goes down, he is likely to be the next guy in line — and he’ll be worth rostering (at least in deeper leagues) when that happens. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: The career backup will likely start out that way again this year, but he impressed down the stretch in 2011 and will get some real opportunities in 2012. Keep an eye on him and grab him for outfield depth when those opportunities arise.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 11/9/1979 | Team: White Sox | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: Adam had a horrible 2011 to say the least. Just horrible. It is amazing that he was able to get almost 500 plate appearances with a triple-slash of .159/.292/.277. Amazingly, Dunn’s slugging percentage came in under his on-base percentage. Several theories exist for the huge decline including his early-season appendectomy. Whatever the reason, he was just never able to pull it together in 2011. Is there anything to build upon for 2012? He had a career high strikeout rate with career lows in isolated slugging percentage and batting average on balls in play. He hit worse in the last month (.128/.317/.191) than in the first month (.160/.300/.267). He will be a huge player to gamble on for the 2012 season, but probably a mistake to count upon. Make sure you have an entire starting team in place before picking him, but don’t be afraid to pick him and his 35-homer potential. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: It is tough to guess what Adam Dunn will do in 2012 after the disaster that was his 2011 season.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/15/1984 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: Jarrod could be a very viable fantasy player if he is able to get regular playing time with the Royals in 2012. He would be valuable for only one reason — steals. He has averaged over 25 stolen bases a season in the minors. In 2011, he had 38 stolen bags in Triple-A. Also in 53 MLB plate appearances, he got 11 steals. In total, he had 49 steals in 2011. Besides the steals, there is not much more to like. He can’t actually hit the ball, not alone hit it for power. In 1614 Minor League PA, he has only four home runs. His triple slash was .278/.347/.347 in the Minor Leagues. Jarrod also has a problem with playing time. Right now, Lorenzo Cain is penciled in as the starter in center for the Royals. Also, the Royals have Mitch Maier and David Lough who can play center, so he isn’t necessarily the fourth or even fifth oufielder on the Royals. If he is on the Royals MLB roster and your fantasy team is desperate for steals, he could be played for a one-category boost. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Jarrod is almost a mirror image of Juan Pierre with less power and playing time.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/9/1981 | Team: Dodgers | Position: C|
Profile: GM Ned Coletti obviously backed off his claims to “go young” behind the plate when he brought in a couple of thirty-somethings in to compete for the starting job with Ellis. His walk rate and OBP seem to be keeping him in the mix, but Ellis will need to step up some other aspect of his game before he lands on the short end of an expected platoon in 2012. (Howard Bender)
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 6/6/1977 | Team: Dodgers | Position: 2B|
Profile: It was not that long ago that Ellis was a darling on the sabermetric set for his acceptable bat and spectacular second base defense. However, defense does not matter in fantasy, his bat has gotten worse, and now he’s old and gets hurt every season. He is going to get playing time to start, so that counts for something, but do not count on more than 500 plate appearances at best. Hey, there are deep leagues out there, and all of them require you to start a second baseman. Just pay accordingly for a guy likely to hit something .260/.300/.350 with no steals. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: If you squint hard enough, you can almost justify Ellis’ contract with the Dodgers. Considerably more squinting is required to justify relying on him as anything more than a desparation move in fantasy.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/11/1983 | Team: Red Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: After rib injuries stole 2010 from Jacoby Ellsbury, he came back with a storm and won fantasy leagues by the bushel with his first 30/30 season in the Red Sox outfield. The real surprise wasn’t the .321 batting average or the 39 stolen bases, though. He hit 32 home runs! In twice the MLB plate appearances he accumulated last year, he’d hit 17 home runs. Regression is on the way, but it may not be complete. Jeff Zimmerman found that he added over 30 feet of distance to his batted balls in the second half and did have decent power coming up in the Minor Leagues. Let’s say he hits 20 home runs next year — that would be both regression and a great home run total for someone that is likely to steal around 40 bags once again. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Jacoby Ellsbury had a 2011 that was so good that even a little regression will leave him with first-round type talent. As long as the ribs are fine.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/7/1983 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: 3B/DH|
Profile: Encarnacion is likely to see the bulk of his at-bats as a designated hitter, which is fortunate for him because there’s not much poor E5 can do well with the glove. But, after an ugly first half (.255/.283/.405), Encarnacion put together a great finish to the season, hitting .291/.382/.504 line with 11 home runs 36 RBI and 43 runs in the second half. Based on his history, it’s probably foolish to expect him to continue at that clip, but if Encarnacion is going to play every day and he gets into the 550 at-bat range, you can bank on 20+ home runs, 70 RBI, and he should provide at least a respectable batting average. About 45% of his batted balls are fly balls, and his home run per fly ball rate dipped to 9.4% in 2011 whereas his career average is 11.9%. Should he see an uptick in HR/FB and his isolated slugging returns closer to his .200 career level (.181 in 2011), there’s certainly potential for more home runs here. He’s going to have first base and third base eligibility in 2012 providing nice versatility. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Encarnacion won’t come with a very high price tag on draft day, and he has the potential to be a nice contributor in home runs and solid across typical 5×5 counting stats.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 12/16/1986 | Team: Royals | Position: SS|
Profile: You can tell that Alcides Escobar can’t hit because of all the “plusses” scouts and announcers put before “glove” when mentioning his game. Seriously, he does have a very good glove at shortstop (although it may not be on the world-historical level to which some have inflated it), and that makes him about an average player in the real-life major leagues. Does that make him good in fantasy? No. Even by the poor offensive standards set by 2011 shortstops, he is terrible. Escobar does not strike out much, but still too much for a total hacker who never walks. He has his hot streaks because of contact, but despite his speed he makes such weak contact that expecting too much improvement from his batting average on balls in play is recipe for a bad draft pick. He has some speed on the bases, and stole 26 bags in 2012. The Royals will play him into oblivion, since they think he’s the second coming of Ozzie Smith and have no other options (unless you count the recently re-signed Yuniesky Betancourt). Steals and playing time have value of course. Judge for yourself how much 20+ steals and 600+ PA balance out something like a .260/.290/.340 line. He might be young enough to improve, but there isn’t much to build on. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Unless it is a really shallow league, someone will have to have Alcides Escobar as their shortstop. His steals mean that situation is not a disaster if that person is you, but try to avoid it.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/2/1982 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: SS|
Profile: Yunel Escobar is doing his best to prove the Atlanta Braves wrong, and turned in a 2011 season that rivaled his break-out campaign of 2009. Escobar spent most of the season leading off for Toronto, and didn’t disappoint: his .369 on-base percentage and 10.3% walk rate led all American League shortstops. Taken under his wing by Jose Bautista, and his attitude problems seemingly behind him, Escobar has thrived in Toronto. Now signed long-term to be the Blue Jays’ shortstop, there’s no reason why Escobar can’t live up to his potential as a .290, power-hitting, 5.0 WAR shortstop, one definitely worthy of your fantasy consideration. Just don’t expect many counting stats. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Escobar was the shortstop the Blue Jays thought they were getting from Atlanta when they dealt for him, finishing second to only Jhonny Peralta among American League shortstops in wOBA, at .345. Hitting atop the lineup, Escobar won’t drive in as many runs as he should, considering he’s got some pop, but when filling out your infield, you’ll want to keep Escobar top of mind.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/5/1989 | Team: White Sox | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: The 23-year-old Escobar debuted late last year and could start 2012 as the White Sox’s utility infielder, a role for which he seems well-suited but ultimately resigned to. There’s not much bat (.666 OPS career) and only average speed, but he could be the beneficiary if Gordon Beckham fails to improve. His eligibility at multiple infield positions could make him a decent AL-only reserve. (Jason Catania)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/25/1987 | Team: Nationals | Position: 2B|
Profile: It’s hard to strikeout 15 percentage points more often than you walk and still manage to post a 3.5 WAR or better. Here, for example, is a complete list of the players who did it in 2011: Mike Stanton (11.6% BB, 27.6% K, 4.5 WAR), Peter Bourjos (5.8%, 22.5%, 4.3), and Danny Espinosa (8.7%, 25.2%, 3.5). Stanton and Bourjos are both players basically without peer — Stanton for the sort of power he possesses at a young age; Bourjos, for his combination of raw speed and fielding instincts. Espinosa is singular in his own way, combining power, speed, and defensive acumen in the middle of the infield. While that final trait doesn’t contribute directly to fantasy value, it does mean that he could slide over to shortstop if (when?) the Nats decide that incumbent Ian Desmond is ill suited for the starting role. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Espinosa has struck out in a little over 25% of his major-league plate appearances, and will likely continue to approximate that rate in 2011; however, his power and speed — combined with possible shortstop eligibility — make him interesting.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/10/1982 | Team: Dodgers | Position: OF|
Profile: Perhaps because of the market in which he plays or perhaps for some other reason, Ethier appears to be the subject of some debate. One camp views him as an elite player; another, as overrated. Really, though, Ethier has been pretty consistent during his time in the majors. He’s posted between a 2.0 and 3.5 WAR in every one of his six major-league seasons. He’s posted OBPs between .350 and .375 in each of those seasons, as well. His slugging percentages remained consisently in the high-.400 range, too — until 2011, that is, when he posted a career-low .421 mark. A knee injury that ended his season on September 6th could have been to blame. General ineffectiveness, of course, is another explanation. At this point, Ethier isn’t a guy to reach on, but he could have value in leagues where owners have soured on him after a year and a half of blah play. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Besides a lower-than-usual slugging percentage, Ethier’s 2011 wasn’t a much different than his 2006-10. The drop in power could be due to a knee injury that Ethier’s season; it could, of course, be due simply to ineffectiveness.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 1/30/1986 | Position: 1B|
Profile: Lovingly referred to as “Who” by Mets fans, Evans has the upside to make the Pirates off of his Minor League deal and put up a mediocre batting average with averageish power while backing up the corner outfield and first base mostly against lefties. “Who” is right. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 2/5/1977 | Position: 3B|
Profile: UZR says the typically slick-fielding MI had a pretty weak glove in 2011. On the other hand, his typically quiet bat was as quiet as ever and he provides practically no fantasy value. (Chad Young)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/22/1987 | Team: Rockies | Position: SS|
Profile: Injuries to Troy Tulowitzki, Chris Nelson and Mark Ellis opened the door for Field to make an unexpected Major League debut in September. He arrived just in time to start on September 11th, and drew a walk in his first plate appearance in the majors. Field has put up pretty decent numbers in the minors during each of the past two seasons, including a 114 wRC+ at Double-A last season, but is unlikely to have anything more than a utility role in the bigs thanks to Tulowitzki. He didn’t hit very well in his brief time with the Rockies, but showed good power in the minors for a shortstop. A good spring could put him in the mix for the last spot on Colorado’s bench, but it’s more likely that Field makes his Triple-A debut. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Field made a surprise debut last season, and has shown good power in the minors, but his only path to a large contribution at the big-league level this season is an injury to Troy Tulowitzki.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 5/9/1984 | Team: Tigers | Position: 1B|
Profile: Fielder joins his father’s team this season, and though his new home park won’t be the same launching pad for his lefty power, his new team can count on getting one of the game’s best hitters. He is best known for his mammoth power, but Fielder is more than a one-dimensional home run machine. He boasts some of the league’s best plate discipline and makes shockingly good contact for someone who swings out of his shoes as he does. 2011 was Fielder’s sixth straight season with a strikeout rate below 20%, and the move down to 15.3% could help him sustain a .299 average for years to come. He should be a threat for .300-30-100-100 in any city he signs in. Just don’t push that home run total too far north — Detroit is more of a pitcher’s park than most might think. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Fielder is clearly one of the game’s best hitters regardless of position. He brings more to the game than power — an increase in contact in 2011 could allow him to keep his average near .300 on a regular basis if sustained.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/22/1978 | Team: Mariners | Position: 3B|
Profile: Last year, Eric Wedge and the Mariners coaching staff came up with a brilliant idea. It seemed that Chone Figgins was a terrible baseball player. Their solution: make him more aggressive at the plate, and force him to hit his way out of his little “slump.” The positive result: his strikeout rate dropped a couple points. The other results: his walk rate cut in half, and his batting average on balls in play dropped to .215 as he swung at pitches that he couldn’t hit as well. Essentially, the Mariners tried to change Chone Figgins and somehow turned him into something worse, some grotesque figure out of a 50s sci-fi flick. If some other team donates to charity by taking on a sliver of his remaining contract, and lets him go back to being the way he was before, there’s a slim chance he might post a positive WAR as a utility infielder. His days of being useful in fantasy, however, are over. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: If some other team donates to charity by taking on a sliver of his remaining contract, and lets him go back to being the way he was before, there’s a slim chance he might post a positive WAR as a utility infielder. His days of being useful in fantasy, however, are over.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 10/26/1984 | Team: Nationals | Position: C|
Profile: Jesus Flores was once the catcher of the future for the Washington Nationals until injury and Wilson Ramos changed all of that. Flores played very little between 2009 and 2011, and when he did play in 2011, he was pretty bad. Over 91 plate appearances in 2011, he posted a .209/.253/.314 line with one home run and, count ‘em, two RBI. He enters 2012 as the backup catcher and as such, represents very little value. Should he somehow gain the starter gig, there is some power upside as he’s flashed an ISO high enough to suggest double-digit home run potential, although given his contact skills, he’s not likely to ever hit for average. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Flores is a backup catcher with poor contact skills and a history of shoulder problems. If your league values those qualities, he could be a perfect fit. Otherwise, you’re probably wise to avoid him on draft day.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 1/24/1986 | Team: White Sox | Position: C|
Profile: Based on potential and talent, Flowers should be the White Sox starting catcher this year, but whether or not that actually happens is up to new manager Robin Ventura. Assuming he can displace longtime backstop AJ Pierzynski, Flowers should be a workable option for AL-only players, providing a decent OBP if his minor league numbers are to be believed. Over the course of a full season — especially in US Cellular Field — he could add double digit home runs. His lack of a Major League track record makes him a risk, especially since he’s been striking out far too much over the last few years in the minors, but the potential payoff for a later round gamble is very real. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: He was the centerpiece in the trade that sent Javier Vazquez to the Braves, and they’d surely like to see some return on that deal other than Brent Lilibridge. Flowers just needs to stay healthy and the production should follow in short succession, unless new manager Robin Ventura tries to keep A.J. Pierzynski as the starter against all indicators.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 6/9/1980 | Team: Giants | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Fontenot agreed to a one-year, $1.05M contract to return to the Giants as their utility infielder in 2012. He’ll provide depth all around, but likely won’t see much in the way of playing time, barring injury or a demotion to rookie shortstop Brandon Crawford. Last season, Fontenot appeared in 85 games for the Giants but hit just four home runs and posted a slash line of .227/.304/.377. He had a solid 9.9% walk rate but also posted a strikeout rate of 19.0%. In truth, the Giants brought him back because he was a less expensive option than their other alternatives. With minimal playing time and minimal offensive skills, Fontenot doesn’t provide much on the fantasy front. He has potential as a plug-and-play type waiver acquisition, but overall his fantasy value is, at best, low. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Without a starting job and with minimal offensive upside, Fontenot is nothing more than a potential waiver acquisition in fantasy. He will serve as the Giants utility infielder in 2012 and his value will be in direct correlation to the amount of playing time he receives. Neither expects to be that high.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/1/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: Ford is exceptional in one skill – speed – and below Major League average in everything else. After several years in the Giants farm system, he’s now in the Mariners’ Minor League system, but not on the 40-man. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/14/1987 | Team: Padres | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: Logan Forsythe was called up three different times in 2011, mostly to help out when injury struck the San Diego Padres, and his results were underwhelming. He was over-matched in the majors and he raked in the minors. His overall Triple-A line was .326/.445/.528 in 218 plate appearances while his major league performance was just .213/.281/.287 in 169 PA’s. Forsythe has a great eye at the dish, walking in excess of 15% through most stops in the minors, but he also strikes out a fair amount which may make it tough for him to hit for high average. He has below-average power for a third baseman, but could probably steal bases in the double digits. He’s without a starting job, so unless injury strikes, his at-bats, and value, will be limited. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Forsythe turns 25 in January and unless Chase Headley is moved, he will either spend more time in Triple-A or fill a utility role. As a result, his fantasy value is limited.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/22/1986 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: Dexter Fowler is an okay player and most of his fantasy value is based on a couple of external factors. First of all, Dexter does not hit for average (.262 lifetime average) mainly because of his 20+% strikeout rate. He probably would not even be playing if it wasn’t for his near 12% walk rate. Besides his inability to hit for average, he also hits with little power (15 home runs in over 1600 career plate appearances). He or his managers seem to think he can steal, but over the last two seasons he is just 25 for 42 on the basepaths. Fowler is not going to get many more green lights to steal with a 60% success rate, so most of his fantasy value comes from hitting at the top of the Colorado lineup. In 125 games last reason, 111 of them were in one of the top three spots. Being at the top of the Rockies lineup, with his decent on-base percentage, led to the 84 Runs scored. Also, by hitting at the top of the lineup, he will more likely get the signal to steal a base. If he is moved down in the order, he may not get as many stolen base and run opportunities. Upside of .275 average, 20 stolen bases and 110 runs — downside of .240 average, eight stolen bases, 50 runs. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Fowler’s fantasy value doesn’t come from his baseball skills, but instead from his ability to hypnotize his manager into keeping him at the top of the Colorado lineup.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 7/20/1982 | Position: C/1B|
Profile: A decent power hitter in the minors, Fox’s success hasn’t led to extended playing time in the majors. He signed with the Pirates in November, and would be an interesting pick up if he manages to get some playing time. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/24/1987 | Team: Reds | Position: 3B|
Profile: Juan Francisco plays real baseball the way many of us do video-game baseball — which is to say, he swings basically all the time and with abandon. Even the limited sample that is his major-league career to date bears this out: in his first 181 plate appearances, Francisco has posted a PITCHf/x O-Swing rate of 40.8%, relative to a league-average mark of ca. 28.0% over that stretch. Francisco’s 44.6% O-Swing from 2011 (97 PA) would’ve placed him second only to Vladimir Guerrero (45.2%) among the league’s 145 qualified batters. Still, he’s hit 38 home runs in 742 Triple-A plate appearances and is entering just his age-25 season, suggesting that there’s room for development. He’s part of the third-base situation should Scott Rolen miss time and could, theoretically, serve as a lefty-batting complement to Chris Heisey in left field, although Ryan Ludwick complicates things. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Francisco hasn’t demonstrated a particularly disciplined batting approach but has good power and would be part of the solution should (when?) Scott Rolen get(s) injured.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 10/23/1981 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: OF|
Profile: Francisco had his worst offensive season to date, putting up a .312 wOBA and hitting .244/.340/.364 in a little under 300 plate appearances. He didn’t show much power with a .120 ISO, but he did show a better eye at the plate. Francisco had one of the lowest chase rates among batters (22 percent) and walked in 11.3 percent of his plate appearances, compared to 7-8 percent in past years. It would have been a decent offensive year if not for a .268 batting average on balls in play, about 25 points below his average from 2007-2010. Philly traded him to Toronto during the winter for a minor league reliever, and Francisco figures to sub in against lefties for Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus and Travis Snider. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Francisco’s batting average on balls in play should bounce back, and his improved plate patience is a plus. Still, he’s not exactly a lefty bopper (.768 career OPS, versus .759 against righties) and has gradually become less of a stolen base threat. He’s a decent fourth outfielder, but not draft-worthy.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/8/1984 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: Confession time: Jeff Francoeur had a really good season in 2011, much to the surprise of all of us nerds. Does this mean he is now “that player” that everyone always thought he would be? Well, he did hit for more power, and he never gets hurt, so his counting stats in a not-bad Royals lineup should be pretty good (they certainly aren’t going to bench their Beloved Leader!). However, one bad year doesn’t doom a player, and one good year doesn’ t make him, either. Frenchy was one of the worst players in baseball from 2008-2010, and while he’s relatively young at 28, he is not that young. It is not as if he was hurt or demoted during the previous years, there is a bountiful sample size of awfulness there. He’s better than that, but he’s not nearly as good as he was in 2012. His counting stats mean he is should be drafted in most leagues, but only as a fourth or fifth outfielder. A .270/.310/.430 line only works in the outfield with good counting stats. Wait, does your league give points for naked batting practice? (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Jeff Francoeur surprised almost everyone by having a genuinely good year in 2011. That does not erase his history of being one of the worst players in baseball from 2008-2010. Be careful.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/12/1986 | Team: Reds | Position: 3B|
Profile: Frazier showed good plate discipline and respectable power in the minors, so he’s probably a better option in OBP leagues than in traditional batting average leagues, but his third base eligibility is enough to warrant a second look as the position is perilously shallow at the moment. If the Reds go into 2012 healthy and without trading anyone currently on the roster, it’s unclear where Frazier plays, but he was a top-50 prospect as recently as 2010, so the Reds probably won’t just let him rot. Shallow or mixed league players would be wise to wait until it’s clearer as to how the Reds are going to use him, but for deep keeper leagues or NL-only players, Frazier might be worth stashing based on potential — and the fact that Scott Rolen isn’t going to play forever. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Having one fewer Yonder Alonsos on the roster makes it more likely that Frazier will get consistent playing time, though he may find it at a number of positions. He’s still most valuable as a third baseman, even if he ends up qualifying as a left fielder in 2012.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/12/1989 | Team: Braves | Position: 1B|
Profile: Freeman was slightly underrated in sabermetric circles last season thanks to the fact that his defense graded out poorly, but even just looking at offense alone he wasn’t anything special for his position. His .345 wOBA was just 18th among first basemen with at least 400 plate appearances, a mark that was bested by both Mark Reynolds and Daniel Murphy. Freeman struck out more frequently than he had during his tenure in the Minors, and his BB/K was slightly worse in the second half than it was in the first. At just 22 this season, Freeman should continue to improve, but he may not have the ceiling of his fellow 2011 rookie, Eric Hosmer. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Freeman is a decent value play, and he should get better as he matures, but his ceiling — which he may not reach in 2012 — is still likely to fall short of elite status for a first baseman.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 4/28/1983 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 3B|
Profile: To hear the announcers of the World Series tell it, David Freese is a young player who is just ready to explode. Those October heroics aside, Freese is a pretty good hitter, especiallly at third base, where the pickings are slim. However, let’s not go nuts. He’ll be 29 in April — not that young for a baseball player. A .298/.354/.429 line from a third baesman is nice, but not even close to being “superstar” material. Also, Freese has never managed 400 plate appearances in a season yet. Don’t get me wrong, he can definitely help your fantasy team, and heck, in an especially “smart” league in which people actually understand aging curves, regression, and so forth, he might even be a bargain. But I am guessing that in most leagues there will be someone who buys into the hype. Do not be that person, unless you think .280/.340/.440 from a third baseman is going to carry your team to the championship. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: David Freese is a good hitter at a thin position at third base. Just do not overpay based on his playoff heroics.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/26/1977 | Position: OF|
Profile: Never a dynamic offensive performer, Fukudome lost the only plus tool on his utility belt — plate discipline — as his walk-to-strikeout ratio went from a career-best 0.96 in 2010 to a career-worst 0.55 last season. Much of this was thanks to his trade to Cleveland, as he found American League pitching to be a lot less accommodating than National League pitching. Even though he posts league average batting averages on balls in play or better, Fukudome doesn’t generate good batting averages, and he comes up lacking in the power and speed departments as well. He will be 35 this year, and while he may fall into a full-time role in free agency, you certainly shouldn’t be giving the Japanese product — who has only posted a .350 wOBA once in four Major League seasons — a full-time role on your fantasy team. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Fukudome had a down contract season, and going forward he is more suited to a bench role in both actual and fantasy baseball.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/20/1981 | Team: Rays | Position: OF|
Profile: Fuld got pressed into some unexpected heavy duty in 2011, and he performed admirably, then terribly, then admirably again. All told, he makes a solid fourth outfielder, and if the Rays have their druthers, he would only be called on for about 200 PAs in 2012, but could see another 350 to 400 if injuries or suspensions or the like push him back into extended work. He can grab 20 or 25 steals with heavier duty and should muster a .335 to .355 OBP given his minor league history. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Unless injuries push him into big action, expect defensive and backup duties to give him 150 to 200 PAs for probably 10 steals and league-average hitting.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 10/24/1977 | Team: Cardinals | Position: SS|
Profile: As a baseball player, Rafael Furcal has really only been awesome in two seasons, but in fantasy baseball he has been dynamite in a few others. Last season was not one of those seasons, but shortstop is so thin these days that his performance earned passing grades. Furcal has only hit .300 in three of his 12 Major League seasons, and has hit .275 across the past five seasons, so don’t expect a superlative average. Furcal also still manages a good stolen-base percentage, but he doesn’t nearly as frequently as he used to. If he can avoid the injury bug, something that contributed to his horrid performance in Los Angeles last season, he should still be rosterable, but you’d feel better if he was a reserve on your team rather than a regular. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Furcal is no longer a great option, but since shortstop is so thin he should be a decent starter if you miss out on the top guys.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 7/26/1985 | Team: Brewers | Position: 3B|
Profile: Gamel may finally get his chance in the Major Leagues, coming into spring training as the Brewers’ starting first baseman. His Minor League numbers have always been somewhat encouraging, and 2011 was his best year yet, as he posted a career low strikeout rate of 15.4% and a career high isolated slugging percentage of .229. However, at 26, such gains are to be expected, and his .310/.372/.540 line was not far off from the average line of the Pacific Coast League first baseman. Can Gamel keep the contact rate up in the majors? If not, he won’t be a viable option, either at first in Milwaukee or on your fantasy roster. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Gamel will finally get his chance, barring a last-minute free agent signing at first base by the Brewers. Can his power translate to the Majors? If not, Gamel may be the next in the long line of quad-A players.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/24/1983 | Team: Yankees | Position: OF|
Profile: While the lamestream media may be constantly trying to find an upgrade for the Yankees in left field, the club is smart enough to know what they have in Gardner, so playing time should never be an issue for the 28-year-old. Gardner has a very narrow fantasy skillset, but his ability to get on base and make things happen in the context of a very good offense makes his reliable and valuable. His tendency to watch pitches fly by means he may never hit higher than .280, but owners should be willing to accept a lower average for huge run and stolen base numbers. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Gardner is a machine when it comes to stealing bases, and his approach at the plate makes him a big-time asset in OBP leagues.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/29/1983 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: Gentry opened the year at Triple-A Round Rock and didn’t do much to merit a call-up (.245/.325/.336), but he found himself in Texas in May anyway and got 30-plus starts in center field. While he didn’t display any power (.075 ISO) — no surprise for a guy with an isolated slugging percentage under .100 in the minors — and he didn’t draw many walks (6.5 percent) with pitchers pounding the zone against him, Gentry was a beast when he did reach base by going a perfect 18-for-18 in steals. The 28-year-old’s base running and defensive chops figure to earn him an extra outfielder role in 2012. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Gentry has long been a high-percentage base thief (80 percent success rate in the minors), but his limited offensive ceiling and competition from Julio Borbon and eventually Leonys Martin might mean a starting role is out of his reach.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/26/1978 | Position: 2B/3B/DH|
Profile: After amassing close to a thousand plate appearances with the Royals from 2006 to ’08 — and producing some value in that capacity via his selectivity at the plate (he has a 10.0% career walk rate) — German spent most of 2009-11 with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate. He signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Seibu Lions in December, however, so won’t be around in 2012. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/30/1983 | Team: Royals | Position: 2B|
Profile: With Yuniesky Betancourt banished to Milwaukee (temporarily, as it turned out), in 2011 Chris Getz became the Primary Object of Abuse for Royals fans. He was not that bad, of course, but he was bad (the feeling was probably exacerbated when General Manager Dayton Moore called Getz a “mistake-free player.”). Getz can play an average second base, which counts for a lot in fantasy. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. Getz would be utterly useless if he wasn’t a really good basestealer. Does a .250/.300/.300 line appeal to you? But Johnny Giavotella’s glove is shaky and his bat is not sure thing and the other option is Yuniesky Betancourt, so… Yes, Chris Getz could get playing time next season, as incredible as that seems. He managed 21 steals in just over 400 plate appearances in 2011, so that’s something, but other than as a “just in case bench player,” Getz has little to no fantasy value. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Imagine if Alcides Escobar was left-handed, did not have shortstop eligibility, and much less playing time. That’s Chris Getz. Get excited.
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 1/8/1971 | Team: Rockies | Position: 1B|
Profile: Jason Giambi will play the part of Matt Stairs in 2012, with the actual Matt Stairs having announced his retirement in 2011.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 7/10/1987 | Team: Royals | Position: 2B|
Profile: “Scrappy” jokes aside, people want Johnny Giavotella to suceed, if for no other reason than a season of Chris Getz and/or Yuniesky Betancourt being the primary second baseman in Kansas City is too horrible to contemplate. Giavotella has actually hit well in the minors, at least in terms of batting average and contact. He’s certainly done better as a hitter than the man who the Royals really want to take over at second soon, Christian Colon. But the scouts are not impressed with his hitting tool and even less impressed with his fieldling. Giavotella looks like he has the inside track on the starting second base job in 2012, and the Royals will probably give him a fair chance to succeed or fail, but this is not Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas, and they don’t have that much invested in him if they feel like they have to pull the plug. The upside here is Alberto Callaspo. The downside is Callaspo’s glove with Chris Getz’s bat. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Johnny Giavotella, is short, scrappy, and defies the odds… he’s the Royals’ Dustin Pedroia, sans talent. But he’s got the inside track on the 2012 starting job.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 3/2/1977 | Position: OF|
Profile: After not playing during the 2009 season and making a comeback in 2010, Gibbons garnered just 142 plate appearances over two seasons with the Dodgers. He still has some power and makes good contact, but he walks at a below average clip and is a weak defender, making it a toss-up as to whether he gets another shot at some Major League playing time. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 7/18/1987 | Team: Giants | Position: 3B|
Profile: The Giants drafted Gillaspie in the supplemental round of the 2008 amateur draft and he’s followed a typical path through the minors. In 2011, the third baseman played a full season for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, posting a triple slash of .297/.389/.453 with 11 home runs and nine stolen bases, respectable but by no means outstanding numbers for the Pacific Coast League. Gillaspie is not considered a top prospect for the Giants, falling outside Baseball America’s list of Top 20 for the organization. The infielder is likely to see another full year in Fresno in 2012. (Wendy Thurm)
Quick Opinion: A young middle infielder with muted upside is stil a middle infielder. Gillaspie’s Major League team also lacks impact middle infielders, so there’s an opportunity for him. He’ll still probably start the year in the Minor Leagues.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 6/20/1984 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: OF|
Profile: Gillespie has actually displayed pretty decent skills in the minors, walking at a well above average clip, making solid contact and showing good power and speed. However, at age 27 he is no longer a real prospect and got buried even deeper in the Diamondbacks depth chart after the signing of Jason Kubel. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 4/5/1976 | Position: 1B|
Profile: If you play in a league in which Ross Gload enters the conversation, it’s Sunda Trench-deep and you need to consider seeing the sun sometime this millennium. Even by pinch-hitter standards, the 36-year-old isn’t that useful. (David Golebiewski)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/10/1987 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: 1B|
Profile: It didn’t take long for Goldschmidt to go from the eighth round of the 2009 draft to the Major Leagues — just two calendar years and 315 minor league games. He mashed 83 homers and posted a .303 isolated sluggin percentage in his 1,387 bush league plate appearances before whacking eight homers (.223 ISO) in 48 second half games with the Diamondbacks. Goldschmidt is a classic three true outcomes type, a skill set that is slightly less valuable from a right-handed hitter who will be at the platoon disadvantage the majority of the time. Assuming the D’Backs won’t let Lyle Overbay stand in his way, Goldschmidt is a safe bet to mash 20 homers — maybe even 30 — with the appropriate number of RBI and runs scored in 2012, though he might not be much help in the batting average department, at least not right away. Too many strikeouts right now. The 24-year-old is a fantastic late round player in deep leagues, but he’ll need to put up big numbers to justify a regular lineup spot at first base on a fantasy team. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Unless the Diamondbacks foolishly let Lyle Overbay stand in his way, Goldschmidt will crank out 20+ homers and a healthy number of RBI in 2012. He will need to put up big numbers to justify a regular fantasy lineup spot at first base though, and he might not be capable of doing that just yet.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/17/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: Golson has tools — he can fly and has some power — but without patience, a great ability to make contact, or a glove that is a strength in center field, the flaws outweigh the positives. That said, the Kansas City outfield does have an opening. He’s probably third or fourth in line for it. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 11/22/1980 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: Gomes just ended up in the most crowded outfield in the Major Leagues (Oakland), but at least he has his uses. He is horrible in the field, has average patience at best, and strikes out a lot. What he does do is hit for power and mash lefties. He is best platooned, and he’s the lesser half of a platoon as it is. But if he can get 400-500 plate appearances, he could hit 15-20 home runs. He’s a nice, cheap endgame move in deeper leagues where you can only start him against lefties. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Gomes is a nice, cheap endgame move for power and, well, nothing else.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 12/4/1985 | Team: Brewers | Position: OF|
Profile: Gomez picked up 16 steals in just 258 plate appearances last season, but this was the extent of his fantasy usefulness. He continues to strike out too much to be much of a threat at the plate (24.8% of plate appearances), even though he has definite raw power, which he showed with eight home runs and 11 doubles in his platoon role. Look for him to stay in a similar role next season, batting against lefties and playing possibly the best defensive center field in the league. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Gomez can rack up steals any time he’s getting on base, but there are two problems. First, he’s not very good at getting on base, and second, he’s locked up in the short side of a platoon with Nyjer Morgan.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/17/1985 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: After a fantasy MVP type season in 2010, Gonzalez came back to earth a little in 2011. He still looks to be one of the top fantasy players in the game with 20-20 skills and a .300 average most years. People should have expected some regression in his 2011 average from 2010 when he had a .384 batting average on balls in play. His BABIP dropped to .326 and his average went to .295. The biggest hit to his value came from an early July wrist injury. Because of it, he played in 18 fewer games than in 2010. He was on pace for 30+ home runs and 110 runs and 110 RBI. The biggest knock against him is his home (.329/.381/.609) vs away splits (.265/.317/.427). Even with this split, he will again find himself at the top of the fantasy rankings. I see no reason he should not be drafted in the first or second round in 2012. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Cargo is a great fantasy option with his only flaw being a huge home and away split.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/18/1983 | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: In most formats Gonzalez will have eligibility at shortstop, third base, and second base which is pretty much the only thing that gives him value in fantasy circles. If your league counts defense, he’s got a pretty slick glove, but his bat and his role on the team makes him a fringe player. Gonzalez, 28, is a career .242/.281/.317 hitter with absolutely no power nor speed. His 2011 was even worse at .215/.256/.283 although some of that was due to rotten luck with a .244 batting average on balls in play. He serves as an emergency infielder for the Padres and isn’t likely to amass many at bats to make much of a difference in 2012. Even in a full time role, you should strive to do much better than Gonzalez. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Gonzalez carries the tiniest of sticks and won’t have a regular gig in 2012. Look elsewhere.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 5/8/1982 | Team: Red Sox | Position: 1B|
Profile: Gonzalez proved that he was more than up to the challenge of American League baseball, as he nearly took home the AL batting crown and was the odds-on favorite for AL MVP for much of the first half. A power outage due to a sore shoulder in the second half dropped him out of the spotlight — he hit just 10 homers after the break as compared to 17 before it, but his on-base percentage never waned. As an added bonus, Gonzalez put his .292 wOBA against lefties from 2008 further in his rearview mirror, which should eliminate any concerns against lefties. One note of caution comes in Gonzalez’s batting average on balls in play. His .380 mark tied for the highest in the game, and the difference in his BABIP and xBABIP (.333) was the highest in the game all by itself. It was also by far the highest mark of his career. In other words, he may hit .300 again, but don’t expect .338. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: While he didn’t hit the 40 homers that some expected once he left Petco Park, Adrian Gonzalez was still one of the best first basemen in the game and will be an asset to any team.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 2/15/1977 | Team: Brewers | Position: SS|
Profile: Alex Gonzalez has played in 13 Major League seasons, and has been an average player offensively in exactly zero of those seasons. In seven of the 11 seasons in which he has played at least 100 games, his wRC+ has been lower than 80, or more than 20 percent worse than league average. He has never hit better than .277, and he did that in 1999 when he was 22 years old. Even in a down year for shortstops last season, Gonzalez’s .281 wOBA ranked 18th out of 20 qualified shortstops — only Jason Bartlett and Yuniesky Betancourt fared worse. Yes, Gonzalez has topped 10 homers in three of the past four seasons, but he contributes very little in the other four categories. In fact, his .241 average was dead last among the 20 qualified shortstops last season. He simply isn’t going to hit enough homers to make up for his deficiencies in other areas. And while he may get a boost in homers from moving to Miller Park, his average will probably be unaffected — the park factor for right-handed batting average from 2009-2011 for both Turner Field and Miller Park was 100. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Gonzalez may hit more home runs in Miller Park, but he has never been even average offensively, and last year he was well below average in every category but home runs — you can do better.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/22/1988 | Team: Dodgers | Position: SS|
Profile: Dee Gordon earned a call up in early June and he performed much the way the Dodgers must have expected — he hit for average, stole a lot of bases, and had absolutely zero power. In his 56 games as a major leaguer, he posted a .304/.325/.362 line with no home runs and 24 stolen bases. Speed is Gordon’s major weapon as he stole 73 bases in 2009 in Single-A ball and another 53 in 2010 at Double-A. If you combine his 2011, he stole a total of 56 bags. He’s never had power at any level, he’s not a terribly patient hitter, but he gets as much out of his game as anyone, putting nearly 56% of batted balls on the ground in an effort to put his wheels to work. He appears to be the logical starter and over a full season, he could be a real plus at steals and he should be able to hit for a decent average, but he may be a black hole at home runs and RBI. At shortstop, he still has good value. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Gordon has great speed and a starting gig. If he leads off for the Dodgers, they have a lineup that should give him the opportunity to score plenty of runs as well. While he’s going to have the power of Juan Pierre, as a shortstop, he’s still awfully valuable.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 2/10/1984 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: Most people know that Alex Gordon finally had a good season in 2011, but how many know that he was actually one of the best players in baseball? The low run environment these days means that .302/.376/.502 is excellent from a left fielder, and Gordon was also tremendous in taking the extra base and also in the field. Of course, non-stolen base baserunning and fielding do not matter in most fantasy leagues. Moreover, Gordon will no longer have third base eligibility in 2012 as he did in 2011. He was over his head, too. He did cut the strikeouts a bit, but most of the batting average jump came from an inflated batting average on balls in play, which will regress in 2012. So do not overpay as if he is going to repeat. But Gordon knows how to take a walk, has good power, and although Kauffman Stadium eats up homers, it increases balls in play. Gordon is not George Brett, but .270/.355/.465 with 20 home runs and 10+ steals is a reasonable projection — and valuable. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Alex Gordon looked like a bust. Then in 2011 he boomed. He is probably going to regress, but is still probably going to be a good fantasy player at the right price in 2012.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 3/16/1981 | Team: Yankees | Position: OF|
Profile: What a season! After struggling against lefties throughout most of his career, Granderson murdered them to the tune of .272/.347/.597 last season. That improvement seems legitimate, as Granderson worked with Yanks’ hitting coach Kevin Long to perfect his new approach. That new approach helped him hit lefties, but also allowed him to hit 41 home runs last season. He also stole 25 bases. In that lineup, Granderson is likely to score and drive in a ton of runs. He’s one of the best fantasy outfielders in the game right now. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Granderson broke out in a big way last season and his gains seem to be legit. Expect more of the same this season.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/2/1986 | Team: Brewers | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: Green had a Minor League breakout season in 2011, destroying the Pacific Coast League to the tune of 22 home runs and a .336/.413/.583 line in 120 games. Aramis Ramirez is in the fold at third base for the Brewers for the foreseeable future, but the Brewers still need backup infielders all across the diamond. Green played some second base in his cup of coffee last year as well, and he should take the primary lefty bench bat and utility infield position for the Brewers in 2011. He should provide decent contact and plate discipline in the majors. The question is if the excellent Minor League power can translate to the bigs. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Green broke out at Triple-A Nashville last season, but a role as a starter will likely have to wait with Aramis Ramirez signing with Milwaukee. Still, he should get some playing time as a backup infielder.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 8/17/1983 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Though he’s hit for both power and average in the minors, Greene’s .218/.307/.313 slash line in the majors leaves a lot to be desired. Greene will likely be pressed into a full-time role if Rafael Furcal misses time. He’ll steal a few bases, but he really needs to improve his performance against Major League pitchers. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 2/9/1975 | Position: DH|
Profile: The 2.9% walk rate was lower than ever, and the power started to desert Guerrero last season. He’s still capable of making contact with anything thrown near the strike zone, but he’s a liability on the basepaths and in the field. That would be useful if Guerrero was a middle infielder or catcher, but he’s a designated hitter now. If he gets another opportunity with a team, Guerrero should provide a decent average, but he’s unlikely to provide spectacular power or on-base skills. His time as a useful fantasy option may have reached its’ end. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Guerrero’s declining power makes him nothing more than a high-average hitter. At his position, that’s not a useful skill set.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 9/30/1975 | Position: 2B|
Profile: The last time Carlos Guillen played over 100 games in a season, it was 2008. Or, a long time ago. Injuries — the long return from rehabilitation after microfracture surgery in 2010, and a wrist injury in August — shortened Guillen’s 2011 season to only 28 games, and he struggled mightily, hitting only .232/.265/.368. A .244 batting average on balls in play certainly didn’t help, nor did Guillen’s 4.9% walk rate. While rumours about the 36-year-old retiring have been heard, Guillen says he’s fully healthy for the first time in years, and is looking for a job in 2012. Without any guaranteed at-bats, Guillen’s too much of a question mark to be worthy of a spot on your fantasy roster. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: The past few seasons of Carlos Guillen’s career have been a nightmare, with 2011 being especially bad at the plate. There are far too many superior options — and even those less superior with fewer question marks — than Guillen in most leagues. Unfortunately, Mr. Guillen’s just got too much baggage.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/21/1983 | Team: Mariners | Position: OF|
Profile: Franklin Gutierrez was a big part of the “feel good” Mariners of 2009, where defense apparently ruled. Advanced metrics confirmed what scouts had always said about Gutierrez — he was an absolute monster in the field despite questions about his bat. In 2010 his batting average on balls in play regressed and his power fell, as well, as he dropped about to the expected offensive levels. In 2011, as stomach problem kept him out the first part of the season, and when he returned, his bat was so bad that Alcides Escobar is rumored to have emailed him hitting advice. Gutierrez can probably “bounce back” to hit .250/.300/.370, and maybe there are some very deep leagues where that is useful. But remember, whatever surplus value he has at this point is bound up in his glove, which won’t make a lick of difference in most fantasy leagues. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Expect Frankllin Gutierrez to be a fantasy monster, if healthy, in 2012. Wait, your league doesn’t count defense? My bad.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/28/1986 | Team: Rays | Position: OF|
Profile: Guyer isn’t regarded as particularly toolsy, but he has a “toolsy” profile, in that he’s hit 27 homers and gone 46-for-55 on stolen-base attempts over 853 minor-league plate appearances the last two seasons. He also covers all three outfield spots, but how much playing time will he get? (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/14/1984 | Team: Padres | Position: 1B|
Profile: With Yonder Alonso slated for first base, Guzman will have to compete for his playing time in the outfield. For fantasy and San Diego’s purposes, Guzman’s positional versatility will be handy as he’ll qualify at both first base and in the outfield — and it should also give him some degree of guaranteed playing time. Guzman, 27, put together an impressive .312/.369/.478 line with five home runs and 44 RBI in just 247 at-bats in 2011. That, coupled with a solid glove was good for 2.3 WAR in a little less than half a season. In a little over 1300 plate appearances in Tiple-A, Guzman hit .319/.382/.506 with 44 home runs. Guzman doesn’t profile as a big power bat, but he walks enough and makes good enough contact to keep his batting average and OBP useful and he might even snag you a hand full of steals to boot. Just watch where he plays in Spring Training to know more about his 2012 playing time. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Assuming he can get 500 plate appearances, Guzman should be able to net you something on the order of .280/.345/.440 with 12-14 home runs. Should he land somewhere in the 3-5 spots in the order, 80 RBI isn’t a pipe dream either.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/4/1982 | Team: Dodgers | Position: OF|
Profile: Without much in the way of power (career 0.77 isolated slugging), Gwynn needs to earn his roster spot by way of his speed and ability to get on base. Unfortunately, he failed to prove himself in his first year with the Dodgers as he nearly halved his walk rate to a feeble 6.8% and increased his strikeout rate to 17.3% which resulted in an unacceptable .308 OBP. He did steal 22 bases, but with his natural speed, he should be producing more than just your average plug-and-play waiver pick-up. He avoided arbitration during the offseason by signing a two-year deal worth $2M and seems likely to play the role of the fourth outfielder. His range in the outfield and strong defensive abilities should get him plenty of spot starts and late-inning defensive work, but without a full-time gig, his fantasy upside in 2012 is minimal. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Gwynn will be the Dodgers fourth outfielder in 2012. Defensively he’s solid, but his only real asset on the offensive front is his speed. Without a full-time job, the upside is minimal, but as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement he could post a decent value in roto leagues.
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