|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 6/30/1982 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: Mitch “MITCH” Maier is a favorite among some circles of Royals internet fandom, but do not mistake comedy and parody for fantasy potential. Maier is a servicable fourth outfielder in the Major Leagues, but he really does not walk that much (careful with that 2011 sample size!), has little power, and does not hit for average. Oh, and he only got 113 plate appearances in 2011 despite spending the whole year on the the Major League roster. Assuming the Royals do not find a better or cheaper bench option between now and Opening Day, he might see more time if someone gets hurt or if Lorenzo Cain completely bombs (a distinct possibility), but even then MITCH or someone roughly equivalent should be available on waivers. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Incredibly, Mitch Maier may still be on the Royals’ roster as a reserve outfielder in 2012. He should not be on yours.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 11/17/1983 | Team: Orioles | Position: OF|
Profile: The 28-year-old outfielder is now three seasons removed from his last 20+ home run year. While he’s still a useful fantasy player, that certainly limits his value. Markakis’s value is derived from his durability and well-rounded games. He won’t post spectacular numbers in any one category, but should contribute in all five aspects of most fantasy leagues. The Orioles are basically returning the same cast on offense, so don’t expect Markakis’ run or RBI totals to rise all that much. Even so, he’s a solid number three outfielder. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Markakis won’t wow you in any one category, but contributes enough in each category to make him a useful fantasy asset. Being on the Orioles definitely prevents him from racking up the strong run and RBI totals he posted between 2007 and 2009.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 7/2/1988 | Team: Nationals | Position: 1B|
Profile: Marrero’s road to consistent playing time in Washington, or anywhere else for that matter, may be difficult due to his being more of a “tweener” at first base. In projecting for only moderate power with suspect defense, similar could be said about Gaby Sanchez a couple of years ago. However a trusted scout did comp him to a more athletic version of current Marlins first baseman which deserves some level of attention considering Sanchez has become an above-average offensive player. Additionally, Marrero continued to improve in Triple-A at 22/23, which passes the sniff test in terms of age-versus-level. With Adam LaRoche slated as the Nationals first baseman in 2012, Marrero will likely repeat triple-A in the hope of an everyday job in 2013. In both fantasy and reality, Marrero could be reasonably productive, but is the type General Managers and fantasy owners will always be looking to upgrade. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: The Nationals’ Chris Marrero is a nice player to have in an organization, but an opportunity for playing time may prove an uphill battle due to a “tweener” skill set.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 6/26/1986 | Team: Indians | Position: C|
Profile: When Lou Marson came to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade, he projected to be a solid defensive catcher with passable offense and was almost immediately identified as either trade-bait or the future backup to Carlos Santana. While he has settled comfortably into that reserve role, the passable offense has fallen off. He had decent Minor League on-base numbers, but has been unable to take walks at the same rate in Cleveland (only 8.8% in 2011), while striking out at a high rate (25% in 2011), resulting in a low average (.230) and only a moderately better OBP (.300). In 272 plate appearances he had just one home run, although he added four stolen bases. His playing time in 2012 will depend heavily on the Indians first base situation (the more Santana plays first, the more Marson gets in the lineup) but even with a full season of playing time, Marson would rank near the bottom of the all MLB starting catchers in fantasy value. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: A solid defensive backup catcher, Marson means more to the Indians than he would to your fantasy team. An improvement at first base for the Tribe would result in him playing less often, but even if he nears 300 plate appearances, he isn’t worth drafting.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 2/15/1983 | Team: Yankees | Position: C|
Profile: Martin was left for dead in some circles before last year, as his heavy workload as a young catcher robbed him of his power and he suffered a potentially career-ending hip injury in August of 2010. The Dodgers non-tendered him, but the Yankees took a chance as were rewarded with a solid .237/.324/.408 line and 18 home runs (more than he clubbed in 2009 and 2010 combined). Even with a .252 batting average on balls in play that was over 40 points below his career average, Martin’s patience and power (his .170 isolated slugging percentage was nearly a career best) allowed him to best the .245/.314/.390 average for MLB backstops. Martin also proved his hip didn’t make him a total slowpoke by stealing eight bags in 10 attempts. Pretty good for a guy who wasn’t sure he’d be able to squat again last winter. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: A free agent after 2012, Martin will have to contend with Jesus Montero (should he remain a catcher) and Austin Romine if he remains in New York long-term. For now, though, he’s the man and could be a top-10 catcher if he has better luck on balls in play while maintaining his power stroke.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 3/6/1988 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: A Cuban defector, Martin signed a five-year deal with Texas in the middle of the 2011 season, then wound up making it to Arlington for all of eight at-bats in September before the year was over. An athletic, speedy player, the 24-year-old Martin impressed in his first taste of baseball in America. He split most of his time between Double- and Triple-A, faring much better at the former (.348/.435/.571 over 112 ABs) than the latter (.263/.316/.314 in 175 ABs). While he doesn’t project to hit for power, he should have enough pop to approach double-digit homers while spraying the ball all over the park and using his speed to pile up extra-base hits. Those above-average wheels will most likely be his calling card, as he could swipe 30-plus bases on average at his peak, which isn’t too far off. If he shows he can handle leadoff duties, he could also post elite totals in runs scored in the dynamic Rangers lineup. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: Because he struggled in his limited time at Triple-A, Martin most likely begins 2012 back in Round Rock, but he could be manning center -– a problem spot for Texas –- by mid-season. His bat will need to adjust once he reaches the majors, but his speed should translate upon arrival, so he’ll make for a savvy stolen base add.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/23/1978 | Team: Tigers | Position: DH|
Profile: As odd as it sounds to say it, given his knee injury and losing of catcher status, Martinez’ days as a higher-end fantasy option may be ending. Much of his production was batting-average aided in 2011 (.330 average), and his next game will likely be as a 34-year-old (with 7000-plus innings behind the plate, no less). Even if he returns close to his previous levels, a .300ish average and a dozen or fewer home runs isn’t very sexy for a utility/DH slot, and it would seem that a domino effect like that would also bring his RBI opportunities down as well. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: With the recent news of his knee injury, he should be completely off your radar for 2012, and possibly for good as a full-time DH going forward. He’s got 7000-plus innings behind the plate in those legs, so he may not come back 100 percent.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/21/1987 | Team: Astros | Position: OF|
Profile: Martinez was one of the few bright spots on a poor Astros team last season. The jump from Double-A didn’t seem to bother him, as he hit .274/.319/.423 in 226 plate appearances last season. It wouldn’t kill him to take a few more walks, but his Minor League slash line of .342/.407/.551 is certainly encouraging. With his 2011 performance all but ensuring him a starting role in 2012, Martinez looks like a solid bet to improve if he can continue to adjust to Major League pitching. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Martinez looks like a solid breakout candidate next season. If he can raise his walk rate and show a little more thump, he’ll definitely have value in mixed leagues. The fact that he plays for the Astros should keep him under that radar as drafts approach.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/16/1982 | Team: Phillies | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: The switch-hitting utility man, taken from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft, ended up getting more playing time than his limited skill set warranted. The career .263/.315/.368 minor league batter hit just .198/.258/.282 in 234 major league plate appearances. He posted a lower OBP than Kyle Kendrick, and was outslugged by Cliff Lee. Martinez qualifies in most leagues at second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield, and he could be given more than he can handle again in 2012 if Philly doesn’t add a more accomplished reserve infielder. If he’s on your roster, however, I can only assume you’re a masochist or Mama Martinez. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Martinez aspires to be Wilson Valdez. Do I really need to say any more than that?
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/10/1988 | Team: Astros | Position: DH/OF|
Profile: He’s not a center fielder or a top prospect any more. Even though he’s still only 23, F-Mart has not managed to replicate the above-average power that he showed in the Minor Leagues in Citi yet. He’s also batted an arthritic right knee all career and never showed even average patience in the minors. The star has dimmed but is not quite out yet — someone might give him a chance. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: The fall from grace is almost complete. Injury and poor play in the Major Leagues means that Martinez is running out of chances with the Mets. You never know, the Astros might give him a chance to redeem himself.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/3/1985 | Team: Rangers | Position: C|
Profile: If by some strange twist of fate you stumble upon this player capsule, you’re a Padres fan. You still shouldn’t draft Martinez, though. (Zach Sanders)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 7/23/1982 | Position: OF|
Profile: After refusing a minor league assignment with the Braves, and washing out with the Rockies’ Triple-A club, Mather finds himself on the open market this off-season. With a .228/.283/.384 slash line in the majors, he’s going to have a tough time finding a spot on a 25-man roster. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 3/31/1983 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: C|
Profile: Mathis has long been a favorite of the Angels, but after a front office transformation, he was sent packing to the great white north of Canada. The Blue Jays already have J.P. Arencibia in the fold, and he is on pace to get a vast majority of the at bats in 2012. Jose Molina, Toronto’s backup catcher last season, received less than 200 plate appearances. A similar workload is to be expected from Mathis, and even if Arencibia goes down with an injury, Mathis receiving a lot of extra playing time is doubtful. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Mathis is everything you want in a fantasy catcher. He can’t hit for average, he can’t hit for power, and he doesn’t play everyday. He’s everything you want. Trust me.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 6/12/1974 | Position: DH|
Profile: After last year’s performance, it’s hard to see Matsui landing a full-time job anywhere, although the Yankees are rumored to be interested in a redux. If he does stay in the states, he probably won’t be playing often enough to warrant a draft pick. If Godzilla does find himself playing every day, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on in league-specific OBP league. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Matsui is a veteran to keep an eye on should you need OBP league, but he isn’t someone you should be drafting.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 4/19/1983 | Team: Twins | Position: C|
Profile: Joe Mauer’s star has fallen far. He used to be considered a first or second round pick, and now he is lucky to be in the top 100 players taken. If he is healthy, he is one of the top catchers in the league. The problem is that he is rarely healthy. Usually, he at least put up decent stats even when hurt. That ended in 2011. In 333 plate appearances, he hit only three homers with a .287/.360/.368 slash line. His walk rate was a career low while is strikeout rate was nearly a career high. Mauer’s power is on a downward trend since 2009. Stay away from him in 2012, unless it is late in the draft or his auction price is low. His stats could be anywhere between his 2009 season and nothing. People will probably overpay for him based on his 2009 season. There are better and safer options at catcher. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Be careful about overpaying for Mauer’s declining health and production.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 12/21/1983 | Team: Phillies | Position: OF|
Profile: After spending parts of four years at Triple-A with the Rangers and Phillies, Mayberry got nearly 300 big league plate appearances in 2011 while bouncing around all three outfield spots and occasionally spotting for Ryan Howard at first base. Seemingly headed for Triple-A lifer status, Mayberry surprised by batting .273/.341/.513 and jacking 15 home runs. The 6-foot-6, 235 pound behemoth also managed eight steals in 11 attempts. Howard tore his Achilles tendon during the playoffs and is doubtful for the start of the 2012 season, and the Phillies seem reluctant to commit to Dom Brown in an outfield corner (mercifully, Raul Ibanez is history). Jim Thome could get some time at first base and Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton were brought in for depth, but Mayberry should start most days, at least early on. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Howard’s injury opens up playing time for Mayberry, but keep in mind he’s a 28-year-old with a career .263/.322/.445 line in 1,500 Triple-A plate appearances and a tendency to crush lefties while performing modestly against righties. He’s in a good park for pull power, but don’t get too excited.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/4/1987 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: Maybin’s 2011 season was somewhat of a revelation for the outfielder, and he started to finally show off the potential many saw in him as a prospect coming out of high school. It seems like a lie, but Maybin will be entering his age-25 season in 2012, so he still has plenty of upside. If he can cut down on the strikeouts by just a percentage point or two, Maybin could easily hit .270 with 10 homers and 35 steals. That, my friends, is a pretty nice fantasy baseball line. Maybin’s fantasy value will all come down to his approach at the plate. If he buys into being a defensive center fielder who slaps singles while providing a handful of home runs, his value will be high. If Maybin decides he wants to start hitting for more power, his numbers will fall. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Maybin still has a good deal of upside left in him, but it will all come down to how he approaches refining those abilities. Draft him as a third outfielder, but have a backup plan in case things go awry.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/20/1984 | Team: Braves | Position: C|
Profile: McCann continued to be one of the best — and most consistent — catchers in fantasy baseball last season. His run and RBI totals were down slightly, but that was more a result of an injury and the poor performance of the other Braves hitters around him last season. Other than that, McCann churned out another .270/.351/.466 season — typical for him at this point. As McCann enters his peak seasons — he’ll turn 28 in February — he may begin to hit for more power. Only an injury prevented him from establishing a new career high in home runs last season. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: McCann remains one of the top options at one of fantasy baseball’s thinnest positions. Another season of 20+ home runs and a slash line similar to last season’s seems likely once again.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 4/2/1981 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: SS/OF|
Profile: Mike McCoy will always be remembered as the Toronto utility infielder who took the mound for the Blue Jays when they were being spanked by Boston and made Red Sox hitters look silly. McCoy is a more than adequate defensive replacement no matter where you put him on the field, can’t hit, and therefore has no fantasy value. (Navin Vaswani)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/10/1986 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: While his batting average dropped, ‘Cutch turned in his best offensive season to date by bumping up his walk rate and using his whip-quick wrists to hit for more power. McCutchen drew ball four a career-high 13.1 percent of the time and cracked 23 home runs, besting his 2010 total by seven. The Bucs’ center fielder is on the small side (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), but went deep more often by decreasing his ground ball rate from 43 to 38 percent and not hitting as many pop ups (six percent of his batted balls, compared to nine percent the previous two years). About the only thing he didn’t improve upon was baserunning, as his 23 steals and 70 percent success rate were a bit disappointing. Even so, he was a down-ballot MVP candidate at age 24, and it will only get better from here. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: If everything clicks, McCutchen has the power/speed combo to join Barry Bonds as the second Pirate ever to post a 30/30 season. He’s already close to being a perennial first-round pick.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/17/1978 | Team: Red Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: McDonald likely returns as the Red Sox fifth outfielder next season. While he doesn’t do anything particularly well, he’s a useful backup. It will be tough for him to receive extended playing time with the Red Sox starters (plus Ryan Kalish) in the fold, but with the injuries, he might start the season with decent playing time. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 9/24/1974 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: Defense pays these days, and the Diamondbacks rewarded McDonald with a two-year contract for his glovework at short. Unfortunately defense doesn’t help his fantasy value any, which is why he’s one of the worst fantasy options around. McDonald hasn’t gotten more than 250 plate appearances in five years now, and only twice has he topped a .250 batting average in a season with at least 150 plate appearances. With one four-plus homer season and seven total steals to his credit since 2008, McDonald is one to keep off your middle infield board come draft day. Nice guy, great defender, but not a fantasy option. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: McDonald doesn’t offer any fantasy value because he’s getting paid for his defense. He might see some starts early in the season if Stephen Drew’s ankle is slow to recover, but he won’t hit.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/12/1982 | Team: Pirates | Position: 3B|
Profile: 2011 wasn’t what most expected for McGehee after a breakout season in 2010 which saw him hit .285 with 23 home runs and 104 RBI. Everything seemed to go wrong last season as his isolated slugging dipped to a paltry .123, and his wOBA slipped to just .272. Outside of the month of August, the entirety of his season was pretty much a disaster. Traded to Pittsburgh this offseason, his role with in the coming season is also up in the air. It’s hard to dismiss McGehee entirely as he’s put together two really solid seasons to go along with last year’s stinker, but it’s also hard to get the smell of 2011 out of the room. At the very least, McGehee should see an uptick in his batting average based on sheer luck, but it will require a resurgence in ISO and a regular job to make him relevant again, even in deeper leagues. An objective opinion might be to take the difference between the 2010 and 2011 McGehee and hope for that in 2012, but that’s probably still a little optimistic. A .260 batting average and 13-15 home runs seems reasonable, and his RBI will be largely dependent upon where he hits in the order. The days of his cleaning up behind Prince Fielder are unfortunately over. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: McGehee will be a flyer or a freebie on draft day, so taking a shot at a rebound season isn’t unreasonable. But expecting him to come anywhere close to the player he was in 2010 absolutely is.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/4/1985 | Team: Pirates | Position: C|
Profile: “The Fort” was traded from Colorado to Boston before Opening Day and then went from Pawtucket to Pittsburgh’s starting lineup in June after both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit hit the DL. McKenry has a career .267/.337/.423 line in admittedly cozy Triple-A hitting environments, but the walls caved in at the big league level (.222/.276/.322 in 201 plate appearances) as he struck out nearly a quarter of the time and popped the ball up nearly twice as often as the average hitter. While Doumit is a Twin and Snyder (recovering from back surgery) is a free agent, the Pirates signed Rod Barajas to be their regular catcher in 2012 and still hope prospect Tony Sanchez is the long-term answer. The Fort hopes to hold off Jason Jaramillo for the backup backstop gig. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: McKenry might play more than most backup catchers if he makes the Pirates’ roster, considering that Barajas is 36 and has caught less than 100 games in each of the past two years. That doesn’t mean he should be anywhere near your roster, though.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 10/28/1981 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: For the second straight season, McLouth was only healthy enough to play half the season, and while he boosted his on-base percentage when he was on the field, other positive developments were few and far between. After hitting 46 home runs combined in 2008 and 2009, he has hit just 10 total the past two seasons. With Michael Bourn now in the fold, the Braves chose not to retain McLouth, and he headed back to Pittsburgh, perhaps in hope of rekindling his lost mojo (or perhaps they were the only team that wanted to sign him). No matter the reason, McLouth is unlikely to see much time. Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata have their jobs on lockdown, and Alex Presley exhibits the same platoon splits that McLouth does, so platooning the two makes little sense. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: McLouth has been hurt for half of the past two seasons, hasn’t been effective when in the lineup, and now will look to rekindle his career as a bench player for the Pirates. Move along, nothing to see here.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/23/1980 | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: McPherson has fallen a long way since his days of being a top prospect, but he did hit 20 home runs in Triple-A in 2011. If Paul Konerko misses substantial time — something he’s done just once since 2003 — McPherson could be the next in line to take over at either first or third, with Dayan Viciedo covering the other corner. (Dan Wade)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/19/1988 | Team: Reds | Position: C|
Profile: Top prospect Mesoraco did little to change his status with a great full-season debut at Triple-A, which earned him a late callup to the majors. Don’t read anything into his Major League line, since it was only 53 plate appearances, and he really wasn’t given any consistent run until the season’s final week. The Reds front office has done their best to eliminate his competition, dealing away Yasmani Grandal and letting Ramon Hernandez depart in free agency. But veteran Ryan Hanigan still remains, and Dusty Baker looooooves his veterans, so Mesoraco may not get the lion’s share of the playing time right away. When he does, he should provide good average, on-base percentage and power for a catcher — his 132 wRC+ in Triple-A last season would have only been bested by Mike Napoli and Alex Avila had he done it at the Major League level. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Mesoraco is a fantastic prospect who should produce at the Major League level, but since he’s a rookie, expect Dusty Baker to break him in slowly. That should lower his draft position in non-keeper leagues.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 5/4/1976 | Position: OF|
Profile: Michaels struggled to receive playing time on the lowly Astros last season, serving as a pinch-hitter/platoon outfielder before a broken hand ended his season. He won’t be guaranteed a job in 2012, and won’t have much fantasy value as a result. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/15/1976 | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: With a slew of injuries to the Dodgers infield last season, Miles garnered almost 500 plate appearances and performed exactly as you would have thought he would. Defensively, he’s passable as a utility infielder, but on the offensive front, his biggest asset is that he doesn’t strike out too often – a career 9.6 strikeout percentage. Unfortunately though, K% is not a commonly used fantasy statistic and for the ones that are used, his levels of production are even below minimal. His career year was back in 2004 in which he hit six home runs with 47 RBI and 12 stolen bases, but he hasn’t really come close to those totals in the seven years since. He’ll man the utility spot for the Dodger again in 2012, but unless there’s another rash of injuries, he can’t be counted on for more than 200 plate appearances. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Miles will handle the utility infield duties for the Dodgers this season, but with minimal plate appearances and a light stick, his upside only comes if the team is riddled with injuries again. He’ll probably spend the season bouncing back and forth between the waiver wire and someone’s fantasy roster in deeper leagues.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/5/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: Unable to get a big league job, Milledge headed over to Japan to ply his trade. He won’t be a fantasy option in 2012 or 2013, but he’ll be just 28 when he’s eligible to return to MLB. Perhaps L-Miilz will yet claim the potential he once had. (Dan Wade)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/25/1983 | Position: 1B|
Profile: Miranda was part of a rotating cast of first basemen — along with Russell Branyan and Xavier Nady — that manager Kirk Gibson deployed early in the season; however, that stopped with the promotion of Paul Goldschmidt. Miranda signed a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay, but he’s not really a draft-day consideration. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 6/3/1975 | Team: Rays | Position: C|
Profile: Molina heads to Tampa Bay to split catching duties with the potential to garner over 200 at-bats for the first time since 2008. He has never been much of a hitter though and the career high wOBA he posted last season was the result of an unrepeatable .363 batting average on balls in play. He hits too many ground balls for someone with no speed, but he also lacks power and rarely takes a walk. The hope for fantasy owners is that he gets enough at-bats to at least contribute a bit in the counting stats, but with a .241 career batting average, he may do more harm than good. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: Even as a second starting fantasy catcher, Molina has limited fantasy upside as he lacks speed and power and makes below-average contact. However, with only 27-year old Jose Lobaton to contend with for playing time, he does have the chance to play more regularly than in previous years.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/13/1982 | Team: Cardinals | Position: C|
Profile: For the first time in his Major League career, Molina smacked double digits in homers, and he set several other bests in both conventional and advanced stat categories. While he probably hit a little bit over his head last season, he is above-average offensively for a catcher. And just as importantly, because he is above-average defensively (above average may be an understatement, actually) he starts the lion’s share of games — last season, he led catchers with 132 games started, and was one of just six to start more than 125 — and thus drafting Molina means you don’t need to waste a roster spot on a backup catcher. If the power spike is real — his .160 isolated slugging was double his 2010 mark and was easily a career high — Molina will once again be a top-10 catcher. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Molina doesn’t have a reputation as a good hitter, but that’s what he was last season, and if you miss out on the top catchers, he should be a good fallback option.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 12/15/1981 | Position: OF|
Profile: Montanez had a strong — if not lucky — 2011 season in the Cubs minors, but the former top prospect has yet to flourish in his limited time in the majors. If he can stay healthy, Lou should be able to fight for a 4th outfielder spot. (Bradley Woodrum)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/28/1989 | Team: Mariners | Position: DH|
Profile: The Yankees turned their former top prospect loose in September, and watched him produce a .421 wOBA with four homers in 69 plate appearances. They won’t get to see him do that kind of stuff anymore, at least not from up close after trading him to the Mariners in the four-player swap that sent Michael Pineda to New York. Montero’s defensive questions behind the plate are none of our concern as long as he maintains catcher eligibility, though he might not have it early in 2012 after spending just three games behind the plate and 18 at DH in September. The Mariners will give him every opportunity behind the plate, so he figures to make enough appearances at catcher to regain eligibility at some point. The 22-year-old has hit everywhere he’s been, and he showed off his trademark opposite field power by clubbing three of his four homers to right field in September. Safeco Field is usually death on righties because left left-center are cavernous, but the right field approach will help avoid that problem and should allow him to continue hitting for plenty of power. The Fans project a .285/.346/.480 batting line and 22 homers in regular playing time next year as of this writing, which might be just a touch optimistic but not outrageously so. If he regains catcher eligibility, he has an outside chance of finishing the year as one of fantasy’s top seven or eight or backstops with offense like that. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Montero will get every chance to catch following the trade to the Mariners, which is good because that’s where he’ll be most valuable in fantasy. His trademark opposite field power will help him avoid the big part of Safeco Field, though the ballpark and lineup change will hurt his overall numbers. Montero could still finish the year as a top seven or eight fantasy catcher.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/9/1983 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: C|
Profile: There’s not a lot to dislike about Miguel Montero. He contributes in every category outside of steals, gets superb counting stats for a catcher, and does the little things for points leagues like taking walks and hitting doubles. After a poor 2010, Montero was back to his old ways last season, providing the sort of consistency that allows a fantasy owner to forget about the catching position and worry about other things. The level of interest that Montero inspires on Draft Day is directly related to the setup of each league:in deep leagues, or those with two catchers, Montero is worth paying a premium. In ten-team leagues, however, the difference between Montero and the tenth-rated catcher just isn’t great enough to risk reaching on him. Montero will be 29 this season, which is 35 in catcher years, but he’ll be able to stave off decline for another couple of years. Think of him as a Mike Lieberthal for the modern man. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: After a poor 2010, Montero was back to his old ways last season, providing the sort of consistency that allows a fantasy owner to forget about the catching position and worry about other things. Think of him as a Mike Lieberthal for the modern man.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/29/1987 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: Moore got eight at-bats with the big league club last September, and although he’s ready to contribute as a fourth outfielder following a .298/.331/.545 effort at Triple-A, the 24-year-old might wind up with even fewer at bats in 2012 as a casualty of the organization’s depth chart. (Jason Catania)
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 2/7/1972 | Position: 3B|
Profile: Melvin Mora will be 40 years old entering 2012 and had a wRC+ lower than Chone Figgins in 2011. Look kids — Big Ben, Parliament. (Michael Barr)
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 6/20/1983 | Team: Angels | Position: 1B|
Profile: The story of Kendry Morales may have gone down as one of the saddest stories in baseball if the final chapter was writ this past offseason. If his career ended on a walkoff celebration before he hit 30, he would have been the stuff of boogeyman stories told to overexuberant young celebrators. But Morales is finally taking batting practice again, and even if it took him a few screws and a couple surgeries, he looks to be fully recovered. Mobility was never a big part of his game anyway. If he is ready to go, he can provide ample power and good enough contact skills to boost his batting average and OBP. His power is not no-doubt — it took him until Triple-A to break the .200 isolated slugging percentage barrier and projecting him for many more than 20-25 home runs is probably folly — but the overall package is good enough to play in most utility slots, and it won’t be expensive. Now, when it comes to beating out the rest of his competition for playing time, the Cuban does have another mountain to climb. But Bobby Abreu is old and has lost all his skills but patience, Mark Trumbo moves well enough to find playing time in the field, and Vernon Wells is Vernon Wells. There’s a glimpse of light at the end of this long tunnel for Morales, and if he makes it out the other end, he can be a valuable professional hitter once again. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Hey, Kendrys Morales is still only 28 going on 29. He may have lost a year to a leg he fractured celebrating a walk off, and his team may have about six viable options at his position, but he’s not old. And he has some talent.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/21/1987 | Team: White Sox | Position: 3B|
Profile: Morel’s first season in the majors — much of it as the White Sox’ starting third baseman — doesn’t appear to have been a rousing success, offensively speaking, at first or second or even third glance. He slashed just .245/.287/.366 (.262 BABIP); he had just 29 extra-base hits in 444 plate appearances. Over the last 36 games (135 plate appearances) of the season, Morel was a different player, however, slashing .219/.326/.474 (despite a very low .205 BABIP) and hitting eight of his 10 total home runs, while walking at a dramatically higher rate (13.3%, compared to his season mark of 5.0%). Nor is this necessarily a case of cherry-picking stats: walk rate (200 plate appearances) and home-run rate (300) become reliable at a relatively low threshold of plate appearances. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Despite decidedly sub-par stats, the last 1.5 months of Morel’s 2011 suggests he has breakout potential, making him someone upon whom to speculate.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/6/1985 | Team: Rangers | Position: 1B|
Profile: It’s strange. Despite average-ish luck on batted balls, an average strikeout rate, above-average power and a ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio around one, Moreland hasn’t managed even a mediocre batting average. Maybe it’s his complete lack of speed or his platoon issues — the team has even begun to sit him against lefties. Since the team stayed out of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, though, Moreland should still get most of the at-bats against righties at first base in Texas, and judging from his minor league work, he could continue to improve his strikeout rate. The result could be a cheap first baseman with average-ish power and batting average, which isn’t something to ignore. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: It’s not sexy, but Mitch Moreland looks like a starting first baseman — at least three-quarters of the time. Deep leaguers should consider M&M for his ability to avoid hurting you at any category.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 7/2/1980 | Team: Brewers | Position: OF|
Profile: Morgan was a key cog in the Brewers’ division title run after being acquired for a mere pittance days before the season began. Although injuries limited him to begin the season, he became the left-handed cog of one of the most successful platoons of recent memory with Carlos Gomez. As good as Morgan was, hitting .304/.357/.421, don’t expect the Brewers to begin to expose him to left-handed pitching now. He only received 47 plate appearances against southpaws and hit .209 with two walks. Look for him to remain productive against righties and hidden against lefties. In leagues with deep benches like ottoneu, he can be a bit of a sleeper. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Morgan (along with alter ego Tony Plush) was the talk of Milwaukee in 2011, but that doesn’t mean he’ll ever break free of a platoon role. Expect him to continue to rake against righties but for the Brewers to hide him from lefties.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 5/15/1981 | Team: Twins | Position: 1B|
Profile: Morneau just may be effectively done playing baseball. After getting his third concussion in baseball, he may not be able to play much again. There is not a lot to go on for his 2012 expectations. In 2009, he had an MVP-caliber year. He started out the same in 2010 until he got a concussion in July. He was not able to play the rest of the season. In 2011, he started the season on the field, but lost time to the flu, pinched nerves, a foot injury, a sore shoulder and a wrist injury. On September 12, he got another concussion. Follow his progress and see if he is playing in Spring Training — he won’t do an owner any good sitting on the bench. Morneau could put up MVP numbers or lay a big old goose egg. It will be a gamble with him in 2012. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Betting that Morneau will be productive in any form in 2012 is a gamble, but he could put up good numbers if he is able to play.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/25/1987 | Team: Marlins | Position: OF|
Profile: Finally healthy last season, everyone’s favorite twitter personality proved his worth. While his .247/.330/.468 slash line was a bit lower than expected, Morrison’s batting average on balls in play was just .265 — so there’s a decent chance his luck turns this season. Morrison also managed to regain his power stroke last season — belting 23 home runs in 525 plate appearances. If not for a silly demotion mid-season, Morrison’s 2011 numbers would have been even more impressive. The organization seems committed to Morrison now, which can only mean good things for the 24-year-old. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Morrison re-established much of his value last season, and recaptured his power stroke. With a little bit of luck, his overall slash line should rise — which wuld make him a solid starting option in mixed leagues.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 3/22/1982 | Team: Nationals | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: As a lumbering 29-year-old with a pretty modest Minor League track record, Morse looked like a prime candidate to come back to earth after hitting .289/.352/.519 in 293 plate appearances in 2010. Instead, The Beast ravaged pitchers for a .303/.360/.550 triple-slash in 575 PA, cranking 31 home runs in the process while splitting time between first base and left field. The former White Sox and Mariners prospect was ultra-aggressive, chasing 38 percent of pitches thrown out of the strike zone and leading all National League hitters in first-pitch strike percentage, but his epic power allowed him to rock a .387 wOBA that ranked just outside the top 10 among MLB hitters. Morse isn’t a good bet to bat .300 again, considering his batting average on balls in play was .344, but he can’t be considered a fluke after hitting at an elite level over the past year and a half. Look for him to play first base more often in 2012 as the Nats tire of a one-armed Adam LaRoche and look to improve their team defense. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: 2011 was a career year for Morse and pitchers may try to use his free-swinging ways against him, but a .280/.330/.500-type year with 25 home runs isn’t out of the question. That’s plenty useful for a guy with multi-position eligibility.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/11/1988 | Team: Royals | Position: 3B|
Profile: Mike Moustakas’ not-quite-world-storming 2011 debut is less surprising when you remember that the only time he really blew anyone away was in 298 Double-A plate appearances in 2010. Don’t get me wrong, there were and are other reasons to think Moustakas will be good — mostly his ability to make contact and his power — but it now seems laughable that he was ever ranked ahead of Eric Hosmer by anyone. Much was made of Moustakas’ hot streak to finish 2011, but those sorts of splits are almost always misused. Moustakas does not take many walks and is not fast. He’s going to have to “earn his average” by continuing to avoid strikeouts and showing the power he had in the minors. But if you have to pick two skills to have as a hitter, those are pretty good ones to build on. Don’t get me wrong — Moustakas still has plenty of potential, and that potential should lead you to be willing to go out on a limb for him more than you would for an old third baseman of less pedigree projected to hit something like .265/.305/.444 with 20 home runs. Moreover, third base is not exactly laden with monster hitters. Don’t be afraid to invest in Moustakas, who is likely to be a good player. But only do so if you are willing to be patient, as there are probably going to be some bumps along the way. (Matt Klaasen)
Quick Opinion: Mike Moustakas did not exactly take Kansas City by storm in 2011. However, for those willing to invest and be patient, he could pay fantasy dividends down the road.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/18/1981 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: Murphy didn’t sustain his career-best offensive output from 2010, drawing fewer walks (9.6 percent to 7.5 percent), hitting for less power (.158 ISO to .126) and seeing his batting average on balls in play drop from .324 to .299. He also wasn’t as successful on the bases, with 11 stolen bases and six caught stealings after going 14-for-16 in 2010. Murphy’s main problem at the plate was a skyrocketing ground ball rate, as he hit a grounder 54 percent of the time, compared to 44 percent the previous season. Murphy seems to be penciled in for the same role he has had since 2008: a platoon left fielder who hits righties well (.290/.353/.482 in nearly 1,500 plate appearances) and doesn’t often see the light of day against same-handed pitching (.253/.298/.349 in about 500 PA against lefties). (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Murphy isn’t a bad player, but you should be aiming higher than a 30-year-old platoon outfielder whose ISO has dropped each season in the majors.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/1/1985 | Team: Mets | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: In over 1000 plate appearances, Murphy has hit .292, so it looks like a good batting average is part of his true-talent skillset. On the other hand, those PAs have only produced 20 home runs and nine stolen bases, so he won’t give you much in the other categories. League average power and a lot of balls in play will work in the middle infield, and the Mets are committed to trying Murphy at second base once again. Hopefully he won’t end up with his third straight injury at the keystone — the idea is that he has trouble with the turn and exposes his knee to these disastrous confrontations. If he can learn the position, he might be a Omar Infante type second baseman, giving his owners a decent batting average without any power or speed. If not, he’ll be a sub-standard corner infielder. For now, he’s a great plug-and-play guy in deeper formats. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: The Irish Hammer paradoxically doesn’t own much power. And he doesn’t have much speed. As long as he’s a middle infielder, his contact-heavy approach might work in some leagues, but it won’t produce a top-ten type hitter at any position.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 11/14/1978 | Position: 1B|
Profile: Nady was part of the D-backs’ first-base rotation until breaking his hand in August. Then the emergence of Paul Goldschmidt made him expendable. A free agent at press time, Nady will probably catch on somewhere and play a little first, a little left field. Upside is non-extant, though. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/31/1981 | Team: Rangers | Position: C/1B|
Profile: “How do ya like me now, Scioscia?” No, Napoli didn’t actually say that to his former Angels boss, but he might have wanted to. Never fully embraced in L.A., where he sometimes lost starts to aspiring Mendoza Line hitter Jeff Mathis, Napoli slashed .320/.414/.631, jacked 30 home runs and posted the best wOBA among hitters with 400+ PA (.444) after getting traded to Texas via Toronto. Only an oblique strain — likely from knocking the bejesus out of the baseball so often — slowed him down. Napoli managed to post career-best power numbers while simultaneously paring his strikeout rate, punching out just 19.7 percent of the time after doing so 25.7 percent in past years. Chances are some of the two-strike adjustments he made will carry over to 2012. While Napoli is a legit top hitter, his batting average on balls in play was over 40 points above his career average and it might be stretching it to expect a .300+ isolated power again. Draft him expecting something in the range of .270/.370/.540. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: With dual positional eligibility, newfound contact ability and home games in Arlington, Napoli is poised to keep on mashing. Just don’t expect him to go all Jose Bautista on the league again in 2012.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/9/1984 | Position: C|
Profile: Two cheeseburgers shy of being a Molina brother, Navarro has as much trouble batting his weight as he will landing a job in 2012. His average has been below the Mendoza line for the last two seasons and with minimal power, no speed and a weak OBP, numerous teams and fantasy owners will surely overlook him this year. And that’s not a bad idea. (Howard Bender)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/31/1987 | Team: Pirates | Position: 3B|
Profile: Navarro has an assortment of okay skills, but nothing truly stands out. However, with the ability to play multiple infield positions and the outfield, he could see some playing time if one of the Pirates’ many youngsters flops. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/3/1985 | Team: Rockies | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: Nelson once again showed that he has absolutely nothing left to prove at the Minor League level, posting a .384 wOBA in Colorado Springs for the second straight season. He didn’t hit all that well in the majors, but a lot of that can be put on Jim Tracy, who never gave him consistent at-bats. If given regular playing time, Nelson could blossom into a poor-man’s version of 2011 Rickie Weeks — good enough power to cover for the lack of speed and batting average. Even with Marco Scutaro now in the fold, the former first round pick (he was taken two spots ahead of Jered Weaver in the 2004 first round) could finally see that playing time at the keystone or the hot corner. Nelson will be 26 this season, so it may be his last chance to lay claim to a starting job in the majors. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Nelson has talent, but has not yet been given a fair shake at the Major League level, so we don’t know whether or not it will translate. If he ends up the Rockies starter at second base, he could be a decent sleeper.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 7/27/1984 | Team: Twins | Position: SS|
Profile: Signed as an International Free Agent prior to the 2011 season, Nishioka suffered through about the worst season any import has ever had at the major league level. It started almost immediately, as a Nick Swisher takeout slide in the second series of the season interrupted any immediate development Nishioka could have had, and basically rendered this season a lost one. The fielding gaffes for Nishioka were numerous and embarrassing, and the best month of regular play resulted in a .574 OPS for the defending Japanese batting champion. He’s still signed for two more seasons with an option for 2014, but if he doesn’t show signs of improvement in 2012, he may get the Kei Igawa treatment. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: With no starting position on the horizon and the taste of a horrendous rookie campaign still in the mouths of a lot of Twins’ brass, Nishioka will have to do a lot right in Fort Myers this spring to even break camp with the club. Look for him to head to Rochester and only be promoted if he proves his chops and can handle a utility role with the big club.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 10/30/1980 | Team: Phillies | Position: OF|
Profile: Laynce Nix hit .250/.299/.451 in 351 plate appearances for the Nationals in 2011 and he’s pretty much useless versus left-handed pitchers — but he can do some damage versus righties. Nix hit 16 home runs in 2011 and all of them came against right-handed pitchers. His role in Philadelphia will be to platoon in left field at best, but he will probably play sparingly and be used in more of a pinch-hit role. It’s possible he could be handy in daily transaction leagues, but unless he can secure a more permanent role, his fantasy value is pretty limited. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Nix is unlikely to approach anything more than 350 at-bats and unless you’re in a daily transaction league and you can start him versus right-handed pitchers, you should find something more reliable.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/26/1982 | Position: 3B|
Profile: Jayson Nix played 46 games with Toronto in 2011 — 41 at third base because the Edwin Encarnacion experiment at the hot corner was an unmitigated disaster. While Nix is a reliable utility defensive infielder, he can’t hit. And that’s a problem. Signed by the New York Yankees to a Minor League deal, Nix isn’t a relevant fantasy option in 2012. (Navin Vaswani)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 6/15/1987 | Team: Yankees | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: Nunez was a speedy Swiss Army Knife for the Yankees, filling in for ailing vets Alex Rodriguez at third base and Derek Jeter at shortstop while also occasionally giving Robinson Cano a breather at the keystone. While the 155 pounder never has been and never will be a power threat, he managed not to get the bat knocked out of his hands, hitting .265/.313/.385 and posting a .120 isolated slugging percentage in over 300 plate appearances. Nunez also used his wheels well, stealing 22 bases in 28 attempts. It’s hard to envision the Yankees ever settling for Nunez as an everyday player when the Capn’s days eventually draw to a close, but he should continue to get more at bats than most utility types in 2012 while qualifying at three positions. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Alex Rodriguez is hardly a picture of perfect health, and Derek Jeter is entering his age-38 season and dealt with a calf problem last year. As such, Nunez should see at least 200+ at bats again next year and get the chance to steal some bases.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 2/28/1983 | Team: Dodgers | Position: OF|
Profile: Oeltjen, part of the mysterious and surprising Austrailian contingent in the Major Leagues, has been bouncing around the National League West for a few seasons now. He must have some tools that scouts like, but he is not a real fantasy option. Oeltjen has shown occasional pop in the minors, but never in the majors. He has also had trouble making contact. Finally, with Juan Rivera and Tony Gwynn already signed as bench outfielders for 2012, there seems to be no place for him on the 2012 Dodgers barring an injury or other surprise. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Oeltjen got a bit of playing time for the Dodgers in 2011, but he might be outside looking in for their 2012 roster.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 7/15/1978 | Team: Mariners | Position: C|
Profile: Olivo has always provided fantasy owners with a rare commodity: power from their catcher spot. His batting average has usually been lacking, but it seems like one owner was always willing to overlook it in a race to gain a point in the home run column. Finally, an MLB team seems to be smart enough to make Olivo a platoon player and a backup, effectively killing his fantasy value. John Jaso, Jesus Montero and Olivo won’t be good enough to platoon in deep leagues that afford you the luxury of having two catchers, so there’s no need to take Olivo on draft day. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Olivo won’t be playing every day anymore, so cross him off your list. Posthaste!
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 1/28/1974 | Position: OF|
Profile: Do you even recognize Magglio Ordonez anymore? At 38, at least when spring training rolls around, the end of the line may be near for the once feared slugger American League Central slugger. An ankle injury ended Ordonez’s 2011 season during the postseason, and his Detroit Tigers career, too, it seems. While Ordonez’s power had all but abandoned him — he’s hit 26 home runs over the past three years combined — he could always hit for a decent batting average. Until last season. A .275 batting average on balls in play helped Ordonez register a .255 batting average, by far the lowest of his career. It’s highly unlikely that Ordonez, at this point in his career, finds an everday outfield job, meaning he enters 2012 with limited fantasy value. Unless he gets at-bats, he’s not going to produce. And even if Ordonez does find a team that could use a DH, what’s left in Ordonez’s bat might not be worth it. Keep an eye on him in spring training. While we live in a “What have you done for me lately?” society, Ordonez is only a season removed from hitting .300, something he did for years with what seemed like ease. Ordonez might be another of those low risk, high reward players you take a chance on late in your draft. But, again, don’t get your hopes up. I’d hate to see you disappointed. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Ordonez put up the worst numbers of his career in 2011, and his days of hitting 20-plus home runs and driving in 100 runs are gone. And, no, sorry, they’re not coming back. Ordonez is looking for work in 2012, and, unless he finds a gig, unless he proves he’s healthy, and unless he has anything left to contribute, he has little to offer in terms of fantasy production. Too many ifs.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 11/18/1975 | Team: Red Sox | Position: DH|
Profile: If David Ortiz could dedicate his 2011 season to anybody, it would be to the haters, those that thought — even for one second — that he might be finished. After a slow start in April last season, Ortiz exploded, and finished with 4.2 WAR, the highest he’d registered since 2007. His power stroke still intact, Ortiz remains one of the more dangerous, patient, and feared hitters in the American League. Thank to a .321 bating average on balls in play, and a strikeout rate well below his career average, Ortiz finished the season a .300 or better hitter, something he’d done three times before with the Red Sox. And, in a complete reversal of his career, in 2011 Ortiz owned left-handed pitching, hitting an impressive .329/.423/.566 against southpaws. After accepting Boston’s offer of salary arbitration for 2012, Ortiz’s power numbers alone make him worthy of your fantasy consideration. Big Papi’s got some good baseball left in him yet. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Ortiz put up impressive fantasy numbers last season, and while he’s 36 years old and not getting any younger, at least 25 to 30 home runs and 85 to 95 RBI are never out of the question for the DH slugger while playing in Fenway Park, in that Boston lineup. A draftable commodity in any league.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 1/28/1977 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: 1B|
Profile: The Diamondbacks saw enough in 49 plate appearances from Overbay to fall back in love, and have signed him to help man first base with Paul Goldschmidt, where he is a real threat to steal playing time when Goldschmidt inevitably goes through a slump in what will be his first full season. That doesn’t mean Overbay will deserve said playing time. The justification for his playing time used to be his flashy defense, but last season, neither UZR, DRS or the FSR framed his work in a positive light. And while Overbay was at least league average with the stick for the majority of his career, that changed last season. Perhaps he found the fountain of youth in the desert, but more than likely it was small-sample sized hilarity. Expect Overbay to turn back into a lemon this season. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Overbay performed poorly until a trade to Arizona, and as a result of that brief success he will stay in the desert, where he may get some decent run but probably won’t produce much when given the chance. Stay away.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/30/1986 | Team: Rockies | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: Colorado Rockies utility man Jordan Pacheco made a name for himself as an offense-first catching prospect in the lower levels. However, Pacheco was always old for his level of competition and as he advanced, his offensive production sagged. In 2011, his offense was 20% below average between triple-A and Colorado leading to a value of -.3 WAR in 88 big league plate appearances. Pacheco makes plenty of contact, but is hurt by the fact he rarely walks and lacks a defensive home. And while a utility player who can man the corner infield positions and serve as a third catcher or second baseman in a pinch has potential value, Pacheco simply needs to provide more punch than a backup who profiles as true up-the-middle defender. In deep dynasty and National League only formats, Pacheco may be worth a bench spot if multiple catchers are in play, but even that is a bit of a stretch. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: A utility player who can man five positions seemingly provides value, but the Rockies’ Jordan Pacheco may not reach base enough to warrant a roster spot long term.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/2/1981 | Team: Giants | Position: OF|
Profile: Pagan failed to build on his 2010 breakout, but looks like a solid bounce-back candidate going forward. While Pagan’s overall line dipped to .262/.322/.372, his peripherals moved in the right direction. Pagan managed to increase his walk rate from 7.0% to 8.3% while cutting his strikeout rate from 15.3% to 11.7%. He even managed to steal 32 bases in 532 plate appearances. The real culprit behind his struggles appears to be luck dragons, as his batting average on balls in play was just .285 last season. If he can get that number closer to his .314 career number, Pagan is a decent bet to return to form. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Pagan’s struggles last season can be linked to injuries and poor luck. He’s a decent bet to rebound in 2012, and should continue to be a nice source of steals.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/25/1988 | Team: Astros | Position: 3B|
Profile: Paredes was called up late in 2011 and played steadily through August and September, producing a .286/.320/.393 line with a pair of home runs and five stolen bases in 179 at-bats. There’s rightly some concern about his high batting average on balls in play of .383, but he’s a player who takes advantage of his speed by hitting a lot of balls on the ground and has maintained fairly high BABIPs in the minors as well (and his expected BABIP was over .320 in 2011). Still, it’s likely that his average may slip a bit unless he’s able to bring his strikeout rate back down into a 16-17% range. It’s possible Paredes will see extended action at shortstop, which will only increase his value. He’ll never be a high OBP guy, but if given 500 plate appearances he should produce double digits in home runs and could swipe as many as 35 bags. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Paredes is an interesting sleeper pick given his speed and potential for 12-14 home runs. There’s some concern about his batting average, and he would have the most value if he ciould qualify at shortstop.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/24/1988 | Team: Twins | Position: 1B|
Profile: Chris Parmelee will get some possible love on draft day because of his .355/.443/.592 line he put up in 21 games last year at first base. First off, he never put up those kind of numbers in the minors. Secondly, most of his value came from a .390 batting average on balls in play, which is completely unsustainable. One value he does have is a double-digit walk rate that he has been able to maintain throughout his career. If given a full season of playing time, I would expect about 15 home runs and a .280 average from him. The key for him is getting full playing time at first with both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer blocking him when they are healthy. So basically, he has a good chance of a some playing time. If I owned Mauer or Morneau, I would look at pick up Parmelee as an insurance policy if either goes down with injury. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Parmelee is due for some regression 2012, but could get plenty of playing time with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau ahead of him on the depth chart.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/6/1987 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: OF|
Profile: Parra was never going to be a fantasy star given that he’s a glove-first outfielder, but he had his uses, especially in deeper leagues: 8-10 home runs and 12-15 steals can’t go undrafted or sit on the bench in 12-team NL-only leagues, for example. However, the real-life Diamondbacks decided to sign the Bizzaro Parra in free agency — Jason Kubel, a guy with a decent bat and a obscenely indecent glove. Maybe it will be a platoon situation, but even in that case, Parra is the lesser side of the platoon. Injuries or a trade could open up more playing time for Parra, but he was never much more than a number four or five fantasy outfielder to begin with; as things stand he’s currently fantasy filler. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Parra’s real-world value is mostly bound up with his fielding, and his fantasy value has taken a serious hit with the Diamondbacks likely to give free-agent acquisition Jason Kubel most of Parra’s former playing time.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 8/13/1979 | Position: OF|
Profile: Corey Patterson has played for six teams over the past four seasons. And not played very well. There’s a reason why Patterson, so highly-touted when Chicago drafted him third overall in 1998, has never been able to find a steady home. After a decent 2010 with Baltimore, Toronto gave Patterson a shot in 2011, and, after a hot start to the season in April and May, Patterson fell off a cliff. Traded to St. Louis in late July, Patterson’s .179 wOBA in 44 games was good enough to keep him off the Cardinals postseason roster. The problems remain the same: Patterson strikes out too much, and doesn’t walk enough. To make matters worse, he’s no longer the threat he once was on the basepaths. It’s for the best if you stay away from Corey Patterson. He’ll only break your heart. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: After a hot start in 2011, Patterson was a write-off from June onwards. His short stay in St. Louis was tough to watch, and, should he find a job in 2012, he won’t be playing often. Stay away from Corey Patterson.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/8/1983 | Position: 2B/OF|
Profile: It wouldn’t be a good idea, but Patterson would be more fun to own if he stood closer to 5’5”, but alas, he does not. In case you didn’t know, you should care about his well-being, because he’s a fellow human, but you shouldn’t care about him in fantasy baseball. (Zach Sanders)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 2/25/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: Paul hooked on with the Nationals this offseason after bouncing from the Dodgers to the Pirates in 2011, and although Washington is looking for a long-term center fielder, he won’t be the answer. With little power (career .095 isolated slugging percentage, .158 in the minors) and just decent contact/batting average skills (career .246 in the show, .291 in the minors), Paul’s only redeeming fantasy quality is his legs. He stole 16 bases in 262 plate appearances last year, and has a trio pf 17+ stolen base seasons to his credit in the minors (before injuries limited him in 2009). The Nationals are likely to start him in the Minor Leagues this season, which means take him off your draft day radar, but Paul could serve as a decent waiver wire steals candidate if he gets called up for an extended period of time this summer. Asking him to do anything more than that is wishcasting. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Paul is likely to start the year in the minors, but he’s a nice little stolen base option if he gets called up for an extended period of time at some point. Keep an eye on the waiver wire, but don’t ask him to do anything else.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/21/1981 | Position: C|
Profile: Over his career, Paulino has destroyed lefties to the tune of .330/.385/.475. He’s no where near as effective against righties, however, which limits his overall value. The Mets are well aware of Paulino’s struggles against same-handed pitching and will likely platoon him with Josh Thole this season. Even though the Mets will utilize Paulino in the most effective way to maximize his production, he won’t accumulate enough playing time to be a factor in fantasy leagues. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Paulino can still hit lefties, and should form a nice catching platoon with Josh Thole. But he won’t get enough playing time to be a useful fantasy option.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/13/1983 | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: The long-time minor-league slugger face-planted during his first meaningful big-league playing time since 2009, and then fell victim to injuries that virtually wiped out his season for the second straight year. Pearce hit just .202/.260/.255 in 105 plate appearances, and he had two DL stints for a torn calf muscle and a broken finger after losing nearly all of 2010 to knee surgery. The Pirates designated him for assignment after the season and Pearce elected free agency after clearing waivers. He’ll turn 29 in April, has a .232/.302/.366 line in a little over 500 major league PA and his 5-foot-11, 210 pound frame makes him a less-than-versatile utility man. That’s the profile of a guy hanging on by a thread. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: If absolutely positively everything goes right, Steve Pearce could be Ty Wigginton. But even that would require actually staying on the field and finding an opportunity to crack a 25-man roster, and both of those are dubious propositions.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 8/17/1983 | Team: Red Sox | Position: 2B|
Profile: Pedroia came back strong, posting the first 20/20 campaign of his career while pushing his average back over .300. You can count on him to reliably be in the top five in every standard category at second base. Last season may end up his peak in terms of WAR thanks to his outsized defensive performance, but his offense should stay at the same level. In his first five full seasons, Pedroia has not posted a wOBA lower than .360, which is a claim that Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dan Uggla cannot make. As an added bonus, he mashed lefties even more than usual last season — his .435 wOBA against lefties was the seventh-best in the majors among qualified hitters. Grab him early. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Dustin Pedroia continues to be one of the best second basemen in the game, and while second base is a deep position, you shouldn’t hesitate to grab him very early in your draft.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/22/1987 | Team: Mariners | Position: OF|
Profile: Peguero has some immense power potential, but the strikeouts are going to be a huge problem. The fact that his strikeout rate at his last three minor league stops has been above 30% doesn’t bode well for his performance in the majors. Sure enough, Peguero struck out 38.4% of the time after he was called up last season. He doesn’t really walk enough to make up for his strikeouts, so he’s a true all or nothing hitter. He’s Adam Dunn without the walk rate and with more strikeouts. Not exactly a good combination. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Peguero has great power potential, but it’s offset by his propensity for strikeouts. Until he cuts down on his whiffs, he’s not likely to be a huge factor in the big leagues.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 7/18/1985 | Team: Yankees | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: When you lack power, patience or defense, it’s hard to carve out enough playing time to matter. Especially on the Yankees. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 5/17/1978 | Team: Rays | Position: 1B|
Profile: Pena is never going to hit for average, and it’s entirely possible the .225 mark he posted with Chicago in 2011 is the best mark he posts the rest of his career. Although this kills his value in any standard league with batting average as a category, Pena had plenty of value in other leagues last season, posting an on-base percentage of .357 and clubbing 28 home runs for the second straight season. We should expect more of the same in 2012, although Tampa Bay’s park is less friendly to his power than Chicago’s was. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Pena continues to strike out a ton and hit for some of the worst averages among full time starters, but he earns his playing time with walks and power. 2012 should be no different.
Wily Mo Pena
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/23/1982 | Position: DH|
Profile: Should be good for some homers for your Japanese league fantasy team. (Matt Klaassen)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/7/1982 | Team: Royals | Position: C|
Profile: Who doesn’t like Brayan Pena? Hitler, that’s who. Pena is a smiling guy who once said he’d be willing to sign a ten-year contract with the Royals at the league minimum. No word on what the front office thought of that. Pena actually is more useful that you would think given how unwilling the Royals have been to play him over guys like Jason Kendall. No, he isn’t good defensively, and all he really does a hitter is make contact, but hey, he’s a catcher. But potential isn’t much help in fantasy, and with the Royals thinking that Salvador Perez is the next Ivan Rodriguez, expect a lot of shots of Pena being happy in the dugout. You know, unless Dayton Moore decides to cut him so that Jason Kendall can come back and mentor the youngsters. Pena might also work as a roster-filler who won’t kill your batting average. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Brayan Pena is an ideal fantasy catcher in leagues which gives points for likeability. In other leagues, not so much.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/13/1983 | Team: Phillies | Position: OF|
Profile: Last year, I mentioned that Pence was one of the most consistent players on the market, and noted you would certainly have to pay for that kind of consistency. Pence did nothing to change any one’s mind, posting his best fantasy season yet. Moving from the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies will only boost Pence’s value, but owners will have to ask themselves whether he’s truly a top-12 outfielder, or still a second-tier option. Pence’s power surged with Philadelphia, as he hit eleven homers in just over 200 at-bats. His power surge isn’t likely to fully carry over to a full season, but there’s always a chance Pence could hit close to 30 bombs in his age-29 season. The stolen base totals keep dropping, though. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Pence is one of the steadiest fantasy players out there, and now he’s been put in a better environment. Expect another season of hitting at least .280 with over 20 homers and around 90 runs and RBI.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 6/15/1984 | Team: Athletics | Position: SS|
Profile: While there was some excitement surrounding Pennington after he put up a solid fantasy line in 2010, after another full season in the big leagues, we have a pretty good handle on how good he actually is. The 27-year-old shortstop stole 29 bases in 34 chances during 2010, but he pulled back the reins in 2011 and stole bases at a much less successful rate. The switch-hitter doesn’t have much power to speak of, yet he still strikes out at a league-average rate, causing his batting average to sit around .260. If he fields well and gets on base at an average clip in 2012, it’s hard to see Bob Melvin pulling him from the lineup, but he could be poised to lose playing time if Eric Sogard gets hot. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Pennington will steal double-digit bases and hit a handful of homers, but his batting average will sink his fantasy value. He could lose playing time in 2012 to the likes of Eric Sogard.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 5/28/1982 | Team: Tigers | Position: SS|
Profile: Peralta enjoyed success the likes of which had been absent from his stat sheet since 2008 last season, posting a line of .299/.345/.478 with 21 home runs. His batting average on balls in play rose from .275 in 2010 to .325 in 2011, but that second figure is actually closer to this career line of .315, and isn’t simply due to a streak of good luck. Peralta swung at fewer pitches out of zone than he had in past years, and made contact with fewer of the out-of-zone pitches he did swing at. While that means a few more swinging strikes — something he made up for by missing fewer pitches in the zone — it also means he wasn’t putting the ball in play with poor contact. Expect similar home run numbers and a decent batting average, though perhaps not quite pushing .300 again, making Peralta a good option if you want power instead of speed from your shortstop. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Shortstop can be a great position for speedsters, but grabbing Peralta could open up the option of filling the outfield spots with undervalued stolen base options. Peralta is good in his own right, but his biggest asset may be the flexibility he gives owners.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/10/1990 | Team: Royals | Position: C|
Profile: As bad as the Royals’ catching situation was in 2012, it was a real surprise when Salvador Perez was called up in the second half less than 400 (mostly unimpressive) plate appearances above A-ball. The 21 year-old Perez was a good catching prospect, but few thought his bat was ready. He proceeded to hit .331/.361/.473 over 158 plate appearances in the majors. The batting average on balls in play is obviously inflated, and he never hit close to that well in the minors, but he did not seem overmatched, either. Perez almost never walks, and his power is more notional and “raw” now than something actually witnessed in games. But he has great contact skills. Perez is up because of his defensive reputation. The bat could use more work. A more reasonable projection for his offense in 2012 might be .270/.300/.400, but a) that is not bad for a catcher, and b) he will only be 22. Do not pay for him expecting a fantasy superstar. But he is going to get playing time, and there is decent potential there — think Yadier Molina in a good year. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Perez is slated to be the Royals’ primary catcher in 2012. Don’t expect him to hit close to .331 again, but there is long-term potential here.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/9/1986 | Team: Marlins | Position: OF|
Profile: At a position where the Marlins have few viable candidates, Peterson emerged as a legitimate center fielder last season. While his .265 batting average wasn’t great, he displayed a decent 10.8% walk rate and stole seven bases in 241 plate appearances. Even with his promising performance, Peterson isn’t guaranteed a job in the Marlins outfield this season. If he manages to win a full-time job, double digit home runs and steals are not out of the question. Until he cuts down on his 20.7% strikeout rate, he’s not going to post strong averages, though. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: If Peterson managed to win a full-time role for the Marlins he could provide a decent amount of steals and double-digit home runs. His high strikeout percentages will prevent him from posting strong averages, however.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/23/1987 | Team: Indians | Position: 2B/DH|
Profile: At this point, infield prospect Cord Phelps has passed his final at the Minor League level and deserves a legitimate shot to stick with the big league club in 2012. However, Phelps is more of a capable utility infielder than potential starter at this point and is unlikely to supplant Lonnie Chisenhall or Jason Kipnis at second or third base respectively. Phelps did not scout particularly well in Triple-A and appeared unnatural at the position both physically and instinctively. This presents a long term problem as utility players who can at least play shortstop in a pinch have significantly more value than those with limited defensive ability. Additionally, his slugging percentage of close to .500 at the Triple-A level and strong walk rate masks the fact his bat still leaves more questions than answers. At present, Phelps simply is not worth owning in all but the deepest of AL-only dynasty and keeper leagues where bench depth is at a premium. (Mike Newman)
Quick Opinion: The Indians’ Cord Phelps is a fine utility infield prospect, but expecting him to become a viable starter is a stretch.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 6/28/1981 | Team: Reds | Position: 2B|
Profile: Phillips has been a good fantasy option at second base for a few seasons. His value has been declining since 2007. His home runs have gone every year from 30 to 18, and most of those home runs have turned into doubles (from 26 in 2007 to 38 in 2011). Also, his stolen bases have declined, going from 32 to 14. This decline doesn’t mean that he isn’t useful. A second baseman that consistently puts up double digits in home runs and stolen bases with a ~.275 AVG will have value. His runs and RBI have been fairly constant over the years. Even with the decline, he should be one of the top five second basemen taken in the in a draft or auction. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Even with declining skills, Phillips is still a top-five fantasy second baseman.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 2/8/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: For years, it looked like Pie would be a useful starter in the majors. Those predictions were unfounded, however, as he’s failed to hit for average or steal bases at the major league level. After washing out with the Orioles, Pie signed with the Indians this off-season. He’ll be a useful fourth outfielder for the team, but he doesn’t contribute enough in any particular category to be a useful fantasy option. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Pie has settled in to his role as a fourth outfielder. He doesn’t do anything well enough to be a fantasy asset.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 8/14/1977 | Position: OF|
Profile: The book on Pierre has long been written: He slaps base hits and he steals bags. If he’s drafted for any other purpose, well, it’s a mistake. The stolen bases were only ever going to drop off after a career-best 68 in 2010 and he still did manage nearly 30 SB in 2011, but there were almost certainly some disappointed owners who were expecting more. Pierre is now 34, and while it can reasonably be assumed that he won’t steal 60+ bases any more, the biggest threat to his production is his new manager. It’s unclear how often Pierre will get the green light with his new team and that could put a serious dampener on Pierre’s production and value. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Like Forrest Gump, Pierre doesn’t do much except run, but he does run well. It’s unfortunate that there’s no way to know how many chances he’ll get to steal bases even if he ends up back in Chicago. Still, he’s a decent cheap option as he’s unlikely to steal fewer than 20-25 bases, provided he gets a starting outfield job.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 12/30/1976 | Team: White Sox | Position: C|
Profile: Pierzynski has never been a top-class talent behind the plate, but in sufficiently deep AL-only leagues, owners have typically gotten okay value for their small investment in him. His days of double-digit home runs, a key to whatever value he had, seem to be largely behind him. Yes, he still plays in one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly parks, but he’s going to start seeing his playing time diminished assuming Tyler Flowers can stay healthy. Better to grab Flowers on draft day, then pick up Pierzynski as a handcuff as needed, than to expect 150+ games out of the aging backstop. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Love him or hate him, Pierzynski has certainly made a name for himself. He’s past his fantasy usefulness, though, so best to let him ride off into the sunset gracefully than try to bleed just one more year out of him.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/9/1984 | Team: Giants | Position: 1B|
Profile: Pill got considerable playing time with the Giants in September 2011 and made the most of it, posting a slash of .300/.321/.560 in 53 plate appearances. He will be competing for a utility role roster spot during Spring Training. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 6/15/1986 | Team: Twins | Position: SS|
Profile: When a team makes a shortstop its’ first-round pick, it often expects greatness and relatively quickly. For Plouffe, his first extended brush with greatness didn’t come until his eighth season of pro ball in 2011, with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He absolutely brutalized International League pitching to the tune of a .313/.384/.635 triple-slash (.437 wOBA), but found success, and playing time fleeting in the Major Leagues. Plouffe’s overall slash-line of .238/.305/.392 won’t turn any heads, though his throws from shortstop did (as the balls whizzed by). As a result, he is likely to head into 2012 as an outfielder, with a chance to start in right provided the team doesn’t add anyone else. With its’ limited budget, it’s a distinct possibility that Plouffe could be in a timeshare with Ryan Doumit and Ben Revere out there. ottoneu managers should take note of his position eligibilities for their deep-league bench, though. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Plouffe could be intriguing if he takes the Michael Cuddyer career path to success, but there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that’ll be the case. He won’t hit enough to carry a corner outfield spot on a fantasy team — at least not yet — and he’s yet to show he can really hack it anywhere in the field defensively. Stay away, for now.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 10/10/1975 | Team: Phillies | Position: 3B|
Profile: Polanco was an All-Star in 2011 and it was probably the worst offensive performance he’s had in his career. His overall line was .277/.335/.339 with five home runs over 500+ plate appearances. It was an injury-plagued season for Polanco and while his home runs and RBI were where you’d expect him to be, he was significantly off pace in batting average and runs scored. The acquisition of Ty Wigginton might mean the Phillies are losing patience with Polanco or they’re recognizing that at 36, the end of his productive years are near (or here). If he can stay healthy, he still plays good enough defense to keep him on the field and seeing a return to something more Polanco-like isn’t total folly. But even then, his main contribution is in batting average, and you should probably be looking for more out of your corner infielders. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Polanco is on the wrong side of the aging curve at 36 and even when healthy, doesn’t do much for your counting stats in traditional leagues.
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 8/17/1971 | Position: DH|
Profile: Posada is 40 years old, no longer qualifies at catcher, and can’t hit lefty pitching. Platoon designated hitters aren’t in demand by general managers or fantasy players, so it makes sense that he retired. Now it’s time to start the Hall of Fame debate. (David Golebiewski)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 3/27/1987 | Team: Giants | Position: C|
Profile: Posey seemed well on his way to at least duplicating the levels of production from his 2010 Rookie of the Year season until a late-May home plate collision resulting in a broken leg ended the season for the Giants backstop. He has since been in recovery, was participating in catcher drills by the end of September and is expected to be back at full strength by the start of spring training in 2012. His raw talent and ability have never been in question and with an ever-improving level of plate discipline, his overall numbers are only going to get better. Remember, he’ll be just 25 come the start of the season. Also, the Giants will give him some much needed rest from behind the plate and start him at first base so he’ll have dual eligibility which is always a bonus. Consider Posey a top-five fantasy catcher in 2012. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Posey is expected to make a full recovery from the broken leg he suffered last season and will be the Giants primary backstop this year. Offensive expectations are similar to the level of production from his rookie year, so a .300 average and 20 home runs are a strong possibility. Time spent at first will increase his position eligibility and he remains a top-five fantasy catcher in 2012.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/27/1983 | Team: Braves | Position: 3B/OF|
Profile: One of the unluckiest hitters last season, Martin Prado had a 49 point difference between his batting average on balls in play and the expected version of that stat, which was the 21st-highest unluckiest mark among players with at least 400 plate appearances. If he had hit close to his .315 xBABIP, he probably would have hit .300 for the fourth straight season. It’s something that Prado needs to do to stay relevant in most formats, as he isn’t elite in any other category. One thing that did change last season was that Prado hit far fewer line drives than he had in the past, which is worrisome, since batting average on line drives is usually fairly high. But since Prado’s swing percentages didn’t change, perhaps it is a one-year blip. He will have third base and outfield eligibility in most formats, and while he doesn’t hit for enough power to be a viable outfielder starter, he should be just fine at third base, especially if he gets his average back up. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Prado had a down year, but if his batting average on balls in play regresses to previously established levels, he should once again be a good sleeper.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 7/25/1985 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: Pittsburgh’s 2010 Minor League Player of the Year tore it up at Triple-A (.333/.388/.485, 22 steals in 30 tries) and performed well in the majors filling in for an injured Jose Tabata in between a DL stint of his own for a broken left thumb, batting .298/.339/.465 in 231 plate appearances. Not bad for an eighth-round college sign who took four years to escape A-Ball due to tepid hitting and reckless base running. He could stand to work the count better, as he walks in less than six percent of his plate appearances, and his near-.300 average was the product of a .349 batting average on balls in play that even a speedster can’t maintain. Still, Presley has made marked progress at the plate and on the bases and is the favorite to start in left field in 2012, with Tabata shifting to right. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Presley has plus speed that he now knows how to use and surprising power for a little guy, but it’s also important to remember that he’s already 26 and won’t get much better. If you down a couple of Iron City Beers, you might see Nate McLouth here.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/9/1983 | Position: OF|
Profile: Pridie has pride and will continue to try and make a major league roster. This time, it’s the Athletics that have invited him to camp on a Minor League deal. There’s a paucity of defensive outfielders in Oakland, but even if Pridie takes a regular job, he won’t show much other than speed. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 1/16/1980 | Team: Angels | Position: 1B|
Profile: “Down year,” they all say. They are, of course, technically correct, but The Machine still managed a .299/.366/.541 line, 37 home runs, 99 RBI and 105 runs in a very tough offensive year and a very tough home park. The power really turned on in the second half, as Pujols clubbed 19 home runs and 17 doubles en route to a .584 slugging percentage in the final 69 games. And the playoffs? Eight more doubles and five more home runs in just 18 games. He’s fine, and he should be back to his mechanical self in the American League. He might even get a boost from the move in home parks. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Pujols was on fire in the second half and should carry that momentum over to the City of Angels of Anaheim.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 11/8/1977 | Team: Red Sox | Position: 2B|
Profile: Punto’s bat showed up in a big way for the Cardinals in 2011, as he posted a .388 OBP and, in a total shocker, a .421 SLG as part of the title run. Don’t get used to it, though — it was the first time in his entire career he posted a slugging percentage over .400. Look for him to slip back to his Twins-era production in Boston. He’ll post a solid on-base percentage, but the Red Sox will get far more utility out of his glove than fantasy owners out of his bat. With Scutaro out of town, he should get more burn, but it’s unclear how the playing time with shake down with Mike Aviles, and if he has the bat upside to really matter in fantasy leagues. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Punto will help hold down the shortstop position in Boston this season, providing a great glove and a bat devoid of power.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 8/28/1982 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: His 2008 may be a distant, fading memory, but Quentin is still a capable hitter who has hit .246/.336/.479 in the interim. Now he’s on his way to San Diego, as the White Sox dealt him in a manner similar to the Twins and Delmon Young. Quentin’s career batting average on balls in play is a fly ball suppressed .253, and it’s hard to say exactly what Petco will do for his figures. The park is far more inviting to right-handed power hitters (95 park factor via StatCorner) than lefties (59), but as a slugger with fly ball tendencies, Quentin may see a similar BABIP in a park with extraordinarily large power alleys. Overall, the acquisition is a bit odd for a club that dealt erstwhile ace Mat Latos in the same offseason, especially considering Quentin will be eligible for free agency after 2012. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Who really knows how to project Quentin? His talents include hitting home runs — which may dissolve a bit in his new digs — and getting hit by the baseball, which is badass but maybe not so sustainable? He’s going to a tough home park, has a low career BABIP, and hits a ton of fly balls. On the plus side, he still has power. Downgrade him a bit, but not too much.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 8/2/1979 | Team: Astros | Position: C|
Profile: The anti-Kevin Youkilis, Quintero just flat out refuses to take a walk. His 2.2% walk rate ranks him among some of the worst hitters in the league in that category. His career slash line of .234/.268/.321 confirms the notion that he’s a terrible hitter overall. The Astros appear ready to hand the catching job over to Jason Castro, making Quintero a backup once again. Even if he somehow manages to corral the starting gig for an extended period of time, Quintero won’t produce enough to be relevant in fantasy leagues. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Quintero doesn’t walk, doesn’t hit for power or average and is a backup catcher on the Astros. Nothing to see here.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 4/17/1981 | Team: Tigers | Position: 2B/OF|
Profile: Ryan Raburn looked to be a decent option at second base for 2011, but a lack of plate discipline derailed his season. Raburn usually struck out in the low 20% range as seen by his career average of 24.2%. In 2011, the number jumped to 27.3%. Most of the increase can be attributed to missing more pitches out of the strike zone as seen by his contact rate on pitches outside of the zone going from 58% to 48%. The increase in strikeout rate, along with a small dip in batting average on balls in play, caused a drop in average by about 25 points (.280 to .256). Along with the increase in strikeouts, his walk rate dropped from 7% to 5%. Raburn’s eye for the ball was off in 2011 and it cost him playing time to Ramon Santiago at the end of the season. Even though he struggled with plate discipline, he was still able to hit 14 homers. One of Raburn’s desirable traits is that he is both qualified at second and the outfield. 2012 will be an important year for Raburn. He will need to get his plate discipline under control or he may lose out on even platoon playing time. Expect him to be owned in most leagues, like ottoneu leagues, where his platoon-split and positional eligibilities are strengths. Don’t expect a return to 2009/2010 form, though. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: A drop in plate discipline cost Raburn playing time in 2011. He will need to reverse that trend in order to return his fantasy value to 2009 and 2010 levels.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 12/23/1983 | Team: Marlins | Position: SS|
Profile: Repeat after me: Hanley Ramirez is only 28 years old. He’s not finished. Sure, his isolated power has been in long decline since 2008. Sure, that power decline is linked with a gradually-increasing ground-ball rate. Sure, his speed score has been falling too, suggesting an overall decline in his athleticism. And yes, his plate appearancs have declined every season since 2007, down to an injury-riddled 385 last year. All of this just means he’s a decent sleeper this year. If you’re falling off a .300 30/30 peak at shorstop, you’ve got a long way to go before you’re useless — ask Jimmy Rollins owners. There’s risk concerning his left shoulder (he had surgery last September to repair some instability caused by a diving play), but his age suggests he can recover and bounce back in 2012. If “Han-Ram” is available around the first turn in your snake draft, or if he costs less than the first tier of no-doubt stars in your league auction, he’s already a value. Keeper league owners have to balance the fact that he may no longer be a shortstop after this year with the likelihood that the oft-injured Jose Reyes gives Ramirez a chance to put up enough games at short to retain his eligibility there another year. Still, for 2012 call Ramirez a super-sized sleeper. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Even with the decline in both his power and speed, the 28-year-old Ramirez has enough left in the tank to be a top-20 player in the league. He’s still a shortstop for another year, and a healthy year should still produce .280+ 20+/25+ numbers at worst.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/22/1981 | Team: White Sox | Position: SS|
Profile: 2011 was a little bit of a down year for the Cuban shortstop, but he still put up near-league average production from a premium position, which makes him valuable, even if shortstop isn’t as shallow a position as it once was. Most of Ramirez’s peripherals look good, making him a solid rebound pick for next year. If there’s anything to be worried about, his contact rate on pitches outside the strike zone increased noticeably over 2010, but in all likelihood it’s nothing more than a one-year blip. He’ll never be in the same category as Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes, but Ramirez isn’t likely to burn owners who target him in the middle rounds of their drafts. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: Like nearly everyone else in the White Sox lineup, Ramirez wasn’t superb in 2011, but he’s still a strong candidate for 20 home runs and double digit steals at a position that’s far deeper in the National League than in the American. He’s a better option in AL-only than in mixed for that reason, but playable in all formats.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 6/25/1978 | Team: Brewers | Position: 3B|
Profile: Aramis Ramirez pulled his usual routine of frustrating owners out of the gate only to rake as the weather warmed. Ramirez had exactly two home runs from April 1st to June 7th and while he was still hitting for a decent average at .287, he was starting to turn owners to the waiver wire for answers. From June 8th to the end of the season, Ramirez went nuts — hitting .317/.372/.573 with 24 home runs and 72 RBI. In the past, he was a great hitter at Wrigley, consistently outperforming his career averages, but Miller Park in Milwaukee should be just as friendly. He’s not particularly old at 33, but he’s certainly on the wrong side of the aging curve. While he may regress a tad on the batted balls, there’s not much evidence to suggest a major decline in production — thus, I’d expect something around his career average of .284/.342/.500 with 25 home runs and solid counting stats all around. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Ramirez will command a fairly hefty price on draft day, and he has a tendency to start slowly, requiring a patient owner. When healthy, Ramirez is one of the better third base options, but he is starting to get a tad long in the tooth. At least his home park in Milwaukee will help his power.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/10/1987 | Team: Nationals | Position: C|
Profile: Ramos made international headlines for terrifying reasons this offseason, as he was kidnapped by gunmen while playing winter ball in his native Venezuela. Thankfully Ramos is just fine, and he can now look to build upon his quietly excellent rookie season. Ramos batted .267/.334/.445 and hit 15 homers during his age-23 campaign, good for a .332 wOBA that easily bested the .307 average for the position. While part of it can be attributed to his frequently batting in front of the pitcher, the notoriously impatient Ramos walked in 8.7 percent of his plate appearances, and his outside swing rate wasn’t much above the MLB average. He also solidified his reputation behind the plate, erasing 32 percent of would-be base stealers. About the only quibble with Ramos’ game is that the rumbling backstop could stand to cut his ground ball rate (50 percent) to further tap into his power. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Ramos has intriguing power for a catcher and is learning to work the count to his advantage, making him a great upside play both for 2012 and in keeper leagues. If he can avoid the injuries that slowed him in the minors, Ramos could be a top-12 catcher for the foreseeable future.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 2/17/1976 | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: Ransom has shown excellent power in the minors, but he has struggled to make contact at the big league level. At age 36, he is unlikely to get much of a shot at significant playing time, but he could be useful for teams in need of power if he does luck into some at-bats. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 8/11/1986 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: OF|
Profile: It was a pretty disappointing season for Rasmus, who admitted to needing a change of scenery, but performed even worse once he was given it. Rasmus posted an abysmal 0.13 walk-to-strikeout rate in Toronto, and while it was just 140 plate appearances, and some of the poor performance is due to a jammed wrist he suffered in late August, it’s enough to throw up red flags. Even before the wrist injury, he had only hit .239/.314/.415 for the season, with 14 homers and five steals across 478 plate appearances — hardly starter material. Rasmus will be just 25 next season, so he is certainly too young to give up on, especially since he has demonstrated 20-home run power as a center fielder, but he is now more sleeper pick than sexy pick. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Rasmus’ main strengths entering 2011 were his plate discipline and his power, but his plate discipline nosedived at the end of the season. He can still be a valuable asset, but wait him out in your draft.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 2/19/1987 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: He didn’t walk as much as you would’ve liked (6.8%), but Reddick had a pretty successful rookie season. His .280/.327/.457 line shows that he’s capable of hitting for both power and average in the majors. Traded to Oakland, there’s a good chance Reddick will be a starting outfielder this season. In a full season of playing time, he’ll likely steal a few bags and hit 15-18 home runs. His new home park won’t help in that area, however. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Reddick has a clear opportunity at playing time with the A’s, and would be a solid sleeper if he hadn’t played in Boston previously. He’s got a chance at 20 home runs, but his home park is going to limit his power potential.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/12/1983 | Team: Orioles | Position: OF|
Profile: Reimold bounced back after a poor 2010 season. While his .247/.328/.453 slash line wasn’t anything to get too excited about, it was nice to see Reimold hit for power again. After clubbing 13 home runs in 305 plate appearances last season, one has to wonder if he’s capable of 20-25 with a full season under his belt. Reimold is currently the Orioles best option at DH, and might get that opportunity this season. He’s not a candidate for a major breakout, but he could be a source of cheap power in most leagues. Keep an extra special eye out for him in five-outfield leagues like those found in ottoneu. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: After a disastrous 2010, Reimold bounced back last season. As long as he receives playing time, he should be a cheap source of power in most leagues.
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 8/7/1975 | Position: SS|
Profile: Renteria wants to keep playing but as of the publishing of this book, he hadn’t gotten a solid offer from anyone. The veteran may have to wait until someone gets hurt during spring training before he gets an offer, and even then he may not get the starting job. At age 35, he’s starting to show his age, and while 38-year-old Jamey Carroll can still function as a starting shortstop — or so the Minnesota Twins hope — age doesn’t hit everyone the same. The last time he posted an OPS over .710 was 2007 and he’s never been a particularly sterling defender, so it’s hard to blame teams for looking at other options for the time being; fantasy owners should do likewise. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: It isn’t universally true that older players who draw little to no interest on the free agent market aren’t good fantasy options, but it’s probably true in this case. Renteria hasn’t signed a Major League contract and probably shouldn’t be drafted even if he does.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 12/27/1980 | Position: OF|
Profile: A defensive-minded utility outfielder, Repko went from bad (.304 wOBA) in 2010 to worse (.256) in 2011. He was a part of the mass exodus of the Twins 40-man roster in October, and will have to settle for a Minor League deal in 2012. (Brandon Warne)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 5/3/1988 | Team: Twins | Position: OF|
Profile: There’s a lot to like about Revere, but almost none of the reasons center around his bat. Casual fans love his infectious smile and work ethic, which is nothing to say of his highlight-reel catches in the outfield as well. He was considered a signability pick by the Twins in the 2007 draft, picked just ahead of Rick Porcello by the Detroit Tigers, and wasn’t ever projected to hit like he did in the minors. He managed to hit .326/.385/.408 in the minors, and his legend grew largely on the heels of his 2008 season in Beloit. Still, his .267/.310/.309 MLB line in 2011 tells us a little more about whether he’ll get the bat knocked out of his hands at this level, so despite his stellar defense in the outfield, his ceiling will always be limited unless he develops either a knack for walking, or a bit more of a line-drive approach to enhance his extra-base capabilities. With a 96.2 percent contact rate in 2011, it’s surprising he didn’t find more gaps, and that’s why it’s a bit worrisome for his future. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Keep an eye on Twins spring training, as Revere may get a shot to play every day somewhere in the Twins outfield. Revere should keep a pretty good batting average and excellent stolen-base rates, which would make him a nice pickup. He also may score his share of runs, because if Span is out, Revere will likely hit at the top of the lineup.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 6/11/1983 | Team: Marlins | Position: SS|
Profile: Aside from some variance in his walk and strikeout rates — Reyes has seen his both rates drop off of an early-career peak — the former Mets shortstop has been a steady performer at the plate. He has average power and impressive wheels, and since he plays shortstop he’s been an elite performer… when healthy. The elephant-slash-gorilla in the room is the health of his hamstrings. Those muscles have caused Reyes to miss all of 2009 and parts of 2010 and 2011. The player is of course aware of the situation and works with specialists all offseason to be as prepared as possible, but a weakness in a muscle is a weakness in a muscle. Since power is not his game, the open question that is the Marlins’ new park is not such a big deal. And, given recent history, the Marlins’ medical staff might be a better bet to keep the speedster healthy. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Double-digit home runs and 30+ stolen bases, with a sweet batting average — that’s what Jose Reyes can bring to the table. Unfortunately he also brings two weak hammies to that same (trainer’s) trable.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/3/1983 | Team: Orioles | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: Despite changing leagues, Reynolds’ three-true outcome warpath rages on. This time, Reynolds walked, fanned, or homered in just under half of his plate appearances. In fact, Reynolds’ career mark stands at 50.1 percent. In spite of all the homers (37), Reynolds was as abysmal as ever at the hot corner, registering an appalling 28.2 runs BELOW replacement level, more than doubling his career output to date. Much like Adam Dunn, teams can put up with Reynolds when the fielding effort is there, but when it’s not, players like this are hard pressed to break even value-wise, no matter how many runs they produce, and Reynolds’ 0.3 WAR in 2011 is evidence. A move to first base may be forthcoming. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: If you’ve spent your entire draft chasing steals and saves, Reynolds is your guy. A virtual lock for 30 home runs, Reynolds can be a good late-round guy if your batting average is strong. Advanced-stat leagues will appreciate Reynolds a bit more too, but be wary of a move off third base.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/1/1983 | Position: 2B|
Profile: It is not a good sign that when you can’t win a second baseman job over Ramon Santiago or Ryan Raburn. Rhymes’ problem is that he only brings one fantasy trait to the table, batting average. He hit .304 in 2010 and .291 in the minors. Then the average dropped to .235 last season and he was useless. He has no speed or power. Now that he’s on the Rays, he’s basically hoping for an injury to any one of the team’s (mostly flawed) middle infielders. He could put up a decent average and contribute a token number of counting stats here and there, if that happens. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: No job, no talent: even Yuniesky Betancourt has more fantasy value.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/18/1981 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: From 2006 to 2008, Alex Rios could be counted on for double-digit home runs and a near .300 average. Since then, he has been able to continue hitting home runs, but the average has dropped. The main reason for the decline has been a drop in batting average on balls in play from near .325 for 2006-2008 to one nearly 50 points less (.275) over the next three years. The drop in BABIP continued all the way to a .227 average in 2011. Also, he is showing signs of aging with his home run and fly ball distances going from 284 feet in 2009 and 2010 to 260 feet in 2011. The other main hit against Rios in 2011 was that he only had 11 stolen bases — a career low. For 2012, draft him as a 15-homer .250-average and 10-stolen-base player. With this strategy, his downside will be limited and any surplus can be enjoyed if he produces like he has in the past. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Alex Rios is showing the signs of an aging player. His best days are behind him, and they weren’t that good to begin with.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 7/3/1978 | Team: Dodgers | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: Rivera hit non-horribly over less than 250 plate appearances after coming over to the Dodgers during the 2011 season, so they decided to bring him back for another go. His terrible defense won’t kill you in fantasy. He could even be valuable if you only spend a low pick or minimal auction dollars on him as more than as fifth or maybe fourth outfield in deeper leagues. Playing time might be an issue, with the Dodgers leaning toward Jerry Sands as their primary 2012 left fielder. Sands is another righty, so a platoon with Rivera won’t work. Maybe Rivera will get some time platooning with the Embarrassing James Loney, but, well… Rivera might hit you 10-15 homers if everything breaks just right, but that’s about it. That’s even a stretch to be included in ottoneu’s deep benches. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Juan Rivera totally makes sense as an endgame move for a few potential homers. Or as a multi-million dollar investment, if you are Ned Colletti.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/8/1989 | Team: Cubs | Position: 1B|
Profile: Rizzo is one of the more interesting fantasy options entering this season. He’s got nothing to prove in the minors, and he’s only blocked by Bryan LaHair at first base. Rizzo struggled in his debut last season — striking out 30.1% of the time — but he completely tore up Triple-A league to the tune of .331/.404/.652. On the other hand, that league and park was offense-friendly and some scouts have whispered about a long swing. Now in Chicago, Rizzo will make an interesting gamble in the late rounds. The strikeouts bear watching, but he’s got strong power potential. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Rizzo has nothing more to prove in the minors and deserves a shot at a starting job this season. He’s an interesting late round pick now that he only has to beat out Bryan LaHair.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 10/9/1977 | Team: Orioles | Position: 2B|
Profile: The 2011 season marked the second-straight campaign in which Roberts was hampered by injuries. This time, he didn’t play particularly often or well, as he sputtered to a .221/.273/.331 triple-slash over 173 plate appearances. This year’s affliction, a concussion, casts much more doubt into Roberts’ future than his back woes ever did. Roberts was declared symptom-free in November, and doctors are optimistic about his chances to be ready for spring training, but entering his age-34 season, it’s fair to wonder how much he has left. The back injury seemed to sap much of his power, and it appears he’s taken to swinging at more pitches out of the zone to compensate. He’ll always have value as a guy who makes contact about 90 percent of the time, but whether or not he stays on the field is still a big question mark. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Roberts has been bad since 2009, and has only played in about a quarter of the O’s games in that time frame. He’s no lock to get healthy, and even less of a lock to return to his previous levels of double-digit home runs and gaudy stolen base numbers. You can do worse on your last pick, but don’t expect much.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 5/31/1972 | Position: OF|
Profile: Gathright has twice now been acquired by the Red Sox to fill the pinch-running role famously held in 2004 by Dave Roberts. An interesting thing about Roberts: he amassed an 11.9 WAR over his career, 11.8 of which he compiled in his 30s. Gathright just turned 30 in 2011. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/19/1980 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: 3B|
Profile: I’m going to lift a great comment from a 2011 thread on Ryan Roberts: “(He) carries most of the uncertainty of a typical upside play without possessing any of the upside.” That is a spot-on perfect description of Ryan Roberts. He had quite a nice little campaign, coming just a hair from a 20-20 season and scoring 85 runs while playing both second base and third base for the Arizona Diamonbacks. And while this might become the norm for Ryan Roberts, you’ll likely pay goodly sum in expectation that he will do it again. The concern is that Roberts is 31 and we haven’t seen this kind of production from him to date and thus, comes with fairly significant risk. He’s not likely to hit for high average given his penchant for fly balls (41%) but he also was hurt a bit by bad luck with a .275 batting average on balls in play. His versatility will be handy and if you’re the gambling type, pay the price and be optimistic about his ability to reproduce his 2011 success. But have a plan B, just in case. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: If Roberts can do it again, he’s a nice play at either second base or third base, but prepare for a middling batting average. If you’re risk averse or you don’t like neck tattoos, look elsewhere.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/1/1987 | Team: Mariners | Position: OF|
Profile: Trayvon Robinson was known more for his legs than his power as he ascended the Minor League ranks. He stole 47 bases in 2009 and another 43 in 2010, only to see him stop running and start slugging in 2011 as he belted 26 home runs and drove in 71 runs in 2011 with just nine swipes in 100 games. After being traded to the Mariners late in the season, Robinson was given an extended look and what we saw was an incredibly impatient hitter (5.2% walk rate) with a staggering strikeout rate (39.4%) leading to a .210/.250/.336 line over 150 plate appearances. Until Robinson can get his swinging strike rate under control, he’s never going to hit for a decent average. While he flashed an impressive amount of power in Triple-A, there’s not much to suggest that he can give you fantasy squad much more than 12-14 home runs with a full time gig. It’s likely he will platoon in left with a whole host of other candidates and it’s not out of the question that he starts in the minors to start the season either, so his playing time is seriously in question. Robinson is a better dynasty league investment than a gamble that he’ll provide any value in 2012. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Robinson doesn’t have a starting job headed into 2012 and his contact rates don’t bode well for his success at the major league level. He has some power and speed, but there are red flags galore.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/30/1984 | Team: Cardinals | Position: OF|
Profile: Robinson has little power, but above-average speed and makes excellent contact. He will remain buried on the depth chart in Triple-A and will be hoping for a Carlos Beltran injury or Jon Jay slow start to earn a call-up. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/26/1985 | Team: Rays | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: At this point, it appears Rodriguez has the inside track to the starting shortstop position in Tampa Bay. Reid Brignac has better defense, but Rodriguez has the better offensive upside. He should find his way into 500 PAs in 2012, but recent history suggests he will hit around 10 homers and a .250/.320/.400 — while crushing lefties the whole time. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Rodriguez should hit around .250/.320/.400 with double-digit homers and steals, but his hitting prowess may someday spread from just lefties to all hitters — making him even more valuable.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 6/27/1980 | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: No one, not even one of the Catching Molina Brothers, has a true-talent BABIP of .219 — which, that’s what Rodriguez posted in 2011. Replace that figure with something closer to .300 — or even Rodriguez’ career mark of .255 — and you have the offensive production of a league-average shortstop (88 wRC+ in 2011). (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 1991 | BirthDate: 11/30/1971 | Position: C|
Profile: More people fall through New York City sidewalk grating every year than Ivan Rodriguez takes unintentional walks per 600 plate appearances. Does that make sense? Yes? No? Either way, it makes more sense than having a 41-year-old backup catcher (unsigned as of press time) on your fantasy roster. (Carson Cistulli)
|Debut: 1994 | BirthDate: 7/27/1975 | Team: Yankees | Position: 3B|
Profile: If relatively healthy, you can probably take a .280 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI to the bank with Alex Rodriguez. But he hasn’t played in more than 138 games since 2007 and was limited to only 99 games in 2011. At age 36, it’s probably prudent to plan on more trips to the trainer’s table in 2012. For five years straight, Rodriguez’s wOBA and isolated slugging have been in steady decline from other-worldly to just pretty good, and if that trend continues, Rodriguez will find himself in some pretty unfamiliar territory relative to third base tiers. But Rodriguez is a unique talent to be sure, and playing in the launching pad recently installed in New York will only help his counting stats should he be able to stay on the field. Draft him assuming he will get you 550+ plate appearances — because if he does, he could contribute as well as any third baseman available. Just have a plan B. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: If you’re a risk taker, Alex Rodriguez should be your third baseman. He’s never had lower price, and if he can stay healthy, he’s top tier talent. But his rap sheet on injuries is getting long, and his age is working against him.
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 4/4/1975 | Team: Reds | Position: 3B|
Profile: 2011 was likely the worst offensive season in the long career of Scott Rolen. A variety of ailments cut his season to just 69 games and in those games, he was a shadow of even his 2010 self, posting a .242/.279/.397 line with little power and an uncharacteristic 3.7% walk rate. When he was on the field, he still flashed his golden glove, but he was overmatched at the plate and started to show his age at 36 (he will be 37 in April). Rolen had a great 2010 campaign so it’s not impossible to see him rebound if healthy — but he’s rarely healthy, and counting on him to be a solid contributor in fantasy baseball is probably a fool’s wager. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: When he’s healthy, he’s a great third baseman — and he hasn’t played in more than 142 games since since 2003. Coming up on age 37, draft at your own risk.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 11/27/1978 | Team: Phillies | Position: SS|
Profile: He’s still one of the better options at shortstop, but Rollins’ performance has fluctuated the past couple of seasons. He’s a good bet to miss time with injuries — and he won’t hit for as much power anymore — but he’ll rack up steals and get on base enough to be effective. The Phillies offense wasn’t great last season, but Rollins still managed to 87 runs scored. With a little improvement, he might be able to reach 100 runs scored again. Draft him expecting about 15 home runs and 30 steals, but be aware that he’ll miss time with injuries. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: He’s no longer in his prime, but Rollins is still an effective option at short. While he’s good for about 30 steals and 15 home runs over a full season, he will likely miss some time with injuries.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/22/1988 | Team: Yankees | Position: C|
Profile: Austin Romine doesn’t have much power, or patience. He also strikes out a little too much to count on his batting average. He might be a future defensive replacement for Jesus Montero at best. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 5/20/1983 | Team: Athletics | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: The utility infielder has limited power and no speed, which unless you’re a catcher, translates into no fantasy value. He might not kill you in batting average, but that’s pretty much the best one can hope for. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/23/1989 | Team: Rockies | Position: C|
Profile: Swinging at every pitch thrown to you is only a good strategy for a hitter if you have enough bat control to hit or foul off nearly every pitch thrown to you (see Guerrero, Vladimir). Wilin Rosario is not this type of hitter, and his acceptable plate discipline in the low minors has steadily worsened as he has moved up the Rockies’ organizational ladder. In a tiny sample at the big-league level at the end of the season, he struck out in 35 percent of his plate appearances. It was just 57 PA, but it was enough to show that Rosario isn’t ready. The Rockies agreed, and signed Ramon Hernandez to man the dish until he is. If Rosario succeeds in his Triple-A debut, it won’t be long until he is back in Denver, but the odds on him succeeding right away are long — he only put up a 90 wRC+ in his second year at Tulsa, a drop off of 53 points from 2010. Dan O’Dowd once compared Rosario to Ivan Rodriguez, but by the end of Rodriguez’s age-22 season he was a three-time All-Star, and Rosario may not make three All-Star teams in his whole career. He still carries some promise, but don’t expect it to be realized in 2012. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Rosario still needs to fine tune his game — particularly his plate discipline — and is unlikely to contribute to your team no matter where he starts the season.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 3/19/1977 | Team: Braves | Position: C|
Profile: As backup catchers go, Ross has a decent stick, but he showed last season that his bat doesn’t carry as much thunder as it used to. He has been a much better hitter against right-handed pitching across the past four seasons, but with Brian McCann around, he doesn’t get many chances to ply his wares. (Paul Swydan)
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/20/1980 | Team: Red Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: The Giants’ surprise post-season hero from 2010 did not produce much in 2011 after starting the season on the DL with a calf injury. Indeed, Ross has been in the majors since 2003 but played only three full seasons – 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2012, he’ll be in his age-32 season, coming off a below-average season. He hit .240 but brought his wOBA up to .321 with a career-high walk rate of 10.6%. But his strikeout rate was also near a career high, reaching 20.8% for the season. Ross is now a Red Sock, which might mean regular playing time, or might mean a platoon. Fenway might help his power numbers, but he’s a fringe fantasy outfielder in most formats. (Wendy Thurm)
Quick Opinion: The 2010 post-season hero turned into the 2011 regular-season dud. Ross is older than he might seem, and even his best fantasy seasons were “meh” at best.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 8/29/1977 | Position: OF|
Profile: In the fourth year of five-year/$60 million contract with the Giants, Rowand saw his offensive stats plummet in 2011 to career lows, most notably a wOBA of .270. The Giants released him in late August and he’s signed a Minor League contract with the Miami Marlins for 2012. (Wendy Thurm)
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/12/1982 | Position: OF|
Profile: If something happens to super Sam Fuld, Ruggiano would be next in line for the fourth outfielder spot. Ruggs swings a decent bat and plays the outfield well, but his total package may never equal a full-time starter. (Bradley Woodrum)
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 1/22/1979 | Team: Phillies | Position: C|
Profile: As evidenced by his .283/.371/.383 slash line, Ruiz will take walks. While he’s also posted some pretty solid averages over the last two seasons, he doesn’t give you much in any other category. He bats too far down in the Phillies lineup to rack up runs or RBI, and he doesn’t hit for a ton of power or steal bases. Ruiz will play a lot of games, post a decent average and get on base. That’s a useful fantasy catcher, but not an elite option. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Ruiz has some value as a fantasy catcher, but leaves a lot to be desired. He’ll play a lot of games, however, and you know what type of production you can get out of him by now.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 3/26/1982 | Team: Mariners | Position: SS|
Profile: When it comes to fantasy shortstops, guys like Brendan Ryan don’t have a whole lot to offer other than playing time. Ryan will be playing every day for the Seattle Mariners due to his prowess with the glove, not his ability with the stick. The Mariners can tolerate Ryan’s problems at the plate, but since fantasy teams aren’t built on defensive metrics, you can’t. He doesn’t walk a whole lot, but he does have more value in an OBP league since shortstops with decent walk rates aren’t easy to find. On a more positive note, Ryan will likely steal over ten bases next season. So, yeah, there’s that. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Ryan doesn’t hit for a high average or steal a ton of bases, and he walks less than a league average player. If you’re selecting him in anything but a AL-only league, you’re doing it wrong.
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