|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 5/2/1985 | Team: Red Sox | Position: C|
Profile: Of the 193 players to post at least 400 plate appearances last year, only seven had a higher Three True Outcomes percentage (walks + strikeouts + homers divided by PA) than Saltalamacchia’s 45.09%. Looking strictly in the catching realm, only Mike Napoli had a higher TTO% than did Saltalamacchia. Staying among the catchers, we find that of the 18 that posted at least 400 PA, only two hit more homers than did Salty, which points to him being a potentially valuable commodity. But unfortunately for him, there are generally at least four other categories, and in those he fared poorly — 11th in runs scored, 13th in RBI, 17th in batting average and tied for dead last in stolen bases. This makes him a generally poor play in linear weights leagues like ottoneu, and a potentially odious play in standard 5×5 leagues. Also clouding Salty’s outlook is his playing time in the coming year. He may be squeezed by Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross, and potentially Mike Napoli as well. Salty could also eventually be traded, but even if he manages to equal his 2012 playing time, he’s unlikely to help your team all that much. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: A Three True Outcomes beast, Saltalamacchia doesn’t have enough success when he does put the ball in play to be a great fantasy option. If all you need from your catcher is home runs, he’s a decent play, but if all you need from your catcher is home runs then your league is weird.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/21/1977 | Position: 2B|
Profile: After winning a batting title while with the Pirates in 2006, the road has become very rocky for Sanchez. He spent the next two seasons playing through a variety of knee and shoulder issues until he finally succumbed to the injuries shortly after being traded to the Giants in 2009. It’s been a disaster ever since and he hasn’t played more than 111 games in the three years since the deal, including sitting out all of 2012. Sanchez began last year on the disabled list after another shoulder surgery, but missed out on the entire season after he gave in and opted for back surgery in July. He attempted a comeback and played in a handful of instructional league games, but it was obvious that he was no longer of any use to the Giants. Though he has still maintained a strong average and respectable strikeout rate in the games he has played, Sanchez can no longer be counted on as a reliable fantasy player. The 35-year old infielder is currently seeking major league employment this offseason, but he’ll probably have to settle for a minor league deal and work his way up from there. Even if he proves healthy to start the year though, he is not one to target as a full-season’s worth of stats are highly unlikely. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Once an NL batting champion, Sanchez is now a cautionary tale, as injuries have gotten the better of him over the last few years. He missed all of 2012, save for a few instructional league games late in the year, and is now a free agent. There’s a strong chance he lands somewhere, but it is doubtful that he gets more than a minor league deal as he has so much to prove as far as his health is concerned.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/2/1983 | Team: Pirates | Position: 1B|
Profile: It was a precipitous drop for Gaby Sanchez. After two seasons of passable performances at first base, Sanchez was demoted by the Marlins after his batting average fell to .197 in mid-May. He was eventually dealt to the Pirates, where he was platooned with Garrett Jones. Sanchez is likely to reprise that role this season, meaning he’s not going to have a ton of fantasy value. Even if he somehow is thrust into a full-time role, Sanchez’s production was never great at a position filled with sluggers. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Sanchez enters the season in a platoon situation, where he isn’t going to see a ton of playing time. Even during his good seasons he was nothing more than an adequate fantasy producer at first. There are better options out there.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/17/1989 | Team: Giants | Position: C|
Profile: For reasons that are still a bit murky, Sanchez became Barry Zito’s and Tim Lincecum’s personal catcher in 2012. Buster Posey undoubtedly needed extra days off from catching in the season after his horrific leg injury. But Posey’s “off days” often resulted in him playing first base, which resulted in Sanchez catching two out of every five Giants games. Putting aside Sanchez’s defensive weaknesses — and there are many — his bat had no place in that many games. He posted an empty .280/.295/.390 in 227 plate appearances. Look at the on-base percentage. He drew five walks all season. Five. But strikeouts were plentiful, leading to a 22.9% strikeout rate. Don’t look for Sanchez to provide much fantasy value in 2013. (Wendy Thurm/@hangingsliders)
Quick Opinion: Sanchez got some high-profile plate appearances as the designated hitter for the Giants in the world series, but his bat — and his glove — has too many holes to be relied upon as anything other than a deep-league second fantasy catcher at most.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/11/1986 | Team: Giants | Position: 3B|
Profile: Sandoval battled weight and injury problems all season. He started hot, with a.316/.375/.537 line before leaving a game on May 2nd with a fractured hamate bone in his left hand. Doctors removed the fractured bone, just as they had on Sandoval’s right hand, when he suffered the same injury in 2011. From his June return until the end of August, he hit only .265/.314/.403 with three home runs; worse, his .299 batting average on balls in play proved that it wasn’t just fluke luck. His post-injury power drought shouldn’t really have been a surprise, given that Sandoval had similar problems at the plate after returning from surgery in 2011. In his first 165 plate appearances after returning from the 2011 procedure, he hit .289/.327/.461 before turning up the wick to an elite .335/.373/.634 over his final 210 plate appearances. This year, Sandoval started to shake off the rust in September, hitting four homers en route to a .286/.364/.448 slash. Sandoval’s power emerged in a big way in the postseason, which wasn’t any help to fantasy owners in 2012 but may be an indication of things to come in 2013. (Wendy Thurm/@hangingsliders)
Quick Opinion: Look for Sandoval to get back to 2011 physique and conditioning. With both hamate bones now gone, barring other injuries — and in light of his performance during the World Series — look for Sandoval to return to his 2011 form, when he hit 23 home runs and slugged .552.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/28/1987 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: Initially expected to battle for the starting left field job in 2012, Sands was a mess in camp and didn’t even make it to the final cuts. Early struggles in the minors didn’t help either, as he was passed for a time on the depth chart by Scott Van Slyke, who was DFA’d following the season. But after reverting to an old swing in early July, Sands put up those same old monstrous Triple-A numbers, leading to increasingly insistent calls from fans for him to replace the awful duo of James Loney & Juan Rivera. Sands was part of the blockbuster trade to Boston before that happened, and then was flipped again to Pittsburgh in December, where he should get his share of chances at first base and the outfield corners. While he’s been unable to bring his prodigious raw power to the bigs thus far, the sample size has been small and he’s earned rave reviews for his advanced plate approach. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Despite enormous black holes at first base & left field in 2012, the Dodgers never gave Jerry Sands the chance many thought he deserved to make his mark. He ought to have a much better opportunity in 2013 on a wide-open Pittsburgh roster.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/8/1986 | Team: Indians | Position: C|
Profile: Santana had a rough first half in 2012, highlighted (lowlighted?) by a brutal stretch in May and June. But the rest of the season, Santana showed the patience, approach and power that made him a highly-sought fantasy commodity prior to the start of the season. Posey is in a class of his own at the position, but Santana is either next in line, or close to it. 25+ HR and 80+ R and RBI will more than make up for a middling average at a premium position. And if you are in an on base percentage league, he looks even better. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: Even with a rough couple months in 2012, Santana put up a solid season and there is no reason not to expect him to be a top-tier catcher for 2013. He isn’t Buster Posey, but he is the next best thing.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 8/31/1979 | Team: Tigers | Position: 2B|
Profile: For the person who is checking this mid-season, I will save you 30 seconds of your time and tell you that you should look elsewhere for middle infield help. Ramon Santiago is just useless in fantasy baseball. The 33-year-old can’t hit for average (.206 in 2012, .244 in his career). He can’t steal bases. He was averaged one stolen base over the past five season. He has managed to hit a few home runs, with five in 2011 and two last season. None of these stats can justify thinking about rostering him at all. Signs point to him being a worse player. His line drive rate in 2012 (17%) was a six-year low. Among seasons when he had at least 100 plate appearances, his 2012 .239 batting average on balls in play was a career low. Maybe look to see if Willie Bloomquist is available on the waiver wire. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Ramon Santiago is barely better than Ryan Raburn which means on draft day stay away, okay.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/2/1987 | Team: Cubs | Position: OF|
Profile: Dave Sappelt and Tony Campana figure to battle for the opening day fourth outfielder position, with Sappelt as the present favorite, given Campana’s struggles in 2012 and Sappelt’s impressive callup numbers. That said, Sappelt does not bring an abundance of any one skill to the Cubs, and from a fantasy perspective, his usefulness is minimal. (Bradley Woodrum)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/19/1986 | Team: Mariners | Position: OF|
Profile: After three failed attempts at the major league level, Michael Saunders posted a career high slash line of .247/.306/.432 and managed to be generally useful in fantasy baseball by adding 19 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Saunders looked lost in virtually every at bat in 2011, but struggled particularly against anyone with a decent fastball. But perhaps due to a rumored “revamped swing,” Saunders managed to post positive run values on four-seam and two-seam fastballs, not to mention the slider which had given him trouble in the past as well. Saunders also fixed a pretty ugly platoon split. Versus left-handed pitchers, Saunders had only managed a .143/.169/.161 slash line in 2011, but in 2012 he pushed the dial up to .261/.307/.467 — actually hitting better against left-handers for the first time in his career. The important part is that he wasn’t a black hole versus lefties, which might stave off the dreaded platoon label. If he can find regular at-bats, Saunders might be handy as a fourth or fifth outfielder for deeper rosters. He is still just 26, Seattle plans to move their fences in a skosh, and it’s possible that he could even improve on his solid 2012 season. As a Mariner, certainly don’t hold your breath though. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Michael Saunders had a downright horrific offensive season at the major league level in 2011 and turned that around to be pretty useful in fantasy baseball in 2012. At 26, it’s possible he could improve upon the 19 home runs, 21 stolen bases and overall .247/.306/.432 slash line he posted last season, but it’s also hard to ignore his past. He’s above the “take a flyer on him” threshold, but just barely.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/8/1986 | Team: Brewers | Position: OF|
Profile: Schafer has shown an ability to swipe bases in the minors, but he won’t hit for power and some have concerns about his ability to handle left-handed pitching. In terms of draft-day value, he projects to only be a fourth outfielder for the Brewers to start the year with an outside shot at eventually serving as the left-side platoon for Carlos Gomez in center field. No need to get excited. (JP Breen)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/4/1986 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: How desperate for talent were the 2012 Astros? Let’s put it this way: Jordan Schafer got 82 starts for them. His .211/.297/.294 2012 performance is the stuff of legend, but keep in mind that this was a down year. For his career, he has a mind-blowing .221/.305/.301 line. The fun part of all of this is Schafer actually having a good walk rate. The problems are as follows: poor contact skills and an utter lack of power. The latter might be shocking to national audiences who saw him hit a home run in his first major-league at-bat for Atlanta back in 2009. It gets better: Schafer was waived by the miserable Astros after the season and then claimed by Atlanta, where he currently seems to be slated in as a fourth outfielder. It remains to be seen whether that situation will last through the off-season. Schafer is 26, so one might be able to imagine some upside, but he has almost done nothing to justify even fourth-outfielder status on a contending team. Despite all of this, the truth is that with even semi-regular playing time, he has fantasy value in category leagues: he stole 27 bases in just 360 2012 plate appearances, and 22 in 338 2011 plate appearances. In other words, in category leagues, Schafer cannot simply be ignored. If he can keep his career from going up in smoke, he could be a good endgame play for a team in need of steals, especially if he seems primed to luck into playing time. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: As terrible as Jordan Schafer is in real baseball and most fantasy leagues, he is a skilled enough base stealer that he cannot be totally ignored on draft day in category leagues in which steals are scarce. That being said, watch his playing time situation carefully — he really is not worthy of a major-league roster spot, and if he does not play, he is not going to be able to steal anything.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 2/15/1984 | Team: Cubs | Position: OF|
Profile: After years of toiling as the Giants best defensive right fielder never to earn a starting job, Schierholtz was primed to open 2012 with a starting gig. But an ice-cold spring opened the door for Gregor Blanco and Schierholtz remained nothing more than a platoon partner and late-inning defensive replacement. His skills at the place continued to remain mediocre, at best, and his steadily increasing strikeout rate hasn’t helped his cause. Ultimately, the Giants shipped him out at the non-waiver trade deadline when the Phillies were looking to dump salary and find a new home for Hunter Pence. Schierholtz almost received a new lease on his baseball life, but once again, minor injuries continued to put him on the shelf and the Phillies had no real incentive to keep him around beyond the 2012 season. The Cubs, in full rebuilding mode and looking for cheap veteran help, signed Schierholtz to a one-year deal and have slated him to start against righties in right field this season. If he can keep the strikeouts down and increase his walk rate, there’s a chance that he can find a modicum of success this season. Moving to hitter-friendly Wrigley Field could be a nice bonus, making Schierholtz worthy of a late-round flier in deep leagues. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: If Schierholtz can stay injury-free and have a solid spring, then he might have finally found a home that provides him with a full-time starting job on the North Side of Chicago. Then again, the Cubs might platoon him with lefty David DeJesus. The former Giant will need to improve his overall plate discipline to prove worthy of a roster spot but has the potential to be a solid producer in leagues with deep outfields.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 11/26/1976 | Position: C|
Profile: Schneider, a free agent, is the prototypical backup catcher — no bat, but able to handle a staff. He hasn’t offered fantasy value since the Montreal Expos were a thing. (Jack Moore)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/3/1980 | Team: Dodgers | Position: 2B/OF|
Profile: Skip Schumaker likely slots into a super-utility role with the Dodgers, which is a solid for the Dodgers’ depth, but not really helpful from a fantasy standpoint. His usefulness in fantasy — especially at age 33 — should be next to nothing. (Bradley Woodrum)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 6/25/1978 | Team: Rays | Position: DH|
Profile: As it happened with many Rays hitters last season, 2012 didn’t go quite as Luke Scott planned. He was never fully healthy, playing in just 96 games and hitting .229/.285/.439. He even had an 0-41 streak at the plate mixed in at one point. He added 14 home runs but was never able to keep himself on the field long enough to get into any rhythm. His 2013 option was declined and he remains a free agent. Unable to stay healthy for the past two seasons, some team will likely take a shot on him on a spring training invite as Opening Day inches closer. (Erik Hahmann)
Quick Opinion: Scott still has thump in his bat, he just needs to be able to stay on the field to show it.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 10/30/1975 | Team: Giants | Position: 2B|
Profile: It isn’t often that you see a player who goes from a hitter’s haven like Coors Field to a pitcher’s paradise like AT&T Park and finds greater success at the plate, but that’s what you saw from Scutaro after a deadline deal sent him from Colorado to San Francisco in 2012. It was a tale of two seasons as the 37-year old infielder posted a slash line of .271/.324/.361 with an 8.4-percent strikeout over 95 games with the Rockies and a .362/.385/.473 batting line with a 5.2-percent strikeout rate over 61 games with the Giants. Perhaps invigorated by the idea of playing in the postseason, Scutaro took on a more aggressive approach at the plate and improved offensively all around. The only stat that saw a significant drop over the last two months was his walk rate, but thanks to an increased contact rate and a BABIP that never dropped below .321 over that stretch, he was able to maintain an on-base percentage well above his career .340 mark. He certainly won’t hit like that throughout 2013, but he should still maintain a solid average and on-base percentage while playing second base every day for the Giants. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Forever enshrined in San Francisco World Series lore for his NLCS heroics, Scutaro earned himself a three-year, $20M contract to remain with the Giants as their second baseman. He won’t dazzle you with power or speed, but he is definitely worthy of a late-round pick if you’re simply looking for an everyday player who can help you in batting average and won’t be a total zero everywhere else.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/3/1987 | Team: Mariners | Position: 3B|
Profile: Kyle Seager was one of the few offensive bright spots for the Seattle Mariners in 2012. After a quick showcasing in 2011, Seager hit .259/.316/.423 with 20 home runs and 86 RBI to go with 13 stolen bases in 2012. That’s a good deal more power than many expected, but there’s not much evidence that it was a fluke when you drill down a little bit. You might be able to rely on some close approximation of that in 2013. Looking deeper at his hit trajectory, Seager appears to have gotten a raw deal on balls in play with a .286 batting average on balls in play, since his xBABIP was closer to .320. Should luck swing in a fortuitous direction, it’s possible we see a batting average up in the .280’s range and if a little more of that batting eye he demonstrated in the minors starts to creep in, I could see an OBP of around .340. While .280 with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases might not get your blood boiling, he does come with the added versatility of 3B/2B eligibility in most league formats. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Kyle Seager wasn’t even really supposed to be here. Perceived to be blocked at second base by Dustin Ackley, it was only the Chone Figgins egg-laying extravaganza that handed him the starting nod at the hot corner in 2012. By mid season, Seager pretty much cemented his role not only as an everyday regular but the Mariner clean-up hitter, which provided him with unexpected RBI opportunity. Seager is just 25 and while his ceiling might not be vaulted, you can probably take his 2012 line to the bank, which ain’t half bad.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 3/17/1990 | Team: Brewers | Position: SS|
Profile: Jean Segura was the best piece that the Brewers received back from the Angels when they traded Zack Greinke. Some have voiced some doubts about Segura’s ability to stick at shortstop, but with Rickie Weeks present at second in Milwaukee, Segura is going to get his chances at shortstop. For fantasy purposes, Segura’s defensive skills matter less than what position he plays, and shortstop is not exactly stacked, offensively speaking. That is a good thing, because Segura does not have many impressive offensive skills. He never walked much in the minors, and while he did not strike out that often, his strikeout rate was not fantastically low. He has never shown much power. He does have some speed, and is very athletic. He is young enough that there is room for development, and some observers feel like he could develop double-digit home run power along with 30 steals a season. Shortstop is a thin position, fantasy-wise, so Segura should get your attention on draft day. He probably is not a budding superstar, but he will probably be a sufficient starter on a small price in the short-term, with the possibility of something more down the road. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Segura does not look like he will be a fantasy machine, but with the starting shortstop job in Milwaukee in his hands, he instantly has fantasy value because of the position’s low offensive baseline. He also has upside down the road for keeper leagues.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/1/1986 | Team: Dodgers | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: Organizational soldier Justin Sellers has shown a solid glove and some on-base skills in eight seasons in the minors, but after missing most of 2012 with back surgery and doing little to distinguish himself with the Dodgers while healthy, he’s unlikely to garner much consideration in 2013. (Mike Petriello)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/29/1980 | Team: Mariners | Position: C|
Profile: Kelly Shoppach is a classic right-handed platoon catcher at this point in his career. A few years ago, he was good enough to start, primarily due to his ability to launch balls out of the park. While he still has decent power, it has declined to the point where it no longer offsets his contact problems (33 percent career strikeout rate), and he does not walk that often. Shoppach does not have a team as of this writing, but he will likely get a job somewhere, as he can still be expected to hit southpaws well. Although he is certainly not a stud or a front-rank starter, in deep leagues, particularly those in which two catchers can start, he has his uses, as even in part-time play he can hit around 10 home runs, and his part-time role will limit the damage he does to your batting average. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Shoppach is going to have a bad batting average, but if he catches on with a team for 2013, he can still be a nice option as second catcher in category leagues because he can pop about 10 home runs while being a part-timer means he will not hurt your team batting average too much.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 9/24/1988 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: OF|
Profile: Moises Sierra, one of Toronto’s lesser-known prospects, played 49 games with the Blue Jays in 2012, posting a slash line of .224/.274/.374, with six home runs and 15 RBI. He struggled at times, looking overmatched at the plate, and was a nightmare defensively in right field. Were I a betting man, and I am, I’d say it’s likely Sierra will split time between Triple-A and Toronto this season — he could find find himself on the Blue Jays’ bench due to an injury, perhaps — making him mostly irrelevant to your fantasy team. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: At best, Moises Sierra is an option off the Blue Jays’ bench in 2013, meaning the right fielder has nothing of substance to offer your fantasy team at the moment.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 9/4/1989 | Team: Braves | Position: SS|
Profile: Andrelton Simmons more than impressed in his short 49 game major league debut, but from a fantasy perspective he offers little upside. Simmons is not a speed demon, despite straightening out his stolen base rate between Double-A and the majors this past season (11 stolen bases, two caught stealings compared to 26 SB and 18 CS the previous year). With the Braves slating Simmons in the leadoff spot, it is possible for Simmons to reach the upper teens in stolen bases with a healthy year. Batting at the top of the lineup, which is not guaranteed to last all season, would also allow Simmons to net a solid amount of runs in front of some tremendous hitters such as Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. Essentially, if you are drafting Simmons you are banking on him staying at the top of the lineup and hitting in the .280’s. (Ben Duronio)
Quick Opinion: Simmons is a player who provides his real life team more value than a fantasy team. His best asset is his defense, and his best offensive skill is a slightly above-average batting average. He is more attractive in dynasty leagues or very deep leagues, but his power and stolen base upside is too slight for him to be counted on in standard formats.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/4/1985 | Team: Athletics | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: If Jemile Weeks’ 2012 season can be compared to A Tale of Two Cities, then Scott Sizemore’s 2012 would best be compared to the latest Star Wars trilogy: it happened, but a lot of fans don’t want to acknowledge it. Sizemore lost the entire 2012 season when he tore his ACL in his left knee. With reports that Sizemore will open the 2013 season at second base, his natural position, Sizemore figures to be an important member of the AL West defending champs. His strikeout rate could stand to drop a few points, but overall Sizemore offers a little pop and little speed. If it’s late in the draft and you need a backup middle infielder, Sizemore is your man. Don’t expect the moon, but a 10-10 season with a solid average and a very good on-base percentage is easily attainable. (David Wiers)
Quick Opinion: Scott Sizemore is ready to shine. After a lost season in 2012, Sizemore figures to take over the full time second base job. A starting middle infielder who will pop some doubles and run into double digit home runs with a good on-base percentage, Sizemore makes for a solid sleeper pick.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 8/2/1982 | Position: OF|
Profile: Sizemore has slowly settled into his new life as a Former Future Hall of Famer, a guy who put up four tremendous seasons (and a fifth one that was injury-shortened but still quite good) before everything really fell apart. Now a free agent, just a couple months removed from another microfracture surgery, the former MVP candidate is expected to miss a good chunk of 2013 and hasn’t been able to line up a job yet. If he can get healthy, he will get a call — someone will take a shot on a 30-year-old with his talent — but that is a big “if” and there is no guarantee that the call will be followed by any meaningful playing time or production. Once a staple of the top fantasy teams, Sizemore isn’t even worth putting on your draft board these days. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: You wouldn’t normally take a shot on a guy who hasn’t played in over a year and figures to miss a good chunk of next season as well. And just cause the guy was once an MVP candidate doesn’t change that — until Sizemore shows he can stay healthy and stay productive, you should stay away.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/30/1982 | Team: Athletics | Position: DH/OF|
Profile: By now it isn’t a secret that Seth Smith crushes right-handed pitching but seems to struggle against fellow southpaws. When he was first acquired by the A’s it was announced that Smith would not be a platoon player. Well, GM’s say and do very different things. Smith received all of 80 plate appearances against like handed pitchers this past season, but just because he was plantooned does not mean that he wasn’t an effective player. Despite his limited role, Smith still managed to put up an above-average offensive season. His 14 home runs and 23 doubles helped his .180 isolated slugging percentage stay 30 points above average. He figures to return to a platoon situation with Chris Young in the coming season. Smith will never have amazing rate statistics and he just won’t play enough to gather those counting numbers either. Expect a repeat of his 2012 numbers: just not quite good enough to roster in standard size leagues. (David Wiers)
Quick Opinion: Seth Smith is your lefty batting right-hand man. Just because a player is seemingly “trapped” in a platoon situation doesn’t mean that said player isn’t talented enough — the situation in Oakland doesn’t need him to face lefties. For fantasy purposes, his rate stats are buoyed by this lesser playing time, as he has the platoon advantage, but his counting stats suffer. Unless you play in AL-Only or a very deep mixed league, Smith just shouldn’t be on your draft day radar.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 12/5/1986 | Team: Mariners | Position: 1B|
Profile: As 2012 was winding down, it looked increasingly likely that Justin Smoak was no longer the future for the Mariners at first base. From the beginning of the season to the end of August, Smoak hit just .190/.258/.316 managing to hit 14 home runs over 434 plate appearances. For a team starved for offense, it seemed impossible to entertain a scenario where they would give him another opportunity to under-perform as he has in every one of his three major league seasons. But then Smoak inexplicably caught fire in September and hit .341/.426/.580 with five home runs in 101 plate appearances and this glimpse of potential threw a monkey wrench into what seemed to be an inevitable break-up. The Mariners are paying lip service in committing to Smoak at first base, despite the acquisition of Kendrys Morales, but that could all change with a poor showing in the Spring. At the very least, don’t go into 2013 relying on Smoak for anything, but if you’re the prospecting type and the price is right, it’s not a poor choice to stash him on your bench on the outside chance that September was for real. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Justin Smoak was terrible for around 300 major league games and Ruthian for about 30 at the end of 2012. Still just 26, he could be finally coming into his own, but questions linger about what the Mariners plan to do with him in 2013. With Kendrys Morales in town, his role becomes even murkier, but try to read the proverbial tea leaves as the season draws nearer as the club will likely tip their hand to a certain degree. If they plan on running him out there every day, he’s probably worth a stash if the price is right. But keep a short leash.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/2/1988 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: Travis Snider is now Pittsburgh’s “What if …”, after the Blue Jays traded him, and his potential, to the Pirates last summer. In 50 games in the National League, Snider struggled, especially hitting for power, as evidenced by his .078 ISO. The story remains the same: Snider’s proved everything he can at Triple-A, but can he do it at the big-league level? He’ll get another chance in right field in Pittsburgh, and he’ll hopefully finally get a full MLB season under his belt. But, again, his approach at the plate must change, since his ability to make contact oscillates as much as his power. And until Snider proves he can hit big-league pitching, he has limited fantasy value. Only 25 in February, Snider, for now, will only break your heart. Ask a Blue Jays fan. (Navin Vaswani)
Quick Opinion: Travis Snider is now the Pirates’ “What if …” While a full season as an everyday player in right field is exactly what he needs, until he proves he can hit major league pitching, he’s got limited fantasy value.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/12/1981 | Position: C|
Profile: Chris Snyder was pretty good hitter, especially for a catcher, a few years ago for the Diamondbacks. Then back injuries, ineffectiveness, and the rise of Miguel Montero ended his tenure there. He was traded to Pittsburgh during a miserable 2010, but got out to a good start to his 2011 season for the Pirates until back injuries ended it. Snyder signed with Houston prior to 2012, and although he managed to stay healthy, he was horrible with the bat. While he retained his typically high walk rate, much of that was due to batting in front of the pitcher most of the time. Age and injury seem to have sapped his bat speed, and his strikeout rate shot up. When he did manage to make contact, he could not drive the ball. Snyder will be 32, and a catcher who has never had much of a defensive reputation, has back issues, and has seen his offensive production dip precipitously will not be in much demand. Still, teams do love the veteran backup catcher, so it would not be surprising to see Snyder get signed and make a teams roster out of Spring Training. If that happens, he still should not figure into your fantasy plans. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Chris Snyder was a good hitter for a catcher a few years ago, but age and injuries have robbed him of the skills that made him valuable. At this point, he is looking for a job as a backup, and thus has little to no fantasy value.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/23/1986 | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: The world will be surprised if Brandon Snyder makes it back to the big leagues in 2013, let alone make an impact. Nothing to see here. (Zach Sanders)
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 12/17/1987 | Team: Marlins | Position: 2B|
Profile: After four stints at Triple-A, Solano earned a half-season worth of at-bats and contributed an empty batting average. In his debut at the big league level, his contact rate was acceptable in a vacuum, but given his lack of power, needs to improve to drive any sort of positive offensive value. Since a .357 batting average on balls in play likely won’t happen again, the hope is that his BABIP does not regress too far, or that his strikeout rate declines so he may still be a positive in batting average. He currently projects as the starter at second base, but it would be a surprise if he lasted in that role all season. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: After another dismantling in Miami, Solano finds himself atop the depth chart to start at second base for the fish. Unfortunately, he brings limited power and only a light sprinkle of speed, so he’s not worthy of your attention outside of the deepest of leagues.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 1/7/1976 | Team: Cubs | Position: OF|
Profile: After underwhelming 2009 and 2011 seasons from Alfonso Soriano, it looked like the Cubs outfielder would (a) never hit over 30 home runs again and (b) never be worth the gargantuan contract he signed in November of 2006. But the 2012 season marked a renaissance for Soriano. The new Cubs leadership gave him outfield training for the first time in his career, and then demanded he move to a lighter bat. The net result was a four-win season with 32 homers and a power-heavy .262/.322/.499 slash. He also vastly improved his defensive, putting himself in the NL gold glove conversation after making just one error all year, which means both the Cubs and any potential future team would be increasingly comfortable with Soriano as a true outfielder option. For now, it is safe to pencil in Soriano for 500+ PA and 25+ dingers (something in the 110 wRC+ area). He might — depending on where Dale Sveum bats him and depending on how atrocious/brilliant the other Cubs hitters are — even cross the 100 RBI line as he did in 2012. For a guy who yearly goes in the last rounds of drafts and cheapest tiers of auctions, that is not a bad get. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Soriano’s stock is moving up. He improved his defense, which should secure him better playing time near the end of his career, and he revitalized his hitting with a lighter bat. He has the potential to crack 25+ homers in 2013, and the general sense of comedic tragedy attached to his name has meant he’s cheap in drafts and auctions.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/20/1983 | Team: Rangers | Position: C|
Profile: Geovany Soto went from being non-tendered by the Texas Rangers and looking for a gig only to be picked back up by Texas in a move that appeared to make him their regular starter in 2013. Who knows if Soto and company knew that Texas planned to make him their backup backstop as they signed A.J. Pierzynski just a few weeks later. It’s not hard to see why Texas thought they might do a little better. Soto posted easily his worst offensive season in his career with a .198/.270/.343 line, which was actually better than he performed in his 47 games after being dealt to Texas. It’s probably not likely that his batting average on balls in play will settle in at the .222 rate it was in 2012 as his career rate sits at .289, but he’s also an aging catcher who is chasing more balls outside the zone, so something in the .275 range might be more reasonable. If that’s the case, he might manage a batting average north of .235, but since he lacks in the way of playing time opportunity, he’s not likely to contribute much to your counting stats. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Soto returns to Texas but he will play second fiddle to A.J. Pierzynski which will severely impact his playing time. With some likely regression in his batted ball luck, you could expect Soto to hit something more respectable in the .235/.310/.410 range but with only 200 or so at bats, any hope for double digit home runs and enough RBI to make him worthwhile is likely gone.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/27/1984 | Team: Nationals | Position: OF|
Profile: The 2012 season by many accounts was Span’s return to relevance. Not only did he register his second-highest WAR total of his career (3.9), but his batting line started to look more like those he posted in his first two big league seasons rather than the last two. Chalk it up to health for Span, as 2011 was a tough season for him — concussions and various other maladies that cost him nearly 100 contests. At his best, Span will make tons of contact, steal a few bases, generally run the bases efficiently, and play excellent center field defense. At his worst — read: bad batted ball luck — Span will look an awful lot like his departed teammate Ben Revere at the plate, while being prone to mental errors on the basepaths. He’s not quite as good as 2008 or 2009 — thank you Metrodome — but he’s also not as bad or injury-riddled as the two seasons after that. He is what he is, which is one of the better all-around real-life center fielders in the entire game. On the fantasy front, he’ll probably be a relatively attractive option whose value will vary greatly based on league type. He won’t show any power, but he’s an asset in walks, OBP, stolen bases, and probably batting average too. Twins fans will miss him, and National fans will love him. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: A return to relevance only brought Denard Span to the fringes of mixed league fantasy value, but if you need steals and a little batting average late in your next draft, take a look at the new Nationals’ center fielder.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/8/1989 | Team: Marlins | Position: OF|
Profile: Did you believe that Stanton was already at his power peak after posting a nearly 25% home run per fly ball ratio and .275 isolated slugging percentage back in 2011? Stanton certainly didn’t, as his power increased even further as he finished with a monstrous .318 ISO this time around. He even managed to contribute positively in batting average for the first time driven by a career best batting average on balls in play combined with an uptick in that HR/FB rate. The question now is how a weak lineup around him will affect his opportunity to score and drive in runs. He might find it difficult to break the 100 RBI barrier despite hitting 40 long balls, and that’s going to have a negative effect on his fantasy value. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: Despite missing a month to a knee injury that required surgery, Stanton still set a new career high in home runs. He should remain an elite fantasy hitter, though a weak supporting cast around him will hurt his runs scored and batted in totals.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 2/19/1982 | Team: Yankees | Position: C|
Profile: Chris Stewart has the numbers of a lifetime backup catcher, because that’s precisely what he is. In 148 games and 394 plate appearances over parts of six seasons, Stewart owns a slash line of .217/.281/.302, and a career .259 wOBA. Even if Stewart does start the 2013 season as one of the Yankees’ two catchers, he’s got nothing to offer your fantasy team. (Navin Vaswani)
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/5/1985 | Team: Cubs | Position: 3B|
Profile: Ian Stewart came to Chicago in hopes of reinvigorating his career as a power-hitting infielder, but injuries limited him to just 55 games, in which he did not even outplay his eventual replacement, Luis Valbuena. Stewart will have another chance in 2013, but he looks now than he ever like a stopgap for Josh Vitters. Buy way, way low if you care to buy at all. (Bradley Woodrum)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/4/1984 | Team: Indians | Position: OF|
Profile: As disappointing as Stubbs’s career has been, anybody with his speed will always be relevant in fantasy circles. Even with Nick Swisher, Cleveland’s outfield is hardly full of stars, and Stubbs should get plenty of playing time in 2013. The Reds limited him to 136 games in 2012 — his lowest in the past three years — and he still managed 30 stolen bases for the third consecutive season. Don’t expect much else — Stubbs supplies moderate power with far too many strikeouts to field a competitive batting average — but his speed remains a constant. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Disappointing as he may be, Stubbs should be able to get 30 steals once again with playing time in the Cleveland outfield. Now he may be cheap enough to easily stomach his terrible batting average and mediocre power numbers.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/30/1983 | Position: 3B/OF|
Profile: For brief moments here and there over the last few years, Drew Sutton might have seemed like a mildly-intriguing waiver-wire pickup for fantasy owners, as teams desperate for in-season stopgaps have turned to him as a utility man. While he actually hit decently in ridiculously small samples in 2010 and 2011, teams are too smart to fall for that, and he bounced around again in 2012. Sutton has a bit more pop then the typical utility player, but has awful plate discipline, which pretty much dooms him to fantasy irrelevance. As of this writing, he is on the Red Sox, but is not in line for a major-league roster spot. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Drew Sutton’s name might seem familiar due to the frequency with which he has has turned up in transaction reports over the last few years, or perhaps people just get him mixed up with Drew Stubbs. Whatever the reason, do not let that illusion of familiarity sucker you into wasting a draft pick on a guy who will get lucky to make a major league roster this spring.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 10/22/1973 | Team: Yankees | Position: OF|
Profile: Ichiro! returns to New York at the age of 39, signing a two-year deal. You would think that after twelve seasons, we’d all know how to feel about the future Hall of Famer; just hack 10% or 15% off of last year’s stats, and settle it at that. Ichiro’s relocation to the Big Apple at the deadline could complicate that logic, however, and in a good way. In his 240 plate appearances in pinstripes, there was a marked increase in his slugging percentage, stolen bases, and batting average on balls in play, while his counting stats like runs and RBI benefited from the Yankees’ stronger lineup. It could be small sample size, or as Jeff Sullivan suggests, it could be an alteration in his approach at the plate, capitalizing on a new ballpark that doesn’t hate him. Regardless, there is some legitimate upside in Ichiro, not in the categories we traditionally associate with him (average, steals), but in more unusual categories (home runs, RBI). He’s no longer a superstar by any means, but an Ichiro that hits a dozen home runs and steals thirty bases can still be a valuable commodity in any league. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: There are reasons to believe that Ichiro as Yankee can shore up on his weaknesses enough to counteract the deterioration of his strengths, and remain a valuable outfielder in 2013 at the age of 39.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 10/4/1983 | Team: Nationals | Position: C|
Profile: Acquired by the Nationals in early August, Suzuki is set to take on the bulk of the catching duties in Washington. While he once showed promise as a backstop with some pop, that power disappeared last season as his isolated slugging percentage fell below .100 for only the second time, while his home run per fly ball rate was the second-worst of his career. He’s still just 29, so the power should bounce back somewhat, but the larger issue is his .271 career batting average on balls in play. He has a lot to work on to get himself back into the middle tier of fantasy catchers. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: The new Nats’ catcher once displayed some power and with his good contact rate, hinted at potential batting average upside. But, with his power going MIA last season, while his contact rate dipped, he is now no more than a cheap option in two catcher mixed leagues with limited upside.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 2/20/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: Ryan Sweeney is the classic case of a guy who has significantly more value in real life than fantasy circles. His offensive peripherals have been below-average the last few seasons and he’s unlikely to see consistent at-bats in lineup slots conducive to racking up counting stats. What power and speed he has do not turn into home runs or stolen bases. Not useful. (Colin Zarzycki)
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/25/1980 | Team: Indians | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: Swisher, 32, has been one of fantasy’s most consistent producers in recent years. He’s hit .260-.290 with a .360-.375 OBP, 24-29 homers, and 80-95 RBI in each of the last three years. Neither his batting average on balls in play nor his home runs per fly ball waver much year-to-year, and he’s not yet reached the point where age-related decline will be an issue. Moving out of Yankee Stadium and into Progressive Field will cut into his production a bit, but otherwise you can grab Swisher (who is first-base- and outfield-eligible) and take his above-average production to bank in 2013. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Few players produce as consistently as Swisher, who is good for above-average performance in everything but batting average and stolen bases. His value in OBP leagues is even greater.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/12/1988 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: Fantasy owners were smitten after Jose Tabata burst onto the big-league scene in 2010, a year that saw the outfielder hit .299 over 102 games. Injuries and other issues derailed Tabata’s 2011 campaign, and 2012 was even worse for the right-hander. The Pirates have a full house in the outfield heading into 2013, and Tabata will have to prove that he’s even worth a spot on the 25-man roster. Travis Snider and Starling Marte both have a lot to prove, so if Tabata should prove he’s gotten back to basics during the spring, he could be able to earn playing time early in the year. Don’t draft Tabata unless an injury strikes another Pirates’ outfielder prior to your draft, but make sure to keep him on your radar throughout the season. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Jose Tabata has shown glimpses of fantasy brilliance, but it’s been a couple of seasons of mediocrity since. Don’t draft Tabata, but keep him on your radar throughout the year.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 12/19/1985 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: With a skill set that consists of drawing walks and hitting for power, one could safely assume that Michael Taylor would be an Oakland A’s dreamboat. For one reason or another, this boat hasn’t even left the dock. After scuffling in Triple-a for his first two seasons there, Taylor found his way against PCL pitchers in 2012. Given that the A’s had already established an incredibly effective platoon at first and how full the outfield was, Taylor received all of 21 major league plate appearances last year. It’s hard to label him as a “quad-A” player, but maybe only because he hasn’t gotten a real chance to prove himself yet. Unless injuries ravage the 2013 A’s, don’t expect to see Taylor with the club until September. If he ever gets a real chance anywhere he makes for an intriguing late round flier. He hits for power and has enough speed to steal bases. He just needs a chance. Could the trade of Chris Carter open up some daylight at first base? Doubtful, but stranger things (cough Josh Donaldson cough) have happened. (David Wiers)
Quick Opinion: Michael Taylor fans shouldn’t give up all hope just yet, but things are looking quite bleak. It’s hard to see Taylor breaking out and earning himself enough playing time to be fantasy relevant — at least in Oakland.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 4/11/1980 | Team: Yankees | Position: 1B|
Profile: The 2012 season was a forgettable one for Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira. He was hampered by injuries early and late in the season allowing him to appear in just 123 games — the fewest of his career.He failed to produce 30 or more homers and 100 or more RBIs for the first time since 2003 and finished with career lows in runs, home runs, RBIs and his second lowest batting average as a big leaguer — .251. Given his age (33), it seems folly to expect more health from him, and his batting average on balls in play has held steady at mediocre rates for three years now, so it doesn’t seem like the batting average is coming back either. He may be a decent value target in the middle rounds for some production in the power categories, but that’s just as long as your team absorb the hit in batting average. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: Ol’ Mark Teixeira ain’t what he used to be, ain’t what he used to be. Gone are the heady batting averages and seven-hundred-plate-appearance seasons. Still there is the power, though, which might make him an undervalued play later in drafts.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/27/1989 | Team: Mets | Position: SS|
Profile: Since teammate Daniel Murphy had a bottom-five combination of home runs and stolen bases, Ruben Tejada has a role model nearby. There’s just no way to see him putting together more than 15 or so of the two combined. He was in the bottom five of qualified hitters in batted ball distance last season and since 2009 his seasonal high in stolen bases is nine. He got caught as many times as he was successful last year — he won’t get the green light much with that sort of success rate. There’s little reason to think the power will grow beyond a few more doubles here and there. He’s shown good patience in the past, so maybe he can be a deep-on-base-percentage-league asset, but otherwise, he’s the definition of replacement player, even at the worst position in baseball. You’ll find him on your wire when your guy gets hurt, and you’ll pinch your nose and you’ll drop him as soon as you can. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Ruben Tejada is almost an icon: he’s got great real-life value to the Mets while he’s young and cheap, due to his contact rate, nascent patience, and good defense, but none of those things translate well to the fantasy game. You might own him for a stretch next season, but you won’t be happy about it.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/24/1987 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: DFA’d by the Padres before being dealt to the White Sox in November, Blake Tekotte has a chance to be a bench outfielder with a little speed and pop, but it’s hard to see him reaching even that modest potential after a .287 OBP in the hitter-friendly PCL. (Mike Petriello)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/10/1986 | Team: Mariners | Position: OF|
Profile: As a lefty hitter with some power, Thames looked like a decent fit for Safeco Field and a good excuse to demote Carlos Peguero. It didn’t work out that way; despite a strong ISO (.220), Thames didn’t do much with the pitches he didn’t crush, limping to a .290 wOBA in 2012. The plate discipline Thames displayed in the minors still hasn’t surfaced, and he’s probably doomed to be a platoon outfielder. The only good news is that, if the Mariners miss on Nick Swisher, Thames will get another chance or two as part of Seattle’s wide collection of flawed outfielders. At 26 years old, Thames deserves another shot, but unless new M’s hitting coach Dave Hansen can get him to hold the bat back, the future doesn’t look too bright. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: It turns out there are important things besides hitting home runs, and Eric Thames is good at none of those things. Let him make adjustments before you consider taking a flyer on him.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 12/7/1979 | Position: 2B|
Profile: Until Marco Scutaro arrived in late July, Ryan Theriot was the everyday second baseman for the Giants in 2012. Manager Bruce Bochy often batted Theriot in the two spot, even. Then the player did nothing in 2012 to earn every day playing time, and he did less to earn the number two spot in the lineup (.270/.316/.321 with a 12.2% strikeout rate). Theriot will likely end up as a platoon player somewhere in 2013. Don’t expect much from him. (Wendy Thurm/@hangingsliders)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/28/1986 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: C|
Profile: If nothing else, the 26-year-old Thole figures to have a niche as R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher in 2013. He followed up a strong rookie season (.268/.345/.344, 94 wRC+) with a poor 2012 effort (.234/.294/.290, 60 wRC+), though it’s fair to expect his .273 batting average on balls in play to rebound a bit. Thole is an extreme ground ball hitter (57.7%) and will benefit from the turf in Toronto, though he’s not going to beat out many infield hits. With little power to speak off, his primary fantasy value comes in OBP leagues thanks to his strong walk rate (9.1 BB%). Given his age, the move to a hitter-friendly park, and the flaws in the incumbent catchers’ game, there’s modest breakout potential here. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Thole will offer some value in OBP leagues if his batting average on balls in play rebounds and he maintains his strong walk rate, but he has little power. He should wind up as J.P. Arencibia’s backup and R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher, though there is at least some breakout potential given his age and the change in ballparks.
|Debut: 1991 | BirthDate: 8/27/1970 | Position: DH|
Profile: Jim Thome’s staggering career home run and RBI totals are a true marvel. But at 42, this free-swinging, oft-injured lefty doesn’t command much attention in fantasy circles any more. Thome enters 2013 as a free agent, and he will likely only have value should he sign with an American League organization that could utilize him versus right-handed pitchers in the designated hitter role. Even then, his value is limited as he’s without a position and struggled as a member of the Orioles in 2012 in his DH role, hitting only three home runs over 115 plate appearances, striking out almost 35% of the time with his isolated slugging percentage slipping to an uncharacteristic .139. If it’s not the end, it’s certainly near for Thome. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: You would need to participate in a particularly deep league to make Jim Thome useful on your fantasy squad. Thome will need to sign with an AL squad willing to utilize him versus right-handed pitchers frequently, and you’d also need a DL slot to manage his aged bones. And even then, you really ought to have better options.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/1/1983 | Position: 3B|
Profile: Steve Tolleson played 29 games for the Orioles in 2012, and struck out 17 times in 71 at-bats, while posting a .236 wOBA. He’s got a non-roster invitation to Chicago White Sox camp, and is guaranteed to never, ever, be on your fantasy team. (Navin Vaswani)
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 7/19/1978 | Position: C|
Profile: Yorvit Torrealba has been, for most of his career, one of those catchers who was better than your typical reserve catcher, but not really good enough to be a full-time starter. He is not really even best described as a platoon catcher, as for his career he has hit righties just about as well as he has southpaws. Whatever one makes of his occasionally-touted defensive skills and certain managers’ fondness for him in the past, at this point, he has definitely drifted into the low-end backup category. Although he makes decent contact and (for his career) has a non-horrible walk rate in comparison with some similar catchers, he has never really had the power to set him apart. Torrealba played for three different teams in 2012 coming off an ugly incident in winter ball with an umpire, and may be wearing out his welcome. He will probably get some sort of chance to catch on with a team as a backup catcher, as his arm has always made managers swoon, even then he is a very low-end option even in deep leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Torrealba is not currently on a team, and even if he catches on as one, he probably will not get the playing time to make his feeble remaining offensive skills valuable to fantasy teams.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/26/1978 | Team: Giants | Position: OF|
Profile: Andres Torres can steal a base, but he hasn’t been able to replicate the power he showed in 2010. After a year away, Torres will return to San Francisco as a platoon outfielder. Problem is, he’s on the wrong side of the platoon. He can be effective against lefties, but probably isn’t going to play much unless an injury forces him into a full-time role. In his current role, he’s nothing more than a really cheap source of steals. If you’re really hurting for steals, you can probably find a full-time guy who can help out. Torres won’t have value unless he starts every day, and, even then, his value is fairly limited. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Torres is on the wrong side of a platoon situation and isn’t going to receive a ton of playing time. If you need steals, there are probably better options out there.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 5/22/1980 | Team: Nationals | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: Chad Tracy resurrected his career as a pinch hitter and impressed the brass so much that he received a one-year extension. With Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore at first base, Tracy is not a candidate for an increased role. (Chris Cwik)
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 2/27/1990 | Team: Mariners | Position: SS|
Profile: Carlos Triunfel was once the shortstop of the future for the Seattle Mariners. He possessed great contact skills, had decent power, and plus speed. A broken leg in 2008 seemed to derail all of that. No longer considered a shortstop prospect, Triunfel was being looked at for second base and third base — and while he hit well at Double-A in 2011, he disappointed at Triple-A with a .260/.308/.391 line. With both of his projected positions at the major league level blocked, Triunfel projects as a utility player at best, but even if he could generate the at-bats to be relevant to your fantasy team, his results would likely underwhelm. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Triunfel has seen his stock plunge almost every year since 2008. The once highly-touted shortstop prospect is probably bench material for 2013 at best, and could spend another year in Triple-A to see if some of his former potential can be realized.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/7/1991 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: What is there to say about Mike Trout? He’s good, and he’ll be 21 for most of next season, and uh… Truthfully, despite his age and awesomeness, he may never again be as good, overall, as he was in 2012. But even half of 2012 Mike Trout is still a stud in both real an fantasy baseball. While regression is to be expected, his youth also indicates likely progress, and it is not like his batting average on balls in play, while high, was insanely high for a fast player like Trout. While you probably should not draft Trout expecting .330/.400/.560 with 30 home runs and 50 steals or whatever, .300/.380/.510 with 20 home runs and 30 steals is pretty awesome in any fantasy league, too, and is both reasonable and perhaps conservative. Don’t forget that his counting stats should be continue to rock with Josh Hamilton added to Albert Pujols in the order, and that Trout will get a full-season of playing time while leading off, which also will mean tons of opportunities. I suppose the real question is whether he is the overall number one pick. It seems that the only other contenders are Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Braun. One really cannot go wrong with any of the three. In keeper leagues, Trout’s the one, but unless your keeper league just started, he is already taken. As reliably awesome as Cabrera is (even more so now that he has third-base eligibility), in category leagues I would take Braun or Trout over him because of the steals. Decide for yourself. Let’s make it simple: if Trout is available when your pick comes around, don’t get fancy or outsmart yourself. The only acceptable picks over Trout are Braun or Cabrera (and not Melky, even if he’s on goofballs again). (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Don’t waste time overthinking it: the only question you should have with Mike Trout is whether he, Miguel Cabrera, or Ryan Braun is the first overall pick.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/16/1986 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: Mark Trumbo may be stuck at designated hitter for most of 2013 — and there is a slight DH penalty when it comes to their work at the plate — but he’ll still have excellent positional flexibility thanks to trials at third base and the outfield in 2012. Trumbo is a monster of a man who can crush pitches into oblivion, but his impatient approach and plodding speed on the basepaths tend to hurt his fantasy value. Hitting .268 with 32 homers makes you a fantasy darling, but getting on base at a below-average rate and crossing home plate a mere 66 times makes you a disappointment. There’s no reason to think Trumbo will change his approach in 2013, but his raw skills will still rank him among the top 12 third baseman. Don’t pay too much for this mediocre book with a sparkling cover. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Now a DH, Mark Trumbo will retain third base eligibility in some leagues. Don’t pay too much for this mediocre book with a sparkling cover.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/10/1984 | Team: Rockies | Position: SS|
Profile: Tulowitzki had a slow start to the season by normal standards, but not by his own. After posting a sub-100 wRC+ in the first four April’s of his career, Tulowitzki got off to a decent start for the second straight season. With that obstacle once again cleared, he seemed primed for a big season. He wasn’t hitting for the same power, but he was striking out much less frequently, and it was too early in the season to say that his power numbers were going to become an issue. However, the real issue became another year with a major injury. In 2012, it was his left groin, but we have been down this road with Tulowitzki before. The star shortstop played in 155 games as a rookie, but has topped 140 in just two of the subsequent five seasons, averaging just 113 games a season during that time. And therein lies the gamble with Tulowitzki. If healthy, he should produce a .290 or better average, with 25-plus homers, 90-plus runs and RBI and enough steals to keep you happy, but his healthy is one might big “if.” He’s still worth a pick in the top three rounds, but you need to make sure you handcuff him with a decent starting option towards the back end of your draft. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Despite developing a frustrating habit of developing injuries — be they short- or long-term in nature — Tulowitzki remains at the top of the shortstop crop, and still merits a high draft pick. But be sure to have a decent plan B.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/23/1984 | Team: Mets | Position: 2B|
Profile: Turner, 28, is a low-power, low-OBP, okay-batting-average utility infielder who doesn’t steal many bases or get a ton of playing time. Injuries could force him into an everyday role, but he still won’t hit enough to be worth a fantasy roster spot. (Mike Axisa)
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 3/11/1980 | Team: Braves | Position: 2B|
Profile: Dan Uggla’s first two years in Atlanta have not gone nearly as well as he nor the team had hoped, but he still remains a decent fantasy option due to his power and patience as a second baseman. While he hit a career low 19 home runs last year, he did set a career high walk rate and recorded an on-base percentage above his career rate. In leagues that count batting average, Uggla is a less suitable player due to the fact that he more than hurts a team in average and steals compared to other ownable second basemen. Uggla has stayed rather healthy throughout his career and is a solid bet to bounce back to at worst mid-20’s home runs, especially if he maintains his high walk rate. (Ben Duronio)
Quick Opinion: The days of 30 home runs every season are most likely gone, but Uggla could be a decent buy-low option as a powerful middle infielder in what should be one of the National League’s better offenses. As a player that has played no fewer than 146 games nor hit fewer than 19 home runs in any single season, there are only a few better power options at second base.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/25/1987 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: You really can’t blame the Diamondbacks for getting tired of waiting on Justin Upton. After all, the right fielder will be 25 at the beginning of the 2013 season and — wait, what? I guess teams always want test the trade market, and it is better to trade a player a year early than a year late, but jettisoning Upton — in a trade to the Braves centered around Martin Prado and Randall Delgado — was a bit baffling. Yes, he had a down year in 2012 after being a legitimate MVP candidate in 2011, and the power drop-off was troubling. However, that 2011 performance — .289/.369/.529 as a 23-year old — is still on the books. So is his .300/.366/.532 performance as a 21-year old. Maybe we are too spoiled by the seemingly immediate super-stardom of the likes of Mike Trout. Upton is imperfect, to be sure. His contact skill is not great, and the power drop is worrisome. And now he won’t have a nice home park to help. However, this would hardly be unique to a player still on the upswing of the aging curve. His contact is not getting worse, and compared to earlier in his career, his strikeout rate has improved. His walk rate is still good. He has also cut down on his pop-ups. Upton may not be a first-round pick in every league, but don’t be one of those people suckered in by allegations of “inconsistency,” he still has all the markings of a very good fantasy hitter. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Despite Justin Upton’s struggles in 2012, do not be the Kevin Towers of your league and run his value down before you can get the right price for him.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 8/21/1984 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: B.J. Upton is no less than an enigma: He had two seasons above a .380 on-base percentage before his 24th birthday, and yet in 2012, he set a new career high with 28 homers, but dropped beneath a .300 OBP for the first time in his career. His .246/.298/.454 may not look like much, but considering he played in a pitcher’s haven, Tropicana Field, the slash does not look as bad, but still not great. He plays solid defense in center field, and has a history of above average offense in a position known for mostly average offense. Plus, he is only in his age-28 season, and will be calling the neutral run environment of Turner Field home. All told, Upton makes for a better center field option than most out there, and is particularly valuable in 5×5 leagues where his proliferation of homers and steals helps in multiple ways. Upton was two homers short of a 30-30 season in 2012, but if his increased aggressiveness leads to that auspicious stat combo in 2013, do not expect his OBP to be any better than it was 2012. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: Upton appears to have traded his on-base skills for power in 2012. He moves to a more hitter-friendly park as a member of the Braves, and he is still young and good offensively for his position. In most leagues, his dual threat of power and steals can be a real boost for most teams.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 3/22/1979 | Team: Dodgers | Position: 3B|
Profile: There’s your run-of-the-mill “being terrible at baseball,” and then there’s the performance art piece put on by Juan Uribe in 2012. Sure, it’s bad enough to follow a .204/.264/.293 Dodger debut with an .191/.258/.284 encore, especially when the resulting .248 wOBA was better than just three other players with at least 450 plate appearances over the last two seasons. (And it’s not like beating out Chone Figgins & Jeff Mathis is exactly cause for celebration.) But Uribe was so putrid that Don Mattingly just eventually refused to play him; Uribe didn’t start after August 14, didn’t touch his glove after August 25, and received just one plate appearance over the season’s final five weeks. He’s still a decent fielder, but he’s too far gone for it to matter. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: What can be said about Juan Uribe at this point that hasn’t been already been said about other great disasters in world history? At least the Titanic had a band providing entertainment until the very end.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/17/1978 | Team: Phillies | Position: 2B|
Profile: Calling Chase Utley brittle might be an understatement, as his at-bat total has dwindled every season since 2008. The amazing thing is that his underlying skill set continues to hold up pretty darn well. He still walks at an above average clip, makes excellent contact, hits line drives while avoiding pop-ups, displays good power and steals bases with great success. Despite having all the ingredients for a high batting average on balls in play, he has posted marks of just .301 or below every year beginning in 2008. Perhaps it’s the degenerative knee condition. If there ever was a hitter with hidden batting average upside, Utley is that player. Of course, health is always the biggest question mark and at age 34, the chances of him returning from injury and being productive decreases. He remains a high risk, high reward option who might come cheap enough to be worth gambling on. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: The oft-injured Utley performed respectably in about a half-season’s worth of at-bats last season, contributing double-digit home runs and steals. His skills remain pretty solid, so as usual, if he’s on the field, he should continue to be one of the more valuable fantasy second basemen.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 11/30/1985 | Team: Cubs | Position: 3B|
Profile: Luis Valbuena struggles against fastballs, and is Michael-Jackson-bad against all other pitches. In an alternate world in which the Cubs actually cared about the difference between 61 and 65 wins, Luis Valbuena does not get 303 plate appearances last season. But in this world, where the Cubs are suppressing arbitration clocks and dropping bench players into starting roles, Luis Valbuena gets 303 PA. Barring something magical, do not put Luis Valbuena on your fantasy team in 2013. (Bradley Woodrum)
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 12/23/1987 | Team: Mets | Position: 2B/OF|
Profile: Valdespin, 25, garnered a lot of attention for his five pinch-hit homers last season, but his free-swinging ways and only moderate power potential limit his value, both in reality and fantasy. Injuries could force him into an everyday role, which would only further expose his hackiness. (Mike Axisa)
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 5/20/1978 | Position: 2B/SS|
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/19/1984 | Team: Orioles | Position: 3B|
Profile: Remember 2010, when the Twins were actually good? When Danny Valencia actually seemed like an up-and-coming third baseman? Yeah, that was awesome. Sure, Valencia had the same hacktastic plate approach that the twins seemed to try and ingrain in all of their hitting prospects, and sure, he got pretty lucky on balls in play in that half season, but who was paying attention to that stuff? Valencia came crashing back to earth in 2011 in terms of balls in play, and his strikeouts went up, but hey, at least his below-average walk rate and and poor power stayed intact! Minnesota gave up on him in 2012 and shipped him to Boston, and after the season he ended up on the Orioles. At the moment, Valencia is on the bench behind Manny Machado, so he seems unlikely to get much playing time unless someone else gets traded or hurt. Even then, a platoon role seems most likely. Until then, Valencia is, at most, a bench player in deep AL-only leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Danny Valencia seemed like he had potential back in 2010, but even then it was something of a mirage. At the moment, he is merely a bench player for the Orioles, and only has value as a bench player in very deep AL-only leagues.
Scott Van Slyke
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 7/24/1986 | Position: OF|
Profile: After parts of eight seasons in the minors, the 2011 Dodger organizational hitter of the year finally made his big league debut in 2012, thanks in no small part due to a rash of injuries at the highest level. Van Slyke did little to impress in limited playing time, and didn’t even merit a token September call-up. Despite good numbers in Double-A and Triple-A, he’s going to be 27 years old without any big-league success to point to and has few fans among scouts. He may yet have a career as a Quad-A type ahead of him, though after going unclaimed when any team could have had him for free, he’s likely to remain in Albuquerque, hoping for an injury to Adrian Gonzalez. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Andy’s kid has plus raw power and has consistently put up solid numbers in the minors, but few scouts think he has the bat speed to succeed in the bigs — nor, apparently, do other teams, considering he made it through waivers unclaimed after being DFA’d in December.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/17/1979 | Position: 3B|
Profile: The 33-year old Velazquez earned just 75 plate appearances in the majors during his career and has spent parts of a whopping 11 different seasons at the Triple-A level. With limited power, he is unlikely to ever get an extended look. (Mike Podhorzer)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/29/1982 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: Venable appears to have all the tools necessary to succeed at the major league level — respectable power, moderate speed and solid plate discipline — but the Padres continue to use him as a part-time player, likely a result of his .216 career average against left-handed pitching and the fact that Petco Park is a power-killer for lefty hitters. With strong defense and a solid on-base percentage, Venable did see his role increase somewhat in 2012 as he continued to improve both his strikeout and walk rates. He appeared in a career-best 148 games, but unfortunately, his power production remained relatively unchanged. Venable’s biggest allure, at least until he earns a solo gig in the outfield, is his 20-plus stolen base potential, a mark he has reached in each of his last three seasons. However, deeper league owners and owners with both daily roster moves and immense dedication are likely to be the only ones able to take advantage of his four steals per month average. Unless those fences coming in have a huge impact on his power output. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, Venable continues to live in a platoon in the San Diego outfield thus sapping his fantasy value the way Petco saps his lefty power. Deeper league owners will enjoy his OBP and speed, but that’s about all he offers in the fantasy game.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/10/1989 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: Viciedo’s name has been around for a few years now, but he’s just 24, meaning he still has room to grow. His upside is looking more and more like Adam Dunn, but he’ll need to learn to walk more if he’s going to get there. His 120 strikeouts last season aren’t as problematic in the context of a three true outcomes hitter, but if he’s not getting on base via the walk, opposing pitchers are going to exploit the gaps in his swing. Then there’s the matter of his platoon splits. The righty has mashed lefties to the tune of a 172 wRC+, but his work against righties has been 32% worse than league average. And there are way more right-handed pitchers in baseball. The good news on that front is that he’s still young, and that his minor league splits were less severe (he only lost a few ticks of walk rate against righties in the minors). He’s still a very interesting pick for those needing outfield power in the later rounds, and even more intriguing in leagues with deep benches like ottoneu. (Dan Wade)
Quick Opinion: No one who saw Viciedo take batting practice still doubts his power, but the young Cuban struggled to make contact consistently enough to show that same jaw-dropping power in games.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 11/30/1980 | Team: Red Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: Shane Victorino started to see some decline last year, particularly in the power department. His .383 slugging percentage was a career low, as was his .310 wOBA. Much has been made about Victorino’s big platoon split last year, and it is a cause for concern. He experienced a similar drop in performance in 2010, but was able to slug 11 home runs against righties that year. That number dropped last season, turning him into a below-average hitter against right-handers. Victorino is likely to see some improvement, perhaps boosting his average back to .270-.280, but the lack of power is concerning. The move to Fenway should help with that. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: The lack of power and a poor performance against righties were the first signs of Victorino’s decline. He should see some improvement next season, but his peak seasons are likely behind him.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 8/27/1989 | Team: Cubs | Position: 3B|
Profile: The fact that the Cubs actually brought back Ian Stewart, a guy who hit .201 and whiffed 23% of the time last season, tells you all you need to know about the team’s confidence in Vitters. That’s because the 23-year-old former third overall pick (2007) hit an even-worse .121 and struck out at a ghastly 30% rate in his first 109 big league plate appearances last year, basically wiping out many of the gains Vitters managed in his first go-round at Triple-A (.304/.356/.513). The good news? Stewart is all that stands in Vitters’ way on the depth chart, so it’s possible the right-swinging Vitters could still factor into the mix at the hot corner in a platoon with the lefty-hitting Stewart, at least to give the club a chance to see if he can hack it at the dish (and at the hot corner) in the majors. The bad news? Vitters’ approach has never advanced much (5% walk rate, career), which means he could have a lot of trouble with pitchers who can get the already-aggressive Vitters to expand his zone even more. Don’t invest, but keep Vitters on your Watch List if you’re in an NL-only league. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: The window is getting smaller every year, but there’s still an opening for Vitters to succeed at the major league level. He’ll have to do some work, though.
|Debut: 1989 | BirthDate: 4/24/1967 | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: We’ve seen Omar Vizquel’s final stop in the Rickey Henderson Commemorative Desperation Tour, but it’s been a fun if leisurely ride. While it’s been a few years since Little O was pertinent in a fantasy sense, mostly used for pinch-hitting and ceremonial first pitch duties in recent times, he’ll make a reasonably strong entry in your 2013 Fantasy Bench Coach Survival Poll. (Patrick Dubuque)
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 11/1/1984 | Team: Rays | Position: C/DH|
Profile: Vogt is fourth on the Rays’ catcher depth chart, meaning it would take a few injuries for him to get back to the majors. If he ever returns to the big leagues he’ll resume his chase of a record nobody wants: number of hitless at bats to start a career. He’s currently on an 0-25 snide and needs just 11 more to break the record. He’s hit well in his six minor league seasons but seems to be more of a minor league roster filler than actual MLB caliber talent. (Erik Hahmann)
Quick Opinion: If Vogt sees the 25-man roster before September it will be due to injury to the three catchers slotted above him.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/10/1983 | Team: Reds | Position: 1B|
Profile: Votto defines the elite first baseman, particular in a National League depleted by last year’s defections from Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. A .337 average and .474 (!) OBP in 2012 signal that he remains a great pick in leagues using either rate stat. His 14 home runs may be a discouraging total, but his power just wasn’t there after his return from a July meniscus injury. After an offseason of recovery, expect Votto to return at 100 percent for his age-29 season, a four-category monster at first base once again. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Votto is probably the best bet out there in both offensive rate stats (batting average and on-base percentage). His power suffered in the wake of a July meniscus injury, but expect Votto to put it behind him for 2013. Draft as an elite player.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/10/1985 | Team: Pirates | Position: 2B|
Profile: A former catching prospect, Neil Walker has turned himself into a serviceable defensive second baseman, and the 27-year-old’s offensive numbers fit right in with the rest of the league’s pivot men. Getting ready for his fourth season in the bigs, Walker is entering his prime years for fantasy production, and one could think that there’s more power to be had in his 6’3” frame. If the switch-hitter can crank 20 balls out of the yard, he’ll immediately become a top-10 fantasy second baseman. Even if Walker doesn’t improve, he’s still generally undervalued and worth having on your roster in any format. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Neil Walker has become a solid fantasy second baseman, and he still has room to improve his power production. He should be drafted in all leagues, and he should be starting in most of them.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/26/1986 | Team: Astros | Position: 1B|
Profile: There is a small chance that Brett Wallace is making something of himself after being a butt of many jokes for two things: a) being traded from the Cardinals to the Blue Jays to the A’s to the Astros, including a trade where he was the main piece in exchange for Matt Holliday; and b) his massive thunder thighs. Wallace was finally a slightly above-average hitter in the majors in his third try in 2012, but just barely. Being slightly above-average is not really good enough for a player who is not exactly making people forget Keith Hernandez around first base, though. Wallace at least hit for somewhat decent power in 2012, but again, it was not impressive for a first baseman. Unfortunately, power was the best thing about Wallace’s hitting in 2012, as he walked at a below-average rate and contact continued to be a problem. The best thing Wallace has going for him is that the Astros really do not have any other options and have time to wait given their place in the rebuilding process. Wallace may have some upside, and will get plenty of playing time, which will at least help his counting stats. That should put him on your radar for a bench spot in some mixed, and most NL-only leagues. He could even be a low-end starter in a very deep league. Thrilling, I know. There is some upside, but don’t hold your breath. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Brett Wallace’s cause is not totally hopeless, and he is in line for plenty of playing time in 2013. Other than a sliver of upside, that is about all he has going for him
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 9/13/1982 | Team: Brewers | Position: 2B|
Profile: Fantasy owners are excused for bailing on Weeks after he was hitting below the Mendoza Line until July 25. That was the result of a .158/.292/.294 slash line in April and May. Those two months made fantasy owners jealous of those who drafted Gordon Beckham, but Weeks closed the year hitting .260/.344/.445 from June 1 through the end of the season. That’s right in line with his performance each of the last two seasons. So don’t bail on Weeks. He will hurt in batting average, as his contact rate remained low at 75.2%, but he should provide 20+ home runs and double-digit steals thanks to Runnin’ Ron Roenicke. A return to the top of the order should help the run totals, too. And to think, he was still the 13th-ranked second baseman last season. Don’t let two months scare you away. Expect more in 2013. (JP Breen)
Quick Opinion: A horrendous start to 2012 hid his true value, which could result in a huge value-buy for fantasy owners among second-tier second basemen.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/26/1987 | Team: Athletics | Position: 2B|
Profile: Jemile Weeks’ 2012 campaign could be accurately described as the lesser part of A Tale of Two Cities: “…it was the worst of times..it was the season of Darkness…it was the winter of despair…” Perhaps more accurately Weeks’ struggles can be summed up by his weak batting line of just .221/.305/.304. That line didn’t happen in just a two week slump, no, this gruesome triple slash was a novel told over the course of four months. After posting a .350 batting average on balls in play in 2011, last season was a case of severe regression. Weeks managed a .256 BABIP and couldn’t recover. His true talent level is certainly in between those marks, and given his lack of power, average and steals is what is going to be his breadwinner in fantasy circles. With the return of Scott Sizemore to the keystone, its hard to imagine Weeks breaking camp as the starting second baseman. And now that the Athletics have added Jed Lowrie on the infield, his path to playing time is even more crowded. Maybe a trade is in his future. (David Wiers)
Quick Opinion: A Weeks’ worth of struggle stretched out for four months last season. Weeks struggled mightily in his sophomore effort, and has potentially played himself out of a starting role in 2013.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/23/1984 | Team: Mariners | Position: OF|
Profile: Right now, Casper Wells appears to have an opportunity for some playing time in 2013. The Seattle Mariners have had every available outfielder on their wish list during the Winter, but they’ve since come up empty, and that will create an opportunity for Wells to get more at-bats. Should Seattle find a regular via free agency or trade, then Wells is likely to fill a platoon role in the outfield versus left-handed starters against whom he hit a tidy little .267/.364/.527 line with seven home runs over 131 at bats in 2012. There is some potential here in fantasy circles, although Wells will need to fix an ugly platoon split, improve his contact rates and that unsavory 14.4% swinging strike rate. Until he does, he won’t ever help you in the batting average department, although given a full season of at bats, Wells could probably hit 16-18 home runs. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Ultimately, Casper Wells will probably fill a platoon role in the outfield versus left-handed starters. That’s a situation in which he .267/.364/.527 line with seven home runs over 131 at bats in 2012. Should the Mariners go out and land another outfielder via free agency or trade, it might knock him down the depth chart a bit — although, when you have Franklin Gutierrez on your team, opportunity is never far away.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 12/8/1978 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: Vernon Wells and his albatross contract were pushed out of the Angels’ lineup last year by the emergence of Mike Trout and the continuing success of Mark Trumbo. With the acquisition of Josh Hamilton, Wells’ place on the Angels is even trickier to figure out. Odds are Wells will serve as a bench bat capable of filling in at all three outfield spots and play once, maybe twice a week. Even when he plays, Wells is no longer capable of putting up acceptable fantasy stats, making him virtually worthless in all formats. Avoid Wells by pretending that if drafted, you’re obligated to pay his real-life salary. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Vernon Wells didn’t play much last year, and that’s not likely to change. Avoid Wells by pretending that if drafted, you’re obligated to pay his real-life salary.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 5/20/1979 | Team: Nationals | Position: OF|
Profile: Jayson Werth looked to redeem himself after a disappointing first season in Washington. It seemed like he was on his way to doing so before a broken wrist caused him to miss nearly three months in the middle of the season. Werth returned and hit reasonably well outside of a poor slugging percentage during the season’s final month. One of the biggest reasons for his 2011 slump was a sudden inability to hit lefties. While he only received 87 plate appearances against them last year, Werth was much better. If his struggles with southpaws was nothing more than a one year blip, there’s a good chance he’ll be undervalued next season. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: If Werth can hit lefties again, he’s a good bet to have a resurgent season. There are some concerns, though. He’s entering his age-34 year, and he hasn’t turned in a strong fantasy performance in recent years. His low draft status should balance out some of that risk.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 7/10/1988 | Team: Rockies | Position: 3B|
Profile: Being traded from the Diamondbacks to the Rockies should help Wheeler, who now has a better home park in Coors Field (not that Chase Field wasn’t already hitter-friendly) and a better chance to play more regularly, at least early on next season. A third baseman by trade, Wheeler can also handle first, and neither spot is solidified in Colorado, with Jordan Pacheco doing his best Placido Polanco impression at the hot corner and Todd Helton nearing the end of his days over at first base. There are two catches, though: One, Wheeler, 24, doesn’t own prototypical corner power, so he’s more of a useful reserve option who can start on occasion; and two, Nolan Arenado, the Rockies third baseman of the future, is likely to crack the majors in the second half of 2013, leaving Wheeler precious little time to ingratiate himself in his new home. Think of him as a won’t-help-much-but-won’t-hurt-either reserve corner infielder (CI) in deep NL-only play. (Jason Catania)
Quick Opinion: There’s less upside with this new Rockie third baseman, but that also means a lower price and less risk. He could fill in for a while on your deep-league team.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/21/1986 | Team: Orioles | Position: C|
Profile: Matt Wieters isn’t the best thing since sliced bread, but he has turned himself into a good power option at a weak position. Outside of his debut season, though, he hasn’t hit for strong averages. While he was initially very strong against right-handed pitching early in his career, he’s really struggled with them over the past two seasons, instead feasting on lefties. If he can figure out a way to hit pitchers of both handedness effectively over a season, he’ll be in for a huge year. If not, he’ll continue to be a low-average, high-power player. That’s enough to be a solid option at catcher, but not an elite option. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Wieters has had some strange splits over his career that limit his ability to hit for average. If he can find a balance against righties and lefties, he could be in for a big season. His power still makes him a good option in mixed leagues, but you can’t expect an average over .270.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 10/11/1977 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 1B|
Profile: Wigginton is one of those rare utility men that could actually hit. However, that offensive ability appears to be in decline for the 34-year old. His isolated slugging percentage dropped to the second lowest mark of his career and a move to Busch Stadium won’t do him any favors on the power front. His strikeout rate suddenly jumped last season, which is a concern for an aging veteran who might be losing bat speed. Having typically posted a below-average batting average on balls in play, the added strikeouts mean that contributing a favorable batting average is going to be a long shot. The one piece of good news is that Wigginton will be backing up a group of brittle bodies, so he could easily reach 400 at-bats once again. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: The 34-year old corner man still has some pop, but a sudden inability to make contact will hamper his batting average. Now a St. Louis Cardinal, he’ll play backup to a group of injury-prone players, giving him an opportunity to exceed his at-bat total from last year.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/17/1979 | Team: Twins | Position: OF|
Profile: Josh Willingham’s 2011 and 2012 home run totals were a surprise to many people. In 2011, he hit a career high 29 dongs while playing for Oakland. In 2012, he was expected to regress, but didn’t. He hit an additional six homers (35 total). The key to the power increase has been been his decision to pull the ball more and take advantage of shorter left field fences. He should have 30+ home runs again in 2013 if he stays healthy. The rest of his game is pretty consistent. He will steal a half dozen or so bases. Also, his average should be around .260 which hasn’t varied by more than +/- 0.017 over his full-time career. There might be some concern about a slight increase in strikeouts (20% strikeout rate from 2004-2010 and 24% from 2011-2012), but not enough over look his power. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Josh Willingham’s power should continue to shine if he is able to stay on the field.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/8/1983 | Position: C|
Profile: Bobby Wilson is a 30 year old catcher with a career slash line of .208/.272/.321 and now sits fourth on the Yankees depth chart. He might make the team out of Spring, but he won’t play enough to warrant your interest and he’s not young enough for dynasty leaguers to bother with either. Move along. (Michael Barr)
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 2/24/1978 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: In an odd twist of the numbers, Wise’s 0.9 WAR in 2012 is actually higher than his career mark of 0.8, which helps explain why he was re-signed by the White Sox less than a month after the season ended. Even so, he’ll be no higher than fourth on the outfield depth chart with pressure coming from the minor leagues. Unless the Sox’s starting outfield collectively catches a pox, Wise won’t get enough time to be valuable. (Dan Wade)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/30/1985 | Team: Tigers | Position: 2B|
Profile: Danny Worth has been in Triple-A since 2008. In those five seasons, he has been called up to the majors for a total of 244 plate appearances. The Tigers have thought so little of Worth that they played “studs” like Ramon Santiago, Scott Sizemore, Wil Rhymes, Carlos Guillen and Ryan Raburn ahead of him. The right-hander basically can’t hit worth a lick. In Triple-A, he averaged a strikeout percentage near 25%. The strikeout numbers limited his batting average to just .257. He averaged three home runs per season in Triple-A, too, so he did not show much power. The 27-year-old has/had some speed. He has average 12 SB a season in Triple-A. Yep, a lot of Triple-A time. Don’t expect that trend to end in 2013. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Danny Worth-less. Yep, I had to go there, but you know I’m right.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 12/20/1982 | Team: Mets | Position: 3B|
Profile: 2012 looked like a huge bounce-back season for the Mets’ star third baseman, and he was rewarded for it with a huge contract extension at the end of the year. His strikeout rate rebounded (16.7%, 18.5% career), his power inched north (.186 isolated slugging percentage, .172 in 2011), and though he was caught stealing ten times, he still managed 15 stolen base. With a better contact rate, his batting average was back in its customary spot (.306, .302 career) and at this point it’s folly to blame it all on his batting average on balls in play (.347 in 2012, .341 career). There is the matter of Wright’s late-season swoon — his isolated slugging percentage was below league average for the last third of the season — to remind you of some of the back-and-forth oscillation that Wright has shown over the course of his career. At the same time, he’s only once had a below-average ISO, he’s only once had a batting average under .280, and he’s only once stolen fewer than 15 bags. He’s not without risk entirely, but at an infield position, .300/20/10 plays well as a baseline. Not quite a first-round-type, Wright is still a stud. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Instead of “TRAID,” David Wright got PAID. And with good reason — throughout all the minor oscillations in his power and strikeout rate, he’s actually been a steady guy with power, speed, and (most years) a strong batting average at a tough position. He’s 30 now, and won’t be elite in any one category, but pay him like a second-tier superstar and you’ll get good fantasy value.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 3/15/1979 | Team: Yankees | Position: 3B|
Profile: It’s dangerous to pay too much attention to home/road splits, but it’s also dangerous to ignore them completely when they are at extremes. And that is the sort of split Youkilis had last season. At US Cellular Field, he hit for a .294 ISO in 164 plate appearances. Elsewhere, he hit for a .121 ISO in 345 PA. The reason for this could have been the Cell’s egregious park factor for right-handed hitter home runs. At 143, it was the second-highest in the majors last season according to StatCorner. With Yankee Stadium scoring a neutral 101, that is something to keep in mind. On the other hand, Youkilis will hit in a deep lineup, and will have a good chance to rack up RBI, which should help those who play in standard 5×5 leagues. However, that may also be mitigated by the fact that Youkilis has had trouble staying on the field recently. He hasn’t played 130 or more games in a season since 2009. In each of the past two seasons, he was counted on to start at third base, but he only started 111 and 107 games in 2011 and 2012, respectively. If Youkilis can stay on the field, he could be good for a .280 average, with 15 homers and 80 runs and RBI, but he is getting old in a hurry, so if you draft him, make sure to have a good back-up plan. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Youkilis revived his career a bit on the south side of Chicago and landed in a cushy spot in the Bronx for 2013, but don’t expect him to suddenly start hitting like he did from 2008-10.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/14/1985 | Team: Phillies | Position: DH|
Profile: With regard to fantasy baseball, Young’s slim value in 5×5 serves a mockery of how that system replicates actual baseball talent, as his worst flaws are hidden beneath a tolerable average and a modicum of power. Young’s fate this season will depend on which team overpays for him, and whether he can find regular work despite being a replacement-level outfielder. It’s likely he will, since some team will remember him being the number one prospect in baseball, but don’t get caught doing the same. At 27, and having 3,575 plate appearances, it’s clear that this is what we get. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: It would be simplest to remark that Delmon Young is not very good, and leave the interpretation to the reader.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/5/1983 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: From a fantasy perspective, the only problems with Chris Young going into 2013 are batting average and playing time. The low batting average (he will be lucky to hit .250, especially with the change of teams) is something you can live with from a player who is a threat to hit 20 home runs and get 20 steals over a full season. However, the trade to Oakland makes his playing time a problem as well. Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, and Josh Reddick are all pretty set to get most of the starts in 2013. Moreover, Young has moved from one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball to one of the least, so even in full-time play, fewer home runs should be expected. The A’s did a lot of effective platooning last season, and with Seth Smith as the platoon DH, perhaps Cespedes will see some time there, opening up more time for Young. However, he would still be on the short end of the platoon. Oakland may also make some trades before Opening Day, which might put Young in a starting spot somewhere. Crisp and Cespedes both saw time on the DL last year, which would also give Young playing time. At this point, plan on drafting cautiously with Young. He a starting-caliber center fielder in real baseball, but at the moment it looks like playing time is going to be a limitation. At the moment, he is still worth a pick as a bench player in most leagues and as a starter with upside in deeper leagues. If he gets a chance to start for whatever reason he is a good pick as a starting outfielder, particularly in category leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Chris Young is a starting-quality outfielder who is currently slated to get only part-time play for Oakland. His power will be hurt by his new park, but he can still help in all categories but batting average. If he moves into a starting spot, he can be a solid outfielder in most leagues.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 10/19/1976 | Team: Phillies | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: After spending 12 years as a member of the Rangers, Michael Young will be playing for the Phillies in 2013. Young may leaving the launching pad that is Arlington, but he’s moving to an even friendlier Citizen’s Bank Ballpark and the National League. Young will likely hit behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, giving him chances to drive in runs should both those men be healthy and on top of their games. Young will be playing third base in Philadelphia, but he’s also eligible at both spots on the right side of the infield. Young’s numbers may take a slight dip this year, but he should still be good for 10 homers and a .280 batting average with solid runs scored and driven in. Those numbers will make him a top-12 second baseman, as well as a fringe starter at third base in most mixed leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: After spending 12 years as a member of the Rangers, Michael Young will be playing for the Phillies in 2013. Young’s numbers may take a slight dip this year, but he should still be good for 10 homers and a .280 batting average with solid runs scored and driven in, and that makes him a starter in most leagues.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/25/1985 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: Heading into 2012, Young had hit just .246/.324/.295 in 479 big league plate appearances, but he turned his career around in a big way in 2012 by posting a .316/.377/.448 line. The breakout was positively shocking, particularly because it came from an approach that saw him nearly halve his walk percentage. Young stopped hitting everything on the ground, and started putting more balls in the air, and it paid dividends. The Rockies also may have done him a favor by taking away his infielder’s gloves — he only played the outfield in 2012. Carson Cistulli estimated that if you prorated Young’s season to 600 PAs, he would have been worth 5.5 WAR. But therein lies the rub. Young only started 28 games last season, and even following his breakout, doesn’t figure to start much more frequently in 2013. A platoon of Young and Tyler Colvin would be quite effective, but the team is still choosing to ride with Michael Cuddyer, despite evidence — both anecdotal and statistical — that he doesn’t have the range necessary for Coors Field. As such, Young is undraftable except in the deepest of leagues. (Paul Swydan)
Quick Opinion: Young made about as many strides as you can make in one season, but playing time will remain an issue, as the Rockies are still refusing to trade Michael Cuddyer.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 9/28/1984 | Team: Nationals | Position: 3B|
Profile: It was a tale of two seasons for Ryan Zimmerman. He spent the first half of the year suffering from a shoulder injury, which severely impacted his performance. Facing a second stint on the disabled list, Zimmerman instead opted for a regimen of cortisone shots. The effects were felt immediately. Zimmerman went on a serious tear over the last three months, hitting 20 of his 25 home runs. It came at a price, as Zimmerman underwent shoulder surgery early in the offseason. He’s expected to be 100% by the beginning of the year. Zimmerman showed he can still be an elite option when he’s healthy, but he’s suffered his fair share of nicks over the past three years. Expect him to lose about 20 games to injury over the course of the season, but he’ll produce when healthy. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Zimmerman was great once he was able to manage his shoulder issue. He’s a good bet to continue producing at a high level, but he’ll probably miss a couple games with minor scraps and bruises.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 5/26/1981 | Team: Rays | Position: 2B/SS/OF|
Profile: Ask Rays manager Joe Maddon about Ben Zobrist’s top skill, he might say defense. Zobrist plays about every position under the dome and plays those positions exceptionally. This is great news for fantasy owners who can use his second base and right field — and possibly shortstop — eligibility to make up for a number of roster shortcomings. But flexibility would be a bit disappointing if it didn’t come with his strong offense. In 2012, he posted his second-straight 130+ wRC+ while reaching double digits in both homers and steals. He will be 32 in 2013, and though he is coming off his second-best offensive year, we have to anticipate his offense will move towards league average over the next few seasons. But even with average offense, his continued second base eligibility should make him a safe long-term investment. (Bradley Woodrum)
Quick Opinion: He’s not the best-hitting outfielder or the best-hitting infielder, but being a little bit of both makes him the best of something, right? He hits homers, steals bags, and is eligible at no less than two positions. His strong defense also mean he should retain his second-base eligibility late into his career as his offense fades towards average.
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