|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 4/18/1983 | Team: Tigers | Position: 3B|
Profile: Miguel Cabrera didn’t repeat his 2012 Triple Crown, and he faded badly down the stretch as minor injuries piled up… and yet he still had what was probably the best year of his life. Cabrera’s home run per fly ball rate reached an absurd 25.4%, and while it’s difficult to count on that happening again, it’s not like it was a huge jump from 2012’s 23.0%. At some point he’s going to slow down, but he’s only headed into his age-31 season. The move back across the diamond to first base should help reduce some of the wear and tear, too. MVP arguments aside, we’re probably watching one of the top ten right handed hitters in the history of his game in his prime. Put him down for another .330ish average, 35-45 homers, and 130 runs batted in, and if you’re lucky enough to draft him consider yourself a step ahead of the competition. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Miguel Cabrera may never play an inning at third again, but he’ll still have eligibility there in 2014, and that plus his historic bat makes him a contender for first overall pick in any draft.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/13/1985 | Team: Indians | Position: SS|
Profile: Many were skeptical of the apparent Asdrubal Cabrera breakout in 2011, but I’m not sure anyone foresaw a decline this swift and merciless. From 2011 to 2013, Cabrera has seen his home run and stolen bases plummet, along with his average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. And the signs for the future are not great. He posted a career high strikeout rate last season thanks to a career high swinging strike rate. Despite seeing fewer pitches in the zone than he has in his career, Cabrera had his lowest walk rate since 2010. At the same time, when he did make contact, he traded ground balls for fly balls, which is fine for a legitimate power threat, but less fine for a guy with a career 8.3% home run per fly ball rate. He chased pitches at a career high rate, as well. If you want to find signs of hope, Cabrera could make big strides by tightening his zone, taking more walks, and returning the ground-ball-heavy approach that led to decent averages a few years back. 20 home runs are a pipe dream, but with some adjustments, solid on-base numbers and runs to match are not impossible. If you can get him cheap/late, he could be worth a flyer, but don’t expect much. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: In 2011, Cabrera seemed ready to become a 20-20 shortstop and a perennial high draft pick. However, there were a lot of skeptics out there and Cabrera has made them all look prescient. A change in approach could get Cabrera on your roster, but I’m not banking on it.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/17/1986 | Team: Padres | Position: SS|
Profile: The Padres’ 26-year-old shortstop was in the midst of a breakout season when MLB slapped him with a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. A .283 average with 108 hits, four home runs, 54 runs scored and 37 stolen bases were or were on pace to be career bests through just 95 games prior to his suspension. Some may consider the spike in performance a result of the PEDs, but others could point to his improvement in pitch recognition and plate discipline. Brett Talley discussed his plate discipline, highlighting an improved on-base percentage — his OBP jumped from .324 in ‘12 to .355 in ‘13 — thanks to better contact rates and less strikeouts. And obviously when one gets on board, he has a better chance to swipe bags and cross the plate — essential fantasy contributions for middle infielders who lack pop. Going forward it’s difficult to predict which version of Cabrera we’re going to get. Is he going to be the .279 OBP guy with the 22.4% strikeout rate circa 2009, or will we see more of the .355 OBP, 15.9% K% 2013 version of Everth Cabrera? Either way, the switch-hitting shortstop may be a draft day value due to some site’s default rankings considering his totals came in 95 games. Cross your fingers and hope that a potential 50 steal, 100 run short stop falls in your lap in the middle rounds of your upcoming drafts. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: The steals should be there no matter which version of Everth Cabrera fantasy owners get this year. But the strikeout rate is important to his batting average and ability to get on base. And his true talent in that category is hard to figure, considering the timing of his suspension and break out.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 8/11/1984 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: OF|
Profile: In 2011, Melky Cabrera saved his career by having a nice season in Kansas City, then in 2012 he hit like a superstar for the Giants for 113 games before getting suspended for PEDs. It probably hurt him in free agency, and even without PED uncertainty hanging about, few expected him to repeat anything like his 2012 performance. It was just too far removed from anything he had done before, especially his batting average on balls in play. Still, without the benifit of hindsight, few likely thought Cabrera’s 2013 would turn into a .279/.322/.360 disaster. Much of that has to do with a succession of injuries: hamstring issues early in the season, tendinitis in his knee, and finally a benign tumor was found in his lower back, which was apparently related to his leg problems. Cabrera had surgery, and hopefully for him that will relieve some of the issues and enable him to at least move around in the field again. The injury undoubtedly had some impact on him, but does that mean it is all over now and that he will simply return to some non-injured true talent level (itself difficult to establish), or will there be an aftermath he has to work through? Simply taking a statistical standpoint without considering the injury, Cabrera seems like he could hit about .280/.330/.420 over a full season, with about 10 homers and 10 steals. Hardly a star performance for a corner outfielder, but that would be useful these days. Be cautious and follow the news about Cabrera’s health going into draft day. If it sounds like things are going well, he should be drafted in all but the most shallow leagues, and can be a pretty good asset in AL-only leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Past drug concerns and strange injury issues make Cabrera a risky pick, but statistically, he is still a useful starting outfielder in most fantasy leagues.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/13/1986 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: Lorenzo Cain’s value is tough to nail down because he has yet to put together a complete season, yet alone two or three of them. He never was given a full-time role until 2012 and he promptly got injured, and missed the entire season. He has never hit for much power — 12 home runs and a .114 isolated slugging percentage in 827 career plate appearances. He has shown some decent (but not plus) speed with 31 stolen bases over same time frame. In 2013, he started the season off strong, hitting .282/.344/.388 over the first two months. Then he started hitting more fly balls and he finished the season off hitting .227/.284/.319. He is a much better hitter if he just keeps the ball out of the air. For 2014, if he can stay healthy, I could see him produce a near a .290 average, 20 bases and a combined 160 runs and RBI. Or he could get hurt and spend the entire season the disabled list. His actual production is probably somewhere in-between. He may be useful as a plug-and-play in deep leagues because of his potential to help in all categories. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Lorenzo Cain’s 2014 value is impossible to nail down because of injuries and inconsistent production. In most shallow leagues, I see him going going undrafted. In AL-only and deeper leagues, he will have value if he is able to stay on the field.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 10/14/1987 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: Kole Calhoun is one of my favorite sleeper picks going into the 2014 season. The 26-year-old lefty has not been on any prospect ranking lists, but there are reasons to like him. With Peter Bourjos getting traded to the Cardinals, Calhoun looks to take over the Angels full time left field job. He hit eight home runs in 247 MLB plate appearances last season, and doesn’t have elite home run power, but he is more of line drive hitter. He could maintain a decent batting average and isolated slugging percentage. He didn’t show much speed in the majors (three stolen bags), but he has stolen over ten in each minor league season. The big key to his value will be his playing time and order in the lineup. He should be playing everyday, so his plate appearance total should be near 600. One possible issue would be a possible huge platoon split, but so far in the majors he has a reverse platoon split (.356 weighted on-base average vs lefties, .329 wOBA vs righties). His position in the lineup will also be important. He could hit anywhere from first to sixth in the lineup. As it gets closer to season’s start look for information on possible lineup placement. The higher up he is, the more plate appearances and runs+RBI chances he’ll get. Just remember that his ceiling is not as high as his minor league numbers might suggest, since he was old for his levels and played in offense-friendly parks. But he should be useful. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Kole Calhoun may not be on everyone’s radar coming into the 2014 season, but he should be. His combination of power, speed and average make him a great later round pick.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/19/1983 | Team: Athletics | Position: 3B|
Profile: Callaspo was dealt to Oakland at the deadline to serve as an upgrade over Grant Green at second base down the stretch. He was better with the bat as he posted a 114 OPS+ over 180 plate appearances with Oakland compared to Green’s 105 OPS+ in 137 PA with Los Angeles. But when you factor in defense, any advantage Callaspo provided with the bat was severely mitigated if not completely erased. In almost 250 innings at second base, all of which came in Oakland, Callaspo had an ugly Ultimate Zone Rating of -25.4, which was the third-lowest mark among players who saw at least 240 innings at second. Callaspo was moved to third base in 2010 and was an above average defender at the position until last year when he was closer to average, if not below. With Oakland set at third with Josh Donaldson, Callaspo’s only path to regular playing time is at second. But he’s clearly a well below average defender there, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Callaspo was moved to more of a utility role playing some third, some second and designated hitting a bit (presumably against lefties). As a result, it’s very unlikely that he gets 500 PA like he has in each of the last three years. His value is limited to AL-only leagues where he’ll give you more batting average help than most guys limited to 400 or so PA. (Brett Talley)
Quick Opinion: Callaspo was dealt to Oakland at the deadline to play second base down the stretch. But in about 250 innings at second, his defense was nothing short of awful. It would be a surprise if Oakland continued to use Callaspo as their everyday second baseman given his lack of defensive aptitude there, so he’s likely to fall into a utility role. His upside is limited to about 400 PA, which only has value in AL-only leagues because he won’t kill you in batting average.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/30/1986 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: OF|
Profile: Perhaps feeling in need of yet another strong defensive outfielder with lots of speed potential, the Diamondbacks traded for Campana prior to the 2013 season to add to their already significantly crowded outfield situation. As a result, Campana spent nearly the entire season in Triple-A where he posted a .293/.354/.368 slash line with 32 stolen bases. He kicked in his annual home run with 29 RBI and 65 runs scored, but hitting is neither his strong suit nor what the team expects from him. When he arrived in the majors for a quick cup of coffee, he really didn’t show much more than his usual light-hitting ways but did manage to swipe eight bases over 29 games played, increasing his already robust success rate to 89.8% for his career. Heading into 2014, he’ll compete for a bench role as the Diamondbacks are still flush with outfielders. His speed definitely gives him an edge, but unless he can vastly improve on his .262/.315/.300 career slash line, he’ll likely spend more time at Triple-A and never find himself in the majors as anything more than a pinch-runner/late-inning defensive replacement. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: After another season spent mostly in the minors, Campana will enter the 2014 season in much the same way. He’ll compete for a bench job, which could be won just on his speed alone, but with four outfielders seemingly locked into jobs already, he may have to bide his time on the farm yet again. Should he land a spot on the 25-man roster, he’ll have a bit of value thanks to his career 89.8% stolen base success rate, but without regular playing time, that value will be limited to the deepest of leagues.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 10/22/1982 | Team: Mariners | Position: 2B|
Profile: Though Cano failed to crack the 30-home run barrier for a second consecutive season, a year with a .314 average (his fifth-straight .300-plus year), 27 home runs and 107 RBI was more than enough to maintain his spot atop the second baseman rankings in any fantasy format. He even improved both his walk and strikeout rates and the consistency with which he plays makes him one of the more reliable players in the game. Free agency carried Cano across the country and he’ll now man the keystone for the Seattle Mariners in 2014 thanks to a 10-year, $240M deal, a contract size seen only by the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. There is a general concern that, with the way Safeco Field plays to left-handed hitters and the lack of a strong surrounding lineup, Cano’s numbers will suffer in 2014, but considering the consistency of his plate discipline, the number of no-doubt home runs hes hit and the 403.9 average true distance of his homers, he should have little trouble posting offensive totals well within the range of his career averages. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: After a fifth consecutive season star season, Cano moves from the city that never sleeps to the Pacific Northwest. While many believe that his offensive production will suffer in his new surroundings, Cano’s outstanding plate discipline and raw power should allow him to continue his assault on American League pitching. He remains the top dog at the position and is well worth that early first-round draft choice it will require to attain his services.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/30/1986 | Team: Red Sox | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: Definitely not the most popular Michael (insert fish name here) playing in the majors, Mike Carp had a quietly solid season in a platoon/reserve role for the World Champion Red Sox. He flashed power (.227 isolated slugging percentage) that easily surpassed career highs, and the fact that his weighted offense was 39% better than league average showed that he performed at an elite level offensively when at the dish. Unfortunately, it’s not quite a projectable level. While Carp has generally had a higher-than-average batting average on balls in play, his .385 2013 mark is highly unsustainable, especially for a guy with Carp’s speed (or lack thereof). Additionally, while he has been relatively platoon-independent over his career, most of his punch came against righties in 2013. Blocked behind Mike Napoli at first and in a jumbled mix with Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Jonny Gomes in left, Carp looks to continue his supersub/pinch-hitting role in 2014. He’ll likely make a fine option in deeper daily leagues, but the lack of both guaranteed playing time and corresponding upside mean he’s probably going to be on your league’s waiver wire more often than not. (Colin Zarzycki)
Quick Opinion: While Mike Carp may be an elite play on “all fish name” teams, his lack of playing time figures to be a thorn in his side again in 2014. Couple that with some upcoming batting average on balls in play regression, and he’s probably just an occasional fantasy stopgap during stretches where he gets some at bats.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 11/26/1985 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 2B|
Profile: One of the biggest surprises in fantasy baseball, Carpenter earned the second-most fantasy value among second basemen in 2013. Though he offers middling power and little speed, a major league leading runs-scored total boosted his fantasy earnings. Along with the runs scored, he cut down on his strikeout rate and hit a ton of line drives while avoiding the pop-up, which combined to inflate his batting average on balls in play and lead to a batting average well above .300. Unfortunately, since he relies on such a high runs scored total without the ability to score himself on a plethora of home runs, there is great risk of regression. While he should once again post a strong batting average, he doesn’t do enough elsewhere to be any more than a two-category contributor. Therefore, he’s likely to be overvalued in many drafts. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: Carpenter enjoyed a career fantasy year as the Cardinals set a new record in hitting with runners in scoring position, boosting his runs scored total. That type of success is not going to happen again and with limited contributions in power and speed, he is a near lock to be overvalued on draft day.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/11/1987 | Position: OF|
Profile: Ways in which baseball is not like capitalism: in capitalism, the key to success is to do one thing really well. Ezequiel Carrera does one thing quite well, and that is run: he’s averaged forty stolen bases a year over the last three seasons between the majors and minors. But though it looked like Carrera had a chance to become a Vince Coleman or a Brian Hunter given the opportunity, he ended up fielding like the former and hitting like the latter. Maybe ten or twenty years ago, those steals might have gotten him a free crack at a job. But in our enlightened age, fourth outfielders who can’t hit or field don’t tend to stay fourth outfielders, and they don’t make their way onto fantasy teams, no matter how many bases they might steal. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: Sorry, Ezequiel, turns out you actually needed to do more than one thing.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 2/18/1974 | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: On the plus side, Carroll has had at least 500 plate appearances in two consecutive seasons. On the down side is just about everything else. His batting average has declined each of the past four seasons, and he has stolen just 11 bases over the past two seasons. Last season was tough for him as his on-base percentage fell off the table, thus making him a zero category player. Even if he were to rebound, he’s a half a category player because he won’t run much at his age. (Jason Collette)
Quick Opinion: Last season was tough for him as his on-base percentage fell off the table, thus making him a zero category player. Even if he were to rebound, he’s a half a category player because he won’t run much at his age.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 7/1/1981 | Position: OF|
Profile: On September 19, 2013, with his team in the midst of a brutal fight for a playoff spot, Matt Carson stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 11th of a 1-1 game. A career minor leaguer, the 32-year-old Carson was getting his 64th career MLB plate appearance. Facing the mighty Astros (let’s just pretend, ok?), Carson knew the Indians needed a win to keep their post-season hopes alive. Carson dug in, swung true, and laced a single to right, driving in Yan Gomes and sending the Progressive Field faithful home happy. Why spend so much time reviewing one at-bat? Because Matt Carson has no fantasy value to speak of and, more than likely, the epithet on his career will be “He’ll always have 9/19/13.” (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: Matt Carson’s big hit on September 19 will always hold a place in the hearts of Indians fans, but Matt Carson should not hold a place on the roster of fantasy teams.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 12/18/1986 | Team: Astros | Position: 1B/DH/OF|
Profile: Chris Carter is a home-run hitter (off fastballs) and really nothing else. In 2013, the Astros gave the 26-year-old a full-time position and he hit 29 home runs with a .223 batting average and two stolen bases. The low average is driven by an unremarkable batting average on balls in play (.311). More importantly, he struck out a league leading 36% of the time (next was Mike Napoli at 32%) which is right in line with his career value of 35%. His high strikeout rate is not from swinging too much (league average swing rate) — instead he does not make any contact (Carter = ~65%, league = ~80%). His main issue is chasing breaking balls out of the strike zone. If you’d like for Carter to pull a Chris Davis and begin to hit for a decent average, you’ll need to see Carter no longer chasing breaking pitches out of the strike zone. Additionally, he doesn’t have a platoon split (career: .333 weighted on-base average vs lefties and .329 wOBA vs righties), so he can’t be platooned (for better or worse, depending on how his career goes). For 2014, I think Carter’s job is fairly safe, but as the Astros begin to add more talent, via the minors, trades and signings, I see him getting pushed off the roster. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Chris Carter is a one-dimensional player (power), and unless he begins to make more contact, he will likely be out of the league soon.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/20/1984 | Position: 2B|
Profile: You have to be Rey Ordonez to get by with a weighted offense that’s 49% worse than league average and, while he is good at both second base and shortstop defensively, Alexi Casilla is no Rey Ordonez. Casilla once again failed to hit in 2013, slashing .214/.268/.295 in 62 games for the Orioles. Baltimore subsequently paid him $200,000 to become a free agent rather than exercise their $3 million option for 2014, leaving Casilla free to sign with whichever team needs a 25th man (probably in the National League). Is it possible Casilla could repeat his 2011 season, when he stole 15 bases while hitting .260? Sure, he hits enough ground balls and is quick enough to make a batting average on balls in play spike realistic, but his contact rate has also fallen for two straight years while his discipline has eroded. There are plenty of options with higher ceilings and better floors, making Casila persona non grata for fantasy players. (Blake Murphy)
Quick Opinion: Alexi Casilla had a strong contact rate through 2011 and seemingly decided to start swinging more. It hasn’t worked out, rendering him an all-defense bench option for a major league team and no option at all for a fantasy team.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 8/4/1986 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: Alex Castellanos’ monster 2012 Triple-A line (.328/.420/.590) turned into merely a good one (.257/.347/.468) in 2013, and yet another attempt to make him an infielder failed. While the bat could still play off the bench, he’s going to turn 28 during the 2014 season, has only 43 major league plate appearances to his name, and is limited to the corner outfield spots. Castellanos was traded to the Red Sox in October but lasted only a few weeks before being DFA’d, and is likely a Quad-A type at best going forward. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Castellanos has shown he can hit in the minors, but hasn’t been able to convert that into a big league career, and without a real defensive home, he’s running out of time. Needless to say, he’s not much of a fantasy option.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 3/4/1992 | Team: Tigers | Position: OF|
Profile: The Tigers’ biggest move of the offseason — trading veteran slugger Prince Fielder to Texas — resulted in the move of former third baseman Miguel Cabrera over to first base, which in turn opened up the hot corner for Castellanos. The rookie, who spent much of the past two seasons learning to play the outfield, could end up having some defensive versatility if he spends time at both the hot corner and in the outfield. Offensively, he shows an impressive right-handed swing and could hit for a solid average with gap power — although he’ll have to watch the strikeouts. The good news is that there aren’t many (if any) in-house threats to his playing time so he could have a somewhat long leash. If he does well, though, he could end up in a more enviable spot in the starting lineup; projections currently have him starting out the year in the eight hole. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Castellanos should receive plenty of playing time but expectations will be high from this veteran-loving organization. He should hit for a decent average and gap power, and could even offer some versatility for fantasy managers if he’s given some innings back in the outfield, as well as at third base.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/24/1987 | Team: Cubs | Position: C|
Profile: There are reasons to distrust Welington Castillo. He had knee surgery! He strikes out too much. He doesn’t walk enough. He has shown a sky-high batting average on balls in play so far in his career. These things usually mean a bad batting average, a bad on-base percentage, and, in the extreme case, problems holding on to a starting job. On the other hand, he doesn’t really hit infield fly balls, has a good batted ball mix and decent power, and because of these things, there’s at least an outside chance his BABIP will be decent in the future. His batted ball distance also surged late last year. If you want to put on your rosy glasses and take the over on his BABIP and slugging numbers, you could pencil Castillo in for .260 and 15 homers in 2014. That’s decent enough to be relevant in all fantasy leagues. Even if you’re not drafting him to be your starter based on those numbers, remember the name. Catchers can take a while to develop, and the 27-year-old showed some interesting power numbers in the minor leagues. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: A better bet in two-catcher leagues or anything deeper than a 12-team mixed league, Welington Castillo is not without flaws. But nascent power and some interesting batted ball skills do make him worth watching.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 6/18/1987 | Team: Astros | Position: C|
Profile: Jason Castro finally arrived. After fits and spurts over the span of five seasons, featuring promise, injury, and disappointment, it all came together in 2013. His .276/.350/.485 slash line with 18 home runs in just shy of 500 plate appearances lives up to the hype of this former first round draft pick. His .351 batting average on balls in play might seem high, but Castro’s batted ball substantiates it with a 25% line drive rate, leading to an expected BABIP of .359. His contact rate of 72.1% isn’t particularly thrilling nor is his 12.4% swinging strike rate, so despite his batted ball profile, one would have to figure his batting average might slip a bit going forward. But Castro should still be good for an average north of .250, 15-20 home runs, and probably something in the range of 70-80 runs and RBI. He might even steal a bag. That makes for a pretty good catcher in fantasy circles, but now that Castro has stepped out from behind the shadows, you’ll have to pay for his services. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Jason Castro enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, hitting .276/.350/.485 with 18 home runs, good for fourth-best catcher in all of baseball by way of wins above replacement. Castro turns 27 in June, and there’s not much to suggest regression in his future. No longer a secret, you’ll have to pay a good sum for Castro on your fantasy squad, but he should be worth it.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/24/1990 | Team: Cubs | Position: SS|
Profile: Based on where he was drafted in fantasy leagues in 2013, Castro proved to be one of the year’s biggest disappointments as he not only batted a career-worst .245, but he also failed to crack double-digits in steals. From 2012 to 2013, he also saw a rise in strikeouts, a decrease in power and a continued failure to draw walks which ultimately helped kill his on-base percentage as well. To make matter worse, there were also numerous reports of a poor attitude and he found himself at odds with his coaches throughout the season. The Cubs have since changed their managerial staff, but a multi-year decline in a variety of categories speaks the loudest here. That’s not to say that Castro can’t show improvement in 2014, but he has a very long way to go before fantasy owners are able to trust him as their primary shortstop. There is really nothing in any of his numbers that screams “big breakout coming,” he’s still just 24 years old and still has plenty of time to develop, both physically and mentally, so giving up on him is really not much of an option. His name alone will keep his draft value on the higher end of the spectrum for shortstops, but a reach too high could prove detrimental to your fantasy success. If he falls to you in the middle rounds, then it makes sense to take a chance on him, but an investment larger than that at this time makes little sense when his biggest commodity is his speed, a very easy category to pick up on in the later rounds. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: After two solid seasons and the expectation of greater things to come, 2013 was a huge bust for Castro and his owners. He saw a virtual across-the-board decline offensively, coupled with reports of a bad attitude and left many wondering if we just expected too much from a youngster who clearly needed more time to develop both mentally and physically. At 24 years old, he’s still too young to dismiss, but you could be doing your fantasy team a serious disservice by investing too much in him at this time.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/2/1983 | Position: SS|
Profile: Where once his plus defense covered the warts from his bats, Cedeno’s defense has decreased in both of the past two seasons, from an Ultimate Zone Rating of 1+0 in 2011, to -1.6 in 2012, and -6.4 in 2013. That’s bad news for his fantasy value. And even then, a .242/.287/.330 line would be tough even for Ozzie Smith to wallpaper over. Cedeno is unsigned as of this writing, and will likely never be a fantasy factor again. (Jack Weiland)
Quick Opinion: Used to be good at defense.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 11/16/1989 | Team: Mets | Position: C|
Profile: When a 24-year-old defense-first no-power, no-patience catcher with two minor league home runs in six years manages to throw out Billy Hamilton on the basepaths, well, then he gets a writeup. (Eno Sarris)
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/6/1986 | Team: Yankees | Position: C|
Profile: If Francisco Cervelli is ever going to be given another chance to be a starting catcher, it will have to be on team other than the Yankees. Cervelli had a disastrous 2013 season which was marred with injuries and a suspension related to the Biogenesis scandal. Now that the Yankees have brought in Brian McCann for the next five years, Cervelli has been relegated to competing against Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy to be the backup. He does have a respectable .271 career batting average, but that is only through 542 at bats spanning parts of six seasons. Even if he does emerge as the Yankees’ second catcher, he will not produce anywhere enough to make him worth rostering. (Michael A. Stein)
Quick Opinion: Given his age, injury history, and connection with Biogenesis, it seems likely that the Yankees would opt for a younger and more defensive-oriented backup such as Romine or Murphy. If they go in that direction, there is a chance Cervelli could end up on another team which might increase his value enough to consider rostering him in very deep leagues.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 10/18/1985 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: Yoenis Cespedes hit .292/.356/.505 with 23 home runs and 16 stolen bases over 129 games in his “rookie” campaign. There was more than one prognosticator that hinted at the possibility of a 30-30 season for 2013, and his draft position as well as price reflected that in drafts. His results were underwhelming. He hit a good deal of home runs with 26, but his plate discipline and strikeout rate suggested that pitchers discovered a better approach with Cespedes. He finished with a disappointing .240/.294/.442 slash line with 74 runs, 80 RBI, and just seven steals, good for a weighted on-base average of .318, putting him just barely north of Michael Saunders and just south of Jon Jay. He did incur several nicks throughout the season, starting with a thumb injury in April and finishing with a balky shoulder throughout September. An optimist might say that if healthy, he could be a good bounce-back candidate, but looking at his batted ball and plate discipline data gives me pause. He still comes with the name recognition that is going to drive up his price, and you might be better off leaving his issues for another manager. Steamer and Oliver projection systems think a little rebound is in order, but probably not enough to substantiate what it will cost to secure his services. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Yoenis Cespedes followed up a great rookie campaign with a clunker. His .240/.294/.442 slash line wasn’t anywhere near what most owners were banking on for 2013, and although he did suffer through several injuries throughout the year, he seemed to regress in just about every measurable way from 2012. He’s a good bounce-back candidate, but he won’t by just a late flier — you’ll have to pay for the Cespedes pedigree. You’re either a believer or you’re not.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 10/8/1986 | Position: OF|
Profile: At best, Chambers is the Cardinals seventh outfielder. So he’s really not worth wasting brain space on. He does have the ability to take a walk and steal a base, so he does have a fantasy relevant skill that could be useful if he’s even in a position to get regular plate appearances. But it’s hard to envision a scenario in which that happens. (Brett Talley)
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 12/7/1977 | Team: Diamondbacks | Position: 3B|
Profile: In a reserve role for the Diamondbacks, Chavez (once again) posted a fairly solid year’s worth of totals with a .281 average, nine home runs and 44 RBI in 2013. His .197 isolated slugging percentage showed that he can still hit for a bit of power and while he’s no longer starter material, he’s still got value as a back-up corner infielder. His biggest advance last season was his improved work at the plate against left-handed hitters which, if he can continue to maintain a similar level in 2014, will potentially get him into the lineup a bit more often. He’s not someone you target on draft day, even in the deepest of leagues, but he should have some short-term use throughout the season as either an injury replacement or as a plug-and-play in daily leagues. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Chavez has signed on for another year with the Diamondbacks and will continue to work as a back-up corner infielder. He’s not someone you look to draft, even in the deepest of leagues, but given his strength against right-handers and his recent improvement against lefties, Chavez could have some short-term use as either an injury-replacement or as a plug-and-play in daily leagues.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 2/7/1978 | Position: OF|
Profile: Endy Chavez is the symbol for every bad baseball team: the guy forced into a starting role because of injuries, who can play every position in the sense that he has played every position, that can do a little of everything in the sense that he’s terrible at doing everything. Mariners broadcasters lavished praise on Endy Chavez last season despite the fact that he was below average in every measurable tool you can think of. His mere presence caused the Safeco outfield grass to wither. (Patrick Dubuque)
Quick Opinion: Fifth outfielders, like children, should be seen on roster breakdowns and not heard. At this point in his career (and perhaps yours), if you are forced to care about the outcome of an Endy Chavez plate appearance, multiple errors have occurred.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 6/5/1984 | Team: Rangers | Position: C/1B/3B|
Profile: Robinson Chirinos looked like he finally might be in line for some major league playing time as the backup to Geovany Soto in Texas after A.J. Pierzynski signed with the Red Sox. However, the Rangers saw things differently, and signed J. P. Arencibia. It is not as if Chirinos is something great. He did have an impressive season in Double-A for the Cubs back in 2010, but that was a long time ago. His minor league numbers since then for the Rangers and Rays were not bad for a catcher, but they were not mind-blowing, either. Neither team seemed inclined to give him a chance. One might say he probably isn’t worse than Arencibia, but given the Rangers’ commitment to Arencibia, they don’t seem to agree. Even if Chirinos was projected to be in a timeshare with Soto this year, he would only have fantasy value in very deep leagues. As it is, he is not worth concerning yourself with him on draft day. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Is Chirinos really a worse option than J.P. Arencibia? Hard to say, but the Rangers seem to think so. No need to worry about Chirinos in your fantasy league unless something changes.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 10/4/1988 | Team: Indians | Position: 3B|
Profile: How rough have the last three years been for Lonnie Chisenhall? Rough enough that there is talk of giving Carlos Santana — a weak defensive catcher who has not exactly shined in time at first base — a third baseman’s glove to see what he can do. In what amounts to basically one full season’s worth of stats, Chisenhall has struck out in nearly 1-in-5 plate appearances while walking in only 1-in-20. This isn’t an unmitigated disaster (Adam Jones posted a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate last season), but it is not good either. He has swung at 38.9% of pitches outside the zone. Again, not the worst number you will see, but not good. He makes decent contact, and doesn’t swing through many pitches, but for a guy whose reputation was as a line-drive hitter with a sweet swing, his 20.9% line drive rate is not pretty enough. But we need to remember, he is still only 25 and has basically had only year of plate appearances – and never much consistent playing time. He looked awfully good in limited playing time in September (.270/.325/.595 despite a .233 batting average on balls in play in 40 PA), and I can’t imagine the Indians actually trotting Santana out to third base. In deep leagues, he may be worth a flyer. In shallower leagues, he is worth watching. But while he is post-hype, I am not yet ready to call him a sleeper. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: Chisenhall has been bad, no doubt, but he has yet to get 700 plate appearances in his career, and hasn’t gotten much consistent playing time. You can’t write him off yet, but you probably should not count on him either.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 11/10/1989 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: Choice improved across the board in 2013, adding three percent to his walk rate while shaving three percent off his strikeout rate. While his .143 isolated slugging percentage doesn’t jump off the page, Choice has well-above-average raw power and could see his homer totals explode at some point down the line. While he’s played mostly center field in his minor league career, he fits best in left, which will put more pressure on his bat to unleash its raw strength. Traded to Texas in the offseason, Choice could prove to be a huge acquisition for the Rangers. Look for him to acquit himself solidly in his first big-league look with league-average corner outfield numbers, with the possibility for the jump to a middle-of-the-order force a few years down the line. (Nathaniel Stoltz)
Quick Opinion: Choice is essentially major-league-ready after hitting .302/.390/.445 in Triple-A in 2013. He has made great strides in his plate approach and has a lot of latent power. Traded to Texas in the offseason, he should enjoy a quality rookie campaign in 2014 and could develop into an impact left fielder.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 7/13/1982 | Team: Rangers | Position: OF|
Profile: Shin-Soo Choo parlayed a huge walk year with the Reds — .423 on-base percentage, 21 homers, 107 runs scored, and even 21 steals — into an even bigger contract from the Rangers. Cincinnati and Texas have similar park factors for lefty hitters, but for fantasy purposes, the move to Texas should help Choo’s RBI total improve from a full-season worst of 54, if only because even if he still leads off, he’ll now be hitting behind Leonys Martin or Geovany Soto rather than the pitcher. For the Rangers, his defense and the size of his contract are very real concerns, yet nothing that the fantasy player needs to deal with at the moment. Considering the strength of the Texas lineup behind him and the fact that the only thing that seems like a fluke about Choo’s 2013 were the hit-by-pitches, another season in the range of .280 batting average, 20/20 homers/steals, and 90-100 runs scored seems perfectly attainable, making him a dangerous fantasy threat. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: You probably won’t want to be paying Choo what Texas will be in seven years, but for 2014, everything is set for the newest Ranger to have another excellent year, making him a true five-category fantasy star.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/27/1985 | Team: Royals | Position: SS|
Profile: Pedro Ciriaco looked kinda, sorta promising after he slashed .293/.315/.390 with 16 steals over 272 plate appearances for the Boston Red Sox in 2012. But the batted ball luck dragon sniffed out a rat and his .352 batting average on balls in play regressed to something a little more normal. He quickly went back to bench stash/role player with positional versatility. Ciriaco played for three teams in 2013, none of whom were probably impressed with his bat. He currently occupies a spot on the Kansas City Royals 40-man roster, but that doesn’t mean he will see much in the way of playing time with the big league club. He’s not a player to target in fantasy drafts. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Pedro Ciriaco doesn’t figure to be a starter, and even if he fell into regular playing time, his bat wouldn’t merit a roster spot on your fantasy squad. Move along.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 4/5/1986 | Team: Orioles | Position: C/3B|
Profile: After splitting time with Geovany Soto and Welington Castillo in Chicago in 2012, Clevenger made his way to the Orioles along with Scott Feldman in exchange for pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop last year. At best in 2014, he will backup Matt Wieters, and the former cub provides light insurance in that regard. Clevenger walks (at a 7% clip for his major league career), makes a decent amount of contact (career 18% contact rate) but hits for very little power (.075 isolated slugging percentage) and very low average (.204). His real life value is almost entirely from his league-average defense, and that doesn’t help a lick in a fantasy setting. If desperate times led you to this page, keep moving. It’s not worth it and you’re better than this. (Jack Weiland)
Quick Opinion: Seriously?
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/18/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: It’s been three seasons since Coghlan compiled a positive WAR or a weighted on-base average above .300. The Marlins non-tendered him this winter, and if the lowly Marlins would rather commit to hacktastic Marcell Ozuna than give Coghlan meaningful at-bats, fantasy owners are obviously better off looking elsewhere. (JP Breen)
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 10/24/1983 | Team: Twins | Position: 1B|
Profile: Colabello is one of three former independent leaguers to log considerable time for the Twins in 2013 — not a great sign, really. After eight years of toiling with the Worcester Tornadoes and the Nashua Pride, Colabello signed with the Twins in 2012 and posted solid numbers with New Britain, the club’s Double-A affiliate. But in 2013, Colabello took the International League by storm, hitting .352/.427/.639 with 24 home runs while taking home the league’s MVP and Rookie of the Year awards. At 29, Colabello was finally seeing the fruits of his labors rewarded with some big recognition. Colabello’s season at the major league level was a different story. He struggled to make consistent contact, as evidenced by his .194 average, 32.0% strikeout rate, and 64.8% contact rate. When Colabello did make contact, he was able to drive the ball the other way with authority (.367/.367/.833) with all seven of his home runs coming to center or right of center. But that just wasn’t frequent enough. Colabello will enter next year as a 30-year-old without a solid position — he tried the outfield and it didn’t work too well — and without an adequate offensive resume to fall back upon. The Twins attempted to sell his rights to Korea, but he rebuffed their efforts and maintained that he wanted to help the big league club. If that can happen remains unclear at this point. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Colabello has a great story and minor league resume, but at this point his swing has too many holes for him to claim much stake to a 25-man roster spot long-term.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/5/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: After an 18-homer season in 2012, it was thought that Colvin was ready to take the next step. Instead, he took a step backward. Attributed by some to a lack of confidence, Colvin didn’t make the Rockies out of spring training, and when he did play he reached base just 15 times in 78 plate appearances. He was sent packing near the All-Star break, and didn’t return. Outfielders like Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson and Charlie Culberson have definitively passed him on the depth chart, and it may only be a matter of time before Rafael Ortega and Kyle Parker do as well. A team really doesn’t need that many outfielders, of course, so either Colvin will remain buried or he will soon be moving to another organization. His power is real, so there is a chance he could become a productive player on another team, but for the time being, avoid him at all costs.
Quick Opinion: Colvin’s breakout season fizzled last March, when he didn’t even make the roster out of spring training. Now, he doesn’t feature prominently in the Rockies’ outfield plans, as he has fallen out of favor and has been bumped off of the 40-man roster.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/29/1988 | Team: Angels | Position: C|
Profile: As there was in 2013, there will be a lot of competition between Hank Conger and Chris Iannetta for playing time at catcher. Conger’s youth (26), offensive potential, switch-hitting ability, and the prospect that he will sustain the premier pitch-framing abilities he displayed in 2013 all point to a good chance of the younger catcher seeing significantly more playing time in 2014. 15 home runs out of a catcher — paired with a decent batting average if his batting average on balls in play ever rises to meet his league-average strikeout rate and isolated power — is an enticing possibility here. As a hint on when to start him: he caught 3/4 of C.J. Wilson’s starts, half of Jered Weaver’s, but only a quarter of Garret Richards’. Figure him to finish around the high 20s in fantasy catcher rankings, with the upside to push that to the low teens if the team flips Iannetta, who only has one more year left on his contract. As always with catchers, a major injury could also push Conger to the fore. (Steve Staude)
Quick Opinion: Conger should put up respectable numbers for a catcher, but he’ll probably only start around half of the time.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 9/1/1983 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: Constanza is best known as the guy who stole playing time from Jason Heyward in 2011 by swinging like this. A tour of Atlanta bars can still turn up some backwards souls who want to give Constanza more playing time, but he’s very much an organizational soldier. He’s still on the 40-man roster, but Jordan Schafer, Joey Terdoslavich, and Todd Cunningham are ahead of him on the depth chart. It would be a small shock if he isn’t designated for assignment by the end of the 2014 season. To spell it out for you, he’s not a fantasy target. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Constanza is a nice organizational piece, but little more. If he was a utility infielder, he might have a role on a major league roster, but he’s not and he doesn’t.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 1/7/1984 | Team: Astros | Position: C|
Profile: Carlos Corporan is a career minor leaguer with an undistinguished track record. He currently backs up one of the most promising younger offensive catchers in the game. As such, there is not much opportunity or upside of which to speak. He did hit seven home runs in 210 plate appearances last season, but even that seemed flukish as he has clubbed only 48 in more than 2500 plate appearances over 10 minor league seasons. (Derek Ambrosino)
Quick Opinion: Carlos Corporan is a classic back-up catcher.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 1/22/1985 | Position: OF|
Profile: Some people have cousins named Scott. Scott Cousins probably has cousins. I can’t back that up, since it’s hard to Google. Scott Cousins was the guy who dumptrucked Buster Posey that one time when Posey broke his ankle. Buster Posey plays for San Francisco. Scott Cousins went to the University of San Francisco. Scott Cousins got five plate appearances in 2013, and is currently a free agent. Don’t draft Scott Cousins. Or do. I’m not the boss of you. YOLO. (David Temple)
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 5/22/1986 | Team: Angels | Position: OF|
Profile: Cowgill entered 2013 with a chance to be the Mets’ starting center fielder; he ended the season playing a part time role for the Angels, which tells you everything you need to know about how that chance went. Cowgill struck out often, walked infrequently, and didn’t hit for tons of power. He’ll enter this season with a shot at a backup job for the Angels, but it remains a long shot unless he starts hitting more baseballs, hitting them harder, and drawing more walks. (Jack Weiland)
Quick Opinion: Just enough promise with the glove and the bat to get a few more shots, Cowgill should remain undrafted even if your league is deep enough that he’s relevant.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/12/1985 | Team: Reds | Position: SS|
Profile: Cozart does two things well. He can run into a few home runs despite a poor slugging percentage, and he’s a good fielder. Only one of those things will help in fantasy. And Cozart doesn’t supplement that with any other worthwhile skills. He won’t hit for a decent average and he’s not going to steal many bases. The only way he’ll be valuable is if he somehow pops 20 home runs one season, which doesn’t seem all that likely. Shortstop is a weak position, but you would have to be pretty desperate (or in a very deep league) to look at Cozart as a fantasy contributor. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Cozart has a nice glove at short. That’s not going to help you in fantasy.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 7/18/1984 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: After a strong 2012 performance that showed off Craig’s power and ability to hit for a high batting average, his draft cost understandably jumped. He ended up disappointing his owners. Though he continued to hit for average and knock in runs as easily as he breathes in oxygen, his power disappeared. One of the reasons was that his fly ball rate tumbled below 30%, a level typically reserved for speedy slap hitters with limited power. Second, the average distance of his home runs and fly balls fell to a league average mark, after sitting comfortably above that level the previous two seasons. Since we cannot possibly expect him to sustain the level of success he has enjoyed with runners on base that has boosted his RBI total, he’s going to have to get his power back on track to satisfy his fantasy owners. I’d bet on at least a partial rebound, even if he does turn 30 this year. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: Craig performed very similarly to his 2012 breakout, but was missing one ingredient — power. Both his batted ball distance and fly ball rate fell, but he’s shown better in the past which provides hope for a rebound.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/21/1987 | Team: Giants | Position: SS|
Profile: I remember sitting in the AFL a couple of seasons ago and hearing from evaluators that Crawford had the glove skills to be a major leaguer but lacked the bat. Two full seasons into his major league career, that label is very fitting. The slick-fielding shortstop will have a lengthy career on his defensive chops alone, but adding more hitting ability will help. Last season, he cut down on his strikeout rate while improving his walk rate, but did not gain anything from it as his 2013 indicators were nearly identical to his 2012 indicators. Incremental growth is a positive, but Crawford needs more growth before he can be considered in a mixed league format. (Jason Collette)
Quick Opinion: Last season, he cut down on his strikeout rate while improving his walk rate, but did not gain anything from it as his 2013 indicators were nearly identical to his 2012 indicators. Incremental growth is a positive, but Crawford needs more growth before he can be considered in a mixed league format.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 8/5/1981 | Team: Dodgers | Position: OF|
Profile: Carl Crawford got back onto the field and stayed there long enough to get 469 plate appearances, and considering the uncertainty that swirled around him as he returned from Tommy John surgery, that alone counts as a success. In April & October, he was among the best Dodger hitters, but struggled through inconsistency and injury in between. Overall, weighted offense that was eight percent above league average, with 15 steals and solid defense, is a nice player for the Dodgers to have. But for fantasy purposes, most of his value at his peak came when he would routinely steal 50+ bases and pop 15 homers, and those days seem long gone now. In an NL-only league, Crawford can provide value, though he needs to be thought of as a good player, not the superstar he once was. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: This version of Crawford will give you a little in every fantasy category, and that’s not a bad player to have around. It’s just a long way away from the elite stud he once was.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 11/1/1979 | Team: Athletics | Position: OF|
Profile: Since 2011, Coco Crisp’s seasonal steal totals have dropped from 49, 39, and finally to 21 last year. Given this will be his age-34 season, should we expect to see a further drop in Crisp’s steal totals? Steals are just one measurement of speed; another is BsR or baserunning runs. The 2013 season saw Crisp post his third highest BsR score — 6.1 — of his career. If that number is any indication, his raw steal totals should come back to the 30ish range and if healthy, he may record his first 100 run season thanks to his leadoff position. Expect a regression in his home run totals, as it is very unlikely for him to hit 20+ dingers again. That being said, Crisp offers speed and runs for a relatively low price. He is still a valuable commodity. For those of you in on-base percentage leagues, Crisp’s walk rate is on a three-year rise, though don’t expect him to post even a .350 OBP. His skillset is limited, but is still very useful. (David Wiers)
Quick Opinion: Another 20-20 season is doubtful, however penciling Crisp in for 30 steals and double digit home runs is fair.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/17/1983 | Position: OF|
Profile: After years of toiling in the Indians minor league system — with one solid year for them in the majors — Crowe landed with the Angels at the end of 2012 and then with the Astros to open the 2013 season. He appeared in just 60 games for Houston last year and found his way to 181 plate appearances, but still failed to do much with his limited opportunity. He batted just .218 with one home run and 13 RBI while striking out 21.5% of the time. He was ultimately dropped from the 40-man roster and is currently an unsigned free agent. His prospects are pretty bleak at this point and even if he were to land with another club, he’s not going to find himself in a role that will be worthy of any sort of fantasy consideration. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Crowe remains an unsigned free agent as of January 2014 and the chances of him finding a home somewhere other than a minor league team seems slim at this point. If you come away from your draft with him on your roster, you should have no problem finishing in last place in your league.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/10/1984 | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: After batting .145 with one home run and 11 RBI over 61 games for the Dodgers and the Yankees in 2013, Cruz has opted to roll up the tents and head to Japan. He agreed to a deal with the Lotte Marines and will spend his age-30 season playing the hot corner overseas. Maybe one day he’ll return to the States, but for now, there’s no further discussion to be had unless you play in a fantasy Japanese baseball league. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: After a dismal 2013 campaign and few contract prospects here in the U.S., Cruz has opted to pack his bags and head overseas. He signed a contract with the Lotte Marines back in November and he’ll spend at least 2014 in Japan.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/18/1986 | Team: Cardinals | Position: C|
Profile: Cruz has racked up 260 plate appearances as Yadier Molina’s backup in the last two seasons, but he hasn’t given any indication that he could be useful to fantasy owners. He hasn’t displayed any power at all, and he hasn’t shown the ability to draw a walk, which is really the only offensive thing he did relatively well in the minors. Were Molina to miss time with an injury, Cruz could maybe provide value in NL-only leagues where simply getting at-bats from someone is valuable. But other than that he’s useless for fantasy owners. (Brett Talley)
Quick Opinion: Cruz is Yadier Molina’s backup who has shown little to no offensive value in his 332 major league plate appearances. He’ll have no fantasy value unless Molina gets hurt, and even then it would limited to 12-team or two-catcher NL-only leagues where someone just getting at-bats is valuable.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 7/1/1980 | Team: Orioles | Position: OF|
Profile: A few years ago, Nelson Cruz was a really good, underrated player on the Texas Rangers who was overshadowed by the exploits of Josh Hamilton. Now, Cruz has followed Hamilton into free agency as the player everyone thinks will be overpaid in his decline years. Age and injuries have sapped Cruz’s speed in the outfield and (more importantly for fantasy owners) on the base paths. Cruz has always struck out more than the average player, but his walk rate has dropped back below average the last few seasons. Cruz also has a durability problem, only playing in more than 130 games once in his career. His 2013 was of course shortened by a drug suspension, which adds its own peculiar twist to his projection. Cruz is not without his virtues — he still has power, even if he is unlikely to put up the same numbers outside of Texas. A lot depends on where Cruz ends up, though. He is clearly valuable in fantasy, but even if you thought he could play full time, he is not a top-tier outfielder. A .255/.315/.465 line or something like that will play with 25 home runs, and he should be drafted in all AL-only leagues. Just don’t draft him as an outfield anchor. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Cruz still hasn’t signed as of this writing, and most people expect him to be overpaid. He hits home runs, and has value in most fantasy leagues, just do not expect him to be a star.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 3/27/1979 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: The 2013 season was Cuddyer’s was his 13th in the majors, and 10th as a regular contributor. In the previous nine during which he had played regularly, his batting average on balls in play had never risen above .328. In 2013 though, Cuddyer posted a .382 BABIP. This led to his first-ever season with a .300 batting average, and also his first batting title. That batting title is probably going to lead to him being overvalued in fantasy drafts come this spring. Certainly, Cuddyer will hit well, but it’s unlikely that he will bat .331 again. It’s also unlikely that he’ll maintain his career bests in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, wOBA and wRC+. It’s simply pretty rare that a player establishes a new career baseline at the age of 34. Now, Cuddyer may not go back to being the player he was in 2011 and 2012, but he also isn’t going to be as good as he was last year. Let him slide through the first eight or nine rounds, but if he’s on the board when you’re ready to draft your second outfielder, you certainly could do worse.
Quick Opinion: It has been quite the roller coaster ride for Cuddyer in his two seasons in Colorado. It’s hard to imagine his initial season there going any worse. It’s similarly difficult to see how last season could have gone any better, as Cuddyer won his first-ever batting title at age 33. Expect 2014 to be somewhere in the middle. Cuddyer isn’t as good as he played last season, but he should still be a great second outfielder in most fantasy lineups.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 4/10/1989 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: Culberson tallied a .360 batting average on balls in play in his brief major league time last season, and still was only able to post a 82 wRC+. That doesn’t bode well for his future, because obviously it’s difficult to post a .360 BABIP. Culberson walked just 3.8% of the time, and struck out 22.1% of the time while with the Rockies. This matched up well with his time in Triple-A. In 927 Triple-A plate appearances, he walked just 4.1% of the time and struck out 18.1% of the time. If you have no patience and no power, you have very little to offer offensively, and that is Culberson’s profile. He might field well, and if he is able to field well in both the infield and the outfield, he might have some value to a team. Or at least, he’d have some value to a team that didn’t already have Jonathan Herrera. Culberson is not a player who should be on your fantasy radar.
Quick Opinion: In an attempt to justify his acquisition, the Rockies decided to turn a light-hitting second baseman into a light-hitting left fielder. Culberson handled his time in left field decently, and there is a chance he could see a greater share of playing time in 2014.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 3/20/1989 | Team: Braves | Position: OF|
Profile: Cunningham lacks premium tools, but is a solid all around player who lacks the power to profile as a regular for a first division club and your fantasy team. With the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward covering the Turner Field outfield there’s no path for Cunningham to get playing time right now. (Al Skorupa)
Quick Opinion: Cunningham profiles best as a fourth outfielder or second division starter. He can steal a few bags but lacks the power to be any kind of fantasy asset.
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