|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 2/10/1989 | Team: Mets | Position: C|
Profile: Travis d’Arnaud may have a backwards and upside-down capital P on the back of his jersey — which is undeniably sweet — but his fantasy value in the coming years is more debatable. Some of the things that show up fairly quickly, whether you are watching the player play or looking at his small-sample major league stats, will be useful in real life but not so much in batting-average fantasy leagues. It looks like he might have good patience, for example. He swung and reached less than the league, and those stats stabilize quickly. He was always supposed to do this, too, according to scouts. Defensively, he’s a good framer, blocker and receiver, that much was immediately clear. His contact rate was good in the majors and he never really struggled with strikeouts in the minor leagues. So far, so good. The problem is that he didn’t show power in his short major league stint last year, and the places where he did show power in the minor leagues were largely hitter-friendly parks. If he does show that 18-20 homer power that is supposedly on it’s way, he’ll be fantasy relevant even if his average is in the .250s. If he doesn’t… well, he’ll be useful to the Mets. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: The good news is that the stuff that matters in short samples all went d’Arnaud’s way last year. And the good news about the bad news — his power didn’t show — is that power takes the longest to stabilize. We still don’t know how powerful the Mets’ catcher will be in the majors, and that makes all the difference to his fantasy value.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 8/7/1986 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: A 27 year old post-prospect, Danks just hasn’t hit enough to convince the White Sox to give him a full time gig. He’s a good athlete and a patient hitter with solid bat speed, but there’s a whole lot of swing and miss in his game and he never learned to hit for power despite the size and strength for it. He fits best as a corner outfield backup, but he looks most likely headed back to the minor leagues. (Al Skorupa)
Quick Opinion: Danks doesn’t have the bat to profile as a regular and won’t carry much fantasy value even if circumstances result in him getting at bats in 2014.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 3/26/1991 | Team: White Sox | Position: 3B|
Profile: Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado isn’t a superstar, per se, but after having become the main piece acquired by Arizona in the somewhat daring trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta, GM Kevin Towers et al. were never likely, one year later, to move Prado off third to make room for Davidson. Room at third base is something with which the White Sox, meanwhile, certainly entered the offseason. The position was occupied in 2013 mostly by Conor Gillaspie, a reasonable talent who produced about a win in his capacity as a nearly full-time starter. Not an abysmal performance, that, but one upon which the White Sox appeared intent on addressing when they traded closer Addison Reed to the D-backs. Sabermetric orthodoxy suggests that dealing relievers for promising field players is good business. And even if Davidson doesn’t appear likely to become an elite player, he’s a candidate to produce wins at a league-average rate as soon as this season. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Unlikely to be given a starting role with Arizona, Davidson is likely to enter the 2014 season as the White Sox’ third baseman, where he’s likely to produce wins nearly at a league-average rate. The batting average might not be pretty, though, given all the strikeouts.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/17/1986 | Team: Orioles | Position: 1B|
Profile: Davis had an epic 2013 with 53 home runs and a more than respectable .286 batting average. The batting average is probably the bigger surprise given his issues with swings and misses, but the power is also pretty surprising given that he produced the second highest home run total of the last six years. The extra power came from Davis raising his fly ball rate roughly eight percent from where it had been the two years prior, and from Davis’ average home run and fly ball distance increasing by over ten feet. Batted ball distance has a pretty decent year-to-year correlation, so Davis could be able to maintain some of the gains there, but his fly ball rate declined as the season wore on, and it it’s more likely his fly ball rate trends toward his career average next year. The power will still be elite, but expecting 50+ home runs again is unreasonable. As for the plate discipline, Davis was more selective in general and especially laid off more pitches thrown outside of the zone, offspeed pitches in particular. So expect the slightly improved plate disciple to stick around but for some minor regression in the power department and thus his other counting stats. That makes Davis a borderline first round pick and no worse than a second rounder. (Brett Talley)
Quick Opinion: Davis made improvements in his batted ball distance, fly ball rate and plate discipline in 2013. That led to him being an elite fantasy option and one of the greatest draft day values ever. As a borderline first round pick this year, he obviously won’t return the same value. But with the fly ball rate the only one of his improvements that is likely subject to a little regression, he will have a good chance to live up to his high draft day price.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/19/1980 | Team: Tigers | Position: OF|
Profile: Some players are more valuable in fantasy than in real baseball, and vice-versa. Rajai Davis is more valuable in fantasy, but it is not as if he is totally worthless in real baseball. And, in fact, if one just looks at his hitting line (.268/.316/.377) and his unexceptional outfield defense, he might look like a replacement-level player in both fantasy and reality. However, Davis, currently a free agent, has value beyond that. According to baserunning metrics (both base stealing and baserunning in general), in real baseball he was worth about a win above average just on the bases. In category leagues, these are the relevant numbers: 41, 50, 34, 46, 45. Those are Davis’ numbers of stolen bases during the previous five seasons. He managed those 45 steals in 2013 in less than 400 plate appearances. Davis is 33, so his speed (his only asset) is probably on the decline, but even in a half-time job with Andy Dirks in Detroit’s left field, he could easily steal 40 again. That means very good value in category leagues, despite Davis’ lack of other contributions. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Davis’ only asset in fantasy ball is his high number of steals, but a player who can steal 40 or more bases in part-time action has serious value in any category league.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 12/21/1987 | Team: Brewers | Position: OF|
Profile: How about that. Khrush Davis was second only to Crush Davis in isolated slugging percentage if you move the minimum all the way down to 150 plate appearances. Unfortunately, power needs big samples, so we can’t say anything definitive other than ‘looks like he might have some oomph in that bat.’ The good news is that the power was backed up by .200+ ISOs in the minor leagues, and though the 26-year-old was on the older side at some levels, the power was consistent. The bad news is that the right-hander was a lefty masher at the big-league level (his ISO vs righties was almost *two hundred* points lower), and there were whispers that he’d be a wrong-side platoon player long-term. In the minor leagues, however, his splits were almost non-existent. He might strike out a bit too much to show a great batting average, but he also hits to all fields with power, which should help his batted balls find holes. As long as you’re not paying retail price for that small-sample power, then he’s a great sleeper. He could approach 30 homers with a few stolen bases and a batting average that won’t hurt you, and on today’s Milwaukee team, he’ll get all the burn he can handle. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: You can’t treat the power as a sure thing yet, but the playing time should be for Khris Davis in that Milwaukee outfield. And that alone makes him an interesting pickup later in all drafts this season.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/22/1987 | Team: Mets | Position: 1B|
Profile: The “We Like Ike” signs are long-gone from Citi Field. The tide has turned and most of the fanbase is frantically searching for a trade rumor to hold on to. You know it’s bad when Lucas Duda is suddenly the future at the position. Two years with a batting average under .230 from their incumbent first baseman will do that, maybe. But it’s only been a year since Davis managed to hit 32 home runs, and in on-base percentage leagues, his walk rate (12.1% career) has kept him valuable throughout. In batting average leagues, it seems reasonable to think that hitch in his swing and his inconsistent plate approach will continue to produce a problem in that category. But at 26, all is not yet lost. A full healthy season with fewer infield flies — which aren’t super-well correlated from season to season — and a batting average on balls in play in line with his career number (.287) could could still produce a season with a .240 batting average, a good on-base percentage, and anywhere from 20 to 30 home runs. It’s still in there, no matter how bad Davis looked when he flailed away at soft breaking stuff on the outside corner. Probably safe to find him a platoon partner, though. His offense against lefties is 33% worse than league average, and that pretty much sums up how bad he’s been against same-handed pitchers. Good thing two-thirds of the league is right-handed. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: It’s beginning to look like Ike Davis will always strike out too much and need a platoon partner to get him through the tougher lefties. That doesn’t he can’t be valuable in your deep league, particularly if you use on-base percentage.
Alejandro De Aza
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/11/1984 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: A power surge at age-29 turned De Aza into a surprisingly useful fantasy option. His combination of power and speed was nice, even if his average left a bit to be desired. De Aza had a chance to once again reprise his role as the best outfielder on the White Sox, but a trade for Adam Eaton put his playing time in doubt. If De Aza is moved, he stands to lose a fair amount of home runs of his total. If he stays, he’s unlikely to be in a favorable position for playing time — his general manager suggests that a platoon with the right-handed Dayan Viciedo is coming if there’s no trade. De Aza’s surprising run of mixed-league usefulness may come to an end after just one season. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: De Aza’s power surge turned him into a useful fantasy option. With Adam Eaton in town, it’s unclear how much De Aza will play. A trade would play a huge role in how he’s valued next season.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 2/23/1990 | Team: Pirates | Position: OF|
Profile: The Pirates acquired outfielder Jaff Decker along with right-hander Miles Mikolas from the Padres this offseason in exchange for 1B/OF Alex Dickerson. In Decker, Pittsburgh gets an extreme on-base guy who can smack the ball out of the park and run the bags. In 2009, Decker lead the Midwest League in both on-base percentage (.442) and OPS (.956), then in 2011 he lead the Texas League in walks (103). Despite his ability to get on base, Eno suggests the Pirates have a stable of corner outfielders in the fold for Decker to compete with in Spring Training. If Decker breaks with the club, NL-Only players could consider him late in their drafts to potentially platoon against righties. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: Decker has power and patience, but he’s in a crowded Pirate corner outfield / first base group. If he can hit enough for first base, he has some long-term upside, but that corner outfield spot is eventually going to be Gregory Polanco’s.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/20/1979 | Team: Rays | Position: OF|
Profile: After bouncing around to four different teams in the last three years, DeJesus liked Tampa Bay enough to sign on for two more years during the offseason and, according to the team’s current depth chart, walks into 2014 as the likely starting left fielder. Considering his struggles against left-handed pitching though, he’ll more likely sit in a platoon — manager Joe Maddon loves to play the match-ups and he has a number of versatile players capable of moving around the field. But DeJesus should see enough time to make him worthy of a selection in deeper leagues and he’ll be even better if you can pair him up with a decent right-handed bat in a fantasy platoon. He doesn’t possess much in the way of power or speed, and his declining totals in 2013 are tough to ignore. Still, a lot could have to do with his move to three different teams in just the one season and a lack of familiarity with pitchers switching between the AL and NL. He’s a low-cost, low-risk outfielder with a career .353 on-base percentage and the potential for 10 home runs and half a dozen steals, making him a decent role-player in deep leagues that require you to start five or six outfielders. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Though 2013 saw a general decline for DeJesus, he still has the potential to be a decent role player in deeper leagues that require five to six outfielders. His struggles against lefties should push him into a platoon situation, but with the possibility of 10 home runs and half a dozen stolen bases, his usefulness in leagues with daily roster moves increases if you can pair him with a proper right-handed bat.
Matt den Dekker
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 8/10/1987 | Team: Mets | Position: OF|
Profile: Billed as a defense-first outfielder capable of playing multiple positions, Matt den Dekker made his major league debut in 2013 as a late-season call up. Though he showed signs of gap power and double-digit homer potential in the minors, he struggled substantially against major league pitching despite being used predominantly when the platoon advantage was on his side. That said, this occurred over a 63 plate appearance sample size. In deep NL-only leagues, either substantial playing time or platoon split dominance, even over limited opportunity, have value. Matt den Dekker appears not to be n line for either, and with the Mets considering numerous internal and outside outfield options, he’s not even guaranteed a roster spot to open 2014 and therefore unlikely to have value even in the deepest of leagues. (Derek Ambrosino)
Quick Opinion: Matt den Dekker made his major league debut in 2013. Over limited sample size, he proved himself as a useful and versatile defensive outfielder, but failed to display offensive prowess, after performing relatively well at the dish through his minor league career. He is not guaranteed playing time in 2013 and does not project to have value in even deep NL-only leagues, or as a prospect in dynasty leagues.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 7/15/1980 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: Denorfia entered the 2013 season as the Padres fourth outfielder and a series of injuries to teammates afforded him the opportunity for regular time. He appeared in 144 games and hit .279 with a career-best 10 home runs. He also managed 11 stolen bases, leaving him a solid option for fantasy owners needing to start five or six outfielders. Denorfia has shown solid plate discipline and his .341 career on-base percentage certainly helps his value, but he is still considered fourth outfielder material due to an inherent lack of power. He’ll open the year behind Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin and Will Venable once again, but given the injury history of two of those guys, Denorfia could see another season of 450-500 plate appearances. (Howard Bender)
Quick Opinion: Denorfia filled the Padres role of fourth outfielder last season, but playing behind such injury-prone players such as Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin, he was afforded the opportunity to appear in a career-high 144 games. That might happen again, but will he do enough to make him more than just an average NL-only outfielder?
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 2/26/1975 | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: If you see Mark DeRosa on TV in 2014, it will almost certainly be as an analyst for MLB Network. Unless you participate in a baseball analyst league, he won’t have any value for you. If you do participate in a baseball analyst league, please let me join. I’ll take Pedro Martinez. (David Temple)
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/19/1986 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 2B/3B/SS|
Profile: With the additions of Jhonny Peralta and Mark Ellis as well as Kolten Wong being ready for a spot on the big league roster, the Cardinals have a glut of middle infielders. Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma are still there. Ryan Jackson could serve as their utility infielder if necessary. So there shouldn’t be any need for Descalso to get another 350+ plate appearances as he has in each of the last three seasons. He doesn’t run much, he doesn’t have pop, he doesn’t hit for average, and he’s not that great with the glove. His role should be, and will be, limited. (Brett Talley)
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/20/1985 | Team: Nationals | Position: SS|
Profile: There is only one player who has finished each of the last two seasons ranked among the top five fantasy shortstops, and that player is Ian Desmond. Last year’s third-best shortstop, and 2012’s second-best shortstop, Desmond has produced consecutive 20/20 seasons while posting solid batting averages, as well as providing plenty of runs and runs batted in. He’s a true five-category fantasy contributor, despite his high strikeout rate, but the thing that truly sets Desmond apart as a fantasy shortstop is his durability. The 28-year-old has played in an average of 149 games in the last four seasons; while he may not be as flashy as Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez, he’s been significantly more reliable. (Scott Strandberg)
Quick Opinion: The only thing that concerns me about Desmond is his ability to keep up a batting average in the .280-.290 range with his low contact rate. Still, his production over the last two seasons has been so consistent that he’s a surefire top-five fantasy shortstop on draft day.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/20/1985 | Position: 3B|
Profile: Dewitt was quite good for the Braves in 2013. He posted a .333/.333/.666 line with one sac hit…over four plate appearances. In all seriousness, Dewitt missed nearly the entire season with a lower back injury and was released by the Braves in August. He hasn’t been any kind of relevant since 2011. He doesn’t have a defensive position where he’s considered a positive defender and his offensive upside is limited. Some team will offer him a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, but it’s a bad sign if DeWitt ends up on your team’s active roster. Fantasy owners can use the /ignore command. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Dewitt basically missed the entire 2013 season aside from ten plate appearances due to lower back pain. There’s not much more to say…
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 4/10/1985 | Position: 2B/3B|
Profile: Is Diaz the next fantasy superstar? Even with a -100 wRC+, the utility infielder posted a prorated 300 runs per 600 plate appearances! If that doesn’t scream sleeper candidate, I don’t know what does. Of course, Diaz’s production came in all of five measly games (four plate appearances) at the big league level in 2013. The Red Sox didn’t have any further use for him, so he has latched on with the Toronto Blue Jays to provide fans of their Triple-A squad (Buffalo) someone to drunkenly hurl insults at when he whiffs in the ninth against the arch-rival Syracuse Chiefs (or does Buffalo hate Rochester?). (Colin Zarzycki)
Quick Opinion: If you owned Diaz in 2013, you either A) play in a 40-team, 40-man roster league, B) confused him with possible Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz, or C) are Diaz’s mother. Barring something obscenely unexpected, there’s no reason to roster him in 2014. Even you, Mama Diaz.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/10/1982 | Position: DH/OF|
Profile: A three true outcomes guy without the one most important outcome, Chris Dickerson finds himself a free agent this offseason after being outrighted by the Orioles at the end of 2013. He appeared in 56 games with Baltimore, many just as a pinch runner, and did his best Kelly Shoppach impression when they did let him hit (33% strikeout rate, four home runs in 105 at bats). Dickerson’s minor league profile suggests he could get on base and steal if given the chance, and the fact that he’s a lefty who can play all three outfield positions means someone may give him the shot as a fifth outfielder. The complete lack of contact (72.5 percent) in 708 major league plate appearances should leave you skeptical, though. (Blake Murphy)
Quick Opinion: Chris Dickerson’s best case scenario for 2014 is a role as a utility outfielder and pinch runner. There’s no fantasy utility in his bat, though, and the odd steal won’t be worth a spot on your watch list.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 5/22/1989 | Team: Rockies | Position: OF|
Profile: It would appear that Dickerson will fight it out with Charlie Blackmon for playing time in left field for the Rockies. If Dickerson does get the regular job or at least more work in a timeshare, he does have some pop and speed and could become an interesting sleeper. He’s a left-hander, so he’s more likely to get the larger end of a platoon. And his strikeout rate could improve if his minor league rates are any guide. With above average contact ability, power and speed, he should have a good batting average. As we get closer to draft day, NL-only players should keep an eye on how that position battle plays out in Colorado. If he wins it outright, mixed leaguers should begin to take notice. (Brett Talley)
Quick Opinion: Dickerson has some pop and speed and could be useful to NL-only fantasy players if he sees the most work in what is likely to be a timeshare in left field for the Rockies.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 7/18/1989 | Team: Marlins | Position: 2B|
Profile: Dietrich was one of the many beneficiaries of the Marlins’ youth movement this year as he completely skipped Triple-A to accumulate nearly a half-season of at-bats with the big league club. Though he played second base during his stay, poor defensive marks suggest that his future may not be at the position. In fact, the team’s president of baseball operations said they will take a look at him at third base during spring training, which couldn’t hurt considering there’s no standout option to man the hot corner in Miami currently. Dietrich possesses good power and posted strong batting average on balls in play marks at every minor league stop. However, he has struggled with the strikeout and his BABIP skills failed to translate at the major league level. A full season could result in 20 home runs, but that could still be the only positive contribution he would make. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: Dietrich got the chance to show off his above-average power as the Marlins decided that Triple-A was the wrong environment for their youngsters to play. Unfortunately, too many strikeouts and an inability to take the free pass are going to make it difficult for him to contribute in more than just home runs.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/24/1986 | Team: Tigers | Position: OF|
Profile: Heading into 2013, Dirks seemed like a pretty good sleeper. He had posted a 132 wRC+ on the strength of a .365 BABIP, and while no one expected him to continue to see his hits fall in that frequently, he still figured to have a good bit of offensive value — especially if his power numbers remained where they were. Unfortunately, Dirks hit the ball in the air far less frequently in 2013 than he had in 2012 — 4.6% less frequently, to be precise. And as a result, not only did his BABIP drop back to sea level, but so did his power numbers. He still managed to notch a career-best nine homers, but it took him an extra 144 plate appearances to get that one additional homer. If Dirks sees a mild rebound in his power numbers — his ISO in his three major league seasons has been .155, .166 and .107, so a rebound would seem likely — he should make for a very nice fourth outfielder, should you participate in a fantasy league deep enough where you need four outfielders. If you don’t, you can leave Dirks safely on the waiver wire. With Rajai Davis, Don Kelly and Nick Castellanos all in the left-field picture, Dirks is unlikely to pile up close to 500 PA like he did last year, so his counting stats will likely leave you wanting. But there still may be something there, and he’s a decent bet as a super sleeper if you don’t need someone who will play every day.
Quick Opinion: Dirks wasn’t nearly as productive in 2013 as he was in 2012, as he wasn’t able to sustain his .365 batting average on balls in play. Still, Dirks is a valuable role player, and should form an effective platoon with the newly-acquired Rajai Davis.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/2/1978 | Team: Marlins | Position: 1B|
Profile: Dobbs spent his third-straight season with the Marlins in 2013 primarily as a pinch hitter, as he accrued just 267 plate appearances over 114 games played. In fact, 57 of those plate appearances came as a pinch hitter, and 44 of his plate appearances came out of the nine spot. So basically, a sizable portion of what Dobbs brings to the table is that he hangs around to hit for the pitcher. Unfortunately, Dobbs only hit .208/.298/.250 as a pinch hitter in 2013, well below even the already low .221/.288/.333 league split for NL pinch hitters last year. So it may come as some surprise that the Marlins re-signed Dobbs to a one-year extension late in the season for $1.7 million, more or less assuring him a bench spot or at least nice severance pay for the 2014 season. Say what you will about veteran presence, predictability, and stability, but this one just seems like a head scratcher. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Dobbs a pinch hitter and part-time first and third baseman. And that’s pretty much all there is to say.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/28/1989 | Team: Astros | Position: 3B|
Profile: Half-season splits can make us think crazy things and the crazy thing I have become fixated on this off-season is that Matt Dominguez is about to break out. In his first 88 games (arbitrary end points alert!) in 2013, Dominguez posted a .227/.257/.383, although he did smack 11 home runs. He almost never walked (3.6% walk rate) and was done in by a brutal .235 batting average on balls in play, well below a still-bad .265 expected version of that stat. But the second half…ah! the second half! In his final 64 games, he added another 10 homers, and posted a .260/.323/.430 line, despite the fact that his much-improved BABIP (.280) was still well below his xBABIP of .313. The biggest changes: a near doubling of his walk rate (6.9%), an uptick in line drive rate (17.9% to 19.8%) and a big drop in in-field fly balls (20.4% to 8.6%). Early projections suggest he’ll split the difference in 2013, but for a guy to break out right around his 24th birthday is not unheard of, and I am grabbing Dominguez wherever he is available. (Chad Young)
Quick Opinion: A brutal first half gave way to a solid second half, and there is reason to think the progress was not just a fluke. An increased walk rate, a big drop in infield flies, and improved batted ball numbers (that still have room to grow) are among the data points that have me bullish on Matt Dominguez.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 12/8/1985 | Team: Athletics | Position: 3B|
Profile: From afterthought to a fourth-place MVP finish, Josh Donaldson caught everyone off-guard last season. The former catcher-turned-third-baseman set career highs in every major offensive category en route to a .301/.384/.499 line with 24 home runs and 93 RBIs. His double-digit minor league walk rate finally translated to the majors and a .333 batting average on balls in play never hurt anyone. Expect most of the gains Donaldson showed in the walk and power rates to stick — they fall right in line with most of his minor league work — but a regression on his balls in play should be expected. That being said, if Donaldson is your opening day third baseman, you shouldn’t force a trade for Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman. Be content with Donaldson’s 20+ home runs and weighted offense that should be 25-30% better than league average this season. Don’t pay for his excellent 2013 season; pay for what should be a solid 2014 season. (David Wiers)
Quick Opinion: Although he probably won’t repeat his 2013 season, Donaldson is still a fine option at third base with his power and on-base skills.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/3/1981 | Team: Braves | Position: C/DH/OF|
Profile: Doumit’s season looks unimpressive at a glance, but it looks even less so when removing his hot September stretch long after Twins games held any intrigue whatsoever. Doumit hit .296/.359/.493 in September, but hit just .239/.307/.379 the rest of the season. If that wasn’t enough, he last caught on Aug. 29, leading some — this writer included — to opine that he may be finished catching altogether after suffering a number of concussions in recent seasons. It matters very little; Doumit isn’t a good defensive catcher, and might even be worse elsewhere. His bat at its best just doesn’t play up enough for him to be an asset anywhere really, but that’s just in terms of real-life utility. Fantasy-wise, he’s far more intriguing with catcher eligibility than without. But who wouldn’t that apply to? (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Doumit is a middling bat with no glove and no set position now that he’s been traded to Atlanta. In the National League, he could still easily accrue 300-plus plate appearances between pinch hitting and spelling Evan Gattis behind the plate, but there’s not much value here.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 5/15/1987 | Team: Twins | Position: 2B|
Profile: The early talk around Dozier in 2013 was how much the game had slowed down for him from his rookie campaign in 2012, when he was not included on the list of call-ups to round out the Twins’ second-straight 90-loss season. But through late May, that’s all it seemed like. Talk. But then a switch flipped for Dozier in Detroit after the Twins were nearly no-hit by Anibal Sanchez. Some extra work with hitting coach Tom Brunansky revealed a couple different issues that the two were able to remedy almost immediately. From May 27 on, Dozier hit .258/.333/.458 with 17 homers, 30 doubles, and 10 steals while generally looking like one of the best second basemen in the American League. In fact, Dozier’s +2.8 WAR ranked him fifth among all qualified second basemen in the AL. Add to that vastly improved defense facilitated by a move from shortstop to second, and it’s easy to see why Dozier seems to have pushed prospect Eddie Rosario to the organizational back-burner at the hot corner. Dozier may not hit 18 home runs again, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him use the massive gaps in the Target Field outfield to hit 40 doubles and perhaps 12-15 home runs in 2014. With an underwhelming overall slash line in 2013, Dozier should be a popular second base sleeper in fantasy drafts going in next season. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Dozier was a completely different player from late May on, and while his overall slash line remained underwhelming, he remains an up-and-comer to watch in a Twins system that will have plenty of them in the years to come.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 3/16/1983 | Position: SS|
Profile: Now multiple years removed from a broken ankle, Stephen Drew bounced back on a one-year, make-good contract with the Red Sox. His strikeout and walk rates didn’t change a lot (in fact, if anything, they regressed a touch), but his batting average on balls in play bounced back to .320. While that may be a little high at first blush, J.D.’s little brother has done a good job of posting well above-average line drive rates over his career, something that the BABIP gods approve of. His power also ticked up a bit, but his batted ball distance didn’t improve that much, implying there isn’t a lot of upside in the homer department for the 31-year-old. The good news (actually, probably neutral news) is that line-drive hitters like Drew are relatively park independent, so his value will remain fairly unchanged regardless of where he ends up playing shortstop in 2014. Keep an eye on lineup slot and playing time, but he should remain a safe, albeit low-ceilinged, shortstop or middle infield option in mixed leagues. (Colin Zarzycki)
Quick Opinion: Playoffs aside, Stephen Drew had a fairly successful first season in Boston. A line-drive hitter, Drew will never hit for power but should be able to sustain .300+ batting average on balls in play. Coupled with a double-digit walk rate, that should allow him to keep hitting enough to function as a low-end starter in mixed leagues.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 2/3/1986 | Team: Mets | Position: 1B/OF|
Profile: The physically imposing Lucas Duda frustrates the Flushing faithful. One the one hand, his power is tantalizing, and if paired with his on-base skills, could be a recipe for a highly effective bat. On the other, each year of opportunity seems to put the notion of Duda fully “putting it together” in further doubt. Duda has been given the chance to be both a regular outfielder and first baseman for the Mets, but hasn’t seized control of either position. The Mets are no more convinced than the fans, and with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and Chris Young (not a sure thing himself), the outfield is more crowded with better players than ever. There’s been talks of trading Ike Davis, which would open up first base for Duda. Unless that happens (and, I’m less convinced that it will than many Mets fans are), Duda is a man without a position. There’s no reason to think that Duda can’t hit 25 or more homers in a full season. His batting average dipped to a career low .223 last year, on the back of a career high fly ball percentage, which really isn’t the worst thing in the world because what we really want from Duda is to become a three-true-outcome monster. Duda seems ideal for a lower budget American League team looking for some cheap pop at the designated hitter spot. As of now, he could be worth a flier in NL-only leagues due to the potential. But, Duda’s failure to adequately distinguish himself leaves him presently in playing time limbo. (Derek Ambrosino)
Quick Opinion: Despite showing above average power and on-base skills, Lucas Duda has not distinguished himself enough to the Mets organization to earn a full time job in either the outfield or at first base. Duda is a three true outcome player and could prove useful, if flawed, even in standard to deep mixed leagues if given full playing time. But, with an outfield crowded with new acquisitions and Ike Davis still on the roster, Duda does not appear to have a path to a consistent starting gig.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/29/1979 | Position: DH|
Profile: After filling in for the always-injured Luke Scott early in the 2013, Duncan managed to acquit himself rather well at first. He hit a few key hits, but then fizzled and fizzled hard. Even upon returning to the minors, he continued to struggle. Want a 34-year-old first baseman with serious platoon issues and limited major league hopes on your roster? Then Duncan is your man. (@BradleyWoodrum)
Quick Opinion: Duncan’s MLB career is nearly over, if it is not already. If he manages to make it back to the majors, his ceiling is as a righty batter platoon mate and a pinch hitter.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 11/9/1979 | Team: White Sox | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: As expected, age has not been kind to Dunn. He continues to hit home runs at a high rate, but an increased strikeout rate has killed his batting average. Dunn was never known as the type of player to hit for average, but his upside is basically .220 at this point. Because of that, his effectiveness in leagues that count on-base percentage has also diminished. The one skill he still retains is probably the most valuable in fantasy, so he’ll likely be drafted toward the end of most leagues and used to pad home run totals. But he’s reached the point where the negatives of his approach are starting to outweigh the positives. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Dunn can be a cheap source of power, but his declining average and on-base abilities make him more of a fantasy liability at this point in his career.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/15/1984 | Team: Royals | Position: OF|
Profile: Jarrod Dyson’s value is will be mostly linked to his playing time. In only 239 plate appearances in 2013, he stole 34 bases. The main limitation to Dyson’s stolen base numbers is his ability to get on base. He has a .322 career on-base percentage which is just a bit below his 2013 value of .326. Besides the inability to get on base, he has little to no power. All his value is in his stolen bases. Right now he looks to be the odd man out in a crowded Royals outfield. He still has some value, even when not starting. On off days (Mondays and Thursdays), he can be plugged into a roster for a chance at an extra stolen base. In 2013, he stole seven bases without the benefit of getting an actual plate appearance. This trick can be used in leagues with PA limits to get some “free” steals. If/when Cain gets hurt, Dyson should take over the Royals center fielder and his value should go up. One consideration to take into account, Dyson should only be played against righties unless his owner wants to take a Adam Dunn type hit to his batting average. He has hit .266/.335/.368 vs righties over his career and only .192/.273/.224 vs lefties. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: If playing (or not), Jarrod Dyson is a stolen base machine. If he is starting, he is a must-play against right-handed pitchers.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 12/6/1988 | Team: White Sox | Position: OF|
Profile: 2013 was a lost season for Eaton with an elbow injury in spring training limiting him to just 277 plate appearances. But he’ll have a chance at a completely fresh start this year as he was traded to the White Sox in the offseason. Unfortunately, the White Sox outfield has four viable options just as the Arizona outfield did. His role next year obviously makes or breaks his fantasy value. In the at-bats he does get, Eaton should display good plate discipline, which should translate to a solid batting average and on-base percentages. But it’s impossible to predict his counting stats without being sure how often he’ll play. If he has a near-everyday role, he could hit 10 home runs, steal 20 bases and score 80 runs, with upside beyond in the stolen base category. Those numbers would make him a fourth outfielder in 12-team mixed leagues. He’s unlikely to go earlier than his borderline top 60 Average Draft Position, so he could return some value if he gets the regular playing time. But without some clarity as to his role prior to your draft — and it’s unclear if his General Manager saying that Eaton is the starter is enough to go on in that department — Eaton can only be a late round flier, not someone you are relying on. (Brett Talley)
Quick Opinion: Eaton’s 2013 was a lost season due to an injury keeping him out a majority of the year. But he’ll get a chance to start over with the White Sox this year. The Chicago outfield picture isn’t exactly clear, so it’s tough to say how many plate appearances Eaton will get. If he plays everyday, he could be a fourth outfielder in mixed leagues. But without some clarity about his role, he should only be a late round flier for you.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/9/1981 | Team: Dodgers | Position: C|
Profile: A.J. Ellis wasn’t able to repeat his magical 2012, putting up just a .318 on-base percentage a year after an excellent .373. He actually declined in all areas, making him a slightly below-average hitter overall (five percent worse than league average). The good news is that his walk rate of 10% was still solid, and catcher is such a thin position in fantasy that his 10 homers still make him relevant. He’ll need to hope that his .269 batting average on balls in play was just a one-year dip, because if he can get back to a .270 batting average with double-digit homers, he’ll be a viable fantasy option, since he heads into 2014 as the unquestioned Dodger starting backstop. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Since he’s a starting catcher coming off two consecutive years of double digit homers, Ellis has relevance, though he’s not likely to be a star in his age-32 season coming off a down 2013.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 6/6/1977 | Team: Cardinals | Position: 2B|
Profile: The current version of Mark Ellis is perhaps the most consistent player in baseball. He’ll hit between five and seven homers, put up an average in the .250-.280 range, play solid defense, and miss at least a few weeks every single year with a leg injury. For St. Louis, that’s a great insurance policy for young Kolten Wong, but since defense is why he exists, it’s not all that useful in the fantasy world. At 37, he might have another year or two of value left in him — at least until the next leg injury — but he’s waiver-wire fodder at best for fantasy teams. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Ever since he stopped hitting double-digit homers on a regular basis, Ellis has been much more useful in the real world than fantasy, and that’s not going to change at 37.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/11/1983 | Team: Yankees | Position: OF|
Profile: Jacoby Ellsbury had a renaissance of sorts in 2013, bouncing back from a sub-par 2012 to notch top-ten mixed league outfielder value. Home runs weren’t his standout category as in 2011, however; rather, he swiped 52 bags while playing in only 134 games. Now departing the friendly confines of Fenway Park for the even friendlier confines of Yankee Stadium, he’s a popular candidate to be tagged for more improvement. While more home runs seem like a foregone conclusion with the short porch in his new digs, Ellsbury’s batted ball distances and spray charts don’t scream “rake taters to left field!” Projecting more homers is easy, but projecting him close to the 32 he mashed in 2011 is not. That said, he’ll hit atop a revamped Yankee lineup which figures to get at least partly back to their old run-scoring ways. Expecting 15 homers and 40 stolen bases is perfectly reasonable, and couple that with elite run totals and a solid batting average and he’ll be a fairly safe pick among the top-ten mixed league outfielders. (Colin Zarzycki)
Quick Opinion: 52 stolen bases led the way back to fantasy stardom for Ellsbury, even though the prodigious power he flashed in 2011 remains missing. Now with the Yankees, he should see a small bump in his power numbers thanks to a generous right field porch. Assuming the rest of his rates hold (no reason to think they won’t), he’ll be an easy pick in the top-ten outfielders on draft day.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 6/15/1987 | Team: White Sox | Position: SS|
Profile: Were it not for his shortstop eligibility, Jake Elmore wouldn’t be worth much thought for fantasy purposes. But he is shortstop eligible, and while he’s likely bound for a utility role in Chicago, he’s a player worth watching for his one passable offensive skill: on-base percentage. Elmore boasts a career minor league OBP of .387. He didn’t hit for much power last year for the Astros (.083 isolated slugging percentage), and he hit for a low average (.242), but he did walk at a nearly 10% clip (9.6, to be exact) and that provided him a solid OBP of .313. He’ll never be a fantasy star, but with playing time, and on the right team, his OBP skills may provide fantasy value. (Jack Weiland)
Quick Opinion: Elmore hits for low average and not much power, but he does walk. In the right situation, he may have value. That’s unlikely to be the case in 2014 with the White Sox where he’s in line for a utility infield gig, but injuries or trades may open that door.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/7/1983 | Team: Blue Jays | Position: 1B/DH|
Profile: After Edwin Encarnacion’s big 2012 season for Toronto, he was expected to regress back to “merely good.” However, in 2013 he was practically as good as he was in 2012, and in some ways, even better. He did not hit home runs on contact quite as often, and his increased rate of doubles and triples may have raised some eyebrows, since that regresses more heavily than home runs rates. His wrist injury also understandably had people worried. Despite all of that, Encarnacion remains a top fantasy first baseman going into 2014. His home run rate was still very good. It is not as if he either of his good seasons are batted-ball-luck-driven illusions. Encarnacion shortened up his swing, and it paid dividends as his strikeout rate dropped. His walk rate was already good, but in 2013 he actually walked more than he struck out — always a good sign. Encarnacion will be 31 in 2014, so, yes, age is a factor, but he has the good peripherals where it counts. You are not looking to him for a high batting average. The wrist is a concern, but teammate Jose Bautista had a similar injury in 2012 and has roughly the same power production in 2013. These days, .270/.370/.510 with about 30 homers is excellent from a first baseman, and a reasonable expectation for Encarnacion in 2014. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Despite a wrist injury, Encarnacion is still one of the top fantasy first baseman going into 2014.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/5/1989 | Team: Twins | Position: 3B/SS|
Profile: Acquired in the Francisco Liriano trade with the White Sox, Escobar has all the makings of the next Twins utility guy written all over him. Statistically, Escobar hasn’t done much with the bat, at least not until at Triple-A in 2013. But he has good pop for someone his size (5’10”, 175 lbs), and he can literally play anywhere on the diamond. The Twins brass hasn’t slapped him with the utility label yet, but the writing is on the wall for the 24-year-old Venezuelan. And besides, there are worse things than being a long-term bench jockey getting 200-250 plate appearances each year. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: As long as Escobar can continue to show he can handle shortstop, he should be in the mix for a bench job with the Twins for the next few years to come.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/2/1982 | Team: Rays | Position: SS|
Profile: Yunel Escobar had the fourth-most WAR and fifth-best weighted offense of any shortstop in 2013. His excellent defense and league average hitting skills make him a treasure to a real-life team, but his mediocre homer power and batting average make him less valuable to a traditional fantasy team. His on-base percentage ranked third among shortstops in 2013, and his 100 wRC+ mean he will be a stalwart, if not sparkling, starting shortstop for the fantasy teams in deep leagues without Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Ben Zobrist, et al. (@BradleyWoodrum)
Quick Opinion: Like most shortstops, his real-life value trumps his fantasy value, but Yunel’s league average hitting can still be an asset to on-base percentage or linear weights leagues.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 12/16/1986 | Team: Royals | Position: SS|
Profile: Alcides Escobar’s fantasy value comes entirely from him playing a bunch and stealing a decent amount of bases (no power to see here at all). Over the past three seasons, he has played in at least 155 games a season. He has stolen 83 bases and has only been caught 14 times — none in 2013. The problem with Escobar is actually getting on base to steal that base. He doesn’t ever walk. Of the hitters from 2011-2013 (minimum 1500 plate appearances), Escobar has the lowest walk rate at 3.8%. Since he doesn’t walk, he is reliant on his average, and particularly his batting average on balls in play, to get on base. As his average goes so do his stolen base totals. 2011: .254 AVG / 26 SB; 2012: .293 / 35; 2013: .234 / 22. If he is able to put up a good BABIP like he did in 2012 (.344), he will be a good fantasy option. Otherwise, he is a deep-league middle-infield SB option. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: All of Alcides Escobar’s value is from stealing bases. Getting on base has been a struggle since he relies entirely on batted ball luck to do so.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/25/1987 | Team: Nationals | Position: 2B|
Profile: There are many ways to fail as a major league player. One such way is to post a 0.09 walk to strikeout ratio. Espinosa struck out 47 times against just four walks. He also forgot how to hit line drives, which led to a cratered batting average on balls in play and a .158/.193/.272 line over 167 plate appearances. A trip to Triple-A led to better results but not by much. Espinosa will likely get a chance to refocus and rebuild his value as a backup to Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon. If he makes good on his opportunities, he may find a full-time role with another team. He’s just a year removed from a 17 home run, 20 stolen base season. While he’ll kill fantasy owners in the batting average category, that combination of power and speed is hard to find in the middle infield. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Espinosa crumbled in 2013. He entered the season as a flawed upside play with plenty of power and speed, but the Nationals kicked him to the curb in early June. He’s young and athletic, but there’s no need to draft him.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/10/1982 | Team: Dodgers | Position: OF|
Profile: Over the last three years, Ethier’s weighted offense numbers were 22%, 24%, and 20% better than league average, so it’s not like he’s not consistent over the length of an entire season. But as usual, he was anything but consistent within the season itself. This time, it was a lousy first three months (.252/.331/.372) followed by a productive final three months (.296/.394/.486), shortened though they were by a serious ankle injury. Over the last three seasons, he’s actually been a top-ten hitter in the game against righty pitching, but serious struggles against lefties drag him down. For fantasy purposes, Ethier isn’t elite at any one skill, and while he won’t kill you anywhere either, he’s a good third outfielder at best — unless his surprise trip to center field lets you play with eligibility games. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: Ethier’s bursts of production are more frustrating than anything, since they always come paired with months of ineptitude. If you can figure which is going to happen when, there’s value to be had here.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 6/6/1983 | Position: 3B|
Profile: Any chance for Irving Falu to be a useful fantasy player has passed. He is now a 31-year-old light-hitting Triple-A utility player for the Brewers. Falu is Chris-Getz-lite: zero power, a .250 batting average, and a handful of steals. In order for Falu to get any fantasy value, he would need several Brewers to get nailed by the injury bug. While he can play several positions (second, short, third and outfield), he looks like he will be starting the season in Triple-A again. Even if he happens to get a starting position, he will only be useful for stolen bases (and only if he isn’t hitting eighth). There is no reason to have him on any kind of fantasy radar. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Irving Falu has no major league job and just a small amount of baseball talent. Stay away.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 8/5/1987 | Team: Dodgers | Position: C|
Profile: “Solid defense” still doesn’t have much relevance in fantasy, right? Then neither does Tim Federowicz. The backstop rode the Triple-A train a few times in 2013, but eventually settled in as the primary backup to starter A.J. Ellis while hitting only .231/.275/.356 in 173 plate appearances. In the minors, he’d shown a little bit more pop, but not as much as you’d think; his ridiculous Triple-A line in 2013 was in no small part due to the effects of the Pacific Coast League and Albuquerque in particular. Federowicz has a reputation for being a plus defensive catcher, and that will keep him in the big leagues, but his bat will prevent him from being a star — and, perhaps, even more than a backup. (Mike Petriello)
Quick Opinion: There’s plenty of good catchers who aren’t very likely to hit at a big league level. Absolutely none of them belong on your fantasy team, Tim Federowicz included.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/22/1987 | Team: Angels | Position: 2B/SS|
Profile: Tommy Field showed some signs of improvement in Triple-A in 2013, but those improvements didn’t show themselves in his extremely limited playing time in the majors. Only a trade or injury is likely to open the door for significant playing time in 2014. That said, his power and patience are respectable, and he is arguably the best offensive backup option in the Angels’ middle infield. If that’s what they’ll look for when one of the starters goes down is debatable. (Steve Staude)
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 5/9/1984 | Team: Rangers | Position: 1B|
Profile: Everything was down for Fielder in 2013 — his power, his patience, even his luck. For the first time in three seasons, he was just a two-win player. It seems silly to complain about a player who hit 25 percent better than league average, but Fielder had raised expectations with his 2011 and 2012 campaigns, during which he tied for the sixth-most home runs in baseball, and posted the sixth-best wRC+ among qualified players. But 2013 was a different year. Fielder reportedly had some off-field issues, and filed for divorce from his wife in May, and that is never an easy situation. Assuming he is able to put that all behind him heading into the 2014 season, he should return to the imposing slugger he has been in years past. Steamer has no reservations, as it has him pumped up back to a 140 wRC+. Thanks to his domestic issues, it’s difficult to know whether or not what we say was the beginning of a real decline or a one-year blip, and perhaps you want to wait a round or two longer than normal to tap Fielder in your fantasy draft, but he should still remain one of the better bets for your fantasy roster.
Quick Opinion: Fielder had a down 2013 season that ended in spectacle when he helped belly flop the Tigers out of the American League Championship Series. He now has a fresh start down in Texas, where he will be at the center of what should prove to be a very potent Rangers attack.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/22/1978 | Position: 3B/OF|
Profile: Chone Figgins didn’t play baseball for a major league organization last year. The last two seasons that he did play, he cost his team a full win over a replacement player. His walks disappeared. He never had much power, but what he had went away. He started having trouble making contact and his defense got worse. That pretty much covers any value he used to have, so many years ago. But now he’s on a minor league deal with the Dodgers, and that alone might tell you something about how nervous they are about their $48 million second base signing, Cuban Alexander Guerrero. Should Figgins make the team, he could carve out value a little like Jerry Hairston Jr did before retiring: occasional injury replacement in real life, and waiver wire acquisition in the deepest of leagues in fantasy baseball. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Don’t worry about him on draft day, but the deepest of leaguers should keep half a brain cell on Chone Figgins. He might be a good waiver wire pickup at some point if he makes the Dodgers.
|Debut: 2012 | BirthDate: 7/27/1986 | Team: Orioles | Position: 2B|
Profile: A bit late to come on the scene, the 27-year-old Ryan Flaherty impressed enough in 2013 that he could enter 2014 as the Orioles’ starting second baseman. In 85 games, Flaherty played every infield position and looked decent doing it, though he hit .224/.293/.390. And therein lies the problem for Baltimore, because it’s difficult to see Flaherty hitting or walking enough to reach an on-base percentage far north of .300. He does have some pop, though, and the 10 home runs and .167 isolated slugging weren’t entirely unexpected. Given a full season of playing time, it’s not inconceivable that Flaherty could hit 20 bombs, though he’d be a drain on your batting average. For Baltimore, he’d probably be best deployed as a super-utility guy against right-handed pitchers; for fantasy owners, his position eligibility and power make him a possible bench player in deep formats if the Orioles roll with him as a starter. (Blake Murphy)
Quick Opinion: Ryan Flaherty flashed power and defensive versatility in 2013, but his plate discipline limits his upside, both in real and fantasy terms.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 8/6/1991 | Team: Mets | Position: 3B|
Profile: It’s not all that difficult to produce a sense of angst within the bosom of a Mets fan. Mostly just uttering the name of the club is sufficient. Invoking Wilmer Flores has an even more substantial effect, though, generally initiating a chain reaction of conflict within the bosom of that same Mets fan. None of it is Flores’ fault, really. He’s been a prospect since he was signed at age-16 in 2007. That he hasn’t become a superstar yet is both (a) an entirely reasonable outcome and (b) a disappointment to even rational supporters of the club. Owing to his defensive shortcomings, Flores’ ceiling is limited. That said, he demonstrated proficient offensive skills as a 21-year-old at Triple-A last season. Allen Craig never did that, and now Allen Craig is a slightly above-average major-leaguer. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Was entirely competent offensively as a 21-year-old at Triple-A last year. Not a future superstar, likely, but also likely to have multiple above-average offensive seasons. At which position and on which major league team is the current open question.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 12/10/1986 | Team: Twins | Position: SS|
Profile: The Twins claimed Florimon from the Orioles in 2011, and handed him the full-time shortstop job in 2013 under the guise that he’d be good enough defensively to carry his less-than-stellar bat. And considering he hit just .221/.281/.330 in 2013 with just over a win of value, it’s probably fair to say the Twins got what they bargained for. Florimon continues to be a dazzling defensive shortstop who can make a lot of the flashy plays, but will at times struggle to make the routine ones. Still, that’s a minor quibble on an otherwise excellent defensive rap sheet for Florimon. At times, he shows more with the stick, too. He’s long, and lean, and athletic, with enough raw power to be an offensive threat, at least relative to his position. He seems to struggle with pitches middle and in — as he’ll often swing through them. In two separate months, Florimon showed enough offensively for some to take note. In May he hit .289/.349/.434, and in July he hit .227/.256/.427 with four of his nine home runs. But outside of those months, his highest OPS was .612, with a low of .460. That lack of consistency is what has kept him from becoming the undisputed future of the Twins at the position. He’ll have to hold off Danny Santana internally to keep the position in the future, and that’s only if the Twins don’t supplement from the outside. (Brandon Warne)
Quick Opinion: Florimon is an all-glove, no-hit shortstop and at 27, it’s pretty likely that’s all he’ll ever be. It’s hard to imagine him holding the starting job at shortstop into the long-term for the Twins.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 1/24/1986 | Team: White Sox | Position: C|
Profile: Strikeouts are a big problem for Flowers. A ridiculous 34.2% strikeout rate led to a horrible .195 batting average. While he did flash some power, he didn’t do enough in other areas to boost his value. Once Josh Phegley was called up, Flowers lost his full-time role. He had shoulder surgery in September, which may have been the reason for some of his struggles. Since the White Sox didn’t make changes at the position, there’s a chance Flowers sees significant time based on his Spring Training numbers. The upside is a ton of home runs from the catching position (with a terrible batting average), the downside is a terrible average with a ton of strikeouts (and very few counting stats). (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Flowers had a disastrous season which led to him being benched in favor of Josh Phegley. Neither player is the future in Chicago, but both could have a shot at playing time in 2014.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 1/14/1987 | Team: Rays | Position: 2B|
Profile: Logan Forsythe proved to be quite the utility player for the Padres in 2013, appearing in games at three infield and two outfield positions, the bulk of which came at second base during Jedd Gyorko’s trip to the disabled list that spanned parts of June and July. But the defensive flexibility Forsythe provided off the bench came at the cost of him being a liability at the plate. He triple slashed just .214/.281/.332 with six homers, 19 RBI and six stolen bases in 243 plate appearances. A nagging plantar fasciitis injury to his right foot could be to blame for some of his lack of production at the plate and below average plate discipline (7.8% walk rate, 22.2% strikeout rate) last year. Now that he’s in Tampa, where the team loves to use Swiss Army knives to get the most out of their available talent, the prognosis for his fantasy value is much the same: AL-Only formats could do worse late in their drafts, especially considering Forsythe’s multiple position eligibility. But shallower leaguers should be looking for someone with a full-time job. 400-ish projected plate appearances is not quite enough. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: Even on a new team, it’s hard to see Forsythe starting. The bat and the glove are good enough to contribute, but the combo is not quite good enough to start at any one position. He’ll provide the Rays — and teams in the deepest of fantasy leagues — some depth, at most.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/22/1986 | Team: Astros | Position: OF|
Profile: Fowler has improved little things each season, and this past season was no different. He raised his walk rate and cut his strikeout rate to near career-best levels, but together they were good enough for a career-best .62 BB/K. Some of the power he had flashed in 2012 dissipated, but that could be due to his injury troubles — in April, he bashed eight homers before the injury problems cropped up. It seemed to affect his stolen base output as well. In the first half, he swiped 13 bases against just three times caught stealing, but in those numbers were six and six, respectively. A very athletic outfielder whose defensive numbers are tamped down by Coors Field’s supersized center field, Fowler would be easily capable of a 20-20 season were he able to stay in the lineup for a whole campaign. But health is a skill, and it is not one that Fowler has been able to demonstrate consistently during his career. Combine that with the Rockies’ repeated displeasure with what they deemed a too-high strikeout rate earlier in his career, and Fowler has never put together that 650 PA season. Hope springs eternal that this will be the year. Either way, don’t let Fowler slip past the middle rounds of your draft.
Quick Opinion: Everything about Fowler’s 2013 season was a positive — except for the fact that he was once again dogged by nagging injuries. As a result, there is also once again talk that he could be shipped out of Colorado, but no matter where he lands, count on him being a good mid-tier value in all fantasy formats.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 6/24/1987 | Team: Brewers | Position: 1B/3B|
Profile: Juan Francisco was planned to be part of a third base platoon with Chris Johnson, but 35 games into 2013, he was shipped to Milwaukee to fill in at third for the Brewers while Aramis Ramirez nursed his [insert random appendage]. Francisco hit pretty much as advertised, with big power versus right-handed pitchers coupled with an extremely high strikeout rate. Over the course of a full season, Francisco might hit 25+ home runs, but his contact skills are such that he’s not likely to hit above .240 and might just hit .215. His role with the 2014 Brewers isn’t ironclad. He might be a left-handed bench bat, he could also wind up spending a significant time at first base should they fail to find an option in the Winter. He has fringe value in fantasy formats with regular playing time, and without it, he’s best left to the waiver wire. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Juan Francisco is responsible for for one of the more ridiculous moonshots of 2013, but his limited role and batting average make him difficult to roster. Should he fall into regular playing time and should your system eschew things like batting average and on base percentage, he could have value. But that would be an odd system, wouldn’t it?
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 10/23/1981 | Position: DH/OF|
Profile: One of many scrap-heap projects the Yankees tried in 2013, Francisco posted horrible numbers in 21 games before being released in May and spending the reason of the year in the Pacific Coast League. This may be the end of the road for the six-year veteran, unless a team is desperate for a light-hitting, poor-fielding platoon outfielder on the wrong side of 30. (Erik Hahmann)
Quick Opinion: It’s possible he’ll get an invitation to spring training from someone, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/8/1984 | Position: OF|
Profile: Jeff Francoeur’s weighted on base average graph would be quite the Disneyland attraction. From 2006 through 2007, Francouer was actually useful in fantasy formats as a second outfielder. Then his power production fell off a cliff until he remade himself a combination of power and speed with the Kansas City Royals in 2011. But the decline was swift. 2012 was pretty ugly all around as Francouer managed -1.5 WAR in over 600 plate appearances. 2013 saw him released by the Royals, subsequently picked up by the Giants, where he “hit” .194/.206/.226 and was once again released in late August. He has reportedly had LASIK surgery and will be going to a lighter bat in 2014, but it remains to be seen if any team will give him an opportunity to compete for a bench job. Avoid him on draft day. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Among all major league hitters afforded 250 plate appearances in 2013, Jeff Francouer had the worst wOBA at .235. Dead last. Ahead of him were Jeff Mathis, Brendan Ryan, Elliot Johnson, and Pete Kozma. Yep.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 5/24/1982 | Team: Phillies | Position: 1B/2B|
Profile: Frandsen is a 31-year-old utility infielder who has been worth 0.7 wins above replacement over his 1,114 career plate appearances. In 402 major-league games, he has managed to hit 14 homers, swipe seven bases and record a .259/.316/.359 slash line. Last year, he saw more playing time in the majors than he had since 2007, and his weighted offense was 23% below league-average. Get excited, America! (Scott Strandberg)
Quick Opinion: Why are you reading this? It’s Kevin Frandsen. Come on.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 3/2/1991 | Team: Mariners | Position: 2B|
Profile: A top-100 prospect, Nick Franklin was once seen as an important part of the Mariners’ future, but the acquisition of Robinson Cano has pushed Franklin aside. Slight of build but full of punch, Franklin was a little disappointing during his major league debut last season. Franklin started out hot, hitting .267 with 10 homers in his first 50 starts, but he cooled off significantly and had major problems making contact over the last two months, dropping his overall line to a paltry .225/.303/.382. A switch-hitter, Franklin had improved his whiff rate as he ascended through the minors, so there’s hope that his problems can be easily corrected. If the Mariners keep him around, Franklin enters 2014 as a super-utility man, seeking playing time at second, short, and left field. If Franklin can get a chance to play on another team, he’s a bit of a sleeper candidate in on-base percentage leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Nick Franklin was a top-100 prospect who is without a starting spot in Seattle. If he can land with with another team, the switch-hitter is a sleeper candidate in on-base percentage leagues.
|Debut: 2011 | BirthDate: 2/12/1986 | Team: Reds | Position: 3B|
Profile: It’s unclear what Todd Frazier is after two seasons of data. He played clearly over his head during his rookie season, but his decline may have been a bit too extreme in 2013. Frazier showed slightly improved skills at the plate, walking more and striking out less. Despite the improvement, his batting average on balls in play fell from .316 to .269. That suggests he could be in for some improvement. If he can hit .260 with strong power numbers, he can be a useful fantasy asset. But after last season’s decline in slugging, it’s tough to say if Frazier is capable of hitting 25-30 home runs per season. He’ll be useful if the power comes back. Otherwise, he’ll likely be lower-tier option at third. (Chris Cwik)
Quick Opinion: Some bad luck pushed down Frazier’s overall line, which could mean he’s in for some improvement in 2014. His power will determine whether he’s a starter at third, or a lower-tier option.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/12/1989 | Team: Braves | Position: 1B|
Profile: Scouts have talked about Freddie Freeman as a potential batting champion for years now, but his statistical profile never really supported that assessment. Freeman tried to prove us stat-heads wrong by posting a .319 batting average on the strength of a .371 batting average on balls in play. He hits a ton of line drives — over 26% these past two seasons — which puts him in a good position to continue posting high BABIPs. He doesn’t have quite as much power as some first base types. Without a change in his skillset, he seems pretty locked in to a home run total in the low 20’s. He’s developed into a very steady hitter, and he’s a good bet to produce somewhere between his 2012 and 2013 numbers. While he doesn’t steal bases, he is one of the top runs and RBI producers with the Braves, so he’ll contribute positively to four categories. Not all owners may pick up on the fact that his BABIP — though high — might be sustainable and some will even project further power growth from the 24-year-old. That might make it hard to project him correctly and may make him valued very differently in drafts this spring. (Brad Johnson)
Quick Opinion: Freeman is coming off the best season of his young career and there is a lot of reason for optimism. Barring injury, he’s one of the safer choices to provide balanced, four category production. However, he might end up costing more than he’s worth.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 4/28/1983 | Team: Angels | Position: 3B|
Profile: After a disappointing season with both the bat and the glove, Freese was shipped off to Anaheim to join the Angels as their new starting third baseman. Though his peripherals remained intact, his power disappeared, and his always sky high batting average on balls in play fell to a career low. The thing is, his status as a power hitter was questionable to begin with. His career ground ball rate sits above 50%, a level typically reserved for speedy slap hitters. With so few fly balls, exceeding the 20 home run plateau is, and always will be, mighty difficult. Angel Stadium is a bit more friendly for right-handed home runs than Bush Stadium has been, which could help result in a power rebound. Combine the better home park with a batted ball distance that remained strong and Freese becomes a good rebound candidate. (Mike Podhorzer)
Quick Opinion: After an excellent first full season in 2012, Freese followed that up with a disappointing one in 2013 as his power disappeared. He’ll get a fresh start in Anaheim and both the park factors and his average batted ball distance suggest a rebound is in store.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 12/31/1986 | Team: Athletics | Position: 1B|
Profile: Nate Freiman is a large human. The 6’8″, 250 pound first baseman was selected off waivers by the Oakland Athletics from the Houston Astros (by way of a Rule-5 selection via the San Diego Padres), making 50 starts at first base in the 2013 season. As a pinch hitter, Freiman struggled, but when he started games in the field he actually hit .297/.329/.421 with three home runs, seven doubles, and 17 RBI over 155 plate appearances. Freiman enters 2014 at the age of 27, as he was drafted out of Duke back in 2009. His minor league track record suggests plus power, a solid on-base percentage, and not many strikeouts — and his track record at the major league level suggests an ability to hit left-handed pitchers quite well, slashing .304/.352/.453 over 162 plate appearances. Where Freiman fits in is another story. Brandon Moss, Daric Barton, and Alberto Callaspo should all see plenty of time at first base and although Freiman could play the outfield, there’s a logjam of bodies out there too. Chances are, Freiman fills a platoon role between first base and designated hitter, and he’ll get used off the bench as a right-handed pinch hitter. He might fall into 300 plate appearances, which isn’t likely going to help your fantasy squad much. He’s worth a stash in keeper leagues in case he finds a regular gig though. (Michael Barr)
Quick Opinion: Nate Freiman is exceedingly tall and apparently exceedingly intelligent, holding a degree in History from Duke, maintaining a 3.84 grade point average. He also holds Duke’s home run record. Whether he factors into your fantasy plans is going to be impacted by his role — and for now, the best case scenario appears to be as a part-time platoon partner, sneaking additional at bats as a pinch-hitter versus left-handers. That’s probably not enough to roster in standard formats, although if you’ve got a deep keeper, he’s someone worth considering.
|Debut: 2013 | BirthDate: 2/12/1991 | Team: Padres | Position: OF|
Profile: Fuentes, the Boston Red Sox first round selection in 2009, landed in the Padres farm system as a piece of the 2010 Adrian Gonzalez deal. Reports indicate the shine on his “prospect stock” wore off a bit since switching systems, but a successful repeat of Double-A in 2013 somewhat reminded evaluators the reason he was initially a first rounder. Fuentes triple slashed .316/.396/.441 with six homers and 29 stolen bases in 93 games his second time around the Texas League, a huge improvement from the .218/.301/.302 line just a year earlier. An improved approach at the plate continued in a short stint at Triple-A, leading to a brief cup of coffee at the conclusion of the ‘13 campaign. During his time with the Friars, Fuentes slashed .152/.222/.152 with one RBI and three stolen bags in 36 trips to the plate. The Padres offseason acquisition of Seth Smith further jams logs into the Padres outfield, so until the Friars can move at least one Chris Denorfia type guy, Reymond Fuentes must remain only on the minds of dynasty leaguers. (Alan Harrison)
Quick Opinion: Speed, defense and patience in center field are worth waiting for in certain leagues. Others should probably pass, because the wait will certainly take most of this year, at least.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 11/20/1981 | Position: OF|
Profile: It was a rough year for Super Sam, as he batted-ball-lucked his way to a 46-year-old Rickey Henderson-type season. The Rays decided to give his roster spot to a fresh face, so he’ll play his defense and win hearts in a new city next year as a fifth outfielder. Wherever he goes, he’s of no importance in terms of fantasy, and is worth rooting for anyway. (Patrick Dubuque)
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 10/24/1977 | Team: Marlins | Position: SS|
Profile: Furcal signed a one-year deal with the Marlins and will slide over to second base to play alongside Adeiny Hechavarria. Before we get into why Furcal isn’t a particularly good baseball player anymore, let’s first talk about the fact that he has been unable to stay healthy and play ball all that much since turning 30. Prior to missing the entire 2013 season after Tommy John surgery, Furcal played in fewer than 100 games in three of the five previous seasons. And in the 200 or so games that he played in 2011 and 2012, he just wasn’t that good. He doesn’t have the speed he used to have, which has obviously hurt his stolen base totals. And it has also hurt his batting average because he’s hitting ground balls at a rate higher than he ever has before and isn’t able to turn as many of those into hits. His glove was also below average in those years, so there’s a chance he might not last the year as an everyday player even if he does manage to stay healthy. He should be completely off your fantasy radar. (Brett Talley)
Quick Opinion: Furcal has signed a one-year deal to play second base for the Marlins. He missed the entire 2013 season after Tommy John surgery and has had problems staying healthy ever since turning 30. Even if he does stay healthy for most or all of the year, his skills have eroded to the point where he’s not worth considering in fantasy leagues.
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