Todd Helton and Rangers’, Nats’ CF Playing Time Battles

One of the keys to winning at fantasy baseball, especially in deep leagues, is to have players that will actually, you know, spend time on the field. No matter how much ability a player possesses, they are useless if they aren’t getting playing time. I am going to look during this preseason for possible changes in playtime for various players.

Todd Helton –- The Rockies plan on playing Helton in only 100 to 110 games in 2012 even if he is healthy.

While Helton is not a top-flight first baseman, any starting 1B is useful in a NL-only or deep league. But the Rockies limiting his games to 110, even if he is healthy, is a problem. Owners will have to be diligent in checking their lineups before every Rockies game. If the owner is in a league with weekly lineups, Helton can be expected to miss two games a week.

Helton may still be able to hit the ball with decent power. Also, when in the lineup, especially at home, he will have plenty of Run and RBI opportunities. I just don’t find him worth the effort to own though. Look elsewhere for cheap help with the 1B or Utility position.

Rangers center field Position –- The Rangers are set on moving Josh Hamilton to left field. This move opens up the center field job with the candidates being Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry and Julio Borbon. All three players have decent speed and should hit for about a .275 batting average. They are all pretty close to being the same player.

I think Martin, the #79th-highest rated prospect in Baseball America’s top 100 list, will separate himself from the other two for the following couple of reasons. The first is that he has a bit more power. While it is not a ton more power, he at least projects to have an ISO greater than .100. The other two do not. The second reason is that Martin is two years younger than Borbon and four years younger than Gentry. Even if for some reason Martin does not have the CF job immediately out of spring training, I expect him to get it within a month or two.

Nationals CF Position -– It looks like for now that Rick Ankiel is the solution that the Nationals see for their lack of a CF. The same Rick Ankiel whose batting average has not topped .239 over that last three seasons. A sub-.240 number is not going to cut it when he can barely reach double-digit home runs. The Nationals will look for CF help as teams are forced to make roster cuts later in spring training and Ankiel will have to move on. The only value I see for him is in a 10-team NL-East-only league.

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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Jayson Werth has been playing mostly centerfield this spring. So, there’s that.