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2014 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles -- Mariners & Brewers

A look at all the position battles fantasy baseball owners will see during 2014 spring training

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2014 Position Battles -- Mariners & Brewers | Slide - 1 FantasyAlarm.com

Seattle Mariners SS

With the acquisition of Robinson Cano, the Mariners created themselves a bit of a logjam in their middle infield as they now have yet another displaced second baseman. Last season, the Mariners struggled early as a team and by the end of May, were deciding it was best to start auditioning some of their younger talent and see how they fared on the big league level. Nick Franklin arrived at the end of May and by early June, he was the starting second baseman. Less than a month later, Brad Miller arrived to take over at shortstop. Though neither dazzled, both impresses and the Mariners are now left with a big decision over what to do. The answer? A trade or position switch seems the most logical, but instead, Lloyd McClendon has decided to thrust the two of them into a heated spring battle for the starting shortstop job.

The switch-hitting Franklin was summoned from Triple-A at the end of May last season and started off pretty strong. While he was only batting .267 over his first 50 starts, he managed to club 10 home runs, including six alone in the month of July. But while he remained a solid play in the field, his bat cooled significantly and he finished the year with just 12 home runs and a .225/.303/.382 slash line over 412 plate appearances. His strikeouts were definitely an issue, but considering his improved plate discipline throughout the minors and a solid 10.2-percent walk rate, there was certainly hope for him to turn things around.

Miller actually impressed a little bit more as he hit .265/.318/.418 with eight home runs, 41 runs scored, 36 RBI, and five steals over 335 plate appearances. The numbers might not jump out at you too much, but based on a variety of projection systems, those numbers over the full course of a regular season could translate into 15-15 potential with a solid batting average. That means he could actually be a solid five-category contributor at a very thin shortstop position.

It’s doubtful that this battle gets decided anytime soon as the Mariners want to give both players a legitimate look. Especially since the loser of it will likely head back to Triple-A since Willie Bloomquist is probably locked in to the back-up job already. If we were to hazard a guess, the assumption is that Miller will end up landing the job in the end. Both are fairly equal as fielders, but Miller’s time spent at short last year will give him an edge, for sure. He also seems to be the more consistent bat. If he can exhibit strong plate discipline and doesn’t do anything too outlandish to cost himself the job, then it should be his.

Obviously it’s no lock, but if you’re drafting early and in need of some middle infield…not primary shortstop….middle infield help, then give Miller a late look in your draft.

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Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.

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2014 Position Battles -- Mariners & Brewers | Slide - 2 FantasyAlarm.com

Milwaukee Brewers 2B

Just because Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said back in December that Scooter Gennett, and not Rickie Weeks, was currently penciled in as the Brewers' starting second baseman doesn’t necessarily mean that the season will open with that roster configuration. While Weeks’ numbers have painfully declined over recent years, Gennett, on his best day, still has trouble matching the production Weeks has provided on his worst. So now the question remains, while the Brewers have said they will do defense first, will they stick with it through more than just the offseason.

There’s simply no denying the need for quality defense, particularly up the middle and on a team with a rotation filled with ground ball pitchers. Gennett’s glove is going to be vital for Milwaukee and while it can be tough to measure just how much impact his defense will have, the proof will likely be found when we start to look at some of the Brewers pitchers’ FIP totals. But with less power on the team this season, will that be enough to keep him in the lineup on a regular basis? Gennett has never posted double digit home run total in any given season, dating back to his rookie campaign at the Low-A level. He relies heavily on contact – both his walk and strikeout rates are below league-average – and should he run into any sort of batted ball bad luck, both his batting average and his on-base percentage are going to plummet. Should that happen as early as springtime, the Brewers are going to have to make some important decisions.

Weeks has certainly been frustrating though. Early in his career, fantasy owners cringed at the idea of owning him because he just couldn’t seem to stay healthy. Even after a career year in 2010 that saw him play in 160 games and belt 29 home runs with 83 RBI while still swiping double digit bases, he was still considered a cautionary tale. And rightfully so as he played in just 118 games the following season. But while he played in over 150 games the following year, the wheels started to fall off the wagon and he hit just .230 for the season. The counting stats were in the right place but the handwriting was on the wall and it was time to abandon ship as that ship sank in 2013. With just 10 home runs and a .209 average, the Brewers finally had enough and replaced Weeks with Gennett for good.

Again, this isn’t technically a position battle right now, but has the potential to be one should Gennett’s bat fail miserably. As for the fantasy aspect, there’s really not much to like. Mixed league owners can simply bypass. But if you’re in an extremely deep NL-only league, then Gennett might be worth a very late look for depth purposes. Weeks, not so much. If during the spring it looks as if he could play his way into a potential platoon situation (Gennett is pretty weak against lefthanders) then maybe a final-round flier, but nothing more than that.

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Searching for answer for the 2014 fantasy baseball season? Turn to a trusted source to enlighten you – Fantasy Alarm – and pick up your very own copy of the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Baseball Draft Guide. After reading the 200 pages of information you will be ready to dominate the competition in the coming season on your way to a fantasy baseball championship.


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