2014 Fantasy Baseball: Tough Questions
Every spring brings a new fantasy season and with that, of course, comes questions. Like will Masahiro Tanaka rent a private jet for every away game? Will the Dodgers try to buy the Yankees? Which player will make the most GIF-able play this year? Will Joey Votto pop out in the infield?
Are they important? Not really. Here are few questions that have more bearing on the season
1) Will Justin Verlander bounce back? - It's safe to say last year was not Justin Verlander's best year. And if we're going strictly off of baseball performance, it was his worst year since 2009. The MVP/Cy Young season of 2011 was in the very distant past for last year's owners. His ERA rose almost one point from the 2012 season, his infield hit percentage more than doubled (4.1% to 8.3%) and his BABIP was 51 points higher than his 2010 - 2012 average (.265 to .316). Let’s just say we can attribute a lot of that to having Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder manning the corners.
Although you can’t discount the distraction of having Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kate Upton as a girlfriend. Have you seen what she looks like in space? After a down year and having the Orlando Magic mascot propose to her I'd say Justin is out to prove he's still a dominant pitcher.
Maybe he can impress Kate by finally getting into the perfect game club.
Moving Cabrera back to first will definitely help Verlander bring some of those number back down. Dribblers now turn into outs and keeping those runners off base keeps runs off the board.
2) How many bases can Billy Hamilton steal? - Billy Hamilton does one thing extremely well and that is stealing bases. He may be the most hyped base stealer since Ricky Henderson. Everyone wants a player who can single-handedly carry you in steals but how many can we ralistically expect? Vince Coleman holds the rookie record for steals and it's 110 back in 1985. Breaking that record is definitely too much to expect but if he can up get on base and continue to learn the art of reading pitchers he could definitely catch Kenny Lofton's 55 steals as a rookie. Although if just going off of his brief time in the majors last year 55 might be on the low end. He had nine hits and two walks for a grand total of 11 times on base. He then proceeded to steal 16 bases. Maybe 100 isn't that unrealistic...
Rust Cohle once said "time is a flat circle" and if we go by, that since he was right about everything else, hopefully Hamilton can replicate the success of his namesake more than 100 years his senior and 3rd all time base stealer Billy Hamilton. I'm sure there are a lot of keeper league managers hoping history does repeat itself.
3) Will Houston keep losing? - It amazes me that more people aren't talking about Houston's losing. They've won 55 and 51 games respectively over the last two years. If this was the NBA, analysts would make up some pun about the losing involving their team name or the player they want to draft. I get it -- after being moved into the stronger AL they had to add talent to their roster somehow and spending like the Yankees wasn't in the cards. Instead, they have built a farm system looking for their own version of the "Core 4" and have got it up to #9 in the rankings. They're playing cheap journeymen until all their talent bursts onto the scene. I love the strategy because as we've seen the Cardinals have huge success building from within. With stud prospect George Springer a real threat for an early season call up the Astros might soon flip the switch from losing to winning. If they do start pushing for wins watch for those prospects as they join the majors because they have the talent to deliver some huge stats. And with prospects failing all the time, with TINSTAAPP and all, it seems "tanking" isn't in the baseball lexicon."
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