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The fine fantasy action was as abundant on Friday as the night was long and arduous. The Giants and Cardinals were postponed due to tornado warnings in the St. Louis area, the Rays and Indians were delayed by rain for nearly five hours and the Blue Jays and Padres played til the wee hours of the night/morning to finish off a 17-inning extravaganza. We saw old-timers shine, young bucks play like seasoned veterans and we saw some early season strugglers finally emerge from their statistical cocoon. While it wasn’t the offensive fiesta we saw just a couple of nights ago, this one was still jam-packed with plenty of excitement that had fantasy owners on the edge of their seats.
Though it was a typical short slate of games Thursday, the night was jam-packed with big names and big stories. There was the much-anticipated match-up between Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish, Bryce Harper was back on the field to lend his support to teammate and fellow superstar Stephen Strasburg who was still looking for his first win since Opening Day, the Mariners were looking for their first series win at Yankee Stadium in what seemed like a bazillion years, and there were aces abound with the likes of Adam Wainwright, Jose Fernandez, Mat Latos and Matt Cain all taking the hill. Yet with all of that star power front and center and in the spotlight, none of it compared to what was actually my favorite part of the night.
And just like that, after the long, cold winter, the MLB season is back in full force and the fantasy baseball season has officially begun. Happy Opening Day to you all. Worth the wait? I’d say so. We got a nice, little taste on Sunday night as the Astros won their very first game as an American League team and then Monday was just one of those days that made you feel like a little kid all over again. We saw some great baseball played with the promise of so much more to come.
At no point in the season do 50 at-bats or 18 innings mean more than they do right now. A guy goes out and hits .222 in spring and people drop that player 14 spots in their rankings. Another player hits .386 and guess what, he's now a potential breakout star in fantasy baseball. I always caution people not to read too much into small sample sizes, and I also tell people not to put an overabundance of value into spring stats. Maybe a batter faced a lot of Double and Triple-A pitchers and he hit .480 off them. Maybe he hit only .190 against big league arms. You see him hitting .320 and think he's had a great spring. Is that really accurate? Maybe a pitcher, unconcerned with the results, went out and threw his curve ball 40 percent of the time and got hammered because he was working on honing a new grip with the pitch. Does he all of a sudden stink? The bottom line is that spring numbers don't always tell the whole story. I'll touch on a few players though that really stood out this spring and give you my thoughts on what some reasonable expectations should be for the players in 2013.
There are plenty of names that are still available in the world of major league baseball. Some names are significant (Lohse), while others are middling (Thome), while still others are flat out snooze fests (Abreu). Still, all could have a league specific role of note so they are worth discussing. Also worth break down is the Marlins' bullpen situation. Could the Fish be looking to bring in some late inning depth in the form of an arm that has accrued at least 25 saves in each of the past six seasons? Finally, what do Longoria and Sandoval have in common? They both have a lot to prove in 2013.
Every year we get the rush of people who, acting like it's a holiday sale at Walmart, aren't afraid to run over their competitor to add the hot new toy to their basket (in this case we're talking hot shot youngster to their fantasy team). Believe me I understand the temptation. Just look at what guys like Trout and Harper did last season. But for every successful rookie standout there are tons of youngsters who fail to live up to the overblown expectations of many in the fantasy game. I'll try to lend some sanity here. I'll then touch on some of the news of the day including will Manny Ramirez play in 2013? Is Joe Saunders a reliable innings eater? What were the Phillies thinking signing an unreliable veteran righty? Is Mike Napoli every going to sign with the Red Sox? Is Jose Valverde's career as a closer over even though he had 35 saves last year?
While 2012 has been filled with a variety of different story lines, it could be the rookie impact that really defines the season and sets it apart from most others. From the spring hype of Bryce Harper to the amazing dominance of Mike Trout to the now suddenly surging Manny Machado, this year has been all about the youngsters. With each and every step closer to the playoffs and World Series, the buzz around the league remains with the inundation of young talent that MLB has seen, particularly from these three individuals.
We all know the trade deadline is coming. We read about it constantly and spend hours tracking the rumor mill. But for some reason it never feels real or even imminent until that first day where rumors become reality and big moves start to happen. Monday was that day for MLB and for fantasy owners. What began as numerous Tweeters jumping the gun on a Cubs/Braves deal for Ryan Dempster, the day suddenly turned into a head turning “Whaaaaat?!?!?” for many of us. Here’s a look at what went down and how Monday’s deals will fall out with respect to fantasy.
As we settle in for the All Star break, it’s time to show out love and appreciation for the best value picks of the first half. Obviously there are players out there that may have better overall stats than some of the ones I’m about to reveal, but these are the ones who have given you the best return value for where they were drafted this year. First round picks that produce first round numbers are usually no-brainers, but as we all know, fantasy baseball championships are won in the later rounds when you get first round-type production form your 18th round pick. So without further ado, I present to you the 2012 First Half, Best Value, Stud-a-Licious Award winners…
Apologies for the late start here today, folks, but sometimes life just throws you a few curveballs and today I’m swinging more like early-movie Pedro Cerrano. Jobu is not helping me do nothing here! But better late than never, right? So let’s get down to business and the first thing I want to do is to hit on one more pitching item that yesterday’s “pitcher injury” piece seemed to spark. I received a few emails actually asking, so what better way to address the big question than to do it right here: What the heck do I do with Tim Lincecum?