Spring Training is right around the corner, and while we continue to work to fill our Draft Kit 2011 that already includes player projections, the Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy and our prospect series, here is some fantasy “buzz” on some key players that have significant questions heading into the season.
A change of scenery, the good
Javier Vazquez’ two worst Major League seasons came wearing New York Yankee pinstripes. He’s now in Miami with the Florida Marlins and should feel much more comfortable in the National League. Don’t look for 2009 numbers, but a season close to those numbers isn’t unreasonable.
Vernon Wells is out of Toronto and about to find himself in the heart of the Los Angeles Angels’ batting order. Wells has a ton of potential and should put up nice numbers if he can stay healthy. Look for a good season, but he won’t hit homers the way he did at the Rogers Centre.
A change of scenery, the bad
Mark Reynolds has gone from a hitter’s dream with the Arizona Diamondbacks (90 games every season at Chase Field and Coors Field), to the toughest division in baseball with the Baltimore Orioles. He will likely break his MLB single season strikeout record. Don’t look for him to benefit from the change.
Jayson Werth found 128 million reasons to go play for the Washington Nationals. It is hard to fault him for that. Unfortunately, the Nats won’t get anywhere close to their money’s worth out of a guy who benefit from a small ballpark and a great lineup around him. Neither of those luxuries will be afforded him this season, and he will find his place only slightly above mediocre.
Adrian Beltre has shown us his pattern. In a contract season, he is a monster. He averaged .310/28/89 in three contract years. Compare that to his non-contract season average of .264/18/67. Why the Texas Rangers would back up the armored car for this slacker, no one knows. My advice: don’t draft him unless you want to be disappointed.
Finally getting a chance
Dustin Ackley can possible earn the starting second baseman job out of spring training. The Seattle Mariners have given him the chance to learn 2B and it looks as if his glove will stick. His bat can play anywhere. He will be a Dustin Pedroia-type player with a few more steals and few less homers.
Freddie Freeman is being handed the first baseman job in Atlanta with few expectations put on him. He will likely bat eighth and get a bunch of walks batting in front of the pitcher, but don’t expect a huge season until he can move up in the order.
Putting the injury behind him
Jake Peavy’s 2010 season was a waste. It ended in early July with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Right now whether he is on the active roster Opening Day is in question, but assuming he’s healthy he will never be the same pitcher who dominated at PetCo as long as he’s playing home games on the south side of Chicago. However, he is still a heck of a pitcher and will be a great find if he hangs around too long in your fantasy draft.