For a lot of reasons, 2012 is going to be a very interesting year in Major League Baseball. If you’re looking for stories, or things to look for, there’s no shortage of subjects. Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to most.
Are the Miami Marlins for real? Sure, they got a new stadium, and spent a lot of money to bring in players like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. They traded for Carlos Zambrano, and even convinced Hanley Ramirez to play third base. Oh, did I forget to mention they had to trade for their head coach, the outspoken Ozzie Guillen. The question is will the Marlins be competing for a playoff spot in 2012, or are the Phillies, Braves and Nationals going to be too much for them to handle.
Is Yoenis Cespedes going to live up to the hype? I doubt any videos posted of Cespedes will create as big of a buzz as his now famous showcase video, but there’s plenty of reason for Oakland fans to be excited about the biggest Cuban import since…well, I’m not sure. There’s a lot of critics who felt that Oakland overpaid for an unproven talent, but time will tell if Billy Beane chose wisely.
Is Yu worth the money? The Texas Rangers spent a ton of money to bring Yu Darvish to Major League Baseball, and has generated a ton of publicity for doing so. Depending who you talk to, they either think Darvish will be another bust from Japan, or he’ll be competing for the AL Cy Young this year. I’m not sold on all the hype, but refuse to hold any concrete judgment until I see him face Major League hitters.
Like father, like son. Detroit fans were absolutely shocked when it was announced that Prince Fielder had agreed to a nine-year deal worth over 200 million dollars. Fielder has big shoes to fill, playing for a city that loved his father dearly when he was a member of the Tigers back during the early to mid 90s. Bringing in Fielder means that Miguel Cabrera will now be playing third base for Detroit, and even though there’s concerns about what the Tigers defense will look like, there’s no doubt that they’ll have one of the best lineups in baseball.
There’s so many other things, like will the Red Sox rebound from a tumultuous 2011? Will Adam Dunn rebound to be the hitter Chicago thought he would be? Will Jamie Moyer pitch until he’s 60? Okay, maybe not so much the last one, but there’s definitely a lot of interesting things happening in Major League Baseball this year. What are you looking forward to most?
As I’ve done with all of my other fantasy baseball drafts, I’m going to give you a round by round breakdown of it. Hopefully this can help you prepare in case you haven’t had your draft yet. This was for an eight person, head to head league. It’s important to realize that the less people are playing, the average roster will be significantly better in comparison to a 12 team league. Also, I just wanted to mention if you ever have any fantasy baseball questions for me during the season, feel free to comment on one of my blogs, or send me a tweet @brjeffers13 and I’ll do my best to help you. If I think it’s a good enough question, I’ll even write a blog with more in depth analysis.
Round 1 (3rd overall): Jose Bautista-After Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp were off the board, I decided to take Bautista instead of Albert Pujols, who is ranked third in most pre-draft rankings. Some reasons for this include the fact that Bautista is eligible at multiple positions, giving me depth at both third base, as well as the outfield. His 2011 numbers pretty much exceeded those of Pujols, plus you’re going to get more stolen bases. I’m not sure that Bautista will duplicate the numbers he put up last year, but I highly doubt there will be a significant drop off.
Round 2 (14th overall): Adrian Gonzalez-It’s hard to not love Gonzalez, as he’s been a consistently dominant hitter for many years, and he’s playing in a very hitter-friendly ballpark in Boston. I’ll gladly take a guy who will hit around .300 with 30 home runs, and 100 RBIs in the second round, and you should, too.
Round 3 (19th overall): Dustin Pedroia-I consider Pedroia the second best offensive second baseman behind Robinson Cano, and at a position where there’s not exactly a whole lot of big talent around the league, I wanted to get a well above average second baseman while there was still one on the board. Some people would say you should draft a quality starting pitcher with this pick, but I don’t feel that was necessary with it being a league with only eight teams.
Round 4 (30th overall): Cole Hamels-Definitely an interesting pick on my part, but you can consider me a fan of Hamels. With Kershaw, Verlander, Lee and Halladay already off the board, I wanted to make sure I was able to get a proven starting pitcher. Even though not everyone agrees with it, I love taking solid players in a contract year, as they always have a little extra incentive to perform.
Round 5 (35th overall): Jered Weaver-There’s really no reason to suspect that Weaver won’t have another strong year in 2012, and with the improved offense behind him, he should be able to be a bit more comfortable on the mound. I thought this was one of the easiest picks I made in the draft, as I almost selected him a round earlier.
Round 6 (46th overall): Hunter Pence-Some people are still not sold on the fact that Pence is an All-Star outfielder, and I don’t get it. In the last three years, Pence is hitting .292 while averaging about 24 home runs a year. Don’t forget that he’s also likely to steal you a about 10 bases or so a year, and those add up through the course of a year.
Round 7 (51st overall): Mike Napoli-Another person that I love because of him being eligible at both catcher and first base. There’s a quick drop off amongst most catchers in Major League Baseball, so I love being able to get a guy that should be amongst the best in the league. I plan on using him primarily as a catcher, except on days that Adrian Gonzalez has off, then I can shift him to first base to fill the void.
Round 8 (62nd overall): Ben Zobrist-I have a feeling that I’m either going to love or hate this pick. I went with a guy who hits for a decent average, has speed, and plays multiple positions. Hopefully he can hit about .275 this year with 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases and keep his slugging percentage around the .435 it’s been in his career. If he does, then I got a ton of value from this pick.
Round 9 (67th overall): Stephen Strasburg-Simply put, if Strasburg is healthy, he should’ve been picked about five rounds earlier. I played the risk vs. reward card here, and I’m hoping it’ll pay dividends.
Round 10 (78th overall): Desmond Jennings-Although I have absolutely no clue what kind of average Jennings will have in 2012, I expect him to steal a ton of bases and hit around 15 home runs for Tampa Bay this year. I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t pay attention to stolen bases in fantasy baseball, so there’s always value in picking up a speedster or two, as it’ll likely be enough to win the stolen base category in most leagues.
Round 11 (83rd overall): James Shields-“Big Game” James seems to be consistent every year, and still manages to stay off the radar each year. Hopefully Shields can prove that 2011 wasn’t a fluke, when he won 16 games with a 2.82 ERA, while striking out 225 hitters along the way.
Round 12 (84th overall): J.J. Putz-Besides the fact I met and interviewed Putz a month ago (you can watch the interview HERE), Putz proved he is without a doubt one of the most dominant closers in baseball. Playing for the Diamondbacks should give him plenty of save opportunities, and I don’t see him blowing too many of them.
Round 13 (99th overall): Jimmy Rollins-This is one of the picks I think I might regret a bit, but I’m okay with in the grand scheme of things. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s not exactly a ton of quality shortstops in MLB, so I thought I’d take a guy with speed and plenty of offensive upside. I knew the shortstop I wanted to take would likely be available in the later rounds, so I didn’t need to waste a pick in taking him here. If I wasn’t able to get him, I’d at least have a shortstop that wouldn’t hurt my team.
Round 14 (110th overall): Lance Berkman-First and foremost, I do not think Berkman is likely to repeat the numbers he put up in 2011, but I do expect him to hit at least .270 with 20 home runs. For a guy who I can put in my lineup as either an outfielder or first baseman, I’ll take it.
Round 15 (115th overall): Andrew Bailey-Let’s face it, the guy is going to be a closer for the Boston Red Sox. That means he’s going to get plenty of save opportunities, and at this point in the draft, there wasn’t too many other options that I could say the same thing about.
Round 16 (126th overall): Carlos Beltran-I love how Beltran fits in with the St. Louis offense, and expect him to have a solid year at the plate. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason why he won’t hit .285 with 20 home runs, and have a slugging percentage around .500. Again, this was a risk vs. reward selection, and I think there is enough value in Beltran to make it completely justifiable.
Round 17 (131st overall): Josh Beckett-Now that there’s no more beer in the clubhouse, there should be no distractions for Boston’s starting rotation. With that being said, I expect Beckett to quiet critics and have a solid 2012 season. It’s not common that your 17th round pick will win you 15 games and have an ERA around 3.00, but that’s exactly what Beckett should do this year.
Round 18 (142nd overall): Max Scherzer-In 2011, Scherzer was 15th in the American League in strikeouts, and had an elevated ERA due to a few bad outings. I expect Scherzer to find his true form in 2012, and with Detroit’s revamped offense behind him, he should be able to win at least 15 games.
Round 19 (147th overall): Delmon Young-After coming to Detroit late in 2011, Young was an absolute hitting machine. With Brennan Boesch (hitting second), Miguel Cabrera (third), and Prince Fielder (fourth) hitting in front of Young, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to get an opportunity to have a career high in RBIs this year.
Round 20 (158th overall): Jhonny Peralta-I wish I had an answer as to why Peralta is ranked so low in most fantasy leagues, but he’s a proven hitter in a stacked lineup. I was hoping he would be available in the later rounds, and sure enough, he was. This is an absolute steal as far as I’m concerned.
Round 21 (163rd overall): Yadier Molina-Simply put, he was the best catcher available at this point in the draft. I’m a huge fan of having two people who can play each position (if possible, and without passing up a significantly better player at another position at the same time), so I wanted to make sure I had at least two catchers on my roster. I don’t expect Molina to hit over .300 like he did last year, but he’s a good enough hitter that he could be a starting catcher in most fantasy leagues.
Round 22 (174th overall): Rick Porcello-I may have performed a big fantasy baseball no-no here, but I took someone because of my home-team bias. Don’t get me wrong, I like Porcello quite a bit, I just don’t think he was the best available starting pitcher on the board. I could see Porcello winning 14 games with an ERA slightly above 4.00, and that’s fine with me.
Round 23 (179th overall): Ervin Santana-I think everyone gave up on the draft, because I’m not sure how Santana was still available at this point. If he pitches anything like he did last year in 2012, I’d expect him to easily rack up 16 wins for the Angels.
It was announced today that the Tigers have optioned starting pitcher Andy Oliver to Toledo, meaning that only Drew Smyly and Duane Below remain as candidates for the 5th spot in the Tigers starting rotation.
For what it’s worth (which I’ll admit isn’t much), I sincerely think that the nod has to go to Smyly. My biggest concern with Below is his lack of having any plus-level pitches, and that’s why I think he’s better suited to either be a long reliever for the Tigers, or he needs to work on further developing his pitches in Toledo.
The biggest advantage that I think Below has at this point, is the mere fact that he’s already pitched in the Major Leagues. Below started two games for the Tigers in 2011, pitching in 12 other games out of the bullpen. In 29 innings of work, his numbers weren’t lights out, but they weren’t terrible either. Even though I think Smyly has better stuff, it wouldn’t shock me if Below gets the rotation spot. Keep in mind that both pitchers make still break camp, with Smyly in the rotation, and Below in the bullpen.
One of the most interesting parts of this whole competition for the 5th starter, is the fact that no one predicted that Smyly or Below would be the front runners before Spring Training began. For those who say that performances in Spring Training are overrated or don’t matter, please take note.
Although yesterday started out a bit early, I shouldn’t complain too much, since today started about an hour earlier then that.
Today is the final installment of the Japan series between the Mariners and Athletics, so that meant setting the alarm clock for 4:30 in the morning. Much to my surprise, I’ve been joined by several of the Fan Cave finalists, and we’ve been tweeting and tiny chatting a bunch already.
That’s really the beautiful thing about baseball. No matter where you’re from, what social class you are, how young or old, baseball has a way of bringing people together. I can’t think of too many things outside of sports, and religion that have a similar effect on bringing together the masses.
Through four innings so far, Bartolo Colon has done an excellent job of keeping the Mariners off balance at the plate, not yet allowing a base runner. We’ll see how long that lasts, though. With a win today, I’m pretty sure the Mariners will have the biggest lead in the AL West since Ken Griffey Jr. played there (the first time, not the second).
And no, that wasn’t meant to be a factual statement, but it sure does seem like it’s been a while.
Call me passionate, dedicated, or perhaps crazy, but I set my alarm clock today for 5:30 AM to make sure I’d wake up in time for opening day. No, I don’t have a rooting interest in the Mariners or Athletics specifically, but I do love baseball.
I always make it a goal of mine to watch the first game of every season, even if that means waking up two hours earlier than I would on days that I have to work. I told everyone a few days ago that my goal is to watch at least 500 games this year. During the course of the season, I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on how many games I have watched.
The best part of this game so far, has to be the homecoming of Ichiro Suzuki. It’s the top of the 6th inning right now, and Ichiro has already gotten three hits. One can only imagine how exciting of an experience that has to be for him. It also makes you wonder what kind of career Ichiro would’ve had if he had came to Major League Baseball a few years earlier than he did.
There’s so many things I’m looking forward to this season, that I can’t help but be excited. I’m like a kid in a candy store right now, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.
My alarm clock is set, I bought a fresh pack of big league chew, and I’m so ready for opening day. No, it’s not exactly fun to get up at 5:30 in the morning on my day off, but I can’t help it, baseball is back!
I’m very excited to see the kind of reception Ichiro Suzuki gets when his name is announced, and it’s always interesting to see the different cultural differences in baseball around the world. Here’s a fun fact for you, players do not spit tobacco or sunflower seeds on a baseball field, as it’s basically considered sacred ground.
I really don’t have too much of a vested interest in the game, although I do hope for a few hits from Ichiro (for both his homecoming, as well as my fantasy team), and I’m also very intrigued to watch Yoenis Cespedes make his Major League debut.
It should be fun, and it’s going to be early, but it’s baseball…so you know I’ll be watching.
I just wanted to give a final reminder to all of those who expressed interest in the fantasy baseball league I created this year. It’s simple, easy, requires nothing once the season begins, and best of all…it’s free!
The whole concept behind This or That Fantasy Baseball is trying to do your best to make various predictions on how the season will unfold. This includes statistics such as batting averages, ERAs and wins. There are also questions that will test your ability to determine who will make it to the playoffs, and who will not.
It is 100% free to join, no strings attached. If you’re interested, simply send me an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you the official questionnaire. The winner of the league (assuming you can beat me) will receive a prize of some sort (could be a pair of tickets to the see your favorite team next year, or a free shirt. The more people who join, the better the prize will be). In order to qualify for contest, I do need to get your list submitted to me before the first pitch on opening day, which is this Wednesday morning at 6:10 AM EST.
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at the above e-mail, or send me a tweet @brjeffers13. Thanks again, and best of luck!
I always try to treat my fantasy baseball teams similarly to how I would if I was a general manager for a baseball team. Of course, that doesn’t include payroll, staffing, corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, promotions…well, you get the idea.
What I can do however, is find ways to improve my team. So when I lost one of my two closers for the year (Ryan Madson), I immediately tried to find a replacement. Unfortunately, free agency left me only with Jonathon Broxton as a somewhat viable option. My next idea was to find a trade to bolster my roster.
When I looked at my team, I noticed that I have a very dominant pitching core. My biggest weakness is going to be home runs, and slugging percentage, and I’m okay with that. When playing a head to head league, I always suggest trying to build your team to be dominant in at least half the categories, while giving yourself a chance to win a few of the others.
Ultimately, I was offered a trade of David Price and Billy Butler for Joey Votto. After a bit of deliberation, I decided it was definitely going to make my team better in the long run. There’s no doubt that I’m losing a bit of value at first base, but a lot of people aren’t aware of how good Billy Butler is, and will be for quite a while. Throw in the fact I got a dominant starting pitcher in Price, I felt like there was no way I could turn this offer down.
Sure, Butler probably won’t hit as many home runs, or have as many RBIs as Votto, but the falloff isn’t that significant. I was already convinced my roster wasn’t going to be dominant in those categories, which I still will be competitive in, especially since no player on my team hit less than 10 home runs (David Freese in 333 at bats) last year.
I even did some number crunching, and if swap Votto’s offensive numbers with that of Billy Butler (and using all the 2011 statistics of all 14 of my position players), it comes out to: .282 batting average, 72 runs, 19 home runs, and 71 RBIs. If I can get a similar offensive production from all the players in 2012, I’ll consider myself to be in fine shape. Not to mention the fact having pitchers that include: Roy Halladay, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello, David Price, Max Scherzer, Tim Hudson and Jose Valverde certainly won’t hurt much, either.
Sorry Votto, but you got to go.
If you’re looking for a starting pitcher in fantasy baseball that might not cost you a lot in return (not to mention I’ve noticed he’s been available a lot later than he should be in most drafts), then I’d like to suggest you take a look at Max Scherzer.
First of all, yes, I’ve taken my hometown bias out of this. Scherzer will likely be the number three pitcher in the Tigers rotation, and he appears to be poised for having a strong 2012. If today’s outing against the Yankees means anything (insert quote about Spring Training stats don’t matter here), it shows that he’s found the form necessary to be successful.
It’s no secret that Scherzer struggled a bit mechanically in the past, and got sent down to Toledo because of that in 2010. Those seems to more or less be problems of the past, as was evidenced by his numbers in 2011. Scherzer went 15-9, racking up 174 strikeouts and a slightly elevated ERA at 4.43. I can say with a great deal of confidence that Scherzer’s ERA should drop by about a half a run this year, and the strikeout numbers should be pretty similar.
Most fantasy baseball leagues count strikeouts as a category, and that makes Scherzer a great asset. Not only do you get a guy who was 15th in the American League in K’s last year, but you get a guy who is playing for a team that many expect to run away with the AL Central, and that should give you plenty of wins, too.
If I were you, I’d put my money on “Mad Max” in 2012.
When I came up with the name for this blog, I came up with “Live the dream” to remind myself that you have to work hard in order for your dreams to come true. I grew up wanting to be a baseball broadcaster, and some 20 years later, that still hasn’t changed.
The late nights I spent listening to Ernie Harwell on the radio were as influential to me as anything else I can think of, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. To me, being a baseball broadcaster is, and will always be the job of my dreams. I couldn’t imagine any other job would be bring me more happiness and satisfaction.
I’m at the point now that I understand this dream may never become a reality, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to let that I’m going to let it prevent me from trying. If you’re going to strike out, you should at least go down swinging, right?
They say the journey is always better than the final destination, and through my adventures so far, I’m not at a point where I can disagree. I’ve met so many wonderful people that I’m fortunate to now call my friends, and I’ve got to see things I never imagined. If there’s something better than this, I can’t wait to see it for myself.
So I ask you, readers of my blog. What are your dreams, and what are you doing to help make them come true?