Results tagged ‘ Stephen Strasburg ’
It’s no secret that the National League is quickly turning into one of the most talented divisions in Major League Baseball. Last year, it was clear that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to run away with the division, but in 2012, it won’t be so easy. In fact, I’d argue that the Washington Nationals have a legitimate chance in winning the NL East this year.
There’s so many questions going on in the NL East, that the Nationals should be loving the position that they’re currently in. The Phillies have been struggling scoring runs, the Marlins have had issues finding any sort of rhythm, and the Mets? Well, they’re the Mets. If the Nationals can find a way to keep pace with the Phillies and Atlanta Braves, they could find themselves playing in October.
One of the biggest improvements to the 2012 Nationals is the fact that they’ll tentatively have Stephen Strasburg for the entire season, after missing almost all of the 2011 season after having Tommy John surgery. Sure, he’s on a 160 inning limit for the year, but he should still be more than able to make quite an impact this year.
The Nationals also have the benefit of having a lot of quality players who either are in or are approaching their prime. It’s not hard to believe that there’s a very good possibility that guys like Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche could have career years in 2012.
Of course the Nationals have a few notable veterans on their team, but none bigger than Jayson Werth. After being signed to a very lucrative multi-year deal, Werth struggled in 2011 hitting just .232 with 20 home runs, but career lows for any season he’s played more than 105 games in.
Washington also has one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball, featuring Stephen Strasburg, Edwin Jackson, Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler. They have a very young, but formidable rotation, and I can’t think of too many rotations that are better from one to five. Entering today, the entire Washington pitching staff has the second lowest ERA in the National League. If they can continue to keep runners from scoring, their offense should give them plenty of chances to win many games this year.
Last but certainly not least, is Bryce Harper. Without a doubt, Harper is the most talked about prospect in all of baseball, and many scouts and fans were expecting to see him start the 2012 season with the Major League team. Ultimately, the Nationals thought it’d be best to give him some everyday playing time at their triple-A affiliate, wanting to see how he can handle pitchers at the highest level of Minor League Baseball. It wouldn’t he surprising if Harper ends up making the Nationals sooner rather than later, but first he has to show a little more maturity, both on and off the field.
I think the Nationals have an excellent shot of either winning the NL East or taking one of the two Wild Card spots. What about you? Think Washington has was it takes?
Fun fact: Once the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington, all previously retired numbers were allowed to be used once again. This is why Danny Espinosa is allowed to wear number eight, even though it was retired in honor of Gary Carter.
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.
As I was listening to the Tigers game on the radio today, I found myself contemplating a hypothetical situation. Imagine that all of Major League Baseball had disbanded, and there was going to be a new draft with all current players available. You have the first pick in the draft, but you have to pick between the following players: Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Zach Greinke, Stephen Strasburg or Tim Lincecum. For the sake of argument, their salary is not a factor. Which young gun would you select to be the ace of your franchise?
My rankings are as follows…
1. Justin Verlander-Without a doubt, Verlander has proven that he deserves to be the ace of the Tigers rotation which has been in constant contention since his rookie year in 2006 in which he got his first (and only taste) of the postseason. He has proven to be durable, has big game experience, and seems to be a likable person within the organization. Although my number two selection comes close, I give Verlander the edge due to playoff experience and his no hitter.
2. Felix Hernandez-Unquestionably a force to be reckoned with, Hernandez should find himself to be a constant Cy Young candidate for as long as he can stay healthy. It’s hard to imagine that Hernandez will spend his entire career in Seattle, where he would have had plenty more wins if he had more run support. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you’d be wrong picking King Felix, but I don’t think he’s had enough ‘big game’ experience yet.
3. Tim Lincecum-Maybe the hardest pick for me was putting Lincecum at number three, but it’s due to a couple issues. The first is that although he is unquestionably talented, I’d be very curious how his numbers would look if he pitched in the American League. With two Cy Young awards and a World Series ring, you could make a strong argument that he should be either number two or one on this list, and I would no doubt have a hard time to discredit that. However, for the sake of debate, I would rather have Verlander or Hernandez before him. Lincecum is also only entering his fifth year in Major League Baseball, so I’d like someone with a little more experience.
4. Josh Johnson-Not sure how you can’t like what you see with Johnson. He’s big, and he throws hard. Similar to Hernandez, you wonder what his numbers would be like if he played for a legitimate contender, but even without that, his numbers have been impressive so far. I would pick him higher, but I’d like him to have another year or two under his belt before I’d consider him before Verlander or Hernandez.
5. Stephen Strasburg-Strasburg lived up to expectations in his brief stint with the Nationals in 2010, but obvious health concerns make selecting him difficult. If he can prove he can get back to even 90 percent of what he was before Tommy John surgery, Strasburg should have no problem dominating lineups for years to come.
6. Zach Greinke-Despite his success, I think Greinke has still flown relatively under the radar. Depending where this fantasy franchise would be based out of, I’d be more likely to take him in a smaller market team. It would be very interesting to see how Greinke would do playing for a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, but then again I think all of these pitchers would get a few extra wins each year playing for either of those teams.
Don’t get me wrong, it’d be hard to turn down any of these players with the first pick, as a strong case could be made for all of them. Thankfully I don’t think I’ll have to ever worry about making a decision like this in my lifetime.