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When you're drafting the corner infield positions, you're drafting for power and not much else. There are a few .300 hitters, and a handful of guys who might steal a handful of bases if the mood strikes, but in general you will only find a few five-category producers here.
What you also will find, heading up position rankings at both first and third, is a guy they call Miggy, who is still money in the bank. Probably.
1. Miguel Cabrera, DET.
A .313/25/109 season is a down year only for Triple Crown winners. Cabrera showed some creakiness in 2014, which makes this ranking less of a slam dunk than in years past. He could miss a few games early in the season, but at 32 (as of this April), he's still the best pure hitter in the game. Key 2014 stat: 53 doubles. A few of those were HRs the year before.
2. Jose Abreu, WHITE SOX.
Bested Miggy in average and HRs on the way to winning Rookie of the Year. Should have more stamina for the long season this time around, and a better Sox lineup this year will make it hard for teams to pitch around him. Key 2014 stat: 80 runs. He's a 100-run season waiting to happen if he takes his walks and gets help from other hitters.
3. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI.
On paper, his 2013 season and a partial 2014 season suggest he's equal to or better than Abreu. His broken hand from last year reportedly is healed, but that might be what gives me an ounce of caution. Key 2014 stat: .396 OBP kept Miggy comparisons alive.
4. Jose Bautista, TOR.
Nice comeback season in 2014 when some of us thought his power had faded. Can he reach 35 HRs, 103 RBI again? Key 2014 stat: .286 average was a shocker after .241 and .259 the previous two seasons.
5. Anthony Rizzo, CUBS.
After a 32/78/.286 season, Baseball Prospectus lowered its projections for 2015, but seems to me he learned how to hit more and strike out less last year. The Cubs lineup could be feast or famine for his RBI potential, but I don't see why he can't repeat as a 30 HR guy and hit close to .300. Key 2014 stat: 116 strikeouts. I say he comes in under 100 this year.
6. Edwin Encarncion, TOR.
Bautista's Bash Brother destroys the ball. His HRs, RBI, walks, average and SBs all have been trending down for three seasons, but he was in track for a better year last year before missing a month's worth of games. Key 2014 stat: 34 HRs in just 128 games.
7. Freddie Freeman, ATL.
My 2014 breakout pick failed me. His 18 HRs last year were fewer than 25 other 1Bs, but his 93 runs and 175 hits were good for third and fourth in those categories, and at 25 years old, the HRs could still rise. Key 2014 stat: 145 strikeouts were a career high.
8. Buster Posey, SF.
The catcher eligibility helps his ranking, but the numbers are pretty good, too. HRs. RBI and average all rose in 2014, getting him back toward his 2012 MVP form. 25/100/.320 is not a stretch for this year. Key 2014 stat: 27 - his age this season is the hitter's prime.
9. Todd Frazier, CIN.
Surprising 2014 campaign saw his HRs surge from 19 to 29, while RBI and average also were up. Hey 2014 stat: 20 SBs was the biggest surprise, and led the position.
10 Adrian Gonzalez, LAD.
His days as a .300 hitter are over, but 27 HRs and 116 RBI last year marked his high in both categories since 2011. Key 2014 stat: .335 OBP his lowest since 2006.
11. Albert Pujols, LAA.
Can't believe 28/105/.272 represents a rebound for Pujols, but things looked pretty dire after 2013. That he skirted 30/100 still puts him in the territory of a starting 1B, though just barely. Key 2014 stat: 159 games played suggest the stamina and will are intact.
12. Carlos Santana, CLE.
Awful first half left him hitting .207, but he did have a better second half and the resulting 27 HRs and 85 RBI were strikingly similar to his impressive 2011 rookie campaign. Catcher and 3B eligibility give extra value. Key 2014 stat: .231 average needs help.
13. Victor Martinez, DET.
He hit .335 with 32 HRs and 103 RBI, and would have gone past 200 hits if not for mid-season injury. Hard to imagine him topping his best season at age 36, but even a modest drop will leave him with starter stats. Key 2014 stat: Career-high .974 OPS led all 1Bs.
14. David Ortiz, BOS.
The 39-year-old DH barely qualifies at 1B. He survives as a fantasy asset by maintaining a .500-plus slugging percentage year-in and year-out, but can't have many of those years left. Key 2014 stat: 35 HRs was his most since 2007. I'll have what he's having.
15. Chris Carter, HOU.
Truly one-dimensional, but that one dimension is huge. 37 HRs make him the guy you draft late when you realize you don't have enough HRs on your team. .227 average isn't likely to improve. Key 2014 stat: 182 strikeouts were 30 fewer than the year before.
16.Prince Fielder, TEX.
Fielder slimmed down and promptly stunk up the fantasy baseball universe until he lost most of last season to injury. His HRs were trending down before that, too. Past rep will get him ranked higher elsewhere, but not here. Key 2014 stat: only 150 at-bats.
17. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL.
More value as a catcher, and his 13 HRs make him barely worth back-up status at 1B. However, his 53 doubles and .301 average make him worth consideration. Key 2014 stat: 176 hits tied him with Abreu for third place among 1Bs.
18. Joey Votto, CIN.
Like Fielder, hard to trust after a couple years of decline and a large part of 2014 lost to injury. Still seems to have potential for 25/80/.300, but he rates a gamble at this point. Key 2014 stat: .390 OBP in 62 games hints that maybe he can return to form.
19. Chris Davis, BAL.
Another formidable talent shipwrecked by slump and injury. 26 HRs and 72 RBI sound okay, but his .196 average marooned him on fantasy benches. No lefthander seemed more affected by the defensive shift. Key 2014 stat: 60 walks in 127 games almost career high.
20. Lucas Duda, NYM.
Numbers-wise, looks a little like Carter, with 30 HRs being the standout figure, though 92 RBIs provide further hope. Key 2014 stat: .253 average caps his fantasy value.
Sleeper: Adam LaRoche, WHITE SOX.
Not a sleeper in the traditional sense, but the new addition could easily improve on his 26 HRs of last season by batting on either side of Abreu and playing 81 games in the bandbox otherwise known as The Cell. Key 2014 stat: 92 RBI provide even more hope.
1. Miguel Cabrera, DET.
In Yahoo! leagues, he still has 3B eligibility, though I've heard that is not the case elsewhere. If he's got a 3B next to his name, he's the clear No. 1 at the position.
2. Anthony Rendon, WAS.
Went from nobody to somebody with this line: 21 HRs, 83 RBI, 17 SBs, 111 runs, .287 AVG. Also 2B eligible. Interesting 2014 stat: 613 ABs. He's durable.
3. Adrian Beltre, TEX.
HRs declined three straight years, RBI down four straight years. He's 35. Yet, His .890 OPS was second among 3Bs. Interesting 2014 stat: .324 AVG his highest since 2004.
4. Josh Donaldson, TOR.
I was down on him last year, but he went on to lead 3Bs in HRs with 29, and came in second in RBI with 98. Interesting 2014 stat: .255 AVG down 46 points from 2013.
5. Todd Frazier, CIN.
See above. His numbers get him more value at 3B. Those 20 SBs makes him tops in that category at both corner positions.
6. Nolan Arenado, COL.
Injuries broke up a great year. Extrapolate his 18 HRs, 61 RBI, .287 AVG in 111 games to a full season, and buy in. Interesting 2014 stat: .500 slugging percentage at age 23.
7. Kyle Seager, SEA.
No longer a sleeper, he had the third-most RBI among 3Bs with 96.
8.Evan Longoria, TAM.
Played his first full season in years, and gave back only average numbers. Interesting 2014 stat: 91 RBI is better than average.
9. Carlos Santana, CLE.
At 3B, his 27 HRs are good for second highest. Good strategy might be take him at 3B, but draft a lower-ranked 3B later in case you want/need to play him at 1B or catcher.
10. Daniel Murphy, NYM.
No, not David Wright. All Murphy's stats were down after his 2013 breakout, but he's a five-category man. Interesting 2014 stat: .289 AVG slightly up from 2013.
11. Chris Davis, BAL.
Honestly, I don't feel great about having him this high, but those HRs are worth more at 3B, and certainly worth a gamble if you need to dig this deep to draft your 3B.
12. Josh Harrison, PIT.
Ex-Cubs draftee is a five-category super-sub. 18 SBs were second among 3Bs, and he's just getting started. Interesting 2014 stat: Free-swinger had .315 AVG, just 22 walks.
13. David Wright, NYM.
Bad shoulder sapped his power, shut him down early. Should do better than last year's eight HRs, but how much better? Interesting 2014 stat: .269 AVG worst since 2011.
14. Pablo Sandoval, BOS.
Another off-season of over-eating. Free-swinging fat guys hitting .315 get a pass, but not at .279. Interesting 2014 stat: 32 - walks in 2014, or hot dogs eaten in one sitting?
15. Matt Carpenter, STL.
Breakout 2013 led to so-so 2014, though with 99 runs he remained a top scorer thanks to the rest of the Cards lineup. Interesting 2014 stat: .272 AVG down 46 points.
16. Manny Machado, BAL.
Injury shut him down, but 12 HRs in 327 ABs was promising. Still, 14 doubles was well off pace of 51 in 2013. Interesting 2014 stat: 21 - his age to start last year.
17. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS.
Great potential, but a fantasy failure three years running.
18.Kris Bryant, CUBS.
If there are Cubs fans in your league, rank him 10 spots higher if you really want him. Not that you should, because the Cubs will keep him off the April roster for contractual reasons even if he hits 1.000 this spring. Still, light tower power makes him worth drafting even if he doesn't show up until July. Interesting stat: 85% owned in Yahoo! leagues.
19. Xander Bogaerts, BOS.
Most of us were expecting more than 12 HRs, 46 RBI, .240 AVG last year, but he was only 21. Nice buy-low candidate. Interesting 2014 stat: 138 strikeouts.
20. Aramis Ramirez, MIL.
One of the most consistent producers at 3B wound down the last two years, but could still make a solid back-up. Interesting 2014 stat: 37 - the age he turns in June.
Sleeper: Alex Rodriguez, NYY.
Because why not? Nothing is certain, but if he makes the team and his hip holds together it could be an interesting year. Interesting 2014 stat: Zero ABs.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
We have a Rafael Palmeiro sighting!Continue reading "The Ex-Cub Factor" »
Posted on Jun 21, 2018