Wednesday Fantasy Baseball Links

Since yesterday's theme seemed to be guys making the leap from unknown to known, let's start off today with an article on guys we know all too well who may have a little left in the tank.

  • Eno Sarris has a piece up at FanGraphs about who the 2012 Lance Berkman will be. As a Lance Berkman owner in 2011, I can say that finding a player who everybody has left for dead, as a free agent in my league no less, can give your team a huge boost. So who should we look out for next season?

Could Carlos Lee find the fountain of youth? It’s happened for Astro first basemen before. Alfonso Soriano did hit 26 last season, but he’s turning 36 soon and 30+ home runs would seem like a late-season bloom for him. Maybe a trade will produce a Berkman-esque season. Travis Hafner only managed 13 home runs, and will turn 35 next season, but he’s been injury-riddled for so many years. He could hit 30.

Obviously none of these players, or anyone else Eno lists in the article, are locks but as he points out, there have been 34 cases of a 35+ 1B/DH hitting more than 30 home runs since 2000. It's not unheard of and you should certainly keep an eye open for it to happen again in 2012.

More after the jump...........

  • Back to the sleepers and newbies, Roto Hardball's Todd McMacken has a write-up on Detroit's Jacob Turner, who he says will get a chance in the rotation in 2012. Every prospect list I've seen has Turner as Detroit's top prospect, not that that means much in their system, so his graduation to the big leagues is a big deal to their front office.

When we take a look at Jacob Turner we see a polished prospect with four pitches (four seamer, cutter, curve, and changeup) who's willing to throw strikes and challenge hitters. Unfortunately, he hasn't shown the dominance that we'd expected, and though he put up decent numbers in the Eastern League (3.68 FIP with a 2.81 K/BB ratio in 113.2 innings pitched) and in Triple-A (2.16 FIP with a 6.67 K/BB ratio in 17.1 IP), he was beat up pretty good once given a cup of coffee in the majors (6.03 FIP with a 2.00 K/BB ratio in 12.2 IP).

Of course, if the Tigers can get 160 innings out of Turner in the show pitching at that level, they'll have made good strides in his long term development. Developing better and more consistent command and control are the name of the game with Jacob Turner, and though he may serve the Tigers long-term needs by winning a starting job next spring, single season fantasy owners will be better served simply avoiding him in 2012.

Of course, if you are a dynasty/keeper league player, Turner is certainly someone to hold on to or grab in your draft.

  • Yesterday, I linked to an article on Zack Cozart comparing him to Danny Espinosa. It's only natural that I would give you a story about what to expect from Espinosa, courtesy of Rotoprofessor. Espinosa is another guy I owned last season who frustrated me to no end. Will Overton says Espinosa has 20/20 potential that he has just yet to reach.

On the positive side, despite his smaller frame Espinosa does have real big league power. Pitchers may in fact have figured him out, but if he makes adjustments of his own he can hit the long ball. Espinosa hit 18 HR’s in 2009 and between three levels of minors and major leagues in 2010 he had 28 of them. Espinosa could, and one day should, reach 30 home runs in a season.

Espinosa ended up with 21 HR’s last year which is nothing to complain about coming from your second baseman. The problem is for the second half of the season Espinosa only had 5 HR’s and a HR/AB rate of just a shade under 50. Did he wear down? Did he just hit a cold spell? Or did pitchers figure him out and exploit his weaknesses? Obviously you have to hope for one of the first two and not the third.

As for that 20 SB speed,

One thing that might impede on Espinosa’s base stealing potential however is his place in the batting order. Espinosa could be an Ian Kinsler type of top of the order hitter someday with his power/speed combo. However in 224 at-bats in the first or second spot in the lineup Espinosa hit .183 overall. Meanwhile in 268 at-bats in the fifth or sixth spot he hit .272. That is an awfully hard discrepancy to ignore and if the trend continues Espinosa won’t see nearly as much time at the top of the order, something that will improve his RBI totals, but will keep his steals potential around the 20 mark.

I think Espinosa has plenty of potential, though I don't think he's a top ten second baseman. Like Will says, that average presents a lot of problems. Espinosa is young so he's a wait and see guy for now. Washington has the chance to be pretty good moving forward, especially if the Prince Fielder rumors pan out, and it could give Espinosa plenty of RBI chances.

  • There are two good projection pieces on Fantasy Baseball 365 on Jesus Montero and Heath Bell.
  • A couple of articles on fantasy strategy to finish up the day. First, a how to on keeper selection from Fantasy Baseball 365. Second, Derek Ambrosino at The Hardball Times encourages everyone to take a deep breath and remember that

    It is important to process information, and to make use of new information about changing player situations, but it is also important not to out-think oneself. Elite talent is rarely counterfeited or hidden by single circumstantial events.

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