Early 2014 Position Rankings
The 2014 NFL Draft was about a month ago, so it is time for our early 2014 position rankings. This week we published our early 2014 Quarterback and Tight End rankings, along with an early Comeback Player of the Year candidate.
Prospect Buy and Hold
We all want to know when Gregory Polanco and Oscar Taveras will be called up to the big leagues, as they are the next prospects in line to make an impact on your fantasy teams. But who are some other top prospects who can help you this season? Jason Hunt publishes his weekly Buy and Hold article every Saturday morning, ranking his top 10 prospects in line for a call up, along with some other prospects to consider as well. In his week 8 Buy and Hold, he has two new faces in his top 10.
The Roundup is a little late this morning, as I couldn't keep my eyes open last night after running around all day yesterday. Here is what I saw on Saturday.
Corey Kluber: Fantasy Ace?
On Friday, FanGraphs writer August Fagerstrom wrote this piece on Indians starter Corey Kluber, opining that Kluber has reached a level all starting pitchers strive for - as an ace. On Saturday afternoon, Kluber took the mound against the Orioles, and proceeded to shut them out for seven innings, on five hits, two walks and nine strikeouts in the Indians 9-0 win.
Kluber moved his record to 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 2.72 xFIP, 1.27 WHIP and an excellent 83-17 strikeout to walk rate in 72.2 innings of work. He has given up two runs or less in 6 of his 11 starts, and three runs or less in 9 of those 11 starts this season. After going 2-3 with a 4.14 ERA in April, Kluber is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA in the month of May. Kluber's 2.6 fWAR leads all starting pitchers in baseball at this point in the season, and is tied for 5th overall with A's third baseman Josh Donaldson according to FanGraphs.
Kluber is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings, walking just over two batters per nine, and keeping the ball on the ground at a 46% clip. Mix that all together, and we might be looking at a brand new fantasy ace this season.
For more on Kluber and the Indians, make sure you check out Let's Go Tribe, SB Nation's Indians fan site.
The Rangers called up Rougned Odor a few weeks back when Donnie Murphy landed on the disabled list, and until yesterday, he has struggled at the plate upon his first taste of big league pitching. On Saturday, Odor had the best day of his big league career, going 4-5 with two triples, a double, a run scored and 5 RBI in the Rangers 12-2 win over the Tigers. In his 36 at bats to date, Odor is now hitting .278-.297-.500 with a home run, two runs scored and seven RBI. If he can show that he can handle major league pitching over the next few months while Jurickson Profar is out, the Rangers could decide to deal shortstop Elvis Andrus, opening up shortstop for Profar and second base for Odor.
Astros outfielder George Springer is proving that he belongs in the big leagues, despite his high strikeout totals. Last night, he went 2-5 with two home runs and 5 RBI in the Astros 9-4 win over the Mariners. Springer is now hitting .246-.329-.431 with 6 home runs, 14 runs scored and 20 RBI in 129 at bats this season. Most of his production has come in May, as he is hitting .293-.376-.587 with all six of his home runs and 16 of his 20 RBI. He is on pace for 19 home runs and 65 RBI, but I think he can exceed those totals this season. It would be nice if he stole some bases as well.
After a very rough April where he went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA, Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong is enjoying a very nice rebound in May. Last night, Vogelsong shut out the Twins on just three hits, a walk and seven strikeouts over 6.2 innings in the Giants 2-1 win. Vogelsong moved his record to 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and a 46-19 strikeout to walk rate in 56.1 innings. He has now given up one run or less in five of his last six starts, lowering his ERA from just under 8.00 to 3.20, but somehow he is owned in just 25% of leagues right now.
Many fantasy owners are still waiting for Indians catcher/DH/1B Carlos Santana to catch fire, as he has been a big bust at this point in the season. He was recently dropped in the lineup by manager Terry Francona to work out of his funk, and yesterday he went 1-2 with a home run, 3 walks, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI in the Indians 9-0 win over the Orioles. Over his last three games, a small sample I know, he has gone 4-11 with a home run, 4 runs scored and 4 RBI. On the season, Santana is hitting a disappointing .160-.319-.303 with 6 home runs, 22 runs scored and 17 RBI. One thing that is constant with Santana is his eye at the plate, as he owns an elite 45-41 strikeout to walk rate in 175 at bats thus far, so he has been very unlucky with the batted balls in play. Luck should turn his way soon.
Throughout his career, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday has been one of the more consistent hitters in the game, hitting in the .290-300 range with 20-25 home runs and 90+ RBI in most seasons. Drafting consistent hitters helps win fantasy championships. Luck in the injury department also helps. But, it appears age might be catching up to Holliday this season, as he has been a bit of a disappointment, especially in the power categories. Holliday went 3-4 with a run scored and an RBI in the Cardinals 6-3 win over the Reds last night. Holliday is now hitting .272-.369-.370 with two home runs, 12 doubles, 25 runs scored and 26 RBI in 48 games thus far. That puts him on pace for just 7 home runs, 83 runs scored and 86 RBI, far below the 20-25 home runs I expected from him this season.
if you are looking for someone who could be saving games later in the season, make sure you pick up Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. Motte came off the disabled list on Tuesday, and is now the set up man for closer Trevor Rosenthal. After a rough stretch, Rosenthal is pitching better this week, but if he blows a few games, Motte appears to be the next in line for saves in the Cardinals bullpen.
Another hitter who has been a bit of a disappointment to date is Mets third baseman David Wright. Granted, he is hitting for a high average, scoring and driving in runs, but his power is down as is his stolen base totals. Yesterday, Wright went 3-4 with a solo home run in the Mets 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, raising his slash line to .307-.346-.412 with just 3 home runs, 23 runs scored, 26 RBI and 2 stolen bases. He is on pace to hit just 10 home runs and steal 7 bases, his lowest totals since his injury-shortened 2011 season.
A few weeks ago, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced that outfielder Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig would be starting on most days going forward. That is until this week when Kemp had some troubles in center field in the Mets series, and now he has been benched in favor of Andre Ethier. As a Dodgers fan, I never saw Kemp as a viable option in center field, and with Joc Pederson having nothing else to prove in AAA, I could see him getting a call in the very near future.
Yeah, I know they already have four outfielders for three positions, and Carl Crawford and Ethier have big contracts and should be playing every day, but the Dodgers now find themselves five games out of first behind the Giants, and could call him up to provide a spark. Crawford is getting on base at a .292 clip and Ethier has zero power (two home runs in 129 at bats). Big contract aside, Pederson is probably better than both right now, as he his hitting .342-.447-.641 with 15 home runs, 43 runs scored, 32 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 219 plate appearances. He is the Dodgers center fielder of the future, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Dodgers call him up to provide a spark and a better defensive outfield. An outfield of Kemp in left field, Pederson in center and Puig in right would be a pretty good defensive outfield.
I try not to write too much about the Dodgers players, but with the recent news about Kemp being benched for his defense, Pederson's time in AAA could be nearing an end soon.
For more fantasy baseball (and football) news and rankings, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one stop for all the fantasy news you need on a daily basis.