clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Yoenis Cespedes and Others

I was listening to the MLB channel on SiriusXM radio on Saturday, and a Dodgers fan called in with the following scenario involving Prince Fielder, and it is something I was wondering myself. He said it is entirely possible that Fielder's agent Scott Boras may be holding off getting his client signed to a contract with the hope that the Dodgers ownership situations gains more clarity in the coming months. The caller said the Dodgers new owner could bring back the fans by signing Fielder, and I agree entirely. The Dodgers could be considered the favorites in the NL West if they signed Fielder, and outfielder Matt Kemp has openly campaigned for Fielder to join him in Los Angeles.

Fantasy owners should prepare for Ryan Braun to miss the first 50 games of the 2012 season, as Tom Haudricourt writes here in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

But, here's the thing. An MLB official told me there are only two ways for Braun to win his appeal: Prove there was a lab error with the testing or say the Brewers signed off on the treatment.

The MLB official also told me that the Brewers did not sign off on whatever substance Braun took. So, it's unlikely that excuse would be used during the appeal process.

Braun's problem is that MLB doesn't care why or how you took a banned substance. The only thing that matters is that you took it. Ignorance of ingesting a banned substance is no defense and will not get a suspension overturned.

This is why the MLB official familiar with the process told me that he doesn't anticipate Braun getting the suspension overturned. He might save face somewhat by making all of the details public but the Brewers already are preparing for the likelihood that Braun will miss the first 50 games of the season.

If the Brewers are preparing for Braun to miss the first 50 games, then so should you. With Ryan Howard missing at the first month of the season, and possibly more, Albert Pujols in the American League, and Braun out for the first 50 games, power hitters will be at a premium in NL-Only leagues in 2012.

More after the jump:

Last year, there were 12 NL hitters who hit 30 or more home runs, and they are listed here:

Matt Kemp

Albert Pujols

Prince Fielder

Mike Stanton

Dan Uggla

Ryan Braun

Jay Bruce

Ryan Howard

Justin Upton

Lance Berkman

Troy Tulowitzki

Michael Morse

How many 30+ HR hitters will we see in the National League in 2012? No one knows where Fielder will sign, so even if he does sign with an NL team, there is a real chance that this list will shrink considerably in 2012. Consider this:

  • Ryan Howard and Ryan Braun will miss at least the first 50 games of the season, so they will be hard pressed to hit 30 home runs in 2012.
  • Albert Pujols has moved on to the Angels
  • I don't see Lance Berkman hitting 30+ home runs again, ever. Berkman hit 31 home runs last year, with 24 of them coming in the first half of the season, so his power dropped off markedly in the second half. Plus, he will turn 36 in early February.
  • While some will question the breakout season Nationals first baseman Michael Morse had in 2011, saying it was a career year. I can see the argument, but have said here before that I think he can be a productive hitter again in 2012. Will he hit 30+ home runs again? Tough call.

Unless other power hitters like Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez step up in the power department in 2012, there very well could be a severe drop in the number of 30+ home run hitters in the NL. Something to remember on draft day.

Speaking of Howard, this is from ESPN'S Buster Olney in his New Year's day blog post:

The Phillies won't have Ryan Howard until sometime in midseason, and given the streaky nature of his production, they really don't know how much they'll get out of him after he comes back.

I have opined here a few times that I think Howard will miss more than the first month of the season, and Olney might be the first baseball writer who has written that Howard would be out till "sometime in midseason". Olney ranked the Phillies as his #2 team in his preseason power rankings yesterday, but I think they will drop a few more spots by midseason. They are an old team, and had trouble scoring runs last year.

There has been speculation that Cuban free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could get a $50 million contract in the next month or so, but if you read these quotes from Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, via Federal Baseball, that number might come down considerably:

"Can he stay in CF with that big, physical frame of his?" Rizzo asked rhetorically, "That's one question. You always have the question of, 'What level of play do you see him play in those international tournaments?' and, 'Can he handle the everyday grind of a major league season?'" With the kind of contract being discussed, Rizzo said, "Those are all questions that you need to feel very, very comfortable with and if you're not, this is somebody you should not walk away from, [but] run away from."

"Run away from"? Is this Mike Rizzo downplaying the Nationals interest in Cespedes, or telling us that the Nationals will not be involved in talks to sign him? I think the Nationals have a better shot at signing Prince Fielder than Cespedes, as Cespedes seems to be too stocky to play center field, and there are plenty of questions as to how his performance will translate to the big leagues.

Rizzo's comments will lead to more speculation that outfield prospect Bryce Harper could make the big league roster out of spring training, and we already know that Nationals manager Davey Johnson has been openly campaigning for Harper to be given a legitimate shot to win the right field job in spring training. What type of power/speed stats do you think Harper could put up if he does win a job out of spring training? Could he go 20-20 with a .260 BA?

I commented in a recent fanpost that Alex Rodriguez will not be the same power hitter we have grown accustomed to seeing year in and year out. He hit just 16 HRs in an injury-plagued 2011 season. Assuming he is healthy in 2012, I still do not see him hitting 30 or more HRs, and would not be surprised to see under 25 homers from him. Am I too pessimistic on ARod?

I own Orioles outfielder Adam Jones in an AL-Only keeper league at $25 and am shocked that I still own him. I have received offers of late first round picks in the minor league portion of the draft, but not much more. Jones turned 26 years of age last August and improved his HR total from 19 to 25 in 2011, and owns a career BA of .275. He hits in a hitters park, in an improving lineup, and is in the beginning of his peak years. Am I crazy for thinking I should get more than a late first round pick for him?

Are you following us on Twitter? Follow us at @Faketeams.