When preparing for fantasy drafts, especially in deeper mixed and AL-only and NL-only leagues, one should not be afraid to target a few bounce back candidates. The bounce back candidates are players, hitters and pitchers, who for one reason or another, had a "down" year in the previous season. Some players had down years due to injury, poor performance, or even off-field issues (PEDs, others).
Every season, we see players in both leagues underperform expectation, and disappointing their fantasy owners. As a result, their ADP (average draft position) takes an unnecessary hit. That presents fantasy owners with an opportunity to take advantage of the improved value on draft day.
On Monday, I wrote up my All Bounce Back team for NL-only leagues. Today, I offer my 2014 All Bounce Back team for AL-only leagues.
Catcher: Jesus Montero, SEA
Yeah, not a great choice for a bounce back, but the pickings were slim. Montero is a better hitter than he has shown and all he needs is a chance to play every day. Somewhere. I am just not sure where. Maybe he gets traded to a team looking for a young DH? Jeff Luhnow on the phone.....
First Base: Albert Pujols, LAA
Pujols missed 63 games last season and put up his worst season as a major leaguer. He is in the decline phase of his career, and his triple slash line is in a five year downtrend, but he is still capable of a 30 HR, 90 RBI season if he can stay healthy for a full season. His value will be down on draft day, so that presents an opportunity for fantasy owners to take advantage. He isn't the first round pick he used to be, and he isn't a top 6-8 fantasy first baseman, for me, but he could change that with a solid season at the plate.
Second Base: Jurickson Profar, TEX
Profar was a disappointment in his first year in the big leagues, hitting just .234-.308-.336 in 85 games. Granted, he didn't play every day and was used all over the field, including playing some outfield, and he is just 20 years old. He will be playing second base every day in 2014, and should begin to show us what made him the top prospect in the game heading into 2013. Minor League Ball's John Sickels penned his thoughts on whetherProfar will be a superstar or not a few days ago here.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, NYY
I have to be honest here. I don't see Jeter returning to the pre-ankle injury Jeter. I really don't. But, he has proved his critics wrong in the past, and he could do the same in 2014. I would be more confident with this choice if he shows he is healthy in spring training.
Third Base: Mike Moustakas, KC
Moustakas took a step back in 2013, and 2014 is a make or break season for him. His power, as measured by ISO, dropped from .171 to .131 last season. His home run output dropped from 20 in 2012 to just 12 last season, and there is talk that he could be platooned this season. I think that is just talk to light a fire under Mous. He is capable of putting up a 25 HR season with a bit more contact and luck.
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, LAA
Like teammate Albert Pujols, Hamilton struggled in his first year away from The Ball Park at Arlington. Hamilton hit just .250-.307-.432 with 21 HRs, 73 runs and 79 RBI in 151 games, the most games he has played since 2008. His 12.7 HR/FB% last season was well below his average of 18.7 HR/FB%, so he should have no problem returning to the 30 home run club with just a return to his career rate. He is up there with Starlin Castro as my favorite bounce back candidates for 2014.
Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes, OAK
Cespedes received lots of hype last offseason after his tremendous major league debut in 2012. He struggled at the plate for most of the season, but hit .314 with 6 HRs and 19 RBI in September, showing a glimpse of his potential. Many young hitters struggle in their second full season in the big leagues, as pitchers make adjustments focusing on a hitter's weakness. Now it is time for Cespedes to make some adjustments at the plate. I think he can be a 25 HR, 15-20 steal, .280-.290 hitter in 2014.
Outfield: Michael Bourn, CLE
Did Bourn forget how to steal bases in 2013? My gosh. After averaging 50 stolen bases over the previous five seasons, the stolen bases dropped to just 23 bases last season. Some of that could be manager's decision not to give him the green light. But, you don't pay Bourn $48 million over 4 years and give him the stop sign unless he was injured. He missed time due to a cut on his right index finger and had a wrist injury toward the end of the season, so no leg injuries. He did have surgery on his left hamstring in the offseason, which he apparently injured in the last game of the season. He should be good for 40 stolen bases or more in 2014.
Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia
Sabathia is coming off his worst year as a major leaguer in 2013, winning 14 games with a career worst 4.78 ERA. He saw his strikeout rate and ground ball rate drop and his walk rate increase last season. His 4.10 FIP indicates he pitched better than his 4.78 ERA, and he suffered yet another drop in his fastball velocity, so it will be interesting to see if it is back up in spring training. I think he will rebound in 2014, but maybe not all the way back to the ace he was pre-2013. Maybe he just needs to go back to eating three boxes of Captain Crunch every night.
- 2014 Dynasty League 1st Round Results
- The 2014 All Bounce Back Team: NL-only Leagues
- 2014 Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Chicago Cubs
- MLB Trade Rumors: David Price to Dodgers for Joc Pederson and Zach Lee?
- Top 10 Fantasy Prospects for 2014: Team by Team
- Kevin Gausman: Next Orioles Closer?
- Shin-Soo Choo signs with the Rangers for 7 years, $130 million
- Deep League Drafting: Second Base
- Mark Trumbo: The 30 Home run hitter is now a commodity