The last few weeks has not left us short of topics to write about, but MLB hasn't figured out how to make the days longer so I have time to write about all the moves. Instead, I figured I would write a Roto Roundup piece to give you my quick thoughts on some of the recent free agent signings, as well as a guy who could lead the American League in home runs in 2015.
George Springer, Astros
Last season, Astros you outfielder George Springer struggled to make contact, but when he did, it usually went far. Springer hit just .231-.336-.468 with 20 home runs, 45 runs scored, 51 RBI and 5 stolen bases in just 345 plate appearances. His rookie season was cut short due to a quad injury, but he should be healthy to begin spring training. He struck out a ton, 33% of his plate appearances, while walking at a solid 11% clip. His home run total benefitted from a 27.8% HR/FB rate, which appears to be very tough to repeat.
Looking forward to his 2015 season, Steamer projects him to hit 28 home runs in 611 plate appearances, but I think he can easily hit 30 home runs in a full season of at bats. In fact, if he can improve the whiff rate, he could lead the American League in home runs.
Last season, Nelson Cruz led the AL and MLB in home runs with 40. He won't repeat that in 2015 in Seattle, although, I think he could hit 30 again. Chris Carter hit 37 home runs, and he is another Astros hitter who could lead the AL in home runs, but he strikes out quite a bit as well. Mike Trout hit 36 home runs last season, and he has to disappoint us at some point, right? Jose Abreu hit 36 home runs, while Jose Bautista hit 35, and both could challenge Springer for the home run title.
Springer has a chance to hit 35 or more home runs, and lead the AL, assuming he can stay healthy and cut down on his strikeouts. He swings hard at almost every pitch, so when he does make contact, he hits the ball real hard, so even if the strikeouts are in the 30% range, he has the chance to hit 35 or more bombs.
What do Fake Teams readers think?
Chase Headley, Yankees
Headley signed with the Yankees yesterday afternoon, signing a 4 year, $52 million deal. He will play third base for the Yankees, so that tells you what the Yankees think of Alex Rodriguez's chances of playing third base for the rest of his career. ARod is coming off a year suspension and has played just 44 games since 2012. He turns 40 in July, so he will either be relegated to a designated hitter role in the Yankees lineup, or the Yankees could make the drastic decision to just waive him, eating the rest of his contract. I wouldn't put it past them to waive him at some point over the next three seasons, if not sooner.
Getting back to Headley, his fantasy value improves quite a bit now that he is out of Petco Park and will now call Yankee Stadium home for the next four seasons. You don't need me to tell you that Yankee Stadium is the Coors Field of the American League. Last season, Yankee Stadium was 47% above league average for home runs, so Headley stands to see an increase in home runs in 2015. I will be moving Headley up in my third base rankings as a result of this deal, and won't be surprised to see him approach 20 home runs next season.
Brett Anderson, Dodgers
The Dodgers signed oft-injured left handed starter Brett Anderson to a one year, $10 million contract yesterday, a contract that could reach $14 million should Anderson stay healthy enough to pitch 200 innings next season. You have a better chance to win the lottery than Anderson has to pitch 200 innings next year.
Adding Anderson to their rotation, the Dodgers now have five very good ground ball pitchers. The Dodgers recently improved the middle of their infield with the acquisitions of catcher Yasmani Grandal, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, and second baseman Howie Kendrick. All are very good defensively, so the Dodgers infield defense should be vastly improved, so it makes sense that they signed Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, as both know how to keep the ball on the ground,
Anderson is an elite ground ball pitcher, inducing ground balls at a 61% clip last year in his 43.1 innings on the mound, and at a 63% clip in his 44 innings in 2013.
With the addition of Anderson, the Dodgers own a rotation that kept the ball on the ground in 2014:
Clayton Kershaw - 51.8 GB%
Zack Greinke - 48.7 GB%
Hyun-Jin Ryu - 47.4 GB%
Brandon McCarthy - 52.6 GB%
Brett Anderson - 61.2 GB%
Add in the fact that three of their five starters strike out eight or more batters per nine innings, and none of them walk more than three batters per nine innings, it is easy to see that the Dodgere rotation could be very good in 2015. Anderson is probably only draftable in the deepest of mixed leagues, and only in the last few rounds. He is a $1-2 starter in deep NL-only and mixed leagues, but is probably waiver wire material in shallower leagues. Along with the injury risk, comes the chance for a high reward should he be able to make 20 or more starts in 2015.
Jason Motte, Cubs
The Cubs signed former Cardinals closer Jason Motte to a one year, $4.5 million deal with an opportunity to make an additional $2.5 million in incentives based on games finished. So, it appears the Cubs think he can still close. I assume he will be a fall back option for the closer role should Hector Rondon struggle in save opportunities next season.
Motte is a worthy late round pick or low dollar bid in auction leagues due to the possibility he will close at some point next season.
Melky Cabrera, White Sox
The White Sox are making a statement this offseason that they are ready to go for it this season. With the Royals making the World Series, and the Tigers appearing to be in a bit of a decline, the White Sox spent some money this offseason, signing first baseman Adam LaRoche, closer David Robertson, trading for starter Jeff Samardzija and now they have signed outfielder Melky Cabrera. The Cabrera signing pushes outfielder Dayan Viciedo to the bench, or he could be used as trade bait at some point.
The White Sox improved their rotation with the addition of Samardzija, their closer role with the signing of Robertson, and have improved their lineup with the additions of LaRoche and the Melkman. Here is a look at the new and improved White Sox lineup:
Adam Eaton, CF
Melky Cabrera, LF
Jose Abreu, DH/1B
Adam LaRoche, 1B/DH
Avisail Garcia, RF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Conor Gillaspie, 3B
Tyler Flowers, C
Micah Johnson, 2B
Cabrera's fantasy value stays relatively the same with the move out of Toronto and into US Cellular Field in Chicago.
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