2014 NFL Draft: Post-draft rankings and analysis
Now that the 2014 NFL Draft is over, it's time to update our 2014 rookie position rankings. Our fantasy football writers were all over the draft and here are a few articles addressing the fantasy impact of round 1 of the draft, the winners and losers from round 1, and our post-draft position rankings.
Justin Morneau: A rebirth in Colorado
Coming into the season, we ranked Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau pretty low in our consensus first base rankings, but he is enjoying a very nice bounce back season in Colorado thus far. Morneau dealt with post-concussion syndrome back in 2011, limiting him to just 69 games. He was healthy in 2012 and 2013, but was not the same hitter we saw before the concussion, hitting in the .260-.265 range, but failing to reach 20 home runs and 80 RBI in each of the last two years. The Twins traded him to Pittsburgh last season, allowing one of their best players to become a free agent in the offseason.
The move to Colorado has resulted in a rebirth in his power as he is currently hitting .327-.355-.585 with 9 home runs, 21 runs scored and 32 RBI in 169 plate appearances. ZiPS projects him to finish the season with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. His power surge is a result in an increase in his HR/FB% from 9.6% and 12.5% over the last two seasons, to 21.4% in the hitter-friendly Coors Field. His batted ball profile, courtesy of FanGraphs, indicates he is hitting more balls on the ground (52% vs 40%) and less balls in the air (30% vs 38%), so there is a chance his HR/FB% drops as we get later into the season.
He is certainly being more aggressive at the plate now that he is in Colorado, as his O-Swing% has increased from 37% to 42%, and his Z-Swing% has increased by a similar amount as well. He is making more contact on the pitches outside the zone, so that has helped bouy his batting average a bit. Another reason for his aggressiveness is the fact that he is seeing more first pitch strikes, 69% vs 63%, than ever before, but that may change as the season goes along.
Morneau is proving his doubters wrong this season, and I look for him to continue to hit well for the rest of the season. I don't see him hitting .327 all year, but a batting average in the .290 range with 25-30 home runs and 90+ RBI is cetainly possible if he stays healthy.
For more on Morneau and the surprising Rockies, check out Purple Row, SB Nation's Rockies fan site.
Alex Guerrero playing some shortstop in AAA
I found it quite interesting that Dodgers second base prospect Alex Guerrero played some shortstop last night for the Albuquerque Dukes, according to Dodgers beat writer J.P. Hoornstra from the Los Angeles News Group, via Twitter:
Guerrero is coming off a huge weekend where he went 9-18 with five home runs, and is hitting .355-.403-.691 with 9 home runs, 18 runs and 25 RBI in 119 plate appearances in AAA. Guerrero played shortstop , and I wonder if the Dodgers are giving him time at shortstop to call him up to be the Dodgers middle infield utility guy, who can come off the bench to pinch hit, and platoon with Dee Gordon at second base vs lefties.
For more on Guerrero and the Dodgers, make sure you check out True Blue LA, SB Nation's Dodgers fan site.
Dallas Keuchel: Emerging Ace
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel is having quite a break out year on the mound, and last night, he dominated the Angels in the Astros 5-2 win. Keuchel limited the Angels to two runs on five hits, a walk and eight strikeouts in 8.2 innings, moving his record to 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a solid 55-12 strikeout to walk rate in 61.2 innings. He has given up two runs or less in six of his nine starts this season.
Keuchel has improved his strikeouts per nine from 7.20 K/9 to 8.02 K/9, reduced his walk rate from 3.05 BB/9 to 1.75 BB/9 and improved his ground ball rate from 56% to 68% this season. Add that all up and you have the makings of an ace starter in Houston. His 1.6 fWAR ties him for ninth in MLB with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, James Shields and Masahiro Tanaka, some excellent company, eh?
Kuechel is owned in 20% of leagues right now, so he is severely under owned. If he is available in your league, make sure you grab him off of your league waiver wire.
For more on Keuchel and the Astros, make sure you check out Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros fan site.
The Yankees got some bad news yesterday when it was reported that starter C.C. Sabathia will be out "at least" until July, and possibly longer. When a team uses the words "at least", it usually means the player will be out longer than the team is indicating. Look for the Yankees to deal for a starter by the trade deadline.
It appears Rays starter Alex Cobb will come off the disabled list on Thursday and make his scheduled start vs the Athletics. Not a good first start back off the disabled list, but the A's cant keep scoring runs like this, can they?
Remember when Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera was struggling in April? Well, that was a one month slump for him, and nothing more. Last night, Miggy went 3-5 with a double, his third consecutive three hit game. He raised his slash line to a more Miggy-like .325-.364-.540 with 9 home runs, 22 runs scored, 39 RBI and an un-Miggy-like 31-10 strikeout to walk rate. After hitting .275-.313-.407 in April, he is hitting .375-.408-.703 in May with 5 home runs and 24 RBI, and there are still 12 days left in the month. Yes, he's back to being Miggy.
Braves starter Mike Minor returned from the disabled list back on May 2nd, and has pitched well in three of his four starts since. Last night, he limited the Brewers to two runs on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts in 6.2 innings to earn his second win of the season in the Braves 9-3 win. Minor is now 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and a 21-6 strikeout to walk rate in 23.2 innings thus far. He is getting hurt by the long ball, as he is giving up 1.5 long balls every nine innings, but that number should regress as the season goes along. He has given up two runs or less in three of his four starts this season.
White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez was a regular 15 home run, 70 RBI hitter until the last few seasons when he started focusing on stealing more bases. This season, it looks like he is focusing on hitting for more power, as he has already matched his 2013 home run total. Last night, Ramirez went 2-5 with a home run and four RBI in the White Sox come from behind 7-6 win over the Royals. Ramirez is now hitting .322-.354-.492 with 6 home runs, 28 runs, 32 RBI and 7 stolen bases, and is on pace for a 20 home run, 90 runs scored, 100+ RBI and 20+ stolen bases through the first 45+ games thus far.
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.