Yahoo fantasy baseball (probably the best free fantasy baseball provider, in my opinion) opened up yesterday with their experts ranking the top 250 players for the upcoming fantasy season. Here’s how some members of our Detroit Tigers stack up in their rankings:
Miguel Cabrera #2 OVR, #1 3B
Mike Trout claimed the #1 overall spot according to the experts, but in a no-defense game like fantasy baseball, give me a third base eligible Cabrera in the 1-1 draft spot any day of the week. Cabrera will retain third base eligibility for the 2014 fantasy season, due to him being a regular at the position last season, even if he doesn’t play a game there this season.
Cabrera won’t give you stolen bases like Trout will, but Cabrera will beat him in home runs, batting average, and RBI, and probably won’t be all that far off in runs scored. Neither is a bad pick, but it’s easier to fill up your outfield with quality players than it is to find another top-flight 3B.
Max Scherzer #33 OVR, #7 SP
Scherzer provides an elite strikeout rate for a starting pitcher and, as we saw last year, holds the potential to win lots of games. I wouldn’t bet on another year of sub-3.00 ERA, but Max should be an excellent play in a contract year.
Justin Verlander #37 OVR, #10 SP
Verlander took a bit of a hit in fantasy value last year with a sub-par (for him) year in the ERA and win columns. He still struck out nearly a batter per inning and stands an excellent chance to “win” more than the 13 games he did last season. JV looks like a good bet for bounce-back season, and looks like solid value if he really ends up in the fourth round.
Anibal Sanchez #64, #15 SP
Sanchez took a huge step forward in strikeout rate last year. He probably won’t lead the league in ERA again, but if he can maintain a K/9 rate near 9.0, he’ll be in for another good fantasy year (we know the Tigers are going to have a chance to win every time he’s out there). He would be a stud #2 pitcher on any fantasy staff.
Ian Kinsler #71, #5 2B
If you’re a regular fantasy player, then you’re already familiar with Kinsler’s value at second base. His power numbers won’t be what they once were – he’s aging and moving away from one of the more homer-friendly parks – but he’ll still hit some dingers, score a bunch of runs, and probably steal a few bases as well.
Joe Nathan #96, #7 RP
Nathan should see plenty of save opportunities with Detroit this season, and he’s been just about as reliable as they come in that regard over his entire career. A solid relief play all around with good (though not elite) strikeout totals, a solid ERA, and plenty of saves.
Austin Jackson #122, #36 OF
Jackson is a fringy outfield starter unless you’re playing in league with more than 12 teams or in an AL-only setting. Watch out if he ends up hitting lower in the order, however, as most of his projections are probably based off the high plate appearance totals that come with the leadoff spot.
Victor Martinez #163, #23 1B
Martinez’s value takes a big hit this season as he loses his catcher eligibility. Yahoo (and I think most fantasy leagues) require five starts (or 10 total appearances) at a position to gain eligibility. Martinez only started three games behind the plate in 2013. He’s certainly worth a start in AL-only leagues, but you’re probably looking at little more than a bench bat in standard leagues.
Torii Hunter #198, #50 OF
Hunter might be worth a look at the end of your bench if you really get thin on out fielders, but much of his fantasy this year will probably come in AL-only leagues. He’ll give you decent average and home run totals in the teens, but his stolen base days are behind him and his power numbers aren’t outstanding for an outfielder. His value would be further hurt if he’s hitting lower in the lineup too (with fewer plate appearances per game).
Nick Castellanos #249, #71 OF
Castellanos will start the season only with outfield eligibility, but he should gain third base in the first week (after starting five games). He might be worth a late-round gamble in standard leagues – to stash on your bench and see how he performs – but could end up being a nice little play in AL-only leagues. Potential for outstanding keeper value too, if you’re into that.