2014 Fantasy Baseball: Week Two Roundup
If the first week of Major League Baseball season didn’t bring enough jarring news, week two is on the verge of being even more jam-packed than the first. While there will be discussion involving players on the upswing at the moment, a large portion of the news deals with players who are coming back from the disabled list or just going onto it.
In the most shocking news of the week, Los Angeles outfielder Josh Hamilton was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb on Wednesday and his upcoming surgery on the thumb will sideline him 6-8 weeks. He suffered the injury on a headfirst slide into first base while he was trying to leg out a base hit. With the bombshell news item of the week being dropped, it’s time to talk about fantasy baseball news and get the Week 2 Roundup started.
Players on the Mend
As mentioned earlier, Hamilton will miss the next 6-8 weeks with his thumb injury and with a projected June return, it’s a devastating blow to his fantasy owners after he started off hot at the plate. Through eight games, Hamilton was hitting .444 with two home runs and six RBI. Obviously it’s too small of a sample size to read into whether he can sustain the early success for the whole season, but it was certainly a promising sign after he got off to a hideous start in 2013. Hamilton owners have to hang onto Hamilton due to his amazing talent, but if you can get a good package for him in a trade from an owner who has depth, by all means do it. Problem with trading Hamilton at this moment is his value is at his absolute lowest so it might be hard to get a good return for him. Best of luck to all trying to survive his absence.
In other depressing injury news, Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore will soon have an answer from Dr. James Andrews on whether it has to undergo Tommy John surgery on his elbow, which looks like a strong possibility at this point. The injury is to his ulnar collateral ligament, which tends to almost always put pitchers under the knife. You can see video of how the injury occurred right here. If he has TJ surgery, he is obviously lost for the season, so owners have to hope he can somehow come back sooner rather than later. The velocity loss and elbow soreness from last year already made him a risky proposition on draft day, and all those fears are now being realized.
UPDATE: Moore was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament on Thursday which likely means Tommy John surgery is inevitable. Wait for official confirmation, but if you have someone you’ve been wanting to pick up, it’s probably safe to drop Moore in redraft formats.
Certainly there can’t be anymore closer changes after the plethora of closers swapping places last week, right? Wrong, David Robertson of the New York Yankees was put on the 15-day DL with a Grade 1 groin strain. Although it looks like Robertson will be able return when first eligible, which would be April 22, that leaves an opening for a new closer to step in for the time being. The player happens to be 29-year-old Shawn Kelley, who promptly earned a save for the Bronx Bombers the day Robertson was shifted to the DL. Although he may not get many chances, Kelley is a must-add player for fantasy teams, especially owners that are hurting for saves.
Mat Latos has been working his way back from knee surgery he had early in the spring, but his progress has been halted due to him dealing with some right elbow irritation. On Tuesday he was scratched from his scheduled outing at Triple-A which undoubtedly raised some red flags concerning his health. Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price said the setback isn’t a serious one for Latos, although no updated timetable has been released. This is especially discouraging because the rehab outing was supposed his last before returning to the Reds rotation so fantasy owners will just have to keep on playing the waiting game for his return.
The last player that will be talked about concerning their health is oft-injured Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp. In 12 MLB seasons, Crisp has a career-high games played of 145 back in 2007 and has also only managed to play 130+ games in three other seasons. To say Crisp is injury-prone is an understatement, he is constantly dinged up and it’s just something fantasy owners have to deal with. Currently, Crisp is dealing with some left wrist inflammation, which will sideline him until at least Friday. The season may only be a little over a week old, but Crisp being nicked up is a yearly tradition. Crisp won’t be touching 22 home runs again and although he provides speed, his injuries cause him to miss plenty of games which can be a headache for owners. It would be a wise idea to see what you can get for Crisp.
Home runs may not come as frequently as they did back in the Steroid Era but that’s not to say the luster off watching players go yard has dissipated. As the old saying goes, chicks dig the long ball, but fantasy owners dig it as well. Lets see what studs have been leaving the ballpark with regularity lately.
Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers admitted to not being able to take a “normal swing” last Friday and was even forced to sit out of a game, but the thumb sure didn’t seem to hinder him on Tuesday as he belted three home runs against the Philadelphia Phillies. Braun had surgery options for his thumb in the offseason but decided to rehab his injury instead and he is now dealing with ongoing pain from that injury.
Although his 3 home runs and 7 RBI will settle many fantasy owners minds for the time being, this is a problem that is unlikely to go away for Braun. This may the perfect time to sell high on Braun and see what kind of offers you can get back in return. I’m certainly not suggesting you let go of Braun at a discounted price at this point in the game, but if you are worried about Braun’s injury lingering and affecting his production, something that very well might happen, it would be a prudent idea to explore the trade market for Braun.
27-year-old Cuban sensation Jose Abreu smacked his first two bombs of the season on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies. Known for his prodigious power, Abreu certainly has displayed eye-opening pop so far. Abreu is hitting .250 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI in his eight games so far. What’s especially encouraging is that Abreu is consistently making contact, as he has only struck out four times. The rookie has a chance to win the AL ROY award and he certainly has the power to reach the 30 home run plateau. Hang onto your Abreu shares, this kid has a chance to be a special player and could be a top-10 1B option when it’s all said and done.
The last player to be mentioned is the one who wouldn’t be thought of as a home run hitter, the player being St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. In 136 games in 2013, Molina only went deep 12 times. In eight games in 2014, Molina has already left the yard three times. Molina hit 22 home runs back in 2012, so it’s not unreasonable to expect that he could get back to that level if everything goes right. Molina is regarded as the best catcher in MLB and a top-5 catcher option in fantasy leagues, but if he can top 20 home runs, Molina has a great chance to be the number one overall catcher due to his high average and RBI skills.
Kansas City Royals fireballer Yordano Ventura is a 22-year-old rookie but he sure didn’t perform like one during his 2014 debut against the Rays. Ventura threw six dazzling shutout innings while also striking out six, walking none, and only giving up two hits. Additionally, Ventura’s fastball averaged 99.5 MPH and he also topped out at 103. Take a look at his scintillating fastball and dirty curveball in the gifs below.
To go along with his electric fastball and curveball, Ventura also has a changeup in his arsenal. What’s crazy about his changeup is he throws it at 88-89 MPH, which is drop of around 10 MPH in relation to his fastball. Just think about it this way, Ventura throws his changeup harder than Jered Weaver throws his fastball. Woah.
With the Royals confident enough to allow Ventura to throw 180-200 innings in an AL Central division that doesn’t have especially great hitting, Ventura should be in store for a nice rookie campaign. Ventura should have no trouble averaging a strikeout per inning and if he can post an acceptable walk rate, it will be very tough to score on him. I’ve been on the bandwagon since it was announced that he would be fifth starter for the Royals and there is still room for a few more! Enjoy the ride while it lasts, he is a rookie so he will probably have a fair share of ups and downs, but the good should outweigh the bad in this case.
Grady Sizemore was all but left for dead after a couple of injury riddled seasons that left many to wonder if he would ever make it back to being a successful MLB player. After a promising Spring Training, Red Sox manager John Farrell announced that Sizemore would be the everyday center fielder for the club. Through six games, Sizemore has made Farrell look like a very smart man. Sizemore hit a homer in his first game back against the Baltimore Orioles which was a nice story in itself (GIF below), but Sizemore has carried over the good first day to a good first week.
Sizemore is hitting .364 with one homer, one RBI, and three runs. He has also been asked to be the leadoff hitter for the Red Sox in some games and this can only be interpreted as a potential boon for his fantasy value as more time spent at the top of the lineup means more chances to score runs. Sizemore figures to get more days off than most players to ensure he isn’t overworked in his first MLB season in over two years, but he can still provide value. He’s already swiped a bag in his only chance.
While Sizemore may not be the guy who was a regular 20/20 player in his early years, it still seems that he can be a 15 HR/10 SB type of guy. His career average is only .269 so he’s not going to exactly help or hurt you much there. He has the potential to score 70+ runs as well as long as he stays relatively healthy. All this adds up to a fine player to have on your squad. Lets hope this comeback story keeps on going.
After an eventful offseason that saw him languish in free agency due to draft pick compensation for signing him, Ervin Santana finally made his long-awaited debut for the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. Santana shut out the New York Mets over eight innings, surrendering only three hits, struck out six, and walked none. After losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending injuries and waiting for Mike Minor to come back from the DL, this has to be a welcome sight for the Braves and fantasy owners alike.
After a career-year with the Royals last season, Santana should be able to post similar numbers to his last campaign. Pitching in the National League compared to the American League will definitely help and although a 3.24 ERA may not be replicable, an ERA under 3.6 should be considered a win for owners. Santana owners can expect reliable SP4 value from him.
Thanks for reading and thanks to Yahoo for providing the statistical information. Be sure to leave any comments/questions in the comments section below and feel free to follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy. I’m always willing to answer any questions you may have!