No one likes to be left out in the cold — or in Fantasy Baseball terms — the guy that drafts Yu Darvish (Tommy John surgery) or Marcus Stroman (torn ACL), not realizing they will miss all of 2015.
Some of the 2015 position battles are starting to shake out, and we’re here to help you know what’s going on.
Spring training injuries and performances can cause a major shift in a player’s role for the upcoming season. Dee Gordon, for example, stole (pun intended) the second-base job during spring last season and went on to have a fantastic year.
Now, we at SCFE understand that most people do not have the time to pay attention to all the spring action, so we’re on the lookout for you.
With Spring Training winding down and draft season in full force, I’ll be releasing a last-minute draft guide, based on position in the coming days.
2015 Position Battles: First Base and Third Base
I have created a last-minute draft guide to keep you updated on current position battles, so you can dominate your drafts.
Alex Guerrero, 3B, L.A. Dodgers
Guerrero won’t be on your corner-infield radar, but makes the list at CI because he is competing for the Dodgers’ third-base job this spring. Guerrero, who was signed out of Cuba last season, is batting .364 with two home runs, seven RBI and two stolen bases this spring. He was likely a strong candidate to win the third-base job until the recent signing of Cuban third baseman Hector Olivera.
Olivera, who turns 30 next month, signed a six-year, $62.5 million contract with the Dodgers and will compete with Guerrero and Juan Uribe at third baseman. Although the position battle is far from determined, it’s worth keeping an eye on Olivera and Guerrero as both offer solid fantasy upside and should be considered in all draft formats if they could earn regular at-bats.
Yasmany Tomas, 3B, Arizona
Yet another Cuban player, Tomas signed a six-year, $68.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks in December and was supposed to be their Opening Day third baseman. Tomas, however, has struggled at the plate this spring, batting .250 with two home runs and seven RBI, and in the field – committing three errors. There is a legitimate chance that Tomas could start the season in the minors to work on his hitting and defense. If Tomas can’t secure the third-base job, the Diamondbacks Opening Day third baseman would likely be Jake Lamb.
Lamb, one of the organizations top prospects, is a much more polished defender but struggled at the plate over 126 at-bats in 2014, batting just .230 and drawing a measly six walks. If Lamb does indeed win the job and can get consistent at-bats, he could become a late-round sleeper or sneaky in-season pick-up.
Cody Asche, 3B, Philadelphia
Asche’s competition with Maikel Franco for the Phillies’ third-base job ended last week when Franco was sent to the minors. With Asche’s role now solidified to start the season, you can expect decent contributions from all the counting stats, but he isn’t a likely candidate to win your Fantasy Baseball championship for you.
While Franco was sent down, he’s still one of the Phillies’ top prospects and one that should be on your radar when he gets the call back to the big leagues.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Might as well squash the elephant in the room. One of baseball’s most talented young stars, Bryant’s future is extremely bright and he will almost certainly contribute in a big way in 2015. The problem is, at what point will that be? The issue, as with most young talents, is that teams opt to have their young stars start the season in the minors to gain more contractual control. Bryant is clearly ready for big-league pitching, batting .464 with nine home runs and 15 RBI this spring.
The Cubs, however, could send him down to delay his clock, only to summon him back to the team by mid-April. If you select Bryant during your fantasy draft, keep in mind that you may be without him for few weeks. In the meantime, Mike Olt could potentially be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter at third base.
Jon Singleton, 1B, Houston
Singleton was one of the Astros’ top hitting prospects last season, but failed to make a positive impression on the team after his midseason call-up in 2014. Singleton, who was the favorite to win the first-base job this spring, has struggled at times but has shown signs of life as of late.
Singleton is batting .244 with four RBI and zero homers, but has recorded six doubles this spring. While he still continues to strike out, he seems to be hitting the ball well enough to start the season as the Astros’ first baseman. Singleton could be a nice first-base sleeper if he can hold onto the job this season.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, San Diego
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Middlebrooks has received the majority of the starts at third base this spring and looks to be the leading candidate for the job. He has swung the bat well, batting .317 with two homers and seven RBI. Yangervis Solarte remains in the competition, but would carry a much lower ceiling offensively if he were to win the job.
Middlebrooks, who flashed tremendous power with the Red Sox, smashed 32 home runs in 615 at-bats over his first two seasons with the Red Sox. After battling through injury and inconsistent play last season, the Red Sox shipped Middlebrooks off to the Padres this offseason where he now gets a fresh start and could be on his way to a potential breakout campaign.
Spring Training Updates
These aren’t necessarily position battles, but it’s still some information you need to know about.
Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore
He’s baaack! Well, kinda. Davis received a medical exemption to use Adderall this season and, after a slow start to the spring, looks to be back to his old self. Davis has just three home runs this spring, but is hitting the ball with authority and to opposite fields.
Spring Training stats rarely mean anything but when Davis isn’t striking out – which he often does – he’s making a ton of hard contact, which should translate to an easy 30-homer season. Vintage Chris Davis.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit
While the concerns over Cabrera’s surgically repaired ankle are warranted, he’s been one of the most durable players in baseball over the past decade. Since making his spring debut this week, he has played both DH and first base.
At the plate, he passes the eye-test, going 4-for-10 with a homer and three RBI. After seeing Cabrera healthy and back on the field, it’s clear to see that he’s likely in for yet another monster campaign – health permitting – in 2015.
Will Middlebrooks Photo Credit: Keith Allison
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