Spring Training is Almost Finished: Final Roster Decisions for Your 2012 Fantasy Baseball Team

Monday April 2nd, 2012

Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The 2012 fantasy baseball season kicked off this past week with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners two game set in Japan. What can we learn from this series? Even in a hitter friendly park, neither of these teams can really hit. They will both struggle to score runs all year. Therefore, Bartolo Colon will have a lot of value pitching in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. Colon needs to be owned in all leagues, because he proved he still has something left in the tank last year. He is a must start option anytime he faces the Mariners and in most instances he pitches at home. The same is true with teammate Brandon McCarthy, who could perform to a near ace level this season. However, he does have an injury past, which also goes without saying with the old and portly Bartolo Colon. I also think this short series spoke volumes about the potential of Dustin Ackley, who can quickly emerge as a top ten option at second base.

With only two regular season games to reflect upon, let’s take a closer look at the end of spring training and its fantasy relevance. Henry Rodriguez is most likely available in your league, and the 100mph flamethrower will have the opportunity to close games as Drew Storen begins the season the disabled list. In 10 spring training innings, Rodriguez has allowed just four hits, but more importantly struck out nine batters compared to only two walks. The strike zone was the problem in 2011, when he still posted respectable numbers. But he seems to have found better control of the plate. He could be deadly and Zumaya-like. He should provide great value for strikeouts, and is great insurance for Storen owners, as I would not even be surprised to see him assume the closer role at some point during the 2012 season.

Danny Espinosa is having a lot of trouble making contact this spring and its becoming very worrisome. At one point, he struck out in 10 of 16 at-bats. His 17 steals and 21 home runs made him a great source for these categories from the second base position in 2011. However, it came with a .236 batting average and a .227/5/14 line in 66 games after the all-star break. With a swing and miss percentage of 25%, we could see a very ugly batting average in 2012. Overall, I think he is slightly overvalued and his spring training only shows he has failed to make any adjustments.

Alfredo Aceves, an already extremely undervalued reliever might have the opportunity to get save opportunities with Andrew Bailey possibly beginning the season on the disabled list. He will certainly share the role with Mark Melancon to start off, but I think the Red Sox brass will give Aceves a handful of chances. He is also versatile and his ability to pitch several innings makes him a potential vulture for wins. For the Red Sox, the injury woes of Josh Beckett and Bailey have to be extremely troublesome and could likely be a reoccurring theme with these two throughout the year.

Adam Jones looks like he has finally mastered the art of stealing a base. We know he has the speed, and I expect a 20/20 season out of him. While there was so much hype surrounding him during the past three years, I think expectations have been tempered. Fantasy owners can now take advantage. He is still only 26-years of age and is beginning to play for a contract.

Spring training has showed us that Yu Darvish is legit and can make major league hitters look silly (especially during the start of the season). I expect 15 wins and he could emerge as a top-20 option. Josh Hamilton is expected to play centerfield regularly, and I think this is bad news for owners who would rather see him at a corner position. To my surprise, Joe Nathan might actually be completely back. His velocity is back to the low to mid 90’s, and as a result he might hold down the closer’s job ahead of Mike Adams throughout the entire season. Hold on to Adams just in case…as you never know.

The fact that Robin Ventura has yet to announce a closer is great news for Addison Reed owners. I think that he will give Thornton, Reed, and Crain opportunities to close. I think if Reed has early success, the job will be his to lose. Although the White Sox are not a threat to win the division, Ventura has to play to win and Reed in the 9th inning gives the White Sox the best opportunity to do so. Adam Dunn’s .255/5/14 line in spring training is great news, and I truly think he will make owners forget about 2011. It is not a reach to expect 30 home runs, and maybe even 40 again playing in U.S. Cellular Field.

Fantasy owners really should be concerned about Michael Pineda, given his injury and loss of velocity. People also forget that he posted a 5.12 ERA in 10 second-half starts. He is moving to a much more hitter-friendly park, and although he is likely to up his win totals, he will likely post an ERA in the 4.00 range.

Fellow young pitching prospect Julio Teheran did nothing this spring to give the Braves confidence to hand him the number five spot in the rotation. He is still one of the top prospects in baseball and has dominated the minor leagues to-date. However, he allowed 17 runs in 16 innings in March and will likely start the season at AAA. Monitor his success in the minors, because he has ace potential.

That is all for this week, ‘til next time!

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein)***


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