We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Dodgers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Mike Petriello from Dodgers Digest.
1) Grey is projecting a line of 87/25/94/.272/18 for Hanley Ramirez in 2014. What’s your take on Hanley in his contract year?
If he’s healthy, he’ll hit. There’s no question about that. Obviously the following statement is a bit flawed since he had only 336 plate appearances, but his wOBA was higher than anyone else in the sport other than Miguel Cabrera. Despite the limited playing time, he still put up 20 homers and 10 steals. Imagine that over a full season? He’s happy in Los Angeles, he’s years off of the shoulder injury and unhappiness that limited him in Miami, and he’s motivated to get what might be the last big contract of his career.
Unfortunately, the injuries just never seemed to stop last year. First it was his thumb, then his hamstring, then his shoulder, then his back, then his ribs. You can argue that several of those were fluke occurrences, and they were, but it doesn’t mean the missed time wasn’t real, and it doesn’t mean we can just assume none of that is going to happen in 2014. You’ll draft him highly because he’s an elite hitter at a very valuable position, and you’ll be right to do so… just make sure you have a decent backup plan available.
2) What should fantasy players make of Alexander Guerrero? Is he worth a roll of the dice in fantasy considering how shallow second base seems to be this year?
Of course. The good news here is that everybody is pretty confident about his bat. Maybe don’t expect superstar level offense, but above-average offense for the position doesn’t seem unreasonable. The problem is that the reports on his defense as he transitions from shortstop to second have been less than encouraging, and while fantasy doesn’t consider defense, it does matter if that defense is poor enough that it costs him playing time. The hope is that it will come with experience, since he didn’t play last year in Cuba and was limited in winter ball by a hamstring pull after signing with the Dodgers. Still, it’s not out of the question that he spends the first few weeks of the year fine-tuning his skills in the minors before coming up, so that may hurt his fantasy value.
Kemp, but probably neither. There’s no question that Gordon can run, but that’s about it. He’s been one of the worst hitters in baseball over his career, and his defense at shortstop was so bad that he’s now some sort of hybrid 2B/CF, which is fine, except now he can’t hit and has no clear path to playing time. You’ll hear a lot about how well he played in winter ball and that he’s added some bulk to his frame, but it’s all just talk until he proves it on the field. He won’t get that chance unless Guerrero falters, however, and even then the Dodgers have added several other guys to the 2B competition.
For Kemp, he was limited so badly by his shoulder last year, but it was really a very badly injured ankle that finished his season. He still hasn’t begun running yet, and seems more likely than not to be out of the Opening Day lineup, though it shouldn’t be too deep into April before he gets in. Even so, the combination of his injuries and the excess outfielders the Dodgers have mean that if the Dodgers even get 130 games out of him, I think most fans would take it. Kemp is talented enough that he could hit 25 homers in that amount of playing time, especially now that his shoulder has had another year to heal, but after last year, that’s tough to bet on.
4) Hyun-Jin Ryu had a successful rookie year and didn’t seem to wear down as the season progressed. Should fantasy owners invest in him to maintain or even improve in 2014?
Not only did he not wear down, he improved in the second half, with an outstanding 61/10 K/BB over his last 12 starts, and playing on a team like the Dodgers ought to keep him swimming in wins. (I love fantasy baseball, but lord do I hate having to care about pitcher wins.) It’s perfectly reasonable for him to maintain this skill set, but probably not realistic to expect him to improve. Besides the fact that hitters will now have a lot more video and scouting on him than they did last year, Ryu already posted a 3.00 ERA and his skillset is not of the kind of ace pitcher that is going to give you a 2.80. Most of the projection systems so far have him at around a 3.20-3.40 ERA, and that’s about right, and he’ll collect some whiffs while not hurting you with walks or strikeouts. I’ll give him an 80% of maintaining the same level, 15% of declining, and only 5% to do better. Still, maintaining keeps him as a valuable asset.
5) Bigger number this season: the amount of fantasy teams called the “Bay of PUIGs” or the amount of times some broadcaster mentions Puig’s “brash style of play” or “disrespect for the game of baseball”.
The latter, obviously. As a history major, I appreciate a good reference to international conflicts from five decades ago more than most, but somehow I feel like the present-day sports fan isn’t going to have that at the front of their minds. “That’ll do, Puig,” for sure. “ManBearPuig,” probably. But crotchety old men decrying the downfall of our nation’s youth? That’s a great taste that never gets old.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @643ball