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 Orioles Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Jon Shepherd from Camden Depot.
1) Manny Machado suffered a pretty significant injury at the end of the 2013 season. How do you see it affecting his fantasy value this year and do you think he will meet or surpass Grey’s projection of 80/14/61/.281/3?
I would argue the only thing significant about Machado’s injury is that it might take a bite out of his early season numbers. However, we are also entering into an interesting part of his career as he has begun to show secondary power. It may still wind up taking a couple more years, but he should blossom into a 20-25 HR threat and that should be taken into consideration if you are running a keeper league. Even more interesting in a keeper league is keeping tabs on whether J.J. Hardy signs an extension. That single event will like dictate if Machado is the team’s future 3B or SS. This year though, I would be weary though as many fantasy players are likely going to project a higher offensive upside for him. People often like to think they are getting in on the front end of players. One of my last years of playing fantasy ball included the mad rush to bid on Matt Wieters, which fantasy-wise was an incredibly poor move in terms of draft position and money. Another issue that may over inflate Machado’s perceived value is his defense. Part of his star quality is excelling at something that bears no importance in winning fantasy baseball and many owners are willing to throw in extra money or draft a guy a round early simply because they respect the all around quality of a player. I went on a tangent. Back to the question, I think the stat line looks reasonable, but I would reckon he will hit about 18 home runs and bat around .270.
2) Grey has two Orioles in his top ten overall for 2014: Adam Jones (5) and Chris Davis (9). Which of the two do you think is more likely to live up to their big projections? (Jones : 94/32/105/.282/15, Davis: 83/39/104/.259/3 )
The curse for many owners, fantasy and reality alike, is paying for past performance. What we have here is a “proven veteran” vs. a “break out” player. Proven veterans have to face the reality of aging curves while break out players combat simple regression to the mean. What we try to figure out from there is: what is their new talent level? I would say that Davis actually is more like to live up to his projection. Why? His projection is more in tune to what he did two years ago in about 550 plate appearances. Jones’ number tend to suggest that he will be able to rack up another near full season. With him getting almost to that aging point and playing center field, it is simply hard for me to expect him to continue performing at his current peak level and expect him to only miss a couple games. In other words, I think Grey has better accounted for Davis’ regression to the mean than he has figured the growth of Adam Jones’ career.
3) What does Kevin Gausman need to do to take the next step forward in 2014 and should fantasy players in redraft leagues be buying or selling the young pitcher?
Buy, buy, buy. The Orioles have thin starting pitching and Gausman is breaking about a year earlier than his other contenders (i.e., Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez). He is a near elite ceiling pitcher who should provide league average numbers this season, but mature more as a two slot pitcher. All he really needs is better command of his breaking ball.
4)Regardless of who starts on Opening Day, who do you think ends up with the most playing time at second base for the Orioles in 2014?
Ryan Flaherty. He simply will have more opportunity. Flaherty will begin the season at second and will likely stick with the club if he fails there because he can play almost every other position well enough to be a dependable utility man. By being on the bench throughout the season, he will be a continual plan B as everyone will come through and likely fail. Jonathan Schoop is at least a year away from performing at a high enough level with his bat to break into the lineup.
5) What’s more likely to occur for the Orioles in 2014?
A) Machado plays some games at shortstop
B) Buck Showalter actually smiles on camera
C) Dylan Bundy starts 10 games
D) A huge misunderstanding occurs when Dylan’s younger cousin Ted is invited to throw out the first pitch on 70s Disco Night
Well, let us throw out the impossible. Dylan Bundy will not wear a Baltimore uniform this year unless it is a courtesy call up in September. Also, Baltimore would never have a disco night as disco never took root in this city. Baltimore went from Doo Wop and Soul to New Wave and Punk in one fell swoop, doing the former a bit better than the latter. That leaves us to two possibilities: Machado at shortstop and Showalter smiling. Both have happened in the past with Machado playing shortstop in the minors and Showalter being caught twice last year on TV smiling. At the moment, I think it is even money. If we place a bet on frequency, then it all depends on J.J. Hardy’s health and his supposed extension. If Hardy does not extend, then I imagine he will be dealt and Machado will see a lot of time at shortstop in August and September. This also presumes that the Orioles will not be competing for a playoff slot, which means that it is even less likely that Buck will smile.