Spring training has sprung! Where’s my Rusty Staub Expos throwback? I got this in junior high and it still fits great. I have the body of an 11-year-old girl. *moonwalks across living room, falls on face* Most fantasy ballers are in the mocking mood right now with the for real fake drafts firing up in a few weeks. (There’s still time for you to commish an RCL league wink wink nudge nudge slap in the back of the head.) As we prepare this year’s team(s) (ss) and (sss), let’s fire up the jammer crammer machine once again and turn our all knowing fantasy eye toward first base. First base may have plenty of quality to find through the first 100 picks – Señor Stache has 15 first baseman in the top-100 – but the position ain’t what it used to be (and that’s what she said). Only six first baseman had more than 30 bombs last year, the fewest in over two decades. Is Andres Galarraga still playing? Those were the fantasy baseball golden years. Personally, I’d grab one early, say within my first three picks. We are not talking about whether or not to jam Paul Goldschmidt or cram Chris Davis here, we know what’s up there. We are looking towards players not ranked in the top 100 that can win you your league and all the cash, bragging rights and glory holes that go along with it. Last season, players with first base eligibility like Michael Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy were ranked (according to the Yahoos!) outside the top-100, but finished in the top-45. Any expert that told you they predicted that is actually from the moon and a time traveler. Sorry, watched Lunopolis on Netflix last month and just found out it wasn’t a documentary. While I’m no man on the moon, let’s cue up Mott the Hoople, make like Andy Kaufman in a wrestling match and jam it or cram it. Nothing is cool.
Jam or Cram: Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics
2013 Rankings: Opening Rank #190, Final Rank #75
2013 Stats: 73 R, 30 HR, 87 RBI, 4 SB, .256 AV.
2014 $$$ Value: $13
The Gist: Moss has everything I hate in a fantasy player: High strikeout rate, low average, terrible splits and a ginger beard. Then why do I love him so much? He’s my favorite PlatoonyTunes: .266 average with 26 homers, 71 RBI, a .906 OPS against righties and roster flexiblity. Don’t look at the numbers versus lefties – they cannot be unseen.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 67 R, 27 HR, 78 RBI, 4 SB, .255
Jam it or Cram it: While your non-Razzballin’ buddy’s pass on Moss for “sexier” names like Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard, grab some cheap power late (thinking round 12 or later) and watch those friends sing your praises while cursing behind your back come August. JAM
Jam or Cram: Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
2013 Rankings: Opening Rank #136, Final Rank #106
2013 Stats: 77 R, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB, .289 AV.
2014 $$$ Value: $12
The Gist: We all want to believe in Belt. He’s popped up on every prospect, rookie, sleeper list since he hit 85 homers in tee ball. However, belief doesn’t equal truth. I learned this from my three years in the Church of Scientology – I’m still waiting for Xenu and Tom Cruise to show up. Still waiting on Belt, too.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 75 R, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 5 SB, .285 AV.
Jam it or Cram it: The problem with Belt is his average lineup and the fact he hits in the Snake River Canyon (Evel Knievel reference. Drink) with 11 of his 16 dingers coming on the road last season. We dream of Belt and a Paul Goldschmidt kind of season and all we get is numbers that are closer to Daniel Nava. CRAM
Jam or Cram: Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals
2013 Rankings: Opening rank #135, Final rank #313
2013 Stats: 46 R, 17 HR, 51 RBI, 0 SB, .284 AV.
2014 $$$ Value: $12
The Gist: Adams put together some healthy stats for only getting 300 AB’s last year. Big Country’s 17.4 HR/AB ratio ranked him 16th among all big league players (Hey, Goldy’s was 16.8%). 2014 should be a better year simply with the subtraction of Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig shipping to the outfield and Jon Jay the likely bench bat. If Adams has first base all to his lonesome he may hit 30 homers.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 72 R, 26 HR, 83 RBI, 1 SB, .280 AV.
Jam it or Cram it: Here’s where any good fantasy writer worth his rosin bag spouts of things like “upside” and “breakout season.” These are code words from fantasy writing 101 that mean, “I have no f***ing clue.” However, a late pick with 30 home run potential is worth a gamble. JAM
Jam or Cram: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
2013 Rankings: N/A
2013 Stats: (In 42 games in Cuba) 37 R, 13 HR, 36 RBI, .382 AV
2014 $$$ Value: $21
The Gist: There’s a lot to be learned about the latest Cuban sensation since Daisy Fuentes. Abreu could be the next Yasiel Puig, he could be the next Jesus Valdivia. Who? Exactly. Only Homeland Security knows for sure. According to our friend in the feds, who we’ll call “Mox Fulder,” here’s what we know: Abreu is 27 (allegedly), bats right-handed (true), averaged 34 homers in Cuba (math is fun) and loves tostones rellenos (deeeelicious). What we don’t know? Everything else. He may be some sort of MLB Manchurian candidate and Bud Selig is the Queen of Diamonds.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 70 R, 23 HR, 77 RBI, 2 SB, .260 AV
Jam it or Cram it: I’m not going crazy here expecting a Puigish season from Abreu. If I can get him in the right spot, I’ll jump. Currently, I’m seeing Abreu drafted around the eighth round. Too early for my trigger finger. I’m avoiding the unknown. Viva la CRAM!
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees: If you play in the 2005 fantasy league he’s all jam. If you’re planning on winning this year, don’t waste a spot on a 34-year-old switch hitter who might hit .250, struggles against fastball pitchers and has missed nearly 200 games in the last two years. CRAM
Corey Hart, Seattle Mariners: Projecting Hart is like wearing your sunglasses at night (apologies, had to do it) and driving through the Lincoln Tunnel. He could go off for 30 bombs and 20 steals or he could hit 15 in the Safeco gorge and blow out a knee. I’ll JAM if he’s there around pick 190ish, otherwise CRAM.
Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres: Alonso has 20 homer, 10 steal potential and is entering that magical age 27 season. He has magical upside for a late round target. JAM
Jon Singleton, Houston Astros: Singleton is the 22-year-old future at first for the Lastros. He has 30-homer power, but will likely start the year in minors. Here’s what our prospect guy Scott had to say about Singleton. I’ll take a look in June if he hasn’t smoked himself out of the league by then. CRAM
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