It’s time to start looking ahead to the 2013 fantasy baseball season. With that in mind, this column will hope to shine a light on players who are noticeably affected by OPS:
David Ortiz – Exciting, huh? No matter how boring picking a 37-year-old designated hitter might seem, it still doesn’t change the fact that he’s an anchor in OPS leagues. No, that doesn’t stand for Old Player Skills, though he’s definitely got those. Ortiz is one of the anomalies that appears to somehow get better as he ages. It seems strange, but it’s not unheard of, right, Paul Konerko? Big Papi finished last season with a 1.026 OPS. Let’s all take a minute for that to sink in. If you don’t quite have a grasp of what that means, here’s a general baseline: anything over an .800 OPS is solid and anything over a .900 OPS is fantastic, while anything over a 1.000 OPS usually indicates you were one of the best hitters by this measure.
So what can we expect from him next year? Well, I’m not going to project a 1.000 OPS because I wouldn’t do that for anybody, but there’s no reason for me to believe that he can’t top a .900 OPS. That’s extremely valuable in any league. Sure, it hurts a little to not have the flexibility of your utility spot, but Ortiz is probably going to be more productive than anybody else you were going to use in that spot. He also typically goes several rounds later than I think he should in drafts, due to the designated hitter label. If he qualified as, say, a first basemen or outfielder, I don’t think he’d make it out of the third round in OPS leagues, even with the lingering injury concerns. For 2013, I’ll give him an indulgent .290/.390/.530 line.
Josh Willingham – I was infatuated with him since the beginning of last season. Despite having mentioned him several times in 2012, would you let me throw his name out there again for 2013? Really? Thanks, you’re all too kind. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like people are reluctant to have this guy on their team and I don’t get it. Sure, he’s not young (unless you’re comparing him to Ortiz) and he occasionally gets injured, but he’s established himself over the last couple years as capable of hitting 30 homers for your team in less than a full season. With 30 home run power feeling scarcer than ever, I’ll gladly welcome him on my team. Not to mention that he walks at an excellent rate and hasn’t let his strikeouts hinder his performance. The thing I most like about him is that he’s maintained a higher home run to fly ball rate since August 2011, so there is no reason to expect his home run power to disappear going forward. For 2013, I’ll give him a .260/.360/.500 line, which he is more than capable of meeting. Add that to his current average draft position that is past pick 100 and you have the potential for a very valuable outfielder.