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:
Paul Goldschmidt – I’m as infatuated with Goldschmidt as Blagojevich was with getting top dollar for his Senate seat. And after next year, he will likely deserve any sort of kickbacks from the fantasy community he receives. Not sure what that would entail besides Twitter mentions and a spike in his average draft position in 2014, but hey, he’ll take what he can get. For all we know, those things may be part of the baseball arbitration process. A few weeks ago in my review of 2012 first basemen I said, “A 42 point OPS increase from 2011 led to a .286/.359/.490 line and he appears to have the potential for additional improvement. This year he decreased his strikeouts dramatically while increasing his line drives and contact rate. He may have had a bit of bad luck with his HR/FB and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him easily hit 30 home runs next season.” As if that wasn’t promising enough, he stole 18 bases in 2012, which isn’t as much of a fluke as you might think. You’ll never mistake him for Bengie Molina on the basepaths and I expect him to have double digit steals in 2013.
The only caveat I’ll give is that the Diamondbacks seem to hate (sorry, “strongly dislike”) their players. Worst case scenario could involve Goldschmidt becoming BFFs with Upton, resulting in them both being traded to a Japanese team. Barring that, I see Goldschmidt improving upon last season, with a sexy .280/.370/.500 line. Did I mention that he appears to have a high floor and has a little room for upside from there? Well, now I did. Add in 10+ stolen bases and 30 home runs, with solid runs and RBIs, and you have a recipe for a top first baseman. Something tells me I’m into something gold.
Ike Davis – I still like Ike. He significantly improved after a horrific start to the year. Just look at his OPS by month: .550 in April, .496 in May, .926 in June, .794 in July, .887 in August, and .900 in September. Grey also just went over his Ike Davis 2013 sleeper post. Some of this improvement can be credited to an improved BABIP, but he also produced a higher walk rate and lower strikeout rate. After re-evaluating him earlier in the year, I said, “I thought that a .790 OPS was his floor, but he’s making Bill James’ pre-season projection of an .886 not look completely insane. He’s made enough of an improvement that a .250/.350/.480 line is reasonable.” I’m going to stand by that line for his 2013 projection, but add that he has room for upside from there. I have no clue how much that Valley Fever ordeal affected his performance in the beginning of the year, but he demonstrated that he was no longer the player who slumped early in 2012. It’s also worth mentioning that he may fall enough in drafts to be a real value. He’s tried to knock on wood, but we all know he hasn’t yet. Hopefully he turns into something good. It’s the impression that Ike gets.