Here we go, the last one in my series.Â The big finale.Â The crĂ¨me de la crĂ¨me.Â The ultimate in baseball knowledge.Â I hope I donât cry, Iâm very emotional.Â In case you missed my other masterpieces, here you go:
The Brewers are one of my breakout teams this year.Â Theyâre on the shortlist with the Royals, Mariners, and Diamondbacks.Â Some of those picks are more hopeful than others, but I really do like them.Â There is a lot of potential here.
Okay, I know what youâre going to say, âBut JeremyâŚitâs all a bunch of schizz.âÂ Well youâre wrong.Â It looks like Kyle Lohse has fixed something, because his past three seasons have been much better than all the previous ones.Â He wonât be a strikeout haven, but there is a good shot heâll put up good numbers again.Â His WHIP has been below 1.20 during the past three seasons, a mark he never reached before that.Â He will be available really late, and possibly even on waivers.Â Keep a keen eye on him.Â Their number two, Matt Garza, is better than Lohse.Â He is much more consistent, and will strike batters out.Â I havenât seen a league where he isnât owned, so thatâs a good sign, I guess.Â Yovani Gallardo, the name probably stings burnt owners.Â I understand, he wasnât anywhere near top notch last year.Â Good news though, he probably wonât get worse.Â As far as Iâm concerned, not getting worse is okay.Â He should still surpass 7 K/9.Â He is projected to be as good as or better than R.A. Dickey, who is going late in drafts.Â If youâre willing to take Dickey, I donât see why you should be so afraid of Gallardo.Â Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta are probably safe for the last two spots.Â Both of these guys have sleeper potential.Â Estrada has broken a 4.00 ERA the past two years, and his FIP has broken it the past three years.Â He gets a lot of strikeouts, so he is a great late round pick up.Â The biggest question mark is his workload.Â More innings=more value.Â Peralta is a little worse, and is in more danger of losing his rotation spot.Â He has to watch out for Tyler Thornburg, Johnny Hellweg, and Will Smith.Â On second thought, his job isnât in much danger.
Oh Jim Henderson, how I love ye so.Â He is a sure thing as a closer, and he wonât cost you an arm and a leg (and if thatâs the currency your auction league uses, Iâd find a new league).Â Brandon Kintzler and Francisco Rodriguez are probably on setup duty.Â I like them both, and Kintzler isnât a brand name, so he will be even cheaper.Â For those digging deep, you should be able to shovel Tom Gorzelanny out of the free agent pool.
I LOVE this outfield.Â I think itâs the best outfield in the majors.Â Carlos Gomez had one hell of a season last year.Â While I expect some regression, he is still very much a quality player.Â I see people overpaying, oh well.Â Khris Davis had a breakout âseasonâ.Â Itâs more like 33% of a season, but I wonât hold that against him.Â I see him matching Gomez on all counting stats besides SB.Â And then thereâs Ryan Braun.Â We all know the PED story, so Iâm not going to go into it.Â He was excellent before the PEDs, so Iâm not worried he will return to form.Â He is a top ten guy, but he is being knocked down by the scandal.Â Iâm not buying into it.Â I am ranking him right next to Carlos Gonzalez.Â Jonathan Lucroy is a top five catcher.Â I am sticking by this.Â He has 20 HR upside, with 170 R+RBI as a ceiling, 140 as a floor.Â If I was to write a book, I would title it âThe Curious Case of Jean Segura.âÂ Iâm sure thatâs copyright infringement, but that never stopped me in the past.Â We all know Segura channeled 2012 Jason Kipnis with his first/second half splits.Â Kipnis was able to rebound.Â Iâm not as high on Segura to follow in his footsteps.Â I think Segura has the skill level between his two halves.Â I guess that means what he posted last year is what to expect this year.Â Not too shabby for a SS.Â Can you believe Aramis Ramirez has been playing since 1998?Â Aramis hit the DL multiple times last season, which is an obvious red flag.Â If he is healthy, he is good.Â Too bad he turns 36 this June.Â I could see him as a solid CI/UTIL player.Â Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett split time at second last year.Â I have a feeling they might run into that issue again.Â Gennett was really ripping the ball during his time though.Â He had an astronomical BABIP to make up for it though.Â Expect regression, but enough to be ownable in NL-Only leagues.Â Still, he is certainly an interesting choice.Â Weeks is clearly on the decline.Â I donât see him being owned anywhere this year.Â The Brewskies probably have one of the worst starting first basemen in Juan Francisco.Â He hits for decent power, but thatâs about it.
The Cardinals are in the unique position of having too many good starting pitchers.Â I donât think I have to say anything about Adam Wainwright.Â He was a top five pitcher last year, and will demand that price tag this year.Â That is too expensive for me, plus he is going to be 32.Â Not my cup of tea.Â Second to Waino is Michael Wacha, who I have named one of my fantasy teams after (Wacha Flocka Flame).Â He absolutely dominated during the playoffs, and he should be good again this year.Â He is good enough to be a second string pitcher for fantasy purposes.Â Just be wary of his home/away splits.Â He was bad when he was away, but the sample size was small, so itâs hard to draw any conclusions.Â The third guy on the mound is Lance Lynn.Â While his ERA will likely be higher than some of the other starters, the Cards will use him to eat innings.Â You know your rotation is good if Shelby Miller is your fourth string starter.Â There might be cause for concern since he only has two pitches, but he still has a ton of upside if he can perform up to 2013 standards.Â The last starter is probably Jaime Garcia.Â If he can stay healthy, he is definitely a better choice than Joe Kelly, who will be designated to being a long reliever and spot starter.Â If Garciaâs body holds up, he will be a good starter to own.Â He is only owned in 0.5% of ESPN leagues right now (which is 3 A.M. on a Monday nightâŚIâm a night owl).Â Joe Kelly has been outplaying his skill, so expect regression, sorry folks.
The Cardinals have a solid bullpen on top of their rotation.Â Trevor Rosenthal is set to be a top ten closer, maybe even top five.Â Jason Motte, Seth Maness, and Kevin Siegrist will be on setup duty.Â They all look like good options, which is scary for everyone else.Â Siegrist managed a 0.45 ERA over 40 innings last year, which is other-worldly.Â Buy, buy, buy.
This team has no weaknesses.Â They have great starters, relievers, and hitters.Â Maybe their defense isnât stellar, but Yadier Molina has won the Gold Glove for the past six years.Â His bat has been good too, which is especially valuable at catcher.Â I wonât be buying him this year, because I feel like his hot streak is over.Â He actually feel to 204th overall in one of the RCL leagues Iâm in.Â For reference, B.J. Upton was 203rd.Â Grey has officially tainted us all.Â Next on the list is veteran outfielder Matt Holliday.Â He is entering his 34th year, but shows few signs of slowing down.Â He wonât be hitting 30+ bombs again, but an 85/23/88/.290 line isnât out of the question.Â I wonât buy him because his age has to catch up with him eventuallyâŚright?Â Because of Matt Adams, Allen Craig will be shifted to the outfield.Â Craig is nice because of his 1B/OF eligibility, but I think he is going to fall down to earth a bit.Â His BABIP since 2011 is .350.Â To put things in perspective, this puts him near or ahead of names like Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, and Andrew McCutchen.Â Other concerns include his loss of power and injury risk.Â Then thereâs Matt Carpenter.Â He wonât repeat his 126 run season, but he wonât necessarily be bad.Â I think 90 runs is more in his realm, with an average around .290.Â This is interesting: the four players Iâve gone over are the only ones who played a full season for the Cardinals last year.Â The rest of the lineup is filled with newbies, more or less.Â Peter Bourjos, a member of the Bourgeoisie, will be manning center field.Â He might be splitting some time with a man of the proletariat, Jon Jay.Â This split makes it hard to own either of them.Â Bourjos might be a nice benchwarmer though.Â Over at second base, the Cardinals have passed the baton to Kolten Wong.Â The 22 year old prospect didnât get much playing time last year (Waino had more PA than Wong), so theyâre going to test him this year.Â He will probably be near the bottom of the lineup, which hurts his already diminished value.Â On top of that, he might lose playing time to Mark Ellis and/or Daniel Descalso, neither of whom are worth owning.Â The starting shortstop, fresh off his suspension, is Jhonny Peralta.Â He needs to learn how to spell, itâs âoâ before âhâ except after âcâ.Â I wouldnât expect anything amazing from Peralta, but his value will be lower from his suspension.Â He is my last resort SS, and I really want to avoid taking him.Â He wonât contribute in SB, and he doesnât make up for it with power.Â I feel like I missed someoneâŚoh yes!Â Back to Adams.Â Adams had a breakout year, of sorts.Â In his half season, he hit 17 homers, and combined for 97 R+RBI.Â Extrapolated to a full season, thatâs almost a 100/35/100 season.Â Thatâs not happening, so donât get your hopes up.Â I think 75/25/85/.270 is more his speed.Â I like to think of him as being roughly equivalent to Brandon Belt.Â Whatever thoughts you have on Belt, apply them to Adams too.
Iâve gotta hand it to Cubs fans, they stick with their team through thick and thin.Â Even with a winning record, the Rays canât pull an attendance anywhere near what the Cubs can.Â The Cubs have been in fifth for the past four years, but are still pulling over 2.5 million fans a year.Â While they arenât looking too hot this year, they do have a great farm system, which should be the cause for much promise in years to comeâŚstay strong Chicago.
The Cubbies have been trying to shop Jeff Samardzija around, but to little avail.Â Samardzija had a down year, which gives him nice bounceback potential while also lowering his price.Â He should keep striking batters out, while also eating innings.Â If he can get his ERA around or under 4.00 again, he will give a big return on his value.Â He is still on the right side of 30, so I like the potential.Â Iâve already drafted a couple leagues, and Iâm regretting not having him.Â Travis Wood was an interesting specimen last year.Â He managed to post a 3.11 ERA last year, but his peripherals donât shout repeat.Â Iâd turn back while you can.Â Wasnât Edwin Jackson supposed to be good at some point?Â His performance isnât consistent enough to warrant a draft pick, or even a stream really.Â Iâd pass on him everywhere expect the deepest of leagues.Â We have a couple of starters who moved from the Orioles to the Cubs this year: Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta.Â Neither were very good in Baltimore, and I donât see much reason for improvement in Chicago.Â Theyâll probably get the NL bump, but not enough to be worth owning.Â After that there is Chris Rusin, but he isnât much of a threat outside of sport starts, if that tells you anything about his skill level.Â In conclusion, skip everyone whose name you canât pronounce (I hope you can pronounce âArrietaâ and âRusinâ).
Good news: The Cubsâ pen is better than their starting rotation.Â Bad news: Itâs not that much better.Â Jose Veras is a nice addition at closer.Â While he wonât be dominant, he will be consistent.Â Outside of Veras, there are a few worthwhile relievers.Â Pedro Strop will be the setup man for Veras.Â He had a bad year in 2013, but he should rebound.Â After Strop are Blake Parker and James Russell.Â Parker had a breakout season of sorts, and could be a high upside player in deep leagues.Â Russell has been a fairly consistent reliever the past two years, so he might be worth owning in deep leagues.Â I wouldnât expect any saves out of him though, as he went 0 for 8 in save opportunities last year.
It doesn’t look like the Cubs will improve on their last place finish last year, sorry.Â At least you guys have a new mascot! Â Thatâs a nice consolation prizeâŚI guessâŚÂ Anthony Rizzo is as good a place to start as any.Â After a breakout half-season in 2012, Rizzo disappointed in 2013, putting up a measly .233 average.Â His OBP was .090 points higher than that, so he walks a bunch, a good sign.Â His BABIP was very low, which is always a sign for rebound potential.Â H-to-the-Rizzo should be able to put up better numbers this year, and Iâm trying to get him in a bunch of places.Â I bought him for $13 in an auction, and I would pay upwards of $17-18.Â What happened to Starlin Castro?Â I wish I knew.Â He declined across the board.Â He canât be that bad again this year, can he?Â His stock fell, so at least he wonât come with a big price tag like last year.Â He has a lot of upside, as his 2011/2012 showed.Â I wonât take him, but if you like his upside, good luck.Â Junior Lake is the next upside candidate.Â In just over a third of a season, he hit 6 bombs, scored 26 runs, and drove in 16.Â No one will be challenging his position, but he is due to regress.Â His BABIP and Line Drive rates were highly inflated, and he struck out over a quarter of the time.Â He is a good late round upside pick, but he is more fit for a fifth outfield or UTIL slot.Â On the other side of the outfield is Nate Schierholtz.Â He surged out of nowhere this year.Â When he was finally given steady playing time, he managed to hit 21 homers and drive in 68 (in 503 PA).Â While itâs not a wonderful output, it certainly shows potential.Â He should get even more time this year, and has 70/25/75/.260/10 upside.Â Thatâs a late round steal.Â Luis Valbuena had a nice showing last year.Â In under 400 PA, he went 34/12/37/.218.Â Okay, okayâŚthat average is worse than when you get a kernel of popcorn stuck in your teeth.Â The good news is that his BABIP was low, so it could come back up a bit.Â Well thatâs the last of the upside.Â That leaves Justin Ruggiano, Darwin Barney, and “Beef”Â Wellington Castillo.Â I donât really need to go into depth on any of them.Â Ruggiano has upside potential maybe, but he is a huge outside shot.Â He has 20/20 upside, but his other stats wonât be spectacular.Â Castillo could be viable in two catcher leagues.Â Barney is unownable.
YARGH ME MATEYS!!!Â Okay, I got that out of my system.Â Everything fell into place for the Buccos last year.Â Unfortunately, I think a lot of that will fall back out of place.Â I really like the team, and I hope they can pull through.
I like some of the rotation this year, and I donât like the rest.Â Francisco Liriano is not as good as he played last year.Â He played better than he has since his rookie season.Â I donât think he will repeat, and I wonât touch him.Â Grey ranked him as the 20th best starter, I think of him more like 50-60th overall.Â Now Iâm sure someone will be out to get me for disagreeing with the master of disaster.Â Gerrit Cole, the second string, is really the best pitcher they have.Â Everyone is going to be all over Cole, and I want him too.Â His price tag will go up for this, and that bums me out.Â Oh well, there are other pitchers in the sea.Â Charlie Morton is one of those pitchers.Â While I donât expect a Cole-sian level performance, he has decent back end rotation potential.Â And then thereâs Jeff Locke.Â Locke was tearing it up the first half of the season, posting a low 2âs ERA.Â By the end of his season, his ERA was back at 3.52.Â He performed so poorly over the second half that he didn’t make the playoff roster. Â I donât see much upside, or a rebound from the end of last season.Â Pass.Â The last rotation spot will go to either Wandy Rodriguez or Edinson Volquez.Â Wandy is the better pitcher, but the Pirates just shelled out $5 mil for Volquez, so I donât think theyâll let that go to waste.Â Either way, both are too risky to roster.Â It is entirely possible they both take a roster spot and Locke is left hung out to dry.
Fortunately for the Bucs, their bullpen spits hot fire.Â I think the Pirates have the best bullpen in the bigs.Â The big story last year was Jason Grilliâs dominance, followed by Mark Melanconâs even larger dominance.Â The Grilli-ed cheese man will be closing again this year, with Melancon as the setup guy.Â Both are rosterable, and Melancon might steal some saves, especially if Grilli falters.Â Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, and Vin Mazzaro all posted sub 3.00 ERAâs last season, and all threw over 70 innings.Â I like Wilson and Watson the most out of those three, but all will be good at lowering rate stats.Â Mazzaro will also be a little light on strikeouts.Â For those digging deeper, Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris might also be worth exploring.
Last year, a team of mostly decent players, with some better than average players, combined forces to score 634 runs last yearâŚgood enough for 20th overall.Â They made the playoffs last year because their pitching was so dominant.Â It would be nice if they could match last yearâs numbers, but I donât see it.Â Obviously last yearâs NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen, is a great player.Â In fact, he is a top five overall pick in most leagues.Â There is no reason he wonât repeat last yearâs performance.Â After Cutch is Starling Marte.Â The Marte Partay showed a lot of potential in 2012, and it came to fruition last year.Â He paid off big time for those of you that followed Greyâs advice last year.Â I happily owned him and reaped the rewards.Â You wonât get the same bargain price this year, but he should still be worth his weight in goldâŚor maybe Starling Silver.Â The last outfielder is Jose Tabata.Â While Tabata only got half a season last year, he should be getting an upgrade closer to full time this year.Â He will still sit some games, but he could play in 130+.Â While the Pirates might like a whole-lotta-Tabata, owners should be more wary.Â Most of his value comes from hitting for average, and stealing bases.Â He isnât exceptional at either, so you can probably pass.Â Pedro Alvarez is the only power the Pirates have, if you donât count Cutch.Â He has 66 home runs over the past two seasons, but he is also hitting in the high .230s in that same time period.Â He is valuable for his counting stats, with the exception of SB.Â If you can take the AVG/OBP hit, Alvarez is your guy.Â He should go somewhere between 75th and 100th overall.Â Neil Walker will maintain control at second again.Â He has 70/15/70/.280 as a ceiling.Â He has been consistently in that area for several years, so he could repeat.Â He is a decent benchwarmer, maybe UTIL or MI player.Â Shortstop will probably be split between Jordy Mercer and Co. (Clint Barmes and Josh Harrison).Â This makes all three of them worthless for fantasy purposes.Â Even full time, none of them are worth a look.Â Gaby Sanchez has first base duties.Â He is pretty bad, as far as first base standards go.Â He doesnât hit for overwhelming power, doesnât steal any bases, and his average isâŚaverage at best.Â Another pass for the Pirates.Â Last up is backstop Russell Martin.Â Martin is a top twenty catcher, which makes him rosterable in deep leagues (and two catcher leagues).Â He isnât the same Martin from when he was on the Dodgers, so donât expect that.Â His last three years are the new standard for him.
The Reds look very similar to last year, with the exception of center field.Â Theyâre looking to repeat their run to the playoffs this year.Â I like them again this year.Â Can they beat the stiff NL Central competition?Â Letâs find outâŚ
The biggest question on the rotation is, âCan Johnny Cueto stay healthy?Â And if so, how good will he be?âÂ Okay, thatâs two questionsâŚbut theyâre both important.Â Most of his issues seem to come from his unique delivery motion, which involves a lot of twisting (and a lot of shouting as he heads to the DL).Â He is dirt cheap because of his injury woes, which is exactly why Iâm picking him up.Â He was so good before he got injured.Â How could you pass up on that, even with some regression?Â If he puts up an ERA below 4.00, which I suspect he will, he will pay off immensely.Â Their second string starter is Mat Latos.Â Latosâ name is missing a âtâ because he accidentally ate it in a T-bone steak.Â Latos is a solid starter, who is more than good enough to earn a second string spot on your roster (or a first string for those deeper leagues).Â Next in line is Homer Bailey.Â He is also good enough to be a second string starter, for those of you that like him.Â I donât like him; I think he has become overrated.Â Last year was a slight anomaly for Bailey.Â He pitched better than he ever has.Â I expect a mid to high 3âs ERA with 170 strikeouts or so.Â I think he is more of a third string starter, but he will cost more than that.Â Fourth and fifth strings go to Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani.Â They have no competition for their slots, which is nice job security for them.Â Leake pitched much better than he is last year, but I think people know that.Â I wonât be owning him, and I doubt others will be either.Â Cingrani is much more interesting though.Â He put up some good numbers in just over 100 innings.Â He should be owned as a fourth or fifth string starter because he has a ton of upside.Â A mid 3âs ERA with upwards of 200 strikeouts is not out of the question.Â He should be fairly cheap, so he is definitely a good target.
We all know Aroldis Chapman is a top three closer.Â There is little reason that will change, and he will be owned everywhere.Â I donât think I need to go into more depth on him.Â After Chapman are Sean Marshall and J.J. Hoover.Â Theyâll be the go to guys for the eighth inning.Â Both can be owned in leagues that count holds.Â Marshall is a little better than Hoover.Â And while Hoover wonât be selling you a new vacuum cleaners, he does have the potential to suck up a bunch of Kâs.Â After those two, you have Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon, and Jonathan Broxton.Â None are ownable from the get go, but could be if they perform well.Â Broxton has the potential to become a setup player, as well as close if Chapman gets hurt.Â He is being paid handsomely for his not-so-handsome returns, and has closing experience from his time on the Dodgers.
I think I have to start with Billy Hamilton here.Â There is so much buzz around him that I canât ignore it.Â The Flash has 100 SB potential to some, while most projections put him somewhere in the 70 range.Â Thatâs a great return, if he follows through.Â I expect a lot of pickoff attempts when he is on first.Â The problem is that he has almost no value outside of steals at this point.Â He hasnât proven that he can hit for average.Â I wonât be taking him because the ends donât justify the means.Â Brandon Phillips will most likely be hitting second.Â The most $WAG-A-LICIOUS baseball playerÂ punched out over 100 RBIâs last year.Â That was easy to do because Shin-Soo Choo was getting on base at a .423 click.Â I expect that number to fall as Hamilton fails to live up to Chooâs OBP expectations.Â I expect regression around the board for him though, so I wonât be buying him.Â Joey Votto will probably fill the third slot.Â There is no one in baseball that is better at getting on base than Votto.Â He has decent power to go along with his exceptional AVG/OBP.Â Again, the RBI opportunities will hurt him, but he will still be good, even more so in OBP leagues.Â Fourth up is the slugger, Jay Bruce.Â Everyone is saying he is poised for a huge year.Â He has been having great years, so imagine what a huge year could consist of.Â Once again, the RBI total could be hurt a bit by Chooâs departure, but he should have plenty of opportunities from Phillips and Votto.Â I like him this year, but I think he will cost too much for my liking, oh well.Â Ryan Ludwick will be behind BruceâŚwellâŚif he is playing that day he will be.Â Ludwick is likely to split some time with Skip Schumaker.Â Ludwick wasnât very good to begin with, and now Schumaker will be eating into his timeâŚIâm not liking that.Â Todd Frazier is likely to hit sixth.Â He should get plenty of RBI opportunities with Votto and Bruce in front of him.Â Unfortunately for you, he would be lucky to hit .250, so he will hurt you there.Â On the plus side, he could hit over 20 bombs.Â He is a late round CI pick.Â You could do worse than him.Â The seventh and eighth lineup spots are a toss-up between Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco.Â Cozart is J.J. Hardy, but without the power.Â That makes him a MI at best. Â Mesoraco is more interesting.Â In 352 PA, he threw up a 31/9/42/.238 line.Â The .238 isnât great, but he had a low BABIP, so that could go up.Â I am targeting Mesoraco as my last option behind the plate.Â He has slight sleeper potential there, especially in deep or two catcher leagues.
Jeremy is a contributor for Razzball Baseball. He had a last name, but he lost it in âNam.Â You can follow the soldier of misfortune on twitterÂ @Jeremy_Razzball, just donât trigger his flashbacks.