First of all, let's be clear about one thing: Spring statistics aren't particularly meaningful when evaluating established players. It's not important, for example, that Carlos Lee is 4-for-30 right now. In his case, you should focus on the 5633 career regular season at-bats. The biggest mistakes you'll make as a fantasy owner will occur when you infer too much from very little information.
Spring numbers only really matter when major league teams decide they matter -- like when position battles are under way.
With that in mind, today we present a roster's worth of players who've clearly helped themselves this March. You'll note that this is NOT necessarily a list of the players who've had the best springs (up-to-date stats here), nor is it a roster that we're advising you to actually draft. Instead, we're focusing mostly on lightly owned players, with a few exceptions. The roster thing is just a gimmick.
Let's begin with a Cafe favorite…
1B Travis Ishikawa, SF – 18-for-55, 5 HR, 0 SB, .327/.351/.655
Don't expect the HR pace to last. As Ishikawa himself has said, "If we're relying on me to hit home runs, we're in trouble." Still, he did hit 24 HR in 403 at-bats in the high minors last year, at age 24.
2B Emmanuel Burriss, SF – 22-for-54, 0 HR, 2 SB, .407/.458/.463
3B Josh Fields, CHW – 17-for-41, 3 HR, 1 SB, .415/.478/.732
The 26-year-old Fields is apparently in the mix to bat leadoff, at least against LHPs. He's just a couple years removed from a 19 HR, 28 SB season at Triple-A.
SS Jed Lowrie, BOS – 19-for-44, 2 HR, 0 SB, .432/.469/.818
OF Kendry Morales, LAA – 18-for-46, 2 HR, 0 SB, .391/.420/.652
Morales only qualifies as an outfielder at the moment, but he'll open the season as the Angels starting first baseman. A few choice quotes from his manager: "(Morales) is going to be up there with a lot of guys on base … He has big power. Whether it translates into 15, 20 or 30 home runs, it’s impossible to say." Nothin' wrong with his minor league numbers.
OF Daniel Murphy, NYM – 22-for-59, 0 HR, 1 SB, .373/.424/.508
He'll bat second in a terrific lineup, so run-scoring shouldn't be a problem. Double-digit power and speed totals wouldn't be a surprise.
OF Skip Schumaker, STL – 20-for-62, 0 HR, 1 SB, .323/.364/.435
It's really the switch to second base that makes him interesting – and by "interesting," we just mean in the way that Orlando Hudson is interesting.
C Matt Wieters, BAL – 12-for-32, 1 HR, 0 SB, .375/.429/.594
OK, so he's hardly a sleeper. Wieters is the game's best hitting prospect, and his spring rates look a lot like his Double-A numbers (.365/.460/.625). But he's been dropped nearly 1500 times in Yahoo! leagues over the past two days. Don't let the May ETA prevent you from owning him – especially in head-to-head leagues, where September is much more important than April.
Util Mark Teahen, KC - 15-for-31, 5 HR, 0 SB, .484/.543/1.065
Forget the NY rumors. It's not at all clear that Teahen can handle second base defensively, but he'll get every chance to prove himself before opening day. If he's not-quite-adequate, that might be good enough, considering the competition.
SP Sean Marshall, CHC – 1.40 ERA, 19.1 IP, 11 K, 1 BB
He's officially the Cubs fifth starter, which puts him in an exclusive fraternity, full of luminaries: Les Lancaster, Frank Castillo, Paul Kilgus, et al. Marshall posted a few useful K totals last year in his seven starts.
SP Tommy Hanson, ATL – 2.45 ERA, 14.2 IP, 14 K, 6 BB
He's been well-hyped after the excellent AFL performance. You'll see him at some point this year. As Bobby Cox has said, "It’s a major jump [from Class AA], but he might be up to it. He’s got the stuff. It’s all there."
SP Jordan Zimmermann, WAS – 3.14 ERA, 14.1 IP, 20 K, 2 BB
His one rough outing was flu-related. The 22-year-old leads all pitchers in Ks this spring, and he's only issued two walks. Evans comments on his scent here, for those interested in such things.
SP Micah Owings, CIN – 1.23 ERA, 14.2 IP, 16 K, 2 BB
Homer Bailey has put together a nice spring, but Owings seems to have the edge in the fifth starter battle. Bailey might go to the 'pen. Seems like Owings should play a little left field for the Reds, too. He's a .319/.355/.552 career hitter.
SP Trevor Cahill, OAK – 3.94 ERA, 16.0 IP, 10 K, 3 BB
In Cahill and Brett Anderson, the A's have two high-end pitching prospects vying for starting roles. Anderson has dealt with forearm stiffness, although it doesn't sound too serious just yet. Vin Mazzaro isn't too far behind them, but he's been assigned to minor league camp.
RP Kevin Gregg, CHC – 0.00 ERA, 0 SV, 7.1 IP, 9 K, 1 BB
The Cubs are expected to announce their ninth inning plans this week. You should grab Gregg now, if he's available. He's given Lou Piniella plenty of cover if he chooses to keep Carlos Marmol – clearly the superior pitcher of the two closer candidates – in the more valuable real-life role.
RP Jason Motte, STL – 1.08 ERA, 4 SV, 8.1 IP, 13 K, 1 BB
Chris Perez (shoulder) threw a painless bullpen session today, but it's tough to see how he can possibly close the gap on Motte at this point. The 26-year-old Motte is a clear favorite for saves, and he's buried in the Yahoo! pre-ranks.
RP Miguel Batista, SEA – 3.72 ERA, 0 SV, 9.2 IP, 4 K, 3 BB
The only thing clear about the M's closer situation is that no one's even willing to speculate. We're rooting for Batista because of the SP eligibility, but Randy Messenger leads the team in spring saves, David Aardsma pitched two more scoreless innings today, and lately Mark Lowe has been...well, less bad.
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