Each week, Yahoo fantasy experts Brandon Funston, Andy Behrens, Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and Brad Evans forecast the future of some of the most interesting fantasy story lines across the majors.
Houston's recently promoted top prospect George Springer, combined rest of season homers/steals 36.5
Brandon – UNDER. Hard to know if he's going to spend the rest of the season in Houston — he could suffer a big slump because of his contact issues and perhaps see another stint in Triple-A. I'm bullish on Springer for the long run, but I'd predict something like 14/19 for him in '14.
Scott – UNDER, because I tend to be conservative with rookies and the next shiny toy. Mind you, I grabbed Springer where I could, too. But sometimes the best time to flip a rookie is right before he has an extended trial; some fantasy owners will get carried away.
Andy – I'll take the OVER, but not by much. It's easy enough to imagine Springer giving us a 20/18-type season, with a .250 average. Basically, I'm saying I think he can be Venable-ish.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: It's not too late!]
Chris Davis, sitting on just one home run after hitting six in his first nine games of '13, rest of season HRs 34.5
Scott – UNDER, but it's going to be close. He should finish in the 28-32 range, and that's a needle mover in the post-juice world.
Andy – OVER, with ease. Entering the season I pegged Davis for something like 36-38 homers. Two weeks doesn't change that forecast.
Dalton – UNDER. I pegged Davis to hit around 35 homers this season, so with the slow start already banked, I'll say he falls just short of this number.
Chase Utley, hitting .462 through 13 games, final end-of-season batting average .299
Andy – UNDER, probably by 15-25 points. Again, we're only two weeks in. Utley hasn't finished above .290 since 2008.
Brandon– OVER, slightly. He's hit .299 since the start of '13, and he's a career .289 hitter, not a huge leap from where he'd need to be for this O/U. He's making a lot of hard contact in the early going, and I have a hunch this might be his last hurrah.
Dalton – OVER. He hasn't hit .300 since 2007, but Utley's knees are healthier now than they have been in quite some time. It really helps having a .462 BA banked over 52 at bats as well.
Which Cuban will finish as the highest ranked player in the '14 Yahoo game – Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu or Yoenis Cespedes?
Brad – ABREU. So far he's lived up to the hype. Don't anticipate his searing numbers to slow down anytime soon. His low strikeout rate and mammoth raw power play perfectly into the smallish dimensions of The Cell. He'll only get better as the weather warms on the South Side.
Brandon – PUIG. He has the best five-tool upside of the group. The most likely to deliver something truly special, especially in that cozy offense that the Dodgers are fielding this season.
Dalton – PUIG. Abreu is likely to finish with more homers and RBI, but Puig has the edge in the other three hitting categories, possibly by a wide margin in BA.
Brandon – OVER. Gordon is a career .300 hitter in the minors and he's entering his prime years. I expect this could be the season that he sticks with LA for a full season. It'll likely be touch-n-go with his batting average, but I think he manages right around 50 steals when it is all said and done, and that'll probably be a few less than what Billy Hamilton ends up with.
Dalton – OVER and LESS. Gordon's BA is due to regress in a big way, but he's solidifying his role as an everyday player and has shown better patience at the plate in the early going. But I still fully expect Hamilton to beat him in steals, even if he's off to a slow start.
Scott – OVER but I have Hamilton beating him, as the Dodgers might have Gordon competition sooner rather than later.
Which young backstop is a better fantasy catch for the rest of the season, Mike Zunino or Devin Mesoraco?
Andy – I'll take MESORACO, but not by much. These two belong to the same tier for me, and either (or both) could crack the top-12 at their position. I have shares of both players in my portfolio.
Dalton – MESORACO. He has more experience at the major league level and plays in the better hitter's park. But I'd rank these two closely moving forward.
Scott – MESORACO. My buddy Dalton nailed the two key themes here. Mesoraco's had more time to get his cleats wet, and Cincinnati is a fun place to take some hacks.
Who gets more strikeouts for the rest of the season, Scott Kazmir or Andrew Cashner?
Andy – CASHNER. I'll take the N.L. starter with the high-90s fastball, thank you very much. Like 'em both, though.
Scott – CASHNER, no hesitation from me. Get me to that gigantic sandbox. Let me throw against bunting clubs, flailing pitchers. We can duck the Coors Field assignments when they come.
Brad – KAZMIR. The southpaw, once toiling in the Independent League with the Sugar Land Skeeters, has a comeback story akin to Kurt Warner's. His 4.75 K/BB through three starts is off the charts. Forget velocity. It's all about placement.
Which struggling starter would you choose for the rest of the season, Shelby Miller, Homer Bailey or Danny Salazar?
Scott – I'm not down on either NL pitcher, but I'd go with BAILEY first. His career shows linear improvement and he's still missing bats at a normal rate. He's fine. Salazar? I wish I had a good answer. No one does.
Brandon – MILLER. Having a Cardinal on your jersey always inspires a little extra faith from me. I like Miller's K-per-IP rate from last season, and though his numbers are nothing to write home about so far, he does have two consecutive quality starts and 12 strikeouts over 12 innings in his past two outings.
Dalton – BAILEY. I'd be concerned about Miller's decreased velocity after arm woes ended his season prematurely last year, but Salazar and Bailey I'd view both as buy-low candidates. Bailey has given up a bunch of homers so far, but he also has 17 strikeouts over 14.1 innings and a career best 10.8 SwStr%. I'm not too worried about him.
Choose your preferred AL West breakout arm – Jesse Chavez or Garrett Richards
Dalton – RICHARDS. Hard to argue about what Chavez has done so far, but Richards is averaging 95.9 mph with his fastball, which is the third highest in MLB.
Brandon – RICHARDS. His average velocity has spiked this year (second-fastest average fastball among starters, thus far, at 95.9 mph). He pitches in a favorable setting, and he showed solid strides in the second half of '13 (3.59 ERA).
Andy – Can I say TYLER SKAGGS? No? OK, fine, then I'll take RICHARDS. I'm a fan of the power arms. I appreciate the Chavez story, however, I like his upcoming schedule.
REQUIEM FOR A STREAM. What pitcher, owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues, is the better plug ‘n play this weekend: Robbie Ross (vs. ChW), Robbie Erlin (vs. SF), Roenis Elias (at Mia), Juan Nicasio (vs. Phi) or Josh Beckett (vs. Ari)
Brandon – ERLIN. He's got excellent control, there's some K upside to his game and he's pitching in one of the friendliest environments that MLB has to offer.
Andy – Gross. Gimme ELIAS, but I'm not saying this with great confidence. This should not be interpreted as an official endorsement.
Scott – If I had to take someone here, I'd go ELIAS - but you probably should wait for a better situation.