George Springer generated plenty of fantasy buzz in '14 with 20 home runs in his 78-game MLB debut, but it's no secret that his contact issues make him a batting average liability. With just one home run through his first 13 games of '15, to go along with 18 strikeouts and a sub-Mendoza BA, what is your state of concern in regards to Springer - O/U .235 batting average and 25.5 home runs?
Brandon – UNDER on the batting average, OVER on the home runs. Springer has whiffed at a 33.5% rate in his young MLB career, and you just don't find too many guys that have hit over .235 with a K rate above 30 percent - Mike Napoli and Chris Davis are among the recent exceptions, but the majority end up languishing near the Mendoza Line. As for the home runs, well, we've already seen that he can go on a hard-core binge in that department. I expect he'll ride a power wave or two en route to 26-28 homers.
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Scott – The only thing to be optimistic about is the early steals. With all those strikeouts, I can't see Springer hitting for a workable average. Call it UNDER on the BA, though I do think he'll hit 26-30 home runs. The Astros will live with his flaws, play him every day.
Andy – I'll take the UNDER on both stats, but my rest-of-season projections would actually come in very close to these numbers. I think a reasonable forecast would be something like .232, with the possibility of a 20/20 season in terms of power and speed.
Another vaunted Cubs prospect, middle infielder Addison Russell, has joined the party in the Windy City. What should fantasy owners expect - project his roto line?
Dalton – I'll say Russell goes .240-55-12-50-5. He's a great real life prospect and possibly a great fantasy option down the road, but I wouldn't expect too much in 2015.
Andy – I have to say, the timing of this call-up surprised me. I didn't expect Russell to be parked in Iowa until June, necessarily, because the Cubs are clearly playing to win this year. But I did think the organization would allow additional development time for a kid who's only played 14 games at Triple-A. Put me down for .257-54-8-56-8. Great prospect, no question, but the learning curve ahead is steep.
Scott – Call it .265-58-11-54-7. Basically this is a little like Starlin Castro 2.0, with a much higher down-the-road upside. I'm curious where Russell will slot in the lineup to begin with; I suspect it will be in the second half.
Rank these middle infielders that are currently available in at least 25 percent of Yahoo leagues in order of projected ROS fantasy value - Jean Segura, Chase Utley, Devon Travis, Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and Addison Russell (for this exercise, let's assume he already arrived in Chicago)
Brandon – SEGURA (capable of stealing more bases than the others' combined HR+SB totals); Devon Travis (Given tenuous nature of Jose Reyes' health, Travis could end up logging plenty of at-bats in the leadoff spot for a top 5 MLB offense); Chase Utley (but, given his age, I'm concerned about his second-half slide in '14 now bleeding into his '15 start); Semien; Lawrie; Russell
Scott – Now that SEGURA is forced into a good lineup slot, he's very playable for fantasy. He gets my baton, no matter that everything else is a mess in Milwaukee right now. The rest: Utley, Travis, Russell, Semien, Lawrie (fix that eye black, man).
Andy – SEGURA, Utley, Semien, Travis and Russell. I've made a clean break with Brett Lawrie, and you will not force me to consider him. No way. Nuh-uh. No, no, no.
Cubs rookie Kris Bryant got his big league call last week. Now that he has a few games under his belt in Chicago, what kind of power impact do you expect the young slugger to make - O/U .4999 Slugging% (and throw in a HR projection while you're at it)?
Scott – He'll slug OVER .500, I'd prop anything on that. This is someone who can hit opposite-field home runs without really catching the ball. Give him 27 homers for Year 1, with 35-40 not far away. I'll gulp the Kool-Aid.
Andy – Well OVER. Bryant slugged .661 in the high minors last season, and he was at .679 over his first seven games at Iowa this year. My power projections for Bryant have consistently been in the 26-28 range, so that's where I'll stay.
Dalton – OVER. I see a slugging percentage around .515 to go along with 28 homers for the talented rookie.
The South Side of Chicago also witnessed another much-anticipated prospect call-up when the White Sox promoted southpaw sensation Carlos Rodon this week, though they plan to use him in relief initially. What kind of innings and strikeout impact will the future ace have in his rookie campaign- O/U 119.2 IP and 119.9 strikeouts?
Brandon – OVER/OVER. He may be starting out in the pen, but that won't last long with Hector Noesi and John Danks currently sitting at the back-end of the rotation for a team that feels it has a realistic shot at a deep postseason run. I think Rodon's going to be able fan hitters at (or very near) a K/IP rate, and even if he isn't moved into a rotation spot until early June, that would be enough time to log the innings needed here.
Andy – OVER x 2. No one should be scared off by his early season usage. This is pretty clearly about managing his innings. I fully expect him to be starting in May, because the back end of the White Sox rotation is simply abysmal.
Dalton – OVER and OVER. I expect Rodon to finish with around 120 strikeouts over 120.0 innings pitched.
Seattle offseason acquisition Nelson Cruz has been exactly what the team hoped he'd be, crushing eight home runs through his first dozen games as a Mariner. While it's probably unrealistic to think he can duplicate last season's total of 40 HRs considering the move to a tougher home park, can he at least finish with the second-highest HR mark of his career - O/U 33.5 HRs?
Brandon – OVER. While no Mariner has come close to this mark in the past few seasons, we've seen players like Raul Ibanez and Russell Branyan top 30 home runs in a full season with Safeco as the home park, and the 34 HR mark has been crossed a half dozen times by a Seattle player in the past 15 years, and those guys did it before the fences were moved in. So, yes, Cruz can definitely get it done.
Andy – I would have taken the under just two weeks ago, but at this point he only needs another 26 homers to clear this mark. Gimme the OVER. And yes, I regret owning zero shares.
Dalton – OVER. I have zero shares of Cruz, as I actively avoided him in March. But I'm regretting it now, as he sure looks the same as he did last season. I now fully expect another 35-plus bombs from him.
Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer ranks as a top 10 fantasy commodity (through April 19). After striking out 173 batters last season, and currently sitting on 21 punchouts in 19.2 IP, how high will Archer's K arrow fly this season - O/U 189.5 strikeouts?
Brandon – UNDER. I definitely think Archer is capable of getting this done - he wasn't all that far off this mark last season, and his K rate has risen steadily over the course of his young MLB career. But for this to happen, all would have to go smoothly in terms of health. And that's always a risky proposition for MLB starters.
Scott – OVER. Life is groovy under the catwalk, and we no longer have to worry about innings restrictions.
Dalton – OVER. Of course this requires him staying healthy, which is no sure thing for any pitcher, let alone one who throws so many sliders. But if he can stay on the mound, Archer should beat this mark, possibly by a wide margin. He currently sports a 13.3 SwStr%.
Which struggling veteran southpaw, similarly ranked in preseason ADP, do you expect to have the highest ROS fantasy value - Cole Hamels or Jon Lester?
Brandon – HAMELS. Off to a 4-9 start, things are going as expected in Philly, and I expect a much-needed change of scenery to be coming Hamels' way (via a trade) at some point in the next few months. Hamels' K/BB rate, as well as fastball velocity, are right at his career averages, and he's been slow out of the gates the past couple years, so there's reasons to believe this is just a smal speedbump for Hamels.
Dalton – HAMELS. I'm worried about both, but it's Lester's drop in velocity that concerns me most. Although if both can turn it around, Lester's setup is much more favorable.
Scott – LESTER. His velocity dip isn't much different than Hamels', so I don't make my decision based on that. Lester's left-on base percentage is a stone fluke, though, and the K-rate is still decent. Now that he's mastered the glove-ball toss to first base, he can get over the yips.
Dating back to last season, Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma has an ERA of more than 7.50 over his past 10 starts. Is this the beginning of the end for 'Kuma, or can he right the ship - O/U 3.749 rest-of-season ERA?
Brandon – OVER. He's a 34-year-old armed with an 88 mph fastball - he needs to be almost perfect these days to not get hit hard. And, with a 4.15 ERA in the second half of last season, along with five home runs allowed already this season, he's clearly finding perfection to be elusive. He may be able to rebound and get his rest-of-season ERA under 4.00, but 3.75 looks unattainable at this point.
Dalton – OVER. I don't think he's totally done, but I do expect an ERA around 4.00 from here on out, as his best days appear behind him.
Scott – OVER. I worry about the age-34 season for someone who needs pinpoint control. We're talking about someone who sits in the high 80s with his heater. Keep in mind he stumbled down the stretch last year, and although we're early in 2015, every stat you'd care about (other than velocity) is moving in the wrong direction.
Rank these middle relievers in terms of ROS fantasy value - Cody Martin (Atl), Yimi Garcia (LAD), Ken Giles (Phi), Jordan Walden (StL), Sergio Romo (SF), Joe Smith (LAA), Kelvin Herrera (KC)?
Scott – I hate to be all about the handshake, but GILES has the best chance to eventually be a ninth-inning man, and that does matter in the 5x5 world. The rest: Garcia (love that singing K/BB rate), Smith (Street always breaks for a few weeks), Romo, Herrera, Walden, Martin.
Andy – Well, the player most likely to inherit a closing gig here is GILES, so I suppose I need to lean his way. After that, I'll take Garcia, Walden, Herrera, Romo, Smith and Martin.
Dalton – KEN GILES. He seems to have righted the ship of late, and there remains a very strong probability Jonathan Papelbon is traded at some point.