Over the next few weeks, Baseballbabble.com writers will be going through each position and identifying two players we predict will take a step forward and improve in the 2014 season; and, three players we anticipate will take a step back and regress.
Having a solid SS option in Fantasy Baseball can be very valuable as depth at the position is very limited, many of the top SS will go early and above other comparable players due to the position weakness. You might want to grab a good option early or wait a few rounds to pick up a middle of the pack player. My suggest is don’t overpay for any position and play to the draft.
Two Steps Forward:
Reyes came to the Blue Jays with some big expectations and failed to live up to them due to a flukey injury. Reyes has been a solid fantasy option for many years but his stock has fallen with the SB numbers declining and some injury filled seasons. While he only played in 93 games in 2013 he put up solid power numbers with 11 HR & a 113 OPS+, the move to Rogers Center appears to have increased his power production. Reyes suffered an ankle injury early in the season so his SB numbers were not very strong. He is a strong OBP guy and will be at the top of a potent lineup which should see strong return on Run stats.
Remember that Reyes will still only be 30 on opening day, has the potential for above average power at a scarce position and the fact he gives you strong value across numerous stat categories. Some options give you 1 or 2 premium categories but Reyes can deliver across the board. He should take a strong step forward and potentially come at a slight discount in the draft.
At 26 last year Cabrera was in the midst of a breakout All Star year and then he got handed a 50 game suspension for his connection to Biogenesis. Cabrera did not actually fail a drug test and if we are to believe his story he used a PED back in 2011 to recover from injuries his 2013 might be legit. For the sake of my selection lets assume the preview we got in 2013 was the birth of a new premium SS and not a PED mirage. Cabrera produced a strong 3.2 oWAR in 95 games but for Fantasy stat purposes he provided a solid average, strong OBP and top tier SB production.
Getting SB stats at SS are very valuable, mixed in that Cabrera could be a leader in hits he could be a very valuable selection and you wont have to give a top pick to get him. He is not a HR, RBI guy so consider that but you are also not taking him in a top round.
Three Steps Back
At 23 Segura put up a great season 173 hits, 44 SB, 12 HR and 10 triples which are all great stats at a weak position. Tread carefully! There are two sides here, you might be in a league that will look and say “Segura who?” that might give you a an extra round of sleeper value but his overall stats will jump out even if he is not a name player yet. I just fear the overpay here and I see huge potential for regression.
Hardy gives you good power from the SS position but will cost you in several other categories. In 2013 he put together a worthy season giving you HR, RBI & Run stats without killing you on average. If you really need HR power and missed out on better options then Hardy is your guy. However you might be in for a .240 average and a sub .300 OBP which can hurt you in the end. A slight drop in power and you are at a loss, I would suggest a backup.
If you picked up Lowrie in a later round in 2013 you won pretty big as he delivered 175 hits, 15 HR, 8o Runs, 75 RBI and very solid average & OBP. Maybe he got some magic in Oakland but expecting the same return in 2014 might not be realistic. Again we are looking at a strong regression candidate and consider that Lowrie and Reyes are less then 1 year apart in age you might want to bet on the track record of a player like Reyes.