There are things in fantasy baseball that can perpetually frustrate a manager. None more frustrating than banking on a hot rookie and eating crow for it later. That being said I’m here to help. Because for every sensation (Craig Kimbrel, 2011) there are bound to be misses (seriously? What happened Brandon Belt?). Lets take a look at some who will help you in your quest for fantasy supremacy and bragging rights with your friends.
- Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays, recommended round: six, stat line 2011: (1-0), 2.89 ERA (Majors), 1.28 WHIP, 14.9 SO/9: The book on Moore is just starting to get good. He’s rated Baseball America’s number two prospect (behind some guy in Washington) and with good reason. A lefty, Moore showed everything you needed to see from a future staff ace in his time in the minors and cup of coffee with the big club. The most telling statistic? His BB/9 (walks per nine innings pitched) over his last two seasons in the minors has been 3.8 and 2.7 while he strikes out the world at nearly four times that amount. He brought that same aggressiveness and control up to the big leagues when he struck out 15 in nine innings pitched and walked just three. His stunning performance in the postseason against the reigning American League Champs when Joe Maddon had the courage to pitch him game one and he responded with seven shutout inning, giving up two hits, and striking out six while walking two. Pick him up early as he will be an attractive option for most looking to get someone young for less. Good for between 12-14 wins and an ERA around 3.45 on a good young Tampa Bay Rays club. Expected arrival: Opening Day roster
- Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, recommended standard draft round: N/A (waivers), Stat Line 2011 (2 teams in minors): .297 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 26 SB: You’re going to learn something about me very quickly: I will almost always value a pitcher over a hitter. Even one as young and talented as Bryce Harper. That said don’t mistake me for a fool. I have two eyes, and have watched baseball long enough to know that this kid is going to be a good one. The question here is what will his impact be on your fantasy roster. I would expect Harper to have a season that is a mixture of what Heyward did in 2010 and what Freddie Freeman did in 2011. I don’t know how ready Harper is to play everyday in the majors right now. He’s played just 109 games in his professional career and none of those was above Double-A. While he did play well in the Arizona Fall League I would guess he still starts the season in Triple-A. Meaning the month of April could be a bit of a wash but I see him coming up and doing what he’s done at every level of his baseball career: perform. I would expect between 17-20 home runs and 65-75 RBI’s. His average may take a slight beating due to some adjustment but I don’t see it lower than a .270 to .280. His value will come with his on-base percentage (OBP) and his ability to steal bases once on. He’s quickly cutting down on his strikeouts and as that number comes closer to his walk totals he should be a fantastic pick-up and not just for trade bait. Expected arrival: middle of April
- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, recommended standard draft round: 22-24, Stat Line 2011 (Minors): .326 BA, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 33 SB, .414 OBP (.422 career in minors): Where do I begin with this guy. As of now you probably see no surprises in the top three as far as rookies are concerned. I’m most excited about Trout, who is going to make an impact once his time in the majors is guaranteed. He’s a five tool guy (like Harper) that may not give you as much power (unlike Harper). His other numbers are where you will really find his value. If you’re in a league that values average, OBP, BB, and steals, Trout is your first choice hands down. His OBP (which is consistently between .400 and .420) is an incredible asset to have. especially considering if he isn’t getting on by way of walk, he’s hitting his way on (.338 career hitter in the minors). I expect this to transfer over to the majors but because of the positional depth the Angels have in the outfield he may have to wait a little. If not for that logjam I might have made a few more in Washington Nationals nation upset and ranked him higher. Expected arrival: Early/Mid-May
- Yonder Alonso, San Diego Padres, recommended standard draft round: N/A (waivers), Stat Line 2011 (Majors): 5 HR, 15 RBI, .330 BA, .398 OBP: San Diego pulled a major haul when they picked this guy up from Cincinnati in exchange for Mat Latos. He’s a big time hitter with big potential and don’t let him go by if you see him in later rounds or on waivers. His ability to hit for power, average, and get on base is spectacular at the young age of 24. He should be looked at as a viable option for those trying to scout a first basemen/outfielder after the bigger names are off the board. With such glowing praise it makes you wonder why he’s so low on the list. I still have to take into account the new ballpark he will be playing half his games in (Petco). Very few have thrived there, and he will have to prove his ability to do so. I’m a big fan, but I expect a stat line more in the .270/19-20/75-80 realm of things. Which is great value in later rounds from a first year corner guy. As a side note: His Batting average on balls in play(BABIP) was an astounding .387 in 2011. Looking at the numbers from 2010 when his BABIP was .316 his average took a critical dip to .207. Just a few things to look at when evaluating. I would list him as worth the risk though. Expected arrival: Opening Day Roster
- Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, recommended standard draft round: between 9-12, Stat Line 2011 (Majors): .328 BA, 4 HR, 12 RBI .408 OBP: Montero moves from the cozy dimensions of Yankee Stadium to Safeco in 2011. I see that as a factor, not a hindrance. He has power for days, and he gets on base at a high clip. He has Miguel Olivo in front of him in Seattle who plays a better brand of defensive baseball, and can handle the bat pretty well himself. The talent is there, the only uncertainty is whether or not they find a position for him on the field or as a DH. If they do, worth a look in mid-rounds as a catcher, later if he’s DH/outfield. I expect a line of .270/17/67 for 2012. Expected arrival: Opening Day roster
For me playing Fantasy Baseball rookies are a lifesaver and an increasingly important aspect of your team just as they are for franchises. Pick well, and one can carry you to an early lead, a critical month, or a September championship. Pick based solely on the flash, and you could come out thinking Zach Britton will be your ace in the hole, while completely overlooking a Vance Worley.