Jun 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

2014 Blue Jays Fantasy Outlook


Spring Training is well underway, and the regular season is rapidly approaching. Along with that comes the beginning of another fantasy baseball season, and the chance to prove your superiority over your fellow managers and baseball fanatics.

At the beginning of every season, there are a handful of players believed to be breakout or bust candidates, and you’re warned to grab or avoid them in your drafts. It’s not exact science to know who or who not to grab, and everyone has their own preferences or players they’re targeting.

I’ll outline certain Jays players I believe owners should seek or avoid, and give a general outlook on Jays players in fantasy baseball.

It’s fairly obvious what Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Jose Reyes bring to the table when it comes to fantasy. All three are ranked within the top 50 on both ESPN and Yahoo! formats. They can all be at the top of their respective positions and bring owners excellent numbers. Reyes and Bautista carry some extra risk due to injury history; therefore, they’re lower in the rankings than Edwin.

I won’t divulge into either of them too much, but Edwin is my favorite of the three. He brings the elite power, solid R and RBI totals and will even pitch in some steals. His average tends to be in the .270 – .280 range, but I believe that can receive a boost if he gets some more luck in the BABIP department. He improved his plate discipline, and put up spectacular walk and strikeout rates. This suggests he won’t suffer any prolonged slumps, which makes him an intriguing player to own.

Reyes’ value receives a boost over Bautista’s or Edwin’s due to the weak shortstop position. The gap between the top tier shortstop’s and the middle tier is much larger than what you see at first base or the outfield. Edwin makes for the safest pick of the three, but all of them could be huge for your fantasy squad.

Melky Cabrera

Ranked 281st by ESPN and unranked by Yahoo!, you could scoop him up late in deep mixed league drafts, or even pick him up on waivers after the draft. He could be a nice addition to your outfield, bring a strong average, a solid run total, and could chip in some HR’s and RBI, especially if Toronto’s offence can stay healthy and be the force they have the potential to be.

ZiPS from Fangraphs is projecting a .290/.329/.433 line with 12 HR, 76 R, 63 RBI, and 11 SB. The Jays would be thrilled with that from Melky, and as a fantasy owner, you would be too.

The tumour resting against his spine last season has been removed and he’s been moving around with far more quickness and ease as opposed to last season. Despite having that tumour and having most of his lower body and core strength zapped, he still managed to produce the highest line drive rate of his career of 22.1%. If he can continue to hit line drives at a rate above 20%, and get on base at a decent clip, you can have an absolute bargain for a late round draft pick or waiver wire pick-up.

Colby Rasmus

Ranked 227th by ESPN and 244th by Yahoo!, Rasmus, like Melky, can be scooped up late in the draft. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see his average of .276 take a hit this year, but the power is legitimate. If you need some pop late in the draft from your outfield, don’t be afraid to draft Colby.

The power has always been there, but his latest mechanical changes provide hope that he can produce on a more consistent basis.

According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, seven of Colby’s 22 home runs were no doubters, including three that travelled over 450 feet. His ISO was a sparkling .225, which placed him ninth among OF’s that had at least 400 PA’s, ahead of sluggers Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes.

AB/PA           R        HR       RBI      SB       AVG      OPS

417/458        57        22         66        0         .276      .840

626/697        89       30        109       7         .262      .807

558/643        94       27         70         8         .263      .818

529/574        74        24        80         7         .240      .737

From top to bottom are 2013 stats from Rasmus, Bruce, Upton and Cespedes, and as you can see, they’re fairly similar.

Rasmus had a considerable less amount of at bats, but if he were to stay healthy for the duration of the year, there’s no questioning he could rival these fellow outfielders. Bruce, Upton, and Cespedes are being taken in rounds 3-6; Rasmus is going in rounds 21-23.

Rasmus has 30 home run power, and he might be streaky and unable to keep up his AVG like he did in 2013, but he could be an excellent pick late in the draft due to the power potential. He didn’t have a single SB last year, but I also think there’s potential there and he could chip in 5-8 steals for you. Also, it’s his free agent season, just another reason pointing to the direction of him having a large year.

Brett Lawrie

Lawrie represents the rare case of a 24-year-old who’s seen his stock drop since entering the league. He’s ranked right outside the top 100 in both ESPN’s and Yahoo’s rankings, but his ADP for ESPN drafts is sitting at 125. Entering the 2012 season, he was ranked relatively high, and was being taken in rounds 4-6. His stock dropped going into 2013, and it’s dropped even further heading into this season as the risks involved with drafting him are piling up.

I’d obviously love to see him do well in Toronto this year, but he’s a guy I’m staying away from on draft day. He offers tantalizing potential, with the tools to become a 20/20 guy with solid R and RBI totals, but the risks he carries along with the potential are too high in my opinion.

Injury history, multiple mechanical changes, a wide variety of hitting coaches, and his propensity to fall into slumps all cause for too much worry to invest in him on draft day.

He offers the ultimate high-risk/high-reward type of player, but if I’m targeting those types of players, Brett Lawrie won’t be one of them. I also see third base as a relatively deep position, with many high ceiling youngsters you can snag after the 15th round.

Drew Hutchison

I’m choosing Hutchison as my sleeper. Unranked by both ESPN and Yahoo!, he could be a late round bargain, or a waiver-wire pick up post draft. He’s been getting lots of attention from Jays fans and media in camp, and has shown early in spring that he could have the stuff be a successful pitcher in the AL East.

Spring results aren’t very important at this stage, but the stuff, control and composure he’s shown are excellent signs coming off Tommy John surgery.

He’s still young, and relatively inexperienced, so picking him up, using him sparingly and in spot starts might be the best course of action to start the year. Once he proves he can be a consistently solid option you can start using him every start, but owning him before he potentially becomes a potential must-own pitcher could be a good course of action.

John Gibbons mentioned yesterday in an interview with Jeff Blair that Hutchison is at the “top of the list” to make the rotation, which is exciting for Jays fans and fantasy managers looking for a potential starter pitcher to keep an eye on.

May all your fantasies come true this season! Good luck!

 

 

Tags: Fantasy Baseball Toronto Blue Jays