Atlanta Braves — Predicted Finish: Second Place, NL East
Atlanta’s lineup just got a shuffle today!
The trade for Justin Upton gives them brothers side-by-side in the outfield but it also gives them as exciting a L-R-L-R run down the lineup as you’ll see in the National League. There is both power and speed at the top of that lineup and their outfield defense should be solid (although that won’t matter to your fantasy team).
Obviously, they’ll hope for a quick recovery for Brian McCann, but that shoulder injury has to scare them and it should scare you when it comes time to draft your fantasy baseball team.
Juan Francisco is also interesting at 3B. He struggles with his weight, has no command of the strike zone, but has incredible raw power. I don’t think the NL needs another Pedro Alvarez and Francisco will ultimately be in a platoon with Chris Johnson at 3B.
This loss of Martin Prado is negligible. he was a free agent after this season anyway. Atlanta could give Double-A player Evan Gattis a look as the 4th outfielder, but let’s keep Heyward and the Uptons (a decent garage band name) in the lineup as often as possible, shall we?
Atlanta wants to compete in the NL and they’ve just shown they’ll flexible with personnel to do so, but what does that mean for your fantasy baseball team?
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Heyward, Upton, Freeman, Upton
Bryce Harper is still riding the hype, but let’s not forget that Jason Heyward is a young man himself, is projected for roughly the same numbers as Harper, but has a couple more years of development and is closer to his prime. Heyward had his sophomore slump, made his adjustments at the plate, got healthy, and is poised for a great year.
I think Atlanta gave BJ Upton too many years for too much money, but I think that about almost every free agent, considering my salary is about .0000001 of their’s. But Upton is a good fit for the Braves and if he drops in the draft you’ll be pleased with the homers, runs and steals he brings, while being disappointed in his average.
Freeman isn’t going to turn into the 30 home run hitter that people expect a first baseman should be, but I think he has more average than he showed last season. He’ll also do right by you in the counting stat department. He’s right in the middle of that fungible first baseman tier that includes Anthony Rizzo, Allen Craig, and Ike Davis.
Finally, in adding another Upton they have brought in a great deal of athleticism in a still 25-year-old player. Although he was seen as a disappointment last year, his AVG was good and his runs were elite. Maintaining that performance with even a tiny bounceback in his speed and power of you have a fantasy baseball start once again. I really like this move for his fantasy baseball value. He steps into a good lineup and finally has the trade rumors behind. Don’t underestimate what a clear mind can do to a player’s fantasy baseball value.
|1 Starter||Tim Hudson||37||R||185||13||116||0||3.62||1.22|
|2 Starter||Kris Medlen||27||R||180||12||165||0||2.95||1.08|
|3 Starter||Mike Minor||25||L||199||13||172||0||3.57||1.15|
|4 Starter||Paul Maholm||30||L||206||12||137||0||4.03||1.27|
|5 Starter||Julio Teheran||22||R||88||4||69||0||4.47||1.29|
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Medlen, Minor, Kimbrel, and Hudson to a lesser extent.
Medlen is legit, but because he seemingly came out of nowhere you may be able to get him at a value on draft day. He was great in the minors before blowing out his arm in 2010. Recovered and in the rotation in late 2012 he pitched like he was trying to get the city of Atlanta renamed after him. His changeup is his money pitch and does all the right things for a pitcher: 1.5/9 walk rate, .39 HR/9, 53.4 GB%. Even with a regression, he’s a sub-3 ERA pitcher.
I’m a Mike Minor fan as well. As I track his young career, I see a pitcher who has improved in fits and starts, and is really learning to pitch. The skill has been there. He has a K rate above average and a walk rate below average, and in the second half of 2102 he stopped giving up home runs. Those are the things that FIP is made of and I expect a solid season in 2013.
Tim Hudson has put together a wonderful career, but he’ll be over-drafted because of the name. He’s 37 after all, but he’s so wiley that you’ll want to give him a look to finish off your fantasy baseball roster. It’s that Teheran will wins the 5th starter over Randall Delgado, considering that Delgado was shipped to the Diamondbacks. But it’s about two years early for that young man to have fantasy baseball value. Besides, he’ll just hold the rotation spot until Brandon Beachy returns from TJ surgery.
Fantasy Stars: Heyward and Kimbrel
I’ve already said a few things about Heyward, but if you aren’t back on his bandwagon, you should hop on quick. I think he takes another tiny step this year.
Who I really want to talk about in this space is Craig Kimbrel. He’ll strike out as many guys as Tim Hudson in 1/3 the innings. He controls the strike zone, he doesn’t give up homers, and when I ran his projections they almost broke my spreadsheet. If everyone else is scared of spending a pick on a closer, you zig where they zag and grab a closer who should’ve gotten even more Cy Young attention than he did.
Fantasy Busts: Uggla and McCann
I think Uggla rebounds slightly from his awful 2012, but this one trick pony is losing his only trick. He’s being dropped lower and lower in the order, which hurts his counting numbers, while his average has always been a category killer. But 2B is shallow this year, so knock yourself out if you are desperate for home runs. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Like Uggla, McCann already had his bust year in 2102, but his shoulder injury worries me. Couple that with the fact that he won’t be ready to open the season and will lose plate appearances because of it. Yet, he was one of the more consistent and dependable catchers before 2012, so watch his injuries updates very closely in spring training.
Fantasy Sleeper: Simmons
I plan to write something soon on the fact that there is seemingly 100 shortstops this season that won’t hit more than a half dozen homers, but could steal upwards of 35 bases. Simmons could sneak into that category, while also carrying a batting average that will help you. But it’s a long shot.
He has excellent speed, but it has yet to translate into stolen bases (his beautiful footwork on defense won’t help your fantasy baseball team). He very well could steal just 10 bases, meaning he’d add little to your team. But you’ll want to pay attention if he’s running early and often.
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