Below is the the fourth annual installment of my Fantasy Red Herrings post. Like I did in '13, '12 and '11, I'm providing my usual intro before the good stuff...
Since I know some readers of this blog are my comrades who will draft players in our fantasy baseball league in March, I thought I'd post about players that GMs might want to target for the upcoming season.
But my fellow GMs might think this document is simply a list of red herrings.
Maybe players on it are.
Maybe players on it aren't.
Regardless, here are players to target or low risk/high reward players for 2014.
First Base: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
I remember when Pujols signed with the Angels. Oh, weren't some of those Cardinals fans angry and upset. As I said back then and I'll say it again now, the Cardinals were smart not to sign him. He was going into a decline. In fact, it's been a steady decline since he cashed in. But injuries have been a factor. When I saw him play last year, he ran the bases like a constipated duck. A GM certainly isn't going to get the old Pujols, but if healthy, he'll provide above-average stats at a loaded position. That would normally be a compliment to most players, but for this dude, that's a serious fall from hall-of-fame play.
Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
How many Altuves does it take to win a fantasy baseball league? Just one if you get him at the right draft position. This vertically-challenged player doesn't provide power, but he's stolen over 30 bags each of the past two seasons and possesses an over 20% line-drive rate for his career (21.3% to be exact). I suspect the Astros offense will be improved from last year (how could it not?). More runs scored is a probable outcome.
Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
When the staff attempted to "coach" Castro to be a more selective hitter and have a better OBP, it backfired. Classic Cubs. His numbers last year were atrocious. Just awful. Horrible. And his fielding stunk too. The hope is that a new manager will help get Castro's head and hitting right. You could buy this guy low as a bench player, and it might turn out well. With all manner of excellent prospects behind him, that could be motivation to excel this season. Or he could become the next Corey Patterson.
Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
He's a middle-of-the-order bat. The perennial question, however, is whether he can stay healthy.
Catcher: Brian McCann, New York Yankees
A lot of rankings have this guy further down than I expected. Let's think about this. He's going to be playing in a hitters park with a short right porch. He's likely to DH from time to time and will be able to increase his counting stats because he's no longer playing in the NL. He's hit 20+ home runs in seven of the last eight seasons. Need I say more?
Outfield: Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers
Where have all the power-hitting outfielders gone? Each year it seems like the fantasy pickings for OF get thinner and thinner on power. This guy has power, but one concern is how much he'll strike out. But Ks only count for pitchers in fantasy baseball.
Starting Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays
Two seasons ago, this guy helped me win my league. He wasn't even drafted. I picked him up two weeks into the season. He cashed in that great season for a lucrative contract with the Blue Jays and had a poor season: 4.21 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. As WHIPs go though, 1.24 ain't bad, and it's more in line with his 2010 (2.84, 1.19) and 2011 (3.28, 1.23) numbers with the Mets. If you expect 2011ish numbers and draft appropriately, that seems good to me.
Relief Pitcher: Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays
I've been on this guy's bandwagon for years. Even if Janssen doesn't lose his job, last year Santos provided metrics you like to see: 9.82 K/9, 1.40 BB/9, and a 50% groundball rate.