Archive for April, 2012

My NBA Post

Friday, April 27th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

First, the awards, which seem pretty obvious this year:

MVP – LeBron James

Rookie of the Year – Kyrie Irving

Coach of the Year – Gregg Popovich

Sixth Man of the Year – James Harden

And now, here are my predictions for the playoffs:

ROUND ONE:

Spurs over Jazz in five

Grizzlies over Clippers in seven

Lakers over Nuggets in six

Thunder over Mavericks in six

Bulls over 76ers in five

Celtics over Hawks in five

Pacers over Magic in six

Heat over Knicks in five

ROUND TWO:

Spurs over Grizzlies in seven

Lakers over Thunder in seven

Celtics over Bulls in seven

Heat over Pacers in five

ROUND THREE:

Lakers over Spurs in six

Heat over Celtics in seven

FINALS:

Heat over Lakers in seven

The Scoop

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

Matt Wieters hit 12 homers with 30 runs scored, 31 RBI and 20 walks over the final two months last season, and he’s only got better to start 2012, as he entered Wednesday with a .294/.379/.667 line. His six home runs are also tied with Mike Napoli for the most among catchers. It took longer than expected for Wieters to have success at the major league level, but the former No. 5 pick appears to be finally living up to the extensive hype. He’s caught 16 of Baltimore’s 18 games so far this year, but with his bat, there’s little reason he shouldn’t DH during his days off behind the plate moving forward. According to The Bill James Handbook, Oriole Park has been the sixth-best place at boosting home runs over the last three years, especially for left-handers, which benefits the switch-hitter. Wieters, who has inside jokes with complete strangers, and Cuba imports cigars from him, sure looks like the No. 1 fantasy catcher right now.

This graphic footage of a car crashing into people in a grocery store is pretty brutal.

This woman, who just survived a near-death experience, isn’t too worried about it.

I’m not sure what I love more, the song, the lyrics or the video, but either way, this is pure musical genius.

Joey Votto is off to a slow start, hitting just .276 with one home run. The low batting average is especially surprising considering his BABIP is .385. The latter will drop some, but it’s not a total fluke with a career-high 32.5 LD%, a 1.25 GB:FB rate and as always no popouts (he has one of those since 2009). While he’s walking more than ever, the problem has clearly been that he’s striking out in nearly a quarter of his at-bats. Contact rate is typically one of the quickest stats to normalize, so seeing such a jump in K% over the first few weeks of the season is a bit surprising. Still, it’s probably nothing to worry about, especially when you consider his O-Swing% (the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) is a career-low 19.6% and well below the league average of 30.0%. Chalk it up as a fluke and fully expect an increase in BA moving forward, and while I’m sure he’ll also start slugging more, remember his batted ball profile suggests he’s more of a 30 than 40-homer type hitter.

I’d recommend not jaywalking in Johannesburg.

This guy wearing a sweet robe had enough of speed-enforcement photos and took matters into his own hands to say the least.

Long read: An interesting and extremely revealing read about Dartmouth’s hazing rituals.

Bonus long read: In honor of his new solo album being released, here’s an article about Jack White.

Matt Moore is off to an extremely poor start to the year, as his 5.12 ERA and 1.66 WHIP are backed by an ugly 11:12 K:BB ratio over 19.1 innings. He missed time in spring dealing with an abdominal strain, so a slow start shouldn’t be entirely unexpected, but he’s been a total disaster early on. Moore’s average fastball velocity is down compared to last year, but it’s still a strong 93.6 mph – the third highest among all left-handers in baseball. Maybe Moore was overdrafted (including by me) for someone with fewer than 10.0 major league innings under his belt, but don’t forget just how dominant he was in the minors, as he recorded 210 strikeouts over 155.0 innings with a 1.92 ERA and 0.95 WHIP last season between Double and Triple-A. Moore will have to contend with the tough A.L. East, but he has a terrific defense behind him and a home park that’s benefitted pitchers more than any other than Petco over the past three years. He’s also not working on an innings limit, despite being a rookie. These types of recommendations obviously depend on your specific league, but if you can get him at any sort of discount, try to trade for him.

Police blotter: when siphoning gas from a cop car, it’s probably best not to post a picture on Facebook…These guys got wasted and broke into Sea World, woke up with a penguin in their hotel room…This man was arrested for trying to sell weed to his former PO…Man charged with a felony over not paying for a $1 soda at McDonald’s…Might want to rethink this kind of stealing in today’s iPhone age.

The question regarding Carlos Beltran entering the year was whether he could stay relatively healthy, not if he was going to be productive at the plate, so not much has changed there. However, the five steals have been a real surprise, as it’s already the most he’s had in a season since 2009, and it could also suggest his knees are feeling better than they have in a while. Busch Stadium is actually a pretty underrated pitchers’ park, but hitting between Matt Holliday and David Freese (or Lance Berkman) is a good spot to be in (a side note here: lineup “protection” is absolutely a myth and obviously doesn’t exist. However, the quality of hitters around a player certainly matters for fantasy owners, since it affects runs and RBI. Maybe this is obvious, but it seems to get misunderstood at times). If Beltran continues to run and stays healthy, he has the upside to finish as a top-10 if not top-five fantasy outfielder, but durability remains a serious concern.

You can make your own conclusion as to what Seal is doing here, but he clearly enjoyed the performance.

It apparently was standing room only during the Giants/Mets game in New York on Monday.

Girl swallowed by pavement in China.

Michael Bourn has raised his batting average more than 200 points over the past two weeks and is up to seven steals on the year. He remains a drain on HR and RBI but has a career-best BB%, leading to a .402 OBP. While typically players who rack up steals and don’t hit for power are much more valuable in fantasy baseball than reality, because he’s such a good base runner and a fantastic fielder in center field, Bourn is actually tied for fourth in WAR in the early going in 2012. The Braves’ trade for him last year for much less than what it cost the division rival Phillies to acquire Hunter Pence really was quite shrewd. And sticking with speed guys, Tony Campana, who racked up 24 steals (with only two CS) in just 143 at-bats last year and already has four bags over 13 ABs this season, needs to be added in pretty much all formats. His bat is weak, and he could easily flame out, but he’s looking at semi-regular playing time, and the SB upside is immense.

One of the best football plays I’ve ever seen, regardless of level.

One of the best basketball shots I’ve ever seen, regardless of level.

One of the best batting stances I’ve ever seen, regardless of level.

One of the best fake passes I’ve ever seen, regardless of intent.

It’s no secret Stephen Strasburg is my favorite (non-Giant) player in baseball, so it’s actually been frustrating owning him in just one league (LABR) this year. I fully believe the Nationals will be strict with the 160.0 innings limit, which is why he ended up on so few of my teams, because that right there is like missing six weeks with an injury, but still, he could be a $30-plus type pitcher anyway. Since returning from Tommy John surgery last season, he has a 1.29 ERA with a 0.82 WHIP and a 49:8 K:BB ratio over 49.0 innings. He hasn’t allowed a single homer over that span. While his velocity has been down since before the injury, Strasburg still leads major league baseball with an average fastball of 95.4 mph this season. His career K:BB ratio is 5.64. I see only health preventing him from being a first round pick in fantasy leagues next year.

These headlines really tell the story: Sex-addicted apes on brink of extinctionDonor wants organ back from ex-bossWoman kills man by squeezing his testicles over parking disputeBoner rejects sexual harassment allegations.

My take on the NFL Draft: predictions before are completely worthless, which can only be matched by grades afterward. But the event itself remains totally engrossing, as teams’ actions reveal a ton of information about what they think their weaknesses are. And I’m glad to hear they have finally wised up and will attempt to make the selections a surprise at the podium this year.

Seriously, how crazy is Mel Gibson?!!

Quick hits: Ervin Santana has allowed 10 homers this season. Matt Cain allowed fewer all of last year…Does Jamie Moyer really have a 2.28 ERA over four starts as a 49-year-old who calls Coors Field home?…I’m beginning to think Justin Smoak’s problems last year had less to do with injury and family tragedy and more to do with him being unable to handle major league pitching…Jonathan Sanchez threw 115 pitches in 4.2 innings Tuesday…In my home league, I entered Tuesday with by far the league’s best K rate (8.6/9) and had a “1” in wins, ERA and WHIP. In fact, my ERA was 6.05 and my WHIP was 1.55! Just a reminder it’s so very early still. Well, at least that’s what I keep telling myself…No, I’m not in the least bit worried about Albert Pujols…For his career, Josh Hamilton has hit .257/.323/.442 in the day compared to .330/.383/.586 at night. This year during day games, he’s hitting .500/.481/.1.083 (always love when OBP is lower than BA).

Follow me on Twitter.

The Scoop

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

Three bad starts to open a season isn’t anything to worry about, but when you combine that with a noticeable decrease in velocity and a stated refusal to throw a slider, owners of Tim Lincecum certainly have the right to be concerned. While he’s proven he can be successful without an overpowering fastball in the past, he’s never been a great control guy, so if further losses in velocity make his changeup less devastating, this could be a real problem, and there’s also obvious concern it’s something physical. On one hand, it’s telling the Giants have locked up Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner with recent deals, as maybe the franchise is skittish about Lincecum’s long-term prognosis. But on the other hand, Lincecum has been difficult to lock up, and his willingness to sign a two-year deal could suggest he’s fully confident in his health, with eyes toward a monster deal when he becomes a free agent in 2014.

I’m sure most of you have seen this by now, but in the off chance you haven’t, Sweet Brown has no time for bronchitis.

Texting guy almost runs into a bear.

I don’t want to give away any of this story, but I implore you to read it. One of the crazier I’ve come across.

Lincecum’s first two starts this year came in Chase Field and Coors Field, two venues that rank No. 3 and No. 1, respectively, as the best hitters’ parks in all of baseball over the past three years, according to The Bill James Handbook. He hasn’t allowed a homer since the first inning of his first outing, which was more a result of a poorly located changeup than a loss of velocity on his fastball, and after giving up four runs in the first inning of Monday’s game that was aided by a badly botched play in center field by Angel Pagan, he settled down nicely, retiring 10 straight batters at one point. This isn’t to make excuses, as there’s no denying Lincecum has been hit hard this season – his career BAA is .225. This year it’s .344. It’s been noted a sudden spike in BABIP could be a sign of someone pitching hurt, but his peripherals are otherwise terrific, with a 16:4 K:BB ratio over 13.2 innings (his current 10.54 K/9 rate is actually a career-best, and yes it’s a tiny sample, but you can’t freak out over his runs allowed over the same time frame without acknowledging the other).

Man allegedly commits 10 felonies in nine hours. My personal record was eight in seven, so bravo sir.

Man allegedly fathered up to 600 children.

This motorcycle driver is flat out insane.

Lincecum has been more prone to hot/cold bouts throughout his career than most elite starters, as he followed up a 7.82 ERA in August of 2010 with a 1.94 ERA the next month. Last year he had a 4.84 ERA in June and a 1.80 and 1.90 in the following two months. Moreover, after throwing just two sliders over his first two starts combined, Lincecum threw 20 on Monday, which could be key to a turnaround moving forward. The decrease in velocity is a concern, but remember Lincecum throws a two-seam fastball (which makes it all the more insane when he was regularly working in the mid-90s when he first came up), as he gets a ton of movement and can rack up Ks while remaining down in the zone. Digging deeper, his SwStr% is 11.7 (this is the percentage of pitches a batter swings and misses, and to get an idea of what this means, only one pitcher last year had a higher SwStr% than Lincecum’s current mark), which is actually the second-highest of his career, and according to Fangraphs’ Pitch Values, the biggest problem through three starts has been Lincecum’s changeup going from one of the best pitches in baseball to one of the most hittable. That might be a function of a smaller discrepancy in speeds between it and his fastball, but as someone who’s watched all three of his outings in 2012, I credit it far more to poor location. With a small frame and unorthodox delivery, it’s entirely possible Lincecum is wearing down like many predicted would eventually happen, but if I’m a fantasy owner, I’d personally be targeting him heavily right now in trades.

This is probably the best marketing ploy I’ve ever seen.

This is probably the best obituary I’ve ever read.

Girl blown by a plane.

Jordan Schafer is hitting just .256 on the year, strikes out too often and is playing for what’s likely to be the worst team in baseball. Still, it would have to be an awfully shallow league for him to be not owned in fantasy right now. He’s locked in as a leadoff hitter, and with nine walks already, he’s got a .396 OBP. After stealing 22 bases over just 302 at-bats last year, he has five already this season, and his seven attempts are the second-most in MLB. Schafer is an injury risk and will be a major drain on RBI, but he’s capable of hitting 5-8 homers, giving him real fantasy value if he approaches 35-40 stolen bases, which I say he does.

Celebrity For The Day.

Can Your Baby Do Pullups?

This Dog Is Better Than You Or Me At Double Dutch.

Raul Ibanez finished with a .245/.289/.419 line last season and will turn 40 years old this summer, but he’s another outfielder who shouldn’t be available on most waiver wires, at least in daily leagues. He still managed 20 homers with 84 RBI last year in just 144 games played, and he’s going to be used in a stricter platoon in 2012, helping his batting average (and making him much more valuable in daily formats). Ibanez is hitting just .222 on the year, but that’s accompanied by a 1:2 K:BB ratio, and he’s even contributed two steals to go along with two homers. His nine RBI over eight games is a strong reflection of the benefits of batting in the Yankees’ lineup, and it can’t be underestimated just how much the home stadium boosts left-handed power. Yankee Stadium has a HR Park Index of 143 for LHB over the past three years, meaning 43% more bombs have been hit there by lefties than other parks, which is the most by a wide margin. If you have a deep roster, platooning Ibanez and Andruw Jones like the Yankees do would be an interesting and likely productive fantasy strategy.

I typically post silly UFO sightings, so why stop now?

The Cyclist’s Revenge.

This guy’s cat-like reflexes saved his life.

In my home league this past Friday, my team allowed 23 earned runs over 10.2 innings and lost Jacoby Ellsbury for who knows how long. It wasn’t ideal. The Ellsbury loss is going to be tough to overcome for fantasy owners. Not sure we can call him injury-prone after the nature in which he broke his ribs two years ago and his most recent one appeared unavoidable, but I guess it’s safe to call him a bit brittle at this point. Sticking with my home league team, I have no clue what to make of Francisco Liriano. I fully admit I bought into his spring stats (not his ERA, but how he was doing so, as I couldn’t ignore the 33:5 K:BB ratio over 29.0 innings), but it’s certainly been to my detriment so far, as he’s currently sporting an 11.91 ERA and a 2.74(!) WHIP with an unsightly 8:9 K:BB ratio. Liriano appears to be a headcase, but even after coming off such a disastrous 2011, I still wouldn’t drop him at this point.

Here’s Vince Carter airballing a finger roll.

In Russia, items buy you.

Well, the ending of this video is a bit ominous.

Jason Heyward owners have to be pleased with the start to his year. Hitting .341 and recently moved up in the lineup, he’s already racked up four steals without being caught. It’s obviously extremely early, but looking deeper, it gets even more encouraging, as he’s hit 15 flyballs compared to nine groundballs early on. During his rookie campaign, Heyward had a 2.03 GB/FB rate, while last year it was 1.63. This season it’s at 0.60, which is an indication he may very well reach his power potential many predicted coming up from the minors. Let’s see if he can actually stay healthy for once.

Great article about Dave Cameron – one of my favorite baseball writers who’s battling a deadly illness.

Two high school pitchers combined to throw 347 pitches in one game.

Meet the world’s shortest man, who’s 22 inches tall.

Any Giants fan shouldn’t be surprised by the latest news on Brian Wilson, who’s been pitching with a damaged arm since the end of the 2010 World Series season. While last year it was an apparent forearm issue, it’s likely related, and there were red flags when there was no offseason surgery to correct the problem, and Wilson showed up to spring training still hurting, totaling just 4.2 innings with an obvious decrease in velocity. It was admirable of Wilson, who once “fired a Red Bull down” in between innings after tearing his oblique during his major league debut, to throw 10 more pitches after hearing a pop in his elbow (and telling the training staff he rolled his ankle after they went to the mound when Buster Posey called them after hearing him scream in pain). Wilson, who has the most saves in MLB since 2008, was pitching in Coors Field in a two-run game with the bases loaded with noticeably diminished stuff and showed a ton of guts in what would prove to be his last outing in quite some time.

Saw Radiohead in San Jose this past week, and they killed it. They played a ridiculously long set (23 songs, two-plus hours) that was fantastic, even if it didn’t feature any of my 10 favorite songs by them.

Saw “American Reunion” this weekend, and while biased as an unabashed fan of the original, it really wasn’t that bad (and certainly the best of all the sequels). I enjoyed it.

Santiago Casilla, who reminds me a lot of former A’s prospect Jairo Garcia, looks next in line to close in San Francisco. Sergio Romo throws a ton of sliders, so the team is extra careful about his workload and also results in him being used as something of a righty specialist. Romo just finished one of the more dominant relief seasons you’ll ever see, posting a 1.50 ERA with a 0.708 WHIP and a ridiculous 70:5 K:BB ratio over 48.0 innings. His 1.49 xFIP would have easily led all pitchers in baseball had he qualified, as his Frisbee slider is death to righties, producing a .391 OPS against. But Casilla has a 1.85 ERA over the past two seasons himself, and although his control is shaky, most importantly, he seems to be management’s preferred choice to replace Wilson as closer (although it will be something of a committee). Whether Casilla can take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen.

Follow me on Twitter.

The Scoop

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

Jay Bruce just turned 25 years old and has increased his homers each season he’s been in the league. He’s only 20-for-40 on the base paths in his career, so he won’t help much in steals, but Bruce has a higher slugging percentage against southpaws than righties each of the past two seasons, which is an encouraging development. As an extreme flyball hitter, Bruce is streaky, but it’s nice to see three homers over the first four games this year, although he’s yet to take a walk. Great American Ball Park boosts home runs more for right-handed batters, but it’s a hitters’ park for lefties as well. Bruce, who showed up noticeably thinner and in better shape this year, is a legitimate threat to lead major league baseball in homers in 2012.

Mr. McFeely’s Purple Panda Scares Bejesus Out of Kids.

Be Careful Whom You Honk At.

Yu Darvish’s MLB debut certainly got off to an inauspicious start, as he allowed four runs in his first inning. All four hits were singles, with most of them bloopers not hit hard, but you are asking for trouble when you walk three batters and uncork a wild pitch, as it took him 42 pitches to record the first three outs. Darvish undoubtedly experienced some jitters, but he battled control problems in spring as well. Still, his stuff certainly passed the eye test, especially the movement on his sinking fastball. Even if he struggles pitching deep into games while racking up strikeouts and walks, he should be able to rack up 15-plus wins with ease with that lineup and bullpen backing him (curiously, Vegas set his over/under at just 12.5 wins). It’s doubtful owners in your league panic after just one start, but because he’s such an unknown to begin with and Dice-K is somewhat fresh on the mind, might as well throw a trade offer coming off a disappointing debut. Darvish is going to be just fine.

An unbelievable story about the only known escapee from a North Korean prison camp. Truly a must-read.

Is Bud Selig really that out to lunch not to realize what he just said?

Andre Ethier hit just 11 home runs last season, has totaled two steals since 2009 and hits in a lineup that won’t make him a major asset in runs scored, but he’s still likely to make a profit for those who drafted him. Last season was definitely a disappointment, but he was batting .392/.457/.744 with 11 homers and 38 RBI over just 125 at-bats the year prior before suffering a fractured pinkie in mid-May that essentially ruined the rest of his season. While that injury looks like a legitimate excuse, there’s no denying he’s been a pretty mediocre player for the last 1.5 years. Still, he’s primed for a bounce back in 2012, and hitting directly behind Matt Kemp sure doesn’t hurt. Ethier, who’s a career .291 hitter, should approach 30 homers and 100 RBI this season.

Basketball break: Marcus Camby made a shot from fullcourt.

Pretty cool way to start a game.

Blake Griffin treating Pau Gasol like a human doormat. Part one and part two.

I fell into Yoenis Cespedes in the Razzball league, but I’m already regretting taking Jason Kubel (ugh) over him in my home league. I still like Kubel, and it’s obviously early, but Cespedes sure looks like a fun player to own, even if pitchers adjust and he leads the majors in strikeouts in 2012. It didn’t take long for Oakland to move him to cleanup, and there’s nothing wrong with a little swag. As of Monday, Cespedes was still searching for his first walk and single on the year, but his power sure appears legit, and he’s also capable of swiping 20 bags, so he’ll likely carry plenty of fantasy value even if he’s a drain on batting average, which looks like a safe bet.

In case you missed it: project glass.

In case you missed it: self-driving car.

This woman was arrested after being cited for speeding three times within an hour.

Hot dog stuffed crust pizza.

Losing Kyle Farnsworth in Yahoo F&F has had a cascade effect, as I rushed to the waiver wire to add Joel Peralta and dropped Rafael Furcal. Peralta appears to be behind Fernando Rodney currently in the saves pecking order, while Furcal looks rejuvenated. He was terrible throughout spring, and new manager Mike Matheny suggested he’d open the year batting eighth and may even be platooned. Naturally, Furcal hit leadoff during the season opener and has recorded three hits in three of the year’s first five games. No one should pay attention to 25 at-bats, but he has two steals (and attempted another on a hit-and-run), and while it’s totally anecdotal, if there’s one organization that’s consistently produced big rebound years from veterans, it’s St. Louis. Furcal will get hurt, but hitting atop an order that bats Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and David Freese directly behind him, he’ll be worth using even in shallower mixed leagues when healthy.

Man riding a fire extinguisher on a train.

Man in a sombrero wearing a boxing glove is arrested after jumping on cop car and yelling his name.

80-year-old woman lands plane after pilot husband dies.

Sample size is definitely an issue, but Juan Nicasio is a really intriguing arm. He posted a 58:18 K:BB ratio over 71.2 innings last season (including a 24:5 rate over 27.2 innings after the ASB). His numbers in the minors back this up (8.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 over 471.1 innings often in extreme hitting environments), and Nicasio averaged 94.1 mph with his fastball last season, which would have ranked first among all National League starters had he qualified, and early reports suggest he’s throwing with even more velocity in 2012. He’s at a disadvantage calling Coors Field home, something that will really come into play during the summer months, but Nicasio is also easy to root for coming back from one of the scariest injuries in recent memory. He’s the Rockies’ best starter and shouldn’t be unowned in any fantasy league.

I’m a big fan of the new “The Shins” album. Strongly recommended.

This guy is the worst Wheel Of Fortune player of all time.

This article was clearly not written tongue-in-cheek, but the editors had to know what was to follow, right?

It would have to be an extremely shallow league (or one with very small benches) for Trevor Bauer to be on the waiver wire right now. Most scouts believe he’s major league ready, as he played three years in college and would be an immediate upgrade over Josh Collmenter, who gave up 21 earned runs over 19.0 innings with a 6:6 K:BB ratio in spring training and was lit up during his first start in the regular season as well. Collmenter had a surprisingly strong rookie campaign last year, posting a 3.6 K:BB ratio with a 3.38 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. However, that also came with a poor 5.83 K/9 rate, so whether or not you are a believer basically comes down to if you feel pitchers can control IFFB% (his 14.9% ranked sixth-highest in MLB last year). It’s certainly a skill with batters (like BABIP. After all, Joey Votto has hit ONE infield pop out since 2009!), but I believe Collmenter got lucky last year, and as an extreme fly ball pitcher in Chase Field, he’s not long for the rotation. As for Bauer, who went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA in 16 starts last year for UCLA, leading the country with 203 strikeouts and 10 complete games (including the last nine consecutive), I’m not too worried about his unorthodox routine and delivery. He’s my pick to win ROY.

Follow me on Twitter.

Season Preview

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Dalton Del Don

A.L. East

1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays (wild card)

3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles

Fantasy angle: The Yankees regret the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade, but the platoon at DH with Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones is plenty productive anyway. Alex Rodriguez returns a nice profit in fantasy leagues, while CC Sabathia doesn’t. Curtis Granderson doesn’t regress all that much, while Mark Teixeira has a better fantasy season than Prince Fielder…David Price wins the Cy Young, while Matt Moore wins Rookie of the Year. Desmond Jennings enters 2013 as a consensus top-five fantasy outfielder.

Dustin Pedroia is more valuable than Robinson Cano, while Andrew Bailey finishes the season with zero saves. Adrian Gonzalez wins the batting title, and Jacoby Ellsbury hits more than 25 home runs…Brett Lawrie disappoints, but Kelly Johnson is a top-10 fantasy second baseman. Sergio Santos leads all American League closers in strikeouts, while Edwin Encarnacion surpasses 25 homers and 80 RBI…Chris Davis, who hit 24 homers in 50 games in Triple-A last season with a .372/.413/.819 line, utilizes a home park that’s among the best for boosting HRs for LHB and finally becomes helpful to fantasy owners.

A.L. Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Minnesota Twins

Fantasy angle: Miguel Cabrera gets enough starts at third base to become eligible in fantasy leagues, but the experiment ends shortly thereafter. He’s not particularly good while doing so, but Delmon Young reaches 100 RBI…Paul Konerko, who’s hit .306 over the past two seasons after batting .259 over the previous three and is now 36 years old, finishes 2012 with less fantasy value than Alex Rios…Ubaldo Jimenez and Shin–Soo Choo don’t bounce back to the levels their fantasy owners expect, while Asdrubal Cabrera, who finished last season with the second-most “just enough” home runs according to Hittracker, comes crashing back to earth, as teammate Jason Kipnis is the more valuable middle infielder.

Greg Holland is the better pitcher, but Jonathan Broxton finishes with more saves. No starting pitcher drafted later than Luke Hochevar has a better fantasy season, while Billy Butler hits more home runs than Eric Hosmer…Francisco Liriano overcomes his team’s poor defense and is a top-20 fantasy starter, finishing in the top-five in strikeouts. Joe Mauer doesn’t approach the power numbers of Carlos Santana or Mike Napoli, but because of the huge discrepancies in batting average, he produces similar if not better fantasy value and is ultimately the much more profitable pick.

A.L. West

1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels (wild card)

3. Oakland A’s
4. Seattle Mariners

Fantasy angle: Mitch Moreland eclipses 25 homers, Colby Lewis bounces back, and Joe Nathan is an elite closer. Adrian Beltre produces more fantasy value than Evan Longoria, while both Yu Darvish and Derek Holland are fantastic…After throwing the third-most pitches in baseball last season, a whopping 4,118, one year after seeing his innings increase by 130.1, C.J. Wilson is a huge disappointment when compared to where he was taken in fantasy leagues, despite the improvement in home parks. Vernon Wells hits .270 with 30-plus home runs. Albert Pujols wins the MVP.

Jemile Weeks steals 40 bases, while only a trade prevents Grant Balfour from reaching 30 saves. Yoenis Cespedes strikes out 200 times, yet still goes 20/20…Ichiro Suzuki hits between .322 and .350 for the first time in his 12-year career, finishing with a .330 batting average. Justin Smoak has the better fantasy season than Jesus Montero.

N.L. East

1. Atlanta Braves
2. Philadelphia Phillies (wild card)

3. Washington Nationals
4. Miami Marlins
5. New York Mets

Fantasy angle: Dan Uggla goes down as a top-30 fantasy player, while Craig Kimbrel goes down as one of the most over drafted players in 2012…Jonathan Papelbon finishes as the No. 1 fantasy closer, but Hunter Pence, who has never eclipsed 25 homers, scored 100 runs, driven in 100 RBI or reached 20 steals in his career, disappoints compared to his lofty ADP. Chase Utley appears in fewer than 75 games…Stephen Strasburg is the best pitcher in baseball but doesn’t win the Cy Young because he’s limited to just 160 innings. Jayson Werth bounces back, and Wilson Ramos establishes himself as one of the better catchers in the league. Bryce Harper experiences some struggles upon his promotion, but that only keeps his cost down for 2013, when he hits 30-plus homers. Jordan Zimmermann is a top-25 fantasy starter, while Ryan Zimmerman gets a handful of MVP votes.

Hanley Ramirez finishes as a top-three fantasy player, but the new park costs Giancarlo Stanton 10-12 homers…Health prevents Ike Davis from being the N.L.’s second best first baseman, but Jason Bay bounces back. Matt Harvey will be worth adding in mixed leagues sometime after the All-Star break. It won’t be as bad as the Francisco Liriano trade, but giving up Zack Wheeler for two months of Carlos Beltran will be another notch on Brian Sabean’s awful GM belt. Johan Santana ends up being a nice profit for his owners, while Bobby Parnell finishes with the most saves on the team.

N.L. Central

1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals (wild card)

3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Pittsburgh Pirates
6. Houston Astros

Fantasy angle: Mike Leake has a better season than Johnny Cueto, while Aroldis Chapman is the team’s best pitcher and is finally unleashed as a starter down the stretch, leading the team to the postseason…Jason Motte is a top-five fantasy closer, and Jaime Garcia makes “the leap,” as does David Freese. Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal are both highly productive when healthy, while Adam Wainwright is a top-15 fantasy starter…Zack Greinke wins the Cy Young, and Yovani Gallardo is close behind.

Carlos Marmol is a fantasy bust, and those who drafted Starlin Castro over Elvis Andrus will regret it. Matt Garza is a dark horse Cy Young candidate if he’s not traded…Erik Bedard will be a must-start when healthy, while Alex Presley will finish with more fantasy value than Jose Tabata…Jordan Schafer, Jason Castro and Jose Altuve can all be considered sleepers, but since this team will likely be shopping Wandy Rodriguez at the ASB, the Astros could easily surpass 110 losses.

N.L. West

1. San Francisco Giants
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. San Diego Padres

Fantasy angle: Madison Bumgarner has a better fantasy season than Tim Lincecum, and Santiago Casilla approaches 20 saves. Melky Cabrera doesn’t regress from last year’s production as much as most expect. Only Bruce Bochy and a home park that’s among the worst in suppressing home runs for LHB can prevent Brandon Belt from being a top-10 fantasy first baseman…Aaron Hill and Jason Kubel both approach 30 homers, with at least one of them surpassing it. Justin Upton wins the MVP, while Trevor Bauer wins Rookie of the Year.

Juan Nicasio finishes as Colorado’s best starter, while both Marco Scutaro and Todd Helton are worth using in mixed leagues when not hurt…Clayton Kershaw is a top-five fantasy player, while Andre Ethier bounces back in a big way. Dee Gordon finishes with more steals than any player in baseball and is a top-25 fantasy pick in 2013…Andrew Cashner gets 15-plus saves and helps in your ratios regardless, while Cameron Maybin finishes as a top-15 fantasy outfielder.

World Series: Rays over Reds