Jarrod Parker's Value (SP)- Parker's rookie season could not have gone better for Oakland, as the rookie ended up throwing 181.1 innings while pitching to a 3.47 ERA (3.43 FIP and 3.95 xFIP). While his peripherals from 2012 do not seem to indicate a front of the line starter (6.96 K/9 and 3.13 BB/9), I expect the 24 year-old to take a significant step forward in 2013. Parker showed improved control and command in the second half of the season, cutting his walk rate from 4.34 BB/9 to 2.06 BB/9. In addition, Parker's 9.9 percent swinging strike rate indicates that there is some room for growth in terms of his strikeouts. His change-up has become a real plus pitch that he features against both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and it is the reason he did not show a platoon split. Parker could see his ERA increase due with an increase in his HR/FB ratio, but I'm counting on improved peripherals to cancel that out. Our software is betting on an ERA just above 3.10, and I think he is falling way too late in drafts (13.12 ADP).
Coco Crisp: Steady Third Tier Outfielder
Crisp did not put up the flashiest numbers in 2012 (.259/.325/.418), but his 39 stolen bases and 11 home runs make him give him a lot of value over "bigger" names in the outfield in the mid rounds of standard league drafts. The 33 year-old has an impressive stolen base percentage (over 90 percent last season) to go along with a steady fly ball rate and HR/FB ratio over the last three seasons in Oakland. Additionally, Crisp has been steady with his swinging strike rate (5.5-5.7 percent over the last three seasons), but his propensity to hit infield fly balls has hurt his overall average the last couple of seasons. Owners should expect another .265/.330/.410 type of slash line this year. At this point in his career, Crisp is an average center fielder at best (above average in LF), but he will likely stay in LF with Yoenis Cespedes heading to the DH spot against left-handed pitchers. Crisp should get the requisite playing time if healthy to get 550 plate appearances, which should lead to another 10-12 home runs and 35 or more stolen bases.
San Francisco Giants
Projecting the Rest of the Rotation:
Matt Cain- Another year meant another strong season for Cain in 2012 putting together what might be considered his best season to date. His strikeout rate of 7.92 K.9 was his best since 2006, but his 22 percent strikeout percentage was a career high. In addition, he showed real improvement in his overall command by posting a career best 2.09 BB/9. Of course, Cain outperformed his DIPS by posting .259 BABIP (.264 for career) and 8.4 percent HR/FB ratio (6.8 percent for career). I would not expect anything different in 2013, but his ERA should increase considering his 79 percent strand rate is likely to regress. A career best 9.6 percent swinging strike indicates we should see a similar strikeout rate. Cain's durability and four straight years with an ERA below 3.15 make him one of the safest picks heading into your draft.
Ryan Vogelsong- Vogelsong showed fantasy owners and skeptics that his 2011 breakout season was not a fluke pitching to a 3.37 ERA (3.75 FIP and 4.15 xFIP) while improving his peripherals (7.50 K/9 and 2.94 BB/9). In fact, his season was very similar to his 2011 campaign posting an identical HR/FB ratio (8.2 percent) and BABIP only four points higher than his .280 mark in 2011. While his second half struggles might be a concern heading into 2013, they were a little overblown considering his strikeout rate jumped from 6.26 K/9 to 9.23 K/9 in the second half. Additionally, his 66.1 percent strand rate and .333 BABIP balanced out his lucky first half numbers. Our software is projecting Vogelsong to finish with a 3.66 ERA, which is line with almost every projection out there. The 35 year-old might not be flashy, but he should provide double digit wins along with a strikeout rate just above 7.10 K/9. His below average HR/FB ratio is common practice, which should make him a valuable mid round pick up (ADP 13.04).
Projecting the left side of the infield:
Ian Desmond (SS)- In what was a make or break year, Desmond finally put together all of his promise into the best season of his career. There has been some disagreement in the industry on whether he can reproduce those numbers in 2013 due to his .332 BABIP and career best 18.2 percent HR/FB ratio. I'm caught in between in the 27 year-old, as I think he should be able to reproduce some of those power numbers but he will probably see a dip in his average. As Anthony mentioned in our software notes, Desmond averaged 408 feet along with a 105 batted ball speed on his home runs. Those are above average and I believe with another year under his belt owners could see an improvement in his fly ball rate. Desmond's average should see some regression considering his 17.9 percent line drive, and his 11.8 percent swinging strike rate indicates there might be an increase in his swinging strike rate. While Desmond's average might take hit, his ability to put together a 20-20 season still makes him the fifth best shortstop available.
Ryan Zimmerman (3B)- Zimmerman made his return to third base the other day for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery. Considering the first half struggles for the injury prone third baseman, Zimmerman put together one of his stronger seasons in 2012 hitting 25 home runs and producing a .352 wOBA. With a career worst 8.5 percent swinging strike rate, Zimmerman saw his strikeout rate increase to a 18.5 percent (also a career high). I believe the various shoulder problems led to the increased swinging strike rate, and to a decreased fly ball rate over the last two seasons (33 percent). If Zimmerman is able to stay on the field, his production will be there. A .285/.355/.505 type of slash line is par for the course, and I believe our software is right on target predicting him to hit 28 home runs. His 16 percent HR/FB ratio will probably regress, but look for his fly ball rate to move back to his career levels (37.1 percent). With Chase Headley's and David Wright's health issues, Zimmerman might be the best third base option in the NL.
Around the League
Derek Jeter (SS-NYY)- Jeter was scratched from yesterday's game against the Phillies because of soreness in his left ankle. Girardi told the media that he was not sure what this means long term, and that he might be back in the lineup today. Jeter did not seemed too concerned since he said that this was all part of the rehab process, and an MRI should only mild inflammation. For all the good news concerning Jeter this spring, this setback is a reminder that he will be dealing with this throughout the first half of the season. Jeter will see more days off than ever, and he will probably post a career low stolen base total. I don't think there will be too much regression in terms of batting average, but his 16.7 percent HR/FB ratio is sure to decrease. Jeter still cannot get the ball in the air regularly (15.9 percent), and will struggle to get to double-digit home runs this season.
Scott Baker (SP-CHC)- Baker, who was sent to get an MRI after his first start since coming Tommy John surgery, was told there was significant inflammation in his surgically repaired elbow. The Cubs have suspended his throwing program indefinitely, and the 31 year-old is expected to meet with team doctors this weekend. Baker has been a trendy late round draft pick in drafts this month (ADP of 21.01), but this recent setback should concern potential owners. Most assumed he would start the season on the disabled list, but now that date is up in there. There is no doubt if healthy, Baker could provide a nice some value considering his ability to miss bats and is above average command. I think our software is a little unkind to Baker, but now I would recommend staying away for now until more information becomes available.
Logan Forsythe (2B/3B-SD)- Bud Black told the media today that he expects Forsythe to play in a game on Friday. With Chase Headley scheduled to miss the first month of the season, Forsythe is the favorite to take his place at the hot corner. However, the 26 year-old needs to get over his plantar fasciitis. Jedd Gyorko was given the second base job after before Headley hurt himself, but Forsythe could also see some time at second base if Gyorko struggles when Headley returns. Forsythe hit .273/.343/.390 with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 91 games (350 plate appearances) for the Padres last season. His BABIP (.316) was somewhat below average considering his 28.7 percent line drive rate, and he has demonstrated an ability to make consistent contact in the majors (5.9 percent swinging strike %). I would also expect his 8 percent walk rate to increase because of his 16.3 percent walk rate in the minors, but he is limited to 8-10 home runs in a full season. As of now he is best suited for NL-only leagues and daily games.
Kyle Kendrick (SP-PHI)- Kendrick looked strong against the Yankees on Tuesday. He allowed one run (unearned) on two hits while striking out three in six innings of work. The right-hander has struggled during Spring Training, but his change-up was strong and displayed very good command of all of his pitches in his six innings of work. Despite his success toward the end of last season (due in large part to his change-up), Kendrick is nothing more than an NL-only starter at this point. His strikeout rate improved to a career best 6.77 K/9, but his HR/FB ratio and fly ball rate have been almost identical over the last three seasons. This should lead to more than 25 home runs in 180 innings, and his BABIP of .278 is also likely to see some regression. Kendrick has some value in making some spot starts against weaker hitting teams, but most projections (including our own) have him pitching to a 4.20-4.30 ERA.
Luis Valbuena (3B-CHC)- With Ian Stewart heading to the disabled list, Valbuena is the favorite to be the Opening Day starter for the Cubs. The 27 year-old struggled with Cubs in 303 plate appearances hitting four home runs and producing a .219/.310/.340 slash line. Valbuena is likely to sit against left-handed pitchers in favor of Brent Lillibridge even though Valbuena has hit better against lefties in his career. I don't expect Valbuena to make much of an impact in Stewart's absence. His batting average was hurt by a .260 BABIP, but his career rate of .269 indicates that number might no see much improvement. In addition, his 19.7 percent career strikeout rate also is something of note. He has shown decent power in the minors (.204 ISO in triple-A last season), but his below average HR/FB ratio has been very steady over the last few seasons in the majors.
Phil Hughes (SP-NYY)- Hughes, who is recovering from a bulging disc in his back, pitched in a simulated game on Monday and suffered no setbacks. Joe Girardi told the media that Hughes might pitch against in a minor league game on Saturday, and there is still a chance he can make it back in time for Opening Day. Whether or not he makes it back in time for the start of the season, Hughes would only miss one turn through the rotation. I believe our software is undervaluing Hughes in terms of his ERA. He will continue to give up his fair share of home runs due to his fly ball rate (47 percent). His BABIP should be in the same range once again in 2013 (.286 for career), and his HR/FB ratio should regress closer to his career rate (10 percent). His xFIP of 4.35 accurately represents the type of season Hughes should put together.
Pete Kozma (SS-STL)- A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Ronny Cedeno was a favorite at the shortstop position with Rafael Furcal's setback. Yesterday the Cardinals announced that Cedeno was released, and Kozma will be the starting shortstop on Opening Day. The 24 year-old impressed in limited duty last year hitting .333/.383/.569 with two home runs in 82 plate appearances with the Cardinals in September after performing poorly in triple-A where he hit .232/.292/.355 with 11 home runs. Kozma has the opportunity to reach double digit home runs in a full season, but his .223/.286/.324 career line at triple-A is bleak. A 30.7 percent line drive rate propelled his .415 BABIP, but that number should plummet in a large sample size. There is very little upside here in most categories, but he could net 7-10 stolen bases. In the end, Kozma is only an option in the deepest of leagues.
Mark Buehrle (SP-TOR)- Buehrle was hit hard in yesterday's start against the Astros. He allowed four runs on four hits, a home run and a walk while striking out four in four innings of work. I've been surprised to see Buehrle have an ADP of 21.03, and we are in the opnion that he is really only suited for AL and deep leagues. Buehrle pitched to a 3.74 ERA in part due to a lucky BABIP (.270) while allowing a 22.3 percent line drive rate. The left-hander saw an increase in his strikeout rate (5.56 K/9), as he relied more on his offspeed pitches than in any other season (career low 37.3 FB %). However, the fewer fastballs might have resulted in his career low 41.4 percent ground ball rate. Buehrle will rack up his regular 10-14 wins, but we are expecting him to finish with a 4.30 ERA this year.
Tim Federowicz (C-LAD)- After Jesus Flores was optioned to triple-A, Don Mattingly announced that Federowicz will be the primary back-up to the AJ Ellis this season. For owners playing in two catcher leagues, especially NL-only ones, Federowicz could provide some value as a second catcher. Mattingly has said a few times this spring that he would like to sit Ellis at least twice a week, which could lead to an opening for the 25 year-old rookie. Federowicz is known more for his defense, but he did produce a .294/.371/.461 line with 11 home runs in triple-A. Additionally, he has shown a good eye at the plate walking 11 percent of his plate appearances last year. The Dodgers intended for Ellis to split time with Federowicz last year. If Ellis gets off to a slow start and Federowicz holds his own early in the year, I would not be surprised to see Federowicz get more playing time as the s