We're roughly a month out from spring training.
Teams are holding their awards banquets and respective fanfests, with players on hand to meet fans and update the media as to their health, hopes and expectations heading into 2015. Thus, you've probably seen quite a few "Injured Player X says he's ready for spring training" notes on the site. It's a beautiful thing.
There were some important updates from Saturday (and late Friday) that I'll get to, all regarding first basemen, but I first want to touch on a few players I feel are being overdrafted at the moment. With all due respect to those drafting these players at these spots, it seems some may be overlooking some key factors for one reason or another.
Josh Harrison (NFBC ADP: 89.47) - He doesn't qualify at second base, at least in most formats (17 games in 2014). We all get that, right? Only third base and outfield. OK, good. This is the player whose ADP baffles me most at the moment, though I haven't actually seen him go that high in any of the mock drafts I've done and am sure his ADP will fall in the weeks ahead. Don't get me wrong, he had an incredible year, but his .353 BABIP was out of whack (career .313) and his HR/FB was above his career norm. He also failed to hit a home run in his final 107 at-bats, and his walk rate fell to just 3.2 percent in the second half of the season.
Todd Frazier (NFBC ADP: 35.56) - Sure, Frazier finished as top five option at both third base and first base in 5x5 rotisserie leagues last season. But that value was largely tied to his 20 stolen bases, a number he's no lock to even approach this season. He had just 10 stolen bases for his career coming into the season and his conversion rate on the basepaths fell after the All-Star break (6-of-9), as did his number of attempts. Manager Bryan Price is more aggressive than Dusty Baker was, but the Reds shouldn't have to rely on Frazier to help manufacture runs as much with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce expected to carry their weight on offense. Frazier is a valuable fantasy asset regardless, but not more valuable than Corey Dickerson (NFBC ADP: 50.44) or teammate Johnny Cueto (NFBC ADP: 42.14) in my opinion.
Russell Martin (NFBC ADP: 171.2) - I actually don't hate where Martin is going on average, but I have seen him go a lot higher in nearly all of the mocks I've done. The team context is certainly appealing, but Martin hit .224/.317/.405 in his previous two seasons in the American League, and has posted an OPS south of .700 against left-handed pitching in four of his last five seasons. Personally, I only feel really confident about his ability to bountifully produce in one category; runs.
Notes from Saturday:
Miguel Cabrera (NFBC ADP: 4.41), who's draft position has been the most volatile of any player being taken in the first round, just recently removed his protective walking boot. His Feb. 15 follow-up exam should shed light on his Opening Day availability, but GM Dave Dombrowski is optimistic, telling the media Saturday that if Cabrera isn't ready for the start of the season, "it's going to be very, very close." The 31-year-old Cabrera played through the injury down the stretch last season, and performed at an extremely high level, but he had two screws inserted into the ankle in October and his strikeout and walk rates were his worst marks since 2009.
"I could play a pick-up game right now," Prince Fielder (NFBC ADP: 68.09) said Friday night, easing concerns about the health of his neck heading into spring training. Fielder went on to say that his goal is not only to stay healthy this season, but also to play everyday, though he acknowledged that he doesn't know how realistic that is. A model of durability during his time in Detroit, Fielder appeared in at least 157 games in eight straight seasons from 2006-2013, and he's added to his workout routine this winter in hopes of approaching that number again in 2015. He's been a slightly more popular bounce-back candidate than Joey Votto (NFBC ADP: 76.56) so far in drafts.
While Fielder's comments were encouraging, those from Brandon Moss (NFBC ADP: 170.53) were more sobering. "...My goal is to be ready for Opening Day," Moss said. "That should be everyone's goal, and be there for 162 games. At the same time, what is best for the team and myself is to be 100 percent." He has begun a running progression, but Moss has yet to pick up a bat this winter and his ADP may soon start to reflect the growing uncertainty regarding his availability for the start of the year.
Mike Napoli (NFBC ADP: 259.28) provided some grisly details about his November surgery for sleep apnea, saying doctors had to break his jaw in two places during the procedure. He was forced to go on liquid diet for six weeks as a result. It sounds like the surgery was a success, though, as Napoli said he's dreaming for the first time in years and was able to add back the weight he lost while on the diet. Apparently, he felt so worn down from a lack of sleep at times last season that he actually contemplated retirement. These new details, combined with the fact that he also battled toe and back injuries last season, make the .248/.370/.419 batting line Napoli posted last season seem more impressive.
The fanfests have also yielded some pretty cool pictures and videos, many of which have been shared on social media.
Pedro's the best.