Brandon Funston

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Brandon Funston is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert who has spent more than a decade in the industry. After spending eight years as a fantasy personality on ESPN's online, TV, radio and magazine outlets, he's happy to be back on the West Coast where he can watch his hometown Seattle teams at a reasonable hour of the day.

  • Call to action: Springer promotion causes stir

    George Springer has a reason to smile after his promotion to Houston. (Getty)

    It's arguable that among the players that opened the '14 regular season in the minors, no player's eventual promotion to the majors was more eagerly anticipated in fantasy baseball circles than that of Astros top prospect George Springer. In the numbers-dependent virtual game, Springer's combined 37 home runs and 45 steals in 135 games last season across two minor league levels (Double- and Triple-A) was impossible to ignore.

    When Springer was promoted this week, the buzz was clear and present. On Wednesday, Springer's MLB debut for the Astros, the Houston man-child was picked up in nearly 50,000 Yahoo leagues. That was 40K more leagues than any other player on that day. Springer picked up a hit in his debut, but went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. And the swing-and-miss issues are the rub when it comes to Springer's profile. He's been a high-K type throughout his minor league career, though he's managed to walk a healthy amount as well.

    Now that he's facing the best arms that the world

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  • MLB Over/Under: How high will Astros pup George Springer fly?

    The Springer Show (USAT)

    Each week, Yahoo fantasy experts Brandon Funston, Andy Behrens, Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and Brad Evans forecast the future of some of the most interesting fantasy story lines across the majors.

    Houston's recently promoted top prospect George Springer, combined rest of season homers/steals 36.5

    Brandon – UNDER. Hard to know if he's going to spend the rest of the season in Houston — he could suffer a big slump because of his contact issues and perhaps see another stint in Triple-A. I'm bullish on Springer for the long run, but I'd predict something like 14/19 for him in '14.

    Scott – UNDER, because I tend to be conservative with rookies and the next shiny toy. Mind you, I grabbed Springer where I could, too. But sometimes the best time to flip a rookie is right before he has an extended trial; some fantasy owners will get carried away.

    Andy – I'll take the OVER, but not by much. It's easy enough to imagine Springer giving us a 20/18-type season, with a .250 average. Basically,

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  • Rank Redux: How do you like Tanaka now?

    How bright does Tanaka's future look now? (Getty)

    In our preseason starting pitcher rankings, we — the Yahoo fantasy baseball experts aggregate — ranked Yankees Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka as the No. 29 starter overall. Of course, that was before he mowed down 28 batters and posted two wins and a 2.05 ERA in the first three starts of his MLB career.

    Since our initial rankings were based mostly on the merits of his impressive seven-year run in the Japanese League, we figured it was prudent to re-assess where we see Tanaka fitting in among the fantasy baseball starting pitcher crowd now that he's actually faced MLB hitters. Here's the experts' take on Tanaka:

    Brandon Funston (Tanaka preseason SP rank No. 25) — There have been several Japanese starting pitchers over the past couple decades that have enjoyed at least a successful season or two in the majors (Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Kuroda, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish and Hasashi Iwakuma chief among them). But none can claim a more impressive three-start split to open a major league

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  • Sleepers and Busts: The Starting Pitchers

    Atlanta's Alex Wood is bringing the funk to the Braves rotation. (Getty)

    For the past month, the Yahoo fantasy crew has offered up its player rankings for the upcoming 2014 fantasy baseball campaign. Now, with the season only a couple weeks away, we felt it was time to take a deeper dive into the rationale behind those rankings, specifically where each expert has most drastically veered from the group-think (Yahoo ADP) path. Below, each expert explains his dissenting opinion on a couple players he likes more than the Yahoo ADP and a couple players he likes less than the ADP. For this exercise, we'll call them our sleepers and busts at the middle infield positions. In case you missed them, here's our sleepers and busts in the outfield, down on the corner and up the middle.

    THE SLEEPERS

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Alex Wood, Atl - With his funky delivery and change-up heavy approach, Wood produced nearly a K per IP last season and produced a near 50 percent ground-ball rate. The only concern was whether he was going to see more time in the rotation or in the bullpen. But Tommy John victims Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy (not to mention Mike Minor starting the year on the DL) means the Braves will be leaning on Wood as a starter out of the gates — that he's been lights out this spring certainly didn't hurt his cause. Wood is going as the No. 56 starter, on average, in Yahoo drafts, but I have him pushing top 30 territory. (Brandon Funston)

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  • Sleepers and Busts: The Middle Infielders

    Xander Bogaerts, Boston legend in the making? (Getty)

    For the past month, the Yahoo fantasy crew has offered up its player rankings for the upcoming 2014 fantasy baseball campaign. Now, with the season only a couple weeks away, we felt it was time to take a deeper dive into the rationale behind those rankings, specifically where each expert has most drastically veered from the group-think (Yahoo ADP) path. Below, each expert explains his dissenting opinion on a couple players he likes more than the Yahoo ADP and a couple players he likes less than the ADP. For this exercise, we'll call them our sleepers and busts at the middle infield positions. In case you missed them, here's our sleepers and busts in the outfield and at the corner infield.

    THE SLEEPERS

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Xander Bogaerts, Bos - I'm all in on Bogaerts. The 21-year-old has a nice minor league resume, but it's the eye test that has sold me. He definitely doesn't look like a kid. With a quick, patient bat and an ability to drive the ball to all fields, Bogaerts stepped up on the postseason stage last season and showed that he was up for the challenge, hitting .296 in 12 playoff games against the likes of aces Adam Wainwright, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and company. Those that are hesitant to buy in on Bogaerts this season will point to the fact that he's hitting down in the Boston lineup. But I doubt that lasts. After all, how long are we really expecting top of the order hitters Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino or Dustin Pedroia to avoid the DL? I'm looking for Bogaerts to post a line similar to Manny Machado's from last season as he relentlessly peppers the Green Monster all season long. (Brandon Funston)

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  • Sleepers and Busts: The Corner Infielders

    Josh Donaldson - the man, the myth, the mullet. (Getty)

    For the past month, the Yahoo fantasy crew has offered up its player rankings for the upcoming 2014 fantasy baseball campaign. Now, with the season only a couple weeks away, we felt it was time to take a deeper dive into the rationale behind those rankings, specifically where each expert has most drastically veered from the group-think (Yahoo ADP) path. Below, each expert explains his dissenting opinion on a couple players he likes more than the Yahoo ADP and a couple players he likes less than the ADP. For this exercise, we'll call them our sleepers and busts at the corner infield positions. In case you missed them, you can find our outfield sleepers and busts here.

    THE SLEEPERS

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Brandon Belt, SF - Belt got off to a sluggish start in '13 but, if you throw out his first 18 games, he finished as a top 75 fantasy commodity the rest of the way. Here's a guy with an impressive pedigree coming off a season in which he showed prolonged success. And he is just entering his prime as he'll turn 26 in April. He's also expected to hit third in the lineup, in front of Buster Posey. Last season Belt hit .320 in 181 ABs as the No. 3 hitter. His current ADP is right around 143 overall, but I like him at least two rounds earlier than that. (Brandon Funston)

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  • Sleepers and Busts: The Outfielders

    There's no shortage of fantasy intrigue in the Chicago White Sox outfield (Getty)

    For the past month, the Yahoo fantasy crew has offered up its player rankings for the upcoming 2014 fantasy baseball campaign. Now, with the season only a couple weeks away, we felt it was time to take a deeper dive into the rationale behind those rankings, specifically where each expert has most drastically veered from the group-think (Yahoo ADP) path. Below, each expert explains his dissenting opinion on a couple players he likes more than the Yahoo ADP and a couple players he likes less than the ADP. For this exercise, we'll call them our sleepers and busts at the outfield position. Next week, we'll discuss the infield outliers. Until then, let us know in the comments section which players have you furthest out on a limb.

    THE SLEEPERS

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Adam Eaton, CHW - With his speed and ability to get on base (.450 career minor-league OBP), there weren't too many buzzier players heading into the '13 season than Eaton. But a sprained elbow in the spring rained on his parade. Now, relocated to Chicago's South Side, there's much less fanfare for Eaton heading into '14 - his Yahoo ADP is way down at No. 224 overall. But everything we liked about Eaton still remains. The expected leadoff hitter for the ChiSox is tearing up the Cactus League, and it's not far-fetched to think he can score 80-90 runs, hit 10 home runs, steal 20-30 bases, all with a batting average north of .280. If he comes close to those numbers, he'll be an absolute draft-day steal. (Brandon Funston)

    Read More »from Sleepers and Busts: The Outfielders
  • Pressing Questions: The Los Angeles Dodgers

    Who's excited about the M's '14 season? Anyone? ... Anyone? (Getty)

    We continue our series of MLB fantasy previews, wherein we consider 4-5 key questions surrounding each team. Baseball is coming, gamers. Pitchers and catchers report soon. Fantasy owners report immediately...

    The Los Angeles Dodgers head into '14 on the upswing. After winning the NL West in '13 – the third time in the past six years that it has accomplished that feat (losing in the NLCS each of those seasons) – LA sits as a frontrunner to claim World Series hardware this upcoming season. In fact, the general consensus in Las Vegas has the Dodgers as the favorite to win it all. The Yahoo sports baseball crew likes the St. Louis Cardinals as the top team for '14, but lists the Dodgers at No. 2 overall in its preseason countdown of MLB top teams.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Of course, for our purposes here, we don't care about wins and loses. We only care about individual statistics, and in that department, there should be no shortage of fantasy production to mine from this SoCal roster. Based on average live draft data from Yahoo, so far, four Dodgers players can be expected to come off the board among the top 50 selections, including three in the top 30. And that doesn't include closer Kenley Jansen, who had the fourth-highest K/9 rate (min. 50 IP) in MLB last season (13.03). With a full season opportunity ahead as the Dodgers' stopper, you could make the argument that he deserves to be the No. 1 closer selected (though Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel probably makes a slightly better case). And also not in that top 50 mix is outfielder Matt Kemp, who has proven his No. 1 overall upside in the virtual setting when he's been able to stay healthy. Of course, his health is a huge question mark these days. No doubt, it's the most Pressing Question for this team as it gears up for a World Series run in '14. Let's start with a deeper dive into Kemp's situation.

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  • Pressing Questions: The Seattle Mariners

    Who's excited about the M's '14 season? Anyone? ... Anyone? (USAT)

    We continue our series of MLB fantasy previews, wherein we consider 4-5 key questions surrounding each team. Baseball is coming, gamers. Pitchers and catchers report soon. Fantasy owners report immediately...

    That big (and, undeniably, hilarious) photo above sort of sums up the general feeling about the Mariners these days, at least among Seattle sports fans. The NFL's Seahawks just brought the city of Seattle its first major sports championship since '79. The Seattle Sounders, with a wanna-be EPL fan base, has averaged 44k fans each of the past two seasons, twice as much as any other team in Major League Soccer. Throw in a devoted group of Bring Back the Sonics enthusiasts, and you could say that the Mariners, with four consecutive seasons with 75 wins or less, have become a threadbare afterthought amongst the Seattle sports fabric.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Certainly the Mariners have helped exacerbate their situation, thanks to some questionable PR tactics. A couple years ago, the team made the very unpopular move of positioning itself as a political roadblock for Chris Hansen, who is trying to build a NBA/NHL stadium in the M's backyard. And, then there was the Seattle Times report by Geoff Baker that came out in December, with former manager Eric Wedge and many other ex-employees helping detail the dysfunctional work environment in the M's front office under GM Jack Zduriencik.

    If ever a team was in need of some positive vibes, it was the Mariners heading into this past offseason. Enter Robinson Cano, for 240 million dollars over the next 10 years. And that's the obvious place to start our '14 Pressing Questions for Seattle:

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  • Pressing Questions: The Colorado Rockies

    It's all about health when it comes to the Rockies' stars (USAT)

    The Rockies finished last in the National League West last season, but their run differential (-54) was better than both the Padres (-82) and Giants (-62). Moreover, Colorado actually had a winning record when both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez were healthy (h/t Gene McCaffrey). Of course, the former is hurt almost every year, and this is just the nicest way of painting Colorado’s otherwise poor season, as they finished 18.0 games behind the N.L. West winner and allowed the most runs in the Senior Circuit (albeit thanks a lot to Coors Field, which remains baseball’s best hitter’s park by a wide margin. In fact, it has increased run scoring by 36 percent over the past three seasons. The next highest has been the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at a distant 15 percent).

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    The Rockies enter 2014 with mostly the same team as last year, losing Dexter Fowler and Todd Helton while adding Justin Morneau and Brett Anderson.

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