Much discussed speedster Billy Hamilton, projected to bat leadoff for the Reds, stolen bases 79.5
Brad – OVER. Opinions on where Hamilton should be drafted vary greatly, but, if he can secure 475-plus at-bats and the lead-off gig, he could sail over 100 steals. And that's not the silly sauce talking. He's a once-a-generation base-stealer, akin to a Vince Coleman or Ricky Henderson. In Round 5 or Round 6 of a 12-team mixed draft, he's more than worth the risk.
Scott – UNDER, mostly because it's such a huge number. I'm not putting those expectations on any rookie, especially someone who's capable of hitting his way out of a job. During mock and magazine season, the price was reasonable on Hamilton. But now that the helium has taken over, I'm out of the mix.
Andy – OVER. If he plays, he steals. Hamilton's minor league speed totals were insane: 100-plus steals in back-to-back years, with a record 155(!) in 2012. All he needs to do is tread water as a major league hitter, and he'll stick in Cincinnati. (Hopefully.) Hamilton probably has the widest range of potential outcomes of any player; he could find himself in Louisville, or he could swipe 110 bags for the Reds.
Scott – CHOO, and I'm glad you asked. This is one of my favorite debates. Check out the one-man Spin Doctors entry, right over here.
Andy – RIOS. But I've been waffling on this. Ask me again tomorrow, I might say Choo. Both guys can top 40 combined homers and steals. This one probably comes down to missed games, it's so close.
Brandon – RIOS. I'll take the history card on this one. Rios has reached 48-plus combined home runs/steals in three of the past four seasons, including 60 last year. Choo, on the other hand, has not once in his career gone above 44.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
Bryce Harper, who many are predicting will take a big power leap this season, 29.5 long-balls for the Nat.
Andy – UNDER. First of all, 30 homers is no layup. This isn't 1999, kids. And secondly, Harper hasn't done it yet. Durability is a concern, given his run-through-walls approach.
Brandon – OVER. He was close to a 162-game pace of 30 home runs last season, and was actually well above that pace early on (13 HRs in first 58 games) before a knee injury slowed his roll. With two years of seasoning under his belt, I think we'll see him really grow towards the power hitter he was billed to be as a much-ballyhooed prospect.
Dalton – OVER. He hit 20 homers while playing in fewer than 120 games as a 20-year-old last season. Harper was playing hurt throughout the second half of the year and sports a 17.0% career HR/FB ratio. It would be quite the disappointment if he doesn’t top 30 bombs in 2014.
Brandon – PUIG. Frankly, this one seems like a complete toss up - I expect both to push for something close to 30 home runs. I'll take Puig simply because Cespedes hasn't been able to avoid the DL in his first two seasons.
Dalton – CESPEDES. I would take Puig over Cespedes in a fantasy draft, but talking purely home runs, I’d give the latter the edge. Puig posted a 1.63 GB/FB ratio last season, whereas Cespedes owns a 0.91 GB/FB rate over his two years in the league. It’s tough not betting on the hitter whose batted ball profile suggests he’s likely to hit 10%+ more fly balls in 2014.
Scott –The slugging percentage pushes me to PUIG. And although the NL environment can be a drain in some divisions, remember Puig also gets to regularly visit Colorado and Arizona. Cespedes is held back by the Oakland park situation; Texas provides a nice respite, but Seattle and Anaheim offer no favors.
Josh Hamilton, falling like a rock in many early mixed-league drafts, final batting average in 2014 .265.
Dalton – OVER. It’s obvious he’s in decline, and his SwStr% (16.2) last year was the second highest in all of baseball. But last season was the first time Hamilton ever finished with a BA below .265, and his career mark remains .295. I’m betting on a bounce back.
Scott – It's a good thing Hamilton plays in the rockpile of Anaheim. What a silly park that is. I love the OVER here, and consider Hamilton a super lottery ticket for the middle rounds, once your foundation is put in place.
Andy – OVER. We're only asking him to hit within 30 points of his career average here. He can have a disappointing season and still beat this number. Hamilton hit .287 after the break last year, which gives me modest hope.
Pick your poison: Jay Bruce, Giancarlo Stanton or Justin Upton?
Scott – I never seem to own BRUCE, but I'll take him here for the projectable floor. You know you're getting something like 85-30-100, and a spike could always come calling in the Age-27 season. Stanton's injury history and horrendous supporting cast pushes me away.
Andy – STANTON, by the thinnest of margins. I've got him just one spot ahead of Upton and three above Bruce among the outfielders. That's hardly a meaningful difference. I can understand anyone's lineup concerns with Stanton, but his power ceiling is ridiculous.
Brandon – STANTON. This is all about paying the premium price for power, and few can match Stanton's - he's placed third, seventh and second, respectively, in average home run distance in the past three seasons. If he can avoid the DL, 40 home runs is a reasonable expectation.
Andy – Another case where I really hate to pick just one. Gimme TAVERAS, because I give him at least a chance to be a big-leaguer on opening day. He can hit major league pitching right now.
Brandon – TAVERAS. I expect both will likely spend the first couple months of the season at Triple-A. Assuming they both arrive in the majors at similar times, I'll take Taveras. He can't quite match Springer's power/speed upside, but Springer's high K rate could make it difficult for him to hit the ground running. I look at Taveras as the bet, and you appreciate safety when you are dealing with rookies.
Dalton – SPRINGER. Taveras seemingly has a much higher BA floor, but Springer seemingly has the higher HR/SB combo potential. For different reasons, it’s unclear when either gets the call in 2014, and this answer might just come down to whoever gets the bigger opportunity. But I’d take Springer first.
Kole Calhoun, who indications suggest will lead off for the Angels this year, 84.5 runs.
Brandon – OVER. You have to like a guy with a .400-plus career minor league OBP mark hitting ahead of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, especially after Calhoun showed so well in his 58-game Angels tour last season.
Andy – OVER. Dude will presumably be hitting ahead of Trout and Pujols, so you have to give him a decent shot at 90 runs in a healthy season. His career minor league OBP is .402, so reaching base shouldn't be a huge worry.
Scott – OVER. I hate it when we all agree. But Calhoun looks like a poor man's Carpenter, a solid on-base machine at the front of a solid lineup.
Late-round lottery ticket. What scratch off cashes: Khris Davis (Mil), Adam Eaton (ChW), Christian Yelich (Mia).
Dalton – DAVIS. I currently have these three within four spots in my outfield rankings, so it’s not like I exactly feel strongly here. Yelich probably has the most long-term upside, and all three should be given an opportunity for a full-time job this season, but for 2014 alone, I’ll lean toward Davis. It was a tiny sample, but he did post a .317 ISO last year.
Brad – EATON. Injury limited him greatly with Arizona last year, but if he sits atop the lineup most of the year for the ChiSox, he should provide significant category juice in steals, runs and possibly batting average. His on-base skills are very, very attractive.
Scott – I don't know what the Snakes did to EATON'S confidence, but he's getting a chance-of-scenery at the right time. He has a legitimate chance at 40 steals, and the price is a giveaway (Yahoo ADP: 225).