With the start of the MLB season brings the beginning of another important season: The fantasy baseball season! As many fantasy players are now beginning to scour various websites for rankings and 2014 projections, some players are not as focused. These players have tendencies to pick up players from their favorite team, ignore injury histories or poor recent performances, or simply let auto-draft do the thinking for them. With that said, I am going to give you readers some quick tips regarding a few Orioles players for the 2014 fantasy baseball season in the event that you are the type that likes to make informed decisions on your draft picks.
Chris Davis: My personal steal of the 2013 season, Davis’ stock is far too high to make him worth a draft pick. 53 homers, 42 doubles, and 138 RBIs helped Davis to the top of the latter for fantasy first basemen last season, but it also opened many eyes to his abilities. The concern for me is that he will not be able to replicate those numbers in 2014. It was nice to wait for later rounds to get Davis and have him outperform almost all first-rounders, but this season will likely have him ranked high enough to see him plucked very early. Prior to the All-Star game, Davis had 37 HRs, 27 2Bs, and 93 RBIs in 95 games. Those gaudy numbers didn’t repeat themselves after the All-Star break, unfortunately. In the next 65 games, Davis hit 16 HRs, 15 2Bs, with 45 RBIs, all while batting a disappointing .245. The power numbers, though declined, were still decent, but not enough to make him worth an early pick. If you see Davis on the board prior to about the 15th pick, I suggest you pass on him, as there are plenty of other first basemen with offensive abilities to be taken throughout the draft.
Manny Machado: The “other” breakout player for the Orioles in 2013 didn’t put up huge numbers, but certainly opened many eyes to what he is capable of doing. Machado might be one of the Orioles’ fantasy steals in ‘14, as he is a year wiser than the young star we saw start the season last year. Finishing the season with 14 HRs, 51 2Bs, 71 RBIs and batting .283 is enough to show that the 21-year-old belongs in the majors, and in your fantasy lineup in 2014. The only drawback is that he has yet to be cleared to play in live games following his knee surgery. Fortunately, all recent news regarding his health has been good news, and it has even been suggested that he may play in live games as early as mid-March, which would allow him to start on opening day. If he bounces back, we could see some of those 51 2Bs travel the extra five or 10 feet and turn into home runs, making him one of the better offensive third basemen in the league. Buy low on Machado with the potential for a true breakout in 2014.
Tommy Hunter: This is my real sleeper pick this season. I know, he hasn’t been officially named the closer for the Orioles in 2014, but I don’t see the competition ending any other way. In 86.1 IP, Hunter had a 2.81 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and struck out 68 batters. His nearly 100 mph fastball and ability to throw strikes make him seem as though he could be the prototypical closer the Orioles need. The alarming split that could ultimately be his undoing are his numbers against LHBs. In 2013, Hunter surrendered 11 HRs. Funny story, all 11 HRs were given up to lefties. If Hunter is going to be a reliable closer, he will have to find a way to neutralize LHBs, and the best way would probably be to avoid going right after them, and staying away from any pitch that they can extend their arms on, even at the risk of walking them. It might sound like a stupid strategy, but given Hunter’s tendency to pump the ball through the strikeone, and LHBs’ ability to launch the ball 400 feet off him, it may be the difference between a save and a blown save. I am confident that Hunter will figure it out, but his success will rely on limiting the opportunities that LHBs have to go deep. I am also confident that many fantasy players will opt to draft more well known closers and leave Hunter for only those who know what he has done the last two seasons out of the ‘pen.
As for other players like Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Chris Tillman, expect more of the same production out of them. Like stocks, buying when a player is valued low is the way to go. Machado and Hunter will be the productive players that you can wait for the later rounds to get. Unfortunately, Davis’ 2013 season has pushed his stock price to a number higher than what he is really worth at his position, so it would be wise to go another direction for first base and wait for later rounds. Hopefully some of these tips pay off for your fantasy teams (and mine) in the upcoming season.