2018 Fantasy Baseball Spring Position Battles Part II: Heading For Home

by Dennis Sosic
2018 Fantasy Baseball Spring Position Battles

Hello Fantasy Baseball Fans!  We are rounding third and heading for home with Opening Day coming this week.

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the Spring Training Position Battles, which will highlight the most significant battles that will affect Fantasy owners and their drafts.

Spring training is used as a time for prospects to prove themselves, and players to get into shape. More importantly, Fantasy owners view Spring Training as another avenue to find players that are breaking out, pitchers developing a new pitch, and gaining more playing time.

Which players have won the key position battles this Spring? Which player(s) should you stay away from in your drafts? The answers to those questions and more can be found here in the 2018 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Position Battles Part II.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Spring Position Battles

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Yankees Second Base/Third Base

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Competitors: Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Brandon Drury, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Neil Walker

A lot has changed since our last visit to the Yankees infield.

The Yankees felt that the rookies Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres were not ready, so they went out to secure some veterans to handle the job until they proved they were ready. We already know about the acquisition of Brandon Drury. He is a true utility infielder, who can play second and third base. Drury is now projected to be the Yankees Opening Day third baseman.

To hold down the second base job, the Yankees signed former Brewers' second basemen Neil Walker to a one-year deal worth $4 million. Walker seems like a perfect fit for the Yankees. First of all, he can also play multiple positions across the infield and brings some pop in the lineup. He hit .265 with 14 homers and 49 RBI last season between the Mets and the Brewers.

Andujar and Torres were both optioned back to the minors to continue to gain more experience. The additions of Drury and Walker brings veteran leadership and playoff experience to a team vying for a World Series title. While both prospects are not really Fantasy relevant currently, please don't hesitate to add either Drury or Walker to fill in your MI/CI slots on your roster. They will definitely be available late in your draft and/or come cheap and will provide double-digit power and RBI in this powerful Yankees lineup.

My Original Projected Yankees' Opening Day Starter-2B: Brandon Drury.
My Original Projected Opening Day Starter-3B: Miguel Andujar.

Current Opening Day Projected Starter-2B: Neil Walker. A starter as an MI/CI in all Fantasy formats.
Current Opening Day Projected Starter-3B: Brandon Drury. A starter as an MI/CI in all Fantasy formats.

Astros Left Field

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Competitors: Derek Fisher, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Marisnick, Kyle Tucker

Derek Fisher has an intriguing power-speed ability. Although he struck out 18 times in 48 Grapefruit League at-bats, he slugged .479 with a .886 OPS. Fisher has been working on fixing his swing and so far it has paid off. He has seven hits in his last nine at-bats. Fisher will get the first look in left field but he will have a short leash.

Jake Marisnick has failed to impress this Spring. He has hit just .213 with zero homers and 8 strikeouts in 47 at-bats. He is destined to come off the bench as a defensive replacement. Kyle Tucker exits big league camp with a 1.223 OPS in 42 plate appearances and a major league-high 17 RBI. He slugged .735, hit .410 and clubbed a team-leading four home runs. He produced with power in the minors but he also struck out a ton. Improving his plate discipline is his ticket to the bigs.

My Original Projected Astros' Opening Day Starter: Jake Marisnick

Current Opening Day Projected Astros' Left Fielder:  Derek Fisher. Fisher will start the season in left field, but his hold on the position is marginal at best. He can only hit righties, and if he fails to do that, he will be replaced immediately. The most logical short-term replacement is Marwin Gonzalez but he is better suited for the super utility role. The next most suited to take over is rookie Kyle Tucker. Look for Tucker to be the Astros' left fielder before the All-Star Break.

Diamondbacks Closer

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Competitors: Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano

With less than a week to baseball's national holiday, there is no certainty on who the Diamondbacks' main closer will be in 2018.

The three-headed monster of Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger, and Yoshihisa Hirano should provide Arizona with a formidable bullpen, even if they combine to create the dreaded "Closer By Committee".

Bradley was outstanding out of the bullpen last season, posting a 1.73 ERA, and is Arizona's best relief pitcher. It looks like that he will be used as their Andrew Miller. He will be used in high-leverage situations and possible multiple innings as he excelled in last season. Brad Boxberger has been dominant this spring and has experience as the stopper. Hirano looks like to be set in some type of set-up role and should not be on Fantasy radars.

Most importantly, Bradley is definitely still worth rostering in all Fantasy formats. As a result, Boxberger is now the logical choice to start the season as the closer, whether he keeps the role is the million dollar question for Fantasy owners. Those looking for saves late in their drafts could easily take a shot at Boxberger. If he doesn't stick, you didn't lose anything and move on to the next closer on the closer carousel.

My Original Projected Diamondbacks' Opening Day Closer:  Brad Boxberger

Current Opening Day Projected Diamondbacks' Closer:  Brad Boxberger. This is a closer situation that needs to be monitored. It seems like Boxberger will start the season as Arizona's closer.

Cardinals Closer

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Competitors: Luke Gregerson, Bud Norris, Tyler Lyons, Alex Reyes, Dom Leone

Luke Gregerson came into Spring Training as the closer. Unfortunately, he will begin the season on the disabled list due to a hamstring strain. As a result, this type of injury is generally 10 days to three weeks.

The Cardinals intend to select their closer on a game-by-game basis based on matchups. Righty Dominic Leone along with lefty Tyler Lyons figure to form the committee. Dom Leone has pitched five innings and converted all three of his save opportunities this spring, striking out six batters and allowing just one run. Lyons is one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball and struck out 68 batters in 54 innings last season.

My Original Projection of Cardinals' Opening Day Closer: Luke Gregerson ( I guess???)

Current Opening Day Projected Cardinals' Closer:  Dreaded Closer by Committee. With Gregerson out for at least 10 days, consequently, Leone and Lyons will split duties based on matchups. No Fantasy owner likes to deal with this type of uncertainty and risk. If you have to select one, take a dart throw on Lyons very late in your draft due to his track record.

White Sox Closer

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Competitors: Juan Minaya, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria

Nate Jones and Joakim Soria are now fighting for the White Sox closer role.

Nate Jones possesses a strikeout arsenal and certainly has the higher upside. He hasn't allowed a run in five spring innings, with six strikeouts in his five outings. Furthermore, Jones averaged 97.8 on the radar gun with his fastball last season. His velocity, along with his 88 mph slider, helped Jones generate an 11.3 percent whiff rate and a 30.6 percent strikeout rate.

Soria has extensive closing experience but his better days are behind him. The White Sox are showcasing Soria in hoping that they can flip him in a trade and continue their rebuilding.

My Original Projected White Sox Opening Day Closer:  Nate Jones

Current Opening Day Projected White Sox Closer:  Joakim Soria/Nate Jones. Since the White Sox are not expected to be very good this season, the splitting up of the closer role does nothing to help Fantasy owners.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews
CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelief PItcher

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