2018 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Risers and Fallers

by Tyler Gettmann
2018 fantasy baseball spring training

When I think of rising and falling, I can’t seem to get the image out of my head of a rollercoaster. The twists and turns that it makes as it barrels you up and down. This can be much like the career of a baseball player. Not every day are you going to go out and succeed on a consistent basis, but the up and downs of a rollercoaster parallel the consistency of your play.

There are times when you are on top of the world looking out on the whole park and times when you are down in the valley trying to work your way up. All baseball players need to know is that troubling times are what can really test your character. There is a reason why major leaguers made it this far and most of them made it because of how high their ceiling really can be.

As many people up north still feel like its winter, it is hard to believe that baseball is going to be back next week. In this week’s article, I am writing about a few players that have risen above their norm to stand out in your fantasy draft as well as some players that have taken a back seat this spring. Remember, all is subject to change once the season starts as well as when the season progresses.

2018 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Risers and Fallers

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Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago White Sox

Entering spring training, Davidson was expecting to have to battle for a position spot on the team. He brought with him both his third baseman and first baseman’s glove in order to be ready. Another thing he brought with him was his helmet. He was ready to bat this spring. As an American League lineup, the White Sox offered Davidson a consistent role as their DH in which fantasy owners are most concerned about.

Davidson was surely ready to bat this spring. He continues to lead all of the MLB in RBI this spring and doesn’t show signs of stopping, but he brought his bat for popping. Since there is no place to go, he is either going to start at third or be the White Sox designated hitter.

Either way, fantasy owners are getting him in their lineups. Although it can be a little skeptical with the number of strikeouts he is capable of getting, I see a nice later round flier that could be of high potential for teams this year.

Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics

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From one Matt to another, Matt Olson ended up playing 59 games in 2017 and what performance he displayed. He shattered the older record of 18 home runs in less than 200 plate appearances with that of his 24. He could end up being the steal of the draft this year and hit close to 50 home runs. His routine at the end of the season was only matched by what Rhys Hoskins was doing on the East Coast. In his short career, Olson has a better ISO than Babe Ruth. Yes, that Babe Ruth.

Just a couple of days ago, Olson was able to bring his spring line to .293/.340/.561 while hitting a pair of knocks. In only 47 plate appearances, Olson struck out 10 times this spring. His power is legit and the way he closed out 2017 makes him the real deal in my book.

Unfortunately, a lot of what Olson does at the plate goes off what type of power he provides. Are we going to get a season like 2001 Barry Bonds or a quick type version of Chris Davis in 2017? Who knows, but there is one thing I know, he will be on my radar going into the 2018 fantasy draft.

Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

I have always been a Blake Snell believer and never understood why he was thrown back and forth from Durham (Tampa’s Triple-A Affiliate) to Tampa on a consistent basis. I was down in the Durham area a couple years ago and wanted to check out a Triple-A game. Fortunately, I was able to see Blake Snell pitch that night and this is when I became a believer.

Snell has made his mark in the minors for quite some time now, now it’s time for him to make his mark in the majors. As I have discussed in the past, I enjoy breaking down a player on performances they have done in certain periods of time, not just a whole season. In 2017’s first half, Snell possessed a 4.85 ERA and a WHIP of 1.63. In the second half, he had an ERA of 3.49 and a 1.13 WHIP. Alarming differences, which have been carried over to the 2018 spring training.

Snell is only a 25-year-old and has so much to offer. Just this past Monday (3/20), Snell had a start against the Yankees. The Yankees obviously on paper have one of the top-5 lineups entering the 2018 season. Snell was able to hold his own. In 4.2 innings of work, he struck out nine batters, allowed an earned run, gave up three hits and three walks. Scenarios like these tell me Snell is ready to have a breakout 2018 in which he could possibly be a top-20 pitcher.

Ronald Acuna, OF, Atlanta Braves

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If you have already seen my article about the 2018 Fantasy Baseball Outfield Preview then you know my love for Acuna this year. His performance this spring is backing up my love even more. All of his skills have been on display this spring for the No. 1 prospect for the Atlanta Braves.

Whether it’s been at the plate or running down a ball in the outfield, Acuna is showing the world that he belongs in the big leagues. This spring he is hitting .410/.511/.744 with four homers and 16 hits. Many dispute the fact that spring numbers don’t count, but I think it is a sign to come for this young Phenom. I feel like he is a good stash player especially this early in the season because I do not see him being in the minors for very long.

Other(s): Jason Kipnis, Noah Syndergaard, J.D. Davis


Shohei Ohtani, SP, Los Angeles Angels

Yes, I went there. I have to share this too. The other day, I saw someone post this on social media: Shohei Ohtani - is that Japanese for “batting practice”.  I had to laugh after I saw it, but to this point, it does make some sense. At this point, he has done nothing since he came to the states. Although it will take time to adjust, I am sure he hasn’t been the hype that everyone has been talking about.

First, let’s talk about his batting. Eric Hinske, the Angels hitter coach, has remarked that he has seen some amazing swings early days as a major league hitter. Ohtani has been hyped up as the next best two way player since Babe Ruth. I know, the same article with the second reference of Babe Ruth. Trust me it won’t happen again. Since those early swings, though, it has been downhill for Ohtani at the plate. As of March 17th, Ohtani was 2 for 20 with seven Ks and zero XBH. Not good at all.

Second, let’s see what he has done on the mound. With very minimal work on the mound (2.2 innings pitched), he has given up nine hits, walked two, struck out five and given up eight runs. This all adds up to an ERA of 27.00. These stats do not include an unofficial game in which he pitched against “B” type players or minor league players if you will. There he faired a little better by striking out eight of the twelve batters he faced.

Honestly, with this being said, it is hard to draft him so high in re-draft leagues.

Mark Melancon, RP, San Francisco Giants

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Unfortunately, I think the days of 50+ saves for Melancon are long gone. He did this last in 2015 when he pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2017, he had to have season-ending surgery because of his forearm. He only ended up with 11 saves and a disappointing 4.50 ERA to go along with a WHIP of 1.43. He still managed to blow five saves too.  The reason the Giants originally signed Melancon was that of their horrific adventures in the later innings their relievers were having. They might rethink that decision if they knew what was ahead of them in 2018.

Melancon is adamant that he will be the Giants closer once the season starts. Coming off of offseason surgery, on March 7th had a 1-2-3 inning. The Giants are obviously being cautious with Melancon entering this season. On March 12th, he came in and pitched one inning giving up a home run, but recorded his first strikeout. He was once one of the best closers in the game, but this is in jeopardy now.

Jeff Samardzija, SP, San Francisco Giants

Samardzija has been falling for me for a long time now. How can he fall for me if he doesn’t even know me? Well, you get it. He has been a guy that I tried to put faith in these past few seasons and it has come back to bite me in the butt. Never again and this spring has really been the icing on the cake for me.

Usually, veterans are not too concerned about how they pitch in the spring because they don’t have anything to audition for. Well, Samardzija is making the Giants concerned about how he is potentially going to pitch in 2018. He has already given up three home runs in the same innings twice. TWICE!

He had a start this past Wednesday in which he pitched against the minor league affiliate of the Cubs. Samardzija was cruising through the first three innings and then his ultimate plague happened again. The first batter a double, second batter blasted a home run and the third hit another home run. After the game, Samardzija tried to explain himself by saying, “Young guys like this are usually coming out here hacking and trying to prove themselves. We went out and just mixed everything in.”

Personally, I am tired of the excuses from him.

Ian Desmond, 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies

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Entering March 15th, Desmond was hitting a dismal 3-for-31 with 16 strikeouts. According to him, though, he is not worried about it. “I’m not concerned because I don’t think you could tell me what my spring training stats were from last year,” Desmond said. “I don’t think spring training stats really matter, which is my point.” Many of these veterans could care less about stats in the spring, but I am still skeptical.

Desmond signed a big deal this winter, so he is going to be under the spotlight whether he is doing well or not. Most likely, the Rockies are going to have to move Desmond around the diamond in order to use his versatility for their team this year. The Rockies do have some good young players like Ryan McMahon (1st baseman) and David Dahl (outfielder) that could be playing into Desmond’s playing time if can’t hold his own.

Other(s): Steven Matz, Miles Mikolas, Rougned Odor

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1 comment

2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Prospect Report: Gettin’ Ready - Fantasy Six Pack March 28, 2018 - 7:00 am

[…] Ohtani had some highs and lows this spring and despite some send-him-to-the-minors noise he is set to open the season in the bigs. Read more about Ohtani and other spring training risers and fallers from our very own Tyler Gettmann here. […]


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