Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball Bounce Back Candidates for 2014

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As fantasy owner we are always looking for value on Draft Day. Whether it is a sleeper or a veteran who is on the comeback trail, one of the best riches as a fantasy owner is when others in your league pass on guys because of the year they had last season. Many players entering 2014 have a lot to prove; whether it is dealing with an injury, a fluke year or age is starting to settle in. Here are some players that I see having a better year than last.

PujolsAlbert Pujols (LAA – 1B) – Remember when you debated on whether to draft Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols? Those days seem so long ago. I do have to give it to the Cardinals to know when to get rid of this guy. They look like geniuses right now because his production has seen a definite decrease since he joined the Angels in 2012.  From 2001 to 2011, Pujols consistently hit over 30 HRs, scored close to or more than 100 runs and was close to or drove more than 100 runs in for every season. He is currently coming off the worst season of his career in 2013 (only 17HRs, 49 Rs, 64 RBIs and an .258 Avg.), but fantasy owners should forgive him. He was playing on basically one foot for the whole year.  I do not buy into this sharp decline of last year. This is majorly an injury-affected decline. Given his age, I definitely do not see him putting up the insane MVP numbers like he did with the Cardinals, but 30 HRs and 100 RBIs is definitely not out of the question; which he was close to in 2012 (30 HRs, 105 RBIs). Angels Manager Mike Scioscia says, “He’s moving as well as he has in four or five years.” To add to this point Pujols requested that he will probably DH a few times and even take a day off or two when he needs it. Another good sign for Pujols this spring is that he is running at 100%; which is more like catcher speed, but still a good note.

Matt Cain (SF – SP) – This is a guy who I am very high on this year. Cain posted one of his worst performances last year with a line of 8-10, an ERA of 4.00 and only 158 Ks. The big problem with Cain was giving up the long ball. His HR/9 rate was 1.12; which is .21 higher than his previous career high. The Giants look to head the rotation with Cain this year, but this trend of home runs needs to stop. One of the big reasons I believe he will have a bounce back year is because of his splits from last season. In the first half of the season, he had an ERA of 5.06, an OBP of .294, a BB/9 rate of 2.97 and gave up 16 HRs. In the second half of the season, he had an ERA of 2.36, an OBP of .281, a BB/9 rate of 2.24 and gave up 7 HRs. The 1st and 2nd half tell two different stories, but he is still the same old Matt Cain. I said this before that I like to examine guys’ performance in a split like sequence because it really can tell a story. This story tells us he had a poor first half and an excellent second-half. A second half that I see leading into a good 2014.  In most drafts, I see him getting drafted at a discount. I see over 10 wins, a sub-3.50 ERA and over 175 Ks in his 2014 campaign.

BJ-UptonB.J. Upton (ATL – OF) – I know what you are thinking, Tyler why are you putting him up here as a bounce back candidate? BJ Upton killed me last year. Just be patient with Upton and I. Patience is a skill that Upton needs to reinforce into his game. Remember he is not even 30 yet and has shown this type of skill early in his playing days. He still possesses power and speed. At his age, it’s hard to find another guy drop off so completely like this. To be honest with you a 9 HR, 30 Rs, 12 SBs and .184 Avg can only get better. If you play five OFs, I see him being a fine choice as a starter for now. If you play less than that, I would still stash him away to see what he can do. I predict that he hits somewhere around .250 and has a 20/20 type season. This type of season would certainly make Braves fans happier than last year.

Brett Lawrie (TOR – 3B) – Brett Lawrie has shown signs of being an all around great fantasy third baseman, then there was last year. Lawrie did not live up to the hype that he was supposed to have in 2013. He finished the season hitting .254 with 11 HRs, 41 Rs, 46 RBIs and 9 SBs. A couple things do concern me for Lawrie. First of all he is more than likely going to be batting lower in the Blue Jays lineup. Secondly, he has a very aggressive nature when it comes to plate discipline. Saying this he is still an attractive pick at third base, especially in roto-type leagues that he helps in all categories. Remember, he did get 9 stolen bases last year and no one at the third base position had more than 10 steals. I believe he is a good pick if you are waiting later to fill the third base position on your team. I do see him having better seasons than Kyle Seager and Aramis Ramirez. I think he should post a .270 Avg, with 15 HRs, 70 Rs, 70 RBIs and around 15 SBs.  If you do draft him, a lot of hope may play into your evaluation on him too.

jason-grilliJason Grilli (RP) – Grilli had a forearm injury that placed him on the bench for a lot of the 2013 season. When he came back at the end of the year though, he saw Mark Melancon as the new closer for the Pirates. The Pittsburgh Pirates are a team that is not settling on playing at a .500 level anymore. The Melancon move shows that Clint Hurdle was going with the hot hand at his closer position. Melancon finished the season with a 1.39 ERA and saved 16 games for the Pirates. I see 2014 being a little different. I believe Melancon will still be the set up man and Grilli will take over his closer role. It is amazing that we think of Grilli as this new and upcoming closer when he has been in the league since 2000 when he played for the Marlins. In 54 games in 2013, he had 33 SVs and an ERA of 2.70. This year, I see Grilli getting mid- 30 amount of saves and a sub 2.50 ERA. Don’t be surprised though if Grilli is starting to go downhill that Hurdle makes the move back to Melancon as the closer.

Matt Wieters (C) – I have written about Wieters before in my Catchers Preview for this year. This prediction is totally on a gut decision that he finds a better 2014. While 22 HRs, 59 Rs and 79 RBIs are not bad for a normal catcher, Wieters is one of the top prospects from the Orioles organization. I still do not see him hitting for average (.235 in 2013), but I do see him finally cementing him in the type of catcher role that the Orioles were hoping for. I see him finishing in the top-10 catchers while posting a .250 Avg, 25 HRs, 65 Rs and 85 RBIs. I am confident in Matt Wieters for the 2014 season.

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The story of the comeback is always a sweet one. A player has all the potential to be the best at their given position and for a certain reason did not perform to their ability. They come back the next year and outshine the competition. With this being said, let the 2014 season begin and let the players prove what they’ve got.

You can follow me on Twitter @RedSox_SF49ers for more fantasy baseball news and advice. Also be sure to like us on Facebook and Google+ for all updates from FantasySixPack.

About Tyler Gettmann

You can follow me on Twitter @RedSox_SF49ers for more fantasy news and advice. Also be sure to like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram for all updates from Fantasy Six Pack.

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