|Showing Some Love|
|Written by Christopher Kreush|
|Thursday, 16 February 2012 00:45|
I hope everyone took a little time from your preparation or drafts to spend some time with your better half or significant other. Me personally, I left work early and went home and took my lady out for a nice dinner before sitting down to get out this week’s piece. When thinking about what I was going to write about I decided to keep with the theme of the season and announce my all National League man crush team of 2012. In doing this, I didn’t want to just go through each position and pick the top ranked player at each one. That would be boring and unimaginative. Rather, I chose each player through a combination of ability, playing situation, home park, and how they looked in a baseball uniform. Well, not really the latter. Basically, guys who don’t normally get all the love.
Catcher – Miguel Montero has been the primary catcher in Arizona for the past few years. He doesn’t get the kind of notice that Brian McCann has or, more recently, Buster Posey. But he hasn’t cost as much in an auction or draft either. Montero is still only 28 years old; only one year older than McCann. He has hit at least 16 homeruns in two of the past three years with 2010 being the only exception due to a knee injury. He bounced back in 2011 with the best year of his career batting .282 while hitting 18 homeruns and knocking in 86 – the highest of any catcher. A 20 HR season is only a matter of time playing in the desert. He has the potential to be a 90 RBI guy while hitting .275 - .280 behind the plate.
First Base – There is some question whether Freddie Freeman could be a big homerun hitting first baseman in the majors. However, Freddie hit 21 in his first full season with the Atlanta Braves in a home park that isn’t necessarily conducive for hitting many over the wall. But Freeman is big – 6’5’ and 225 pounds – and if anyone could hit for power in Atlanta it should be him, although it will take a little time. He will hit for a pretty good average right now along with low 20’s power and was good enough to finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2011.
Second Base – Fantasy players don’t normally think of this position as being a big source of power for their team. A decent average with stolen base potential has been the stereo-type for many years with few exceptions. Lately, there has been a change at second base as there has with shortstop and we are seeing more players from this position who could put up good power numbers. None, however, more so than Dan Uggla - affectionately known as ‘Ugly’ because of the often unattractive batting average he carries. But average isn’t what he’s about. Dan has hit at least 27 homeruns every year he’s been in the majors and has hit at least 30 in the last five in a row with the only exception being his rookie season. Give me Uggla and I’ll find the batting average someplace else.
Third Base – Call me a believer or a Kool-Aid drinker but I’m on board with Mat Gamel. There are people who have soured on him but, come on; he hasn’t really gotten a shot yet at the main event with only 171 career at bats. The most he had in one season was 128 in 2009 and no more than 26 in any other year. With Prince Fielder leaving for free agency Mat will take over at first base and this could very well be the last chance to plug him in at a thin hot corner. He should get a fair chance this year and I foresee a good shot at 20 homeruns.
Shortstop – If he continues to build upon what he did in 2010, this could be the last year to get Starlin Castro on the cheap. 2011 was his second season at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs and there was no sophomore slump. Starlin’s workload increased by 33 games to 158 last year and he increased his homerun output from three to ten. Castro more than doubled his stolen bases to 22 and was more judicious in his attempts in only being caught one more time. At the same time his batting average up-ticked a bit to .307. He is one of the few bright spots on the Cubs for 2012.
Outfield – Andrew McCutchen saw an increase in power in 2011 but that came at the expense of a batting average about 30 points lower and an increase in strikeouts from 89 in 2010 to 126. However, his OBP was flat from 2010 to 2011. The stolen base total did fall at the same time the power went up – 33 in 2010 to 23 in 2011 with ten caught stealing each year. The decrease in BA and SB might scare some away but I’m looking for the batting average to get back to the .275 - .280 range with a 25/25 season.
Starting Pitcher – I have always had a crush on Yovani Gallardo and, in fact, he has been on at least one of my teams each of the past three years. He isn’t in that upper echelon of starting pitchers but he’s not far from it and could creep up into the bottom of that tier if he continues to build on a strong 2011. Gallardo is still only 25 year old and has been healthy – throwing at least 185 innings each of the last three years with 207 last year. Yovani has also eclipsed the 200 strikeout mark each of those years while winning 60% of his decisions and keeping his fastball velocity at 92 mph in the process. I will again love me some Yovani Gallardo this year.
Closer – This could also be the last year to get Ryan Madson on the cheap. He had a stellar season for the Philadelphia Phillies in successfully finishing off 32 of 34 save chances. Madson added 62 strikeouts for better than one per inning and a very good WHIP and ERA. What more could you want from a closer? He’s on a one year deal with the Cincinnati Reds and will be looking to prove he is worthy of a multi-year deal from a team looking for a closer in 2013. I’m heavily invested already in Madson for this season and that investment should certainly increase with each draft I do.