Fantasy Baseball: The Crush List

You know, I’ve spent the last several months pouring over stats and rankings, making lists and sorting players all in preparation for my favorite time of the year. After drafting four teams in the last two days, I’ve learned a couple of things that I really didn’t realize about myself. I though I was a Felix Hernandez supporter  but you won’t find him on any of my teams. I’m not all that concerned about Troy Tulowitzki’s checkered history and have him ranked atop my second baseman rankings. Sadly, I don’t own any Tulo stock. And no matter how much I’ve salivated at Ryan Howard’s ADP value in early draft, I missed out on the Big Dog in each and every draft this past weekend.

Apparently, there’s a couple of players I am quite fond of, some were targets, while others my apparent affection was even news to me. So looking back on the that I have constructed heading for the 2013 season this list pretty much populates itself. Without further ado, we give you Bretsky’s Fantasy Crush List.

Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians

Santana is a guy who I have been certainly targeting as a top-3 catcher in drafts this season. After batting .280 with 13 home runs over the second half last season, Santana is looking primed to finally put a full season together. Spending a second round pick on Buster Posey is a little too pricey for my taste.

Justin Morneau – Minnesota Twins

Morneau’s 19 home runs and 77 RBI from 2012 start looking pretty attractive to me once you get down past round 16 or so and the consistent bats begin to disappear. Beyond that, I like the .289/.354/.439 slash he [ut up in the second half last year and think, just maybe, Justin has another .290-30-100 season in him.

Corey Hart – Milwaukee Brewers

Apparently, I’m not all that concerned about Hart’s knee. He’s showing up on a number of my squads and though we know he’ll do nothing but clog up your DL spot until mid-May, but Hart has been a very steady 85 runs, 25 homer 80 RBI bat over the past few seasons and even in a shortened effort, he should threaten 20 homers with solid run production.

Yoenis Cespedes – Oakland Athletics

As we got further and further into draft season, Yoenis Cespedes kept on creeping up my draft board. Six spring home runs certainly isn’t cooling me on a guy who flashed elite ability during a furious 74-game stretch to close the season in which he knocked 14 home runs and drove in 46 BI with 10 steals and a .309 average.

Emilio Bonifacio – Toronto Blue Jays

No job? No problem. Emilio was on a prolific steals pace before injury issues interrupted his breakout fantasy season. He’s going to play all over the field with second base eligibility likely coming sometime in April. Bonifacio could swipe 60 bags if given 550 at-bats and as I fully expect him to see that type of workload, there’s little reason to let him slip past the top-15o on draft day.

Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers

No surprise here. Weeks’ has been high on my draft board all preseason and I was glad to get the opportunity to back up all that talk with some draft day investment. Weeks slugged 21 home runs last year with 16 steals and batted a respectable .262 in the second half. We won’t hold our breath for a real batting average breakout, but 30/20 season is not out of the question if Rickie can stay healthy.

Lorenzo Cain – Kansas City Royals

Cain made it onto our Fantasy Wildcards list and we made the comparison  that a Shane Victorino-type season could be in the works for Cain this season. The Royals are improving and if Cain is healthy he could turn some heads this year.

Josh Johnson – Toronto Blue Jays

Johnson was by far the most surprising on this list but after taking the Jays’ righty in three straight drafts, it appears I am bullish on his prospects for a return to dominance in Toronto. He is certainly throwing the ball well this spring, with a 1.69 ERA and 13 strikeouts against zero walks and while giving us little reason to question the notion that his perennial health concerns are in the past.

Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays

Cobbs’ stock has been rising with a really strong spring performance backing a stellar close to 2012. Don’t be fooled by the mediocre 7.0 K/9 rate from Cobb last season, and realize that this is a guy who continually struck out over a better-per-inning throughout the minors. Cobb is set up for a breakout year in his age-25 season backed by a strong Rays’ defense in the pitcher friendly Trop.

Marco Estrada – Milwaukee Brewers

Estrada found his way on several of my teams late last season and my love for him is simple to justify. He misses bats and doesn’t walk anyone. Estrada posted a tasty 4/93 K/BB ratio last year, and that is enough for me to invest.

Brandon League – Seattle Mariners and Carlos Marmol – Chicago Cubs

I told you I was not going to pay for those saves, and I am quite happy to enter the season with Brandon League and Carlos Marmol as my most-owned closers (Grant Balfour just misses the list). League may not be the best arm in that pen, but he’s got the job and I expect the Dodgers to win a lot of games this season. Just last week we made some bold predictions on the Box Score Baseball Podcast and at the top of my list is Brandon League leading the NL: in saves.

Marmol is a bit of a different story as he’s been erratic (of course) in spring. Still, the Cubbies have every reason to shove him in the closer role early on so that he can build up some trade value and, honestly, it really tough to just ignore the superb 2.06 ERA and 55 strikeouts Marmol put up over his last 39.1 inning pitched of 2012 while converting 17-of-18 save chances.

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