Fantasy Baseball Strategy and Advice: Offseason Moves in Review

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Jesus Montero - Photo by BubbaFan at en.wikipedia

We’re already doing positional primers to prepare you for your fantasy baseball draft, but we also need to review all of the offseason transactions. So here’s a breakdown, position by position, to get you caught up before your draft in 2012.

Catcher Offseason Moves

The catcher position experienced a fairly minimal amount of activity during the offseason.  By far the biggest offseason move for a catcher was the trade of Jesus Montero to Seattle.  Though Safeco Field will probably limit his HR total to some extent, he is a good enough hitter to still be considered a top-10 fantasy catcher based on his talent.

The other big catcher acquisition on the offseason that could impact fantasy leagues would be the trade of Chris Iannetta to the Angels.  Iannetta always had decent power numbers, but a low average as well.  His power numbers will likely go down away from Coors Field this year.

A couple of other noteworthy minor acquisitions are Ramon Hernandez to the Rockies and Ryan Doumit to the Twins.

First Base Offseason Moves

I’m guessing what I’m about to tell you isn’t breaking news.  If it is, then you have either likely been living under a rock or you are some sort of odd creature that hibernates during the winter.  Jokes aside, this offseason saw two of the biggest star first basemen in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder change teams.

Pujols has been on a slow decline for a couple of years now, and playing in a pitcher-friendly stadium for his home games will not help this year.  That being said, in an “off year” last season, he hit 37 HR, had 99 RBI, and scored 105 runs.  So regardless, you will be safe with Pujols.

Fielder is also moving to a pitcher-friendly Comerica Park this year, but Prince is still in the prime of his career, and his prodigious power should mean that his power numbers won’t go down too much.

Additionally, the offseason saw Carlos Pena make his return to the Rays, and Casey Kotchman left the Rays and joined the Indians.  Pena is still capable of helping in the power department, while Kotchman’s AVG is likely to take a dip this year.  His 2.16 GB/FB was by far the highest ratio among first basemen.  He will not be playing on turf like he was in Tampa last year, so many of the ground balls will go for outs instead of hits.

Second Base Offseason Moves

Not trying to be lazy here, but we’re not going to spend too much time talking about offseason moves at second base that could potentially impact the fantasy season.  The reason I say this is because there were really no impact moves this offseason at second base that could influence fantasy leagues.

The Rays did sign Jeff Keppinger, but he will most likely serve as a viable option off the bench for them.  Also, the Dodgers inked Mark Ellis to a two-year contract this offseason, but injuries and a mediocre production for fantasy standards does not make him an intriguing option.

Shortstop Offseason Moves

The Miami Marlins made a splash this offseason by signing electric shortstop Jose Reyes to a six-year, $106 million contract.  Reyes is coming off one of his best offensive seasons with the Mets in which he won the batting crown with a .337 AVG.  He also added 101 runs and stole 39 bases in the process.  He may no longer be able to steal 60-70 bases per season, but barring an injury Reyes looks poised for another strong campaign in Miami.

Other moves at the shortstop position had two solid, consistent veterans finding new homes as Marco Scutaro joined the Rockies and Alex Gonzalez joined the Brewers.  Scutaro has always been able to hit for average and score some runs, with the added bonus of a homer from time to time.  Coors Field should help him additionally offensively.  Gonzalez might not give you many hits or a high AVG, but he’s got formidable power for a shortstop.  A couple other low-key moves were Clint Barmes to the Pirates and Yuniesky Betancourt back to the Royals.

Third Base Offseason Moves

The acquisition of Aramis Ramirez by the Brewers is the major move that has been made at the third base position this offseason.  It would be reasonable to expect a slight drop in power from Ramirez in 2012.  His 2011 GB/FB of 0.79 indicates that many of his fly balls that used to carry well at Wrigley Field might not carry quite as well at Miller Park.  Still, he should still be able to maintain decent power numbers, but, as always, the biggest concern is health with Ramirez.

There were also quite a few of under-the-radar moves at third base during the offseason that could potentially have some fantasy impact, depending on how things go.  The Phillies added super utility man Ty Wigginton, whose ability to hit 15-20 homers per season is only helped by the move to Citizens Bank Park.  Wilson Betemit was picked up by the Orioles and could see an increased amount of production with more AB as a DH.

Lastly, a couple players that might benefit from a change in scenery are Ian Stewart of the Cubs and Casey McGehee of the Pirates.  Both are coming of miserable seasons in 2011, but both were big fantasy contributors just a couple years ago.  They are worth keeping an eye on at the very least.

Up next, I analyze the offseason moves for outfielders, starting pitchers, and relief pitchers.

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