Using this preview: Some players will be spotlighted and there will be some knee-jerk rankings of each teams lineup, rotation and bullpen. Team previews, born from a desire to design a better cheat sheet, will start with the American League East and finish in the National League West. More previews here.
American League Central
- Stud: Grady Sizemore, OF — There’s little doubt that Sizemore is the A-1 Fantasy star on this squad. He’ll contribute in just about every category your team could think about including in the scoring.
- Bust: Cliff Lee, SP — While I was all about cheering on a guy like Lee during last season, I’m not picking him this year. His ERA, WHIP and strikeouts and wins were all well above his previous performance. He could have a decent year, but because of last year’s excellence, he’s overvalued.
- Sleeper: Shin-Soo Choo, OF — Choo could just as easily have been this team’s wild card. His bat could determine a lot for the offense on this squad. Eagle-eyed fantasy GMs will already have noted his .309 average, 14 homers and 66 RBIs in only 317 at-bats in 2008. He’s penciled in as the starter in right field for the tribe. His potential if you double his totals from last year? 30 homers 120 RBIs, .300 average, double digit steals, 50 doubles, 120 runs. Yeah, those are ridiculous numbers.
- Prospect to watch: Matt Laporta, OF — He doesn’t have a starting spot yet, but Ben Francsico should be nervous in left field. He’ll likely give up some at-bats to Laporta at some point this season. He’s got 30 homer potential, once he sticks in the bigs.
- Wild Card: Travis Hafner, DH — How far has this guy fallen? Injuries killed his season in 2008, but he had 42 homers and 117 RBIs in 2006 and 24 homers with 100 RBIs in 2007. There’s a good chance to bounce back if some of Clevelands other hitters — like Choo, Ryan Garko and Johnny Peralta, can offer protection and get on base in front of him.
- Starter you may not know but should: Ben Francisco, OF — He’s keeping a spot warm for LaPorta, but did hit 15 homers last year and score 65 runs. His batting average (.266 in 2008) isn’t going to destroy your team, but it won’t be good for it either.
A — I like this lineup, and think the young and new players will mix in with the veterans and make for a potent offense.
C — So, Cliff Lee’s a question mark. Last year Fausto Carmona was the question mark and he didn’t live up to the hype he created in 2007. Maybe Carmona bounces back, but even if he does this rotation doesn’t go deep with fantasy stars.
D — Kerry Wood is the closer, until he gets injured. Rafael Betancourt used to be a strikeout pitcher, but hasn’t had much magic of late. Rafael Perez has got great numbers and could surprise, but there are too many questions in this pen to give it a good grade.
To read all of Chinstrap Ninjas team previews, go here.