Using this preview: Some of a team’s players will be spotlighted and I’ll make some knee-jerk rankings of each teams lineup, rotation and bullpen. A better lineup will offer protection for hitters and improve pitchers’ win-loss records. A better rotation will also make things easier on a bullpen. I’m starting with the American League East and I’ll work my way to the National League West.
American League East
Tampa Bay Rays
- Stud: B.J. Upton, OF — He offset a big 20-20 season last year with a 40 steal season this year. Steals are golden in fantasy baseball, especially from someone who scored 80 runs and had an OPS near .800. If he can bring some of that power back to go with those generous steals, he’s a top 5 player.
- Bust: Troy Percival, RP — He had 28 saves last year. He also had a hefty 4.53 ERA and is 39. The Rays have brought in about 40 relievers to replace him, including Jason Isringhausen and Dan Wheeler.
- Sleeper: Pat Burrell, DH/OF — Last year he put up his career average numbers, while (poorly) roaming the outfield. This year he’ll be just a DH, so his numbers will tick up. Thirty homers and 100 RBI is practically a given, but this year add a more respectable average and 85-90 runs.
- Prospect to watch: David Price, SP — If you tuned in to the playoffs or World Series last year, you know this guy. The lefty got his first win and save in the postseason. He will be expensive, but keeper league players will be rewarded for spending.
- Wild Card: Price — The Rays’ rotation is strong with plenty of upside. If Price is ready to take a rotation spot now, it could make this the most dominant rotation in the game.
- Starter you may not know but should: Gabe Gross, OF — These guys played in the World Series last year. They didn’t make many changes in the offseason — other than acquiring Burrell. Gross is a new face, but you won’t want to draft him.
A — Besides Burrell and Upton, the Rays have slugger Carlos Pena, rising superstar Evan Longoria, speedster Carl Crawford and underrated shortstop Jason Bartlett. They’ll be as good as they were last year, when I said the Rays were going to surprise a lot of people in this post.
A — Like I said above, this staff is solid from top to bottom. All five pitchers, James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine and Price will be drafted in your league.
A — While Percival is shaky in his role as closer for the entire season, he still has a role as a member of one of the most talented bullpens in the game.
To read all of Chinstrap Ninjas’ team previews, go here.