MLB Notes

Alex Gordon has a line of .244/.328/.405 over nearly 1,500 career at-bats in the major leagues, but thanks to a white hot spring (1.188 OPS) he’s back on the fantasy radar. The former No. 2 overall pick isn’t really a sleeper and don’t expect him to be available super late in drafts, but he could ultimately prove to be a bargain nevertheless. Plenty of past owners have been burned, and many others likely remain skeptical. Gordon posted a 1.019 OPS in Triple-A last season, so it’s not like the former top prospect has forgotten how to hit. While he batted just .215 and struggled yet again in Kansas City, his BABIP was .254 despite a 23.2 line drive percentage. Kauffman Stadium suppresses home runs, especially for left-handed hitters, but Gordon has already been named the team’s No. 3 hitter, so he’s worth giving one more chance, and he’s even eligible at third base in Yahoo leagues and fully capable of swiping 15 bags as well. Teammate Kila Ka’aihue has been even more impressive this spring, with a .397/.462/.845 line and seven homers over just 58 at-bats. It’s only spring training, but big jumps in slugging percentage like that can often portend major breakouts.

Yeah but I bet I could beat this kid at fantasy sports.

I must say, I’ve always been a sucker for “Careless Whisper.”

It’s taken much longer than expected, but Tim Stauffer is finally ready to make a major impact. Taken early in the first round back in 2003, he admitted to the Padres his arm was injured after San Diego used the fourth overall pick on him, but the team signed him anyway. It’s been a long road back, and while it’s obvious his numbers are going to regress this year compared to last, he’s got a decent enough skill set to succeed with Petco Park on his side. Stauffer has pretty good control, and while his fastball is mediocre, his velocity was better than ever last season, and both his slider and changeup are plus pitches, and he’s an extreme groundballer (54.5 GB%). He’s a solid investment.

I could give 15 a pass, but 16 is crossing the line.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Magglio Ordonez is one of my favorite boring old veterans to target this year. Before suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year, he was on pace to finish with 21 homers, 96 runs scored and 101 RBI. He won’t add any speed, and his power is limited at this stage of his career, but he’s also a career .312 hitter, and average continues to be an overlooked fantasy category. Once again slated to hit in the middle of Detroit’s lineup, which improved during the offseason, I’d be fine with Ordonez as my fourth outfielder and thrilled if he were my fifth.

I always suspected the Olsen twins were total racists.

I’m a huge fan of bacon, but even I say this is taking it too far.

The closer we get to the season starting, the more I find myself moving Matt Thornton up my closer rankings. He’s unproven in that role, and Chris Sale looks impressive behind him, but with so many question marks around the league, Thornton suddenly looks like a legitimate top-10 option. He has an elite 4.2:1 K:BB ratio over the past three seasons, a span in which his ERA has never reached 2.75 or his WHIP 1.10. There’s also no reason to worry about him being a southpaw, as he’s almost as tough on righties as he is lefties. The White Sox are my favorites to win the AL Central, so plenty of save opportunities should arise, and his 12.02 K/9 rate last year was fifth best among all relievers in baseball. Thornton’s fastball is simply unhittable.

A legendary drunk dial.

The human garbage can.

A different member of the White Sox I’m actually a bit worried about is Adam Dunn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling him a bust, but his underlying skills quietly changed last year, even if his traditional stats remained exactly the same. In essentially the same amount of at-bats, Dunn walked 39 fewer times compared to the year prior, and he also struck out 22 more times. In fact, his walk rate was a career-low while his K rate was a career-high. It could mean nothing and just be noise over an inconsequential sample and not the sign of a player 32 years old entering decline, but he’s now playing in the tougher league and has to deal with learning an entirely new set of pitchers. Moving to U.S. Cellular Field will certainly help, but while it boosts home runs for both, it has a much more dramatic effect on right-handed batters than left-handers (according to the Bill James Handbook, over the past three years, the park’s index is 117 for LHB and 145 for RHB). It also remains to be seen how he’ll adjust to becoming a full-time DH, something he’s been reluctant to do his entire career. Dunn will most likely be good for another 40 bombs this season, but remember his career batting average is .250.

These are some serious limbo skills.

This Skittles commercial is pretty whack.

Gio Gonzalez posted a 2.59 ERA and 1.23 WHIP after the All-Star break last season, but while he also showed improved control over that span, he walked 20 batters over 33.2 innings in September, which marked his worst month of the year. Still, his K potential is strong, and pitching in Oakland is always helpful with all that extra foul territory. The defense behind him should also be exceptional. Gonzalez has recorded a 2.30 ERA with 29 strikeouts over 27.0 innings this spring, and his teammates have raved about how legit he’s looked, so if you believe in those kind of things (I personally think sometimes performance during spring matters), you better reach for him, because he’s not coming cheap.

Those in the Bronx better keep your head on a swivel. And straight toward the ground.

Brett Gardner stole 47 bases last year over just 477 at-bats, and thanks largely to 79 walks that led to a .383 OBP, he also scored 97 runs despite hitting ninth the majority of the time. While his true talent might be more of a .360 OBP kind of guy, he’s slated to bat first against right-handers this season, so his upside is that of a top-20 fantasy hitter. He has a strong 85% success rate on the base paths throughout his career, and since he’s one of the best defensive players in baseball, Gardner should be in the lineup virtually every day. Especially as a left-hander playing in Yankee Stadium, he’s fully capable of also adding something like eight homers and 60 RBI, which is a difference compared to the Juan Pierres and Michael Bourns of the world. I’ve personally been (over)drafting Jacoby Ellsbury, and I’m sure I’ll later be regretting it knowing I could have had Gardner much later.

Meet Rebecca Lanier, the world’s oldest woman.

While Daniel Hudson looked nothing like the pitcher he was in the minors when with the White Sox, he looked like an ace after getting traded to Arizona. There’s no doubt he was pitching over his head and like anyone with a 1.69 ERA, experienced plenty of good fortune (.241 BABIP, 7.0 HR/FB%), but Hudson also posted a 10.41 K/9 and 2.99 BB/9 in Triple-A as a 23-year-old, so he was a legitimate prospect. As an extreme fly ball pitcher calling Chase Field home, he’s going to surrender plenty of homers, but his WHIP should remain an asset, and it’s hard not to get overly excited about someone who just posted a 4.4:1 K:BB ratio as a rookie who will be pitching in the NL West. Go get him.

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