Fantasy Baseball: Team Previews

By Jason Fukao

San Diego Padres

Projected Line-Ups

LF: Termel Sledge

2B: Marcus Giles

RF: Brian Giles

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

CF: Mike Cameron

3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff

C: Josh Bard

SS: Khalil Greene

Projected Rotation

Jake Peavy

Greg Maddux

Chris Young

Clay Hensley

David Wells

Closer: Trevor Hoffman

Player Spotlight

1B: Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez made a huge impression on the Padres last year after coming over from the Texas Rangers a year ago. He slugged 24 homeruns and drove in 82 with a solid .304 average. San Diego is expecting the same out of him again, and they will need it if they are going to be successful this season. It is a huge disadvantage for Gonzalez playing his home games at Petco Park, but he did manage to hit 10 of his homeruns at home. Once again, first base is very deep this season so you can wait on him in your draft. However, in NL-only leagues, he is a top-10 first baseman so do not let him go undrafted.

SP: Chris Young – Young was one of the main beneficiaries of playing in San Diego. He posted an ERA of 3.46 and WHIP of 1.13 while holding opposing batters to a league-leading .206 average. This is a stark difference compared to his previous year in hitter-friendly Texas, where his ERA was 4.26 and his WHIP 1.26. His strikeouts also went up last season to 164 in 179.1 innings. After a full season under his belt in San Diego, expect him to put up similar numbers this year. Although fantasy owners will like to see his wins increase (only 11 last season), his other numbers are still very solid enough to warrant him as a high-tier fantasy starter.

 

Texas Rangers

Projected Line-Up

CF: Kenny Lofton

LF: Brad Wilkerson

SS: Michael Young

1B: Mark Teixeira

DH: Frank Catalanotto

3B: Hank Blalock

RF: Nelson Cruz

C: Gerald Laird

2B: Ian Kinsler

Projected Rotation

Kevin Millwood

Vicente Padilla

Brandon McCarthy

Robinson Tejeda

Josh Rupe

Closer: Eric Gagne

Player Spotlight

3B: Hank Blalock – We all remember Hank for his 2004 campaign when he put up career-bests of 107-32-110 for the Rangers. Now, he is even going undrafted in some drafts. This can be attributed largely to his struggles during the last two seasons where he has averaged 78-20-90. It wasn’t due to injuries, as he has played at least 152 games in each of the last three seasons, but check out his batting average splits. In the last two seasons he has hit a horrific .206 against lefties, which is mind-boggling considering that he hit .282 against them in 2004. Let’s hope that Blalock can turn it around this year. If he does, Texas will once again have one of the scariest batting orders with Hank, Michael Young and Mark Teixiera.

RP: Eric Gagne – Gagne enters the season as one of the biggest question marks this season. We all know he can close games, as he had that ridiculous 84-saves streak and had compiled 152 saves in three seasons from 2002-2004 with the Dodgers, but he hasn’t been the same since. Nonetheless, he claims that he is healthy and the Rangers are sure hoping so too. On Tuesday, he made his first appearance in almost nine months. He didn’t have his usual fastball that is usually in the high 90s, but he did top out at 92mph. He gave up a leadoff homer but retired the next three guys in order. The Rangers are still counting on him to close games, and Tuesday’s 15-pitch effort was definitely a good sign.

Young image courtesy of Getty Images.
Gagne image courtesy of AP Photo.

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