KFFL answers some important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Detroit Tigers?
How will the move to Motor City affect Victor Martinez?
Obviously, Detroit's offense isn't quite as good as the Boston Red Sox's. When los Tigres signed the backstop, GM Dave Dombrowski stated that V-Mart would be the club's primary DH and in the lineup daily. He'll play catcher a couple of times a week, and maybe a little first base; that hurts his chances of retaining catcher eligibility next season.
V-Mart rolls back the comp
In 2011, who cares? Martinez owners will have a fantasy baseball catcher who provides a .300 batting average and at least 20-homer power and should easily approach 600 at-bats with fatigue and injury risk considerably lesser factors. If there was ever reason to draft a catcher in order to gain a distinct advantage at the position, this is it.
What the hell happened to Jose Valverde after the break?
Last year Papa Grande began relying on his split-fingered fastball just as often as his four-seamer. It negated any concern about his reduction in K/9 and brought his grounder mark above 50 percent. Sometime right after the ASB, though, he lost his feel for the splitter. Jim Leyland's inconsistent and occasional extended use of him could have played a part.
In September, Valverde got it back. Unfortunately, elbow soreness (no structural damage, thankfully) killed his makeup efforts in mid-September. Injury concerns are nothing new, but notable elbow pain was a first. Valverde's 2010 first half was due for some correction, anyway. He hasn't lost it, but he remains risky; his value isn't much different from that of past years.
Where is the support for ace Justin Verlander?
Maybe you didn't notice: Max Scherzer did his part in 2010. The Tigers demoted him in mid-May for a farm stint that lasted all of two weeks. He quickly got the message: Be aggressive. From May 30 on, he went 11-7 with a 2.46 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 158 K's in 153 2/3 stanzas. Inexperience and mild health concerns remain drawbacks. But if you view him simply as a No. 3 or No. 4 mixed starter, it's time to re-evaluate.
Rick Porcello wildly disappointed those who expected a natural step up from 2009. It doesn't work that way. Instead of harping on what Porcello did incorrectly, though, it's important to note what he learned. After the break (and a call-up, because Detroit sent him down for four weeks), he gutted out some tough ones and posted a 4.00 ERA. There's some real upside this year.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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