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 Arizona Diamondbacks?
What happened to Justin Upton's big breakthrough?
After Upton's explosive '09, many expected another leap last year. How much better could he have done than .300-26-86 with 84 runs and 20 steals? Then again, he lost momentum with a flare-up of a slightly torn labrum in his left shoulder, a pre-existing injury; it erased his September and might've had a part in sapping his August power.
Johnson might still be a bargain
Before August, though, he clubbed 16 homers. Plus, he saw a bump in fly balls. Tiny improvements in patience, contact and swinging strike percentage show he's at least progressing. His K's continued to pile up, but he still recognizes the strike zone enough to take ample walks and increase his swipe chances. Plus, in the last two years, he hasn't leaned on Chase Field.
As long as reports are positive on Upton's shoulder, you can sacrifice a steady BA for a 20-20 profile with his boom. DL stints marred his previous two seasons, as well, but Upton has 1,517 at-bats as a big-leaguer. It's coming.
What will Chris B. Young and Kelly Johnson do for an encore?
Power-speed combos improved their batting averages and augmented their counting category skills. They relied on their home park, Young more so, but their growth wasn't unfounded.
Young's second half proves he has more growth room. He followed through on his 20-20 talent but also posted his best batting eye ratio and OBP while improving his balance in the batter's box. He's the better power bet of the two, but he's the bigger clip risk.
Johnson was slightly fortunate on his flies, but it wasn't an extreme jump from his best pop years. He owns that skill. His BA bump boasts better liner support; his BABIP reached similar levels in his previous two full seasons, so a correction isn't a given. If you're waiting on a second baseman, he isn't a bad target thanks to potential draft-room skepticism.
What can we expect from Dan Hudson and Ian Kennedy?
Warning: Fly balls haunt both, which heeds enough warning in their home park. But both have control working in their favor.
Kennedy showed respectable command through most of his first full MLB season, with an aggressive approach while capturing the power of his curve and changeup. He's crafty, not heat-seeking, but sometimes that can lead to a K/9 increase. His innings jump might limit growth there, but this remains an intriguing profile to bid on again.
The light went on for Hudson after he was traded to the National League as he posted a 1.69 ERA with a 4.38 K/BB and a slight late-season ground-ball improvement. Sure, this might be because he was a fresh face, but Hudson's K/9 improvement has a base in his astounding 12.0 swinging strike percentage. His worrisome points - lofty NL strand rate, aforementioned tater-tude - add little risk to his bargain mixed price.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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