KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions about each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the San Diego Padres?
Chase Headley: Where did that come from?
Quentin: SD's version of thumper
One of fantasy's biggest surprises came from an age-28 season by a skills 'tweener with four previous campaigns under his belt. It was a textbook occasion to arrive.
That makes sense until you look at that 21.4 HR/FB; he hadn't posted one higher than 10.7, which came in his first extended work (2008). Over the final three months, he posted a .300-23-77 line in 320 at-bats. That was a little too hot; errant gusts alert.
The switch-hitter likes going to left field, the more favorable sector for leaving this yard, regardless of which side from which he's shooting rawhide. The changes to PETCO Park (we'll get to that in a bit) contend he could keep a significant portion of the 31 homers, also, because they should aid his more powerful side, when he bats from the left.
But - spoiler alert - his ambience is hardly Arlington. And despite Headley's late-season fly-ball increase, that homer pace is unsustainable, especially by an unfinished plate product who posted a 48.5 grounder rate on the year. Oh, and do you want to count on a Padres hitter recording something close to 115 RBIs and 95 plate crossings again?
His profile has enough of a foundation that at some point, even his diminished dinger total - low 20s, tops - will look better than whatever's left at the hot corner. However, this position class is quite deep, and many will believe he's worth a pick in the elite class of hot cornermen. He'll more than likely use this year to learn how to deal with regression instead of following through on an expensive investment.
How will PETCO Park's new dimensions play for everyone else?
The power-alley walls are coming in: Left-center's goes from 402 feet to 390. Right center ("Death Valley" in former GM Kevin Towers' words) will dip from 402 to 391. The latter's height also will be lowered to match the rest of the outfield barricade's stature (just below eight feet). Down the lines (336 left, 322 right with a jagged obstructing wall), settings will remain the same.
Right-handed thumpers have enjoyed - well, as much as Padres can - their at-bats slightly more than those on the opposite side. Carlos Quentin is the closest thing SD has to an "everywhere power" guy, so his profile doesn't change much, save the slight allure of adding a few more homers to his injury-riddled profile. Cameron Maybin teased a breakthrough late last year, and if he gets a bit more pull control, it may help him over the course of the season.
Lefty-hitting Yonder Alonso and Will Venable, who've yet to pay off on their now diminishing upside, have more hope for their yanked lofts clearing the perimeter. However, considering their other flaws, the alteration doesn't vault them into universal mixed draft relevance.
MLB.com scribe Corey Brock opines:
PETCO Park will still favor pitchers, especially at night in April and May and with the marine layer helping suppress fly balls. But there's no denying moving the fences in 11 feet in right-center field, for example, will reward hitters for squaring a ball up - something many have craved since the ballpark opened.
Even with a renewed hint of offensive optimism for Pads to get looks as deep roster fillers, the non-Quentin bats - yes, including Headley - aren't prototypical power profiles. This remains a lineup in transition and enduring some painful growth at the dish, regardless of where they're playing.
The facelift will diminish the dead-ball time warp, but it won't artificially augment what isn't all that powerful in the first place. Count on the fence shift paying off more noticeably for the visiting sticks.
Pitchers, meanwhile, probably will hurt a bit more ... especially home-leaning Clayton Richard; his 4.74 road ERA in 2012 strips away plenty of fantasy value in these new conditions. Fly-ball pitchers will have less comfort in their approach. Though it won't be much different from 2012, signing pitchers off the proverbial fantasy street because they're pitching in the Gaslamp may not fly as potently as it used to.
Speaking of the rotation ... um, what is it?
Besides the less appealing Richard and Edinson Volquez ... we probably won't know until April.
Keep an eye on Kelly
Volquez's K/9 gives a "come hither" motion when you're trying to find a mixed flier, but not even the extra work he did last preseason helped cure his walk-plagued approach. If you can be patient enough to wade through his sloppy starts - there'll be many - maybe he's worth that final slot.
Jason Marquis and Eric Stults are innings eaters. Meh. There are plenty more exciting options knocking on the door.
Andrew Cashner (thumb) probably won't start the season on time, and Tommy John patients Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland won't be back until the summer, at earliest. Prospects Robbie Erlin - solid path thanks to his control - and Casey Kelly - a ton more upside thanks to his refining, nasty stuff - will probably arrive this year. Any of these five is worth a fantasy trial as long as they have a job.
Anthony Bass may fall back into the rotation, and he was quite useful for a stretch last year, so add him to that list. Tyson Ross is a talented project. They may re-sign the rehabbing Tim Stauffer (elbow), but he probably needs an extended spring.
Whew. There's ample fluctuation and plenty of reasons to leave them for drafts. If you're in NLs, go for the prospects ahead of the placeholders, and pay attention to reports.
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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.