KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions about each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Seattle Mariners?
What if this is the year Felix Hernandez falters?
Zunino might mess with the Jesus
Be thankful your competitors fear that possibility. They'll point to his workload and velocity dip as prime warning signs. On the surface, it makes sense.
But his 2012 campaign serves as a microcosm for what overrides those concerns. He's darn talented, and he's smart. He'll turn a "baseball old" 27 in April - he made his debut in 2005, after all - but while he's the Hanley Ramirez of his position, he's maturing at a much more tangible rate than the batting doppelganger has.
While an extension with the M's is up in the air, you should lock up your trust in Hernandez. That mph dip in his four-seam stuff doesn't necessarily point to fatigue. His arsenal is quite diverse, if you haven't noticed, and while a shrinking fastball-changeup separation could jeopardize his stuff, it's not going to cripple him considering his increased DJ abilities on the mound.
While mixing, he actually built up his fastball velocity as last year went on, and he relied plenty more on his cutter - which, again, is the chic pitch for MLB effectiveness lately. His 10.6 swinging strike percentage matched his 2009 number, his apex in a full season; he's not doing it all with his No. 1, but adding the Mariano Rivera special makes up for any drawbacks the elite profile hints at elsewhere.
If your competitors let the King fall to a borderline-ace pick or price (he may just by the way things fall among top SPs), or if the positional market slides back a few rounds, snatch him up, because he still boasts a regal bloodline.
Who'll feel safe within Safeco Field's revised dimensions?
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 competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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