I've yet to draft Pablo Sandoval on any of my fantasy baseball squads this year. That's not for lack of wanting him on my squad, though. Fellow KFFLer Tim Heaney briefly touched on the Panda's drastic weight loss this offseason.
Wait another year for Taveras
Sandoval's "best shape of my life" story is probably the one that you should pay the most attention to, in my opinion. His production in recent seasons, for good or bad, has been specifically tied to injuries and his conditioning. It's no coincidence that he started turning things around in the second half last year when he began eating healthier thanks to his brother, his personal chef.
He's in a contract year. That surely helped fuel his decision to remain in his native Venezuela this winter and get into excellent shape. Some may believe his drastic drop in weight will hurt his power production, but shedding lbs should give him more rotation in his swing and allow him to be quicker with his hands, wrists and lower body at the dish.
One of the biggest knocks against him in the last several years has been his lack of power from the right side of the plate. Forty three of his 49 jacks in the last three seasons came from the left side. Well, he knows this, too, and he worked with a pretty good right-handed hitter on it in the offseason.
At Panda's reduced price this year, he may be the safest value pick from the lot of third baseman, believe it or not. I have several drafts remaining, and believe me when I tell ya I'll be targeting him somewhere.
Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras seemed like a lock to make a noteworthy fantasy impact in 2013. That never happened, thanks to a serious right ankle injury that required surgery. Now that that's in the rearview, he'll be a stud in 2014, right? Not so fastů
Believe it or not, the same right ankle is still giving him problems, and it's the main reason he won't break camp with St. Louis. The Cards re-assigned him to minor league camp yesterday. The 21-year-old (22 in June) is a sure-fire five-tool prospect that should hit for both power and average at the big-league level, but the Red Birds have every reason not to rush him. There isn't a glaring need for him in the current outfield, either.
As it is with any top prospect, we fantasy baseball players tend to get antsy when it comes to snagging the newest and brightest star sensation. Taveras surely has all the makings to be a star one day, and if he gets past this ankle injury, he'll likely make his debut during the summer.
He's probably still worth drafting in deep mixed leagues with a late-round flier pick, but he might be one of the first guys you end up cutting. If it weren't for the ankle injury, who knows, Taveras may be the front-runner for NL Rookie of the Year. That's not the case, though, and it's looking more and more like 2015 will be the year to own Taveras for a full season's worth of production.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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