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 Toronto Blue Jays?
Where did that come from, Jose Bautista?
J-Bau credited tweaked mechanics late in 2009 that allowed him to begin his swing earlier for his massive improvement. Bautista's isolated power skyrocketed, and he cut down significantly on grounders.
Bautista THE question
He could be better in the average department, but his line-drive rate (14.4 percent) was not encouraging. Matching his MLB-leading 54 home runs from a year ago will be tough. His previous career high: 16. Adjustments by pitchers won't help, even with his improved patience. A drop in homers and RBIs is expected and probably would offset any average gains. As a fifth-round mixed pick, he'll probably be out of your comfort zone.
Where do the underachievers go from last year?
The first part of Aaron Hill's .205-26-68 line made it tough to keep him in your lineup, despite the respectable power. Last year, Hill's BABIP (.196) was over a hundred points lower than his usual mark. Was he pressing after a stellar '09? The signs suggest some correction, and he wasn't going to repeat '09. Figure he's somewhere between that year and last year.
Adam Lind, platoon player. It's not that bad, but aside from '09 the lefty hasn't shown signs of hitting lefties well. Toronto might not have an eye on winning this year, but they probably won't let Lind submarine their chances against southpaws. As a fantasy outfielder, he's OK No. 4 material with upside. As a fantasy first baseman, his bottom line could be as low as Lyle Overbay, though his upside again makes him a far better prospect.
Travis Snider, the youngest of the three, continues to make incremental jumps. He has shown maturity at the plate, striking out less often, and his isolated power continues to grow. But he needs more time in the bigs; a sprained wrist derailed him in 2010. He'll be 23 in February. Regular at-bats should come this year, adding some much needed seasoning, which could prompt a big jump in his final line.
Which Toronto starters might surprise THIS year?
Two stand out: Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek.
The former went 10-7 with a 4.49 ERA last year. His second half form was better (3.69 ERA, 1.21 WHIP). Health has to be a concern, still, but the Jays are committed to using him in one role and have guided him to exert less effort. The K's exploded last year and should stay plentiful, and, doubly good, Morrow improved his rate of walks drastically. His good stuff makes him a target, but those in the know are reaching for him. If you're at a point where you can mitigate his wild and injured ways, take a shot.
Drabek will have a rotation spot locked down, unless he gets blown up in the spring. One of the Jays' top prospects has only a bit of MLB experience (0-3, 4.76 ERA in three starts last year) but has the stuff to pitch in the bigs. It's possible he pitches well enough for mixed fantasy rosters, and he's extremely low risk in that arena. He just might not show it until he has a few more innings under his belt.