KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the San Francisco Giants?
How will first base shake out?
Fantasy owners would choose Brandon Belt over Aubrey Huff and Brett Pill, but it's a safe bet that Bruce Bochy won't make it that simple.
Huff and puff and ... re-rebound?
Huff will seemingly get the first crack at playing time. San Fran might think Belt needs more seasoning at Triple-A Fresno, and the righty-hitting Pill, who can't comfortably play anywhere besides first base, would likely merely hold down duty versus southpaws. On the bright side, a failure by Nate Schierholtz to hold down right field could presumably allow Huff to slide over, guaranteeing these three frequent playing time.
Huff started on his New Year's resolutions early by ramping up his offseason workouts - including reincorporating Pilates, which helped rejuvenate him in 2010. His rep as an every-other-year player would dictate that 2012 is a year to call his name, but better health can't always stave off skills erosion. He doesn't produce many fly balls, and his luck in converting those to ding dongs could run out in his age-35 campaign.
Belt's power will help fantasy owners before his batting average does, and it's a strong enough skill to make him your first one taken here. He was shuttled between San Fran and Fresno last year and hardly had a chance to settle. When he did just that in the final two months of 2011, he left the yard seven times in 111 at-bats. If he meets his potential, San Fran won't keep him glued to the pine.
Pill is worth an NL-only dabble because of the chance he'll scrape at-bats versus southpaws from the other two, but he should be the least coveted member of this trio.
What are Ryan Vogelsong's chances of remaining a fantasy baseball asset?
He won't return the dollar profit of his 2011 brilliance, but his reformation wasn't a complete mirage. Though he spent some time in Japan when he was away from MLB action for five years, it was in his minor league stints and in his work with close friend and San Fran pitching coach Dave Righetti that he started easing up on his fastball use and embracing his secondary stuff.
Vogelsong won't catch anyone by surprise, even if he's still fixed at a skeptic's price. A below-average swinging-strike percentage raises skepticism for his dominance when combined with mediocre velocity. But his slider or cutter - depending on the statistical source - will remain a useful punch-out pitch. His expected ERA and WHIP regression will strip much of his worth, but he'll remain a useful backend fantasy rotation option for deep leagues that can K between six and seven per nine frames in his favorable home landscape.
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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