How much vintage Ichiro does Ichiro Suzuki have left?
It's becoming harder and harder for him to recapture, especially if Eric Wedge goes through with moving him out of the leadoff spot. Hitting second or third would diminish his chance to steal bases; his value was defined last season by his base-path aggressiveness.
Even with his diminished fantasy demand, his 38-year-old legs and sliding plate skills can't capitalize on his vintage spraying approach enough to warrant confidence for a profit.
What's Justin Smoak's ceiling?
The M's didn't land Prince Fielder and - like it or not - have to see what Smoak is made of. He isn't all - well, himself and mirrors. (Pun quota met.) The OBP-friendly Smoak fell victim to prospect sensationalism: Calling him a 30-homer prodigy invoked too much faith too soon.
Does that mean the 25-year-old, sharp-eyed stick isn't an emerging 20-homer staple? He swatted 10 of his 15 dingers last season at hurler haven Safeco Field. After losing his father to lung cancer last April, he played on and hit 12 out of the yard in the season's first three months.
A nagging thumb injury impeded his midseason production and cost him a week in August; the day he returned to action, a ground ball fractured his nose. Smoak returned from that Marcia Brady moment in early September and, despite missing another four games to a groin injury, breathed easier with a .301-3-11 line in his final 73 at-bats.
Final-month surges come in all shapes and colors. Smoak's looks like an emerald-tinted light bulb. His K's and shaky in-play profile don't point to a batting average apex that surmounts .260 (without fortune), but the switch-hitter's penchant for walks adds an optimistic spark.
Mike Carp could be a threat to at-bats if he stumbles, but Smoak has the inside track to a full workload. He stands out among low-end AL first sackers and will most likely reside in the forgotten deep mixed CI region. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder hasn't reached his pop peak yet and has enough MLB time under his belt to make such a breakthrough.
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, 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.
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