Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove surveys free agency, trades, salary arbitration and injuries that will affect your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. You're cleared for your MLB offseason program: The Arizona Fall League, Baseball Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft and more will shape your fantasy baseball rankings.
NL Comeback POY: St. Louis Cardinals OF Lance Berkman
Big Puma could be declawed
Even more surprising than the Cards' World Series title was Big Puma's clawing at major league pitching, looking like his 2007-2009 self. Sure, his lineup helped, but healthy legs produced more line drives and lift for restored power to make him one of the best 2011 fantasy baseball bargains.
That minimal risk you were taking last season now stands as a significant gamble. The toll of playing basically a full season in the outfield might bite back in Year 2 for the nearly 36-year-old; he battled injuries last year, too. Fat Elvis took more hacks at the dish; what if his body puts the brakes on his bat speed? Replacing a potentially departing Albert Pujols at first base could preserve Berkman's health, but likely not his team-supported stat line.
Though the draft room could knock his price tag down, you need a microscope to find his upside. His floor? Something like 2010. Excited?
Colorado Rockies prospect 3B Nolan Arenado atop AFL RBI leaderboard
Arenado continues his scintillating 2011. His 122 RBIs topped all minor league players this past season. Cue skepticism: It happened in the hitter-friendly California League. At least his power progressed from standard A ball (12 HRs in 373 at-bats last year) to high Single-A Modesto (20 in 517 ABs) along with a boost in walk rate and a drop in strikeout percentage; his plate discipline has been a concern. His power isn't fake - just augmented for now.
Colorado yearns for stability at its 2011 hot corner turnstile that included Ian Stewart, Ty Wigginton, Jose Lopez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson. It's still ... rocky. Arenado's range might not stick there long term, though, and he turns 21 in April, so more farm seasoning and rough patches loom. Though 2013 is safer, don't write off an MLB cameo in late 2012 if he rakes in Double-A and the big club needs the help. At least he'd continue to have a hitter-friendly background when he makes his debut.
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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