We all know by now that Jimmy Rollins doesn’t care about spring training results, and that’s fine. Entering his 14th full season in the Majors, the accomplished veteran doesn’t need to worry about someone taking away his starting job. J-Roll’s manager, Ryne Sandberg, might disagree, as he wasn’t too happy about his shortstop’s comments, benching him for multiple games for no apparent reason, though it’s pretty obvious that he wanted to send a message. Soon enough, this whole feud will prove to be much ado about nothing. But this article will not be about players who don’t care. Plenty of players do care about their spring training performance, mainly guys who are fighting for an Opening Day roster spot, guys who are hoping to bounce back from a sub-par season last year or even guys who are striving to take that next step forward in their development. And as fantasy owners preparing for drafts, we should all care, at least a little bit. So, let’s take a look at some spring training player statistics that warrant our attention.
Mike Moustakas has swatted four home runs through his first 14 games and his 14 RBIs rank second in the Majors.
Oh, and he’s also batting .483 this spring (14-for-29). Not too long ago, Moustakas was being hailed as the next elite power-hitting third baseman, but after putting up strong numbers in the Minors, he has yet to figure things out at the big league level. Though expectations need to be tempered, I’m not ready to give up on Moose as he heads into his age-25 season. If you’re in either a deep mixed league or an AL-only and choose to wait on drafting your third baseman, Moustakas makes for an intriguing cheap power target.
Dustin Ackley is batting .441 (15-for-34) with one home run, nine RBIs and nine runs scored through 12 games.
Continuing on the disappointing former top prospect theme, Ackley is someone who I have little interest in owning this year, despite his impressive spring. Yeah, he’s slated to be the Mariners’ everyday left fielder and still qualifies at second base, which boosts his value to a degree, but seriously, what has he done in the big leagues to inspire any sort of confidence? In 356 career games, which amounts to a little more than two full seasons, Ackley sports a .245 batting average with 22 home runs and 21 steals. Some might see Ackley as a post-hype sleeper. I don’t.
Dee Gordon’s nine stolen bases lead the league.
Gordon’s elite speed is unquestioned, but for Dee, the toughest base to steal has always been first base. With Alexander Guerrero expected to begin the season in the Minors, Gordon will likely assume the role of everyday second baseman for the Dodgers. Maybe he will use this opportunity to finally prove that he belongs in the big leagues for good. Or maybe he won’t. Either way, players who can dominate in any one category will always carry fantasy value as long as they are receiving regular at-bats. Gordon is no exception.
Ivan Nova has whiffed 16 batters over his first four starts, spanning 13 1/3 innings.
The bad news for Nova is that he also sports a 5.40 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. Regardless, I was quite pleased with what I saw from the Yankee righty last season, and his rising ground ball rate should help to offset the dangers of pitching in home run friendly Yankee Stadium. An increased strikeout rate would only add to his appeal. Nova’s current NFBC ADP of 293 seems like a very reasonable price. I still think he’s being undervalued.
Hector Santiago boasts a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 14-to-3 K/BB ratio through his first three starts, covering 11 innings.
I’m firmly aboard the Santiago bandwagon this year, having already drafted him in two different mixed leagues. Racking up strikeouts has never been a problem for Hector, and his change of address from Chicago to Anaheim will help his home run issues. But in order to truly break out, the young lefty needs to improve his control, and three walks in 11 innings is a solid start. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Santiago earn regular mixed league starter status by mid-season.
Joey Votto is batting .214 (6-for-28) with a 12-to-3 K/BB ratio through 11 games.
But really, who cares?