The first week of spring training games have come and gone. The Milwaukee Brewers are seeing a player with a chip on his shoulder in Ryan Braun, and a pitcher who has some work to do in Matt Garza. Here is a look at how those two stories impact fantasy owners right now, with three weeks to go until the regular season begins.
Ryan Braun's Spring
Many people-- including myself-- believed that Braun wouldn’t be the same player coming off the 65-game suspension. It is very clear that was the wrong approach to take. In seven spring training at bats through March 5th, Braun has six hits and two home runs. It is only exhibition, but for a player switching to a new position with a lot of pressure on him to perform in the same way he did before the suspension, it is very clear Braun is someone fantasy players need to be taking earlier than previously expected. His average draft position is tenth in Yahoo leagues and 17th in ESPN.com leagues presently, but he should probably go right near the middle of those two if not earlier.
Matt Garza's Spring
Then there's Garza, who signed late in the offseason and pitched very poorly in his first inning with his new team, giving up four runs. It is probably just a bump in the road, and this is just spring training, but it could be a troublesome sign if the trend continues as the spring wears on. Many people want to just avoid spring stats because pitchers are just getting their work in, and Garza has historically been pretty bad in the spring over the last three seasons. And while he has been better in the regular season, spring performance is still something to take note of and consider. Garza will still go in the middle rounds of your drafts, and his stats should be fairly solid with his return to the National League, but watch his upcoming starts carefully.
Again it is still very early, but these are things that fantasy owners need to be watching closely with fantasy drafts on the horizon and the regular season coming very soon.