Cactus League Update for March 6th
Today I enjoyed one of the baseball fans greatest pleasures, a Spring Training doubleheader. At 1 p.m., the Arizona Diamondbacks hosted the Kansas City Royals at Salt River Fields. Then, after a nap, I attended a 7 p.m. game in Goodyear between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.
James Shields vs. Patrick Corbin: Game one featured two potential mid-round draftees in the Royals' James Shields and Arizona's Patrick Corbin. Shields looked sharp in his three innings of work. Corbin was a little shaky early, but settled in. I've always liked Shields in fantasy. He eats innings, pitches late in games, gets his share of strikeouts and won't kill you in rate stats. After the elite starters go off the board, Shields is a guy I'll target in every draft. He's just solid and you really know what you'll get from him. Plus, it's his free agency year - if you believe that will help his numbers at all.
After performing at an "ace" level for most of last season, Corbin hit a brick wall and was pretty much shelled over the last month or so. This is understandable as he was in his first full season in the majors and probably just ran out of gas in September. His stats still ended up pretty good for 200 innings of work, but I still think he's more of a mid-rotation guy than an ace. I wouldn't rule out drafting Corbin if he slid into the later rounds, but I prefer a guy like Shields who has a longer track record of success.
Eric Hosmer: Also from that game. . . Corbin made Eric Hosmer look silly, striking him out twice on pitches out of the zone. . . Mike Moustakas looked locked in, drilling a solid single off Corbin and a three-run homer off lefty Joe Patterson. Hitting against lefties is supposedly his weakness. If he's figured something out, maybe a breakout year is in the works.
Los Angeles Dodgers: In the night game, the Dodgers killed the Reds, 10-3. Second base candidate Alex Guerrero hit a grand slam. Adrian Gonzalez his a long solo shot. And another second base candidate, Dee Gordon, started in center field. The Dodgers are clearly looking at positional flexibility this spring with Gordon, Justin Turner and Brendan Harris playing all over the infield. Scott VanSlyke has been working at first base as well. However, as of now, no clear favorite has emerged for the starting second base job.
Billy Hamilton: For the Reds, Billy Hamilton had two hits and no stolen bases. He led off the Reds' half of the first with a bunt single that made it past the pitcher, which is pretty much a guaranteed hit for Hamilton. I'm sure everyone had read all the stories about Hamilton's speed and crazy feats on the base paths. Seeing him live, I believe everything I read. The guy can run and make things happen on the bases.
I have heard two divergent schools of thought on Hamilton. First, that he's the second-coming of Rickey Henderson. Second, that he can't steal first base and won't be on base enough to be worth what he's going for in auction leagues. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. He won't get on base like Henderson, but when he does . . . look out. Barring injury, I think you could conservatively pencil him in for 50-60 steals this year. I don't think he'll have a Henderson-like 100 quite yet, but if he finds ways to get on base - like the perfect bunt he laid down tonight - he has a real chance to single-handedly win your team the steals category and score a lot of runs from the top of the lineup. I'm buying.
Stay tuned for more daily updates from Arizona as RotoBaller Scott Slezak provides your daily Cactus League fantasy baseball analysis.