Have you ever been so sure of something that you bragged to everybody about it, only to have been so wrong? Me neither! As a fantasy writer, I admit that I’m probably wrong more than I’m right, but it is pretty close. I joke, I joke-- of course I'm always right, why else would you want to read this? Anyway, let’s take a look at five players heading into their second year in the show and five rookies who are hoping to make it to their second year.
Sophomore Slump? I Think Not
Yasiel Puig - If he can behave, be humble and play smart, he will be a stud. I know that is a lot to ask of a 23-year-old “phenom,” but I think manager Don Mattingly has some good influence on him. Puig didn’t make his MLB debut until June 3rd but he still managed 19 HR, 42 RBI, 66 R and 11 SB while hitting .319. All this in 104 games played! This led to him finishing second in NL Rookie of the year voting, behind Jose Fernandez, again playing in just 64% of the season. Projected to bat leadoff for a great Dodger team, Puig will be a force. He will come close to being a 30/30 guy-- there were none of those in 2013. Watch this-- even though it won’t help your fantasy team, it’s just awesome.
Wil Myers - No matter what you hear, the Kansas City Royals have to be regretting trading away this no-batting-glove-wearing stud of a hitter. Myers did what he was projected to do, hit. He led all AL rookies with 53 RBI, playing in only 88 games. If you’re looking for extra-base hits, Myers is your man, as he hit 23 doubles and 13 HR in the short season. Myers was instrumental in helping the Rays make the playoffs, hitting .308 with 4 HR and 14 RBI in September. Despite not making his MLB debut until June 8, Myers went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. He will continue to mash in his second year, with or without batting gloves.
Matt Adams - The big man can flat out hit fastballs. He is the real Pedro Cerrano, except that he is a big American left handed hitter. Slated to start the season at 1B for a great Cardinals team, Adams should put up solid numbers in all the power categories. Read more about him here.
Jedd Gyorko - There aren't many power hitters playing second base. If you’re looking for extra power in your lineup, look no further than this San Diego Padres second basemen. He hit 23 HR in only 125 games-- what can he do in a whole season? Read this to find out.
Evan Gattis - The former janitor squashed those pundits who said he was only a splash and he couldn’t have continued success as the season went on last year. Gattis proved them wrong by leading ALL rookies with 65 RBI. He added 21 HR in only 105 games played. Atlanta let Brian McCann walk, and they'll hand over the starting catcher spot to Gattis, as well as the cleanup spot in the lineup. Another batting-glove-free hitter like Myers, Gattis hit the longest HR in MLB last year, 488 feet off of Cole Hamels. 488 FEET!!!!! Watch it here.
Rookies & Prospects Hoping to Make A Splash
I will be releasing my list of top 20 2014 fantasy relevant rookies soon. Stay tuned!
Billy Hamilton - 13 steals in only 13 games as a September call up last year, that’s Ricky Hendersonesque!! If he can get on base, he can single-handedly win you the SB category. Check out fellow RotoBaller @JustBerglund's article on steals here.
Jose Abreu - The $68M man has to really bash to justify that kind of money, and bash he will! He’s been called the best pure hitter from Cuba in the last 10 years by Cuban baseball expert and author Peter Bjarkman. Abreu flirted with winning the Triple Crown in Cuba the last two years. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, he hit .360 with 3 HR and 9 RBI in six games. Supposed to be better than Cespedes and Puig? Imagine what he will accomplish if that's true.
Nick Castellanos - Current Spring Training RBI leader with 16 while hitting a cool .400 in 45 at bats. I know it’s only Spring Training and the stats don’t mean diddly squat, but Castellanos will be the everyday third baseman for the Tigers. He’s not the typical power-hitting 3B, but he can be good in about every hitting category, especially hitting in the potent Tigers lineup.
Xander Bogaerts - How would you perform at the age of 21 in the World Series after just being called up? Bogaerts played well enough to earn a World Series ring, and he was a key piece in the Red Sox’s run to a championship. Moving to shortstop this year, Bogaerts looks to add to his stellar late-season call up and produce in his first full year. I expect him to become one of the best young shortstops in the game.
Mike Olt - Olt is currently tearing up Spring Training with 4 HR and 9 RBI in 31 AB. He is a former top-20 MLB prospect with the Texas Rangers. Olt had eye problems that led to a forgettable 2013. A throw-in for the Matt Garza trade, Olt had surgery on his eyes and says he is hitting the ball like he used to. That is good news for the Cubs, as he can add much-needed power from the hot corner. Olt hit 28 home runs in AA in 2012 and will look to provide that kind of power for the up-and-coming Chicago Cubs. With half his games in Wrigley Field, 20+ HR is attainable.