New York Mets

Last time, I previewed shortstops. Now, let’s head to the outfield to round out our hitter previews.

Which outfielder should go off the board first?

Mike Trout (LAA) – There is no question that Trout is the number one outfielder in fantasy baseball. Trout is in a tier of his own, as he batted .323 with 27 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 33 stolen bases last year. The 22-year-old is going to do it big again this year, and you should have no fear in going all in on Trout.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Josh Hamilton (LAA) – Texas Rangers fans rejoiced last season, as Angels fans and fantasy owners of Hamilton were frustrated by his production. The former American League MVP had 21 home runs, just 79 runs batted in and hit a career-low .250 after getting a fat contract from the Angels. I expect Hamilton to come back strong this season and prove the naysayers wrong.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Curtis Granderson (NYM) – Granderson only played in 61 games last year for the New York Yankees and was rather disappointing. However, he is getting a fresh start with the New York Mets. He is being ranked in the late 30’s and early 40’s, which I believe is way too low for Granderson. The guy hit 43 home runs in 2012 and 41 home runs in 2011. With exceptional power and potential to steal some bases while knocking in a lot of runs, I think he’ll have a good year. He isn’t hitting in the greatest lineup or the friendliest ballpark, but he is healthy and excited to be a member of the Mets.

Bound to bust

Ryan Braun (MIL) – After a stint on the disabled list and a season-endingsuspension for violating baseball’s drug policy and lying to the public, Braun is being ranked as high as 4 or 5 on most 2014 pre-draft outfielder rankings. It is tough togauge how Braun will perform this season, knowing that he was using performanceenhancing drugs en route to his past success. Now that he is clean, or at least claims to be, I’ll side with Braun being a bust.

My Pre-Season Rankings: Outfielders

  1. Mike Trout (LAA)
  2. Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
  3. Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
  4. Bryce Harper (WAS)
  5. Adam Jones (BAL)
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury (NYY)
  7. Yasiel Puig (LAD)
  8. Carlos Gomez (MIL)
  9. Justin Upton (ATL)
  10. Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
  11. Jose Bautista (TOR)
  12. Shin-Soo Choo (TEX)
  13. Josh Hamilton (LAA)
  14. Ryan Braun (MIL)
  15. Yoenis Cespedes (OAK)
  16. Curtis Granderson (NYM)
  17. Jay Bruce (CIN)
  18. Alex Rios (TEX)
  19. Matt Kemp (LAD)
  20. Starling Marte (PIT)
  21. Matt Holliday (STL)
  22. Allen Craig (STL)
  23. Wil Myers (TB)
  24. Hunter Pence (SF)
  25. Mark Trumbo (ARI)

I’ll leave you with this...

As always, the outfield is strong. The top ten outfielders will probably be taken within the first three rounds of all fantasy drafts, and outfielders tend to go quickly since you need three of them in most standard leagues. It also doesn’t hurt to have extra on the bench and for your utility spot. Considering the position is so deep, you are kind of on your own as to how you want to approach it.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

Three biggest surprises in fantasy baseball this year

We are now a little more than two weeks into the MLB season and it is still way too early to start throwing labels on players, but there are a few players who have been on fire so far this season. Here’s a list of a few guys that have done a lot to increase their fantasy value in the first two weeks of the season.

1. John Buck, C, New York Mets

In his first 46 at-bats of the year Buck has already hit six home runs and knocked in 19 runs. This is a good sign for fantasy owners because in 106 games during the 2012 season, Buck hit just 12 home runs and had a horrendous .192 average. I would not recommend making a trade for Buck just yet though; maybe wait a month or so and see if he can continue to put up quality stats. I would also be careful to give up a lot for Buck because in his nine MLB seasons he has never hit for an average above .300. There is no doubt that the way he has been playing has significantly increased his fantasy value, but just make sure to keep a close eye on his performance to see if he can keep it up throughout the rest of the season.  

 2. Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

Davis has almost identical stats to Buck; in 47 at bats he has hit six home runs, 19 RBIs and is hitting .340. His stats are not as surprising as Buck’s though because last season he hit .270 with 33 home runs and 85 RBIs so it looks like he has picked up right where he left off in 2012. Nonetheless, his stats are still quite impressive and if you are in need of a power hitter who can also hit for a decent average then you should definitely look into trading for Davis, and you should be able to get a fair deal for him.

3. Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets

Harvey has started this season as one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball. In his first three starts he has recorded three wins, allowed only two earned runs and posted an ERA of just 0.82. This hot start is surprising because in 10 starts last season, he struggled, posting a mediocre record of 3-5, but with a year of experience under his belt the 24-year-old starter looks poised to have a great season. Harvey is owned in 100 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but if he begins to struggle a little bit that number could decline and ultimately give fantasy owners a chance to pick him up or trade for him.

Useless division projections: North League East

The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset.  If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.

National League East:

Miami Marlins, 5th place

Jeffrey Loria has a lot in common with Danny Ocean, he is a thief. He got a new stadium from the tax payers in Miami, and in return, promised higher payrolls and more competitiveness. The Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Beurhle and Heath Bell a winter ago, and appeared to be the darling of the NL East. Then the plan started backfiring, and they traded Hanley Ramirez before the trade deadline. Then, the fire sale really started when they traded Reyes, Beurhle, and ace pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto weeks after the season, completing his evil scheme, returning to an embarrassingly low payroll in a beautiful new ball park. Because Loria is a disgrace to Major League Baseball, I will not waste any more time writing about his team, and will pick them to finish dead last in the National League East when the season ends.

New York Mets, 4th place                                               

They’re heading in the right direction. Out of all the current rebuild jobs going on in the league right now, the Mets should see the fruit first. They dealt Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto but got a massive haul of prospects in return. The big league team looks bare, lead by David Wright and only David Wright, but if the prospects pan out, they should be back and running in a few short years. The number one catching prospect in all of baseball, Travis D’Arnaud, who they got in the Dickey deal, should get his first chance at being an everyday catcher at some point in the season, and the hope in the Big Apple is that he is the first arrival of the rest of the cavalry. The rotation will be led by Jonathan Niese and Shawn Marcum, but the Mets don’t have enough to compete in what is arguably the best division in baseball.

Atlanta Braves, 3rd pace

The top three spots in this division could fall in any order. The addition of the Upton brothers, B.J. by free agency and Justin by trade, along with Jason Heyward in the outfield will make the Braves a formidable force at the plate. The rotation could have some more star power, but Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor should provide the Braves a chance to win every five days. In another division, this team may be the one to beat.

Philadelphia Phillies, 2nd place

After a dismal 81-81 season in 2012, the Phillies finally look like they might be healthy enough to regain their throne atop the NL East. A healthy Roy Halladay would go a long way in making that happen, as well as a full season of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, along with Halladay still represent one of the best rotations in all of baseball, but the name of the game for the Phills is health. If they can stay healthy and get a big year from left fielder Dominic Brown, no one will want to see these guys down the stretch.

Washington Nationals, 1st place

And with the blink of an eye, the Nationals went from the first pick overall to division winners and nearly National League champions. The Houston Astros are wondering why there isn’t a Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper in the consecutive years they have had the number one overall pick. The Nats are a power house, lead by Strasburg and Gio Gonzalz on the mound while NL rookie of the year Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Laroche lead the way offensively. They won 98 games in 2012 on their way to their first NL East title as the Nationals, and figure to only be better in 2013 when they don’t have an innings limit on super ace Stephen Strasburg.

NEW YORK — Gary Carter was nicknamed “Kid” for good reason.

His smile, bubbly personality and eagerness to excel on a ballfield made him a joy to watch at the plate and behind it.
Even his Hall of Fame bronze plaque at Cooperstown shows him with a toothy grin – the Kid forever.

The star catcher, whose single for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in baseball, died Thursday. He was 57.

Carter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last May, two weeks after finishing his second season as coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Carter died at a hospice in the West Palm Beach, Fla. area.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m.,” Carter’s daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know.”

Carter was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. His bottom-of-the-10th single in Game 6 of the 1986 Series helped the Mets mount a charge against the Boston Red Sox and eventually beat them.

“Nobody loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. Nobody enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played,” Mets Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver said.

“His nickname `The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life,” the Mets said Thursday in a statement. “He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field. His smile was infectious. He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

Sam Stafford and Brandon Loy received the fanfare of being selected in the higher rounds of day two of this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, but there were other Longhorns who came off the board later Tuesday.

Senior pitcher Cole Green was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round. Relief pitcher Andrew McKirahan went to the Chicago Cubs in the 21st round, and senior first baseman and Austin Regional Most Outstanding Player Tant Shepherd was selected by the New York Mets in the 24th round.

Last year, Green was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fourth round, but turned down a $300,000 signing bonus for the opportunity to stay in school. Monetarily, that decision looks like it might end up hurting Green, who probably will not get as high an offer this time. But he has repeatedly said all season long that he has no regrets about his decision to turn down big money for the chance to win a national championship. As a junior, Green went 11-2. This year, he is 7-3 with a higher ERA. However, most agree Green has improved in terms of mechanics — his strikeout numbers are higher, and opponents are hitting at a lower average against him. In the long term, Green projects as a back-of-the rotation pitcher or, most likely, a relief pitcher.

Though he didn't see much action this season, McKirahan went a little earlier than most would have projected. The junior left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.05 ERA and, if he signs, would bring pitching depth to an organization that needs all the help it can get.

Shepherd, who despite putting up good numbers and being an above-average defender at first base, has never been very high on many scouts’ boards. Last year, Shepherd was a 47th round selection, and he fell lower in this draft than he probably should have before the Mets picked him. He is the second Longhorn headed to the Big Apple in this year’s draft class (assuming Stafford signs with the Yankees).

The draft continues Wednesday with rounds 31-50. Cohl Walla, Jordan Etier and Kendal Carrillo are hopeful to hear their names called.