Focusing on players on new teams is generally a key priority for fantasy owners. Questions should be asked such as “Is this player’s new stadium more or less hitter-friendly?”, “Will the player be hitting in a different slot in the batting order?” and “How potent is the lineup around the player?” Those are just a few of the questions to research. Take a dive with me as we review several sluggers that will be wearing a new uniform in 2014.
After eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, Kinsler was traded to the Detroit Tigers in a swap for Prince Fielder. Following a career year in 2009 where the former Rangers second basemen hit 30 home runs while stealing 30 bases, his numbers have declined each season. After Kinsler declined to move to first base upon the Rangers request in order to make room for highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar, the writing was on the wall that Kinsler would be moved. Unfortunately, Detroit’s Comerica Park is less hitter-friendly than the Ballpark at Arlington, which makes him even less appealing. On the bright side, Kinsler actually hit more home runs on the road than at home in 2013. He should also receive a ton of at bats as Detroit’s leadoff hitter and will provide owners a valuable power/speed combination at second base. However, do not look for improved numbers in Detroit as Kinsler may be more of a 15 home run/15 stolen base hitter going forward.
A perfect segue would be to now discuss Fielder. With a move to Detroit in 2012 and slotted between Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, many analysts predicted career years for Fielder. Although 2012 was strong, Fielder experienced career lows in 2013. In fact, he experienced a decline in every offensive category last season including a career-low on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Still, Fielder is very capable of hitting more than 30 home runs with 100 runs batted in and maintaining a decent average. Texas’ lineup should still be potent and the Ballpark at Arlington should also compliment Fielder. Look for improved numbers for Prince this season.
Unfortunately, it was not a “grand finale” for Granderson in his final go-around with the New York Yankees. After an injury-riddled 2013 season that began with a forearm injury incurred during his first spring training at-bat, Granderson is looking for a fresh start as he heads across several boroughs to Queens. Turning 33 this month, the veteran outfielder will begin his 10th season by hitting in the middle of the New York Mets’ lineup. In half a season, Granderson actually hit southpaws better than right-handers, which used be a key weakness. He also hit considerably better in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium than on the road, which may be a concern in the highly pitcher-friendly Citi Field. Regardless, Granderson is only one year removed from back-to-back 40 home runs, 100 runs batted in, and double-digit stolen base seasons. I would anticipate Granderson hitting around .250 with 25 home runs and 90 runs batted in. His nice start to Spring Training is also a positive sign!
Speaking of former New York Yankees, Cano also departed New York after signing a monster 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. Cano has been one of the most consistent players in baseball over the last five seasons and is even more valuable at the scarce position of second base. In fact, his home and away splits are barely noticeable as Cano can hit anywhere. With an improved lineup, the veteran second baseman should post a similar line to his career average. Continue to draft Cano in the first round and expect a .300 batting average with 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in. His scorching spring start is pleasant to see for concerned owners.
Whoa Nelly! Cruz was off to an incredible 2013 season with 27 home runs and 76 runs batted in in 109 games, but then served a 50-game suspension after being named in the Biogenesis investigation. Cruz declined Texas’ offer to re-sign, and then agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Cruz will be batting in a hitter-friendly park in the middle of a very potent Baltimore offense. With that being said, will he still have the same power stroke minus the “enhancements?” Only time will tell! I expect Cruz to post another 25-home-run/100 RBI season.
As spring training continues and drafts begin, keep an eye on each of these players’ situations. Good luck this season!