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Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?

How would you answer my question? Several top fantasy stars will look to answer this question as they have moved into new homes this season. There are a limitless number of factors that may be analyzed to forecast whether these players will surpass or sink below their production from 2010. Even with a bulk of evidence leading to a prediction, our findings are merely “a prediction.” For example, many experts were high on Curtis Granderson last season as he transitioned from the Detroit Tigers to the New York Yankees. Most figured that the Yankees’ potent lineup mixed with the right field’s mysteriously helpful wind tunnel would result in Granderson eclipsing career highs in home runs. It turned out that Detroit seemed to be the greener pasture as Granderson struggled nearly the entire season until finally adjusting his swing and rediscovering his power stroke in September. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for owners who drafted him in the third round with optimistic hopes of 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Let’s take a dive as we investigate several players in new cities to decide if you should offer any extra love or look the other way in your upcoming draft.

Carl Crawford – This fantasy stud has moved north from “The Trop” in Tampa Bay to Fenway in Boston. Crawford’s new home should only add to his value as Fenway is considered a hitter-friendly park. However, the 37-foot Green Monster may result in more doubles than opposite field bombs for Crawford. On the other hand, he should have no issues pulling the ball over the right field fence. The Red Sox left fielder should hit around 15-20 home runs with increased opportunities for runs and runs batted in. Crawford will miss stealing bases against Boston’s defense as he swiped nine last year, but should have no problem swiping between 40-50 this season.

Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez is leaving a hitter’s nightmare in pitcher-friendly Petco Park where he still hit at least 30 home runs for four straight seasons. Now playing first base for Boston in a loaded lineup, many project him to post career bests as he is being drafted in the early second round. It is difficult to build an argument against this forecast, but Gonzalez’s offseason shoulder surgery will bid some hesitance. Thus far, no negative news regarding his recovery has been released so Gonzalez will reward his faithful owners with 40 home runs, 100 runs scored and 100 runs batted in.

Adam Dunn – Dunn takes his share of criticism for striking out and not swinging a bat during the offseason, but he has proven to be one of the rare models of consistency. Dunn has hit at least 38 home runs eight seasons in a row. His batting average and strikeout rate have always been a struggle, but he is still a powerhouse. With bags packed from the nation’s capital to now hitting cleanup for President Barack Obama’s favorite club, Dunn has upside this season. He will be leaving a relatively neutral park to play in a slugger’s haven in the home run-friendly U.S. Cellular Field. Pencil Dunn for 50 home runs this season. Yes, I said “five-o”!

Adrian Beltre – Finally free from Seattle, Beltre experienced the second-most productive season of his career with Boston last year. He will be moving from a strong offense in a relatively hitter-friendly park to the Ballpark in Arlington, which is one of the most home run-friendly stadiums in the league. With Beltre no longer in a contract year and another year older, do not expect an increase in production, but an encore of 28 home runs with a .321 batting average would be quite impressive.

Carlos Pena – Pena will be welcoming Chicago’s Wrigley Field with open arms. Not only did Pena struggle nearly all of last season, he hit under the Mendoza line (.200). Tropicana field is a difficult venue for left-handed hitters, despite Pena hitting most of his home runs at home. Pena, a deadly pull hitter, should redeem himself and hit at least 35 home runs along with a mediocre batting average.

Mark Reynolds – With a move from Chase Field in Arizona to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Reynolds’ situation should stay relatively similar. Speaking of the Mendoza line, Reynolds also looked up at the line at the end of last season.   Baltimore’s offense has been improved so I expect Reynolds to partially rebound with 35 home runs and a batting average around .250. Nevertheless, it is risky drafting a player that has struck out more than any other over the last three seasons.

Victor Martinez – Martinez moved from Boston to the Motor City, where he will be likely slotted behind Miguel Cabrera in the batting order. As a switch hitter, Martinez should excel in Detroit and earn another 20-25 home runs. He will share catching duties with Alex Avila, which will give him opportunities as a designated hitter. This should result in additional at-bats, and a healthier, energized Martinez through the season.

Jayson Werth – Notorious for raising eyebrows with his brazen grooming habits, he is now receiving attention for the generous $126 million contract that he signed with the Washington Nationals. His new home may offer less appeal that Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park, but the Nationals’ young lineup is improving while the Phillies’ continue to suffer through injuries. If he can stay healthy, expect Werth to hit the 30 home run mark combined with 15-20 stolen bases.

Dan Uggla – Fresh off of his most prolific season in the majors, Uggla took his talents out of South Beach and into Atlanta. His new home, Turner Field, should not offer much more advantage than Florida’s Sunlife Stadium. Atlanta’s lineup should be more potent with lofty expectations for Jason Heyward’s sophomore season. Uggla’s home run production has been extremely consistent as he should produce another 30-plus for owners this season.

Vernon Wells – After more than 10 years playing above the border with the Toronto Blue Jays, Wells was shipped to sunny Anaheim, Calif. Although the weather may be more appealing and he can now surf at Huntington Beach, there is little more to be excited about. Wells rebounded last season with 31 home runs in a surprisingly, potent Blue Jays lineup. On the other hand, the Angels experienced one of their worst offensive seasons in 2010, but will improve with a healthy Kendry Morales. Regardless, I see Wells’ power numbers reducing to around 20 home runs as the Angel Stadium is less home run-friendly for right-handers than the Rogers Centre.

Only time will tell if the grass is indeed greener on the other side for these players in 2011. Without a doubt, one of these players will defy the odds with a monster season when we least expect it. Hopefully, he will be on your team.

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