Long before Fantasy Football was played by everybody from your 12 year old nephew to that creepy guy at the bar who just keeps staring at you - there was Fantasy Baseball. Fantasy Baseball was created for and by purists - a true fan's fantasy. It's not like football where you can set your lineup Sunday morning and have a chance. Sure there are basketball formats where you have to change it every day but not like this, not like baseball. You have to be ready every day in case someone tweeks something in their warm up bullpen or if a guy takes one on the fingers in BP.
But there is something to be said for the method of being completely engrossed in something. It's almost reassuring knowing that with everything that goes on outside of your team in the real world - you can always count on your team to be there exactly as you have created them to be. They don't call it fantasy for nothing.
So without further ado here is your fantasy breakdown for the Red Sox - complete with studs, busts and sleepers. Good luck to you and your teams and may whoever "that" person in your league is be riddled with injuries.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury exploded in 2011 to the tune of a .321 average with 32 homers and 105 RBI's. His steals may have dropped from previous years but owners were more than okay giving up some steals for the power numbers. Draft Jacoby with confidence as he is a top 5 outfielder and I think a top 5 player overall given all the different categories that he can really give you top
Jon Lester/ Josh Beckett: You can say what you want about how last season ended and you'd have every right not to trust these guys. But when it comes to taking a Red Sox pitcher in the early rounds then you are going to look no further than these two. They have track records that speak for themselves and this year there's the added incentive to prove all of the nay sayers wrong. One or both of them could drop in your draft because of last years shenanigans so if they fall to you don't be afraid to snatch them up.
Adrian Gonzalez: You don't need me to make a case for Adrian Gonzalez here. But I am going to make a case for his power numbers. Gonzalez loves hitting the ball to left field but he doesn't hit the towering oppo gap bombs that a guy like Ryan Howard hits. AGon hits the ball with a lot of backspin which usually means that his home runs start out at a lower trajectory. What does it all mean? It means balls that get out at Petco park are just long singles off the wall at Fenway. Gonzalez talked about working on it in the offseason so look for his home run totals to be right around 35 and everything else to increase because of it.
Dustin Pedroia: If he's healthy than the stats will be as good or better than Cano's across the board. Plain and simple.
Clay Buchholz: Not exactly a guy that is going to be forgotten but he did fall quite a bit in the preseason rankings because of his in jury last year. Don't forget that in his last full season (2010) Clay went 17-7 with a 2.33. Reports are that his back has recovered completely and that he is completely clear going forward. Draft with confidence.
Carl Crawford: Between his absolutely putrid season and his wrist issues this spring - Carl Crawford doesn't seem like the guy you want to build your fantasy outfield around. But as a second or third outfielder he could prove to be a very pleasant surprise. Until last season Crawford was Jacoby Ellsbury before Jacoby Ellsbury realized who he was. While we may no longer here talks of Crawford having all five tools there is a reason the conversation was brought up in the first place. Carl used to be a fantasy beast and one season shouldn't be a barometer of where his career his heading. Think of this as a high reward move. The level of risk is up to you.
Andrew Miller: The reports out of camp are that Miller went back to his old mechanics and is much more comfortable. If he could regain the form that made him a top pick he could end up being the suprise of the Sox this season. As it is he has a good shot at the 5th starter position and he's got more potential than anyone else you would drafting around him.
Mark Melancon: I'm not 100% sold on Andrew Bailey and as fill in closers go nobody was better than Melancon last year. Thrust into closing duties for the Astros - Melancon finished the season with an 8-4 record, a 2.78 ERA, a WHIP of 1.224, 20 saves and a almost nine K/9. Even if Bailey doesn't slip up look for Melancon to be the 8th inning guy.
Kevin Youkilis: The guy physically can't take the rigors of playing 3rd base for 162 games and even when he was healthy last year his production was way down. Add to that the fact that he's a cantankerous ass and recently got married and I don't see Youkilis lasting much longer in Boston while they can still move him for something decent.
Andrew Bailey: Bailey is heading in the wrong direction. Add to that the fact that he is going from laid back Oakland to Fenway Park and the Red Sox could have a situation on their hands.
Things to keep an eye on
- They called Daniel Bard the Red Sox' 4th starter on NESN the other night so apparently this will be less of a competition than initially thought. Still - the back end of the rotation is up for grabs and is a situation that warrants watching.
- Cody Ross has been going absolutely off in Spring Training so far. Could be an absolute steal on draft day or a waiver wire pick up early on.
- The shortstop situation doesn't merit much of a watching but if Mike Aviles can break through he would have the potential to put up much more respectable numbers than the extremely light hitting Punto.
Pete Mastors 3/07/2012 11:31:00 AM Tweet