Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Tampa Bay Rays

Evan Longoria

The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t set the world alight by any means in 2015, but an 80-82 record was nothing disastrous for a team who didn’t have a huge amount of expectations entering the season. The 2016 Rays season will tend to hinge on their pitching behind Archer. If Odorizzi and Smyly can produce how we know they can and a combination of Moore, Ramirez and Snell can give them enough at the back end to let them sneak some wins with low offense, then they could be a surprise wildcard contender come the end of this season.

The AL East appears to have done quite well in their additions versus subtractions, with Tampa Bay another team who grade out as net winners for me, albeit a lot closer than it has been for other teams. The addition of Corey Dickerson gives them a decent corner outfielder to bat in the middle of their line-up; Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce make up an interesting DH platoon who can also relieve Loney at first base if required. The addition of Brad Miller is an upside gamble but is more a place holder acquisition waiting for their two young prospects to arrive. On the loss side, Cabrera and Jaso aren’t big losses and both have been covered adequately. McGee is a loss overall to the bullpen but for fantasy owners his departure is a gain as it clears up the closer job in the initial part of the season.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Kevin Kiermaier (vs RH)
  2. Logan Forsythe
  3. Evan Longoria
  4. Corey Dickerson (vs RH), Brandon Guyer (vs LH)
  5. James Loney
  6. Desmond Jennings
  7. Logan Morrison (vs RH), Steve Pearce (vs LH)
  8. Curt Casali
  9. Brad Miller (vs RH), Tim Beckham (vs LH)

Evan Longoria, 3B

Longoria is a measure of consistency and safety for fantasy baseball players, having averaged 160.66 games over the last three seasons. The last two years he has hit just over 20 homers, having hit 32 the year before and 17 in half a season the year before that. This drop off is a curious one as it hasn’t led to particular jump in batting average or extra base hits of the other varieties. The good news is that he had a similar year last year to 2014, suggesting that the regressions from 2013 to 2014 is not an indicator of more going forward. I have him projected for 22 homers with a 0.260 average, 180 combined runs and RBI which just points towards a safe, low risk fantasy option at third. Longoria’s draft value is somewhat depressed by the strong third base position this year but he is currently being drafted as the 67th hitter and 13th (!!!) third baseman off the board in the 10th round which is an absolute steal, and one that would be hard to pass up in the 9th round.

Logan Forsythe, 1B, 2B

Forsythe had a tremendous break out in 2015 with 17 homers and 9 steals whilst hitting 0.281. That performance came off the back of three seasons where he had hit just 18 homers in total in 836 AB’s and averaged a measly 0.240 (in two seasons he was below 0.230). So, really, it came out of nowhere. So, who is the real Forsythe? Was 2015 the sign of more to come? I tried to project him as though it was two extremes and he will settle somewhere in the middle, and I came out with 14 homers, nine steals and 0.248 batting average, making him my joint 96th overall hitter in roto and 109th in points. If I project him to be closer to the floor that we have seen, then he comes out in the 170th region for both formats. His current draft position is 151st among hitters so at that value you are already accounting for most of his flaws if you take him there (22nd round). This means if he performs close to my projections, you have gained value and if he continues to grow then you have an absolute bargain on your hands. At the very end of the draft this feels like a can’t lose gamble where at worst you get someone to slot into your middle infield and at best you could have a top 10 second baseman on your hands.

Kevin Kiermaier, OF

Can Kiermaier put it all together this season abe a late round source of power and steals?

Can Kiermaier put it all together this season abe a late round source of power and steals?

According to the roster resource line-up projections, Kiermaier is the big winner of the Corey Dickerson trade. Prior to the move, they had him splitting time with Guyer atop the order but now they have a Dickerson/Guyer platoon with Kiermaier down as a full time player. Kiermaier suddenly becomes a fascinating fantasy option who can provide 20-25 (and potentially even more) steals whilst hitting 10-15 homers. Average-wise there is room for growth if he gets his swing under control and cuts down on the 95 strikeouts from last season, and batting atop the order means there is plenty of opportunity to score runs, even if the RBI chances will be lacking. Kiermaier has just become my sleeper for the Rays with this change in projected playing time.

Corey Dickerson, OF

My initial thoughts were that Dickerson was a big loser from the move to Tampa, but I began to change my stance a little when I believed it would mean an everyday line-up spot. However, that does not appear to be the case and so Dickerson suddenly looks less of an attractive fantasy option than he did just a couple of weeks ago. Looking at his home/road splits for his career; his batting average is 0.249 away from Coors (484 PA’s) compared to 0.355, he has hit nine less homers in 54 more AB’s away from Coors. I know it’s foolish to take that at face value because of the general Colorado effect on hitters, but you would also be foolish to not think it’s a pretty big change. And for me, he has dropped from a potential top 25 outfielder to outside of the top 50. The big drop is because I was willing to gamble on the platoon and the injuries in Colorado, but in Tampa it’s a big “no thank you” from me.

Any Other Business?

  • James Loney, 1B: Loney had an off 2015 but even if he bounces back in 2016 the best we are looking at is a first baseman who hits for 0.290 but less than 10 homers and will struggle to compete for top 20 among first basemen.
  • Steven Souza, OF: Souza is the big loser from the Dickerson trade as he has seemingly gone from an everyday player to someone projected to start the year in the minors. When he does come up Souza will offer great power but an average above 0.240 is a bonus
  • Desmond Jennings, OF: Jennings is currently projected for an everyday role but he is more of a fielding asset than a hitting asset. Even so 20ish steals with 10ish homers is nothing to turn your nose up at in deeper leagues considering he is going undrafted in most leagues.
  • Brad Miller, SS, OF: Brad Miller going the 116th hitter off the board is baffling to me. Yes, he is a utility guy but right now he is projected to platoon the SS role with Beckham and I have him hitting for 0.250. Yes, shortstop isn’t great but there are enough options out there that there is no way you should be taking Brad Miller before the 20th

Projected Rotation

  1. Chris Archer
  2. Jake Odorizzi
  3. Drew Smyly
  4. Erasmo Ramirez
  5. Matt Moore

DL: Alex Cobb

Chris Archer

Can Archer go one step further this season and become an elite fantasy pitching option?

Can Archer go one step further this season and become an elite fantasy pitching option?

A legitimate stud who is rightly going in the same region as Syndergaard, Gray, Harvey and Cole in drafts. I wouldn’t target it, but if Archer ended up being my number one pitcher coming out of drafts, backed with Carrasco or someone of the like as my number two, I would be more than happy. Archer’s ERA has been consistently in the 3.2-3.3 region for the last three seasons and last year he upped his K/9 to 10.7, whilst his BB/9 was just 2.8. I don’t like looking at wins but Archer plays for a team that won’t score many runs and that will hurt his chances to win 15-plus games, which is his best chance of finishing the year top 10.

Jake Odorizzi & Drew Smyly

In roto these two guys are pretty much identical to me in the 40-45 range among pitchers. In points leagues, Odorizzi rightly has the advantage because of the increased security over IP’s being big in that format. However, currently there is a 30-place gap between their draft values which makes Smyly the better value for me in roto (15th round) than Odorizzi in the 12th.

Matt Moore

Moore has tumbled a long way from the ace that many people thought he could be. Injuries have derailed the past two seasons and it is hard to project Moore for anything significantly over 100 IP’s this year, which makes him impossible to draft. A guy to have on the watch list in case he gets hot, but nothing more right now.

Erasmo Ramirez

Unexciting but without the upside pedigree of Moore.

Alex Cobb

Undraftable because we don’t know when he will be back or how he will settle back in when he is back. Another watch list guy to keep your eye on during his rehab.

Closer:

Brad Boxberger

The McGee trades makes Boxberger a solid mid round closer this season

The McGee trades makes Boxberger a solid mid round closer this season

There were some question marks around Boxberger for me long term if McGee had stayed in Tampa, but the removal of McGee means Boxberger is the clear closer now with now being the next man up. Boxberger has tremendous strikeout rates which means that whilst his ERA and WHIP numbers aren’t as good as other closers he still fits nicely in that 12-20 range of closers who you won’t have to pay an extreme price for.

Prospect Potential

  • Daniel Robertson, SS: Robertson will probably end up being a better real life player than fantasy player given that his best power season is 15 homers. I don’t see anyone blocking him at shortstop right now but the bigger threat may loom behind in the form of Willy Adames. If Robertson comes up this year, he is unlikely to make a big enough impact in fantasy to be worth stashing at this stage.
  • Richie Shaffer, 1B,3B: Shaffer has tremendous power upside having hit 26 homers at a 0.267 average in the minors in 2015. He didn’t have a first good stint in the majors and although he is reasonably flexible position wise he is blocked from most angles. The most likely option is at first given that Loney doesn’t offer a lot in power and is only signed through this season. Not worth a draft and stash but worth adding to the watch list post-draft.
  • Blake Snell, SP: Snell had a fantastic 2015 season across three levels (A+ to AAA) striking out 163 in 134 IP’s with an unbelievable 1.41 ERA. If he carries on like this, he has ace potential but even a small fall back would still see him as a decent #2 starter who can be a solid fantasy prospect. If his moves in 2015 are anything to go by he could be in the Ray’s rotation very quickly. If Moore struggles with injuries or Ramirez cannot put it together then Snell could be snapping at their heels for their rotation spots early this year. An interesting speculative draft late in 12 team or deeper leagues with tremendous upside.

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