BY ROB SHAW
One player for fantasy managers to acquaint themselves with is Daniel Murphy. The second baseman can help a fantasy team in many ways, specifically with depth due to his position eligibility. In fact, Murphy played some first, second, and third base last season after struggling in the outfield in past seasons.
A top-10 hitter last season with a .320 average, Murphy has been working on driving the ball with a little more power this season. Considering his maturation and natural growth, fantasy managers should look at Murphy as someone who can contribute a .290 average with 15 home runs and 5+ stolen bases. There’s a good chance Murphy can end up playing better than Mets rival Chase Utley this season.
Next, there should be some fantasy excitement for the return of Ike Davis to first base for the Mets. Davis looked like a legitimate slugger last season before enduring a season-ending ankle injury. At 6’4 and a large frame, Davis already has great power, with 26 home runs through his first 652 at bats, but now with the fences drawn in there is even more reason to raise expectations this season. In fact, Davis as a left-handed hitter, will be impacted the most by the fences being drawn in right-field this season. Expect Davis to prove to be a better pickup than Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
Finally, a major sleeper this season, Lucas Duda could end up being the best homegrown slugger since Darryl Strawberry was wearing number 18 on a Mets jersey. Duda has raised eyebrows in batting practice with his moon-shots. After pulling or driving to center field all 10 home runs last season, Duda has already belted two home runs the opposite way this spring.
He’s a player that can belt 25-30 home runs with a respectable average. What’s most impressive so far has been his plate discipline, which is giving hope to Mets fans that he can be the next big star in Flushing.
For more baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
By Bloomberg Sports // Ballpark Figures: Stock Report– Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele and Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw are talking baseball. For the details surrounding the K-Rod Mets saga, Jim Thome’s power display, the injured second base superstars, and Josh Willingham and Jacoby Ellsbury, Bloomberg Sports brings on USA Today baseball columnist Steve Gardner. For more fantasy insight visit the Fantasy Windup at USAToday.com as well as BloombergSports.com for your top notch data analysis.
I’ll just get this off my chest. I love Matt Kemp. (Pause.) It’s okay, though. Because I also love Chase Utley. (And all of his pomade!)
Let’s say I’m coming up on my sixth pick in the draft, and B-Rank (the
proprietary Bloomberg ranking tool, spit out by gnome-like geniuses toiling in
the depths of the silver mountain that is Bloomberg headquarters on Lexington
Avenue), tells me Kemp is ranked fifth, and Utley is ranked 10th.
That’s just a start. Any tool worth its salt is not
trying to make decisions for you – instead it’s about giving you the
opportunity to make your (informed) decisions. And in this case, the question
is how much you value positional scarcity and consistency.
In one corner we have the rising star. Kemp’s on his way up
the charts and is projected to be the number-one center fielder in baseball
next year. He went from 12th at the position to fourth in
home runs last year, and he did it by slowly ramping up his flyball rates
(from 35.9% his first year to 38.3% last year) while still hitting line drives
in bunches (21.5% career). You can see on his scout page that his slugging
percentage was steady all year, and he didn’t hit a wall. His career
78% stolen base success rate bodes well for him to continue stealing bases at a
rate that has been top-ten in baseball at his position for two straight years. He’s
got the green light. The power is projected to continue its upward trajectory,
and his speed will stick around. What’s not to love? He’s got upside in
In the other corner we have the steady veteran Utley, who also
offers a blend of power and speed. Take a look at Bloomberg Sports’ player scout tool, and you’ll see
that Utley’s been number one at his position since 2007. In the past three season, he’s ranked third, first,
and second in home runs; second, seventh, and twelfth in batting average; and 16th, 13th, and sixth in stolen bases among second basemen. If you want efficiency on the basepaths, Utley is your man: He owns an 88% career success rate – and
wasn’t caught once last year in 23 attempts. Of course, his game is still built around power; Utley’s SB total last year was the
best of his career, he’s 31 years old now and has likely peaked in the stolen base department.
Power and consistency are more likely to be lasting traits. Utley’s never hit lower than
.282 in a season, or slugged worse than .508 — he’s still the consensus best second baseman on the board. Bloomberg Sports’ Demand vs. Scarcity chart shows you that only Ian Kinsler joins Utley in the category of five-star second basemen. Only seven
second basemen rate as four-star or better.
Let’s just go back to the Demand vs. Scarcity chart
for Kemp, because it’s my favorite tool in the tool belt. You’ll see that Kemp
is a five-star center fielder, like Utley is at his position, but that there are
three others in his tier. There are also 11 center fielders that are
four-star or better. If your league doesn’t break down outfielders into three
positions, Kemp’s talents become even less exceptional, as Bloomberg Sports rates 23 left fielders and
right fielders with four stars, and 11 with five stars.
If you value positional scarcity, the nod goes to Utley. If you want the young guy on his way up no matter where he plays, you
For more information on Chase Utley, Matt Kemp and hundreds of other players, check out the new Bloomberg Sports fantasy application.