Fantasy Baseball’s Fabulous First Half Figures

With the All-Star break starting after Sunday’s action, there are some baseball fans who are feeling like a train ran over them, weeping at the thought of discussing their fantasy baseball teams due to horrific production, numerous injuries, and running their squads with their hearts instead of their heads – sitting in last place. The cellar isn’t so bad until all of the wine is gone, but some of us have players to thank for tremendous starts to the 2014 fantasy baseball season. Not all of us can have Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Felix Hernandez, and Troy Tulowitzki, so these are the players who are helping to separate the contenders from the pretenders in the first half of the season:

Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 ★ 24 HOU 91 410 380 47 128 27 2 2 27 41 23 28 .337 .376 .434 .810 165
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Altuve is having a career year, on pace for over 220 hits and 70 stolen bases. In an era of huge swing and miss on the offensive side of the game, Altuve lacks patience but makes consistent contact, putting the ball in play to utilize his speed. He leads MLB with his 128 hits, with 20 of those coming on infield hits. With Jon Singleton and George Springer joining him in Houston this season, a glimpse into the Astros’ future is upon us.

 

Indians OF Michael Brantley
Indians OF Michael Brantley

Michael Brantley, LF, Cleveland Indians

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 ★ 27 CLE 88 382 343 62 112 22 1 14 62 10 30 31 .327 .387 .519 .906 178
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

“Dr. Smooth” has already eclipsed his previous career-high in home runs (10 in 2013) this season, and will easily surpass his career bests in several other categories, and if that wasn’t enough, he is tied for the MLB lead in outfield assists (10, though he has negative defensive value). You likely don’t earn anything for those throws, but Branley’s bat has kept an up-and-down Indians club in the AL Central race all season. His career contact rates suggest that this breakout is legit – not bad for the player to be named later in the C.C. Sabathia deal, huh?

Dee Gordon, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 ★ 26 LAD 89 384 351 51 104 14 9 2 25 42 27 56 .296 .348 .405 .753 142
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

To think that Gordon was “in the mix” for the second base job this spring after the Dodgers signed Cuban infielder Alex Guerrero seems absurd when looking at his offensive impact this season. The speedster has obviously assisted fantasy players with the league-leading 42 stolen bases, but getting on base (formerly a problem) has allowed him to be driven in by Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and the other Dodger hitters. Sometime you just need a long-term look to show what you have. The Dodgers committed to him, and Gordon is rewarding many people so far this season.

Billy Hamilton, CF, Cincinnati Reds

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 23 CIN 88 348 323 45 92 18 6 5 38 37 16 63 .285 .318 .424 .742 137
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

I wasn’t much of a believer in Hamilton given his struggles in Triple-A last season, but he has certainly proven me wrong. While he isn’t leading the league in steals, he has certainly given the Reds an dynamic defender in center and a threat to score at will. The power is just icing on the cake for fantasy owners. His recent tear (.344/.375/.574 over the last 15 games) has not only increased his numbers, they have helped put the Reds back in contention in the NL Central.

Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 ★ 27 COL 91 373 341 52 101 17 1 14 50 16 21 46 .296 .343 .475 .818 162
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Blackmon is an All-Star. He barely had a grasp on the starting left field job when spring training started, so that is about all that you need to know; however, I will share his home and road splits because I’m not so sure his value is legitimate unless you play him during long home stands –

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Home 46 42 199 180 37 61 10 1 11 34 10 13 22 .339 .394 .589 .983 106
Away 45 37 174 161 15 40 7 0 3 16 6 8 24 .248 .285 .348 .633 56
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

 

Cincinnati Reds 3B Todd Frazier
Cincinnati Reds 3B Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2014 ★ 28 CIN 92 390 353 55 102 17 1 17 48 13 31 79 .289 .351 .487 .839 172
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Todd Frazier is the second most valuable third baseman in baseball in 2014 (based on WAR, 3.5), ahead of the likes of Evan Longoria, David Wright, and Adrian Beltre. He’s hitting for power, he’s running, and, the best part, nothing in his numbers truly suggest a regression. With the hot months ahead of us and Great American Ballpark being a notoriously friendly environment, we could easily see 30 home runs and 100 RBI next to his name at the end of the season.

Garrett Richards, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP H9
2014 26 LAA AL 11 2 2.55 19 0 0 123.1 88 35 35 4 43 127 2.68 1.062 6.4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Perhaps we should have seen this coming after Richards had one of the top fastball velocities in baseball in 2013. After all, if you consider that his average fastball was 94.8 mph in 2013, he would have ranked in the top four in baseball behind Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg, and Jose Fernandez. Good company. Better results.

Alfredo Simon, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP H9
2014 33 CIN 12 3 2.70 18 0 0 116.2 94 36 35 14 28 75 4.32 1.046 7.3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Simon is leading MLB in the all important WIN. Ugh…the win…well, it still matters in fantasy. The FIP suggests he could see regression, but the bigger question is the number of innings he will log, as his career-high for innings was in 2011 when he reached 115.2 for Baltimore. He will likely spend some time in the Reds’ bullpen to limit those down the stretch, or a burnout is likely.

 

A's LHP Scott Kazmir
A’s LHP Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir, LHP, Oakland Athletics

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP H9
2014 ★ 30 OAK 11 3 2.38 19 1 0 117.1 88 33 31 10 27 108 3.18 0.980 6.8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

His career was nearly over in 2011 due to shoulder issues, he missed all of 2012 and then the solid return in Cleveland was special…but this is incredible. Kazmir deserves this success after overcoming so many obstacles, and the A’s look intelligent, as always, in their wise investment – as do fantasy owners.

Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Miami Marlins

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP H9
2014 24 MIA 6 4 2.63 19 3 3 120.0 129 43 35 7 22 73 3.34 1.258 9.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2014.

Alvarez has a heavy fastball that he can’t blow by many, but it manages to keep the ball on the ground and in the park. That has helped him take a big step forward in his production on the mound this season. At 24, he is a strong dynasty option. He really knows how to pitch and his command will keep him relevant if and when he loses his velocity.

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2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Top 250

With drafts already starting and Spring Training just hours away, now is the time to really get a better idea of where you should be ranking players. Below, you’ll find the top 250 players in Major League Baseball for 5 X 5, standard format fantasy leagues:

 

Angels OF Mike Trout - the top player in fantasy baseball
Angels OF Mike Trout – the top player in fantasy baseball

1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

2. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, Detroit Tigers

3. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

5. Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

6. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

7. Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners

8. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies

9. Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore Orioles

10. Hanley Ramirez, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

11. Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

12. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies

13. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

14. Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

15. Yu Darvish, SP, Texas Rangers

16. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, New York Yankees

17. Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers

18. Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

19. David Wright, 3B, New York Mets

20. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

21. Felix Hernandez, SP, Seattle Mariners

22. Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

23. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

24. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox

25. Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

Tigers RHP and 2013 AL Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer
Tigers RHP and 2013 AL Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer

26. Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers

27. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins

28. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

29. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians

30. Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants

31. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

32. Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins

33. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals

34. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers

35. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds

36. Justin Upton, OF, Atlanta Braves

37. Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays

38. David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

39. Cole Hamels, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

40. Jean Segura, SS, Milwaukee Brewers

41. Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox

42. Jose Reyes, SS, Toronto Blue Jays

43. Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

44. Zack Greinke, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

45. Carlos Santana, C/1B, Cleveland Indians

46. Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

47. Alex Rios, OF, Texas Rangers

48. Craig Kimbrel, RP, Atlanta Braves

49. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals

50. Buster Posey, C/1B, San Francisco Giants

51. Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals

52. David Ortiz, 1B, Boston Red Sox

53. Homer Bailey, SP, Cincinnati Reds

54. Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds

55. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit Tigers

56. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals

57. Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

58. Anibal Sanchez, SP, Detroit Tigers

59. Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals

60. Mat Latos, SP, Cincinnati Reds

61. Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Washington Nationals

62. Mike Minor, SP, Atlanta Braves

63. Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Orioles 3B Manny Machado
Orioles 3B Manny Machado

64. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

65. Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers

66. Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres

67. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics

68. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

69. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

70. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland Athletics

71. Matt Holliday, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

72. Hunter Pence, OF, San Francisco Giants

73. Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals

74. Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

75. Joe Mauer, C/1B, Minnesota Twins

76. Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco Giants

77. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

78. Allen Craig, 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals

79. Greg Holland, RP, Kansas City Royals

80. James Shields, SP, Kansas City Royals

81. Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

82. Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, Seattle Mariners

83. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays

84. Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves

85. Alex Cobb, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

86. Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

87. Gerrit Cole, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Reds 2B Brandon Phillips
Reds 2B Brandon Phillips

88. Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

89. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

90. Kris Medlen, SP, Atlanta Braves

91. Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Yankees

92. Trevor Rosenthal, RP, St. Louis Cardinals

93. Koji Uehara, RP, Boston Red Sox

94. Julio Teheran, SP, Atlanta Braves

95. Hyun-jin Ryu, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

96. Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees,

97. Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

98. Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

99. Alex Gordon, OF, Kansas City Royals

100. Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals

101. Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

102. Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners

103. Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

104. Jered Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels

105. Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

106. Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals

107. Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF, Colorado Rockies

108. Glen Perkins, RP, Minnesota Twins

109. Jonathan Lucroy, C/1B, Milwaukee Brewers

110. Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs

111. Shane Victorino, OF, Boston Red Sox

112. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

113. Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants

114. Joe Nathan, RP, Detroit Tigers

115. Addison Reed, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks

116. R.A. Dickey, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

117. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians

118. Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox

119. Doug Fister, SP, Washington Nationals

120. Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

121. Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies

122. Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets

123. Francisco Liriano, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton
Reds OF and speedster, Billy Hamilton

124. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds

125. Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees

126. Sergio Romo, RP, San Francisco Giants

127. Rafael Soriano, RP, Washington Nationals

128. Aaron Hill, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks

129. Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

130. Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds

131. Jason Grilli, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates

132. Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

133. Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets

134. Andrew Cashner, SP/RP, San Diego Padres

135. Hiroki Kuroda, SP, New York Yankees

136. Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

137. Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

138. Victor Martinez, UTIL, Detroit Tigers

139. J.J. Hardy, SS, Baltimore Orioles

140. Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels

141. Wilin Rosario, C, Colorado Rockies

142. Jeff Samardzija, SP, Chicago Cubs

143. Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies

144. Jim Johnson, RP, Oakland Athletics

145. Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres

146. Will Venable, OF, San Diego Padres

147. Brandon Moss, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics

148. Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees

149. Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

150. Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics

151. Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS, Oakland Athletics

152. Carl Crawford, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

153. Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox

154. Brett Gardner, OF, New York Yankees

155. Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Mets

156. Leonys Martin, OF, Texas Rangers

157. Josh Reddick, OF, Oakland Athletics

158. Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox

159. Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres

160. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins

161. Huston Street, RP, San Diego Padres

162. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves

163. Norichika Aoki, OF, Kansas City Royals

164. CC Sabathia, SP, New York Yankees

165. Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston Red Sox

166. David Robertson, RP, New York Yankees

167. Grant Balfour, RP, Tampa Bay Rays

168. Ben Revere, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

169. Casey Janssen, RP, Toronto Blue Jays

170. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles

171. Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Angels

172. Jarrod Parker, SP, Oakland Athletics

173. Lance Lynn, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

174. Sonny Gray, SP, Oakland Athletics

175. Wilson Ramos, C, Washington Nationals

176. Steve Cishek, RP, Miami Marlins

Rangers 2B Jurickson Profar
Rangers 2B Jurickson Profar

177. Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers

178. Matt Garza, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

179. Ernesto Frieri, RP, Los Angeles Angels

180. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

181. Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers

182. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

183. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

184. Nelson Cruz, OF, FREE AGENT

185. B.J. Upton, OF, Atlanta Braves

186. C.J. Wilson, SP, Los Angeles Angels

187. Dexter Fowler, OF, Houston Astros

188. Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

189. Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit Tigers

190. Michael Bourn, OF, Cleveland Indians

191. Bobby Parnell, RP, New York Mets

192. Alfonso Soriano, OF, New York Yankees

193. Jhonny Peralta, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

194. Jason Castro, C, Houston Astros

195. Danny Farquhar, RP, Seattle Mariners

196. Ervin Santana, SP, FREE AGENT

197. Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

198. Jake Peavy, SP, Boston Red Sox

199. Tony Cingrani, SP/RP, Cincinnati Reds

200. Chris Tillman, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Red Sox 3B...or SS...Xander Bogaerts
Red Sox 3B…or SS…Xander Bogaerts

201. Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Boston Red Sox

202. Anthony Rendon, 2B, Washington Nationals

203. Drew Smyly, SP/RP, Detroit Tigers

204. Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins

205. Rex Brothers, RP, Colorado Rockies

206. Rick Porcello, SP, Detroit Tigers

207. John Lackey, SP, Boston Red Sox

208. Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox

209. Jim Henderson, RP, Milwaukee Brewers

210. John Axford, RP, Cleveland Indians

211. Evan Gattis, C/OF, Atlanta Braves

212. Adam Eaton, OF, Chicago White Sox

213. A.J. Burnett, SP, FREE AGENT

214. Kendrys Morales, UTIL, FREE AGENT

215. Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

216. Neftali Feliz, RP, Texas Rangers

217. Ivan Nova, SP, New York Yankees

218. Omar Infante, 2B, Kansas City Royals

Royals RHP Yordano Ventura
Royals RHP Yordano Ventura

219. Yordano Ventura, SP, Kansas City Royals

220. Erick Aybar, SS, Los Angeles Angels

221. Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

222. Khris Davis, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

223. Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates

224. Bartolo Colon, SP, New York Mets

225. Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

226. Chris Johnson, 3B, Atlanta Braves

227. Dan Haren, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

228. Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians

229. Taijuan Walker, SP, Seattle Mariners

230. Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles

231. Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians

232. Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians

233. Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Seattle Mariners

234. Justin Masterson, SP, Cleveland Indians

235. Jonathon Niese, SP, New York Mets

236. Jonathan Villar, SS, Houston Astros

237. Jose Veras, RP, Chicago Cubs

238. Alexander Guerrero, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers

239. Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego Padres

240. Yasmani Grandal, C, San Diego Padres

241. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, Boston Red Sox

242. Kole Calhoun, OF, Los Angeles Angels

243. Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

244. Ian Kennedy, SP, San Diego Padres

245. A.J. Griffin, SP, Oakland Athletics

246. Tyson Ross, SP/RP, San Diego Padres

247. Logan Morrison, 1B/OF, Seattle Mariners

248. Nate Jones, RP, Chicago White Sox

249. Jose Iglesias, SS, Detroit Tigers

250. Stephen Drew, SS, FREE AGENT

Defective-Free Cuban Defectors: How the Cuban Invasion Impacts Fantasy Baseball in 2014

Major League Baseball teams are quite pleased with the fact that the United States doesn’t have some sort of embargo on the players fleeing Cuba for lucrative contracts in the states. Fantasy baseball fans are salivating at the idea of adding the next Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig, and after another busy fall and winter, there will be some fresh Cubans to add to the mix when evaluating players for drafts and dynasty leagues. Depending on what you’re looking for to assist your fantasy team in 2014, there is something useful that the defecting trio can offer.

The Slugger: Jose Dariel Abreu

AbreuI wrote an article about Abreu over at Wahoo’s on First a while back about why the Indians should sign the powerful right-handed first baseman. Since then, Abreu has signed with the Chicago White Sox for six years and $68 million, setting himself up as a leader on a pretty ugly looking team, but a very friendly home ballpark. Consider what others said about him:

Baseball America’s Ben Badler had these useful statistical tidbits:

This year in a Serie Nacional season interrupted by the World Baseball Classic, Abreu hit .382/.535/.735 with 13 home runs, 37 walks and 21 strikeouts in 42 games playing for Cienfuegos. Abreu led Cuba in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS while ranking second in batting average to earn all-star honors.

During the 2011-12 season, Abreu hit .394/.542/.837 with 35 home runs, 75 walks and 40 strikeouts in 71 games. Abreu led Serie Nacional in batting, OBP (by 63 points over Alfredo Despaigne), slugging (by 142 points over Despaigne) and OPS. Abreu was an all-star and ranked second in homers—only one behind Despaigne despite having 63 fewer plate appearances—although Despaigne still captured the MVP.

In 2010-11, Abreu won the MVP award after having one of the greatest seasons in Cuban history, despite missing 23 games due to bursitis in his shoulder. Abreu batted .453/.597/.986 in 293 plate appearances, blasting 33 home runs with 58 walks and 32 strikeouts. He led Cuba in batting average, OBP, slugging and OPS. He tied Yoenis Cespedes, now with the Athletics, for the league lead in home runs despite stepping to the plate 122 fewer times.

And for those who are worried about investing so much money into a player who hasn’t swung a bat in MLB, Grantland’s Jonah Keri reported:

Baseball Prospectus co-founder Clay Davenport devised a stat called Equivalent Average (EqA), which takes all of a hitter’s contributions (power, on-base ability, etc.), compares those results to league norms, and calibrates them on a scale that mirrors batting average. A .260 EqA is about average, .300 is very good, .350 is fantastic, .400 is astronomical…Miguel Cabrera was the best hitter in Major League Baseball in 2011. Jose Abreu, even after adjusting his numbers to reflect A-ball competition, blew Cabrera out of the water.

Abreu may have more raw power than Cespedes, he has posted incredible on-base statistics, and he is guaranteed to get everyday playing time due to his massive contract. The White Sox may bring Paul Konerko back to be a rah-rah captain-type, but his days of being a productive leader are long gone, and this is Abreu’s lineup now. Chicago invested heavily due to his production and power in Cuba, and they will likely get what they paid for – a more powerful, first base-version of Cespedes. He isn’t the athlete that Puig is, but he doesn’t need to be when he can just jog around the bases. He will be the most valuable of the recent Cuban signings by the end of the 2014 season.

The Arm: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

GonzalezGonzalez originally signed a six-year, $48 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but it was soon revised to a three-year, $12 million deal due to the Phils worries about some medicals. A surgery in September of 2012 for the removal of bone chips from his right elbow was enough to scare several teams out of the bidding and allowed for the potential huge bargain that Gonzalez had to settle for. The 27-year-old righty could be a number two starter over the long haul, and at 6’3″, he has a solid build to go with his mid-90′s fastball, hard curve, forkball, and changeup. He had been suspended the last two seasons for trying to defect once before from Cuba, so his level of competition and total readiness may become a factor in how he prepares and looks this spring. However, the Phillies are likely to stick with him through some struggles due to their sudden lack of depth in the starting rotation. In fact, Gonzalez is penciled in as the club’s No.3 starter on the Phillies’ website, and with Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone, and Ethan Martin behind him on the depth charts, Ruben Amaro, Jr. really needs this signing to work out and work out quickly. The offseason is young, but expect Gonzalez to be on the Opening Day roster and for him to log close to 180 innings in 2014, likely being shutdown due to his recent inactivity. He could have a lot of early success due to the unknown factor, but he has the stuff to maintain success and be quite valuable in the fantasy baseball realm. Then again…he could struggle, battle injuries, and be moved to the bullpen or to Triple-A. Due to his injury issues, he is certainly a lottery ticket.

The Glove: Alexander Guerrero

guerreroI’m not really sure if he has a glove, but he isn’t a pitcher or a slugger, just an offensive-minded middle infielder – one that is incapable of playing short, by the way. Guerrero is an interesting addition for the Dodgers, and he could have been sent that way by Scott Boras to deteriorate the market for his former client, Robinson Cano, who left Boras to joing Jay-Z’s new sports agency, Roc Nation Sports. Regardless of any potential album and lyrical beefs that Sean Carter may throw Boras’ way, the Dodgers look like they have a new second baseman, capable of solid offensive production. Ben Badler had this to say about Guerrero:

Guerrero’s best tool is his right-handed power … Guerrero takes an uppercut stroke and he loses his balance against breaking pitches. It’s a pull-oriented, swing-for-the-fences approach that scouts think he will have to change to hit quality pitching.

Since arriving in the Dominican Republic, Guerrero has shown improved speed with above-average times in the 60-yard dash, which is highly unusual for a 26-year-old to start running faster … [Some] scouts think he can stay in the middle of the infield, although shortstop is probably out of the question. His hands and actions are playable but he doesn’t have the first-step quickness or range to play shortstop and he can be a bit stiff in the field. Second base could be an option for him and a team that likes him a lot will probably play him there.

With Puig, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez surrounding him in the Dodgers lineup, Guerrero could instantly have a huge offensive season and be extremely productive. After all,  in his final season in Cuba in 2011-12, Guerrero hit .290/.402/.576 with 21 homers, 39 walks and 30 strikeouts in 328 plate appearances. More power and on-base skills, and at four-years, $28 million, Guerrero came at about one-tenth of the price of Cano. He won’t come close to Cano’s numbers, but he won’t have to in L.A., and he should be able to post numbers somewhere between those of Chase Utley and Neil Walker, making him a top 10 fantasy second baseman in 2014.

This group could be very useful in fantasy baseball in 2014, and while I did say that all three of them could be valuable, there certainly isn’t a guarantee in anything in life. Expecting Abreu to outperform Cespedes and Puig is a risky assumption, especially if you’re in a bidding war within an auction league or trying to add him in a dynasty league via trade – don’t go crazy, but if you can add them with a free agent pickup or a late-round selection, by all means take the gamble.