Fantasy Baseball News and Updates: 2014 Bounce Back Players: AL East
Jason's Fantasy Baseball Analysis: 2014 Bounce Back Players: AL East
February 10, 2014
Bounce Back Players: AL East
1. Jose Bautista - Bautista is coming off his second straight down season's due to injuries, and that means he will be dropped down the 2014 draft rankings. Bautista is now labeled with the "injury risk" tag, but that should not scare fantasy owners away from him in 2014. Bautista had a solid season when he was on the field last year, and he is due to finish a full season. Bautista is a solid 2nd round value player who should be availible in the 3rd round or later in drafts this season. The Jays offense is still loaded and that means Bautista will have plenty of protection, pitches to hit, and runners to drive in. Don't be afraid of Bautista on draft day and consider him a mega bargain if you can get him in the 4th round.
2. Brett Lawrie - Lawrie is another Blue Jay who underperformed last year, and he should be able to turn things around in 2014. Lawrie is a young player and he is still learning how to play at the major league level. Lawrie was terrible in the first half of 2013 as he hit for a .204 batting average with a .622 OPS before the all-star break. Lawrie turned things around in the second half after his mid season ankle injury and hit for a .283 batting average with a .763 OPS. Lawrie may not live up to his prospect hype as a big power/speed guy, but he is capable of producing 15+ homers, double digit steals, a .280+ batting average, and his run production will depend on where he bats in the Jays lineup. Lawrie represents great draft day value and he is a great candidate to have a bounce back season in 2014.
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3. Will Middlebrooks - Middlebrooks is another young third baseman who had a very disappointing season in 2013. Many fantasy owners were expecting Middlebrooks to build off his strong 2012 campaign, but he was unable to improve last year and he was even sent back to the minors. However, Middlebrooks was able to redeem himself late in the 2013 regular season as he had a .276 batting average and an .805 OPS for August and September. Those numbers will most likely go unnoticed by fantasy owners since Middlebrooks was a non factor in the Red Sox World Series win. There are several obstacles Middlebrooks will have to overcome in 2014, and the main one is Stephen Drew. If the Red Sox resign Drew, then that could greatly hinder Middlebrooks time on the diamond. However, the Red Sox still do not have a contract with Drew and Middlebrooks has already shown up to camp in order to improve his skills. Middlebrooks will probably go undrafted in many leagues this season, but he has bounce back potential and is worth a late round pick.
4. R.A. Dickey - Dickey had a very hard time adjusting to the AL East last season, and it showed as his ERA went up by nearly a 1.5 runs from his Cy Young year in 2012 (2.73 to 4.21). However, there are reasons to be a little bullish on Dickey for the 2014 season. As Phil Niekro taught us, knuckleballers can overcome the aging process better than any other pitchers, so the Fact that Dickey is 39 is not as big of a factor as it may appear. Also, Dickey's numbers did improve as the season progressed, Dickey lowered his ERA from 4.69 pre all-star break to 3.56 after the break. Fantasy owners should not expect another Cy Young performance from Dickey, but he is capable of keeping his ERA well below 4.00+ and pitching over 200 innings. Dickey should be able to bounce back from his poor 2013 season, and he is worth a mid to late round pick in 2014 fantasy drafts.
5. C.C. Sabathia - Sabathia had arguablty the worst season of his career in 2014, and there are many reasons to be concerned entering the 2014 season. The biggest concern for C.C. has been the decrease in velocity of his fastball over the past two seasons. Sabathia has stated that he thinks some of his loss of power can be explained by the fact that he lost 30 pounds before the start of the 2013 season, but that does not explain the decline in velocity in the 2012 season. Sabathia has been a fantasy stud for many years now, but he is a power pitcher and that means he will have to learn how to pitch without being able to overpower hitters. It is possible that Sabathia is able to turn things around in 2014, but unlike the agelessness of knuckleballers, power pitchers usually decline as they get older. Sabathia is a potential bounce back candidate simply because of his exceptional baseball career, but fantasy owners should not reach for him on draft day.
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