Fantasy Baseball News and Updates: 2014 Bounce Back Players: AL Central
Jason's Fantasy Baseball Analysis: 2014 Bounce Back Players: AL Central
February 11, 2014
Bounce Back Players - AL Central
1. Billy Butler - Butler had a down year in 2013 as compared to his projected growth as a player. Many fantasy owners were expecting Butler to finally break through the 30 homer barrier last season, but instead he hit more grounders which could have been a result of the Royals hitting coach at the beginning of 2013, Jack Maloof, pushing singles over homeruns. The Royals brought in George Brett to replace Maloof last season, and Brett did wonders for Eric Hosmer. The Royals are looking to take their game to the next level, and they are going to need a big power bat in the middle of their lineup to become a perennial playoff contender. Butler has the ability to be that power guy, and now that Alex Gordon is projected to be hitting behind Butler, Butler will have some much needed lineup protection. It is easy to forget that Butler is only 27 years old, and there is no reason that he cannot take his game to the next level in 2014.
2. Justin Verlander - Verlander had a tough season in 2013, and injuries played a part in his decline. Verlander had surgery in the offseason, and those injury concerns are the reason he is not #1 on this list. Despite all the negativity around Verlander, there is one main reason to be excited about Verlander this year. While Verlander got roughed up in the regular season, he was untouchable in the playoffs. Verlander pitched three games in the postseason and he only allowed one run in 23 innings. There are signs that point to the fact that Verlander is now in the declining period of his career, but that does not mean he is no longer one of the best pitchers in baseball. It is hard to argue that Verlander will return to being the best fantasy pitcher, but it is also hard to argue that he won't finish as a top ten fantasy pitcher in 2014.
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
3. Nick Swisher - Swisher is another player who had a down year due to nagging injuries, but there are reasons to be excited about Swisher in 2014. One of the biggest concerns around Swisher last season was that his power numbers would decline since he was moving away from Yankee Stadium. Swisher's power numbers did not really show much of a decline and that was despite the fact that he played with a sore shoulder last year. The biggest problem with Swisher's offensive numbers last season was his drop in batting average, but he should be able to improve on that now that he is healthy. Swisher will once again he hitting in the heart of an Indian lineup that won 92 games last season, and he should have plenty of opportunities to make plays and drive in runs. Swisher will be a very cheap pick on fantasy draft day, and he is well worth a late round pick since he should 100% healthy entering the 2014 season.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera - Cabrera, like Swisher, was a 2013 fantasy disappointment thanks to nagging injuries that plagued him all season. Many fantasy owners were expecting Cabrera to reproduce the same numbers from his 2011 breakout season, but instead Cabrera declined even further in every major offensive category. The Indians' manager, Terry Francona, has already endorsed Cabrera and has full faith in the shortstop's ability to turn things around in 2014. And while that could just be public lipservice, the fact that 2014 is a contract year for Cabrera is a very real motivator. Cabrera can now be had for very cheap on draft day, and the 28 year old is worth taking a gamble on in his contract year.
5. Jason Kubel - Kubel is coming off the worst season of his career, and he says that he struggled all last year with a leg injury. Kubel has been signed by the Twins on a minor league contract, but his track record says he should have no problem making the Twins the roster. Kubel is capable of producing 20+ homers and 90+ RBI's as he has done that 3 out of the last 5 seasons. The Twins are not projected to be a top offense in 2014, but Kubel should be able to earn a spot in the middle of their lineup. Kubel will most likely go undrafted in most fantasy leagues this season, but he is worth a very late round pick since he is healthy entering the 2014 season.
For Fantasy Baseball Updates and Insights follow Jason on Twitter @TheSuperCommish