Fantasy baseball news: Fielder's value in 2015 and beyond
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
Prince Fielder, the Texas Rangers' rotund, vegetarian first baseman, probably won't take the field again until 2015. Fielder is poised to have surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, and the procedure is expected to keep him out for three to four months. Sure, it's possible he could make it back for the tail end of the regular season, but the Rangers aren't in line to play meaningful games this September with all their other injuries. Besides, they're paying Fielder $144 million over the next six years, and they're not going to rush such a hefty (literally and figuratively) investment out there to play mostly meaningless September regular season games.
So basically, this is the end of his season. (For Fielder owners looking for a replacement at first base, Michael Beller's got you covered.) But is this also the end of Fielder as an elite fantasy player? He certainly was off his game last year, and the Tigers were so enthralled with ditching him that they paid the Rangers $30 million just to take him off their hands, while getting Ian Kinsler in the process. Before this injury, Fielder was in the midst of another down year: a .247 average with just three homers and 16 RBI in 150 at-bats. There was obviously ample time for him to reclaim his season, but the injury secures 2014 as an abject failure, and it's hard not to think that the Tigers pulled off a steal when they landed Kinsler.
However, let's not play the funeral dirge for Fielder just yet. Yes, his numbers have been dropping, and first base is such an easy position to fill in fantasy that he just doesn't warrant early-round selection anymore. But this isn't a player to give up on. He's only 30, and he has otherwise been extremely durable -- he had missed just 13 games in the previous eight years. He's not a typical first base slugger who strikes out all the time, and his plate discipline is solid, so it's not likely that he'll turn into a home-run-or-bust hitter in the mold of Ryan Howard or Adam Dunn. And let's not act like his 2013 year was complete garbage: Fielder still hit 25 home runs, drove in 106, and hit 279. Those may have been lousy numbers by his standards, but they're not hideous.
What's more, Fielder has come back from curiously awful seasons before. In 2010, playing in 161 games, Fielder hit 32 homers but only managed 83 RBI and a .261 average. The year after? 38 homers, 120 RBI and a .299 average.
Again, given how easy it is to cover the first base hole, Fielder might not be worth spending money on if he's still ranked within arm's reach of the game's best hitters. However, if his price tag drops to where Albert Pujols was this year, then Fielder could be a terrific sleeper candidate in next year's draft. His upside may not be what it once was, but there's still enough of it to have faith in him.
For Your Consideration
● Jenrry Mejia pitched a clean ninth inning to record his second save in as many chances. Mejia is the fourth man to get a shot at the closer's role with the Mets, and the team can't possibly be keen on turning to a fifth man to handle the ninth. Barring something unforseen, Mejia has the job all to himself and should be owned in any league where he's still available, which is many at the moment.
● Marcell Ozuna continued to be relevant, going 2-for-4 with a homer in back-to-back games against the Phillies. Ozuna is having a solid season, with eight homers, 30 RBI and a .261 average, but he doesn't walk very often, nor does his skillset impress like that of Giancarlo Stanton's or even, to a much lesser degree, teammate Christian Yelich. Ozuna is a young and talented player who isn't expected to do more than have a sturdy season, with maybe 20 home runs and 70 to 80 RBI. But those aren't awful numbers, and when he's rolling like this, he's worth a flier in standard leagues.
● Trevor Rosenthal pitched a clean ninth inning to nail down his 14th save of the season. Even though the Cardinals have been an excellent team and won the World Series not too long ago, they go through closers like it's nothing: Ryan Franklin, Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica and now Rosenthal have all been given a shot at the job -- and that's just since 2011. So it's not like there wouldn't be precedent for Rosenthal, who's had a rough season, to be unceremoniously pulled from his role in favor of Motte, who just came back from the disabled list and who only ceded the job in the first place because he got hurt. Rosenthal has the pedigree of an elite closer, but if his 4.56 ERA continues to go south, the Cardinals may not hesitate to turn to their backup plan. It's a situation worth paying attention to, and if Rosenthal blows another game soon, a speculative add of Motte might pay dividends.