Given the Padres' underwhelming 2012 roster and the number of injuries they suffered throughout the season, it's actually surprising that they managed to win 76 games. How did they do it? Chase Headley broke out in a huge way, hitting .286/.376/.498 with 31 homers, 115 RBI and 17 steals; Everth Cabrera emerged as a relevant fantasy shortstop thanks to 44 steals in 115 games; and Carlos Quentin remained his power-hitting self, despite playing at Petco Park. Those three will continue to perform for fantasy owners this season, but beyond that most of the offensive excitement on this team will come from the prospects. Jedd Gyorko and Rymer Liriano will both likely get the call to San Diego this season.
On the mound, Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez were semi-useful for fantasy owners a year ago, but the Padres don't offer the fantasy community much in the way of starting pitchers, which is a real shame since they play in one of the league's best pitcher's parks. Richard and Volquez should be drafted in most mixed leagues, but the other three pitchers in the rotation (Eric Stults, Anthony Bass and Jason Marquis) are stream options, at best. Again, you might want to direct your attention to the minors. Robbie Erlin and Adys Portillo could be in the majors at some point this season.
1. Everth Cabrera, SS 2. Will Venable, RF 3. Chase Headley, 3B 4. Carlos Quentin, LF 5. Yonder Alonso, 1B 6. Nick Hundley, C 7. Cameron Maybin, CF 8. Logan Forsythe, 2B
1. Edinson Volquez 2. Clayton Richard 3. Eric Stults 4. Anthony Bass 5. Jason Marquis
The last time Headley slugged anywhere near .500 was back in 2008 when he hit .305/.383/.556 with 13 homers in 65 games at Triple-A Portland. Not only was that his lone plus-power season in the minors, it happened in the offensively charged Pacific Coast League. If you looked at anything but the back of his baseball card last season, you would have assumed Headley had another pedestrian year from a power standpoint. He posted a career-high 48.5-percent ground-ball rate. His line-drive rate fell to 19.5 percent from 21.9 percent in 2011. His 12.3-percent walk rate was a career best, but his 22.5-percent strikeout rate was the worst of his career since his rookie season. His contact rate fell to 74.8 percent, the worst of his career, and he swung and missed a very high 11 percent of the time. All that changed was that his fly balls tended to leave the yard way more than they ever had. I'm betting that's a one-year anomaly, not a new trend. I won't own Headley in any leagues this year.
The fantasy gamer should have Gyorko on his or her radar during draft season. Even if he starts the season in the minors, he could be worth a pick, depending on your league parameters. Not only has Gyorko hit at every level of the minors, his advanced stats portend a quick transition to the majors. He had a .411 wOBA and .260 isolated slugging at Portland last year. His walk rate was 8.3 percent and his strikeout rate was a manageable 16.7 percent. There are very few Trouts and Harpers, so you shouldn't expect Gyorko to come up and take the league by storm. However, he's worthy of being a fantasy starter from the day the Padres promote him to the big leagues.
Shortstop remains a relatively shallow position, but it's not the dearth of fantasy talent it once was. Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro and Hanley Ramirez will be off the board within the first three rounds. Ben Zobrist, Ian Desmond, Jimmy Rollins, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera and Derek Jeter are strong second-tier options. That gets us to 10 right there. Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy and Alexei Ramirez all have their charms. Danny Espinosa and Josh Rutledge, a pair of second basemen, qualify at shortstop. Andrelton Simmons is one of my favorite sleepers this year. There are just too many options to commit to a guy who is only going to contribute to two categories. Steer clear of Cabrera this season.
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