Many of you here at Over the Monster play fantasy baseball, so, with that in mind, we're going to run through a few Red Sox-related fantasy thoughts today.
Dustin Pedroia is the obvious candidate for this role, as he's a second baseman -- while not as bereft of talent as shortstop, it's not exactly overflowing with options, either. While 2012 was a bit of down a year, with Pedroia finishing with "just" a 112 OPS+, 2013 should be better. His thumb has been surgically repaired, and it held him back for large portions of the season. If he can play 150-plus healthy games in 2013, he should be a beast given his power, steals, and placement atop or in the middle of the Red Sox order.
With David Ortiz something of a risk due to his leg issues, the power hitter to watch out for is Mike Napoli. His hip is a concern, but he remains eligible at catcher in 2013, and Fenway Park could very well end up being the friendliest environment he's played in. A full season of Napoli, used at catcher in your fantasy league, could end up as the most productive at the position in his last year of eligibility there.
Jon Lester had a rough 2012, but the mechanical problems that caused it seem to have been eliminated. He rebounded during the last third of 2012, posting a 3.92 ERA over his final 13 starts and 85 innings, and now he's been reunited with former pitching coach John Farrell. Projection systems are hedging a bit, seeing Lester return somewhat to form with an ERA in the mid-threes, but there's a lot of upside here: capitalize on his poor 2012 by getting him later or for cheaper than you normally could.
While Clay Buchholz might not be the first arm you think of for fantasy, he too could come cheaper than usual thanks to what really amounted to a tough April. In his last 150 innings and 22 starts, Buchholz posted a 3.59 ERA and limited opponents to a .241/.301/.381 line. That's the Buchholz we've known for years, and while he won't get strikeouts in abundance, there's a lot to be said about a guy that owns a 3.62 ERA in a hitters' park and division since he became a full-time starter in 2009.
Felix Doubront is the obvious choice here. After striking out over a batter per inning in 2012, he did earn the attention of some fantasy owners, but his season was still a poor fit overall for all but the deepest format. If he can take a step forward in 2013, however, while keeping his punch outs high, that could all change.
There is no obvious bust choice here, but be wary of Jacoby Ellsbury. Yes, he had a huge 2011 season where he was an MVP candidate, but he's also shown a propensity for injury over the past few seasons -- and an inability to play very well when dealing with the fallout from said injuries. It's not a criticism of him, as players do tend to play worse when hurting. It's just something to consider if you get into a bidding war for one of the game's most potentially productive outfielders.
By year's end, fantasy owners will know the name Allen Webster. He's shown tons of potential in the minors, but a lack of consistent command has kept him from putting up numbers that match his ridiculous stuff. The Red Sox tweaked his mechanics every so slightly, though, and if there's an injury in the rotation, he might come up to the bigs and never go back down.
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