Opening day is right around the corner and publications are dishing out their preseason picks. Who will win the World Series? Who will be the MVP? Well, I guess I'll throw some predictions of my own out there, but instead of focusing only on the regular awards I'll put a fantasy twist on everything.
AL Rookie of the Year
Real: Brian Matusz, SP, BAL - He pitches with the poise and command of a veteran and he got a nice taste of big league action last season. Starting pitching is so valuable and Matusz could end up the ace of that staff by season's end.
Fantasy: Carlos Santana, C, CLE - Starting pitchers just aren't as valuable in fantasy baseball as a number of them come off the waiver wire to make a big impact on fantasy teams every year. Catchers aren't as likely to come out of nowhere. That's where Santana comes in. As soon as he gets the call to the big league club, he should hit enough right out of the gates to make a big impact on mixed league teams.
NL Rookie of the Year
Real: Jayson Heyward, OF, ATL - Heyward was all over the buzz-o-meter this spring and has won the right field job for the Braves. Even with the normal ups and downs of a rookie season, Heyward has enough raw talent to be a difference maker for the Braves.
Stephen Strasburg, by the way, comes in a close second.
Fantasy: Alcides Escobar, SS, MIL - Escobar has a chance to steal 30-40 bases and hit for a decent average in his rookie year. Unlike Elvis Andrus, Escobar will be hitting at the top of the lineup in front of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. His price tag seems much lower than Andrus' as well.