The year is almost over, which means that the 2013 baseball season is drawing near. While things have been more quiet than normal here at FB365, the gears are still grinding. Here is part one of my takes on this offseason's biggest moves and how they might impact your fantasy team.
Ryan Dempster signs with the Red Sox
This past season, Dempster did not fare as well in Texas as he had with the Cubs. Not only did his ERA shoot upward, but so too did his walk rate and rate of home runs allowed. As we are all well aware, Texas is not an ideal environment for pitchers, thus the understandable rise in home runs allowed. The rise in walk rate, in my opinion, was also affected by the change in environment (new home park, moving to the AL) and the lack of immediate success. Dempster tried too hard to stay out of the middle of the plate and never seemed to find a true comfort level in terms of being able to locate his pitches. On the flip side, he was able to maintain a good strikeout rate, indicating that his pure stuff did not suffer.
Now with the Red Sox, Dempster finds himself once again in the AL, once again in a below average park for pitchers, and in a division full of talent. Due to those three main factors, I'd approach Dempster with caution on draft day, but not to the extent of avoiding him completely. While he should be able to settle in and maintain a solid K/BB rate, the chances are that he gives up a few more doubles and home runs than he would in a different environment. Add to that his age and consistent xFIPs in the 3.7 range over the past few seasons, and there is certainly more risk than upside.
2013 Projection: 189 IP, 12 W, 3.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 164 SO, 71 BB
Ichiro re-ups with the Yanks
There is no question that getting out of Seattle and into the limelight of New York helped Ichiro revive a career that seemed to be sharply coming to an end. He had one more home run, only one fewer RBI and only one fewer stolen base in 183 fewer plate appearances than he had in Seattle. He also hit .322 in his 240 plate appearances with the Yanks. Those numbers in New York might have some thinking he'll be a sleeper on draft day, and I can't help but be a little intrigued.
Ichiro is 39 years old and definitely not the runner he used to be. Those two factors mean risk in regression and injury on their own -- though he has had an incredibly healthy career thus far. His plate discipline, which has never been great, is also on the sharp decline. Even while putting up those great numbers with the Yanks, Ichiro's walk rate remained below three percent.
While the short porch in Yankee Stadium could lead to 10-15 home runs from Ichiro over a full season, I just see too much risk in terms of his declining skills at the plate (AVG/OBP) to fully invest in a 39-year-old ballplayer.
In 2012, Ichiro has 240 plate appearances worth of great production. He also had 423 plate appearances of pitiful production. Something in the middle would be OK if he hits 15 home runs and steals 30 bases -- a rather big if -- meaning a late round look wouldn't hurt. However, the level of risk is high enough to tell yourself not to reach on draft day.
2013 Projection: .278/.312/.365, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 75 R, 25 SB