Alex Rodriguez Appeal: What Results will do for Yankees Fantasy Value

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

One would have to figure that the results of A-Rod’s appeal will be known soon. Will the suspension hold, effectively ending his career? Will it be reduced to maybe 50 or 100 games, leaving the door open for a 2014 return? Will it be 100 percent overturned, leaving A-Rod available to be the New York Yankees starting third baseman on opening day?

What is the fantasy impact of that? Personally, I fantasize about the possibility of a flat out overturn, because I would love to see Bud Selig’s reaction to that. I’ll be nice. How will fantasy baseball be impacted by the results of the Alex Rodriguez appeal?

 

– Possibility 1: Suspension is upheld

From the outside looking in, this would appear to be the least likely scenario, but it is the most intriguing, so we’ll start here.

The two names you’ll want to keep an eye on here are Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson, who’d both potentially be starting on the infield for the Bombers.

Let’s start with Roberts. It’s not exactly a secret that Brian Roberts has had some health issues, as he’s averaged fewer than 50 games a year for the last four seasons. That’s the bad news. The good news is that in 2013, he played in 77 games, with 73 coming after July 1, indicating that he may be healthy for the first time in a while. But how did he do in those 77 games? 

AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
26566338393.249

Just to give you a sense of what we’re looking at, let’s extrapolate that pace. 

Split
AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
120 Games4131035112615.249
150 Games516128/1296416766.248/.250

Obviously, we’re doing some rounding with those numbers, but those numbers don’t look all that terrible. Truthfully, I don’t think you’ll get anything close to 150 games from Roberts, but that’s not a terrible 120-game run from the second base position.

If you start the season with someone like Chase Utley at second base, you’re going to need a replacement at some point. At the very least, I’d look at Roberts as a replacement if something happens to your regular starter.

As for Johnson — If this happens, you’re likely looking at the Yankees’ third baseman and he’d probaby pick up eligibility there in the first few weeks of the season. Johnson will actually be a versatile player in 2014 if this happens, as he’ll start the year with eligibility at second and outfield (left field, if your league does individual positions).

Johnson will bring more value than Roberts, and his position eligibility doesn’t really factor into it. With Roberts, you’re hoping for something like 120 games. Johnson only played 118 games in 2013, but is generally more reliable to be in the 140-150 range. He’s also a lefty, which means he’ll be taking swings at the short right-field porch in every home at-bat. Roberts is a switch hitter, so some of his at-bats will be from the right side, far more pitcher-friendly at Yankee Stadium.

As for what you can expect from Johnson over a full slate.

AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
47310759185512.226

I like all of that, except for the .226 batting average. Unfortunately, with the short porch, I wouldn’t see that changing an awful lot, as I’d think he’d be even more likely to swing for the fences. There’s good hot-streak value with Johnson, but I wouldn’t like him as your everyday second baseman unless you’re in a very deep league, or you have a slew of .300 hitters that can help you withstand an average that will likely be below .230.

 

– Suspension is completely overturned

First off, if he’s healthy and eligible, A-Rod is still far and away the best starting 3B option for the Yankees. It’s not Johnson, Eduardo Nunez, or anyone else. If this happens, I’m guessing that Roberts and Johnson form some sort of platoon at second base, completely killing whatever fantasy value we just went over.

There’s only one relevant fantasy question if this scenario comes to fruition: How good can A-Rod be at this point? So, let’s do the same thing we did with Roberts. What did he do in 2013, and how would those numbers look at 120 and 150 games? 

Split
AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
2013 (44 Games)15638217194.244
120 Games425103/10457195211.242/.245
150 Games531129/13071246514.243/.245

Now, A-Rod hasn’t even played in 140 games in a year since 2007. So, I think you’re looking at the 120 range, which leads us to a few questions.

  1. Are those numbers realistic over 120 games?
  2. If he does that, how valuable will he be?

Number 1: Yes. Granted, A-Rod will be 39 towards the end of July, but I don’t have any reason to believe that A-Rod can’t hit 15-20 homers, or even closer to 25. His achievements in 2013 came after an injury, with very little off-season training and in a situation that couldn’t have been comfortable. If he wins this appeal, he’ll be theoretically healthy and won’t have a massive appeal looming, which will have a full Spring Training and time to get comfortable.

Number 2: I guess the best way to answer this question is to have a look at how those 120-game numbers look against the numbers of the top third basemen from 2013, per ESPN’s Player Rater

Player
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
Miguel Cabrera103441373.348
Adrian Beltre8830921.315
Edwin Encarnacion90361047.272
Matt Carpenter12611783.318
Josh Donaldson8924935.301
Evan Longoria9132881.269
David Wright63185817.307
Hanley Ramirez62205710.345
Ryan Zimmerman8426796.275
Manny Machado8814716.283
Pedro Alvarez70361002.233
Kyle Seager7922699.260
Martin Prado7014823.282
Chris Johnson5412680.321
Pablo Sandoval5214790.278
You might have to remove guys like Edwin Encarnacion and Hanley Ramirez, who’ll lose 3B eligibility in 2014, but you get the gist of it.

You’d certainly have to overcome a poor batting average, but you could certainly justify adding Rodriguez to your roster in deeper leagues, or if you have a CI spot in yours. The tendency will be to go with a younger guy (Todd Frazier, Will Middlebrooks, Brett Lawrie), but there’s something to be said for reliability, and those numbers aren’t far-fetched at all.

In shallower leagues without a CI spot, I’d only suggest rostering him if you have a big bench as a potential replacement for an injury-prone starter, like David Wright.

 

– Suspension is reduced 

This is probably the most likely scenario as I see it, and it’s pretty much the easiest one to deduce, especially if it’s reduced to 50 games.

If A-Rod is suspended for the first 50 games of the season, he doesn’t have any fantasy value in 2014. Unfortunately, neither would Roberts or Johnson. As good as the American League East is, there’s almost no way that the Yankees will be completely out of it after only 50 games and again, Rodriguez is still best third baseman on the roster.

So, he’d lose 50 games and while I’d guess that Roberts and Johnson would both see significant playing time over the part of the season, they’d be relegated to a platoon for the final 112.

If he gets 100 games and those two play well, it’s a little more likely that Rodriguez won’t play at all in 2014, which would create a replica of the first scenario.

 

If you’re a fan of potential sleeper value, then you want A-Rod to miss all of 2014, making it at least possible for Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson to play a season’s worth of games.

Of course, this would kill the fantasy value of Alex Rodriguez but again, his value comes mostly in deeper leagues anyway.

So, if you’re a fantasy player, monitor this situation not only because of the potential drama that can come from it, but also the how it will affect fantasy baseball.

 

Click here for the 2014 Yankees Preview.

 

 

Topics: 2B, 3B, Alex Rodriguez, Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, New York Yankees

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