As our countdown is nearing it’s end, we have another double-poster. Today, Michael Dixon also focused his attention on 2 Pitchers with New Teams Ready to Thrive in 2014. Here, he does the same, only with the bats looking at 2 Hitters With New Teams Ready to Thrive in 2014.
Sometimes all we need to get out of a rut is a change of location. That’s true in life and certainly true in baseball. So, which players had their fantasy value bolstered just by ending up in a new location?
First of all, we’re not talking about stars like Prince Fielder or Shin-Soo Choo. That may end up being true, but their value is pretty stagnant no matter where they go; they’re just that good. These guys may not be “that good” with any teams, but they’ll both be pretty good with their new ones.
- Justin Morneau — 2013 Teams: Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates. 2014 Team: Colorado Rockies
Justin Morneau: 2012-2013 Splits
Not terrible splits considering Target Field — the home park for nearly all of those at-bats — is known for being very friendly to pitchers. His new home park of Coors Field is anything but friendly to pitchers.
I’ve watched plenty of games at Coors Field since it opened in 1995. In all of these years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a ball hit out to right-center field that looked like it would be caught or maybe a double instead get into the jet-steam and go for a homer, often with plenty of room to spare.
How many of those will work for Morenau this year? How are his numbers going to look when surrounded by better teammates. Yes, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and former Twins teammate Michael Cuddyer are all a little injury prone, but so is Joe Mauer.
How many extra hits will Morneau get this year because outfielders have play back at Coors Field to guard the gaps, making bloop singles very possible?
I don’t want to go crazy with Morenau’s projections. He is a player in decline and I’m certainly not going to say that he’s going to return to the MVP form that we saw in 2006.
But, if you told me that Justin Morneau would be good for a fantasy stat-line of 75 runs-25 HR-80 RBI-0 SB-.275 average, I wouldn’t be blown away. Even at a deep position like first base, you can absolutely use that production on a championship fantasy team, especially as a UT or CI guy.
- Norichika Aoki — 2013 Team: Milwaukee Brewers. 2014 Team: Kansas City Royals
I understand why the Brewers traded Norichika Aoki, I really do. They saw enough from Khris Davis in 2013 that they want to give him a full-time crack in 2014, and both Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez are every day guys. You just can’t have an outfield with four guys, not in the National League. I get it.
But it doesn’t mean that they won’t cringe a little bit seeing him with the Royals this year, because he’s going to do extremely well.
While Kauffman Stadium is far from a launching pad, it ranked in the Top-10 in baseball in terms of getting hits (Per ESPN Park Factors) in 2009 (No. 2), 2010 (No. 6), 2012 (No. 9), and 2013 (No.7). That’s four of five years in the Top-10, and they were in the top half in 2011 (No. 13).
If Aoki was a guy like Mark Trumbo who relied on big HR and RBI numbers to be valuable, I’d be a bit more concerned with moving away from Miller Park. But a high OBP guy who focuses more on line drives and his speed is made for a place like Kansas City.
Put him in the front of that order with a guy like Omar Infante hitting behind him, and Aoki is going to find himself in scoring position for Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler an awful lot. Even better is that while those guys are fine hitters, neither exactly have the presence of a Ryan Braun in the order, so I don’t see the Royals holding Aoki on the bases with the fear of a stolen base taking the bat out of their 3 or 4 hitter’s hands.
Aoki doesn’t have the power to be a 20-10 guy, but he absolutely has the potential to be 10 HR/30 SB kind of guy who can reliably hit around .290. Draft another bankable .280-.290 guy who’s a 30 HR/10 SB kind of guy early (Adam Jones comes to mind), and you have two outfielders that basically net out to 20/20 guys, while supplying a good average.
I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought this highly of Norichika Aoki had he stayed in Milwaukee, or even gone to several other places. But the Royals are about as good a fit for him as I can imagine. You want him on your team in 2014.