Season Long – All Sports

2024 Kansas City Royals Preview

2024 Kansas City Royals Preview The Royals have been another weak link in the AL Central standings over the past 38 years. Their only two playoffs over this span led to appearances in the World Series. Kansas City won the […]

2024 Kansas City Royals Preview

The Royals have been another weak link in the AL Central standings over the past 38 years. Their only two playoffs over this span led to appearances in the World Series. Kansas City won the championship title in 1985 and 2015. They’ve missed the postseason for eight consecutive years, winning only 56 games in 2023.

Their pitching staff ranked 28th in ERA (5.17). The Royals’ relievers posted a 5.23 ERA (29th) with 25 wins, 38 losses, 28 saves, and 634 strikeouts over 623.1 innings. They scored 676 runs (23rd), hit 163 home runs (27th), and drove in 651 runs (23rd). Kanas City finished with 163 stolen bases on 210 attempts (77.6%).

In the offseason, they signed OF Hunter Renfroe, IF Garrett Hampson, SP Michael Wacha, SP Seth Lugo, RP Will Smith, and RP Chris Stratton. The Royals lost SP Zack Greinke, RP Josh Staumont, SP Brad Keller, RP Amir Garrett, 3B Hunter Dozier, and OF Jackie Bradley. Kansas City acquired SP Kyle Wright (out for the season) for SP Jackson Kowar.

Their offense starts with the elite bat of SS Bobby Witt. The Royals expect 1B Vinnie Pasquantino, 2B Michael Massey, C MJ Melendez, and 3B Maikel Garcia to develop into a competitive offensive corps. C Salvador Perez and OF Hunter Renfroe add length and experience to the lineup.

If SP Cole Ragans proves to be the real deal and SP Brady Singer regains his 2022 form, Kansas City will win many more games this season. The back of the rotation has a band-aid feel as the Royals wait for their next wave of young arms to develop. The ninth inning should be a battle between RP Will Smith and RP Nick Anderson.

Starting Lineup

3B Maikel Garcia

Kansas City signed Garcia out of Venezuela at age 17. Over his first three seasons in the minors, he hit .277 with 135 runs, five home runs, 94 RBIs, and 66 steals over 790 at-bats. His bats began to show more pop in 2022 (11 home runs over 487 at-bats) between AA and AAA. In his minor league career, Garcia graded well with his walk rate (10.9) and strikeout rate (16.4).

His 2023 season started off slow at AAA (.242 with 11 runs, one home run, 17 RBIs, and four steals over 95 at-bats). Kansas City called him up in early May. Garcia has a productive run from May 23rd to September 5th (.294/45/4/40/18 over 327 at-bats). His bat had more value vs. lefties (.315 with two home runs over 108 at-bats). He had a weaker approach (strikeout rate – 22.3 and walk rate – 7.4) with the Royals.

Garcia continues to have weakness in his average hit rate, suggesting 15 home runs shouldn’t be a viable outcome until he gets stronger or adds more loft. His hard-hit rate (50.6 – 24th) and exit velocity (91.8 – 40th) paints a more exciting picture. In his time in the majors, he has had a groundball swing path (48.3%), leading to a low flyball rate (27.5) and HR/FB rate (3.9).

Fantasy Outlook: Garcia profiles as an edge in three categories (batting average, runs, and stolen bases) early in his career, fitting what Kansas City needs at the top of their batting order. His ADP (216) in the early draft season in the high-stakes market for a fantasy team that started their team build with plus power while looking for help in average and speed. I’m feeling 90 runs, 10 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases, making him a winning investment in 2024 while also understanding his power may come quicker than expected. Garcia is the cousin of Ronald Acuna.

SS Bobby Witt…

 

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Season Long – All Sports

2024 Detroit Tigers Preview

2024 Detroit Tigers Preview The Tigers extended their streak without a postseason appearance to nine seasons. On the positive side, they finished second in the AL Central for the first time since 2016. Other than a mini-playoff run from 2011 […]

2024 Detroit Tigers Preview

The Tigers extended their streak without a postseason appearance to nine seasons. On the positive side, they finished second in the AL Central for the first time since 2016. Other than a mini-playoff run from 2011 to 2014 (averaged 91.5 wins with a World Series appearance in 2012), Detroit has been one of the weaker major league franchises since 1987 (one other trip to the postseason – 2006).

Their pitching staff ranked 17th in ERA (4.24). The Tigers’ bullpen had 33 wins, 27 losses, and 41 saves, with a 4.16 ERA (17th) and 642 strikeouts over 655.2 innings. On the downside, Detroit finished near the bottom of the league in runs (661 – 28th), home runs (165 – 24th), and RBIs (635 – 26th). They stole 85 bases over 108 attempts (78.7%).

In the offseason, the Tigers tried to beef up their pitching staff by signing SP Jack Flaherty, SP Kenta Maeda, RP Shelby Miller, and RP Andrew Chafin. Detroit lost SP Eduardo Rodriguez, SP Matthew Boyd, RP Trey Wingenter, RP Jose Cisnero, OF Austin Meadows, and 2B Jonathan Schoop to free agency. They acquired OF Mark Canha from the Brewers for P Blake Holub in a minor deal. 

The future of the Tigers’ offense hinges on the development of OF Riley Greene and 1B Spencer Torkelson. Detroit would love to squeeze at least one good season out of SS Javier Baez before charging him with grand theft ($140 million). 3B Keith Colt looks poised to have significant at-bats in the majors. 

The fantasy market is buzzing about the potential of SP Tarik Skubal after delivering a high level of success over short innings in 2023. At the very least, the Tigers want to have a chance to win each day, and their overall starting rotation should be more competitive this season. The ninth inning looks to be in flux after RP Alex Lange battled command issue in his first year with save chances in the majors.

Starting Lineup

OF Parker Meadows

There wasn’t much major league excitement in the bat of Meadows over his first three seasons in the minors. He only .224 over 902 at-bats with 124 runs, 19 home runs, 95 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases. His contact batting average was below .300 in 2019 and 2021, with a slow starting point in his average hit rate (1.408 and 1.571). 

Meadows grew into his body in 2022 and 2023, leading to a much more powerful hitter (.263 with 158 runs, 39 home runs, 123 RBIs, and 36 steals over 935 at-bats). His walk rate (10.5) reached new heights while moving close to the league average with his strikeout rate (21.5). 

In his first experience with Detroit, Meadows held form with his walk rate (11.7), but he added some strikeouts (25.5%). His overall resume isn’t elite, and one that doesn’t project him to hit leadoff in his potential first season to see everyday at-bats in the majors. He is the younger brother of Austin Meadows, so pedigree is on his side. His hard-hit rate (34.8) with the Tigers showed there is more work to do in his game.

Fantasy Outlook: Meadows had about the same batting average last year against righties (.251) and lefties (.257), suggesting he’ll be more than a platoon player in the majors. His ADP (289) makes him a fourth or fifth outfield option in 15-team leagues in the high-stakes market in mid-January. Based on his 20/20 potential, he will be a desire piece to fantasy team builds. I don’t expect a smooth ride, so I would temper my expectations at least early in the year.

2B Colt Keith…

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Season Long – All Sports

2024 Cleveland Guardians Preview

2024 Cleveland Guardians Preview In their second season as the Guardians, Cleveland slipped to third in the AL Central for the first time since 2015. They’ve missed the postseason three times over the past five years. Their last trip to […]

2024 Cleveland Guardians Preview

In their second season as the Guardians, Cleveland slipped to third in the AL Central for the first time since 2015. They’ve missed the postseason three times over the past five years. Their last trip to the World Series came in 2016. The Indians won the World Series in 1920 and 1948. Their streak without a championship stands at 75 years. Our 2024 Cleveland Guardians Preview predicts if they’ll turn it around this season.

They finished 27th in runs (662), last in home runs (124), and 28th in RBIs (622). Cleveland stole 151 bases in 187 attempts (80.7%). Their pitching staff ranked 10th in ERA (3.96). The Guardians had 37 saves, 24 losses, and 47 saves from their relievers, with a 3.79 ERA (9th) and 588 strikeouts over 586.2 innings.

In the offseason, Cleveland moved on from SP Lucas Giolito, SP Zach Plesac, SP Noah Syndergaard, RP Reynaldo Lopez, OF Kole Calhoun, and C Mike Zunino. They signed C Austin Hedges and P Ben Lively. The Guardians acquired OF Estevan Florial and RP Scott Barlow in two minor deals. 

Their starting rotation has three developing arms – Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee, and Triston McKenzie, each offering ace upside. Shane Bieber has plenty of experience, and Logan Allen proved to be a serviceable backend arm last year. The ninth inning should be in good hands with the right arm of CL Emmanuel Clase.

The foundation of their offense lacks impact power and star players. Cleveland must find one outfielder with a more rounded skill set to push OF Myles Straw into a bench pool. I also question if OF Steven Kwan offers championship talent. The development of C Bo Naylor, 1B Kyle Manzardo, and OF Estevan Florial are the keys to moving up the AL Central standings in 2024.

Starting Lineup

OF Steven Kwan

In 2021, between AA and AAA, Kwan added more length to his hits (12 home runs over 296 at-bats) while continuing to hit for average (.328). In addition, he took 36 walks with a low strikeout rate (9.0). 

Cleveland gave Kwan 460 at-bats in his rookie season (2022) in the leadoff position, and he responded with a .328 batting average, 74 runs, five home runs, 44 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. Over this span, his on-base percentage (.385) fell short of his college career (.431). He finished with a higher walk rate (9.7) than strikeout rate (9.4). 

Last year, Kwan only offered fantasy value in runs (93) and steals (21). His only month of success came in July (.330/16/3/13/2 over 106 at-bats). He didn’t hit a home run over his final 213 at-bats.

He continues to have a weak average hit rate (1.380), highlighted by his low ranking in exit velocity (86.0 – 365th) and hard-hit rate (18.8 – last). His barrel rate (1.1) had to be the weakest in baseball. 

Fantasy Outlook: Kwan finished the year ranked 87th by FPGscore (-0.92). His three-category skill set (BA, runs, and SBs) makes him a challenging foundation piece to a fantasy team in roto formats. In the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, he has an ADP of 204 as the 121st hitter drafted. Based on his price point, Kwan appears to be a value for some team structures. I’ll sit this dance out. He should have a rebound in batting average while needing more production in power and steals to help fantasy teams.

2B Andres Gimenez…

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Season Long – All Sports

2024 Chicago White Sox Preview

2024 Chicago White Sox Preview After winning the AL Central in 2021, the White Sox had a sharp decline in play over the past two years. They finished 61-101 last season while giving up 200 more runs than they allowed. […]

2024 Chicago White Sox Preview

After winning the AL Central in 2021, the White Sox had a sharp decline in play over the past two years. They finished 61-101 last season while giving up 200 more runs than they allowed. From 1994 to 2019, Chicago made the postseason only three times, with a World Series win in 2005. Our 2024 Chicago White Sox Preview analyzes if the Chi Sox can turn around those struggles.

The White Sox finished 29th in runs (641), 20th in home runs (171), and 29th in RBIs (617). They had the worst on-base percentage (.291) in baseball. Their baserunners stole 86 bases on 108 attempts. Chicago posted a 4.87 ERA (26th), with the same ranking for their bullpen (24 wins, 38 losses, 28 saves, 4.88 ERA, and 597 strikeouts over 591.2 innings).

In the offseason, the White Sox signed C Martin Maldonado, SS Paul DeJong, SP Erick Fedde, SP Chris Flexen, and RP Tim Hill. They traded for 2B Braden Shewmake, SS Nicky Lopez, SP Michael Soroka, and SP Jared Shuster in their deal with the Braves. Chicago parted ways with RP Aaron Bummer. The White Sox didn’t resign C Yasmani Grandal, 2B Elvis Andrews, SS Tim Anderson, SP Mike Clevinger, and RP Liam Hendriks.

The foundation of their offense has upside in five slots in their lineup – 1B Andrew Vaughn, 3B Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez, and OF Oscar Colas, but the trusted window is running out on a couple of these players. 

There has been talk of Chicago moving SP Dylan Cease, leaving their starting rotation in rebuild mode. RP Gregory Santos has the first shot at saves. 

Starting Lineup

OF Andrew Benintendi

When at his best in 2017 and 2018 with the Red Sox, Benintendi hit .280 with 187 runs, 36 home runs, 177 RBIs, and 41 stolen bases. After a decent season in 2021 (.276/63/17/73/8 over 493 at-bats), he has been a losing investment in the fantasy market. 

His average hit rate (1.361) now ranks among the lightest hitters in baseball, and Benintendi has a sharp decline in his contacting batting average (.311 – .365 in 2022) in 2023. Surprisingly, he hit well with runners on base (RBI rate – 18), but his RBI chances (286) declined for the second consecutive year despite a three-year high in at-bats.

Last year, Benintendi had the same empty success against righties (.261 with two home runs over 440 at-bats) and lefties (.262 with three home runs over 122 at-bats). He never scored more than 15 runs a month or drove in higher than 10 runs. 

His strikeout rate (14.3) was the best of his career while posting a league-average walk rate (8.4). Benintendi finished with a new bottom in his exit velocity (86.6 – 88.3 in his career), with one of the worst hard-hit rates (27.0 – 38.7 in 2022 and 34.9 in his career) in baseball. In his best seasons, he barreled 31, 33, and 36 balls (only 14 last year).

Fantasy Outlook: His ADP (497) in mid-January in the NFBC puts Benintendi in the free-agent pool in all formats. Last year, the White Sox gave him 484 at-bats in the first or second slot in the batting order. As bad as his profile looks, he may be serviceable in some counting categories with a slight rebound in power. Benintendi signed a five-year contract in December of 2022, so pay attention to his bat in spring training with an eye on his exit velocity and power…

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Season Long – All Sports

2024 Toronto Blue Jays Preview

2024 Toronto Blue Jays Preview The Blue Jays have been one of the better teams in the AL East over the past four seasons, leading to three trips to the postseason with a .557 winning percentage. Their last division title […]

2024 Toronto Blue Jays Preview

The Blue Jays have been one of the better teams in the AL East over the past four seasons, leading to three trips to the postseason with a .557 winning percentage. Their last division title came in 2015. After winning the World Series in 1992 and 1993, Toronto missed the playoffs for 21 consecutive years. 

They ranked fourth in ERA (3.78). The Blue Jays’ bullpen posted a 3.68 ERA (8th) with 33 wins, 24 losses, 51 saves, and 606 strikeouts over 557.0 innings. Toronto underachieved expectations in runs (746 – 14th), home runs (188 – 17th), and RBIs (705 – 17th). Their base stealers finished with 99 steals over 133 attempts (75.0%).

Toronto parted ways with 1B Brandon Belt, 3B Matt Chapman, 2B Whit Merrifield, and SP Hyun Jin Ryu. They signed P Jordan Hicks and IF Isiah Kiner-Falefa. 

The combination of SS Bo Bichette, 1B Vlad Guerrero, and OF Daulton Varsho had a step back in production, leaving the Blue Jays with no difference-maker bats in their starting lineup. Toronto should sign another bat or two by the start of the season.

SP Kevin Gausman, SP Jose Berrios, SP Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi gave the Blue Jays 742 winning innings, but their expected ace (Alek Manoah) was one of the worst pitchers in baseball. CL Jordan Romano handled himself well in the ninth inning.

Here is our 2024 Toronto Blue Jays Preview.

Starting Lineup

OF George Springer

Springer ranked 30th in FPGscore (3.99) for hitters in 2022 despite missing 29 games with forearm, ankle, elbow, and knee injuries. Coming into last year, he missed 113 games over the previous two seasons. 

In 2023, Springer had his best opportunity (613 at-bats) since 2016. Unfortunately, he finished with a step back in runs (87), home runs (21), and RBIs (72), leading to him sliding to 54th in FPGscore (1.39) despite a career-high in steals (20). His average hit rate (1.570) was well below his previous career path. Springer came to the plate with 405 runners on base but a poor RBI rate (13). His walk rate (8.8) remains an asset while regressing for four consecutive years. Springer continues to have a favorable strikeout rate (18.3).

His bat lost momentum vs. lefties (.242/20/4/14 over 124 at-bats). He struggled in April (.225/14/3/105 over 111 at-bats) and July (.191/10/2/7/1 over 89 at-bats). Springer had his lowest hard-hit (39.9) and exit velocity (88.3) of his career. His flyball rate (35.4) is trending lower, along with his HR/FB rate (12.1) and launch angle (12.0).

Fantasy Outlook: At age 34, his best days appear to be behind him. The Blue Jays have him under contract for the next two years. To have a rebound season, Springer needs the bats behind him in the starting lineup to play much better. His ADP (123) in the early draft season in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship in mid-January ranks him as the 71st hitter. I can’t trust his speed, but the rest of his profile has a chance to beat the league average with a rebound in play…

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