Complete 2014 Projections

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PROJECTED 2014 SEASON STATS
1. Miguel Cabrera, Det 3B, 1B, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics5551034413790943.348.442.6361.078
2014 Projections5951034412785993.328.413.6081.021
2014 Outlook: Arguably the most skilled hitter in the game today, Cabrera in 2013 came within a Chris Davis power surge -- specifically within nine home runs and one RBI of Davis -- of a second consecutive Triple Crown, something no player in baseball history has done. Cabrera's elite and balanced numbers in those three categories, which comprise three-fifths of the standard rotisserie departments, are unrivaled: He has led all major leaguers in batting average in two of the past three years (2011 and 2013), RBIs in two of the past four (2010 and 2012), and home runs in 2012; and in the past five seasons combined he batted seven points higher, hit 17 more homers and drove in 52 more runs than anyone else. What's more, Cabrera's performance last year is all the more remarkable if you consider that he played visibly hurt the final four months, an injury that required "core muscle repair" surgery in October. Despite this, he missed only 13 of the Detroit Tigers' final 89 games (playoffs included), batting .306/.402/.552 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs in that span. If Cabrera has a weakness, it's his defense, but even that might no longer be so damaging to his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) now that he's returning to first base following the Prince Fielder trade. Cabrera makes a compelling first or second overall pick, regardless of format. Stephania Bell: Cabrera is back on track to start the season despite last fall's surgery, and from a physical-demand standpoint, the move to first base can only help.
2. Edwin Encarnacion*, Tor 1B, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics530903610482627.272.370.534.904
2014 Projections5669737110837810.297.389.549.938
2014 Outlook: It took eight big-league seasons, but the Toronto Blue Jays finally, in 2012, isolated Encarnacion's best skills: He's a pull-power slugger with a good batting eye, and the team embraced those abilities knowing that their home venue, Rogers Centre, could harness them. Sure enough, he has the third-most homers (78) and eighth-most walks (166) the past two seasons combined, despite his having missed 31 games due to injuries, including a wrist problem that required surgery last September. Encarnacion is expected to make a full recovery in time for the season, however, and the fact that he's a much better contact hitter than people give him credit -- he had a career-best 88.3 percent contact rate in 2013 -- makes him an outstanding early-rounder in any scoring format. He's especially attractive in points-based leagues, and if your format affords a 10-game position qualification, he'll be third base-eligible, propping him up even more. Stephania Bell: After undergoing surgery on his left wrist in September to address cartilage damage, Encarnacion posted a photo of himself working on his swing in January. Appears on track to start the season, but will he hold up?
3. Shin-Soo Choo, Tex OF, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics569107215411213320.285.423.462.885
2014 Projections589104196410313221.284.408.453.861
2014 Outlook: One of the most disciplined hitters in baseball, Choo chose one of the most offensively advantageous landing spots for his skill set that he could have this winter, agreeing to a long-term deal with the Texas Rangers. Among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances the past five seasons combined, he had the sixth-highest on-base percentage (.392), a substantial gain for a team that had a mere .324 mark from its Nos. 1-2 hitters yet scored the eighth-most runs in the majors in 2013. Choo's gaudy run total of last season therefore has a good chance at being repeated, and he's a 20/20 capable player especially attractive in leagues that reward him for his walks. He's not a player without weakness -- he batted just .220/.333/.293 against lefties from 2011-13 -- but he's well worth regarding as a building block, even in shallow mixed.
4. David Ortiz, Bos DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics518843010376884.309.395.564.959
2014 Projections51380299374892.298.385.544.929
2014 Outlook: A seemingly ageless veteran, Ortiz continues to rack up All-Star-caliber statistics despite his entering 2014 at the age of 38. In 2013, he became only the seventh player in history to manage a .300-30-100 minimum stat line at the age of 37, and the first in 11 seasons (Barry Bonds, 2002). What's more, Ortiz seems to get more disciplined at the plate each year; he had an 83.8 percent contact rate from 2011 to '13, a substantial improvement upon his 76.1 percent from 2008 to 10, and his walk rate increased slightly, from 13.1 (2008-10) to 13.2 (2011-13) percent. This has come with an occasional penchant for streakiness, but after a postseason like his -- he terrorized left-handed pitchers last October, which answered one of the few questions raised about him earlier in the year -- what cause is there to doubt him? The only reasonable knock on Ortiz is that drafting him locks up your designated hitter spot in the draft's early rounds. But he's also one of the only players who justifies it.
5. Albert Pujols, LAA 1B, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics39149176440551.258.330.437.767
2014 Projections56483279754746.280.345.482.827
2014 Outlook: After 12 consecutive seasons of first-ballot Hall-of-Famer statistics, Pujols finally suffered some adversity in 2013. Painful plantar fasciitis plagued him for much of the season, resulting in a partial tear that ended his season in July, and statistics that across the board represented career worsts. Pujols' prognosis for 2014 has improved -- he had resumed taking batting practice in November and was on track for a full spring training -- but at the same time, his home run total, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS have all declined in each season since 2008. He is following the natural downslope of a career that a slugger faces, and the history of comparable Hall of Fame talents isn't positive; at 34 years old, many of them had productive seasons, but hardly numbers worthy of MVP votes. Pujols' power might return -- this bears the closest watching during camp -- but understand that he is not the same player who scored MVPs in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Don't let the name brand cause you to reach in drafts. Stephania Bell: Pujols says his left foot is much improved compared to last year, but one wonders if wear and tear from so many games over the years is catching up.
6. Yoenis Cespedes, Oak OF, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics529742680371377.240.294.442.737
2014 Projections5578327934413712.260.320.463.783
2014 Outlook: After a breakthrough 2012 in the States, Cespedes regressed badly in 2013, his strikeout rate rising (23.9 percent, up from 18.9), walk rate dropping (6.5 percent, down from 8.0) and both his batting average and BABIP plummeting by identical 52-point margins. This resulted in a 92-spot decline in Player Rater standing -- 28 spots among outfielders alone -- and a second consecutive season with a DL stint because of a hand injury continued to fuel questions about his long-term health as it relates to his violent swing. Cespedes still has massive power, however, as his isolated power and fly-ball and line-drive rates remained consistent in the two years, and if he enjoys any correction to his BABIP, he could recapture at least some of his 2012 fantasy stock. After all, he did finish 2013 with a .314/.337/.570, six-homer September, and a strong spring could increase his draft stock. It might be prime time to buy a rebound.
7. Joe Mauer*, Min C, 1B, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics44562114761890.324.404.476.880
2014 Projections553821373801015.311.397.452.849
2014 Outlook: After many years of chatter that his bat was too valuable to risk having him wear the tools of ignorance on a daily basis, Mauer finally was moved off catcher this winter: He'll be the Minnesota Twins' everyday first baseman in 2014. It took a season-shortening concussion in August to force the Twins' hand, but there are many fantasy advantages that result: Mauer should take less wear and tear at first base, increasing his chances at racking up games and plate appearances, and he'll remain catcher-eligible throughout 2014 in ESPN leagues, while accruing the larger number of PAs typical of a first baseman comparative to a catcher. That's big news for this batting-average/line-drive specialist; a .300-plus hitter, not to mention a .400-plus on-base artist, carries much more weight in those categories the more times he comes to the plate. (Incidentally, Mauer's .323 career batting average is tops among active players.) Take this to heart especially in points-based leagues; the case can be made that Mauer will pace the position in the format. But even in rotisserie leagues, he's one of the best at his "position" ... well, his eligible fantasy position of catcher. Stephania Bell: Mauer's season ended in August due to a concussion, the result of a foul tip to his mask. He was symptom-free by October, and with the full-time move to first base this year, he should have an easier time staying in the lineup.
8. Carlos Santana, Cle C, 1B, 3B, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics541752074931103.268.377.455.832
2014 Projections542792583961113.262.373.470.844
2014 Outlook: Ah, the possibilities. Santana enters a 2014 of change: He's catcher-eligible in fantasy leagues, but all indications are that the Cleveland Indians will move him off the position -- probably to designated hitter -- though he did dabble in some third base in winter ball. Chances are he'll be a catcher-eligible player who experiences a games played/plate appearances bump as a regular elsewhere on the diamond; such players gain an advantage because of the result on their counting numbers. Santana has made small gains in terms of making contact in each of the past two seasons, and he has always had underrated power. Might a new position help him finally reach the 30-homer plateau? It's that prospect which keeps him high in the catcher ranks, and those in leagues that reward walks or on-base percentage should be especially intrigued.
9. Carlos Beltran*, NYY OF, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics55479248438902.296.339.491.830
2014 Projections545892681501023.281.341.486.827
2014 Outlook: One of the most successful hitters in postseason history -- he's a .333/.445/.683 career hitter with 16 home runs in 51 such games -- Beltran signed this winter with a team everyone annually assumes is playoff-bound: The New York Yankees. But before you pencil them in again and dream up wild Beltran expectations, remember that the 2013 squad fell short and Beltran, like many of his fellow Yankees, is getting up there in years; he turns 37 in April. He's no longer the base-stealing threat he was during his prime, and his numbers from the right side of the plate have tumbled, though Yankee Stadium coupled with occasional time in the DH spot to ease some of the physical strain might help slow his aging curve. As a middle-of-the-order hitter, Beltran's numbers come season's end might not look much different than they did in 2013. But he's a player with greater odds of regression than progression in 2014.
10. Billy Butler, KC DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics582621582791020.289.374.412.787
2014 Projections586752190711072.295.373.454.827
2014 Outlook: Most everyone expected a decline in homers from Butler's career-high 29 in 2012, but not to the extent that occurred. Last season, Butler's already low fly ball rate dropped even further, so when his percentage of fly balls that leave the yard returned to normal after a big spike the previous season, the result was a precipitous drop in power. Butler's contact skills and patience remained intact, so it was not a completely lost season, just very disappointing for those expecting more production. The good news is last season was likely the floor with respect to power. Don't expect a return to 2012 glory, but a return to the roaring 20s, albeit a low-20s expectation, is most reasonable.
11. Josh Hamilton, LAA OF, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics576732179471584.250.307.432.739
2014 Projections578792596491576.261.319.458.777
2014 Outlook: Hamilton's 2012 and 2013 stat lines show an astonishing level of contrast: He belted 43 home runs and finished in the top five in the MVP race in the former, but his homer total declined by more than half (to 21) and his slugging percentage plummeted 145 points in the latter. Which version will we get in 2014? Somewhere in between is your best bet, although the .304-hitting version of Hamilton we saw during the first six seasons of his big league career isn't especially likely. He's a much more strikeout-prone player these days, and he's declining in terms of plate discipline, whiffing a major league-high 209 times on pitches outside the strike zone over the past two seasons. Hamilton might be more comfortable in his new digs in Year No. 2, and after playing last year at a lower weight than usual, he's back to his traditional 230 pounds entering 2014. There's bounce-back potential here, but it's probably not to his former MVP-candidate form, but to possible top-20 outfielder form.
Stephania Bell: Hamilton wasted no time sustaining his first injury, a calf strain in late February which forced him onto crutches for several days. He's returned to running and could play in games the third week of March. If all goes well he can still be ready by Opening Day but this is a reminder of what the risks are with Hamilton.
12. Jose Abreu, CWS 1B, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics----------------------
2014 Projections40269278281964.254.412.495.907
2014 Outlook: After consecutive, successful big-league debut seasons by Cuban imports Yoenis Cespedes (2012) and Yasiel Puig (2013), it's understandable that fantasy owners are giddy over the prospects of a third in a row, this one by Abreu. He's the ultimate unknown commodity entering 2014: Scouts have suggested a range as wide as his being a low-average, big-power type like Pedro Alvarez; a higher-average, modest-power type like Cespedes; or perhaps as little as a fringe big-league regular. A 2011 league MVP in Cuba, Abreu excelled at filling two specific categories: Home runs and times hit by pitch, the latter a direct result of his close-to-the-plate batting stance. (Hey, at least the latter fuels on-base percentage.) He'll presumably be the White Sox's starting first baseman, in a ballpark that plays beautifully for power. Abreu might be wildly streaky and a feast-or-famine type initially, but he's well worth your mid-round consideration.
13. Victor Martinez, Det DH, 1BYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics60568148354620.301.355.430.785
2014 Projections58677169450600.300.352.440.792
2014 Outlook: Let's emphasize from the beginning that Martinez will open the season with designated hitter/utility eligibility, as his days behind the dish are history. There's a good chance he picks up in-season eligibility at first base. It took a little while for Martinez to shake the rust off from missing the entire 2012 season, but by season's end it was the same old story: a high average with a smattering of power and decent run production. That said, Martinez's post-break .361 average was fueled by a .371 BABIP that is sure to regress. But since his contact skills are as strong as ever, Martinez should continue to be a run-producing cog in a still-potent Tigers attack.
14. Coco Crisp, Oak OF, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics513932266616521.261.335.444.779
2014 Projections541871158577227.251.319.372.691
2014 Outlook: For the first time in his career, Crisp surpassed the 20-homer mark, not to mention amassed more bombs than steals. The power spike emanated from lofting a few more balls in concert with a big jump in the percentage of fly balls leaving the yard. With such a drastic change in the type of production Crisp generated last season, he's difficult to baseline. Perhaps it's best to look at things in a more general sense instead of trying to pinpoint exact numbers. Approach Crisp with the mindset his home runs will drop while he should run a little more, then temper expectations since he is 34 years old with a checkered injury history. Then let the season play out a bit and manage your roster in accordance with where Crisp's production is leaning.
15. Alfonso Soriano, NYY OF, DHYEARABRHRRBIBBKSBAVGOBPSLGOPS
2013 Statistics58184341013615618.255.302.489.791
2014 Projections5016227863113710.246.294.463.758
2014 Outlook: Guess who's hit the ninth-most homers in the majors over the past three seasons? At an age where his skills should be declining, Soriano's are remarkably stable. Conventional wisdom suggests it is easy to pick up cheap speed later in drafts, but Soriano is a great source of cheap power. As batting average is dropping across the league, the fact that Soriano's is consistent means it isn't as detrimental as in past seasons. However, a repeat of 18 steals is unlikely, especially considering he swiped a total of just 22 the previous four seasons combined.