Fantasy Baseball 2014 Team Previews: Pittsburgh Pirates
MAR 12, 2014 9:11a ET
The Bucs were baseball’s best story last season, and kept most of their team intact. A pair of their good rookies made fantasy impacts last season, and more are on the way.
Key additions: SP Edinson Volquez
1. Starling Marte LF
2. Jordy Mercer SS
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Pedro Alvarez 3B
5. Neil Walker 2B
6. Russell Martin C
7. Gaby Sanchez/Andrew Lambo 1B
Marte could stand to walk more and whiff less, but fantasy owners aren’t going to argue with a strong BA, double-digit homers and 40-plus steals. He’s a top-20 OF … Mercer has 2B/SS eligibility, and is rosterable in deeper mixed leagues. He’ll probably hit 10 homers with a solid BA … McCutchen is fourth on my draftboard – how about yours? … How good would Alvarez be if he could just post a decent BA? Unfortunately, it ain’t happening with all those strikeouts. He’s still a top-eight 3B, enjoy his prodigious power … Walker isn’t bad, but he’s awfully boring. Aim higher, mixed leaguers … Martin’s power is OK, and his steals are nice, but his BA is putrid. He’s a borderline mixed-league draftee … Sanchez is likely to platoon with either Lambo or Chris McGuiness. Lambo is mildly intriguing for deep leagues, as he hit 33 HRs across Double A, Triple A and the majors last season … Tabata batted .312 with an .847 OPS in August and September, but he’s in danger of being on the short end of a platoon with the mediocre Snider. Both are in danger of getting replaced by top prospect Gregory Polanco pretty soon.
2. Gerrit Cole
5. Edinson Volquez
CL: Jason Grilli
Raise your hand if you saw THAT coming from Liriano. Nobody seems to trust him, as he’s barely cracking SP3 status in early drafts. I don’t exactly trust Liriano, but picking guys like Danny Salazar and Tony Cingrani ahead of him is ludicrous … It took a promotion to the majors to get Cole’s K rate to match his terrific stuff. However, as a top-20 starter – which is where he’s being drafted in some places – I’m skeptical. “Future star” doesn’t necessarily mean it happens in 2014 … After a season cut short by a forearm issue, Rodriguez scares me, despite his six straight seasons with ERAs of 3.76 or lower … Morton allowed just six home runs in 116 innings because batters can’t help beating his pitchers into the ground (MLB-best 62.9 GB%). His 3.26 ERA will probably rise, but he could be OK at the back end of a deep-league rotation … Can Bucs’ pitching coach Ray Searage work another miracle with Volquez? The former All-Star starter strikes out plenty of batters, induces ground balls, has shaky control – I’d take a flier in a deep mixed league.
Grilli saved 30 games by July 21 before a forearm strain sidelined him until September. He should be pretty good if healthy, but forearm strains are worrisome, right? I wouldn’t draft him as a top-12 closer … If Grilli goes down, Mark Melancon will be a perfectly fine replacement.
Sleeper: Polanco, who has only Tabata and Snider in between him and a productive four months. Maybe Volquez, too.
Gregory Polanco, OF – Polanco hit 12 homers and stole 37 bases across two levels of the minors last season. A couple months in Triple A might be all he needs.
Jameson Taillon, SP – The 22-year-old Taillon is considered a top-notch prospect, and should be ready for a promotion if Volquez falters.
Andrew Lambo, 1B – Lambo’s power came out of nowhere last season, and even if he plays well, he’ll probably platoon with Sanchez. His value is limited to NL-only leagues.