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Pirates 2012 fantasy baseball preview
LF – Alex Presley
RF – Jose Tabata
CF – Andrew McCutchen
2B – Neil Walker
1B – Garrett Jones/Casey McGehee
3B – Pedro Alvarez
SS – Clint Barmes
C – Rod Barajas
SP – James McDonald
SP – Charlie Morton
SP – Erik Bedard
SP – Kevin Correia
SP – Jeff Karstens
CL – Joel Hanrahan
Five things to think about:
• Walker as a cleanup hitter? The guy hit 12 homers last season, while regressing in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. He’s rosterable in mixed leagues, but isn’t a top-12 second baseman.
• Tabata struggled through some injuries last season, but his skill set suggests a high batting average, 25-30 steals and maybe even 90-100 runs. He’s a nice sleeper target in deep mixed leagues.
• Presley has been tearing up the Grapefruit League, and hit 12 homers with 31 stolen bases between Triple A and the majors last season. Nobody is drafting him in standard mixed leagues right now. I’m just saying …
• A.J. Burnett was supposed to be in the Bucs’ rotation, but he fouled a bunt off his face a few weeks ago and broke his eye socket. Burnett will be out until at least early May, and should only be considered in NL-only leagues. When healthy, he probably won’t be as bad as he was in 2010 and 2011 with the Yankees, but that’s not saying much.
• Expecting Bedard to stay healthy is silly, but that’s OK. Check the ERA (3.62) and strikeout (8.7 per nine innings) rates from 2011, and grab him as your sixth starter in a mixed league. He won’t be an ace, and he won’t start 34 times, but near the end of your draft he could return good value even if he does take two months off.
• Odd man out: There’s a chance that Alvarez could get sent back to the minors, which would move McGhee to third base and make first base a Jones/Nick Evans platoon. The Pirates really don’t want that to happen, though.
• Farm system: The Pirates have some stud pitching prospects, but none are expected to make an impact this season. OF Starling Marte hit 12 homers and stole 24 bases at Double A last year, and could get into the Bucs’ outfield mix if Tabata or Presley disappoints.
• Backup closer: Remember a couple of years ago, when we all thought Evan Meek would win the battle with Hanrahan for the Pirates’ closer job? Meek has probably been supplanted as Hanrahan’s handcuff by Chris Resop, who whiffed 79 batters in 69 2/3 innings last season.
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