Fantasy Outlook - Chicago Cubs Style

In recent conversations with an unnamed Fantasy Baseball Expert he likened auditing the Cubs for fantasy reasons to vomiting all over your keyboard and then setting the whole computer on fire. I thought it was hyperbole but once I dug into the Cubs offensive lineup the dry retching started and I had the sudden urge to dump gasoline over everything I owned and start again in some other place.

In the lens of a redraft league this was not be a fun exercise. Outside of Rizzo and Castro there is not a lot of high ceiling impact. Samardzija is an interesting name but he’s almost certainly going to be available late in most sensible drafts sans homer fans who are hoping the upside pays off. Let’s take a look at the 5 guys who you should keep tabs on in standard 5×5 leagues and a few MLB/MiLB guys who bear watching in Dynasty/Deep Keeper leagues.

I’ll be around a little bit to answer your questions on anyone left off this list (FWIW I’m very mixed on Samardzija right now Fantasy wise).

1. Anthony Rizzo – Stock Up

I think Rizzo is a top 15 fantasy firstbaseman and by that larger function he’s worth owning in most leagues. His real value comes in NL only leagues and OBP leagues (To a lesser extent). Rizzo has the potential to post average production in BA and be above average in the HR category. He’ll be a non factor when it comes to Stolen Bases and the run conditions are completely out of his control. I doubt Rizzo hits 90/90 in terms of RS/RBI this year given the team around him. He’s a competent backup option in fantasy who kills righties. That’s worth a spot.

2. Starlin Castro – Big Question Mark

Castro was perhaps the biggest fantasy dissapointment of 2013. He has a track record of success and now he has an awful 2013 season on the back of his baseball card which complicates where Castro should go in most leagues. If you believe in the bat like I do Castro is a tier 2 shortstop who will flirt with joining the Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki tier as fantasy SS royalty. If you don’t he’s somewhere in the middle of Tier 3 hanging out with guys like Jimmy Rollins and Alexei Ramirez. I have him ranked as the 10th best SS in standard 5×5 leagues. Castro’s value is tied strictly into BA right now as he’s does not provide average production in HRs or SBs. The bat needs to play for him to be worth owning in mixed leagues. Draft with caution.

3. Travis Wood – Stock Down

I have Wood as an SP3 candidate which might be too aggressive. Wood relies on contact to get outs. I’m not predicting doom and gloom for Wood but his peripheral numbers do concern me moving forward. Perhaps he’s a guy that will always outperform his FIP but it’s not something I’m willing to stake a league championship on. Wood does some things well but he doesn’t dominate enough categories for me to put him as anything other than an SP3 with a downward trend.

4. Welington Castillo – Stock Up

I have Welington tabbed as a tier 4 catcher with tier 2 upside. I’m higher than most on Beef when it comes to fantasy. There was a power outage last year and he doesn’t hit in a good lineup that will help him augment his RBI and RS categories but I think he can hit a solid .280 and creep into double digit territory for HRs. Catcher is notoriously weak fantasy wise and I think he can have a decent enough year with the stick to move up a few tiers.

5. Jose Veras – Stock Up

Once you get beyond the top 10 relievers everyone is a variation on a different theme. Veras is a good pitcher, one who will help you in WHIP, ERA and he might get enough save opportunities to help you out with Saves. That’s a big on the saves however. Never draft relievers high and never draft closers on bad teams before round 22. There will be enough flux in bullpens that will allow for interesting pickups later. I might take a flier on Veras but draft conservatively here.

Dynasty/Deep Keeper  Guys

1. Junior Lake – Stock Down

I like Lake, this pains me to say it but I don’t see him having a future as a Major League regular. He’ll have some value in deep keepers as he has power and speed but I don’t think he has enough utility in either of those tools to be useful anywhere else.

2. Kris Bryant – Stock Up

Bryant has a high basement and looks to be on the fast track to the Major League Level. There’s a lot to like about his skillset and it’s probably enough to get irresponsible with his overall dynasty rankings at 3B. There’s not a lot of good, young 3B out there and if Bryant can stick at the hot corner he’ll be in the top tier of fantasy thirdbasemen very quickly.

3. Javier Baez – Stock Up

I tabbed him #TheUnicorn because tales of his exploits are reaching mythological levels. There’s a lot of risk with taking Baez in Dynasty leagues. He has a lot of swing and miss in his game and there’s always the danger that his aggressive nature leads to flaming out early in the developmental process. I won’t get too aggressive with his ranking but I like him a lot. His future is tied closely to Starlin Castro‘s and I still think he’s a year away so keep that in mind.

4. Albert Almora – Stock Up

I think Almora will be a better real life player than a fantasy guy but there’s enough to like in his projections that I think he’ll be worth stashing very soon. He’s too far away for me to get overly excited but I am very pleased with his progression at the lower levels. He’s coming up quick.

5. Jorge Soler – Stock Down

Of the top 4 prospects Soler always seemed like the guy most likely to be traded. He has obvious talents but there are makeup whispers that put me off on his stock. If you have him, I would start entertaining trade offers for him.

6. Arismendy Alcantara – Stock Up

Jason Parks called Arismendy “Jose Reyes light”. From a fantasy perspective that’s an incredibly valuable commodity. He’s blocked right now but he’ll be making the case that he belongs very soon. He can play shortstop or second base and is definitely a name to watch.

7. Dan Vogelbach – Stock Down

I know he’s absolutely mashing down there but he’s on a prove it path with me. He’s going to have to hit all through the system for me to start getting excited about a real Major League future.

8. All pitchers – Stock Unknown


Filed under: Cubs, fantasy

Tags: Fantasy Baseball, mlb


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  • Soler stock down? Then I would say Almora stock down as well. Both have been injured and both have not played a full season.

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    In reply to sringh5:

    Soler stock is down because this post is from a fantasy standpoint. He is the largest unknown of the Cubs minor league players right now.

    Finally - a fantasy impact post, my prayers have been answered. I tend to shy away from any Cubs players in fantasy but I do have Rizzo in an NL only 5x5 $260 Dynasty league. My hope is to trade him because he is on a $5 contract and I want to try to get draft choices from a team owner who is bullish on a rebound, of which I have none. But you are right, the surrounding cast does not portend to elite numbers.

    Starlin Castro - SELL I think the regression is real and if he has another bad season you are stuck with him. Right now he is $15 in my league. Slight overpay. If he returns to 2011 and 2012 levels, he is a bargain.
    Kris Bryant - VERY BULLISH BUY
    Javier Baez - VERY BULLISH BUY
    Wellington Castillo - HOLD
    Travis Wood - HOLD
    Jeff Samardzija - SELL (please note I play in a NL keeper league so if Shark gets traded to BAL for instance you lose your #4 or #5 SP. However in mixed leagues I'd HOLD because a contender would likely only trade for him and I do believe were he on a contending team, Samardjzia's non-counting numbers and wins would uptick significantly.
    Jose Veras - BUY cheap saves win leagues.

    Albert Almora - may be more valuable in real league play than fantasy play but I think his downside floor is .280/10/60 with 15 steals and 70 runs. That's a helluva a floor for a guy who won't cost much to keep for years 1-3 in fantasy. If the power comes he is a VERY BULLISH BUY.

    Junior Lake - SELL (capitalize on his torrid, small sample size stats)
    Jorge Soler - HOLD
    Arismandy Alcantera - VERY BULLISH BUY (there are few decent 2B minor league prospects this year and I could see a Kipnis comp at full potential).

    Vogaelbach - I am scared that I once drafted Brian Dopriak in the first round, so I feel compelled to sell. But I think Vogelbach is going to have a nice career somewhere and worth stashing, especially in mixed leagues. I'd say HOLD or BUY.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Nicely done!

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Maybe,but when reading this piece I too vomited all over my keyboard as well. I can't disagree on any aspect other than Vogelbach and his stock being down. The horses sort to speak aren't even out of the barn at this point. In other words he hasn't failed as of yet. I suppose all the Cub Kool aid drinkers myself included are banking on these top 20 kids making a positive showing in the upper level minors.Got to keep believing until proven otherwise.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Vogelbomb is limited by the lack of a defensive position. Hes essentially a DH-only, though I can see the potential of a David-Ortiz like career with him. Bryant and Almora to me have the most value, Baez the most fantasy potential. Im not sold on Lake, and Soler needs to put together a healthy season before I buy. None of there pitchers are yet worth mentioning.

  • In reply to sringh5:

    But Almora put together some notable numbers when he was healthy. Soler had issues with his percieved attitude. Theres your likley difference. No one questions Almoras character.

  • As we all know prospects, even the good ones, have their ups and downs early in there career

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    I sure hope "these kids can play" and soon. If they don't pan out...what then?

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    I participate in 3 Yahoo leagues a season and Castro and Rizzo are usually the only Cubs drafted.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Had Castillo (as a 2nd Catcher) and Wood drafted in one league I play (later rounds), and picked up Wood early in May in another league. Did pick up and carry Junior Lake in the first league as well when he came up last summer as he was 3B eligible, and my only other 3B (I needed an injury replacement) options at the time were Youkilis, and Valbuena - and niether of them was getting consistent PT. Junior is likely NOT going to hold 3B elegibility though.

    Likely won't hold Junior (it is a keeper league) to start out this year, but might consider drafting him as a flier 4th/5th OF in that league later if he is available.

    But yeah - Castro and Rizzo were about the only consistent value picks in my leagues. Maybe Shark,...

  • Luke Stuckmeyer ‏@LukeStuckmeyer 4m
    Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will meet with the #Cubs & #WhiteSox this week...likely in Chicago.

    Hopefully this will be relevant to this article soon...

  • Was actually wondering about Samardzija here. I don't play a lot of fantasy anymore but seems to me a guy who has value for the strikeouts and he won't kill you with walks. He can also pitch very well for stretches.

    Fangraphs article had him as a potential top 30 pitcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think he'll be around there but I can see him sliding down a tier as well. I dunno, Shark is hard as hell to figure because he can have runs of extreme dominance and then crap the bed a few times. I hesitate here, but I might be ok with him as my SP2

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Samardzija won't help with WHIP and ERA.

  • And don't forget Tanaka, who is sure to sign with the Cubs ;) Okay, maybe not, but he is meeting with them this week per Luke Stuckenmeyer.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Go get him, Theo. Do it.

  • In reply to Eddie:



    Yeah, that's your's truly being curmudgeonly at work.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    thanks for the article. I am very interested to see his payout in arbitration years, and what kind of deal he will land on the open market (it would be stupid for him not to).
    Trout is like a combination of Almora and Bryant. I wonder when MVP voters will start to take absurd WAR over AVG/HR.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Haha! I'm pretty sure Trout will have a higher combined WAR than this Cubs OF. 10 WAR players will outproduce a lot of OF's. Think about how crazy that is. You'd have to have two 4 WAR OF"ers and one 3 to top his production. That's a pretty good OF.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I also think how good the Angels could have been if they didn't counter that value with the Pujols and Hamilton contracts.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly. They loaded up with bad contracts to compete with Oakland (irony) and Texas. In doing so, they have more than jeopardized their future AND lost their ability to keep Trout thru free agency.

  • I have strict rule not to draft Cubs players in fantasy. That way if the Cubs are terrible, my fantasy team may not be and I still have a chance at a decent summer.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    I don't choose many Cubs either when I play. Partly for that reason and partly because I tend to play with Cubs fans, and they sometimes overdraft Cubs players.

  • Everyone who doubts Javy is going to end up regretting it. People talk about his swing and miss, ignoring Bryant's similar tendencies when discussing him as a prospect. People talk about how Almora can be a fast riser, but Javy starting this year in AAA as one of the leagues youngest players never gets brought up.

    He has adjusted extremely quickly at every level. The daily freakouts people were having about his Ks in A+ in April/May were silly then, and were made to look even worse when Baez hit 20 HRs in 54 games in AA by the end of the season. And just as a reminder, his 20 HRs were 4 off the league lead despite playing 80 less games than the leader. He lead both Daytona and Tennessee (finishing in the top 6 in both leagues) despite splitting his season between the two.

    Oh yeah, and he is a SS (which seems even more important in a fantasy baseball article). I've said it many times, at worst Javy will have Rickie Weeks's career (which isn't a bust). Guys with his bat speed and athleticism do not fail to make the majors. EVER (barring injury). Almora may have the best chance of reaching his ceiling as a player, but Baez is not the least likely of the Cubs big 4 to stay in the majors, he is the most likely.

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