My 2014 Fantasy Baseball preview continues with a look at the Los Angeles Dodgers second base competition in spring training and the potential upside of Alex Guerrero.
The Cuban acquisition is the preseason favorite to start at second base for the Dodgers, but Don Mattingly has set nothing in stone, with Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers also in the mix at that position.
However before you commit to making Guerrero a must-own sleeper in your drafts, you must weigh both the positives and negatives.
On the positive side of things, Guerrero’s biggest asset is his right-handed power, which if it plays well this season could make him the next superstar second baseman for fantasy owners.
But there is some concerns with that power as well.
Baseball America’s Ben Badler gave the following scouting report of his swing:
“Guerrero’s best tool is his right handed power … Guerrero takes an uppercut stroke and he loses his balance against breaking pitches. It’s a pull-oriented, swing-for-the-fences approach that scouts think he will have to change to hit quality pitching.”
Guerrero has been one of Cuba’s best players the last few years, hitting .338/.408/.641 in 2009, .343/.414/.583 in 2010 and .310/.400/.599 in 2011. Between the three seasons, he delivered 60 homers in 886 at-bats.
However there are concerns around baseball that he won’t hit for a high average. Even though he mashed Cuban pitching, MLB pitchers should be able to take advantage of the holes in his swing.
That’s not to say that Guerrero is going to be a complete bust or is a player to avoid. But it’s fair to be skeptical. Consider him a low-end option with upside, at this point.
I can even see him coming out of the gate on fire until the book gets out on him around the league. How he adjusts will be crucial to his success.
He also doesn’t offer up any speed and if Guerrero does hit for a low average, you will be paying a steep price for a few homers.
The Dodgers have also indicated concerns about his defense, which ultimately could see Guerrero being pulled from games late in favor of a better glove.
That alone leaves enough concern to warrant keeping a close eye on this spring.
So far he has an ADP of 220.8, which seems about right as I have no problem reaching for a potential sleeper with power in the 18th round, but I will tread cautiously.
Gordon, also a former shortstop, should be Guerrero’s only real competition in spring training. If Guerrero struggles, Gordon will have a chance to take the job from him, although I wouldn’t count on it.
Prediction: The Dodgers gave Guerrero a lot of money. They’ll want him to win the job and I fully expect him to do so.
Owners should keep a close eye on Guerrero’s glove as well as his bat in spring training before gauging his fantasy value. If he proves adequate in the field and wins the starting gig, he’ll be a power sleeper to target in the late rounds. If not, he’s likely destined for the minor leagues.
I’ve seen him go as high as rounds 12 and 13, which is a bit high for my taste. However if he is on the board in rounds 17 and 18, I have no problems taking the gamble. If he wins the job outright and gets over 500 at bats, I project a .260 AVG, 18 HR, 75 RBI and 10 SB. He had more walks (39) than strike outs (30) last season, so that is encouraging.
In addition most Cuban players have made the transition to MLB play look pretty easy recently so I am not very worried.
As for Gordon, I don’t expect much, but if it looks like he is going to make the team and get a share of the playing time, he could be a cheap source of steals to grab at the end of drafts.