Although the results and statistics don't count, spring training games can still provide valuable information for regular season games.
Dr. Lineup: Notes on the Pirates, Nationals & Twins
Monday March 12th, 2012
Everyday regulars may only have a few at-bats during spring games, but reviewing the starting lineup can provide some keys to the lineup order come April. Looking for advantages on early season trends will likely help owners on draft day.
With a week of spring training games in the books in 2012, here are a few interesting notes for fantasy owners.
The Pittsburgh Pirates enter the 2012 season with a crowded outfield and only one guaranteed spot (Andrew McCutchen). However, over the first few games of spring training, the Pirates have likely found their leadoff hitter.
Alex Presley enters this season as the likely candidate as the everyday left fielder and the leadoff hitter for the Buccos. In addition to Presley and McCutchen in the outfield, Jose Tabata will join them in right field. Nate McLouth, who signed with the team during the off-season on a one-year deal, will be a platoon player for all three outfield spots.
From a fantasy standpoint, Presley is an interesting waiver pickup for deep league owners looking for speed upside and potential double digit home run power. Playing time is key for Alex, but I think the Pirates will stick with the youngster in 2012. His numbers prior to 2010 are unimpressive, but speed has been the 26-year-old's best attribute to this point in his career. In the past seven Pirates games (as of March 12) - Presley has hit from the leadoff spot in all five games he's started.
Below is the lineup the Pirates used on March 9 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, and is a strong indicator of how the Pirates will open the 2012 regular season.
Much of the hype surrounding the Nationals this off-season revolved around the starting rotation additions (Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson) and the potential big-league arrival of prospect Bryce Harper. However, much of the attention during the early games for the Nats in the Grapefruit League has been due to their injured lineup.
Early injuries to Harper, Mike Morse, Adam LaRoche, and Jayson Werth have forced the Nationals to play their superstar Ryan Zimmerman alongside bench players and minor leaguers for most of the games thus far. Whether it's bench players or regulars, one thing is for sure, the Nationals desperately need a leadoff hitter. Over the past two seasons (2010-11), current leadoff hitter Ian Desmond has posted a .308 on-base percentage.
Just recently, the Nats released a lineup (March 12) that resembled a potential Opening Day lineup. With the exceptions of Jesus Flores and Corey Brown, this is how things will shape up. Wilson Ramos is the regular catcher and Morse will play left field.
The Minnesota Twins are hoping to move past a disappointing 2011 season. Most of their offensive production was lost due to injuries. The off-season brought in fresh faces, but most of the lineup stays the same with an emphasis on the No.3 and No.4 spot filled by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
From a fantasy perspective, there are a few nice pieces for fantasy owners to watch (besides Joe Mauer). Even though Ben Revere isn't hitting from the leadoff spot (unless Denard Span is out), I still see him as a potential cheap source of stolen bases. In addition to Revere, Josh Willingham had a career year in home runs in 2011 (29) - but could hit more than 30 in 2012 while playing for the Twins.
This is the original lineup from March 11 that featured every "regular" player. However, due to a neck ailment, Denard Span was a late scratch. When Span is healthy, he'll hit from the leadoff spot with Revere hitting No. 8 or No. 9.
These are just a few of the many storylines happening in spring training thus far. Be sure to check out all the lineups on Baseball Press and check back soon for more notes from Dr. Lineup.
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