Although the results and statistics don't count, spring training games can still provide valuable information for regular season games.
Reggie Von Bartles
Dr. Lineup: The National League West
Tuesday March 27th, 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 just about a week left until the start of the regular season, many National League West teams have shown their Opening Day lineups. I covered the San Diego Padres in an earlier post, so I won't duplicate work, but every other NL West team is listed.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Besides Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, most casual baseball fans can't name many of the regulars for the Dodgers in 2012. However, one name to remember - Dee Gordon. Gordon, 23, has been a focal point of the Dodgers during spring training, mostly due to his speed. The shortstop stole 24 bases in 56 games last season, and many are predicting at least 60 steals for the youngster in 2012.
From a fantasy perspective, the big-time draw to Gordon is obviously speed. He has zero power and doesn't walk much, but because he plays a scarce position (shortstop) - he has serious value.
Below is the lineup the Dodgers used on March 24 against the Cleveland Indians. With the exception of the starting pitcher, here is how the Dodgers will likely look in 2012.
Staying in the National League West, the D-Backs look to defend their NL West Title in 2012. Their most notable acquisitions over the off-season were Jason Kubel and Trevor Cahill. Arizona will once again be in great shape in 2012, thanks to a strong starting pitching rotation, back-end of the bullpen, and Justin Upton.
If you're looking for fantasy options in this lineup (besides the obvious) - Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill are possible solutions. Goldschmidt, 24, has put up huge power numbers at the minor league levels (83 HR in 3 seasons) but hit just 8 home runs in 48 games for the D-Backs in 2011. However, the potential 25 home run power makes Goldschmidt a nice option at the corner infield position. For Aaron Hill, his 36 home run 2009 season is long gone, but he could still provide double digit home run and steals from a middle infield position. While Hill might not have the pop in his bat he once had, he could score 70-to-80 runs hitting second in the lineup this season.
Here's what the Diamondbacks rolled out against the Chicago Cubs on March 26. This is likely their Opening Day lineup with the exception of swapping Geoff Blum for Ryan Roberts.
The Rockies released veteran Casey Blake earlier this week, and the favorite for the third base position appears to be utility man Jordan Pacheco. Pacheco's hot spring (17-for-42, .405 AVG) has forced Colorado to find a spot in the lineup for him. In addition to regular playing time for Pacheco at third base, the team could also use defensive minded Chris Nelson in platoon situations.
As a fantasy owner, you always have to be concerned with platoons. However, just because a player is in a platoon position, he still can be useful. In this case, Pacheco is the favorite for playing time and will have the most fantasy value, especially in NL-Only leagues.
Here's how a typical Rockies lineup could look to start the 2012 season.
San Francisco Giants
While the roster is still a mess for the Giants, one thing is for sure. The No. 3 and No. 4 spots will be filled by Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. Freddy Sanchez is hurt again, so the team will open with Emmanuel Burriss at second base.
The biggest "head-scratcher" move this spring training goes to the Giants and Brandon Belt. For whatever reason, the team has decided that they would rather play aging veterans over young, good talent (like Belt). For Belt, it likely means he'll start the season on the bench or in Triple-A, while guys like Aubrey Huff and Brett Pill make a mess out of the Giants lineup.
Gregor Blanco likely earned himself a bench spot with the Giants to start the season, but I wouldn't expect much playing time for the 28-year-old outfielder. He's a career .258/.358/.324 hitter over 836 plate appearances, and last appeared in a big-league game in 2010.
Here's how the Giants took the field during a recent game (March 27) against the Los Angeles Angels. If you swap out Blanco for Melky Cabrera and Belt for Nate Schierholtz, this is one of the many lineups San Francisco could use early on in 2012.
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 be sure to also check out our Lineup Application for Android phone users.
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