Fantasy Baseball 2012: 10 Players Quickly Rising Up the Boards This Spring
For some players, spring training doesn't mean a thing in terms of their fantasy value, but for others, it can be a useful tool in predicting their season-long worth.
This spring, several players have answered questions about their ability to perform, while others have come out of nowhere and had fantastic springs. Either way, these players are making their way up draft boards in a hurry.
Here are 10 guys you won't want to wait that extra round to get around to drafting.
When Jose Reyes signed with the Miami Marlins, Hanley Ramirez found his name on just as many headlines. That's because after a disappointing 2011, Ramirez was perceived to have lost some motivation, and the signing of Reyes was going to do nothing to rebuild that.
This spring, however, Ramirez has shown everyone that none of the above was true.
Ramirez walked into camp with a renewed commitment to the game, and it's showing in his stats. Thus far, Ramirez has hit .435 with two home runs and four RBI. Somebody that was sure to fall from his ranking just outside the top 10 may even attract some first-round reachers now.
A lot of hitters on the Los Angeles Angels will see improvement as a direct result of Albert Pujols joining the team, but none will see more than Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick is a guy who at one point was projected to win multiple batting titles, but he just hasn't reached that level so far. With Pujols hitting behind him, however, he'll see more fastballs and is poised to have a breakout year.
This isn't just all talk either. Kendrick is backing it up this spring, as he has hit .467 with three home runs and 10 RBI at this point. Expect to see him go two or three rounds earlier than his ranking suggests.
Yadier Molina just signed a five-year, $75 million contract extension, and he's been playing the way he's paid this spring.
Molina is among the league leaders with his .481 batting average and is miles ahead of the top-ranked fantasy catchers with that number. He also has one home run and six RBI.
Molina isn't typically thought of as a legitimate fantasy option at catcher, but after this spring, he could jump off draft boards early if people are paying attention.
A career .288 hitter, Delmon Young has always hit for solid average, but he never became a real power guy.
This spring, however, Young has hit three home runs, and his 15 RBI are good enough for the second-highest total in the league. His .467 batting average obviously won't carry over into the regular season, but if he can keep producing as a power bat, he's adding some pop to a lineup that is already filled with it.
Currently ranked at No. 252 by ESPN, Young's spring performance will earn him a spot on more fantasy teams now than before.
Ryan Raburn's five spring home runs lead the league and so do his 16 RBI. All of a sudden, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder don't look like the only sources on a Detroit Tigers team primed to make a World Series run.
Out of his 11 hits, Raburn reached extra bases on eight of them. In addition to his five home runs, he also has two doubles and a triple. Given that he's done all of this in only 24 at-bats, he's also earned himself a .458 batting average.
Raburn is ranked at No. 290 by ESPN, so it's likely that without the spring he's having, he wouldn't be drafted at all. Now those who track stats and read articles on Bleacher Report will know to add him to their bench in the final rounds of their drafts.
Erick Aybar has emerged as a clear favorite for the Los Angeles Angels' leadoff spot because of his performance this spring.
With a .406 batting average, 11 runs and two triples, Aybar is looking like he could return to his 2009 form, when he hit .312 and had his best year to date.
In that 2009 season, the teachings of Bobby Abreu and Mark Teixeira impacted his plate discipline greatly. Could Albert Pujols be having the same effect on the 2011 Gold Glove winner?
As a young prospect with very little MLB experience, the Toronto Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie was generally overvalued in fantasy drafts. But this spring, he has done everything possible to convince owners that if anything, he's undervalued.
Thus far, Lawrie has hit an eye-popping .609 with eight RBI and five steals. While none of his 14 hits were home runs, he did add six doubles and a triple.
Those that were doubting Lawrie will start believing, and those who were believers will become reachers. Either way, the young third baseman's draft position is going up.
Of Andre Ethier's 10 hits in spring training, eight of them have gone for extra bases. To this point, the outfielder has six doubles, two triples and a home run.
After seeing a major dip in his power numbers in 2011 (career-low 11 home runs), Ethier will be looking to bounce back in 2012. His spring stats suggest that he will, as his .455 batting average is hardly the product of lucky ground balls up the middle.
As a guy who is surrounded by pitchers and washed-up outfielders in the rankings, Ethier will be and should be taken early.
The league leader in batting average among players with at least 26 at-bats this spring, Lorenzo Cain is showing that he can be a consistently productive outfielder for any fantasy owner.
The Kansas City Royal also has six doubles and two home runs. Cain is ranked No. 328 by ESPN, so he'll only be drafted in AL-only leagues or by Royals fans, but it's better than being an unknown like he was before spring training.
Adam Wainwright is the only pitcher to make this list because pitchers typically don't have many opportunities to prove themselves in spring training.
Wainwright, however, has thrown nine scoreless innings and only allowed two hits to this point. As a guy who missed all of 2011 thanks to Tommy John surgery, he needed to have this type of spring to bring comfort to fantasy owners and Cardinals fans alike.
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