10 MLB Players Who Changed Parks Who Will Star in 2014
The best part about playing fantasy baseball is that you get to be the general manager of your own personal MLB team. That's the job that everybody wants, but that only 30 individuals can actually have at any given time.
What follows is a rundown of 10 MLB players who changed parks last offseason that are set to star during the 2014 campaign. As this article is focused on the fantasy angle, in terms of position players, offensive contributions will be emphasized at the expense of defensive limitations.
So let's take a look at 10 MLB players in line for big seasons in 2014 that you might just want to draft to your fantasy team.
Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. All salary information courtesy of "Cot's Baseball Contracts" on BaseballProspectus.com.
Brett Anderson, SP, Colorado Rockies
Coors Field isn't exactly the top destination for a starting pitcher who's looking to revive his career.
However, Brett Anderson appears uniquely prepared to excel at the Colorado Rockies' home ballpark. the left-hander possesses a devastating slider and a biting sinker, which help him produce an unusually high number of ground balls. Since the start of the 2011 campaign, Anderson has a 59.4 ground-ball percentage, which ranks fifth-best in baseball, per FanGraphs.
Of course, the big if with Anderson is whether he can stay healthy. Considering he hasn't made 30 starts in a season since his rookie year back in 2009, that's a really big if.
Mark Trumbo, LF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Mark Trumbo won't be winning the Gold Glove Award anytime soon.
However, that's not terribly important from the fantasy perspective, as we are largely focused on what Trumbo is capable of doing with his bat. Over the past three seasons, the slugger's home run output has been as follows: 29, 32, 34.
Now that he's playing his home games in the thin desert air at Chase Field, his home run total should only continue to rise. Back in December, one scout told Jayson Stark of ESPN that he believes Trumbo is capable of hitting 40 home runs in 2014.
Tim Hudson, SP, San Francisco Giants
AT&T Park should prove to be an ideal environment for Tim Hudson, as the right-hander looks to bounce back from a 2013 season cut short by a broken ankle.
Last year, the home of the San Francisco Giants had the fourth-lowest rate of runs allowed, per ESPN's Park Factor rankings. To be fair, the 39-year-old righty is a highly accomplished pitcher wherever he takes the mound. In his first start of the season, an away game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Hudson worked 7.2 scoreless as he racked up seven punchouts and earned the win on April 2.
With that effort, Hudson overhauled CC Sabathia to become the active leader in wins with 206, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Jose Abreu won't just be playing in a new park in 2014—the Chicago White Sox's first baseman will be playing in a whole new country.
Back in Cuba, the right-handed batter posted some ridiculous power numbers. During the 2010-11 Serie Nacional campaign, Abreu smashed 33 home runs in 293 plate appearances, per Ben Badler of Baseball America.
In his first four games for the White Sox, the 27-year-old has already collected a pair of doubles and a triple, although, oddly no home runs just yet. However, according to the projection systems on FanGraphs, there should be quite a few long balls on tap. ZiPs puts his output at 26, Oliver projects 33 and Steamer leads the way with 34.
Scott Kazmir, SP, Oakland Athletics
There are bound to be question marks surrounding Scott Kazmir.
After appearing in just one game in 2011, the left-hander spent the 2012 season in independent ball pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters. Last year, for the Cleveland Indians, Kazmir went a respectable 10-9 with 4.04 ERA. Or course, detractors will point out that he only pitched 158 innings.
However, the lefty was highly impressive down the stretch in 2013, posting a 3.38 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 ratio in 13 starts after the All-Star Break. In his first outing of 2013, Kazmir dominated Cleveland, his former employer, as he worked 7.1 scoreless frames on April 2.
Nick Swisher had kind words for his old teammate after that outing, via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
"He's a great story—for two years, this cat was playing catch in his backyard. As you saw...he's continuing to get better."
Now that Kazmir is playing catch at the O.co Coliseum, one of the most spacious and pitcher-friendly yards in all of the game, his upward trend should only continue.
Shin-Soo Choo, LF, Texas Rangers
It's difficult to envision Shin-Soo Choo's seven-year, $130 million deal ending well. However, in 2014, the Texas Rangers' new table-setter will have no problem living up to his $14-million price tag.*
Last year, Choo enjoyed a characteristically strong campaign, as he hit .285/.423/.462 with 34 doubles, 20 home runs and 21 stolen bases for the Cincinnati Reds. In heading to Texas, Choo is simply swapping one bandbox in Great American Ball Park for another in Globe Life Park in Arlington.
In 2014, Choo should be a member of the 20 home runs and 20 steals club for a second year in a row, which would be the fourth time in his career.
*Note: Choo only earns $14 million in 2014 because his contract with the Rangers is heavily back-loaded.
Dan Haren, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Dan Haren's lone season with the Washington Nationals did not go according to plan.
In 2013, the 6'5" right-hander went 10-14 with a 4.67 ERA. However, a further exploration of the numbers demonstrates that Haren's season wasn't actually as bad as it appears.
After a brutal first half in which he posted a 5.61 ERA and served up 19 home runs in 17 starts, the veteran got back on track after the All-Star Break. In his final 14 outings, Haren went 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA, including a 2.89 ERA in September.
However, it's not just that strong finish that suggests a far more productive 2014 for the 33-year-old. Dodger Stadium should also be a great fit for Haren. Last season, the Dodgers home stadium was the third-most pitcher-friendly yard in all of MLB in terms of runs scored, according to ESPN's Park Factor rankings.
Brian McCann, C, New York Yankees
Brian McCann hits a ton of home runs for a catcher.
Heading into 2014, the New York Yankees' $85-million backstop had clubbed at least 20 home runs in seven of the past eight seasons. With a 314-foot porch in right field at Yankees Stadium, 30 long balls in 2014 certainly isn't out of the question.
Oliver projects that the 30-year-old will tag a career-best 34 home runs this season, per FanGraphs.
Grant Balfour, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
Grant Balfour is an All-Star reliever, and the right-hander sure knows how to pick pitcher-friendly ballparks.
Last year, while closing for the Oakland Athletics, the veteran posted a 2.58 ERA while locking down 38 saves. In 36 appearances at the O.co Coliseum, Balfour was even better, recording a 1.98 ERA. One of the factors that makes the Coliseum such an ideal place to pitch is the expansive foul territory. From 2010-2012 the stadium allowed the second-most foul outs in MLB, according to John Dewan of Bill James Online.
First on that list is Tropicana Field, Balfour's new home with the Tampa Bay Rays. With a 3.27 ERA and a 9.8 K/9 ratio in 11 big league seasons, there's no doubt that Grant Balfour is an excellent reliever. And pitching at Tropicana Field will make him that much better.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers
By his own lofty standards, Prince Fielder slumped through a down season in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers. The first baseman hit .279/.362/.457 with an .819 OPS, 36 doubles and 25 home runs, which for most MLB players would qualify as a standout season.
In 2014, the 30-year-old should be much closer to his career .919 OPS thanks to the fact that he'll be playing at the notoriously hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington.
His old home stadium, Comerica Park in Detroit, definitely isn't a bad place to hit. Still, it doesn't quite compare to his new one. According to John Dewan of Bill James Online, the Rangers' home field was the second-most hitter-friendly park in terms of Runs Index from 2010-12.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.
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