Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Al Melchior's 2013 Rankings Snapshot

  •  

Editor's Note: We will be providing owners three unique points of view by position this offseason. Our Scott White, Al Melchior and Nando Di Fino will each be sharing their initial views on the 2013 Fantasy Baseball season by position. Teams listed are either a player's current team or the team they ended 2012 on.

Catcher

A year ago, I thought Carlos Santana was the cream of the catching crop, and even though he took a step backward in 2012, I haven't changed my mind on the matter. Even if he doesn't hit for average, Santana can outproduce the field, thanks to his ability to hit for power and draw walks. I also like Mike Napoli's and Brian McCann's chances for comeback seasons. Napoli has never been a great contact hitter, but his strikeout binge was out of line with his career norms and he should make more frequent contact next season. McCann's decline in doubles power is a bit concerning, but now knowing that his shoulder issues could bear part of the blame, it's reasonable to expect a healthy McCann to put up near-elite numbers, even if he misses roughly a month of the season as he recovers from surgery.

It's not clear where all that power came from for Jonathan Lucroy and A.J. Pierzynski in 2012, but it's unlikely they can provide a repeat performance. It's particularly dubious for Pierzynski, who is in his mid- thirties. While the trend is more believable for Lucroy, the increase from his prior numbers -- including those from the minors -- looks a little too good to be true. Carlos Ruiz's breakthrough season also prompted some disbelief, and now that he will be serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive for amphetamines, Chooch barely scooches into the top 20.

Editor's note: Victor Martinez's eligibility in CBSSports.com Fantasy Baseball leagues in 2013 will be as a designated hitter and will not include catcher. However, if you're using our rankings to prepare for drafts where Martinez might be eligible at catcher, he would be the No. 5 catcher in my rankings.

Al's 2013 Catcher Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Carlos Santana, Indians 9 4 11. Alex Avila, Tigers 21 20
2. Buster Posey, Giants 1 1 12. Jesus Montero, Mariners 15 15
3. Mike Napoli, Red Sox 12 17 13. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers 11 16
4. Joe Mauer, Twins 3 2 14. Ryan Doumit, Twins 10 9
5. Matt Wieters, Orioles 8 5 15. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox 13 19
6. Brian McCann, Braves 14 12 16. A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers 7 7
7. Yadier Molina, Cardinals 2 3 17. Russell Martin, Pirates 16 13
8. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks 7 6 18. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies 6 8
9. Wilin Rosario, Rockies 5 10 19. Wilson Ramos, Nationals 56 63
10. Salvador Perez, Royals 20 21 20. Mike Zunino, Mariners N/A N/A

First Base

It should be a tight race for top Fantasy first baseman, with Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols all in the running. Despite a disappointing tenure in Boston, Adrian Gonzalez might not be too far behind. He hit with more power in the second half of last season and he is just one year removed from a .338/.410/.548 slash line. After three years of a declining batting average, owners may have soured on Mark Teixeira, but this season he moderated the flyball tendencies that had been leading to an increase in outs. Look for Tex to get rewarded more often for his change in approach, should he stick with it.

Of 2012's most productive first basemen, the only one omitted from this list is Adam LaRoche. His 33 home runs were a career high, but his track record suggests that totals in the mid-20s are what we should expect going forward. That change, along with a drop in run production, is enough to just drop him out of the top 20 for next year.

Al's 2013 First Base Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Albert Pujols, Angels 4 4 11. Freddie Freeman, Braves 15 12
2. Joey Votto, Reds 21 19 12. Allen Craig, Cardinals 11 16
3. Prince Fielder, Tigers 3 3 13. Paul Konerko, White Sox 18 15
4. Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers 10 7 14. Mike Napoli, Rangers 39 37
5. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays 2 2 15. Ike Davis, Mets 22 20
6. Billy Butler, Royals 6 5 16. Joe Mauer, Twins 12 8
7. Carlos Santana, Indians 26 17 17. Corey Hart, Brewers 8 10
8. Mark Teixeira, Yankees 23 20 18. Nick Swisher, Indians 17 14
9. Buster Posey, Giants 5 6 19. Adam Dunn, White Sox 16 13
10. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks 7 11 20. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 40 49

Second Base

The top four second basemen are all very good and all are worth drafting within the first few rounds. That's because the options from No. 5 on this list on down are far from enticing. Aaron Hill was a Fantasy stud in 2012, but his wild year-to-year inconsistency makes him difficult to trust with an early round pick. If you're counting on the twin "U"s -- Dan Uggla and Chase Utley -- to return to prominence, you could be left with buyer's remorse. Uggla's home run power, which had been his most reliable asset, betrayed him and at this point in his career, Utley is both an injury and a performance risk.

One second baseman who could eventually join the top ranks is Jose Altuve, though it may not happen in 2013. He has already shown he can provide steals, runs and a high batting average and he could add power to that equation. Though he is all of 5-foot-5, his resume includes 25 home runs in 212 games over his last two seasons in the minors.

Al's 2013 Second Base Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Robinson Cano, Yankees 1 1 11. Chase Utley, Phillies 22 27
2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 6 7 12. Dustin Ackley, Mariners 17 18
3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers 3 3 13. Danny Espinosa, Nationals 10 14
4. Ben Zobrist, Rays 7 4 14. Neil Walker, Pirates 14 20
5. Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks 2 2 15. Howard Kendrick, Angels 13 19
6. Brandon Phillips, Reds 5 9 16. Daniel Murphy, Mets 15 17
7. Jason Kipnis, Indians 4 6 17. Marco Scutaro, Giants 8 8
8. Jose Altuve, Astros 9 12 18. Omar Infante, Tigers 12 13
9. Dan Uggla, Braves 16 13 19. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays 18 20
10. Rickie Weeks, Brewers 11 11 20. Mark Ellis, Dodgers 26 25

Third Base

Some may look at the emergence of Chase Headley with skepticism, but the question owners should be asking is, "How come we didn't see his power sooner?". Headley collected plenty of extra-base hits, including homers, in the upper minors, even though he didn't play for teams with good hitters' parks. He should be a top option at the position yet again in 2013. David Freese has a similar minor league resume, but we have yet to see him put up big power numbers at the big league level. He could be next season's Headley, albeit with fewer steals.

After letting owners down in his sophomore season, Brett Lawrie might look like a draft-day bargain heading into his third year. While he could turn things around, the fact that his slump followed him for nearly the whole season is a source of concern, especially since he got into the habit of chasing pitches out of the strike zone. That wasn't a problem for Kevin Youkilis, but his injury-proneness and increasing ground ball rate make it difficult to view him as a top 10 option at the position.

Al's 2013 Third Base Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 1 1 11. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays 14 22
2. Evan Longoria, Rays 26 38 12. Todd Frazier, Reds 18 26
3. David Wright, Mets 6 6 13. Martin Prado, Braves 9 7
4. Adrian Beltre, Rangers 4 4 14. Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox 29 41
5. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers 5 5 15. Kevin Youkilis, Yankees 24 25
6. Chase Headley, Padres 3 3 16. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates 13 19
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 7 8 17. Kyle Seager, Mariners 11 11
8. Pablo Sandoval, Giants 22 30 18. Trevor Plouffe, Twins 25 23
9. Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers 8 9 19. Mike Moustakas, Royals 16 18
10. David Freese, Cardinals 10 13 20. Mark Reynolds, Indians 23 30

Shortstop

Ian Desmond was due for a breakout and he provided one in 2012, but can owners expect a repeat? He never hit more than 13 home runs in a minor league season, so his 25-homer output may defy belief, but Desmond greatly increased the distance on his long balls, so the power surge appears to be legitimate. With Troy Tulowitzki set to return from his groin injury, Josh Rutledge doesn't figure to play much shortstop, but he's a worthwhile pick at the position, since he will be eligible there while getting regular at-bats at second base. He is not a particularly patient hitter, but his combination of speed and power should continue to play well at Coors Field.

Derek Jeter gave owners a surprisingly robust season in 2012, but he built the bulk of his value over two hot months (April and August). Meanwhile, his ground ball and walk rates continued to move in the wrong directions, so chances are high that Jeter will offer owners little besides an empty .300 average and runs next season. Those expecting Alcides Escobar to remain a top 12 shortstop could be due for some frustration. His batting average may have jumped 39 points, which in turn created more stolen base opportunities, but skillwise, he was the same player as the year before. He still didn't hit for power or walk, and in fact, he struck out more often than in prior years. Escobar did get more hits on balls in play, but those rates typically vary from year to year, so without some actual skill growth, 2013 looks like a "down" year for him.

Al's 2013 Shortstop Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 37 51 11. Derek Jeter, Yankees 6 5
2. Jose Reyes, Blue Jays 1 1 12. Erick Aybar, Angels 14 16
3. Ben Zobrist, Rays 7 3 13. Zack Cozart, Reds 20 20
4. Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers 4 6 14. J.J. Hardy, Orioles 15 12
5. Ian Desmond, Nationals 3 10 15. Danny Espinosa, Nationals 11 14
6. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians 12 13 16. Andrelton Simmons, Braves 53 45
7. Starlin Castro, Cubs 5 7 17. Stephen Drew, Red Sox 46 41
8. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies 2 2 18. Alcides Escobar, Royals 8 11
9. Josh Rutledge, Rockies 27 31 19. Jed Lowrie, Astros 25 25
10. Elvis Andrus, Rangers 10 9 20. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers 21 16

Outfield

A year ago, I labeled Alex Gordon a bust, but back-to-back years with a .290-plus average and 45-plus doubles can't be ignored. He has basically turned into Nick Markakis but with more run production. In other words, he has become a valuable Fantasy outfielder. The only thing that prevented Yoenis Cespedes from being a top producer was a variety of injuries that limited him to 129 games. In the time that he did play, Cespedes showed that he can do everything well: hit for power and average, drive in runs and steal bases. While he's not quite at the elite level, you could do worse for a No. 1 outfielder in standard mixed leagues.

Just missing the cutoff for this list were Mark Trumbo and Desmond Jennings. Trumbo provided a good case study of why it's best to see a full season's worth of data before assuming a player has changed his game in a lasting way. Early in 2012, Trumbo looked like he was a choosier hitter, but he reverted back to his impatient ways as the season wore on. His power is indisputable, but without a higher batting average or on-base percentage Trumbo doesn't quite have what it takes to make the top 40. Until Jennings can show the power he put on display as a rookie wasn't a fluke, he will fall a little bit short, too.

Al's 2013 Outfield Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Ryan Braun, Brewers 2 1 21. Michael Bourn, Braves 12 20
2. Mike Trout, Angels 1 2 22. Allen Craig, Cardinals 28 39
3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays 57 62 23. Bryce Harper, Nationals 26 29
4. Matt Kemp, Dodgers 38 51 24. Adam Jones, Orioles 6 5
5. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates 3 3 25. Nick Markakis, Orioles 70 68
6. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins 15 35 26. Alex Rios, White Sox 5 6
7. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies 7 16 27. Corey Hart, Brewers 22 23
8. Josh Hamilton, Rangers 4 4 28. Austin Jackson, Tigers 19 26
9. Curtis Granderson, Yankees 8 8 29. Nick Swisher, Indians 42 33
10. Matt Holliday, Cardinals 9 7 30. Nelson Cruz, Rangers 35 27
11. Jay Bruce, Reds 16 11 31. Shane Victorino, Red Sox 40 25
12. Ben Zobrist, Rays 34 9 32. Angel Pagan, Giants 23 23
13. Alex Gordon, Royals 30 12 33. Josh Reddick, Athletics 29 21
14. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics 20 34 34. Josh Willingham, Twins 14 10
15. Jason Heyward, Braves 10 15 35. Martin Prado, Braves 31 13
16. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks 17 23 36. Andre Ethier, Dodgers 41 36
17. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox 95 111 37. Dexter Fowler, Rockies 53 52
18. Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays 25 40 38. Hunter Pence, Giants 33 22
19. Shin-Soo Choo, Reds 24 29 39. Michael Morse, Nationals 68 83
20. Carlos Beltran, Cardinals 11 18 40. B.J. Upton, Braves 13 31

Starting Pitcher

The top 20 includes so many pitchers who have proven themselves to be ace-quality stoppers, it would be easy to underestimate a relative newbie like Chris Sale. However, he finished in top 12 for both ERA and strikeout rate and he was also among the majors' most consistent starters. Though he finished on the slow side, his command remained sharp throughout the entire season. At age 24 on opening day, Sale could get even better in 2013. Owners may also sell Adam Wainwright short after he posted a 3.94 ERA upon his return from Tommy John surgery, but his skill stats were as good as ever. Wainwright simply allowed a high percentage of the runners he did allow on base to score, but over the course of his career, that has rarely been a problem. He's a strong rebound candidate if there ever was one.

Jon Lester has similar problems with stranding runners, but unfortunately for him, his troubles didn't end there. For the second year in a row, his strikeouts per nine innings ratio dropped by more than a full strikeout. In related news, Lester got fewer swings and misses on his curveball, according to PitchFX data on Brooksbaseball.net. Those counting on a Lester comeback will have to hope that his curveball becomes a strikeout pitch once again. Owners should also be cautious when approaching Jordan Zimmermann. Though he was a top 30 pitcher this season, his overall stats were enhanced by a strong first half in which he registered a 2.61 ERA. Then he ceased getting ground balls. If that trend persists, he will have a difficult time cracking the top 40, and accordingly, he just misses making this list.

Al's 2013 Starting Pitcher Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 4 4 21. Yu Darvish, Rangers 27 28
2. Justin Verlander, Tigers 2 2 22. James Shields, Royals 16 12
3. David Price, Rays 3 3 23. Mat Latos, Reds 26 14
4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners 14 10 24. Josh Johnson, Blue Jays 84 56
5. Cliff Lee, Phillies 36 23 25. C.J. Wilson, Angels 60 36
6. Zack Greinke, Dodgers 21 13 26. Matt Moore, Rays 71 63
7. Chris Sale, White Sox 12 15 27. Roy Halladay, Phillies 95 71
8. Matt Cain, Giants 6 5 28. Kris Medlen, Braves 23 39
9. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals 19 27 29. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks 43 33
10. Johnny Cueto, Reds 9 9 30. Dan Haren, Nationals 88 66
11. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals 5 7 31. Anibal Sanchez, Tigers 72 52
12. Cole Hamels, Phillies 7 6 32. Jeff Samardzija, Cubs 59 58
13. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals 40 35 33. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays 46 81
14. Jered Weaver, Angels 8 11 34. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants 32 32
15. CC Sabathia, Yankees 18 16 35. Ryan Dempster, Rangers 43 42
16. R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays 1 1 36. Jon Lester, Red Sox 147 68
17. Max Scherzer, Tigers 20 21 37. A.J. Burnett, Pirates 29 24
18. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers 30 20 38. Jonathon Niese, Mets 38 30
19. Madison Bumgarner, Giants 15 17 39. Doug Fister, Tigers 61 64
20. Jake Peavy, White Sox 24 19 40. Mike Minor, Braves 64 53

Relief Pitcher

It's been awhile since Jonathan Papelbon was one of the very top producers in Fantasy, but despite that he should be one of the first relievers off the board. Consistency is rare among closers, so the best targets aren't necessarily the ones who performed the best the year before. Papelbon has notched 30 or more saves and struck out more than a batter per inning in seven consecutive seasons. Only once during that span did he finish with an ERA above 3.00. That's a tough record to beat. Hisashi Iwakuma doesn't have much of a major league track record yet, but he excelled as a starter in his first year in Seattle. He will still have reliever eligibility next year, so owners in leagues with RP spots will get all of those good starter innings without using an SP spot to get them.

I initially had omitted Jim Johnson from these rankings due to concerns over his low strikeout rate, but had second thoughts after realizing he more than compensates for that with an extremely high ground ball rate and low walk rate. Because he avoids home runs, hits on balls in play and walks, it's unfair to lump him in with other contact-pitching closers like Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton (yes, he's a contact pitcher now), and he does belong in the top 20. To make room for Johnson, I've jettisoned Joel Hanrahan, whose inconsistent ability to limit home runs and walks could get him into trouble now that he has left the roomy confines of PNC Park.

Al's 2013 Relief Pitcher Rankings
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
2012 Roto
Rank
2012 H2H
Rank
1. Kris Medlen, Braves 23 10 11. Chris Perez, Indians 76 26
2. Aroldis Chapman, Reds 11 5 12. Sergio Romo, Giants 81 96
3. Craig Kimbrel, Braves 10 3 13. Mariano Rivera, Yankees N/A N/A
4. Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies 28 9 14. Jim Johnson, Orioles 35 4
5. Fernando Rodney, Rays 13 1 15. Drew Storen, Nationals 232 N/A
6. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners 89 31 16. Ryan Madson, Angels DNP DNP
7. Joe Nathan, Rangers 42 11 17. Addison Reed, White Sox 99 24
8. J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks 74 24 18. John Axford, Brewers 60 15
9. Alexi Ogando, Rangers 99 24 19. Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners 47 13
10. Jason Motte, Cardinals 25 6 20. Wade Davis, Royals 141 73

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e- mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Brewers' Khris Davis to work on being a patient hitter in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis realizes he didn't show patience at the plate last year in his first full major-league season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I built a reputation in the organization of being a patient hitter," Davis said. "I felt like I wasn't a patient hitter at all last year. I was a little eager, wanting to please too much, too early. I found out I'm human."

Davis drew just 32 walks in 549 plate appearances while posting a .299 OBP in 2014, a number far away from his career .392 OBP in the minors.

"He was different last year," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Everybody goes through different phases. Guys change. (His walk total) was too low. He's a guy I think should be fairly patient. He sees pitches well. When he starts getting anxious, he becomes more aggressive and chases more. He realizes it, which is the first step. If you don't realize it and don't listen to other people when they tell you that, then you have issues. You have to have good self-awareness to be a good player. Sometimes these players don't have good self-awareness. But if they had better self-awareness they'd be a better player."

Davis is determined to fulfill the potential that caused the organization to move Ryan Braun to right field before the 2014 season and plug Davis into the regular left-field role.

"I can't thank them enough for having patience with me," Davis said. "I'm going to work it out. When you get here, you want to stay. That's the toughest part at first. I don't think this league has seen the best of me yet. I'm ready to pull that out and prove it day by day. I learned so many lessons there are too many to name."

Davis hit .244/.299/.457 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI in 501 at-bats.


Indians' Francona keeping a close eye on Giovanny Urshela
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Indians manager Terry Francona has been keeping a close eye on third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela, who was only recently cleared for a full range of activities after tweaking his knee during winter ball, MLB.com reports.

"He has a tremendous reputation of being a really good defender," Francona said. "I think I've been more wanting to watch his gait, just to make sure he's not favoring that leg. He promised us that, if he was, he'd let us know, but I also know he's a young kid in his first major-league camp."

Urshela suffered the injury on Nov. 15 and has rehabbed the injured knee at the team's spring-training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

"He's worked really hard to get himself to where he can go through a normal spring," said Indians' director of player development Carter Hawkins. "We're very excited about the spot he's in right now, given the possible outcomes of the injury."

Urshela saw his first action at the Triple-A level in 2014, hitting .276/.331/.473 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 395 at-bats with Columbus.


Reds' Brennan Boesch to see time at first base this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated Friday that outfielder Brennan Boesch would see time at all three outfield spots as well as at first base as he competes for a roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

"We already know he's a terrific player," Price said of Boesch, who has never played first base professionally. "He kind of got banged up and lost his way a little bit, but I think he feels -- and we feel -- that he's back on top of his game, and maybe his best days are ahead of him."

Boesch said he doesn't see the battle for a reserve outfield role as a "competition."

"I only care about the competition against the pitcher, and that's really as basic as I keep it," Boesch said. "You aren't competing against other players. We're all on the same side here. We're all wearing Red jerseys. Let the chips fall where they may."

Boesch struggled in limited time with the Angels in 2014 but hit .332/.381/.636 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 374 at-bats with Triple-A Salt Lake.


Dodgers' Mattingly: Turner has 'put a lot of time in and it shows'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Dodgers infielder Justin Turner earned a nonroster invitation to the team's camp last year and ended up leading the team in batting average, and he's been working on his body like a fiend over the winter, MLB.com reports.

"Going into last year, we felt if he played every day, he'd get in trouble, and we found that out, but this year maybe he can handle more," manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "He's really been diligent about his work, been at Dodger Stadium almost daily. He's put a lot of time in and it shows."

Turner credited strength-and-conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel for his workout success.

"Brandon did everything. He's been a one-man wrecking crew," said Turner. "He and his family deserve the credit. I've been able to establish a routine and train consistently. Before I signed a year ago, I was on my own, going to 24 Hour Fitness, had to coordinate everything myself."

Turner added that he lost 18 pounds this winter through a healthier diet. Mattingly said that he intends to use the infielder at the corner-infield positions and also potentially up the middle.


Nationals' Matt Skole: 'I'm eating healthy and working hard'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Nationals first baseman Matt Skole missed most of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and struggled at the plate in 2014 but showed up to camp in better shape and will look to rebound in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"This offseason, I had a little more time to work on my body," Skole said. "I really got after it in the weight room. I ate right. I ate healthy. I think that was probably the biggest difference for me. I'm about the same weight as I was. I just leaned out a little bit. I'm eating healthy and working hard."

Skole worked with hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich for a month after the season and learned to keep his hands up in order to hit the ball consistently after having his hands too low during his down 2014 season.

"After taking a year off, it was more difficult than I thought it would be," the left-handed-swinging Skole said. "But coming back, I turned some corners, made some strides as far as getting to know myself as a player and know the things I need to fix. I think everything I did last year was a stepping stone for this year."

Skole hit .241/.352/.399 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI in 461 at-bats with Double-A Harrisburg last season.


Report: Dodgers sign center fielder Travis Witherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) The Dodgers signed center fielder Travis Witherspoon to their organization, according to a report from Baseball America

Witherspoon has previously been in the Angels and Mariners organizations. In six years of minor-league ball, Witherspoon has posted a career batting average of .252 with 68 home runs. He hit a minor-league single-season best 15 home runs in 2014 with the Mariners' Single-A affiliate High Desert Mavericks. 


Phillies' Buchanan 'working on being a complete pitcher'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Phillies pitcher David Buchanan is "working on being a complete pitcher," manager Ryan Sandberg said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The team's coaches spoke with Buchanan in the fall about command and pitch sequencing, executing bunts and thwarting would-be base-stealers, and Sandberg noted while examining the players that arrived early that the pitcher had taken the advice to heart.

"My biggest goal [this spring] is to show our front office and our coaches that I can throw the ball over the plate," Buchanan said. "That's one thing I had success with last year. I wasn't walking guys. I was throwing strikes, and that's what I'm known for. That's why I succeeded in the minor leagues; I was throwing strikes. So that's what I want to do this spring training, is continue to do that, pound the zone, force early contact and keep the ball on the ground."

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch the team's Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Yankees.


Giants' Bochy: Hunter Strickland 'needs to get a little smarter'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland is ready to learn from his mistakes from the tail end of his 2014 season.

Starting strong once he was called up from Double-A Richmond, Strickland gave up six home runs in the postseason. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the remedy to put Strickland back on track is simple. 

"He needs to get a little smarter," Bochy said, per MLB.com.  

Strickland will be competing for a spot in the bullpen during spring training. His fastball is a strength, though it's a matter of his command improving on the mound. 

"The failures are what make guys better, I feel like," Strickland said. "I feel like they made me better. Just being in tune with yourself and knowing who you are and what you've got to do. In this game, you're not going to make it too far if you don't have confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who else is going to believe in you?"


Mets' Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker competing for roster spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Mets left-handed hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker will be battling for one roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

While Nieuwenhuis is out of options, manager Terry Collins indicated that den Dekker has responded to the team's request that he reduce his strikeouts when sent to Triple-A last season.

"We'll just see how it translates this spring into what kind of an offensive player he can be," Collins said of den Dekker. "We know he's got the defensive skills."

Collins said that whichever outfielder shows the most promise will make the initial 25-man roster.

"He plays the game right. He's fearless," Collins said of Nieuwenhuis. "But right now, we've got to get some offense from one of those two guys. Which one of those two guys is going to be able to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter? The best closers in our division are all right-handed, so the left-handed hitter off that bench is going to be a big piece."


Stephen Strasburg wants to stay with Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though Stephen Strasburg's agent Scott Boras denied a report that he wanted to be traded in January, the right-handed pitcher said himself that he wants to remain with the Nationals and has no issues with the organization. 

"I haven't said anything like that," Strasburg said in an interview with MLB.com. "I don't feel like that. You have to accept it because that's how the system works. It's like they pick up on any little thing and they twist it. Some people want to turn it to see how many clicks they can get on the webpage."

Strasburg is set to be the ace of a deep rotation that looks to be on of the best in baseball this coming season. With the Nationals winning their second divisional title in the past three seasons, Strasburg said he's happy with the organization. 

"It's the team that drafted me. I love the players here, I love D.C. Winning cures everything, that's for sure," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to be part of the resurgence so far. It's great to see the type of players we bring in here every year. The expectations keep going up and up. Hopefully, we can do big things this year."


 
 
 
Rankings