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FANTASY PLAYS: Spring performances that should concern you

March 24, 2017 09:55 PM

Sometimes fantasy baseball owners overrate spring training performances, both jumping on the good and overreacting to the bad.

That's not ideal, but there can be some lessons learned from spring performances if you know where to look.

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Here are some spring performances that should have you concerned with the MLB season nearly here.

CHRIS CARTER, New York Yankees

There were plenty of concerns with Carter's value even before the Yankees announced that Greg Bird would be the starting first baseman. The free agent market was so soft for Carter that he had considered playing overseas. The Yankees signed him late, but with Bird, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin all in the mix for two positions (first base and right field), Carter was hoping for a platoon situation at best. Unfortunately, Carter has struggled significantly this spring training, hitting just .108 with 20 strikeouts in 37 at-bats. Meanwhile, Bird is on fire with a .439 average, six home runs and 11 RBIs in 41 at-bats. Even with Austin sidelined to injury, Bird's performance demands he plays every day at first, and Judge is doing well enough to start in right field. With Matt Holliday filling the DH role, Carter is left without a position or fantasy value.

J.D. MARTINEZ, Detroit Tigers

Even before the news of Martinez's MRI and CT scan on his foot surfaced, his spring numbers drew some concerns. Martinez was struggling with plate discipline, striking out 43.2 percent of the time. Martinez has never been elite with discipline, but he does own a career 25.0 strikeout percentage, proving that Martinez just isn't clicking yet. Still, we still have no idea how serious his foot injury is or if he'll miss significant time. Martinez has just one season with more than 123 games played, which adds to the worries. Martinez is a great fantasy option when on the field, as shown in his 2015 season with a .282 average, 38 home runs, 93 runs and 102 RBIs. Unfortunately, we can't count on Martinez for a full season in 2017, and we need to move him a few rounds down the rankings.

MATT HARVEY, New York Mets

Everyone is rooting for Harvey in his return from thoracic outlet surgery, especially Mets fans, but we have very little data when it comes to pitchers' performances after said surgery. While Harvey has fully recovered, his pre-surgery speed hasn't returned and he's throwing his curveball differently. Those are two major issues, as Harvey previously topped out around 97 mph with his fastball and threw his curve around 10 percent of the time. Harvey has maxed out at 94 mph this spring, sitting around 91-92 mph on average (that used to be 95). That lost speed allows hitters to approach him differently. Instead of sitting "dead red," waiting for the fastball and ignoring most of Harvey's off-speed pitches, they can now be a bit more aggressive since Harvey can't overpower them as effectively. In addition, if hitters are noticing the change in his curveball delivery, Harvey will need to scrap it, as the effectiveness will be all but lost. If this current version of Harvey, who has allowed 18 hits and 12 runs in 12 1/3 innings so far, is the new permanent Harvey, he'll have to learn new ways to get batters out. Until we see him effective at that, Harvey is a pitcher to avoid on draft day.

DANNY SALAZAR, Cleveland Indians

There are two concerns in the Indians' starting rotation, as Carlos Carrasco is leaving fantasy players questioning when to draft him as well. As for Salazar, he missed time with a strained flexor muscle last year, which can often be a precursor to Tommy John surgery. That's worrisome, as is Salazar's spring. Yes, he's still striking out plenty of batters (28 in 20 1/3 innings), but he's walked 12 in addition to the 18 hits given up and 12 earned runs. Salazar has never had a great walk rate, and he struggles with allowing home runs. Last year, his walk rate spiked, possibly due to his injury, but seeing it high again this spring warrants a move down your draft board and increased hesitancy in drafting him.

CARLOS CARRASCO, Cleveland Indians

With Carrasco, there is an injury concern as well. He too has missed time, pitching just 146 1/3 innings last year and never topping 183 1/3. Carrasco is pitching in minor league games as of today, but he'll start the season on the DL, and his spring is ugly too. Carrasco had allowed 17 hits and 14 earned runs in just 8 innings before missing time with elbow pain. Any type of arm injury is worthy of your attention when it comes to pitchers, and just as with Salazar, the poor performance should make you think twice before drafting Carrasco.

NOTE: All statistics through March 22.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by Jake Ciely of the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com .

Credits

By JAKE CIELY

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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