An unwise person once said "spring training doesn't matter." They couldn't be more wrong. Spring training matters when you know what you're looking for. Does it matter if Mike Trout goes 0 for 50? No. Does it matter if Akil Baddoo -- battling for a spot on the Tigers' Opening Day roster -- goes 13 for 40 with five home runs and four steals? It sure does! Basically, we don't have to pay as much attention to veterans who have been there, done that, especially superstars. But for younger players fighting for a starting gig, it matters very much.
Of course there are other things to pay attention to as well, such as velocity for pitchers, lineups, new pitches being thrown, batting stance changes, players returning from injury, and much more. So which players gained or lost the most value throughout spring based on these talking points? I'm happy you asked. We have them all below, starting with the almighty Shohei Ohtani! But first, we take a look at the news you need to know from Monday.
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News and notes
- Dustin May will be the Dodgers' fifth starter in their rotation with David Price and Tony Gonsolin in the bullpen. Scott isn't moving him up much after that, but he would certainly prefer him in a H2H points format over a Roto format.
- Sixto Sanchez was optioned to the Marlins' alternate training site. This might actually be good news for his Fantasy value because once he is called back up, he can go further before reaching the eventual innings limit that was expected anyway for him. And if it means the Marlins won't have to pull him back at all, you'll have Sanchez for the playoffs (in non-Roto leagues). Sanchez got a late start to camp as he dealt with COVID-19 protocols. The Marlins won't need a fifth starter until the middle of April.
- Both Trent Grisham and Austin Nola will begin the season on the IL for the Padres. We can expect Tommy Pham to man center field with Jurickson Profar in left. Victor Caratini will likely start at catcher.
- George Springer's status for Opening Day remains in question as he's dealing with a Grade 2 oblique strain.
- Mike Soroka, who is returning from a ruptured Achilles, will throw an inning or two in Tuesday's spring training debut. He's expected to return at some point in mid-late April. He's going cheap now and is an excellent late-round gamble to take a swing on. Scott thinks his return could come very soon and we could see him pitch before Sanchez.
- Mike Yastrzemski was hit by a pitch on his hand Monday, but X-rays were negative. Thank goodness.
- Aaron Judge is dealing with a non-COVID related illness and expects to be ready for Opening Day
- Dansby Swanson was scratched from Monday's lineup with a tight calf. You hate to see it, especially with just two days to go before the season starts. Hopefully it's nothing. This is something to keep an eye on.
- Jose Leclerc will undergo Tommy John surgery. It was reported last week that he was dealing with an elbow injury. That's how we find ourselves adding the likes of Ian Kennedy and Matt Bush in deeper leagues where we're scratching for saves.
- Matt Barnes was cleared to rejoin the Red Sox after his COVID test revealed a false positive. He's still the favorite for saves in their bullpen, although Adam Ottavino may be better than him. Time will tell.
- Rougned Odor will not make the Rangers' Opening Day roster.
- David Bednar has earned a spot in the Pirates' bullpen. I've speculated that he could be in the mix for saves as he's had a massive spring. Kyle Crick has also been talked up as a possibility.
Biggest winners from spring training
SP/DH Shohei Ohtani, LAA
Scott named Ohtani the biggest winner from this year's spring training. And although it's not a sexy pick in the sense that you won't be able to rush to your waiver wire to scoop him now, if you haven't drafted yet you might want to reach a full round ahead of ADP to land him. For Scott, his opinion has been swayed on Ohtani more than any player after spring ball.
Ohtani went .571 with five home runs and two steals in only 28 at bats this spring. The pitching stats didn't follow, but he hit triple digits on the radar gun and showed off multiple pitches. The most important thing is that it sounds like manager Joe Maddon is interested in playing Ohtani a lot more than the Angels have previously before. I'm not sure if this will continue in the regular season, but it's important to note Ohtani was in the lineup twice this spring when he was pitching -- further proof Maddon plays to plan him more than the Angels have in the past.
Ohtani's ADP in NFBC drafts was 216 in February. Over the last two weeks, his ADP has moved up to 143 overall. It's worth noting that Ohtani left Monday night's start early after being diagnosed with a blister on his right middle finger. He was expected to start (at pitcher) for the Angels this Sunday night.
1B Josh Bell, WAS
Bell is leading all batters this spring with a 1.328 OPS. He's gone 18 for 47 with five doubles and six home runs this spring. Of course, Ryan Zimmerman has also been dominant this spring and may eat into Bell's playing time against lefties. Scott says that's not much to worry about and Bell will likely only sit against tougher left-handed pitchers. Scott is now more optimistic about drafting him as his starting 1B.
Keep in mind hitting coach Kevin Long said they had a plan to fix Bell's swing when they acquired him and Long has been regarded as one of the better hitting coaches in the MLB. He has a history of turning hitters around.
1B Andrew Vaughn, CHW
Vaughn has moved all the way up to 120th overall for Chris and 154th overall for Scott. Chris has actually gone all-in on him, taking him in Round 12 in a 12-team league and Round 9 a 16-team league. Keep in mind, Vaughn is likely to gain OF eligibility now that the White Sox are playing him out there following the Eloy Jimenez injury.
SP Domingo German, NYY
Here's how dominant German's spring was after his final start Monday: 13 IP, 2 ER, 17 K, 1 BB. His ADP is up to 225 over last two weeks and Scott is getting very excited about him as a flyer: "He was an 18-game winner in 2019 and the main thing I like about him is that all three of his pitches had a quality swinging strike rate. You just don't see that very often. It looks like he hasn't lost anything in his time away and he has the Yankees' supporting cast."
2B Josh Rojas, ARI
There may be deep sleeper appeal here. The Diamondbacks really like him; he was the key piece they wanted back in the Zack Greinke trade. He's made some changes to his swing, diet and sleeping habits this offseason. So far this spring, he has looked really good, going 24 for 70 with four home runs. Back in 2019, Rosas hit .332 with 23 HR and 33 SB in the minors.
Other hitters who have boosted their stock this spring:
- SP Logan Webb, SF
- 3B Jonathan India, CIN (expected to have 2B eligibility soon)
- SP Carlos Rodon, CHW
- OF Akil Baddoo, DET (deeper leagues)
- 1B Josh Fuentes, COL (deeper leagues)
Biggest losers from spring training
SP David Price, LAD
Everyone presumed Price would have a full-time starter role, but that's not how he'll begin this year. Scott wouldn't be so quick to drop Price in a 5x5 league where he can still provide ratios value, but he would be the first Dodgers pitcher to drop.
C Will Smith, LAD
There was a report that the Dodgers want him to play as few as 90 starts. Scott has seen quotes that say 90 and others that hint at 110, but either way, the Dodgers have a history of this and there's a reason why Smith's ADP has dropped. At a time this offseason, Smith came off the board as the second catcher off the board.
OF Alex Kirilloff, MIN
Despite being optioned to their alternate training site after a terrible spring, Scott remains hopeful in him long term. He batted just .129 this spring with one home run. He is the single player Scott is most invested in right now -- including in deeper leagues, where he's not ready to drop him yet.
For all 25 spring training winners and losers, check out Scott's deep dive.
Late-round category contributors
A player must be drafted outside the top-200 ADP to qualify. Home runs and RBI are listed together. Wins are correlated with going deep into starts, run support and having a strong bullpen.
- 2B/SS David Fletcher, LAA
- OF Raimel Tapia, COL
- SS Jorge Polanco, MIN (expected to have 2B eligibility soon)
HR and RBI
- 1B Christian Walker, ARI
- 1B C.J. Cron, COL
- 3B Austin Riley, ATL
- OF Joc Pederson, CHC
- 1B Bobby Dalbec, BOS
- SS Paul DeJong, STL
- OF Andrew McCutchen, PHI
- 2B Kolten Wong, MIL (can also give 15-20 steals)
- 3B/SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX (can also give 15-20 steals)
- OF Brandon Nimmo, NYM
- 2B Cesar Hernandez, CLE
- OF Nick Senzel, CIN (can also provide HRs)
- OF Leody Taveras, TEX
- OF Myles Straw, HOU
- OF Cristian Pache, ATL
ERA and WHIP
- SP Tony Gonsolin, LAD (expected to have RP eligibility soon)
- SP David Price, LAD (expected to have RP eligibility soon)
- RP Alex Reyes, STL
- RP Freddy Peralta, MIL (expected to have SP eligibility soon)
- RP/SP Tejay Antone, CIN
- SP Michael Kopech, CHW (expected to have RP eligibility soon)
- RP Garrett Crochet, CHW
- SP Domingo German, NYY
- SP Robbie Ray, TOR
- SP Yusei Kikuchi, SEA
- SP Trevor Rogers, MIA
- SP Griffin Canning, LAA
Saves (good luck to us all here!)