Thursday, March 29, 2012

Potential Opening Day Starters for NL

By Corey R. Cunningham

Atlanta Braves SS Tyler Pastornicky is the favorite to land the starting nod at SS this year in Atlanta sharing double play duties with 2B Dan Uggla. Pastornicky is a true rookie with no MLB experience, and spent last year in AA Mississippi and AAA Gwinnett. Between the two leagues he managed a healthy .314 BA, .773 OPS, 7 HR, 45 RBI, 27 SB in 459 AB. I look for Tyler to land in the No. 8 batting order.

Arizona Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt will get the nod at 1B on opening day. He appeared in 48 games last year, posting a .250 BA, with a .474 SLG. He did manage to hit 8 HR, and knock in 26 RBI in just 156 AB. Look for Goldschmidt to hit in the 4 or 5 hold with Upton holding down the No. 3 hole in the batting order. Goldschmidt will either hit in front of or behind Jason Kubel.

Cincinnati Reds SS Zack Cozart will open up the 2012 season pairing up the middle of the infield with 2B Brandon Phillips. Cozart came up in the MLB last year and managed just 11 games before getting injured. Cozart batted .324 with 2 HR, and 3 RBI. I think Cozart can be a 20 HR guy, and could fill in the No. 2 Hole behind Stubbs and in front of Phillips.

Houston Astros 2B Jose Altuve will get the nod and hopes to give some much needed offense to the already depleted lineup. This lineup is really fresh, with the exception of Carlos Lee manning 1B. Altuve hopefully will be the leadoff man in Houston and will steal some bases, while leading the team in runs scored. In 2011 he played in 57 games, where he had a .276 BA, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 26 R, and 7 SB. While I would not sleep on this team at any time, I do like LF J.D. Martinez being a gem, almost to the point of Hunter Pence.

Milwaukee Brewers 1B Mat Gamel is leading all candidates for the opening that Prince left. Gamel has spent his fair share of time in the minors, and as being brought up as a 3B most of his minor league career, he did spend 120 games at 1B last year in AAA Nashville; kind of odd for a team to do this if they didn’t figure to keep Prince Fielder!? Gamel hit .310, 28 HR, 96 RBI, .540 SLG, .912 OPS, and 84 K in 493 AB. That was the best full season at any one level Gamel had, and perhaps came at the right time since 1B is now open. Gamel and the Brewers may surprise some people in their offensive performance, to most who thought they lost a lot. I see Gamel hitting Freddie Freeman rookie numbers and settling in nicely in the 5 or 6 hole.

New York Mets new SS Ruben Tejada will have a big shoe to fill in the Big Apple, as he needs to replace Jose Reyes. While most critics’ say no way his offense is going to hold up, they do say however, he has better defensive skills. I realize defensive skills help us none in fantasy baseball, but perhaps with a healthy David Wright, Jason Bay, and Ike Davis, he could have decent numbers for a back up SS or a MI position in most fantasy leagues. Tejada spent 96 games for the Mets, hitting .284 with 36 RBI.

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