After reviewing five key players in the American League, let's jump over to the Senior Circuit and check out a few more names.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B (Pittsburgh): Disaster thy name is Pedro Alvarez. After a highly promising month of September in 2010, Alvarez was just awful in 2011. Slowed by a leg injury in the early season, the young lefty swinger never found a groove at the plate.
He struck out an amazing 80 times in just 235 at-bats. Needless to say this is a very crucial season for the former first-round draft pick. Alvarez has 40-homer power but it's the whole making contact thing that seems to be a problem -- that and staying away from the buffet line.
But Alvarez has reportedly shown up for camp in good shape and I am a believer. Mark Alvarez down for 25 homers and .250 average. I still believe his has average upside, but we won't see that until the following season.
Brandon Belt, OF/1B (San Francisco): Bruce Bochy, by all accounts, seems like a pretty good manager. It also seems like he has Dusty Baker syndrome. Meaning for whatever reason he tends to favor the veteran players, even if they stunk as bad as Aubrey Huff did last season.
Belt has shown the ability to drive the ball at all levels, including the bigs after his second call-up last season. The only problem is playing time. Belt and a healthy Buster Posey hitting next to each other could turn the Giants into a fairly dangerous lineup.
While I made a prediction on Alvarez, I simply can't do that for Belt because I don't believe he will get 500 at-bats. Draft him late, hope he starts hot and Bochy lets him play.
Chris Heisey, OF (Cincinnati): In just 279 at-bats last season, Heisey belted 18 homers and drove in 50 runs. As I mentioned in the Belt analysis, Heisey has often suffered from Baker's preferences.
Jonny Gomes was just one of the inferior players to take time from Heisey and after Ryan Ludwick joined the Reds this offseason, I get a feeling it could eat into Heisey's production.
If left as the starting left fielder, 25 homers and 15 steals isn't out of the question with a solid batting average. At age 27, Heisey is running out of time and hopefully Baker gives him a chance to shine. Draft Heisey a little sooner than Belt and in best case scenario, you get a cheap 30 homers.
Ian Stewart, 3B (Chicago): Just two seasons ago, the powerful lefty slugged 25 homers in the less than 500 at-bats. Unfortunately so far that season has served as his best.
After a homer-less 2011 season with the Colorado Rockies, Stewart was jettisoned to the Cubs. I was once a fan of his power and gap-hitting abilities, but I can't in good faith recommend him.
He may hit 20 homers and it may come with a .225 average or he may hit 30 homers with a .270 average. It is a wide range of projections for Stewart, but he is only 26-years old. This may represent one of his last chances at a starting role so he should be motivated.
A safe projection is 18 homers with a .245 average, but keep in mind he could do way better or way worse. Risky play.
Carlos Beltran, OF (St. Louis): After missing the better part of two seasons, Beltran rebounded with 520 at-bats last year and produced. Initially struggling after being dealt to San Francisco, Beltran picked it up and finished with 22 homers and 84 RBI.
Almost 35-years old, the speed is gone but Beltran still hit .300 last year. He is probably right around 25 homers and 90 RBI if he stays healthy and is a good solid No. 3 or No. 4 outfielder.
My next fantasy post will be in a few days as I rank the starting pitchers from each league with short blurbs on a handful of guys.
Questions or ideas? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.