Good day, Hot-Stovers! Today, we are beginning a new series we are calling the "Pick to Click" series. We will be looking at every team and naming a player that is our "pick to click." When we say that we think a player is going to "click," what we mean is that we think he is going to have everything fall into place in 2012 for a season of unexpected, and perhaps unprecedented, success. (By the way, if you are fantasy baseball enthusiasts, like we are, you might term these guys as "sleepers"... Do with the info what you will.)
As we are wont to do, ADR and I will be going division by division, starting today with the National League Central. Please, feel free to offer your own "pick to clicks" for the division in the comments below. Without further ado...
St. Louis Cardinals
- Pick to Click--Tyler Greene
- I have been personally touting the Greene Lantern (it will catch on... just wait... I've already got the t-shirts printed up...) for years now. Originally drafted in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft, a first round loaded with talent, Greene was originally slotted to take over at shortstop for David Eckstein. However, while producing at the minor league level, Greene has never taken advantage of his short stints at the majors. Many have been suspicious that he struggled under the iron fist of pro-crusty-veteran former manager, Tony LaRussa. But, as you may have heard, Tony retired, and has been replaced by a more young-guy-friendly Mike Matheny. Both Matheny and GM John Mozeliak have verbally praised Greene's minor league success (.323/.422/.579 slash line last year at triple-A... Yikes!) and have expressed a desire to see him win the starting second base job for the Cards in 2012. Tyler Greene... Pick to click!
- Pick to Click--Jay Bruce
- I know, I know. You are saying that Jay Bruce kinda already clicked last year. But I'm expecting even higher levels of clicktitude this year. Like .300+ batting average and 40+ home runs clicking. Bruce plays in a hitter-friendly stadium, and in a lineup where pitchers will be focused more on getting out Joey Votto. Oh, and by the way, while it feels like he has been around for a while, Bruce is still only 24 years old. Do you know who baseball-reference.com lists as the most comparable hitter through age 24? Reggie Jackson. Yep. Jay Bruce... Pick to click!
- Pick to Click--Matt Gamel
- Matt Gamel has displayed some serious mash in his minor league career, but many have labelled him a Quad-A player after his hitting prowess has seemingly not translated to the bigs. If you look at his major league career, however, he really has not gotten an extended look with every day playing time. Until this year, that is. With the Purple Rain departing, the Brewers seem content to hand the first base gig to Gamel, who is coming off a Triple-A season in which he batted .310 with 28 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage. I don't think he will be a world-beater, but I bet he has a really solid season. Matt Gamel... Pick to click!
- Pick to Click--Erik Bedard
- Hey, remember when Erik Bedard was awesome? Back when he was traded for Adam (non-Pacman) Jones and four other players? Back when he was arguably the second best starter in fantasy baseball after Johan Santana? The Pirates do. And so do I. Erik Bedard... Pick to click!
- Pick to Click--Ian Stewart
- I also thought about Bryan LaHair or Anthony Rizzo in this spot, but ultimately I settled on Ian Stewart. Back when Stewart was still a prospect in the Rockies organization, I read an article by one of the Colorado sportswriters (nice citation form, right?) in which the author explained that at the time the Rockies would be okay with trading away Matt Holliday because they were confident that Ian Stewart would be able to fill his offensive void. Pretty high expectations, but at the time the Colorado front office must have felt they were justified. I'm betting that a change of scenery will be just what the doctor ordered for Stewart. Ian Stewart... Pick to click!
Houston Astros (soon to be of the AL West)
- Pick to Click--Gross... Do I have to pick someone from the Astros? Really? Alright... Hmmm... I guess I'll go with... Fernando Martinez
- This team is absolutely devoid of anything exciting or hope-worthy. So devoid that the guy I decided to (was forced to) pick is a guy the Mets just decided to cut. Martinez, still only 23 years old, has long been on top prospect lists as a guy who has flashed impressive power rates, but just has not been able to stay healthy. So I'm betting on him (by default) to finally start to live up to some of his potential with a change of scenery. His new home with the Astros takes him from a bad hitters park in New York to a great one in Houston. And the only thing standing between him and winning a starting job with the Astros is perhaps the worst starting outfield of all time, in Martinez, Schafer, and Bogusevic. Fernando Martinez... Pick to click (sorta...)