Monday, February 6, 2012

"Pick to Click" Series: AL Central

Sorry we haven't been posting frequently lately... We're back at it with our "Pick to Click" series in which wewill 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.)

Today, the American League Central teams!

Chicago White Sox

  • Pick to Click: Adam Dunn
  • A lot of folks think that Dunn fell of a cliff last year, never to return.  Keep in mind, though, that up until last year, this was a guy that was a picture of consistency, hitting 38+ home runs for seven straight years.  Dunn is going to come into 2012 looking tor prove to everyone that at age 32 (past-prime, but not dead yet...), he can still pull a tree out of the ground with his bare hands.  Remember also that Dunn is playing in one of the best power-hitter's parks in baseball.  Back when I made my "Twelve Bold Predictions for 2012," I said I thought Dunn would "lead the majors in home runs."  I see no reason to change that prediction.  Adam Dunn... Pick to Click!

Cleveland Indians

  • Pick to Click: Grady Sizemore
  • Oh, Grady!  Why can't I quit you?  It seems like so long ago that you were the epitome of the perfect five-tool major league player... But this is the last time I'm betting on you... I swear... As a free agent this past offseason, Grady turned down potential multi-year contracts to sign a one-year deal.  Which means only one thing: he believes he can dramatically increase his value with a big year this year.  Grady is betting his financial future on 2012, so he must be relatively healthy and ready to roll.  The Indians, for one, expect him to be a full-time starter.   (Maybe you can tell I'm trying to talk myself into this one...)  Grady Sizemore... Pick to Click!

Detroit Tigers

  • Pick to Click: Max Scherzer 
  • Though he feels like he has been around for a while, Max is still only 27 years old.  A talented pitcher with annually high strikeout rates (8.03 last year), Scherzer has struggled with consistency, vacillating back and forth between being unhittable, and a meatball.  So why do I think this is the year he figures it out?  Call it a gut feeling, I guess.  Though not quite as dominant, Scherzer reminds me in some respects of his teammate Justin Verlander of a couple years ago, another high talent pitcher who struggled with consistency.  Verlander's big breakthrough season happened at age 27.  Max Scherzer... Pick to Click!
Kansas City Royals

  • Pick to Click: Eric Hosmer
  • Eric Hosmer is going to be a superstar.  He is going to be a stud this year, and is only going to get more studly every year for the next 5-8 years.  In terms of comparison, think of Hosmer as a young Joey Votto (really young... only 22!)  This former top prospect graduated to the bigs in 2011, and came out with a bang, posting a slash line of .293/.334/.465, while dropping 19 bombs and swiping 11 bases.  Look for all of those numbers to get better in 2012--I'm expecting at least a .300 average, 25 jacks, and 10-15 stolen bases.  The power numbers will continue to grow, as Hosmer develops physically.  Eric Hosmer... Pick to Click! (2012-2015)

Minnesota Twins

  • Pick to Click: Joe Mauer
  • Since he broke into the Major League in 2004, do you know how many times Mauer has hit under .290?  Once.  Since he broke into the Major League in 2004, do you know how many times Mauer has slugged under .400?  Once.  Both of those incidents occurred last year, in an injury-plagued season.  I still believe in Joe as an elite big-league hitter, and I think there are a number of factors that form a perfect storm that will validate his appearance in all those Head and Shoulders commercials.  (1) Unlike last year, Mauer will be entering 2012 healthy.  Before the 2011 season, Mauer had arthroscopic knee surgery, and tried to come back too quickly, causing lingering problems throughout the season.  Now, however, Mauer has told reporters that he feels as if his knee, and rest of his body, are back to 100%.  (2) In order to keep him healthy, the Twins will look to avoid overworking him behind the plate, giving Joe some playing time at first base and designated hitter. (3) Mauer began a big-money, long-term contract last year with a dud of a season, and will likely come into 2012 feeling as if he has something to prove with his home town team.  (4) There has long been a recognition that age 27 is something of a magical age for peak offensive performance.  Mauer missed much of his age 27 season last year, so I'm betting that spike in production has just been delayed until his age 28 season--this year.  I'm not necessarily expecting enormous power numbers from Joe, playing in power-suppressing Target Field, but I am otherwise expecting big time offensive production.  Joe Mauer... Pick to Click!

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