It is hard. You must fight the urge. There must be a separation between fantasy and reality. And it is not like you think. Being a successful fantasy baseball player requires you to be more grounded than you would be when following the Astros.
The Astros are your team. This gives you a dispensation. You are allowed to overvalue certain players and even be a little unrealistic. That is part of what being a fan is. Now I am not saying that this is healthy or that you should do it, but the fact is, it is unavoidable.
However, when you sit down to draft your fantasy baseball squad for the 2013 season, it is imperative to try as hard as you can to forget that you are an Astros fan. You must be able to differentiate between your two allegiances. Take loyalties out of it and try to stay as objective as you possibly can be when assembling your fantasy team.
Just because Jason Maxwell is your favorite Astros player and you think he has 20/20 potential (not exactly a false statement), that does not mean you should take him in the 8th round of your fantasy draft. But fear not, we are here to help. I will break down what to expect from your 2013 Astros from a fantasy perspective. The position players can be found below, and the pitchers will follow in a subsequent post.
Jason Castro: So far in his brief major league career he has had some injury problems to deal with and has not yet fulfilled the promise the Astros had for him. Coming into this season Castro is finally healthy, but that does not mean he will have a lot of fantasy value. I can’t imagine Castro getting more than 450-500 at bats and he does not have much power to offer. The batting average should be pretty good, but nothing spectacular as he is more of a line drive hitter than a home run hitter. In deeper leagues that start two catchers, Castro is a pretty good option as a second catcher, but that is about it.
Carlos Pena: Pena will certainly produce home runs and could very well lead the team in RBI, but he will also severely hinder your batting average. The Astros are not exactly the most prolific offense which hinders his run production opportunities. Pena is a solid power option, but aside from deeper leagues, should be left for the waiver wire because of his average.
Jose Altuve: Altuve is the one Astros player that is a legitimate fantasy option. He plays 2B which is weak from a fantasy perspective and in turn makes him more valuable. The batting average will be there and 30 stolen bases is a reasonable projection. Altuve will not contribute much in the power departments, but thanks to his speed and on base skills, he should score a decent amount of runs. This makes Altuve a solid mid round pick.
Tyler Greene/Marwin Gonzalez: Honestly at this point neither of these players offers much from a fantasy perspective. The playing time is still up in the air which also makes it difficult to forecast value. Greene is the better fantasy option as he has some nice power from the shortstop position along with some speed, but his batting average will likely hinder both his productivity and his playing time.
Matt Dominguez: Dominguez has gotten some opportunities at the major league level and has had mixed results. His defense is his best attribute, and that is meaningless in fantasy baseball. There is some power potential here, but not enough to really make a difference. Keep an eye on Dominguez to see if he catches fire as he does have the potential for 20 HR and 80 RBI, but it is not something I would bank on.
Brett Wallace: At this point we have seen both spectrums of Wallace. In the beginning of last season Wallace was a hit machine for a while until he found himself back in AAA. Once there, Wallace hit nine long balls and earned a promotion back to Houston where he played pretty well. Even if Wallace finds his stroke, you need more power out of your corner infielders than he can provide.
JD Martinez: Martinez was a legitimate RBI machine at the start of last season until he got hurt and found himself in a slump. I am assuming he will have a starting role this year and we have seen enough out of him to believe that he can be a solid middle of the order hitter. However, he stands out more on the Astros than when compared to other outfield options. Martinez should be on your late round radar but that’s about it at this point.
Justin Maxwell: Maxwell really could go either way. Sure he has the talent and potential to go 20/20 and be a very solid player, but that has not happened yet. There was a reason why Maxwell was available for the Astros to grab off of waivers last season. That is not to discount what he did last season because he was by far the best Astros outfielder. His consistency and ability to hit for average are a concern for me. Maxwell is the biggest cautionary tale on the Astros from a fantasy perspective, but there is no reason why he should not be a late round selection.
Rick Ankiel/Nate Freiman/Fernando Martinez/Brandon Barnes: These are all solid players, but nothing more. At this point their roles are still to be determined, and should be left to the free agent pool in all leagues except the deepest of formats. That is not to say they should stay there all year, but do not overvalue them because of a hot spring or good September performance.
Chris Carter: If you have Carter penciled in as a fantasy sleeper, you are not alone, and you are not without reason. Carter has legitimate power potential and deserves a late round speculative pick. His average has not translated to the major league level yet and he has to deal with strikeout woes. But he is still young enough where he can become a legitimate offensive threat. If the price is right, do not let someone else reap the rewards, but also do not be surprised to release him a week or two into the season.
For those of you that play in keeper leagues where young players are valued, I think it goes without saying that George Springer needs to be firmly on your radar. The same goes for Jonathan Singleton. Robbie Grossman could also be a player that finds his way into the Houston outfield at some point this season, and if he does, he likely should have a place on your team as well.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on the Astros from a fantasy perspective, or not hard enough?