The 2013 fantasy baseball season is in the on-deck circle, lugging with it a couple of significant changes. The first is the move to the formidable American League West of the Houston Astros. The influx of nine more everyday position players, five starting pitchers and a closer to 12-team AL-only pools should carry a noticeable impact on draft day and on the waiver wire. Because supply has inched closer to demand, you could find a few more bargains slipping through in the late rounds and when combing the available list during the season.
And if we subscribe to that logic, the opposite holds true for NL-only owners, who now have to dig a little deeper to fill out those last lineup slots.
On the field, the big winners be Houston’s AL West rivals. The low-budget Astros move in as veritable lightweights and, for 19 games apiece, are expected to fatten the fantasy stats for the powerful Rangers and Angels, the ever-surprising A’s and maybe even the improved Mariners.
The second change took place at Seattle’s Safeco Field, which is now, finally, more hitter-friendly with the outfield fences pulled in a few feet, most notably in left-centre which is almost six yards closer to home plate. That should boost the fantasy stock of right-handed bats such as Jesus Montero and Franklin Gutierrez but also could work slightly against Felix Hernandez and the Seattle pitchers.
As for those start-from-scratch mixed-league pools, here’s the big question: Based on his stunning five months as a rookie, is Angels outfielder Mike Trout the No. 1 overall pick? Do you go with the guy who has been doing it longer in Ryan Braun, or the Triple Crown bat of Miguel Cabrera? You could play the position-scarcity card with infielder Robinson Cano, or opt for one of the difference-making pitchers such as Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw or David Price.