Many players gained fantasy value by changing teams during the off-season, but arguably none more than starting pitcher Zack Greinke.
He regressed dramatically in Kansas City last season, losing victories (16 to 10) and strikeouts (242 to 181) while gaining earned-run average (2.16 to 4.17). Escaping a perpetual also-ran should do wonders for his career.
Greinke gets a fresh start for an offensively loaded National League Central team gives him an opportunity to regain his edge win 20 games. Rather than losing draft standing after a poor season, he will actually gain value.
Here are some other players who gained value:
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox: He moves from cavernous Petco Field to cozy Fenway Park, leaving a poor offensive team to join a juggernaut. His production in San Diego was heroic: 161 homers and 501 RBIs in five seasons. A high fantasy draft pick becomes an absolutely premium selection with this scenery change. His ability to hit lefties (.937 OPS vs. them last season) makes him the perfect catalyst for this offense.
Javier Vazquez, SP, Marlins: He wasn’t equipped to handle the New York spotlight – or the heavyweight AL East hitting. Moving for Florida should allow him to approximate the success he had for the Braves (15-10 with a 2.87 ERA) pitching in the NL.
“My arm felt as good as it ever has. My velocity was there,” Vazquez said of his one season with Atlanta. “The park, Turner Field, played to my style of pitching. I'm a fly-ball pitcher and that park helped me a lot. Hopefully it's going to be the same in Miami.” He was 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA in 31 games (26 starts) for the Yankees last season.
Lance Berkman, OF, Cardinals: He moves from a part-time role with the Yankees to the regular right field role in St. Louis. He would have more offensive value as a 1B/DH in the American League, but he opted to return to the NL and a more challenging assignment. He will be 35 next season, so it’s fair to ask if his legs will hold up in the outfield.
From 2000 through 2009, he ranked fourth in the NL in on-base percentage (.413) and sixth in slugging percentage (.559). He ranked among the top 10 in OBP eight times, and in the top 10 in slugging four times. He is whipping himself into better physical shape, so don’t write him off.
Adam Dunn, DH/1B, White Sox: Dunn, 31, hit .260 with 38 home runs and 103 RBIs last season for the Washington Nationals. He has been one of the sport’s most reliable power sources, hitting between 38 and 46 home runs for the last seven years and driving in between 92 and 106 runs. Now he will tag team with Paul Konerko in a slugger-friendly environment. A 125-RBI season is not out of the question.
Shaun Marcum, SP, Brewers: Would you rather pitch in the AL East of the NL Central? Marcum made a strong comeback from Tommy John last season, going 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts for Toronto last season. “I learned a lot about how to pitch,” he said. “I think when you're in a division like, you can't just go out there and throw. You have to pitch.”
Like Greinke, he could bid for 20 victories in Milwaukee.
Zach Duke, SP, Diamondbacks: Pitching for the horrible Pirates took a toll on him. Duke bottomed out last season with an 8-15 record with a 5.82 ERA. During the last two seasons he allowed 443 hits, sixth-most in the majors. In parts of six seasons in Pittsburgh, he was 45-70 with a 4.54 ERA. He can’t help but get better, right? As a ground ball pitcher, he will benefit from having a better team behind him.
Aaron Harang, SP, San Diego: He leaves a home-run hitters park to work half his starts in a pitcher’s stadium. He allows a lot of fly balls – but PETCO Field is the place where fly balls go to die. That .379 career ground ball rate is of no concern there.
“PETCO is one of the very few stadiums left in the league that you can consider to be a true pitcher's park,” Harang said. “Most of the other parks are geared toward hitters.”
Ryan Theriot, SS, Cardinals: He appeared headed to utility work next season, but St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa believes he can handle an everyday role at shortstop and possibly hit high in the batting order. The Cardinals are hoping for the infielder who hit .284 for the Cubs rather than the one who hit .242 for the Dodgers.
Bill Hall, 2B, Astros: He moves from a utility role in Boston to a full-time role in Houston, which is starved for offense. Hall hit 18 homers in 382 plate appearances for the Red Sox last season. His power will translate well in Houston.
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