We’ve covered players from the National League East and NL Central that you would be wise to avoid on draft day. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the NL West.
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Hunter Pence, OF, Giants
Pence was the Giants’ emotional leader during their run to the World Series title last year, firing the team up with his pre-game rants and bulging eyeballs. But while he might have helped to inspire the club off the field, it masked what he didn’t do on it, as he batted just .219/.287/.384 with seven homers over 59 regular season games for San Fran before stumbling to a .210/.231/.290 line during the playoffs. Pence’s late-season fade is particularly concerning because it’s the first time in his career that he played his home games at a pitcher-friendly park (he batted just .220/.296/.349 over 126 plate appearances at AT&T Park). You should also note that after stealing a career-high 18 bases in 2010, he’s swiped just 13 bags over the last two seasons, including a career-low five in 2012. Pence should still be reasonably productive, but he’ll likely get overdrafted this spring.
Carlos Quentin, OF, Padres
The Padres acquired Quentin last winter in hopes that he would provide some much-needed sock to the middle of their lineup. But while he did slug .504 for them, he did so over only 86 contests in a season plagued by knee problems. Quentin missed the first two months of the 2012 campaign following surgery on his right knee, and he wound up having a cleanup procedure on the knee over the winter. The 30-year-old lost some weight over the offseason in hopes of avoiding the injury bug in 2013, but it’s hard to be optimistic that it will happen. Even if he does manage to stay healthy, let’s not forget where Quentin will be playing his home games.
Brandon League, RP, Dodgers
There’s no doubt that League was terrific down the stretch for the Dodgers in 2012, as he allowed just one earned run over his final 21 appearances while converting all six of his save chances. It was that dominating stretch that no doubt convinced the Dodgers not only to re-sign League, but to give him $22.5 million and name him their closer for 2013. However, remember that this is the same guy that lost his closer gig earlier in the season with the Mariners. We like League’s ability to induce ground balls, but he doesn’t miss many bats and will have dominating setup man Kenley Jansen breathing down his neck. The free-spending Dodgers don’t figure to have much patience, so a change in the ninth inning could occur quickly.
Brandon McCarthy, SP, Diamondbacks
Everyone’s favorite Twitter personality, McCarthy resurrected his career during his two seasons in Oakland, posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He can credit his success to ditching his four-seamer and going to a sinker and cutter-heavy approach, something that’s resulted in much better control and fewer flyballs. But, unfortunately, McCarthy has yet to ditch his health concerns. Shoulder issues have limited him to 43 starts over the last two seasons, and his 2012 campaign ended when a line drive off his head necessitated emergency brain surgery. The latter isn’t expected to be an issue going forward, but it would be a surprise if McCarthy doesn’t make at least one shoulder-related trip to the DL in 2013. And while he is inducing more grounders now, his GB/FB rate the last two years has been around league average. Moving from O.co Coliseum to Chase Field will surely result in a jump in his home run total.
Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, Giants
Last year’s postseason hero, Scutaro took home NLCS MVP honors for the Giants and batted .328/.377/.391 overall during the team’s magical postseason run. It was simply a carryover from the last two months of the regular season, as Scutaro hit a blistering .362/.385/.473 over 61 games for the Giants down the stretch after coming over in a trade from the Rockies. The hot hitting resulted in the 37-year-old getting a three-year, $20 million deal from the Giants, but don’t make the same mistake in overpaying for him in your fantasy league. Scutaro batted just .271/.324/.361 with four homers over 95 games in the thin Denver air before catching fire at the plate while playing his home games at spacious AT&T Park. We simply can’t count on another two-month streak where the career .276/.340/.391 hitter turns into Rod Carew.
Chris Nelson, 2B/3B, Rockies
Nelson was the Rockies’ Opening Day third baseman last season, but most figured it would only be a matter of time before top prospect Nolan Arenado took over at the hot corner. Instead, Arenado had a down year at Double-A, and Nelson wound up making 68 starts at third, sharing the position mainly with Jordan Pacheco (who made 80 starts at the position). Nelson made two trips to the disabled list, but he certainly held his own at the dish when healthy, batting .301/.352/.458 with nine homers over 111 games. The 27-year-old was the beneficiary of a bloated .374 BABIP, though, and his career .281 batting mark in the minors suggests not to expect much in that area. He also doesn’t run, has modest power and a lengthy injury history since his pro career began. Nelson will be the Opening Day third baseman again in 2013, but it would be a surprise if he ends the year as the starter there, whether it is a performance- or injury-related demotion.
Luis Cruz, SS/3B, Dodgers
Cruz entered the 2012 season as a career .221/.275/.260 hitter across 56 major league games, and he hadn’t appeared in the big leagues since a cup of coffee in September of 2010. Yet, when the Dodgers made a late-season run at a playoff spot, it was the 29-year-old journeyman that they used as their regular third baseman. Cruz did his part, batting .297/.322/.431 with six homers and 40 RBI over 78 contests. But, while Cruz has also hit pretty decently at Triple-A the last couple years, there’s little reason to think his surprising production in 2012 was more than a flash in the pan. This is a guy with a woeful .261/.296/.394 batting line during his minor league career, and he’s never been a stolen base threat or much of a power source. To top it all off, the Dodgers could quickly grow tired of Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, moving him to the hot corner and putting Dee Gordon back at short. There's simply very little appeal here.