Fantasy Baseball

Mauer, Morneau seek to bounce back

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for FOXNews.com, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on FOXSportsRadio.com and follow him on Twitter.

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Projected lineup

CF – Denard Span
SS – Jamey Carroll
C – Joe Mauer
1B – Justin Morneau
LF – Josh Willingham
DH – Ryan Doumit
3B – Danny Valencia
2B – Alexi Casilla
LF – Ben Revere

SP – Carl Pavano
SP – Francisco Liriano
SP – Scott Baker
SP – Nick Blackburn
SP – Jason Marquis
CL – Matt Capps

Five things to think about:

- Morneau is reportedly healthy and ready to go, but could be one concussion away from retirement. I’m no doctor, but are baseball players that susceptible to multiple concussions? I wouldn’t bet the house on Morneau returning to his MVP form, but in early drafts he’s been coming off the board in the middle rounds, after guys like Mark Trumbo and Paul Goldschmidt. He’s well worth the risk in that kind of situation.

- Even if healthy, Mauer is unlikely to ever hit 28 homers again. His fantasy stock is falling, but before you let him slip too far, remember that he has a career batting average of .323. That’s very helpful. P.S. Mauer played just 18 games at first base, so he won’t be versatile in most leagues.

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- Speed demon alert: Revere has averaged 45 stolen bases over his last four seasons between the minors and majors. The over-under for his home-run total is 0.62.

- Doumit has 12-15 homer power, and his batting average won’t be as bad as most second-tier fantasy backstops. Mixed leaguers that need to draft two catchers could do worse than Doumit as a No. 2.

- Liriano has fallen completely off the board in some mixed-league drafts, as the fantasy world has just about given up on his maddening inconsistency. His strikeout rate was still 7.5 per nine innings last season, and he still induces tons of ground balls. As an SP6, I’d take one more chance. My weekly trips to Francisco Liriano Anonymous meetings don’t seem to be working.

Plus:

Odd man out: Remember last year, when 2B/SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka was going to help fantasy owners? That was fun. Also, lefty Brian Duensing appears to have lost his rotation spot, but he’s not THAT bad. AL-only owners should keep him on the radar in case of injury.

Farm system: You’ll hear a lot about 3B Miguel Sano, but even though he projects to be a stud, he won’t turn 19 until May, so he’s only worth your time in long-term keeper leagues. OF Joe Benson (16 HR, 13 SB in Double A last year) could get into the mix at some point. Also, keep an eye on 2B/SS Brian Dozier, who had 12 homers and 28 steals over three minor league levels in 2011. It’s not like Carroll and Casilla remind anyone of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

Backup closer: Before Capps re-signed, there were rumors that lefty Glen Perkins would be the Twins’ closer this season. Figure on him as Capps’ replacement in case of injury or implosion. Capps whiffed fewer than five batters per nine innings last season, so he doesn’t have a vise-like grip on his job.

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