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Fantasy Open

2010 Fantasy Baseball Position Battles

Arizona Diamondbacks

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Final rotation spot

Buckner came into camp as the front-runner, but Lopez surged past him and seemingly cemented his hold on the spot with 5 1/3 shutout innings vs. Milwaukee on March 28. The D-backs will not need a No. 5 starter until April 17.

Rodrigo Lopez

Atlanta Braves

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Right Field

This was Heyward's position to lose coming into camp and the uber-prospect won it with ease. A five-tool talent, Heyward can hit for average and power, and he'll even steal a base here and there. Expect Cabrera to come off the Braves bench and serve as insurance for both Heyward and Matt Diaz.

Jason Heyward

Baltimore Orioles

Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

Tillman, who entered camp as the front-runner, posted a solid 3.86 ERA over 16 1/3 innings, but his 9/10 K/BB ratio indicated that he needed more time in the Minors to shore up his control. Hernandez capitalized on the opportunities he was given to start this spring and impressed manager Dave Trembley with his tenacity and ability to pitch out of jams.

David Hernandez

Boston Red Sox

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
No. 5 Starter

Buchholz is one of the most talented young pitchers in baseball and was strong, for the most part, in the second half of last season. The Red Sox would like to see him build off that. Then there is Wakefield, one of the most dependable and loyal performers in team history. There will be room for both at the start of the season, as Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to land on the disabled list, but a decision will have to be made before long.

Tim Wakefield

Chicago Cubs

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Second Base

Baker's offensive struggles in Spring Training relegated him to a clear backup role.

Mike Fontenot
Position Battle Analysis Winners
No. 4 & 5 Starters

Manager Lou Piniella annointed Silva and Gorzelanny his final two starters for now, though one of them will join Marshall and Samardzija in the bullpen when Ted Lilly returns to the rotation in April.

Silva & Gorzelanny

Cincinnati Reds

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
Left Field

The lefty-hitting Dickerson is the best athlete of the group and the right-handed Gomes has been mashing the ball this spring. It's all but certain at this point that the two will share left-field duties.

Dickerson, Gomes platoon
Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

Chapman has lived up to the advance billing by showing overpowering stuff, but he ran out of time to get ready for the start of the season after suffering back spasms. Leake, the club's first-round Draft pick in '09, seized control of the job. In six spring games, including two starts, the right-handed Leake was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 16 hits, four walks and 10 strikeouts over 18 innings and will skip the Minors completely and start his pro career in the bigs That leaves Wood, who went 13-5 with a 1.77 ERA across the top two levels of the Minors last season, back in the Minors.

Mike Leake

Cleveland Indians

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Left Field

Brantley, who hit .313 in a late-season look with the Indians in '09, will get the opportunity to build on that form as the everyday left fielder. Kearns will serve as the club's fourth outfielder, while Crowe will begin the season at Triple-A.

Michael Brantley
Position Battle Analysis Winners
No. 4 & 5 Starters

Carrasco's wild final outing (5 ER, 6 BB in 3 2/3 IP) on March 28 helped cement the decision to send him back to the Minors. With Sowers joining him in Triple-A to rebuild the strength in his shoulder, the final two rotation spots are in the hands of Talbot and Huff.

Talbot & Huff

Colorado Rockies

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Closer

For the most part, opponents will be facing Morales' hard fastball and nasty pitch mix when the Rockies hold a ninth-inning lead. Manager Jim Tracy won't say Morales is the closer, but that's for strategic reasons more than anything. Tracy wants to reserve the right to go to a right-hander in key situations, even when Morales is in the game. But who will that righty be? Corpas had plenty of chances to set himself apart during exhibition play, but he hasn't eradicated his penchant for high pitches over the heart of the plate. Daley, who's been consistent this spring, could get the call in some ninth-inning situations.

Franklin Morales

Detroit Tigers

Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

The departure of Nate Robertson helped sew up what was becoming a one-horse race for the final rotation spot, as Willis impressed with improved command this spring. Bonine will serve as rotation insurance in case Willis or Jeremy Bonderman falter.

Dontrelle Willis

Florida Marlins

Position Battle Analysis Winner
First Base

Sanchez entered camp with the edge in professional experience and has swung a much more potent bat than his counterpart this spring. Morrison, who finished 2009 at the Double-A level, was sent back to the Minors after hitting .209 with six RBIs in 43 at-bats.

Gaby Sanchez
Position Battle Analysis Winners
No. 3, 4 & 5 Starters

Sanchez posted a 6.38 ERA this spring, but he was pretty much a lock after last year's strong second half. Volstad was hardly a lock, but he pitched well enough to snag a starting role. The final spot seemingly was in Hensley's hands, but a late-March trade for Robertson gave the all-righty rotation a much-needed southpaw.

Sanchez, Volstad & Robertson

Houston Astros

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Catcher

Towles earned the starting nod after hitting .359 with two homers and nine RBIs in 36 at-bats this spring. Castro, Houston's top prospect, more than held his own and will get the call should Towles struggle.

J.R. Towles
Position Battle Analysis Winners
No. 4 & 5 Starters

Norris got stronger as Spring Training progressed and locked up a spot with his win over the Phillies on March 30. Paulino was slowed by a strained back at the end of camp, but that wasn't enough to discourage the club from including him in the rotation.

Norris & Paulino
Position Battle Analysis Winner
Closer

Lyon has more experience and is getting paid more money after signing a large offseason contract, but he's seen limited action after having a cyst in his throwing shoulder drained in January. That opened the door for Lindstrom, who's been lights-out with 8 2/3 shutout innings this spring.

Matt Lindstrom

Kansas City Royals

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Second Base

The battle was placed on hold when the Royals decided to use Callaspo to fill in for the injured Alex Gordon at third base. Getz likely will remain in the lineup when Gordon returns, though he'll need to pick things up on the offensive end.

Chris Getz

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
Third Base

The Angels would prefer to have Izturis swing between the hot corner, shortstop and second base. Wood hasn't exactly wowed this spring, but he's shown enough to convince the club he deserves the chance to start.

Brandon Wood

Los Angeles Dodgers

Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

The knuckleballing Haeger made an impression on manager Joe Torre with his stuff and composure last season, and he continued to impress with a 2.20 ERA over six spring outings. The other candidates also pitched very well, but Torre said he was comfortable having them come out of the bullpen.

Charlie Haeger
Position Battle Analysis Winner
Second Base

Given Belliard's and Carroll's experience in backup roles, the club felt it made sense to bring them off the bench and give the 24-year-old DeWitt the chance to develop as an everyday player. DeWitt certainly helped his cause with a .339 batting average and a .542 slugging percentage in exhibition play.

Blake DeWitt

Milwaukee Brewers

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winners
No. 4 & 5 Starters

Bush has the No. 4 spot locked down, but the team won't need a fifth starter until April 14 or 15, so manager Ken Macha will wait to make a decision. Parra and Narveson will begin the season in the bullpen, and either could be moved back to the rotation if Suppan hasn't recovered from his neck problems by then.

Bush and Suppan

Minnesota Twins

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Third Base

Harris swung a potent bat this spring, but he simply isn't in Punto's class with the glove. As a result, Punto will get most of the starts at the hot corner this year, with Harris to see some time vs. left-handers.

Nick Punto
Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

After throwing six shutout innings against the Pirates on March 30, Liriano said he was informed he will start against the White Sox on April 9, meaning he snagged the final rotation spot. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the club gave serious thought to sliding Liriano into the vacant closer role, but the left-hander's preference to start helped influence the final decision.

Francisco Liriano

New York Mets

Position Battle Analysis Winner
First Base

With Murphy nursing a knee sprain that will keep him out of action for much of April, the door is open for the powerful Jacobs to show he can handle the job. Davis impressed a .480 average this spring, but the team has no intention of rushing him to the Majors.

Mike Jacobs
Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
Center Field

Neither player has pulled ahead in the race, and the Mets are holding to their claim that the winner will not be determined until the final weekend of the exhibition season. However, manager Jerry Manuel seems loyal to those who got him throught last summer's drudgery, so expect Pagan to hold the fort in center until Carlos Beltran is healthy.

Angel Pagan
Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

The 23-year-old Niese displayed impressive stuff and poise in camp, and the club is hopeful he can steady the back end of the rotation. Nieve will move to the bullpen, where he has the chance to take over the primary setup role.

Jon Niese

New York Yankees

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Left Field

Gardner has shown enough this spring that manager Joe Girardi was comfortable acknowledging that the speedster will be in his Opening Night lineup April 4, batting ninth. While Gardner may be better in center field, it appears that the Yankees will play Curtis Granderson in center to avoid flipping him to left when Gardner is in the lineup. Winn will get his share of at-bats as a fourth outfielder and Thames projects more as the 25th man and a right-handed bat off the bench.

Brett Gardner
Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

The Yankees would have loved to see Chamberlain step up and take his spring to a new level, now that he was to be finally free of the "Joba Rules" innings restrictions, but Hughes emerged as the winner after an impressive spring. Hughes appeared a bit more polished, showing off an improved changeup, and the Yankees believe he is stronger than ever before. Chamberlain will have an opportunity to reclaim the eighth-inning setup role where he once excelled, while Aceves and Mitre continue fighting for bullpen jobs.

Phil Hughes

Oakland Athletics

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
No. 5 Starter

With Vin Mazzaro back in Triple-A, what started as a crowded battle for the final rotation spot is down to two candidates. Cahill has the edge after logging 32 starts in '09, but expect Gonzalez to push him until the very end with what manager Bob Geren has said is the best stuff on the staff.

Trevor Cahill

Philadelphia Phillies

Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

Kendrick needed Moyer to flop in order to claim the final rotation spot, and Moyer squashed those hopes by posting a 1.53 ERA over three official Spring Training starts. However, with Joe Blanton out of action due to an oblique strain, Kendrick will get the chance to start for the first few weeks of the season.

Jamie Moyer

Pittsburgh Pirates

Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

Though Hart had the inside track to the fifth-starter job at the start of spring, his lack of control has landed him in Triple-A to start 2010. Hart walked 13 in 4 2/3 Grapefruit League innings and will continue to work out some mechanical issues in Indianapolis with the hope of joining the Pirates rotation mid-season. McCutchen showed nice command all spring and will be on an Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. He made six starts for the Pirates late last season.

Daniel McCutchen

San Diego Padres

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
No. 5 Starter

Latos has been slowed a bit by a sore elbow, but that likely won't be enough to keep him from claiming a rotation spot. Many scouts feel the 22-year-old is already the best pitcher on the roster.

Mat Latos

San Francisco Giants

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
No. 5 Starter

Madison Bumgarner and Joe Martinez both were optioned to Triple-A Fresno on March 23, and Pucetas may end up following in their footsteps despite his impressive numbers in exhibition play. Wellemeyer's combination of experience and crisp work this spring has put him in the driver's seat.

Todd Wellemeyer

St. Louis Cardinals

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Third Base

Freese, the best defender of the group, clearly established himself as the man at third this spring. He received the large majority of the playing time at the position and held his own at the plate and in the field. Felipe Lopez will see some time at third during the season, but Freese will be the club's primary starter.

David Freese
Position Battle Analysis Winner
No. 5 Starter

Garcia pitched the best of the three candidates all spring, so despite reservations about rushing him less than two years after Tommy John surgery, he gets the call. Hill started a Triple-A game March 29, pointing the way to where he's likely headed next, and McClellan will take the last spot in the bullpen.

Jaime Garcia

Tampa Bay Rays

Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
Right Field

Joyce's elbow problems have landed him on the DL and could hurt his chances of earning a prominent role with the big club this year. Kapler will play when the opposition starts a left-hander. When the Rays are facing a righty, Zobrist will slide from his usual second-base spot to right field, which opens the door for promising prospect Sean Rodriguez to make an impression at second.

Zobrist, Kapler platoon

Texas Rangers

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Catcher

Saltalamacchia and Teagarden will split time behind the plate. Saltalamacchia missed a week with muscle spasms in his neck, prompting the club to trade for Treanor as insurance, but he's expected to be ready for Opening Day. Hall, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, won't be an option until May.

Saltalamacchia, Teagarden platoon
Position Battle Analysis Winners
No. 4 & 5 Starters

The Rangers were looking at Hunter as their No. 4 starter until he suffered a strained oblique muscle in mid-March. That created room in the rotation for both Wilson and Harrison, who distanced themselves from the rest of the pack with their performances this spring. Holland will begin the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City as a starter, while Feliz is headed back to the bullpen.

Wilson & Harrison

Toronto Blue Jays

Position Battle Analysis Winner
Left Field

The Blue Jays prefer to keep Lind in the designated hitter role. Snider was inconsistent this spring, but he'll get the chance to develop his power bat as the regular left fielder.

Travis Snider
Position Battle Analysis Projected Winner
Right Field

Bautista figured to have a starting spot locked down, and the only question was where exactly he would play. With third baseman Edwin Encarnacion's surgically repaired wrist seemingly in good shape, Bautista will hold down right field and look to build on the monster numbers he posted this spring (.440 AVG, 5 HR).

Jose Bautista
Position Battle Analysis Winners
No. 4 & 5 Starters

Seemingly a long shot to stick at the start of exhibition play, Eveland blew past the competition with a 1.23 ERA in a team-high 22 innings. Tallet wasn't quite as impressive, but he allowed just four walks in 21 frames. Cecil came on strong late in camp, but the club decided to take advantage of his remaining options and sent him back to Triple-A. Rzepczynski fell out of the race when he suffered a fractured finger on March 30.

Tallet & Eveland
Position Battle Analysis Winner
Closer

The battle for this spot lasted for much of Spring Training before Gaston opted to hand the job back to Frasor. Gaston said he likes Frasor in the ninth based on what the right-hander did out of the bullpen a year ago. Over 61 games, Frasor fashioned a 2.50 ERA, striking out 56 and walking 16 across 57 2/3 innings. Frasor also saved 11 games -- his highest total since notching 17 saves as a rookie in 2004 -- and limited batters to a .209 average.

Jason Frasor