Fantasy Baseball 2013: Who Will Have a Bounce-Back Season?

Jonathan MunshawCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2013

After being traded to the Atlanta Braves in the offseason, Justin Upton is on track to have his best fantasy season to date.
After being traded to the Atlanta Braves in the offseason, Justin Upton is on track to have his best fantasy season to date.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the start of the fantasy baseball season rapidly approaches, managers are looking for undervalued players they can scoop up in the draft.

The Miguel Cabrera's of the world are always nice to get in the early rounds, but it is important to keep an eye on the players who struggled last year and can be nabbed in the later rounds, with the promise of turning their game around.

These players range from budding stars to proven veterans who are looking to make 2013 their best year yet.


Justin Upton

The former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder got a change of scenery in the offseason after he was traded to the Atlanta Braves as part of a seven-player deal.

Upton was painted as somewhat of a "bad guy" in Arizona, where he struggled in his first five years after he was highly touted by scouts.

Some of the criticism was founded, as Upton mainly struggled in power in 2012, hitting .280 with only 17 home runs and a .430 slugging percentage. Upton has never had more than 88 RBIs in a season, but this could be the year that he approaches 100.

Besides the change in team, Upton owners should also be optimistic because of the medical treatment Upton underwent in the offseason.

In April of last season, he was forced to see a hand specialist, which likely led to the decline in his production. Expect Upton to enjoy playing with his brother B.J. in Atlanta also, and for his production to improve on a team that is better than the Diamondbacks.


Mariano Rivera

A number of fantasy owners will want to back off on Rivera, who missed the majority of last season with a torn ligament in his right knee.

But Rivera isn't your average closer.

Yes, the 43-year-old hasn't pitched in nine months, but it is almost impossible to turn away from a closer who has 608 career saves.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi will have to keep his faith in Rivera, especially after New York let their other closing option Rafael Soriano sign with the Washington Nationals this offseason.

There is no questioning Rivera's heart or love for the game, and that alone will propel him to a solid season once again, especially in a league where everyday closers are hard to come by.


Mike Napoli

After his hip controversy was finally settled, Napoli ended up signing a a one-year, $5 million deal with the Red Sox, who are converting Napoli to a full-time first baseman.

The catcher/first baseman had his worst year since 2009 last season, hitting only .227 and only driving in 56 runs.

If Napoli is able to settle in at first for the Sox, though, he could put up numbers like he did in 2011, when he was a fantasy powerhouse. That season, Napoli put up career-high numbers in hits (118), doubles (25), home runs (30) and RBIs (75).

Expect Napoli to put up more similar numbers to his season in 2011 than 2012, but let him fall a few rounds, as most fantasy owners will be concerned over his hip and his decline in production last season.