As Valentine's Day approaches, I remind myself that pitchers and catchers report in a week (and, oh yea, to get my significant other a card). Preparing for my league this year I face a raft of keeper decisions that I'm sure other owners are experiencing also.
I'm in a 12-team keeper league which allows you to keep up to four players, you can keep an OF and SP as well as two other spots of your choice. Here is of the toughest choices in my lineup:
Justin Upton v. Troy Tulowitzki—this is a very difficult choice especially after both players carried me to a championship title last year. When faced with this decision I must look at both the upside and the ceiling each player has, as well as the following statistical information to, hopefully not regret my choice come July or sooner.
Upton had an incredible last year despite a few minor patches of inconsistency you'd expect from most 21 year olds. The speed/power combination is something I find very difficult to pass on (he had 26HR and 20SB last year) and the scary part is he will get better.
Watching his AB's throughout the season, he not only came up with clutch hits but he displayed more patience at the plate as the year went on, increasing his OBP and when he did get on, showed off the speed the Upton's are known for. I think the key to his continued success will be the play of Mark Reynolds hitting in the four slot, if he can continue to be a threat it will force opposing teams to pitch to Upton.
After missing much of 2008 I took a gamble on Tulo in the fifth round last year and it really paid off. He was making me nervous at times before the break but exploded after it, boasting a .344 average with 16 HR, 55 RBIs, and 1.043 OPS over the final 69 games.
While I don't think the Rockies will continue to be aggressive with him on the base path (he had a career high 20SB) I still think he'll be a force in a much improved and confident Mile High lineup. Tulo is also entering his prime and as long as he stays healthy should be in for another 25+ HR 80+ RBI season, not bad for a fifth round keeper.
Both players have the potential for another huge season, hence the difficult decision. I believe Upton has the higher ceiling but Tulo's position is what will likely be the pivotal point in my decision. Playing at a very shallow SS position makes Tulo even more valuable. There tends to be more serviceable or even above average OF's available throughout the season that can perform at a higher level than SS. A great example of this from last season is Juan Rivera, not great but he got hot a few times and held his own in terms of average to get the job done when I needed it. I don't know if I could find a SS as easily that would give the same level of consistency.
As the season approaches I will probably flip flop on this one many times but my gut tells me to stick with Tulo, however with all the hype Upton is getting sometimes your gut isn't enough.
Until next time...