ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FANTASY BASEBALL INSIDERS
In the coming weeks, I will attempt to create the most accurate 2010 big board available. This draft guide will be released 10 players at a time until my top 50 have been revealed.
These lists will take into account past, present and future values based on standard 5×5 H2H settings. As I introduce each player one-by-one, it’s my goal to reveal something you didn’t already know. Feel free to agree or disagree with my rankings, as I’m always up for a healthy debate.
21. Ian Kinsler – 2B – Texas Rangers
Despite posting career-highs in HR (31), RBI (86), and steals (31) in 2009, Ian Kinsler struggled with a career-low .253 batting average. The low average was likely because of Kinsler’s league-worst .245 BABIP, which suggests an enormous amount of bad luck.
The good news is that Kinsler’s average is likely to improve in 2010, perhaps somewhere in the .275-.285 range. Given this, and his rare speed/power combo at second base, Kinsler’s 2010 season could prove to be even better than his 2009 campaign.
The bad news, however, is that Kinsler has missed on averaged 31 games per season over the last three years. This inability to stay healthy should make you think twice about selecting him on draft day.
It’s worth mentioning that Kinsler will bat in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup this season instead of leading off as he has in previous seasons. This could lead to more RBI opportunites, but may also cut down on his run and steal totals. Despite this, Kinsler is the unquestioned No. 2 option at second base, and the No. 21 player overall.
22. Mark Reynolds – 3B – Arizona Diamondbacks
Reynolds’ fantasy value has recently become a highly debated topic. Despite blasting 44 HR in 2009, the 26-year-old struck out in 38.6 percent of his at-bats on his way to a major league record 223 strikeouts. Unlike most sluggers who whiff more than usual, Reynolds fails to draw a high number of walks. This, in addition to his low batting average, (career .257) results in an unusually low OBP (career .338).
The uniqueness in Reynolds’ game is further emphasized when you consider the surprising speed he displayed in 2009. Arizona’s third basemen was the only player in 2009 to hit 40-plus HR and steal at least 20 bases. The question is, of course, can he repeat this success in 2010?
While Reynolds is unlikely to repeat his 2009 HR/FB ratio of 26 percent in 2010, there’s no doubt his power is legit. According to HitTrackerOnline.com , Reynolds’ average standard distance per HR was 415.7 feet, a number that ranked No. 1 in the majors in 2009.
Even if Reynolds hits only 35 HR in 2010 (nine less than his 2009 total), and steals only 10 bases (14 fewer than his 2009 total), he still remains a member of an elite 35/10 club– a feat that only four players (Albert Pujols, Jason Bay, Jayson Werth, and Reynolds) accomplished in 2009.
Reynolds will remain eligible at first base and third base in 2010, allowing fantasy owners some flexibility with the young slugger as he continues through the prime years of his career in 2010.
23. Grady Sizemore – CF – Cleveland Indians
Despite posting career-highs in HR (33), RBI (90), and steals (38) in 2008, Grady Sizemore ’s 2009 campaign wasn’t as kind to him, as the 28-year-old set career lows in HR (18), runs (79), RBI (64), steals (13), and batting average (.248) while he struggled through an injuries and bad luck.
Sizemore’s 2009 BABIP of .276 (his career BABIP is .317) suggests he will bounce back this year, but a closer look forces us to limit our expectations.
Sizemore’s 33-HR 2008 season was a direct result of his 14.5 percent HR/FB rate. In the two years previous and the one year following, Sizemore posted HR/FB rates of 11.1 percent, 11.8 percent, and 11.2 percent. Based on this, it seems as though Sizemore is unlikely to surpass the 30-HR mark in 2010.
It’s also worth noting that both Sizemore’s batting average and BABIP have decreased progressively each season since 2006:
- 2006: .290 (BA)/.342 (BABIP)
- 2007: .277 (BA)/.334 (BABIP)
- 2008: .268 (BA)/.291 (BABIP)
- 2009: .248 (BA)/.276 (BABIP)
During this four-year period, Sizemore has become more of a fly-ball hitter as opposed to the line-drive hitter he used to be, which likely explains the drop in both batting average and BABIP.
While Sizemore remains a rare 25/25 candidate, he now comes with the risk of a .275 (or worse) average. A top-10 candidate last year, Sizemore has fallen to No. 23 on the 2010 Big Board.
24. Joey Votto – 1B – Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto set (or tied) career-highs in 2009 with 82 runs, 25 HR, 84 RBI, and a .322 batting average, despite missing 31 games in June due to clinical depression. Over 162 games, those number project to a whopping line of: 101 runs, 31 HR, and 104 RBI.
There’s no doubt the 26-year-old’s power is legit, as Votto has posted a HR/FB rate of 18.5 percent and 17.5 percent in each of the last two seasons.
His 2009 BABIP of .373 may suggest a bit of luck, but Votto’s career BABIP in the majors is .350, and he never posted a BABIP below .341 at any level in the minors. For this reason, we can expect Votto to flirt with .300 again this season.
A glance at Votto’s minor league stats tells us that the slugger even stole 41 bases between Double-A and Triple-A in 2006 and 2007. While his major league totals (11 steals in the last two years) may suggest otherwise, there is reason to believe Votto can swipe 10 bases given a full season.
In his third full season in the majors, Votto is fully capable of joining an elite 30 HR, 10 steals, .300 BA club among players at his position– a feat accomplished by only one first basemen in 2009: Albert Pujols.
25. Ichiro Suzuki – RF – Seattle Mariners
Despite landing on the DL for the first time in his nine-year career last season, Ichiro still managed to swipe 26 bases and post a .352 batting average.
Although Ichiro is the oldest player in our top 50, the 36-year-old remains a near lock to post top-30 numbers worthy of being selected as the eighth outfielder in your draft.
Given a revamped Seattle squad, there’s even reason to believe Ichiro can reach his three-year averages of: 101 runs, 35 steals, and .337 BA again in 2010.
26. Roy Halladay – SP – Philadelphia Phillies
While Halladay was out-pitched by young guns Zack Greinke , Felix Hernandez, and Adam Wainwright in 2009, Halladay has remained one of the most consistent starters over the last four seasons. The 32-year-old is the only pitcher to log 220-plus innings in each of the last four seasons.
Despite his old age, Halladay actually appears be getting better. Over the last three seasons, Doc’s K/9 has increased each year, while he’s managed to lower his BB/9 each season.
It’s worth mentioning, of course, that Halladay was traded to the Phillies in December. This move to the N.L., however, is likely to increase Halladay’s value. Any questions about Halladay pitching in Citizens Bank Park should be directed towards Cliff Lee’s splits at Philly’s home park last season.
In fact, a closer look actually suggests that Halladay might fair better than Lee did last year with the Phillies. In a park known for it’s short fences, Lee succeeded with a FB percent of 36.5 in 2009. In comparison, Halladay posted a FB percent of 29.3 last year, and his career mark is 24.9 percent.
These factors (among others) provide a strong case for Halladay being worthy of a top-30 selection on draft day.
27. CC Sabathia – SP – New York Yankees
While Roy Halladay has proven himself to be the most durable starter in recent years, Sabathia holds the crown with greater long-term consistency. Dating back to his 2001 rookie campaign, Sabathia has logged nine consecutive seasons of 180 innings of more.
Over the last four years, Sabathia’s ERA has never topped 3.40, and he’s maintained a WHIP of 1.17 or lower each season.
While the 29-year-old is known for his slow starts, (career 4.51 ERA in April) don’t shy away from the the big lefty on draft day. Carsten Charles is a near lock to finish the season with 220 innings, a strikeout total in the neighborhood of 200, and a sub-3.50 ERA.
28. Victor Martinez – C – Boston Red Sox
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Since 2004, the 100-RBI mark has been reached by a catcher in a season only three times. Victor Martinez achieved this feat last year, totalling 108 RBI. He did it in 2007 as well, posting 114 RBI.
So who was the third catcher to do it? You guessed it! V-Mart knocked home 108 runs in 2004 as well, making him the only catcher to top the century mark in RBI in the last six seasons.
With a full season in Boston’s lineup on tap for Martinez in 2010, there’s no reason to believe the 31-year-old can’t total 100 RBI again. In fact, V-Mart appears capable of another 20-HR, .300-BA season as well, making him worthy of being the No. 2 catcher selected in drafts this season, and a top-30 player overall.
29. Jimmy Rollins – SS – Philadelphia Phillies
Despite his “struggles” in each of the last two seasons, Jimmy Rollins has a three-year average of: 105 runs, 21 HR, 77 RBI, 40 steals, and a .275 batting average.
While J-Roll’s 2009 campaign was weighed down by a .253 BABIP, his career .295 BABIP suggests a bounce back season in 2010.
While Rollins is unlikely to repeat his 30-HR total from 2007, the 31-year-old remains capable of maintaining his career HR/FB rate of 7.9 percent; over the course of 650 at-bats, this would likely lead to about 18 dingers.
Given the fact that Rollins has totaled no less than 30 steals in each of the last six seasons, J-Roll appears primed to push for another 20 HR/30 SB year. While this combination is rare enough on it’s own, the fact that Rollins plays shortstop– perhaps the shallowest position in fantasy baseball—makes him a top-four pick among players at his position, and a top-30 selection overall.
30. Zack Greinke – SP – Kansas City Royals
Despite posting arguably the best season among starting pitchers in 2009, Zack Greinke ranks as our No. 4 hurler looking forward to 2010.
Although Greinke has the pedigree to support his stats (he was the sixth overall pick in 2002), it’s simply unreasonable to expect the 26-year-old to repeat his Cy Young award winning performance of 2009.
Consider this: Between 2001 and 2008, there were 10 instances of a pitcher posting a sub-2.50 ERA while logging at least 150 innings. Seven different pitchers accomplished this feat, while Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were the only ones to lower their ERA in the following season. On average, the pitcher’s ERA increased by 1.04 in the following season.
If we apply this theory to 2010, four pitchers (Chris Carpenter, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, and Zack Greinke) should expect an average increase of 1.04 from their 2009 ERA.
If this holds true, Greinke is in line for a 3.20 ERA this season. While this is still very good, it’s a far cry from his ridiculous 2.16 ERA that made him the No. 1 fantasy pitcher in 2009.