Fantasy Baseball 2011: Four Bounceback Players to Keep an Eye On
The key to a successful fantasy baseball draft is maximizing the return value on each of your picks.
At the start of each draft, everybody will have an equal value's worth of picks; therefore, unless you target players who could potentially exceed the value of the pick they were drafted with, you will finish your draft in the middle of the pack.
One of the best types of players to target when attempting to maximize value is the player who disappointed the previous year.
Logically, his value will be its lowest following a poor season; hence the appeal to targeting these players. In this article, I will provide you with four players who should at least be on your radar entering your 2011 drafts.
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Hill was a top three second baseman in 2009. His 36 home runs and 108 RBIs were tops among all second basemen and he posted a solid .286 batting average. On the other hand, in 2010 Hill finished fourth among second basemen in home runs (26) and seventh in RBIs (68). Furthermore, his .205 batting average sent his value plummeting.
So why should you believe Hill will revert back to his 2009 form? Let's begin with his batting average. Hill's BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was the worst of all qualifying MLB players in 2010. If you are unfamiliar with BABIP, it is a moderately accurate way to measure a hitter's luck in relation to his batting average. Hill's .196 average implies that he was about as unlucky as anyone last season. Hill's career BABIP is .288 including 2010; this means that if Hill were to hit near his career averages in BABIP in 2011, his batting average would soar to the .275-.280 range.
Hill's drop in power is actually misleading. While he hit 10 fewer home runs in 2010, he actually produced a similar AB-to-HR ratio. In 2010, Hill hit one home run per 18.94 at-bats, and in 2010 this number was 20.3. The difference between these two is only about two home runs over a 600 at-bat season. Therefore, Hill should be expected to hit 30-plus home runs in 2011 barring injury. And assuming his BABIP rises as expected, his RBI should follow suit.
2011 Projection: .266 BA, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 3 SB, 84 Runs
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The 2010 season was really just an unlucky year for the Blue Jays, as Adam Lind suffered a career-worst season. Following his .305/35/114 2009 season, owners drafted Lind 42.8 overall in ESPN standard leagues. It would be an understatement to say Lind's .237/23/72 season was disappointing.
As with Hill, Lind's BABIP took a sharp turn for the worse. Lind's .277 2010 BABIP was shocking, as his career BABIP, even including 2010, is .303. Lind should see this number rise back to the .300-.310 range, which would bring his average to the .270-.280 range.
Unlike Hill, Lind did see a decline in power in 2010. In only 18 fewer at-bats, Lind dropped 12 home runs and 42 RBIs. There is, however, an explanation for this. If we look at Lind's HR-to-FB ratio, we see he has a career 14.9 percent average. In 2009, this number was 19.8 percent and in 2010 13.3 percent. What this says is that Hill's 35 HR season in 2009 was really a fluke, but that his 2010 season was also a little unlucky. Furthermore, Lind's IFFB (Infield Fly Ball Percentage) actually dropped by 3.9 percent in 2010, which makes his HR-to-FB ratio even odder. In conclusion, expect a home run total between 27-32 barring injury. As with Lind, RBI and runs should follow the upward trend.
Adam Lind 2011 Projection: .271 BA, 27 Home Runs, 83 RBI, 0 Stolen Bases, 74 Runs
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'El Caballo' had a very disappointing year in 2010. The two-time Silver Slugger with a career batting average of .287 hit only .246 with a decent, but not outstanding 24 home runs and 89 RBIs. For a player drafted 58th overall in ESPN standard leagues in 2010, Lee was a headache for fantasy owners.
After all the frustration he caused in 2010, why should you trust him in 2011? You guessed it...BABIP! Whereas his career BABIP is .286, Lee only hit .236 in 2010. As with the two previous players, expect this number to revert back to its norm. Another reason to believe Lee will comeback in 2011 is that his skills as a hitter were not diminished in 2010. His BB-to-K rate was actually .02 better than his career average (.63/.61). And while he did hit fewer line drives, his GB-to-FB rate was almost identical to his 2009 rate.
As for his power, a 24 home run, 89 RBI season is not bad, but it certainly would be nice to see Lee hit 30 and 100 like he has many times throughout his 12-year career. It appears that Lee's HR total is going down with age, as his previous two seasons have seen his HR-to-FB rate drop and stay well below his career average. So in terms of home runs, don't expect him to go off, although with regards to RBIs, an increase in BABIP should lead to an increase in RBI, potentially back to the 97-103 range.
Carlos Lee 2011 Projections: .289 BA, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 5 SB, 74 Runs
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I have saved the best for last. Up until recently, Aramis Ramirez has been viewed as a strong third basemen; somebody who you can rely on to hold his ground and at times even carry your team. The reason he developed this reputation was through his six straight seasons (04-09) in which he hit .289 or higher and 26-plus home runs (excluding 2009 in which Ramirez missed 80 games due to injury). In 2010, Ramirez strayed from this reputation and was close to a disaster. While he remained an exceptional power hitter, his average was .249, and he had a stint on the DL, limiting him to only 124 games. However, there is hope.
If you are able to get Ramirez around Round 9 or 10, maybe even 11, consider it a gift. Why?
Let's start with the obvious. Ramirez's 2010 BABIP was .245, a full .42 points below his career average. His K/9 and BB/9 rates were worse than his career averages, so a few adjustments this winter should allow Ramirez to bring his average back into the .280-.290 range, with the potential to hit .300.
Where Ramirez's value really stems from is his ability to hit home runs at ease. Over the course of his entire career, Ramirez has hit a home run every 19.82 at-bats. In 2010, not only did he stay on par with this, but he exceeded this number, hitting a home run every 18.5 at bats. Over a 600 at-bat season, that would give Ramirez 32.4 home runs, a very impressive total for a third basemen. Also, if Ramirez had stayed healthy enough to take 600 at-bats at the pace he was hitting, he would have driven in 107.14 runs.
Yes, there is the injury risk with Ramirez, but if you are able to realize how much potential he has, you would be a fool to overlook Ramirez come rounds 10 and 11. If Ramirez stays healthy and his BABIP reverts back to his career norm, Ramirez could find himself near the top of the third baseman rankings come next October.
Aramis Ramirez 2011 Projections: .279 BA, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 2 SB, 74 Runs
Assuming these stats, Ramirez would end up around the sixth or seventh best third basemen. That is not bad for an 11th rounder.