After 56 years without a World Series title, the San Francisco Giants pulled together one of the most magical seasons in baseball history.
Led by Bruce Bochy’s "Dirty Dozen", the Giants not only won the NL West, but also made their way through the National League powerhouses, and won it all against a formidable Texas Rangers ballclub.
But it was during the postseason that we all became habituated with some unexpected players that showed flashes of fantasy brilliance.
Now, as we approach the 2011 fantasy baseball season, many people are wondering if some of these players can pick up where they left off, and afford their teams a hot commodity steeped in value.
Let’s take a closer look at the San Francisco treats.
Impact Players (Hitters)
The youngster came out of the gate swinging in his rookie year.
In only 108 games, Posey cemented his mark in fantasy, hitting an impressive .305, with 16 HR and 67 RBI. In the 2011 fantasy baseball season, owners should be viewing this kid as a top draft pick at the backstop.
Keep in mind two things, though:
a. Bochy has already said that Buster Posey will not play first base...so he is likely to lose his eligibility.
b. Bochy also has stated that Posey will play about 135 games this year, making his already impressive 2011 projections very tasty.
2. Andres Torres, OF
Torres is an interesting character in the sense that we really don’t know what’s going to come out of him in 2011. Torres could conceivably build on his career 2010 stat line (.252/.320/.431, 16 HR, 26 SB), but he could also wind up flattening out.
I believe the kid will keep right on course with where he was in 2010, but the real value is in his ADP (Average Draft Position) at 288.88.
Savvy managers will collect various ADP results and find the middle ground for a specific player, and with Torres, 288 is about right for a guy who was a top 40 fantasy OF last year.
Bet ya didn’t know that, did ya?
3. Cody Ross, OF
Talk about a postseason run!!!
Cody Ross came alive in the Giants march to the title, hitting .294 with five homers, despite being no better than average during the regular season.
Cody Ross is a guy who will give you about 20 HRs this year, 10+ SB and around 80 RBI, and could even be considered a borderline sleeper.
For where his ADP falls (392.06) and because other options in front of him aren’t as tasty (Seth Smith, Chris Coughlin, Fred Lewis...really?), Ross comes along with tremendous value in the back end of your draft.
If he’s available that far into your 2011 fantasy baseball draft, I strongly suggest scooping him up.
The Pitching Staff
The following is a preliminary look at the projected rotation and what you could expect.
1. Tim Lincecum
Old Timmy still remains one of the best SP in the league.
I think you all know that.
2. Matt Cain
Cain is quietly solidifying his place as a top-notch fantasy option at SP, just like Mr. Lincecum. So, if you miss out on the first kid, you can always grab Cain.
Matt Cain is 27-19 with a 3.02 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over the past two years, and while he won’t throw quite as many strikes as Lincecum, he is still just as reliable for a far cheaper price (88.73 ADP).
3. Jonathan Sanchez
Sanchez is a pretty well-rounded pitcher out of San Fran who has improved upon his ERA, WHIP and strike count each of the past three years.
But Sanchez has also walked a ton of batters (4.6 career) and has seen his pop-up rate increase, as well, which suggests several suspicions—ranging from a temporary peak, to him being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I would exercise caution in where you draft him. He’s no better than a nice SP4 option, in my opinion.
4. Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner had a pretty good debut in 2010, going 7-6 with a 3.00 ERA, but he also put a lot of guys on base (2.1 BB/9) which is cause for concern.
Bumgarner did provide a nice 7.0 K/9 rate, despite only racking up 86 whiffs in 18 games started.
He’s a nice later round pickup.
5. Barry Zito
Zito is nothing special to look at, even in NL-only formats.
Zito has seen a decline in his strike totals the past two years, hasn’t had a winning season in four and with a 6.8 K/9 rate, accompanied by an inflated 3.7 BB/9 rate, you’d be better to pass for other options.
It’s hard to imagine Cody Ross making a big splash in this year’s fantasy season, I know.
But the value of the player can often become the "X-factor" that helps separate you from the competition, which is the type of player Cody Ross shows himself to be.
In auction drafts, Ross goes for an average of five bucks, and in most league formats, he's drafted in the 21st or 22nd round. His "5 rank" is roughly 260, and Ross's average projected ownership/started percentages are 35/18.
When you compare his price and ranking to his 162-game averages over his career, his value begins to surface and take shape:
517 AB, .265 AVG, .323 OBP, .466 SLG, 137 H, 70 R, 32 DBL, 3 TRPL, 22 HR and 81 RBI—not bad at all for a guy who will be grabbed in the back end of the draft.
And keep in mind (for all you newbies)—grabbing an extra outfielder who has both good fantasy peripherals and good draft value goes a long way for your team over the course of 162 games.
Ross is also in his contract year, and at only 30, the guy is going to have to put some sort of real value on himself if he is to continue to work in the bigs next season.
Another thing to consider is that Bruce Bochy has basically said that Ross will bat eighth in the lineup, which is particularly good for him, since that's where he's done most of his damage in his career.
The perfect spot in the lineup, a quality guy who can give you 20+ HRs and even 10 SB each year, a low-end fantasy-draft grab and a player who wants to build upon his breakout performance in the 2010 postseason.
Yup—he'll be a sleeper in 2011.
What You Should Know
Let's not forget about Pablo Sandoval, Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff and Miguel Tejada, who are all players who come with some nice value towards the latter half of your draft.
Pablo Sandoval was told that if he didn't drop some weight, he'd be sent to the minors...so he dropped 40 pounds, and he'll be an interesting player to think about if you enjoy having multiple guys at the hot corner on your team.
And do not forget about The Beard and Company. (Seriously, click the link, because it's funny stuff.)
San Francisco's bullpen is one of the best in the National League with Brian Wilson (the best closer in the game right now, in my opinion), Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo leading the way.
The other player I want to mention is rookie Brandon Belt.
This is a guy who will not find his way onto the Giants roster by opening day, but he will get a chance to play this season, and I would strongly suggest you give him a look in your draft, especially those of you in deeper leagues and keeper leagues.
For a full write-up on him, please read Brandon Belt, Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch.