Cincinnati Reds 2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview

Bryan CurleyCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2011

Cincinnati Reds 2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview

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    The Reds were a popular sleeper pick in 2009. As it turns out, we were all just a year too early.

    Cincinnati returns essentially the same lineup it ran out each day during its NL Central title run with a few new additions. Because many of the Reds' core players are young up-and-comers, we should see many of the players on the Reds roster skyrocket in fantasy value over the next few seasons.

Joey Votto, First Base

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    Category: Target him

    Votto is a beast who contributes in every category. Miguel Cabrera‘s most recent off-field troubles give Votto a slight boost, as I want rock-solid stability out of my first-round pick, and it’s tough to argue with a 27-year-old reigning MVP who doesn’t seem to have a major hole in his game.

    If I do have a concern, it’s that 2010 might be the best we’ll see from Votto. His 25.0 percent HR/FB rate will be tough to exceed (or even replicate) and his BABIPs have been pretty high the last two seasons, but his fly ball rates are low so there is definitely room for improvement there. If he hits more fly balls, he can withstand a likely drop in HR/FB rate and still hit the same number of homers.

Jay Bruce, Outfield

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    Category: Target him

    It’s hard to believe Bruce hasn’t even turned 24 yet, and he still has almost three full seasons in the majors. He has a career .217 ISO and finally got his batting average up to a respectable level (.280) while still having a solid power season. This is the year he finally puts it all together. I’d take Bruce over Mike Stanton even though Stanton’s ADP (19) is higher than Bruce’s (21).

Drew Stubbs, Outfield

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    Category: Target him

    We’ve been on the Stubbs sleeper train for a while now. While it’s true that he was an even bigger sleeper pre-2010, I still think he deserves sleeper status pre-2011 just because of his ADP. Stubbs has a current ADP of 105 on ESPN, making him just the 28th outfielder off draft boards.

    No, he won’t hit for a good average because his strikeout rate is insanely high (32.7 percent in 2010), but Stubbs was one of just three 20/30 players last year—Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rios were the others. I’m not going to go crazy and say a 30/40 season is on the horizon, but Stubbs has the tools to make it happen. Of course, we’ve heard the same about B.J. Upton.

Bronson Arroyo, Starting Pitcher

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    Category: Target him

    Somehow Arroyo doesn’t get the respect he deserves. All he's done is win 47 games over the last three seasons, throw 200-plus innings in each of the last six seasons, consistently put up ERAs in the high-3.00s or low-4.00s and even post WHIPs of 1.27 and 1.15 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

    I advocate taking high-upside young starters in the late rounds, but I love Arroyo’s consistency and I really love his 59th-ranked ADP among all starting pitchers. In all fairness, he probably shouldn’t be drafted too much higher than that, but if you want wins and stability from your last pitcher spot, I wouldn’t have a problem if you took Arroyo.

Travis Wood, Starting Pitcher

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    Category: Target him

    Mike Leake generated headlines at the start of 2010 by breaking spring training as a member of the Reds’ rotation as a rookie, but Wood will likely supplant Leake to start 2011 after a great rookie year of his own. His 1.08 WHIP was outstanding for any starter, let alone a rookie, and his low walk rates over the last two full seasons give hope that such success can continue.

    While Wood probably isn’t as good as his 2010 numbers indicate, not at this stage of his career at least, I think an ERA around 4.00 and a WHIP around 1.17 is a good place to start. Not bad for the 80th-ranked starting pitcher.

Brandon Phillips, Second Base

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    Category: Draft him if he falls

    Second base is deep this season—at least in the top 10—and I don’t think you need to fall for Phillips’ act any longer. His average is pretty pedestrian, sitting around .270, and he wasn’t even a 20/20 player last season.

    All of a sudden, he’ll be 30 years old this season. While the runs should be there by virtue of the gargantuan hitters behind him, I don’t see a need to really go out and target Phillips when you can wait on Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist or any of the other likely rebound candidates at the position…that is if you miss out on one of the other half-dozen studs already above Phillips in the rankings.

Francisco Cordero, Relief Pitcher

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    Category: Draft him if he falls

    Did you know that Cordero is third in saves among all relievers over the last seven seasons? Only Mariano Rivera and Francisco Rodriguez have saved more games over that span, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing for Cordero.

    Despite saving 40 more games last year, Cordero’s strikeout rate fell for the fourth straight season and his ERA was the highest it had been since 2000.

    Of course, I really only draft closers for saves, and right now Cordero is still accruing those in bunches, but I’m a little fearful of being stuck with him when everything finally falls apart. Anyone who had Trevor Hoffman last year can empathize.

Edinson Volquez, Starting Pitcher

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    Category: Avoid

    Volquez will have to slip ridiculously far for me to draft him, but that’s just because I don’t think he’s even close to worth his current 49th-ranked ADP among starting pitchers.

    Despite racking up about a strikeout per inning, Volquez had walk rates of 5.80 and 5.03 BB/9 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. His 1.50 WHIP last year (career 1.48) gives me little hope for a breakout. I’d rather have many of the guys getting drafted after him such as Jaime Garcia, Ricky Romero, Brian Matusz, James Shields, Gio Gonzalez and Arroyo.

Scott Rolen, Third Base

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    Category: Avoid

    If you recall any of 2010, you might remember Rolen’s power, or lack thereof, as the season wore on. In fact, the Reds’ third baseman only hit three home runs over the season’s final three months, but his end-of-year total (20) was just enough for people to draft him expecting moderate offensive output this year.

    Bottom line: I’d rather have almost any other starting third baseman in baseball.

    Maybe not Placido Polanco, because I can’t stomach having that little power at the position, but give me Danny Valencia, Chris Johnson, David Freese, Jorge Cantu, Casey Blake and even Mike Moustakas (a guy who’s never even sniffed the majors) over Rolen.

Aroldis Chapman, Relief Pitcher

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    Category: Keep an eye on him

    No surprise here, but Chapman has insane strikeout potential and could have value even as a relief pitcher because of his probable high K totals. Plus, if Cordero falters, Chapman will have a chance to take over.

Homer Bailey, Starting Pitcher

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    Category: Keep an eye on him

    Bailey had a 3.91 xFIP last year and finally got his strikeouts up and his walks down. His 2.50 K:BB ratio easily bested his 1.65 ratio from 2009, and that’s a good start for a pitcher with a lot of talent.

    I expect there to be stretches this season where Bailey strings together three or more very good starts, and you’ll want him on your roster when he does.

Edgar Renteria, Shortstop

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    Category: Keep an eye on him

    Renteria hasn’t really been relevant in fantasy baseball for a few years now, but Paul Janish doesn’t hit a lick. Who knows what will happen here?

Devin Mesoraco, Catcher

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    Category: Keep an eye on him

    It’s not very often that a catcher has a season like Mesoraco did in 2010 when he batted .302 with 26 homers, 72 RBI and a .967 OPS split between Single-, Double- and Triple-A. Ramon Hernandez is not the answer at catcher and is just holding down the fort until Mesoraco is ready.

    He’s currently a long shot to make the big league team out of spring training, but if Hernandez goes down at some point in the season, this kid can hit enough to be relevant. FanGraphs ranked him as the Reds’ second-best prospect just this past week.

Drafts Are Right Around the Corner!

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