A bunch of new additions have me thinking the Orioles could be a fun team to watch this year. So the question is, does Baltimore have more to offer than crabs in 2011?
Mark Reynolds, Derek Lee, Vlad Guerrero and J.J. Hardy bring the potential for some major fireworks, provided they stay healthy. Realistically these four could hit 130 home runs between them. Add in improving catcher Matt Wieters, Luke Scott, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, and this is surely an interesting team to keep an eye on.
With the Orioles pitching staff as bad as it is, the luxury of playing in one of baseball’s true band boxes plus having the daunting task of playing in the most offensively potent division, I see plenty of fantasy fireworks ahead in O-Town (not the band).
Don't forget to check out our 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit
Mixed League Rotisserie Auction Values in Parentheses
CATCHER: Matt Wieters ($12) – Is this the year for the once heralded, next coming of Mike Piazza? Matt has modestly improved his numbers in his first couple years of MLB experience. He is basically learning on the job.
The catching position is weak, and he is one of the few who managed 11 HR and 55 RBI. I expect improvement on the numbers, and he is a great guy to target later in your draft. He is the No. 8 catcher on my board for mixed league drafts (also ranked eighth in our 2011 Baseball Draft Kit). Potential for a low risk high reward here. Go for it!
FIRST BASE: Derek Lee ($8) – Lee moves to the American League after playing 14 years in the Senior Circuit. A myriad of injuries has effected his stats the last few years, so I have mixed feelings on Mr. Lee at this point. He has the potential to post a .280/25/80 if and it’s a big “IF” he can play enough games.
As of now Derek has not played in any preseason games battling a wrist injury. I see him as a late round flier pick because of the enormous depth at the first base position. Just cross your fingers that he stays healthy .
SECOND BASE: Brian Roberts ($8) – Mixed league mock drafts have Roberts going as the 13th to 15th second basemen off the board (ranked 10th by TFF). Brian was a top five player before a herniated disc in his lower back and abdominal strain wrecked his 2010 campaign.
Assuming he can stay healthy, he will steal a good amount of bases and likely score at least 80 runs atop a revamped Orioles lineup. Last years's injuries are still fresh in our minds though so proceed with caution.
SHORTSTOP: J.J. Hardy ($6) – Got to love the name at least. It has a ring to it. Hardy has had two down seasons in a row due to several different nagging injuries. He is moving to a new team in a hitter friendly park so there is some optimism among the fantasy guru’s that MAYBE J.J. can turn it around.
If you're a fan, I’m pretty sure he will be available at the end of the draft in mixed leagues. If the injuries subside his potential is .260/24/80.
THIRD BASE: Mark Reynolds ($15) – Reynolds like Lee is moving from the NL to the AL. He has been the 12th third baseman selected in ESPN drafts this year, going around the 12th round (TFF has him ranked 11th). Mark is a true slugger in definition as he has hit 104 HR, drove in 284 runs and struck out a league leading 634 times in the last three years.
Getting away from National League pitching and hitting in the smaller American League parks can only help him. I am projecting him as a .230/40/95 RBI hitter. He is a solid 3 category player adding in a few steals. Leagues that penalize you for K’s and BA obviously effect his value. I personally like him as the 8th best third basemen.
OUTFIELD: Adam Jones ($19) – One would hope after five years Jones would learn he needs to be more selective and walk more. Getting himself out swinging at bad pitches hurts his totals across the board. His numbers have been pretty consistent at .280/19/75 with 7-20 steals mixed in.
I like him as a middle round draft pick. At 25, Jones is only going to better.
Nick Markakis: ($19) – His stats were down last year, and he became a waiver wire fodder. HR totals have been going down four years straight, so he will come cheap draft day. If you think he can return to a .300/22/95 type year (in what looks to be a very revamped higher scoring offense) then draft him middle rounds and reap the benefits.
Luke Scott: ($15) – Scott will start in left field in 2011, but check your league rules to make sure he qualifies as an outfielder since he only played 19 games in OF and 14 at 1B in 2010. Scott loves Camden Yards and is as streaky a hitter as they come.
Career numbers put him around .270/25/75 and 70 runs. Most of the damage he does will be at home so use him on home stands and wait for him to hit a couple dingers then play the streak.
OF/DH Nolan Reimold ($0) – Late round flier pick but pretty much fantasy irrelevant at this time. Should not be drafted in mixed leagues.
OF/DH Vladimir Guerrero ($18) – The future Hall of Famer posted a great season for the Rangers last year going .300/29/115 with 83 runs. The knock on Vlad is that he is 36 and the move out of the potent Ranger lineup could hurt his value.
Also you need to check your league rules because he only played 18 games last year as an outfielder. He will most likely be a DH only this year.
Written exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com by John Marino
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