Fantasy Baseball Preview: 2011 Tampa Bay Rays Projections and Auction Values
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Now, it's time to dive in and analyze the Rays' positional players.
The Tampa Rays have some new faces this year in adding Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Gone are Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena.
Will Manny have a resurgence just to prove he can still do it? Is Johnny Damon washed up?
Offensively, I find it hard to get excited about anyone on this team except for Evan Longoria, Ramirez and maybe B.J. Upton.
I do know that the Rays are definitely the least interesting fantasy team in the A.L. East.
Mixed League Rotisserie Auction Values in Parentheses
CATCHER: JOHN JASO ($5) - Nothing about Jaso excites me, to be honest. He may split time with Kelly Shoppach, although Jaso is expected to become the starter eventually.
Jaso hit .272 and did score some runs when hitting atop the Rays' lineup last year.
Do not pick him in your 12 team draft, as he will be on the waiver wire.
FIRST BASE: DAN JOHNSON ($2) - No one still knows yet who will be the Rays' Opening Day first baseman.
Johnson will compete with Casey Kotchman and Ben Zobrist for the postion. Johnson has shown some power at the major league level, but that is it.
He is not the answer, so avoid him.
CASEY KOTCHMAN ($3) - Can't get excited about Mr. Kotchman either at first base, as he struggled all last year with Seattle with a .217 BA in over 400 AB's.
Not worth drafting.
SECOND BASE: SEAN RODRIGUEZ ($7) - Sean was the darling of last year's spring training season and was a "sleeper" pick on many early season draft boards.
Unfortunately, his spring didn't quite translate into regular season stardom.
Rodriguez had trouble with righties only hitting .229 against them, so, if improvement isn't made, we may see him in a platoon situation again.
He is fairly raw, so there is plenty of upside and he also qualifies in the OF this year.
SHORTSTOP: REID BRIGNAC ($7) - Reid is projected to be the starting shortstop for the Rays. He qualifies at both second base and shortstop in all leagues. He doesn't hit for average but has show some power capability.
Stat projections for a full year have him around 15-16 home runs and 70-plus RBIs. Those are pretty good numbers if you believe in him; it appears that most people do not though.
He is the 22nd SS off the board in ESPN leagues.
THIRD BASE: EVAN LONGORIA ($37) - Evan has supplanted Alex Rodriguez as the top third sacker in the American League and arguably the major leagues.
He is the No. 1 third baseman on my draft board.
Longoria contributes in all five categories. Evan's numbers included a line of .294/22/104/96/15. He had a slight drop in home runs from 2009. He is still only 25 years old, so the sky is the limit.
He is going in the first round in most drafts, so if you want him, be prepared to get him very early.
OUTFIELD: MANNY RAMIREZ ($21) - A move back into the American League East could be all Manny needs to get himself going again.
Manny's value is completely dependent on where you can draft him.
Most ADP's I've seen have Ramirez slated in the 12th round or later. If you can get him there or later, by all means, take a chance. I'm going out on a limb projecting a .290/28/90 season.
B.J.UPTON ($17) - Shall we say it again? Is this the year B.J. finally breaks out?
He will get your team plenty of steals (42 last year), score some runs and drive in 70-plus but will kill you in batting average. Upton strikes out too much and doesn't walk enough.
His ADP is around the seventh round. Ninth round or later seems about right to me.
BEN ZOBRIST ($15) - I am not sure the Rays have definitely set on a first basemen yet, so Ben may play first, although he already qualifies at second base and the outfield.
Ben's consistency is an issue as his HR, RBI, BA and R totals all dropped from 2009, so projecting him is a difficult task.
I think a .265/15/75 season with 25 steals is in reach, which makes him a valuable multi-positional player.
ADP is averaging about the ninth round in 10-team leagues in ESPN drafts.
DESMOND JENNINGS ($11) - Just how much Desmond is used is the key to his value.
He has been billed as the next Carl Crawford with his decent power and super fast running skills. Jennings swiped 52 bases in 2009 and 37 at the AAA level.
Keep an eye on him as a bonafide sleeper early in the 2010 season.
JOHNNY DAMON ($8) - Damon's best years are clearly behind him, so please do not overpay for the name on draft day.
Johnny, now 37, has shown a decrease in stats the last two years since getting out of Yankee Stadium. His line will most likely look like .265/11/50 with maybe 10 steals.
MATT JOYCE ($2) - Joyce has shown some power, blasting 10 home runs in just over 200 AB's last year.
Playing time is a problem here, though, and with a crowded OF situation, Matt is just an afterthought right now.
Watch for some injuries to the starters, then take a shot if you need some help in the HR/RBI categories.
Written by John Marino exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com
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