The best thing about writing for a fantasy baseball site is that any time you get something right there is documentation of your genius.
For example, because I did not start writing for The Fix until the All-Star break last year, I have no way of proving to you that I had Carlos Gonzalez as a top 70 player in the preseason.
Then again, because there is no documentation, I do not have to face the embarrassment of you knowing that I had Mark Reynolds and Grady Sizemore as top 25 players (at least not until I typed the previous sentence).
But despite the risk of further embarrassment, I want to go on record about the guys I am all in on and those that I am not touching.
So here it goes, I am going on record.
Baby, I’m howlin’ for you – The Black Keys
Aside from Tulo, Hanley Ramirez and Alexei Ramirez, four other shortstops went in the top 100 of The Fix’s mock draft, and all of them have big question marks.
Jose Reyes (cannot stay on the field), Jimmy Rollins (ditto), Derek Jeter (two words: diminishing returns) and Elvis Andrus (stopped running after May), would all be in the second, and more negative half of this article if they were not in this sentence.
Because of that positional scarcity, Tulo should be going in the top half of every first round.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers
Not scared one bit by the off-the-field issues. Still a top-five player and certainly should not be slipping into the second round.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees
Teixeira’s rotisserie production in 2010 was slightly off his career averages thanks to a low BABIP (35 points lower than his career BABIP) and a low HR/FB rate (three percent lower than his career rate).
Some of the “bad luck” may have been Tex’s fault as his Fangraphs page shows he swung at more pitches outside of the zone than in any other year of his career, but he should bounce back closer to his career averages in 2011.
Hunter Pence, OF, Houston Astros
2009: .285, 25 HR, 14 SB
2010: .285, 25 HR, 18 SB
For risk-averse fantasy baseball players like me, this kind of consistency is exactly what I am looking for.
Jered Weaver, SP, Anaheim Angels
Weaver’s excellent 2010 season has made him the No. 17 starting pitcher taken so far in ESPN drafts, but that ranking does not do him justice.
Weaver entered his prime last season and saw his K rate go through the roof (up to 9.35 K/nine), his walk rate improve significantly (down to 2.17 BB/nine) and he saw a six percent increase in ground balls.
Moreover, his BABIP was only a touch on the low side, and his strand rate was right in line with his career average. For my money, Weaver is a top-10 pitcher in 2011.
Alexei Ramirez, SS, Chicago White Sox
See Tulowitzki, Troy.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Here is a classic A versus B sample with combined 2009 and 2010 stats from two second basemen:
Player A: .265, 64 HR, 6 SB, 184 R, 195 RBI
Player B: .250, 62 HR, 8 SB, 173 R, 176 RBI
Player A, Dan Uggla, is currently being drafted in the 4th round while Player B, Aaron Hill, is currently being drafted in the 11th round.
There is a feeling of risk involved with Hill due to his batting average catastrophe in 2010, but The Fix’s own Corey Herron did a very nice job explaining away some of that risk in this piece.
If pressed, I would be tempted to take Hill over Uggla straight up, but when given the choice between Uggla or Hill and a fourth round pick, I am taking Hill every time.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants
YEAR HR/FB HR AVG BABIP
2009 14% 25 .330 .350
2010 7% 13 .268 .291
Just in case you are not catching my drift, HR/FB rate gets cut in half and home runs get cut in half.
Likewise, BABIP drops almost 60 points, and batting average drops a little over 60 points. I would say some sort of rebound may be in order for Mr. Sandoval.
Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles
From 2009 to 2010, Wieters saw his walks increase, his strikeouts decrease and his ISO did not dip despite a decrease in line drive rate (a wildly unpredictable stat).
And I know I cite BABIP way too frequently, but a 70 point drop in the statistic from his original stint in the majors during 2009 to last season caused his average to tumble below .250.
The kid is only going to turn 25 in May, so there is still time for growth. I will be taking my chances on all the upside at a premium position.
Jorge de la Rosa, SP, Colorado Rockies
If de la Rosa can stay on the mound and make at least 30 starts, you are looking at 175+ strikeouts.
In the 23rd round (where de la Rosa is currently going) is the potential of quality to elite production in one category not worth a flier?
I am betting on Jorge’s health and hoping for the K’s.
Omar Infante, 2B/SS, Florida Marlins
Speaking of elite production in a single category being available very late in drafts, I give you Omar Infante.
In his last 674 at-bats (well over a full season’s worth of AB’s), Infante has hit .316.
With a full time job in Florida at second base, Infante is a really nice middle infield option this season, even in standard mixed leagues.
Don’t wanna be a fool for you – N’Sync
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees
A-Rod has not played in 140 games in the last three years, and his batting average in those three years has gone from .302 to .286 to .270.
At 35 and entering his 15th full season, A-Rod is way too much of an injury/decline risk to be going in the second or third round.
Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves
Heyward is going to be great, but he is not great yet.
However, because he has as much name value as a prospect can possibly have, expectations are not tempered as they usually are with younger players.
For example, last season another rookie, Drew Stubbs, hit four more home runs, stole 19 more bases and drove in as well as scored more runs than Heyward.
Yet Stubbs is currently going six rounds later than Heyward.
I am not saying I would rather have Stubbs, but I sure would think about it. Heyward will be great at some point, I just want to see it before I pay for it.
Dan Uggla, 2B, Atlanta Braves
See Hill, Aaron.
The Texas Rangers
To begin with, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz all scare me because of their inability to stay on the field.
The trio has missed 267 games combined over the last two seasons.
Mike Napoli is also a stay-away because you should be able to find a catcher in a 10-team mixed league that is sure to accumulate 500 at-bats.
With Mitch Moreland, Michael Young, Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor taking at-bats in the three positions Napoli can fill, I am not sure Napoli will get enough AB’s to be a top 10 option in shallow mixed leagues.
What do I have against Colby Lewis? In a word...Japan. And CJ Wilson threw 130 more innings in 2010 than he did in 2009. No thanks.
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Speaking of big innings jumps, Price jumped up 46 innings last year. Add to that the low-ish BABIP, the high strand rate and the low HR/FB rate, and Price is a pass for me as well.
Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals
For the sake of making my point, let us say that a player provides “elite” production in a category if they are in the top 10 percent of that category, “quality” production if they are in the top quarter and “good” production if they are in the top half.
By those standards, in 2010, Butler gave you elite production in only one category (batting average), quality production in no categories, good production in runs and RBI, below average production in the home run department and no production via steals.
That is a really long-winded way of saying that Butler is a single category producer.
Single category guys are not top 100 players (Butler is currently 93rd in ESPN ADP).
I would rather wait 11 rounds and take the aforementioned Omar Infante to fill my corner infield spot.
Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston Red Sox
(Insert standard low BABIP, high strand rate fantasy analysis here.) Oh, and the 17 wins in 28 starts Buchholz had in 2010 were also extremely lucky.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
First of all, his K rate (34.3 percent in 2010) is going to have to get under 30 percent before I am buying Alvarez’s staying power.
Also, the fact that a .341 BABIP only helped Alvarez to a .256 average is also a big red flag.
Like Jason Heyward, Alvarez may well be a fantasy stud, but I have got to see it before I will believe it.
Written by BRETT TALLEY exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com
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