After taking a look at the American League yesterday, it is time to turn our attention to the Senior Circuit.
I will be the first to admit that there are a fair amount here that are reaches, but life is no fun if you always play it safe.
Here is the Starting Nine for the NL:
Chase Utley will get less than 400 at-bats
There are a lot of things I do not like about the Phillies this year; I still do not trust Jimmy Rollins, for one.
Utley, though, is a different beast. Even after drafting him in my own “house” league in the sixth round, I am not convinced that the infielder was worth the selection.
Every bit of news from Utley’s camp seems to make the situation worse. It would be better to look at this as a lost season than as finding cheap value.
Carlos Gonzalez will “disappoint” owners
He has a problem: Gonzalez is coming off a year where he challenged for the Triple Crown.
That wave of popularity and fantasy glory means he is being drafted very high this year. Yes, he will play well and he will provide solid value for owners.
Still, the idea of a repeat should seem far-fetched to the more rational of owners. Sure, most still want to own him because he is a solid, high-potential player.
Just be wary of penciling him in for the .336 average with 34 home runs and what went with it.
Ian Desmond will be a major asset in deeper leagues
The trade of Nyjer Morgan makes me a bit nervous because of the talk involving moving Desmond to the leadoff spot.
He is not the prototypical leadoff hitter; he has more power and does not walk as often as you might like. But Desmond hit .283 after the break and stole 17 bases to go with 10 home runs.
I like his upside given where he is going in drafts.
Nate McLouth is going to make some owners look very smart
Too many good reports are coming from the Braves on him for them all to be wrong. McLouth went back to basics this offseason, breaking down his own swing.
Though a small sample, his .304 average this Spring is far and away better than the .190 we saw with Atlanta last season.
He knows he needs to be more aggressive and is taking it to heart.
Brandon Allen will not be in the minors for long
Allen has very little left to show at Triple-A. He performed well there over the last two seasons (combined 49 home runs) and it looked like this would be the year for him.
Arizona’s decision to sign Russell Branyan and acquire Juan Miranda is shortsighted.
He has options left while Miranda does not, so the decision was nearly made before the competition began.
Still, owners should be ready to grab him come May or June when Arizona needs offense and he is pounding PCL pitching. And he can now play some left field.
Jake Westbrook will prove to be a better fantasy option than Jaime Garcia…for this year
Ok, hear me out on this: Sinkerball pitchers and Dave Duncan get along well.
Check out these numbers after the trade to St. Louis: 3.48 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 12 starts. Sure he is not going to strike many people out, but he has a better chance for lower WHIP and ERA because of his ability to induce ground balls.
It is a hunch, but another guy I like late in drafts.
Geovany Soto will outperform Buster Posey…based on their draft value
Look, I like Posey, but you do not make a name for yourself by saying things that are safe.
Is Posey’s .300/30/100 potential very intriguing? Of course it is! But his relative draft slot is putting him in round four or five of drafts.
Catchers tend to get hurt more easily and this will be his first “full” season behind the plate. In relatively the same number of games, the two had virtually the same number of home runs.
Posey outpaced in RBI and runs scored, but Soto is not far off that pace and Chicago’s offense should be better in 2011.
Neil Walker will be a top-10 second basemen this year
Take this for what it is.
I am, after all, the same guy that pumped up Nolan Reimold’s value nearly single-handedly last season only to watch him fall apart.
Walker had 12 home runs in 110 games last season and could push himself closer to 18 home runs, a number that would have been inside the top-10 for the position in 2010. Add in 85 RBI and 85 runs scored and you have a solid viable threat.
He might finish 10th, but it will be top-10. Pittsburgh is better than we think.
Matt Kemp is going to be just fine
Some are still concerned over the numbers we saw from Matt Kemp last season.
Fear not. Kemp is much better than his .249 average last season and can largely be attributed to a 50 point drop in his BABIP from 2009 to 2010.
His baserunning was not solid, as evidenced by the 15 times he was caught against only 19 successes, but he has the right tools.
He is only 26 years old and has been very durable. Keep the faith in him and draft him with confidence.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
NL ROY: Freddie Freeman
NL Cy Young: Matt Cain (to be different)
Division Winners: Giants, Cardinals, Braves
Wild Card: Phillies
Fantasy Bust: Jimmy Rollins
Fantasy Steal: Geovany Soto