Tag Archives: Hunter Pence

Season Preview – NL Central


Time to look at the 6 team NL Central division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East.

Last Year’s Records
Cincinnati – 91-71
St. Louis – 86-76
Milwaukee – 77-85
Houston – 76-86
Chicago – 75-87
Pittsburgh – 57-105

Notable Additions

Chicago – Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Kerry Wood

Cincinnati – Edgar Renteria

Houston – Clint Barmes

Milwaukee – Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Mark Kotsay

Pittsburgh – Lyle Overbay, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Joe Beimel

St. Louis – Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman

Notable Losses

Chicago – Sam Fuld, Tom Gorzelanny

Cincinnati – Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Harang

Houston – Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino

Milwaukee – Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun

Pittsburgh -  Zack Duke, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge

St. Louis – Brendan Ryan, Pedro Feliz, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan

My Thoughts

Chicago – The Cubs had a very disappointing season last year, and went out and tried to plug some of those holes this offseason. Bringing in Carlos Pena on a 1 year contract, despite its cost, looks like a very nice signing for a power bat. The acquisition of Matt Garza brings a young, cost-controlled high-end starting pitcher to their rotation, but at the cost of top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, and others.  I am not sold that this team will compete this year, as they will need bounceback performances from Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano to really end up in the thick of the race.

Cincinnati – The defending NL Central champions, the team has lost Aaron Harang and will hope that the combination of Mike Leake, Travis Wood, and others will be able to pitch complete seasons this year. The team returns nearly every player from last season’s title, but I don’t think that it is a slam-dunk that they will just run away with the division again this year.

Houston – Talk about a rebuilding effort. Here’s a team which has very few high-end prospects in the system right now, who also does not have a lot of higher-quality players at the Major League level either. There are some quality players in Hunter Pence and Brett Myers, but there’s not a lot of hope for the 2011 season. They will look to get a solid rookie season out of last year’s acquisition, Brett Wallace, but you have essentially gathered a group of mid-level players who can fill out a roster, but are unlikely to compete as a group for a division title, let alone a league championship

Milwaukee – And within the same division, you have a team who has gone all-in for 2011. The Brewers have traded nearly all of their top prospects in order to improve their pitching staff, and did so with the acquisitions of Marcum and Greinke. It’s not a great sign that Greinke is hurt already, but he should return in mid April and only miss a few starts. The bigger story throughout the season will be whether or not they fall out of contention and attempt to trade Prince Fielder before the deadline. They definitely remain a team to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh – For a team that lost 105 games last year, they actually have a lot to look forward to. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is poised to become one of the best young players in the Majors, and 2nd year players Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez both will look to build on their solid rookie years. They aren’t likely to compete this season, but there’s hope for Pirates fans that is starting to show itself at the Major League level.

St. Louis – The biggest story out of St. Louis up until the start of Spring Training was whether or not Albert Pujols would sign a contract extension prior to the start of the season, and unfortunately it’s no longer the current top story out of their camp. With Cy Young runner up Adam Wainwright out for the season with Tommy John surgery, they will now look to replace at least some part of his production in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that this team, as constructed, can compete for the division title. They will need everything else to fall just right for them to win this division.

Overall Thoughts

The NL Central really has the look of a wide open division. If things fall just right, 4 of the teams could conceivably win the division this season. That said, I’m not sold that things will fall right for all of them, but it should be intersting to watch regardless.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Milwaukee
2. Cincinnati
3. St. Louis
4. Chicago
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL Central Edition


Only two divisions left to look at for the Faces of the Franchise, but there’s some definite notable ones here .

  • Cubs – At the moment, the player who is most known for being a Cub has to be Carlos Zambrano. Whether or not that is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but the team seems like it is more associated with him than some of the more famous position players like Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Continue reading

Fantasy Rankings in Review – Outfielders


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. Next up is the review of my OF rankings. I ranked 45 outfielders originally, and you can find them here.

Yahoo’s Top 25 Outfielders

  1. Carlos Gonzalez
  2. Carl Crawford
  3. Josh Hamilton
  4. Jose Bautista
  5. Ryan Braun
  6. Matt Holliday
  7. Jayson Werth
  8. Vladimir Guerrero
  9. Alex Rios
  10. Corey Hart
  11. Shin-Soo Choo
  12. Hunter Pence
  13. Chris Young
  14. Aubrey Huff
  15. Delmon Young
  16. Juan Pierre
  17. Nick Swisher
  18. Adam Dunn
  19. Andrew McCutchen
  20. Drew Stubbs
  21. Angel Pagan
  22. Ichiro Suzuki
  23. Vernon Wells
  24. Nelson Cruz
  25. Brett Gardner

Notable Outfielders Outside the Top 25: Matt Kemp (26), Torii Hunter (27), Shane Victorino (28), Bobby Abreu (29), Andre Ethier (34), Jay Bruce (35), Justin Upton (41), Nick Markakis (46), Curtis Granderson (49), Alfonso Soriano

Continue reading

Original Draft Series – Team #16 – Houston Astros


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #15: Houston Astros

General Managers(since 1994)

Bob Watson (1994-1995): 142-117
Gerry Hunsicker (1996-2004): 793-665
Tim Purpura (2005-2007): 244-242
Ed Wade (2008-Current): 233-252

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th or 6th
0 1 6 4 8 1 3 1

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C John Buck 1998 – 7th Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 6/24/04
1B Lance Berkman 1997 – 1st Rd (16) 13 5 All Star Appearances
1569 gm, .297/.409/.549, 320 HR, 1073 RBI, 994 R
Currently with Org.
2B Julio Lugo 1994 – 43rd Rd 9 366 gm, .268/.332/.391, 28 HR, 114 RBI, 45 SB, 222 R Released – 5/9/03
3B Melvin Mora Int’l FA – 1991 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Free Agency – 10/17/97
SS Tommy Manzella 2005 – 3rd Rd 5 66 gm, .211/.257/.253, HR, 16 RBI, 13 R Currently with Org.
LF Bobby Abreu Int’l FA – 1990 7 74 gm, .248/.325/.362, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 7 SB, 23 R Expansion Draft – TAM – 11/18/97
CF Hunter Pence 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 1 All Star Appearances
497 gm, .286/.336/.482, 78 HR, 261 RBI, 45 SB, 256 R
Currently with Org.
RF Ben Zobrist 2004 – 6th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TAM – 7/12/06
SP Roy Oswalt 1996 – 23rd Rd 14 3 All Star Appearances
142-80 3.25 ERA,  1570 K, 441 BB, 1907.1 IP, 1.199 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP Johan Santana Int’l FA – 1995 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Draftee – MIN – 12/13/99
SP Wandy Rodriguez Int’l FA – 1999 11 55-62, 4.45 ERA, 715 K, 320 BB, 871.1 IP, 1.394 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Freddy Garcia Int’l FA – 1993 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SEA – 7/31/98
SP Mitch Talbot 2002 – 2nd Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TAM – 7/12/06
RP Matt Albers 2001 – 23rd Rd 6 4-13, 5.87 ERA, 82 K, 57 BB, 125.2 IP, 1.599 WHIP Traded to BAL – 12/12/07
RP Fernando Nieve Int’l FA – 1999 10 3-4, 4.63 ERA, 82 K, 43 BB, 107 IP, 1.374 WHIP Selected by NYM – 3/14/09
RP Felipe Paulino Int’l FA – 2001 9 6-20, 5.55 ERA, 180 K, 87 BB, 202.2 IP, 1.589 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Chris Sampson 1999 – 8th Rd 11 19-15, 4.41 ERA, 172 K, 87 BB, 350.2 IP, 1.332 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Brad Lidge 1998 – 1st Rd (17) 9 2 All Star Appearances
23-20, 123 SV, 3.30 ERA, 561 K, 170 BB, 401 IP, 1.197 WHIP
Traded to PHI – 11/7/07
CL Billy Wagner 1993 – 1st Rd (12) 10 3 All Star Appearances
26-29, 225 SV, 2.53 ERA, 694 K, 191 BB, 504.1 IP, 1.039 WHIP
Traded to PHI – 11/3/03
BN J.R. Towles (C)
2004 – 20th Rd 6 101 gm, .189/.273/.327, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 29 R Currently with Org.
BN Bud Norris (P)
2006 – 6th Rd 4 8-8, 5.61 ERA, 114 K, 52 BB, 104.1 IP, 1.639 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Jason Castro (C)
2008 – 1st Rd (10) 2 6 gm, .250/.348/.400, HR, RBI, 5 R Currently with Org.
BN Chris Johnson (3B)
2006 – 4th Rd 4 25 gm, .217/.239/.275, 7 RBI, SB, 7 R Currently with Org.
BN Juan Gutierrez (P)
Int’l FA – 2000 7 1-1, 5.91 ERA, 16 K, 6 BB, 21.1 IP, 1.453 WHIP Traded to ARI – 12/14/07
BN Chad Qualls (P)
2000 – 2nd Rd 7 23-12, 6 SV, 3.39 ERA, 218 K, 84 BB, 284 IP, 1.236 WHIP Traded to ARI – 12/14/07

June Amateur Draft

The Astros really to me look like they have had some pretty decent draft picks. Unfortunately, there really haven’t been a lot of impact players in recent years, with Lance Berkman and Brad Lidge really being the last two impact players to come out of the system. They have done well with players like Hunter Pence, and the system will be drawing players like Jordan Lyles, Jiovanni Mier, and Ross Seaton all waiting to make an impact in the lower levels of the system. They recently promoted both Jason Castro and Chris Johnson to the Majors, so it remains to be seen whether they can adapt to being Major League starters.

International Free Agency

The Astros have done pretty well in the international free agent markets, with Wandy Rodriguez and Julio Lugo being the players who made the biggest impact for the Astros themselves. They’ve also had quite a few players go through the system who have turned into excellent players, but were either allowed to leave or traded before they could make a significant impact for the Astros. These include multiple Cy Young award winner Johan Santana, All-Stars Bobby Abreu, Ben Zobrist, and Freddy Garcia.

Overall Grade

I give the Astros a C+. The players that they have developed on their own have been excellent, but the short-sighted trades that they have made to acquire pieces for playoff runs have left the team with a completely depleted farm system, with very little currently in the system besides the players I mentioned. Hopefully the Astros will be able to continue to find some quality players going forward.

Team Preview – Houston Astros


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C J.R. Towles SP 1 Roy Oswalt
1B Lance Berkman SP 2 Wandy Rodriguez
2B Kaz Matsui SP 3 Brett Myers
3B Pedro Feliz SP 4 Brian Moehler
SS Tommy Manzella SP 5 Bud Norris
LF Carlos Lee Bullpen
CF Michael Bourn CL Brandon Lyon
RF Hunter Pence RP Matt Lindstrom
Bench RP Jeff Fulchino
IF Jeff Keppinger RP Tim Byrdak
OF Jason Michaels RP Chris Sampson

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Brett Myers Free Agency SS Miguel Tejada Free Agency
RP Brandon Lyon Free Agency RP Jose Valverde Free Agency
3B Pedro Feliz Free Agency RP LaTroy Hawkins Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jordan Lyles (P), Jason Castro (C), Jiovanni Mier (SS)

2009 Review

The Astros posted a very poor campaign in 2009, finishing in 5th place in the division with a 74-88 record. This performance cost manager Cecil Cooper his job with about 2 weeks to go in the season. The team was not good on offense, but did have a few bright spots. CF Michael Bourn really came into his own, posting a .285 batting average with 61 steals and 97 runs scored. LF Carlos Lee hit .300 with 26 HR and 102 RBI. RF Hunter Pence had his best year so far, hitting 25 HR and stealing 16 bases along with a .282 batting average. On the pitching side, SP Wandy Rodriguez posted an excellent year, going 14-12 with a 3.03 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 205 innings pitched. And closer Jose Valverde recorded 25 saves to go with a 2.33 ERA.

Unfortunately, the top performers were not nearly enough to counteract some of the poor performances across the field. Starters Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton and Felipe Paulino made 80 starts between them, and all posted ERAs over 5. 2B Kaz Matsui played solid defense, but hit .250 with only 9 HR and 19 SB. The Astros were also reliant on Geoff Blum to man 3B for most of the season, where he hit .247 with 10 HR. There appeared to be a severe lack of ability at some positions, at least for what you would expect out of a team trying to contend for a division title anyway.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Astros made a few moves this offseason, but almost all of them were to plug holes that were either made by outgoing free agents or that had already been there previously. Brett Myers is a good low-risk high-reward type pitcher, and will hopefully be able to return to his 200 innings pitched form. They have improved their defense at 3B and SS with Pedro Feliz and rookie Tommy Manzella. They will hope for a rebound year from both 1B Lance Berkman and SP Roy Oswalt.

For me, this team just doesn’t look like it is going to score enough runs. They have essentially black holes at C, 2B, and SS. 3B is really not a lot better either. The back end of the bullpen (Fulchino, Byrdak, Sampson) is not bad, but it’s not particularly amazing either. This really appears to be a team that is middling at best within their division.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The Astros’ outfield is the best place to find solid fantasy players, as all three (Lee, Bourn, and Pence) are all ownable in all league formats. On the pitching side, SP Wandy Rodriguez is the best of the group, and SP Roy Oswalt is a player I might take a chance on, as he has performed in the past, just not this last season unfortunately. 1B Lance Berkman is also someone to watch, although he will start the season on the disabled list. The best sleeper of this bunch is probably Brett Myers, as he could potentially post a 200 strikeout season if he returns to form. That’s a big if to me though.

Prediction for 2010

The Astros appear to have a plan in place on how to improve, but they’re not going to get there this season.

73-89, 5th in the NL Central

Fantasy Preview – Outfielders


A note about my rankings: I am assuming a standard scoring league (5×5) with the following categories:

R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, ERA, K, WHIP

Also, I have done a lot of statistical analysis in the past, but I’m not ready to start calculating my own projections statistically. So for me, a lot of this is based entirely on gut feel (which of these 2 players would I want), and looking at previous performance. All statistics are from the 2009 season.

My top 45 Outfielders for 2010

1. Ryan Braun – MIL
R HR RBI SB AVG
113 32 114 20 .320
What’s not to love about Ryan Braun the fantasy outfielder? He gives you elite runs and RBI, excellent power and batting average, and great speed. And he’s still young, and has the potential to improve even more. Seriously, Braun is a top-5 talent right now for fantasy, and would definitely be on the short list of players I would want to start a franchise around. I am extremely confident that Braun could give you all those stats again in 2010.


2. Matt Kemp – LAD
R HR RBI SB AVG
97 26 101 34 .297
As good as Braun has been, Kemp vaulted up into the same tier after his excellent 2009 season. Kemp is another top-10 type player who is going to provide you great value in all 5 categories. Honestly, I think that Kemp would actually put up better numbers than Braun if he didn’t play so many of his games in the spacious parks of the NL West. And he’s only going to be 25 to start the 2010 season. Another player on the short list to start a franchise around.


3. Matt Holliday – STL
R HR RBI SB AVG
94 24 109 14 .313
Holliday started off slow last season while in Oakland, but really turned it up once he arrived in St. Louis. I’m sure that having that Pujols guy as protection for you in the batting order doesn’t hurt, but I think that the Holliday we saw in the second half is legit. I can see him posting another season of 100 runs scored, 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, and probably 10 steals, all while hitting around .320 again. I don’t think that Holliday has any drop-off related to the gigantic contract that he signed in the offseason, but it may be something to watch for.


4. Carl Crawford – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
96 15 68 60 .305
I put Crawford here because I think there is still some upside for him. I think that he’s probably not going to hit more than the 15 HR he hit last season, but I think there’s actually the potential for his SB total to increase on the career high he set last season. An elite basestealer who I believe has the potential to approach the 75-80 range, and post solid-to-great values in some other categories, and there’s a lot to like here. Something to keep an eye on will be his contract situation, as there remains the possibility for him to be traded midseason if the Rays fall out of it and cannot get him signed to an extension.


5. Justin Upton – ARI
R HR RBI SB AVG
84 26 86 20 .300
Upton really started showing us the potential we had all been hearing about last season. Despite missing almost 3 weeks in August due to injury, he still posted a 20-20 season, and was on pace to score 100 runs and drive in 100 also. And he’s still only going to be 22 years old this season. I think he probably has a 30-30 season in him at some point, but for this season, I think he probably posts a 25-20 season. He’s missed time in each of the last 2 seasons related to strains, so I’d be at least aware of that possibility, but I wouldn’t put a lot of weight into it when you’re drafting him.


6. Torii Hunter – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
74 22 90 18 .299
This is probably where you ask how on earth I can have Hunter this high. He missed over 30 games last season, and still put up an excellent season. While I don’t think that he necessarily will hit quite as well as he did last year, I can see a 90 run, 27 HR, 100+ RBI, 20 SB season with a .290 average. I’m a sucker for players that contribute well to all 5 categories. Although that could be all fantasy players. The Angels will look to him to really lead this team, as Chone Figgins and Vlad Guerrero are both gone. This is Hunter’s team, and I think he’ll thrive in the role.


7. Jacoby Ellsbury – BOS
R HR RBI SB AVG
94 8 60 70 .301
Elite basestealer. Normally this is not going to be enough to get a ranking nearly this high. (Keep an eye out how much further Michael Bourn is to see that). But Ellsbury drives in runs at a reasonable rate, scores runs at a great rate, hits for a high average, and even provides some power. I think that if you draft Ellsbury, you’re pretty much able to ignore speed for quite a while after that. I think there’s actually some room for growth in his numbers this season with the changes that they have made to the lineup in Boston.


8. Jayson Werth – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
98 36 99 20 .268
I didn’t realize how good of a 2009 season that Werth had. He saw a spike in his fly-ball percentage (44% LY vs. 40% career), which probably lead to the increased homerun total. I don’t think he necessarily hits 36 again, but I think a 30-20 season is very reachable for Werth. The batting average is probably going to be in the same range, but with him likely to approach 100 runs and 100 RBI again, there’s quite a bit to like. I don’t necessarily prescribe to this idea, but he is also in a contract year. Something to file away in the back of  your mind.



I think this starts the next tier of outfielders. Werth was probably the last of the “elite” outfielders, in my opinion.

9. Grady Sizemore – CLE
R HR RBI SB AVG
73 18 64 13 .248
Sizemore probably hurt some of your fantasy teams pretty bad last year. Try to remember that the stats he didn’t give you last year have no affect on the quality he could potentially bring you this season. After offseason elbow and abdomen surgery, Sizemore has been cleared to practice at full-speed. I think that he sees a rebound to numbers close to his 2008 season, when he was a 30-30 outfielder. The slight risk I see based on the injuries of last year are what keep me from putting Sizemore back into the top 5 for outfielders.


10. Adam Lind – TOR
R HR RBI SB AVG
93 35 114 1 .305
Lind was one of the few bright spots on the 2009 Blue Jays, as he posted great numbers across the board. You’re not going to get speed from him, but the high average and excellent power more than make up for it. I think that Lind has a very good chance of repeating his 2009 season. He will be 26 this season, and I think that at some point in his career he’s going to top 40 HR in a season.


11. Bobby Abreu – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
96 15 103 30 .293
Abreu is one of those players who never really comes to mind when talk begins of the best fantasy players, and the only reason I can think that is lies with his homerun total. He’s not particularly likely to hit even as many as 20 homeruns anymore, but he’s a professional hitter. He’s going to hit right around .300, score right around 100 runs, drive in right around 100 RBI, and steal between 25 and 30 bases. A very solid outfielder.


12. Ben Zobrist – TAM
Also qualifies at 2B and SS
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 27 91 17 .297
I also wrote about Zobrist in my 2B rankings. I think I have him ahead of some of the outfielders due simply to the positional eligibility he provides. It seems unlikely to me that any team is going to be using him in the OF, but there’s always the chance.


13. Andre Ethier – LAD
R HR RBI SB AVG
92 31 106 6 .272
The Dodgers have some pretty good outfielders, don’t they? Ethier posted career highs in runs, HR and RBI last season. I think there’s actually room for improvement on the batting average front as well, which could very well leave you with an outfielder with 100 runs, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 5 SB and a .285 average. Which also seems amazing considering all the time spent in the parks of the NL West. Ethier seems like he will be a hot commodity on draft day, and could go earlier than anticipated. Those owners may well end up extremely happy with that decision.


14. Curtis Granderson – NYY
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 30 71 20 .249
I think that Granderson has an even bigger season now that he’s playing at new Yankee Stadium. The place played like a bandbox last season, and I think there’s a very good possibility that between that and being in the better Yankee lineup, Granderson scores 100 runs, hits 35 HR, and drives in 90 runs. Even the batting average seems like it has the potential to head up to the .265-.270 range.


15. Shin-Soo Choo – CLE
R HR RBI SB AVG
87 20 86 21 .300
Choo helped to make up for some of the dropoff in performance from Grady Sizemore last year, and I think he actually can build on this performance. I can see getting closer to 100 Runs and RBI this season, providing the Indians lineup performs even slightly better than last year. Something interesting about Choo: At some point before he turns 30, he’s required to do 2 years of military service since he is a citizen of South Korea. It has happened in the past that players have been excused from this, but it’s something to keep an eye on if you are playing in a keeper league.


16. Adam Dunn – WAS
Also Qualifies at 1B
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 38 105 0 .267
I wrote about Dunn in my 1B rankings. He’s a lock to give you 35+ HR and 100+ RBI. Even the run total could see improvement on last year. Quietly, a very solid player.


17. Jason Bay – NYM
R HR RBI SB AVG
103 36 119 13 .267
I don’t think that Jason Bay gives you these numbers again. If I did, he’d be in my top 10 outfielders. I think he sees a drop off in runs (probably to the 85-90 range), HR (probably toward 25-30), and RBI (probably to the 90-95 range). I just don’t have a whole lot of faith in the idea that Jason was not helped by playing at Fenway Park. Just remember that when you’re drafting him, you’re probably not going to get the same stats as last season.


18. Ichiro Suzuki – SEA
R HR RBI SB AVG
88 11 48 26 .352
Ichiro remains a hitting machine, posting a .352 average and 225 hits despite missing almost 20 games during the span of the season. I think that he approaches 100 runs again, and could reach 40 steals potentially. But I wouldn’t bank on more than 25 steals and 8 homers out of Ichiro. He seems to be able to hit homers when he desires to, but is just as happy getting singles and stealing the bases instead. Pairing him with a high-power, low average group of hitters could be a good strategy to use Ichiro with.



I’d say that at this point, nearly everyone in this next group could be moved around based on what you think you need at that point in your draft. They’re all very similar to me in terms of value, and it’s really your preference.

19. Carlos Beltran – NYM
R HR RBI SB AVG
50 10 48 11 .325
Beltran missed half of the season last year due to injury, and was having a very good season when he got hurt. If he’s 100% healthy, I could see him returning to his 100 run, 20 HR, 100 RBI, 20 steal form of previous years. I think that the ranking of him here is very aggressive considering that he seems unlikely to stay healthy for the full season. Definitely a lot of upside, and possibly a top-10 outfielder if he meets that upside.


20. Shane Victorino – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
102 10 62 25 .292
Victorino had a good well-rounded season, posting solid numbers in all categories. I think that Victorino is a lock to score 100 runs again in that powerful Phillies lineup. I also think he could steal over 30 bases again this season, and even possibly hit a few more homeruns as well.


21. Nelson Cruz – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
75 33 76 20 .260
I had no idea that Cruz had this good of a season last year. 2009 was really the first time Cruz got a full season at the Majors, and he provided a solid season as a result. My biggest concern with Cruz would be that he may have already peaked, as he turned 29 during the 2009 season. I think that he has some room for growth this year in batting average, and also possibly in runs as well.


22. Carlos Lee – HOU
R HR RBI SB AVG
65 26 102 5 .300
Lee isn’t going to steal double digit bases any more, and he seems really unlikely to score 100 runs again. He seems like an ideal candidate for the “Name not performance” award. He does have some good solid value still, as he’s practically a lock to hit 30 HR and 100 RBI with a .300 average. But I don’t think he’s a top-10 outfielder anymore, and it seems like there’s bound to be someone who will draft him like he is. I do think he does score closer to 80 runs this season as well, which still makes him a solid fantasy outfielder.


23. Michael Cuddyer – MIN
Also qualifies at 1B
R HR RBI SB AVG
93 32 94 6 .276
I originally had thought about Cuddyer as a candidate for my top-15 first basemen, but he ended up in the notes at the bottom instead. Cuddyer had a very good year last year, posting a career high in HR last season. I think he can repeat similar power (probably 30 or so), and conceivably repeat similar numbers in all other categories as well. I think he’s also has a pretty good chance at getting to 100 runs and 100 rbi again this season. Something to watch for: Cuddyer is going into the season as the starting RF, but has also played 1B and 3B previously for the Twins. If Nick Punto struggles really badly, I could see them conceivably moving Cuddyer if they feel that they can get better production with Jason Kubel in RF and Jim Thome as the DH.


24. Raul Ibanez – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
93 34 93 4 .272
Ibanez posted an amazing first half of the season, showing quite a bit of power (22 HR through June), but fell off a bit in the second half. That split concerns me, as he hit 12 in the second half. It is what keeps me from ranking him higher, as I think he’s probably more likely to hit 25 HR than 35. Ibanez will be 38 years old by the end of the 2010 season, and I just don’t think he can keep up this kind of performance for another season.


25. Adam Jones – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
83 19 70 10 .277
Adam Jones is already showing just how good the return was on the Erik Bedard trade. He only played in 119 games last season, and I think that if he can stay healthy for a full season, he will post a 25-15 season with 90+ runs and RBI. The key to this whole theory being that he can stay healthy. Just remember to include that in your thoughts when drafting Jones.


26. Jason Kubel – MIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
73 28 103 1 .300
Kubel posted what was easily his best season to this point. The power is legitimate, and I can see him being good for 100 RBI again. I’m not 100% sold that he can repeat his batting average, partially due to a jump in his BABIP (.327 in ’09 compared to .295 in ’08 and .305 in ’07). While it’s not a huge spike, it could very well be the difference between him posting a .295 average and a .275 average. I do think that the run total could potentially see a little bit of growth, but probably not a whole lot more than 80 or so. He’s another player who I think could be forgotten about on draft day.


27. Hunter Pence – HOU
R HR RBI SB AVG
76 25 72 14 .282
Pence looks to me like he’s got a pretty good chance of repeating his 2009 season, as he essentially repeated his 2008 season, but with a slightly higher batting average. Pence was able to cut down a bit on his strikeouts in 2009 (18% vs. 21% career), and also increased his walk rate as well. I think that the thing that really appears to be holding Pence back is his own team. He really doesn’t seem likely to improve his run or RBI totals with the lineup that the Astros have built. It just doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that good.


28. Manny Ramirez – LAD
R HR RBI SB AVG
62 19 63 0 .290
Ramirez really wore down at the end of last season (.255/.379/.459 in the 2nd half), and that concern keeps me from ranking him too highly. Obviously, there’s a huge amount of upside possible with Ramirez, as he could conceivably post a 100-30-100-.300 season. I just won’t be the one to pay for it, because I’m a little wary of that not happening.  But if you’ve gotten some players with low risk, he could be worth it when he’s going to be drafted.


29. Andrew McCutchen – PIT
R HR RBI SB AVG
74 12 54 22 .286
McCutchen only played in 108 games last season, due to not being called up until the beginning of June. Once there, he cemented himself as the starting center fielder for the years to come in Pittsburgh. McCutchen could conceivably get to 100 runs, 20 homers, 80 rbi, and 30 steals if it all falls correctly for him. He’s a very good young player, and he’s only going to get better. He may see a little bit of an adjustment period with it being his sophomore season, but I think he eventually becomes a top-15 outfielder on a consistent basis.


30. Michael Bourn – HOU
R HR RBI SB AVG
97 3 35 61 .285
The speed is legitimate. Beyond that, it’s all a bit risky to me. He posted a career high batting average of .285 backed by a BABIP of .366. I think that there’s some chance of regression, but the .366 BABIP is not brutally out of line with his minor league numbers (.335 at AA, .353 at AAA). He’s not going to provide a lot of RBI or even more than the 3 HR he hit last season. But I think there’s still a chance he steals even more bases. Just try to temper your expectations on Bourn. The Astros’ lineup worries me a bit still, but as the leadoff hitter he should have the best chance to score of anyone on that team.


31. Nate McLouth – ATL
R HR RBI SB AVG
86 20 70 19 .256
I actually like McLouth a lot for this season. Providing that you can get him at the right point in your draft. He missed some time last season, and could see a return to a 20-20 season again. The batting average is a bit of a drag, and it doesn’t appear to be that far out of his expected range unfortunately. He posted similar per-game numbers with both teams last season, so I’m not inclined to believe that he’s going to post a much better season due to spending the full year in Atlanta.


32. Carlos Quentin – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
47 21 56 3 .236
Quentin is another player who is coming back from an injury, and missed quite a bit of time as a result. He also posted an extremely low BABIP last season (.221 vs .278 in 2008), which should lead him to an increase in batting average if he regresses closer to his norm. I think that there’s a lot of upside here as well, with the potential for a 100-30-100 season out of Quentin. But he’s missed time in both seasons with the White Sox due to injuries, and the concern around these leads me to rank him lower than his talent probably would justify. I would want the potential to be that much higher as a result.



From this point on, you’re really getting into need. For me, all the players remaining are all extremely similar in terms of the value they provide to a fantasy team. Just figure out where you are needing some stats, and go from there.

33. Carlos Gonzalez – COL
R HR RBI SB AVG
53 13 29 16 .284
Gonzalez appears to finally be showing the promise that made him the highlight of both the Dan Haren and Matt Holliday trades. Despite only playing in 89 games last year, he still posted excellent numbers. And he comes into Spring Training with what appears to be a very good chance to be an everyday player. In a full season, I think he can post 100 runs, 20 HR, 75 RBI, and 25 SB with a good average. The only real concern I have for Gonzalez is that the Rockies seem to have too many solid outfielders (Hawpe, Spilborghs, Fowler, Smith), and as a result could see a loss of some playing time potentially for Gonzalez. Something to monitor in Spring Training if you get him. But I love the upside, and think he’s going to be extremely popular this season.


34. Johnny Damon – DET
R HR RBI SB AVG
107 24 82 12 .282
I don’t believe. He’s not going back to the Yankees, and I don’t believe in the homeruns or the runs scored based on him not being there. Someone is probably going to get a decent value on him, as he’s still out there as of this writing. Once he signs,  I think that he could conceivably score about 85-90 runs, hit 15-20 HR, and steal 10+ bases. But I don’t think that there’s a lot of upside for him without playing in that Yankee juggernaut.


35. Nick Markakis – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
94 18 101 6 .293
Markakis is one of those players that I think ends up doing well on his name, as opposed to his actual numbers. I don’t see a full repeat of the numbers he posted last season, but I can see another 85 runs and 90 RBI season. The problem I keep running into is the power. Even with a spike of almost 8% in his fly ball rate, he hit even less homeruns. There’s still the potential for growth since he’s only going to be 26 during the 2010 season, but I’m not necessarily taking the risk. For me, the upside for Markakis appears to be what he did last season. Which is good, but not amazing. And for upside, I’d rather take some other players first.


36. Alex Rios – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
63 17 71 24 .247
He can’t be as bad as that batting average, right? I think he may rebound this season, but it really speaks to me that the Blue Jays were willing to give up on the talent for just salary relief. He has the potential to post a 25-25 season I think, but at this point the risk that he continues to be what he did in Chicago (.199/.229/.301) is what keeps me from drafting him like he could do that.


37. B.J. Upton – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
79 11 55 42 .241
The batting average is a concern, especially since his BABIP of .310 was actually fairly solid. I think he could very well hit .250 again. The steals are nice, but I’m not convinced that he could give you a 20-20 season again. I’m not really sold he will give you 40 steals again, but I think he’s got a better shot of that. Strikeouts remain a problem, as he had 152 last season against only 57 walks. If he can improve that ratio, he could see some improvement, but I’m not inclined to believe it will happen.


38. Josh Hamilton – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
43 10 54 8 .268
Hamilton is probably one of the higher-upside high risk players you could draft. If he’s back to 100% healthy (both mentally and physically), he could be an elite outfielder again. But this remains a player who has missed significant time in 2 of the last 3 seasons. And while I do have to remind myself that he is still developing, I’m averse to the risk in this case. I’ll let someone else take the chance on him. If he does perform to his potential, he could post an 85 run, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 15 steal season with a .280 average. But the odds of that seem really low to me.


39. Alfonso Soriano – CHC
R HR RBI SB AVG
64 20 55 9 .241
The Cubs would probably like a do-over on this contract. Soriano missed quite a bit of time last season due to injury, and will look to rebound in 2010. His batting average should improve, as he posted a BABIP about 20-25 points lower than his career norms. I think that he’s more likely to have a similar season to 2009, with probably about 80 RBI instead of 55, and a few more homeruns as well. But I think that his days as a top-10 outfielder are over, and I don’t think he steals more than 15 bases this season. At this point he’s just not quite the same player he once was.


40. Brad Hawpe – COL
R HR RBI SB AVG
82 23 86 1 .285
Hawpe is always knocked as a player who benefits from playing at Coors Field, but the dropoff between home and away does not seem that severe to me. (.297/.397/520 at home, .275/.372/.518 on the road). Something to watch about Hawpe would be whether or not the Rockies consider moving him mid-season. There was rumor that he may get moved during the offseason, but remains with the Rockies. I think they’d have to hold onto him unless they’re blown away by whatever is offered, as he remains a solid power hitter. I don’t think the upside to get to 100 runs or 100 RBI is there for Hawpe, but he’s still likely to provide solid production in 4 categories. Probably a fair 2nd outfielder or great 3rd outfielder for a fantasy team.


41. Franklin Gutierrez – SEA
R HR RBI SB AVG
85 18 70 16 .283
Gutierrez quietly had a very solid season last year. he’s not going to provide top-tier stats in any category, but he will provide you with value in all 5 categories. I think he has the potential to post a 20-20 season at some point in his career, but I’m not convinced it will be this season. But he should still give you about 15 HR and 15 steals to go with a solid batting average and run totals.


42. Denard Span – MIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
97 8 68 23 .311
Span finally got consistent playing time, and made great use of it. Span probably drops slightly in batting average this season, but we’re talking about him still being around .300, so it’s not really that much of a drop. He’s not likely to be a power hitter, probably providing no more than the 8 homeruns he had last season. But if you pair him with someone like Adam Lind or Adam Dunn, he’s going to be a great balance and give you solid production from a 3rd outfielder.


43. Juan Rivera – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
72 25 88 0 .287
Rivera was healthy for the most part in 2009, and his numbers really showed it. He cemented himself as a starter in the Angels’ outfield last year, and with the trade of Gary Matthews Jr., this is unlikely to change. I think he’s going to provide similar numbers again in 2010. Reasonable power, and some solid run-production. He’s what I would call a “bland” player, in that none of the stats that he provides really stand out. But you need players like this on your team just like you need the ones that provide elite values.


44. Juan Pierre – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
57 0 31 30 .308
Pierre has finally been freed from the bench in Los Angeles, and will be a starter in Chicago. I don’t think he’s going to give you 60-70 steals anymore, but I can see him getting into the 50′s potentially with the Sox. He could very well get back to around 85-90 runs as well. And you should know better than to expect even a single homerun. But he’s likely to give you a solid batting average to go with those other stats. I think he adjusts to the American League just fine, as he has quite a track record of performance at this point in his career.


45. Nolan Reimold – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
49 15 45 8 .279
As you get down into the 40s for outfielders, you’re mostly looking for upside. Or maybe that’s just me. Reimold only played a little more than half the season, and I think he could pretty easily post a 20-15 season with a full season. The upside is 85 runs, 25 HR, 85 RBI, 15 steals. Something to watch for is how the playing time sorts itself out. Reimold is probably going to lose a little playing time to Felix Pie, but could also see some time at 1B or DH as well. I can’t imagine that the Orioles think that Pie is the better long-term play, but I don’t imagine that they’ll ask me either. Not that they should.



From here, you’re really going to be looking for specific skills or stats. You’ve got lots of steals out there if you need them: Rajai Davis (41), Nyjer Morgan (42), Dexter Fowler (27). But for me, I tried to avoid players who didn’t provide at least reasonable value in 3-4 categories. There’s still some upside plays, with Vladimir Guerrero and Jay Bruce both having the potential to be special this season.

The one thing that I did notice is this: More than any other position, nearly every outfielder provides value with stolen bases. This seems unusual to me, and it’s something to keep in mind when you’re drafting. There are a lot of positions that don’t provide speed particularly well, but outfield is not one of them.

Tomorrow I will continue on with my fantasy previews, with the first half of my starting pitcher rankings.