Tag Archives: Ben Zobrist

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.

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Statistical Analysis: FB/GB/LD Rates


Looking at the end results of an at bat can be misleading sometimes. Not all singles are created equally. This is where batted ball data can come into play.

FB (Fly Ball) Rate: The percentage of batted balls which are considered flyballs. To me, this is judged as any ball that a fielder can take time and get undet to make a play on.

GB (Ground Ball) Rate: The percentage of batted balls considered ground balls. This one is pretty self-explanatory, as it is any batted ball which hits the ground prior to having the opportunity for a fielder to make a play. It also must hit the ground in the infield.

LD (Line Drive) Rate: The percentage of batted balls considered to be line drives. These are generally the most solidly hit balls, and have a much better chance of resulting in a positive outcome for the hitter.

What can these ratios tell us?

Generally, the higher a player’s LD ratio is, the more likely they are to have success as a hitter. Since line drives are generally the best hit balls, they are more likely to lead to success.

Home run hitters tend to have higher LD and FB rates,and speedy hitters tend to be more successful if they have higher GB rates, as this tends to allow them to use their speed to their advantage. Let’s look at some examples:

Aaron Hill hit 36 HR in 2009, easily doubling his previous career high of 17, set in 2007.

2007: .291, 17 HR, .459 SLG – 20.8% LD, 40.3% GB, 38.9% FB
2009: .286, 36 HR, .499 SLG – 19.6% LD, 39.5% GB, 41% FB

The key to notice with Hill is that his FB% went up by 2% from the 2007 season. While this is not a substantial enough jump to completely show the home run total as a fluke, it is something to watch with him as his previous full seasons he had not hit above 36% flyballs.

Ben Zobrist had a breakout season in 2009, hitting 27 HR, also more than double his previous high of 12 in 2008 (albeit in reduced playing time).

2009: .292, 27 HR, .543 SLG, 20% LD, 41.5% GB, 38.5% FB

For Zobrist, it was his line drive % which tells us his story. In 2008, Zobrist had only 13.5% line drives, while he had been at around 20% or higher previously in his career. Since arriving in the Majors (albeit briefly) in 2006, he had been reducing his GB rate, and seeing improvement in both FB and LD as a result. By reducing his GB%, he was making more solid contact and seeing improved results as a by-product.

How can we use this information?

Realistically, this data is best used in conjunction with BABIP to help determine the likelihood a player will repeat the statistics they had in the previous season.

What about using these stats for pitchers?

Pitchers have, realistically, the opposite goal and can see what kind of success they are having based on how low their LD% is. Odds are that if hitters are not hitting line drives, they are not making good contact, and as a result are less likely to reach safely.

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.

Fantasy Preview – Shortstop


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 15 Shortstops for 2010

1. Hanley Ramirez – FLA
R HR RBI SB AVG
101 24 106 27 .342
Ramirez set career highs in batting average and runs batted in in 2009, and is still only 26 years old heading into the season. Ramirez provides excellent value in all 5 categories, and I could see him potentially getting back into 30-30 range this season as well. While I think that the batting average would suffer somewhat with an increase in power, he’s still far and away the best shortstop for fantasy purposes coming into the 2010 season.


2. Troy Tulowitzki – COL
R HR RBI SB AVG
101 32 92 20 .297
Tulowitzki has been a bit of a mixed bag the last few seasons, as I’m sure owners who had him in 2008 would attest. As a result, he fell on draft day last year, and 2009 owners got a great value out of Troy. Tulowitzki is also another young shortstop (still only 25), and could conceivably see more growth as both a power hitter and a run producer. I think he can very easily achieve numbers similar to his 2009 season again.


3. Jimmy Rollins – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
100 21 77 31 .250
Rollins will look to rebound this season, as he had a terrible first half of the season. Dragging down his average last season was his batting average on balls in play (.251), which if it regresses closer to the mean, should improve his average between 20 and 30 points. I think that the rest of the numbers are probably pretty close to spot on for a 2010 season as well, with potentially a few more steals due to being on base more often.


4. Ben Zobrist – TAM
Also qualifies at 2B and OF
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 27 91 17 .297
I talked about Zobrist in the 2B preview. I think that the positional flexibility puts him slightly ahead of players with similar numbers at this position. I also think he’s going to have to be drafted slightly higher than his stats would normally suggest.


5. Derek Jeter – NYY
R HR RBI SB AVG
107 18 66 30 .334
Jeter was a bit of a shocker last season, as he posted numbers that approached his career high in multiple categories, all at the age of 35. I think he was partially helped by the new Yankee Stadium, but I also think that Jeter can post similar numbers again this year. The power may drop slightly (think 15 instead of 18), but the average is not that far out of his normal range, and neither is the speed or runs. The Yankee lineup is going to create a lot of runs, and Jeter near the top of the order will be in line to score a lot of them as well.


6. Jose Reyes – NYM
R HR RBI SB AVG
18 2 15 11 .279
Nearly everyone who drafted Jose Reyes last year was hurt pretty badly as a result of it. Shut down by a leg injury, Reyes played in only 36 games last season, and posting reasonable stats for him in that time. All reports seem to indicate that Reyes is back to 100%, and if so, is a threat to steal 50 bases and hit 15 homers again. Watch for reports during spring training regarding his ability to run. If there are problems during spring training with that, I’d be extremely concerned. I have him ranked here because of the upside related to that speed.


7. Jason Bartlett – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
90 14 66 30 .320
Bartlett posted an excellent season for the Rays last year, posting career highs in all 5 categories. Of some concern to me are two peripheral statistics. His line-drive percentage spiked to 26%, from a career mark of around 20%. Also, his BABIP was a career high .364, up from his 2008 season mark of .330. The speed appears legitimate, although I would draft Bartlett with caution. If you expect him to post a similar season to 2009, you could be in for a rude awakening.


8. Elvis Andrus – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
72 6 40 33 .267
Andrus posted an excellent rookie season last year, and should see some growth potential this season. Andrus will enter the 2010 season at only 21 years old, but I think he will have the potential to score more runs, and even see a slight improvement in his steals and batting average as well. I don’t believe he has yet begun to approach his potential.


9. Marco Scutaro – BOS
R HR RBI SB AVG
100 12 60 14 .282
Scutaro improved on his 2008 campaign by cementing himself in the discussion for fantasy shortstops. He’s not likely to provide a huge amount of homers or steals, but will provide value in all 5 categories. I think that the move to Boston, with their better lineup and with the Green Monster in LF will help him, as he tended to pull most of his homeruns last year. I think that he could conceivably score more runs and have more RBI as well. Even at 34, I think there is still some upside in Scutaro.


10. Alexei Ramirez – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
71 15 68 14 .277
Ramirez improved on his plate discipline last season, and while it didn’t show in his batting average or power, it bodes well for him to continue to improve. I think that Ramirez has the potential to post a 20-20 season, although I am not 100% sure it will be this season. I’d be pretty happy with the season he posted last year. He’s probably going to fall closer to where he should be drafted this year, due to the loss of the positional flexibility he had coming into the 2009 season. But he’s still a solid value shortstop, and owners should be pretty happy with the results he provides.


11. Ryan Theriot – CHC
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 7 54 21 .284
The Riot posted a solid season last year, but there is something of some concern I noted in some of his other statistics. 2009 was the first season that his walk total was substantially lower than his strikeout total (51 BB/93 K). This was also easily the highest strikeout total he’s had as a Major Leaguer. I think that if he can cut down the strikeouts back toward the totals he has posted in the past (50, 58), his average could approach .300 again. Which would be really helpful, as I don’t believe he’s going to necessarily hit more than 5 homers this season.


12. Asdrubal Cabrera – CLE
Also qualifies at 2B
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 6 68 17 .308
I also wrote about Cabrera in my 2B rankings. I think he provides a good value at SS, and will provide some value in all 5 categories. He seems to be getting a lot of hype this offseason, so he may end up being drafted earlier than expected.


13. Miguel Tejada – BAL
Will qualify at 3B after 5 starts
R HR RBI SB AVG
83 14 86 5 .313
I actually didn’t write up Tejada at 3B, as I thought his value wasn’t that high compared to some of the other players at the position. Tejada seems unlikely to post more than about 15 homers at this point, but should be the beneficiary of more chances to score and drive in runs in the Orioles lineup. The average should stay similar, and the positional flexibility he will possess after the first week of the season will be a nice bonus as well. But I don’t think he’s going to approach the numbers he posted in his MVP season unless he starts counting other players’ stats as his own.


14. Alcides Escobar – MIL
R HR RBI SB AVG
20 1 11 4 .304
Escobar has been handed the starting SS job in Milwaukee after the trade of J.J. Hardy. He looks to be a speedster, who I could see stealing 30-40 bases with the playing time he’s going to receive. Do remember though that he is still a rookie, and will likely see some struggles as a result. Over the span of the season, he should approach 90 runs and a .290 batting average. There’s some upside here, but he’s probably not likely to become either Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins for a couple of years, if ever.


15. Cliff Pennington – OAK
R HR RBI SB AVG
27 4 21 7 .279
Another upside play, Pennington looks to me like a threat to steal 20+ bases in a full season. He’s unlikely to show a lot of power, as the 7 homeruns he hit last year between AAA and the Majors was his career high. Another thought of some concern would be the fact that the A’s aren’t exactly well known for producing a whole lot of runs. At this point in the rankings though, I’d rather have some upside, and Pennington does have some.


After my top 15, there’s still some potentially useful players. J.J Hardy of the Twins stands out as someone to monitor during spring training. This is a player who posted back to back 20+ homer seasons back in 2007-2008. If you’re still looking at this point for a shortstop, Stephen Drew and Yunel Escobar will provide some value in most categories without necessarily killing you in others. In the speed demon group, you’ve got Everth Cabrera, who is a cheap source of steals. You may have noticed a specific “name” player who I haven’t really mentioned at this point, and that’s Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers. Furcal, to me, looks like a player who has transitioned into a better real-life player than fantasy player. He does provide some value though, and is another player to keep an eye on during the season.

Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the American League Central this week, starting with the Chicago White Sox.

Team Preview – Tampa Bay Rays


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Kelly Shoppach SP 1 James Shields
1B Carlos Pena SP 2 Matt Garza
2B Ben Zobrist SP 3 Jeff Niemann
3B Evan Longoria SP 4 David Price
SS Jason Bartlett SP 5 Wade Davis
LF Carl Crawford Bullpen
CF B.J. Upton CL Rafael Soriano
RF Matt Joyce RP J.P. Howell
DH Pat Burrell RP Dan Wheeler
Bench RP Grant Balfour
IF Sean Rodriguez RP Randy Choate
C Dioner Navarro RP Andy Sonnanstine

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
C Kelly Shoppach Trade (CLE) 2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (PIT)
RP Rafael Soriano Trade (ATL) RP Troy Percival Free Agency

Top Prospects: Desmond Jennings (OF), Jeremy Hellickson (P), Tim Beckham (SS)

2009 Review

The Rays were riding high off of their improbable World Series appearance in 2008, and expectations were high for repeat success in 2009. While the Rays didn’t have quite the same success, posting an 84-78 record last season, there was lots of things to be really excited about.

The offense was led by the breakout season of Ben Zobrist. Zobrist played all over the field, mostly at 2B, SS, and RF, and hit everywhere he played. He posted a .297/.405/.543 line with 27 HR, 91 RBI, and 17 SB. A rather amazing season, especially when the Rays were expected to be led by 1B Carlos Pena (39 HR, 100 RBI), 3B Evan Longoria (.281, 33 HR, 113 RBI), and LF Carl Crawford (.305, 15 HR, 60 SB).

The pitching staff was inconsistent, and really appeared to be the reason that the Rays didn’t return to the playoffs. The only starters to post sub-4.00 eras were rookie Jeff Niemann (13-6, 3.94), and Matt Garza (8-12, 3.95). The late season trade of Scott Kazmir was a bit curious, but the Rays had decided at that point that they would not catch the Red Sox, and were able to get a pretty good package for a still very young pitcher.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Rays will look to make another playoff run this season, acquiring C Kelly Shoppach to help address a lack of offensive production behind the plate. They also helped to solidify the back end of their bullpen with the acquisition of Rafael Soriano to be the closer. This is a team that would probably win the Central division on a consistent basis if they were in it, but unfortunately for them, they are not. The records they have posted in spite of having to play the Yankees and Red Sox 19 times each are a credit to manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman.

I think that they will be in the hunt for the majority of the season, but are going to need some luck to catch the Red Sox or the Yankees. Something to watch for throughout the season is how long it takes for the Rays to call up top prospect Desmond Jennings. If Matt Joyce struggles early on, look for him to get the call sooner. Something else is the impending free agency of LF Carl Crawford. Rays’ fans are hopeful that the sides will work out a contract extension before he hits free agency, but the Rays are likely to be priced out of the market if he gets there. As a result, the Rays could look to move Crawford if they fall out of the race early on and don’t believe that they will be able to get anything for him besides the 2 draft picks for type A free agents.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

OF Carl Crawford was a top-tier outfielder with his 60 stolen bases last season, although he had a precipitous drop off in success after the first two months of last season. Nearly every other everyday player for the Rays is ownable in standard fantasy leagues, with 2B/SS/OF Ben Zobrist and 3B Evan Longoria being the cream of the crop. The pitching staff also is mostly ownable, although I personally have been burned by James Shields one too many times for me to recommend him. Garza should have a better won-loss record this season, and Niemann will hopefully build on his excellent rookie campaign.

Prediction for 2010

The Rays need a bit of luck to help get them past Boston and New York, and should be in this race until very late in the season, possibly even the last weekend. Unfortunately, I think that they’re going to come up a bit short, and have another excellent season that ends with no games in the postseason.

88-74, 3rd in the AL East

Fantasy Preview – Second Basemen


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 15 Second Basemen for 2010

1. Chase Utley – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
112 31 93 23 .282
Utley is coming off another excellent season, contributing in all 5 categories. I can see his batting average improving slightly this season, probably to the .290 range he has been near for his career. In addition, he will most likely approach 100 RBI again. The stolen base total was a career high last year, so I could see some slight regression there, but you’re still looking at a hitter who is going to provide 30 homers, 100 rbi, 100 runs scored, 15-20 stolen bases, and a batting average approaching .300. All at a position that doesn’t have very many players who contribute in all those categories.

2. Ian Kinsler – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
101 31 86 31 .253
Kinsler is actually not very far behind Utley in my book. A 30-30 season last year, he set career highs in both categories. His batting average was unusually low, dragged down in part due to a low batting average on balls in play (.245). He should see some improvement to that number, as he regresses back toward the mean. Look for Kinsler to hit 25-30 HR, drive in 90+ runs, and steal 25+ bases again. The potential for Utley lite.

3. Ben Zobrist – TAM
Also qualifies at SS and OF
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 27 91 17 .297
Zobrist was a player last year who won a lot of leagues for his owners. He was a huge surprise, posting career highs in nearly every category, all while splitting time between 2B, SS, and RF. I have to imagine that he’s going to see at least some regression, simply due to the league adjusting to him slightly. However, his BABIP last season (.330) is not out of the range of repeatable, and the fact that he remains eligible at all 3 positions make him a huge asset to any team. I wouldn’t draft him earlier than Utley or Kinsler, but that flexibility really moves him in front of other 2B in my opinion.

4. Brandon Phillips – CIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
78 20 98 25 .276
Phillips is another player who, year in and year out, performs well. While he seems less and less likely to post another 30-30 season, he has gone 20-20 in each of the last two seasons. Having Orlando Cabrera to potentially hit in front of him in the lineup should also help some of his other totals, specifically RBI. Very quietly, I think he’ll post another 20-20 season, and potentially break through with 100+ RBI as well. He doesn’t have the name recognition of Utley or Kinsler, but he’s still a very good 2B, especially for fantasy purposes.

5. Brian Roberts – BAL
R HR RBI SB AVG
110 16 79 30 .283
Roberts has always been known for providing stolen bases and runs to fantasy owners, along with a few homeruns and some rbi. Interestingly, Roberts posted his 3rd season with 50+ doubles last year. I think that this could potentially help his homerun total as well, but he’s probably not going to get to 20 or more in a season. But a 15 homer, 30 stolen base, 100+ run hitter who will probably drive in at least 55-60 runs and post a .280 batting average? That’s definitely in the realm of possibility again for Roberts. And at 2B, you’re not likely to find a whole lot of players that will do that either.

6. Dan Uggla – FLA
R HR RBI SB AVG
84 31 90 2 .243
Uggla is an excellent power hitter. He’s going to drive in a lot of runs as a result of this. However, he doesn’t provide any value in terms of speed, and is almost always going to be a drag on your batting average. If you can get him paired with a high-speed, high-average type player at a different position, you’ll end up with some excellent value. It seems to me like you’re going to have to draft him sooner than his actual value would be. But if you need power, he’s your guy. Watch, as there remains a possibility that he gets traded still this season.

7. Aaron Hill – TOR
R HR RBI SB AVG
103 36 108 6 .286
I’m not really sure what to make of Aaron Hill. 36 homeruns is nothing to ignore, but I am not sure he is able to repeat that. Of his 36 homers last season, he pulled 31 to left field, and 4 to center. He’s a dead-pull hitter at this point, and I’m not sure that the league doesn’t catch up and adjust how they pitch him as a result. I ranked him here because I think he’s going to be closer to 20 homers than 30 this upcoming season. He’s still likely to provide a .280 batting average, score near 100 runs and drive in near 100 as well, which still makes him a valueable 2B. I just wouldn’t draft him expecting him to provide 35+ again.

8. Dustin Pedroia – BOS
R HR RBI SB AVG
115 15 72 20 .296
Pedroia is another second baseman who’s going to provide you with excellent numbers in a couple of categories (runs, stolen bases), and passable numbers in the rest. He seems likely to have another season with around 15 homers and 15-20 stolen bases, with a huge amount of runs scored, and a solid batting average as well. He’s another player who I think could be drafted higher than his value predicates, partially because of the fact that he is on the Red Sox. That said, he’s a solid fantasy second baseman, and won’t really kill you in any of the 5 categories.

9. Gordon Beckham – CHW
Also qualifies at 3B, Will qualify at 2B after 5 starts
R HR RBI SB AVG
58 14 63 7 .270
Beckham won’t qualify at 2B to start the season, but the White Sox have made it clear that they want him to be their 2B going forward. As a result, I ranked him here, as he will definitely provide more value as a 2B once he does qualify. Beckham only played in 103 games last season, not being called up until June. In a full season, I can see him posting a 20 homer season with double digit stolen bases as well. If you can find someone to play there for that first week of the season, you should be pretty happy with the production Beckham will give you the rest of the time.

10. Robinson Cano – NYY
R HR RBI SB AVG
103 25 85 5 .320
Cano posted career highs in homers and runs last season, and I think that was due in part to the new Yankee stadium. I think Cano can probably repeat the run total, but will probably drop back to around 20 homers. He has provided a great batting average in most seasons, and is probably a reasonable expectation to hit around .300 again this season. A good solid value 2B.

11. Jose Lopez – SEA
R HR RBI SB AVG
69 25 96 3 .272
The first thing that came to my mind when I looked at Jose Lopez was that I generally am not a fan of him as a fantasy player. And after looking back on the stats, I’m not entirely sure why that is. He posted a career high in homers last season (25), partially due to an increase in his fly-ball % (44% vs. career avg of 37%). However, he drives in a lot of runs, scores a solid amount of runs, and will usually hit for a decent average. There’s not a lot of upside to be had with Lopez, but he’s still a viable 2B option in nearly all leagues.

12. Asdrubal Cabrera – CLE
Also qualifies at SS
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 6 68 17 .308
Cabrera seems primed to improve on last season, and looks like a really good sleeper. He’s not likely to hit more than about 7 or 8 homeruns in a season, but he’s likely to give an excellent batting average and approach 20 stolen bases also. Throw in the additional positional eligibility, and it moves him just slightly ahead of the next player on the list.

13. Ian Stewart – COL
Also qualifies at 3B
R HR RBI SB AVG
74 25 70 7 .228
Stewart is the beneficiary of the non-tendering of Garrett Atkins, as he should come into camp as the everyday 3B. However, the Rockies appear to have hedged their bet a little, bringing Melvin Mora in on a 1-year contract as well. Stewart is a good source of power, and his batting average should improve back towards the .260-.270 range. He’s not likely to provide more than the 7 steals he did last season, but any are a bonus really. Watch during spring training to see how his role plays out, as he may end up playing 2B instead, or even potentially on the bench at times as well.

14. Howie Kendrick – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
61 10 61 11 .291
Kendrick was sent down for part of the 2009 season, and came back and performed much better. With a full season of playing time, he could conceivably go for 15 homers and 15 stolen bases, while posting a high batting average as well. I ranked him this low due to the fact that I still have some concern about the fact that he needed time down in the minors to correct errors in his swing last year, and that it could conceivably happen again. He’s a definite upside pick though, as he could end up in the top 10 at 2B if he performs well.

15. Mark Ellis – OAK
R HR RBI SB AVG
52 10 61 10 .263
Ellis is another solid 2B that isn’t going to hurt you too much in any of the 5 categories. He’ll provide you with double-digit homers, steals, and usually between 50-60 runs and rbi along with a .260 average. Nothing particularly special, but nothing that’s going to kill you at the position either. Unfortunately, his lineup is not known for being particularly good at scoring runs, so those numbers are unlikely to improve as a result of that.


After my top 15, there’s not a whole lot out there. Probably the most interesting players left are Casey McGehee (MIL) and Rickie Weeks (MIL). However, McGehee is no lock for playing time at either 2B or 3B, and Weeks I simply do not trust to stay healthy. While some of the injuries have been very unusual, they seem to occur with unusual regularity to him.

Tomorrow I will be starting my series of team previews, with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday. The next fantasy preview will be on Saturday with my preview of the 3B position.

AL MVP in Review


The Baseball Writers announced their choice for the American League MVP today: Joe Mauer

The writers really nailed this one down, as Mauer went completely nuts this season. Despite missing nearly a month, he still lead the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. He set career highs in homeruns (28), rbis (96), hits (191), batting average (.365), OBP (.444), slugging % (.587), OPS (1.031). And all of this in addition to helping to guide the young Twins pitching staff, and leading the Twins to a division title.

The voting:

Mauer – 387 (27 first place)
Mark Teixeira – 225
Derek Jeter – 193
Miguel Cabrera – 171 (1)
Kendry Morales – 170
Kevin Youkilis – 150
Jason Bay – 78
Ben Zobrist – 34
Ichiro – 33
Chone Figgins – 31

I’m really happy with this result. Teixeira, Jeter, Cabrera, and Morales all had really great years, but in my opinion there is simply no way that the Twins have a .500 record, let along win their division without Mauer. I am really looking forward to hearing what he gets for his next contract, which could conceivably be in the $200 million range, and what he will do next season in a full season.