Tag Archives: Carlos Pena

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

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Season Preview: AL East


With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made.

Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96

Notable Additions

Baltimore – Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Justin Duchscherer

Boston – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler

New York – Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez

Tampa Bay – Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Felipe Lopez, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer

Toronto – Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Juan Rivera, Scott Podsednik, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis

Notable Losses

Baltimore – Kevin Millwood, Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Boston – Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Bill Hall

New York – Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood

Tampa Bay – Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit

Toronto – Vernon Wells, Shaun Marcum, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs

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Fantasy Rankings in Review – First Basemen


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 1B rankings.

My Preseason Rankings
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Prince Fielder
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Ryan Howard
6. Joey Votto
7. Mark Reynolds
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Kendry Morales
10. Adrian Gonzalez
11. Derrek Lee
12. Justin Morneau
13. Adam Dunn
14. Pablo Sandoval
15. Carlos Pena

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 15)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Paul Konerko
5. Adrian Gonzalez
6. Mark Teixeira
7. Aubrey Huff
8. Ryan Howard
9. Nick Swisher
10. Adam Dunn
11. David Ortiz
12. Martin Prado
13. Prince Fielder
14. Billy Butler
15. Adam LaRoche

I also mentioned Adam LaRoche, Paul Konerko, Billy Butler, Garrett Jones, Lance Berkman, Chris Davis, Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton, James Loney, Justin Smoak, and Chris Carter as players potentially having value this year.
From my preseason rankings, Kevin Youkilis (19), Derrek Lee (21), James Loney (24), and Justin Morneau (25) all finished in the top 25. Mark Reynolds, Kendry Morales, Pablo Sandoval, and Carlos Pena did not make the top 25 at the end of the season.
Free Agents: Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Troy Glaus, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena
What We Saw

Buster Posey’s season was better than anyone even thought. He finished at #23 in the 1B rankings for Yahoo, which is clearly an elite offensive position. Wow.

I thought Joey Votto would do extremely well this season, but clearly this was above and beyond what I thought either. I think he’s going to start next season as a top 10 player overall.

Talk about a walk year improvement. Paul Konerko went nuts this year, and finished with 39 homers and 112 rbi. He’s a free agent, and while they want him back in Chicago, it remains to be seen where he will end up. But he’s clearly not as done as we all thought he was.

Aubrey Huff is another free agent who should get paid this offseason after an excellent performance in San Francisco. Part of his value was having 7 stolen bases this season, which seems unlikely to continue. I just can’t convince myself that he’s particularly likely to repeat the overall performance in 2011.

Injuries really had an effect on the 1B depth, with Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, Justin Morneau, and Troy Glaus all missed time during the season. It didn’t help that players like Mark Reynolds, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena all struggled during the season.

Justin Morneau really concerns me for next season, due to the fact that he still has not been able to do any baseball activities since suffering that concussion in Toronto. He could potentially provide a very nice value for fantasy owners next year, but he won’t end up on any of my teams most likely.

Adrian Gonzalez will continue to be the topic of trade rumors throughout the offseason, and I think that if he gets traded to anywhere else practically, he’s going to provide even more offense than he did this season, which seems like it should be impossible.

Overall, some of these rankings were pretty easy (I’m pretty sure it takes no brains to rank Pujols at #1), but some of these players clearly underperformed (Fielder, Reynolds, Pena). I think that Youkilis would have finished above the #8 spot I had believed at the beginning of the season had he not gotten injured. Not a terrible job on these, but definitely some work to be done next season.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Mark Teixeira
6. Ryan Howard
7. Prince Fielder
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Paul Konerko
10. Adam Dunn

Original Draft Series: Team #9 – Texas Rangers


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

Team #9: Texas Rangers

General Managers(since 1994)

Tom Grieve (1994): 52-62
Doug Melvin (1995-2001): 568-548
John Hart (2002-2005): 311-337
Jon Daniels (2006-Current): 401-409

Team Performance

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

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Ivan Rodriguez Int’l FA – 1988 14+1 10 Gold Gloves, 10 All Star Appearances, 6 Silver Sluggers, 1999 AL MVP
1507 gm, .304/.341/.488, 217 HR, 842 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/28/02
1B Mark Teixeira 2001 – 1st Rd (5) 6 1 All-Star Appearances, 2 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers
693 gm, .283/.368/.533, 153 HR, 499 RBI, 11 SB
Traded to ATL – 7/31/07
2B Ian Kinsler
2003 – 17th Rd 7 2 All Star Appearances
591 gm, .282/.355/.469, 89 HR, 311 RBI, 101 SB
Currently with Org.
3B Edwin Encarnacion 2000 – 9th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CIN – 6/15/01
SS Fernando Tatis Int’l FA – 1992 6 155 gm, .264/.301/.378, 11 HR, 61 RBI, 9 SB Traded to STL – 7/31/98
LF Laynce Nix 2000 – 4th Rd 6 240 gm, .241/.278/.414, 28 HR, 112 RBI, 6 SB Traded to MIL – 7/28/06
CF Scott Podsednik 1994 – 3rd Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 10/8/95
RF Julio Borbon
2007 – 1st Rd (35) 3 145 gm, .281/.326/.368, 7 HR, 47 RBI, 29 SB Currently with Org.
DH Carlos Pena 1998 – 1st Rd (10) 3 22 gm, .258/.361/.500, 3 HR, 12 RBI Traded to OAK – 1/14/02
SP C.J. Wilson 2001 – 5th Rd 9 24-25, 3.84 ERA, 52 SV, 438.2 IP, 389 K, 199 BB Currently with Org.
SP Colby Lewis
1999 – 1st Rd (38) 5+1 21-23, 5.21 ERA, 331.2 IP, 281 K, 159 BB Currently with Org.
SP Edinson Volquez Int’l FA – 2001 6 3-11, 7.20 ERA, 80 IP, 55 K, 42 BB Traded to CIN – 12/21/07
SP Ryan Dempster
1995 – 3rd Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 8/8/96
SP John Danks 2003 – 1st Rd (9) 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CHW – 12/23/06
RP Derek Holland 2006 – 25th Rd 4 10-15, 6.00 ERA, 162 IP, 131 K, 57 BB Currently with Org.
RP Ramon Ramirez Int’l FA – 1996 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 6/4/98
RP Nick Masset 2000 – 8th Rd 4 0-0, 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 4 K, 2 BB Traded to CHW – 11/23/06
RP Tommy Hunter 2007 – 1st Rd (54) 3 18-10, 4.62 ERA, 200.2 IP, 115 K, 57 BB Currently with Org.
RP Danny Herrera 2006 – 45th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CIN – 12/21/07
CL Darren Oliver 1988 – 3rd Rd 10+2+1 54-48, 5.12 ERA, 892.1 IP, 576 K, 389 BB Currently with Org.
BN Travis Hafner
1996 – 31st Rd 6 23 gm, .242/.329/.387, HR, 6 RBI Traded to CLE – 12/6/02
BN Aaron Harang 1999 – 6th Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 11/17/00
BN Justin Smoak 2008 – 1st Rd (11) 2 70 gm, .209/.316/.353 8 HR, 34 RBI Traded to SEA – 7/9/10
BN Chris Davis 2006 – 5th Rd 4 224 gm, .249/.299/.460, 38 HR, 117 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
BN Hank Blalock
1999 – 3rd Rd 10 2 All Star Appearances
910 gm, .269/.329/.465, 152 HR, 535 RBI, 13 SB
Left via Free Agency – 11/5/09

June Amateur Draft

The Rangers have had some pretty good success in the draft, with Mark Teixeira being the clear top performer from that group of players. Ian Kinsler was a very nice late round pick who has turned out really well. Some of the players haven’t quite turned out when they were moved (Dempster, Danks, Harang, Pena), but some of the better players that they have traded have really returned a lot of value. The Teixeira trade alone netted them 5 great prospects, many of whom have turned into solid major league players as well. Trading Smoak appears to have already had dividends as they acquired Cliff Lee as a part of it, and Nix was traded to acquire Carlos Lee for a stretch run a few seasons ago.

International Free Agency

The Rangers have done pretty well in international free agency as well, with Ivan Rodriguez being the clear cut top player acquired in that manner. Hard to argue when he’s going to be a sure fire Hall of Famer. There’s not a ton of other international free agents from the system, but Edinson Volquez was traded (along with Danny Herrera) to acquire AL MVP candidate Josh Hamilton, who has become critical to the success of the team at this point.

Overall Grade

B+. There are a lot of excellent players who have come through this system, and some very solid players who were used to acquire other important players. While they didn’t get a ton in return for players like Ryan Dempster, John Danks, and Scott Podsednik, the return for some of the better players (Teixeira, Volquez) has more than made up for it. The fact that they also have a lot of the same players in their system, and a very highly rated system of prospects coming tells me that the success they have been having this season should continue for years to come.

Fun with Old Copies of BA’s Almanac (2003 edition) – Part 4


Part 4 of the 2003 BA Almanac Series takes a look at their 2002 Top 100 Prospects list. The list in the book is just that: A list, with each player listed, and the highest level that they reached in the 2002 season. It’s actually really interesting to me to look at it, as it can give further perspective on the level of risk involved with any prospect.

My Thoughts on the List

Out of the top 100, 32 were what I would consider to be solid Major Leaguers. These are, in my mind’s eye, players who started in the Major Leagues, and would have for a lot of teams had they been with them instead. The interesting thing to note is how many of them did this with teams they were not listed with. These include:

Looking at the top 5, all 5 of them had at least some large amount of playing time in the Majors, but they’ve all had some interesting paths in their careers:

1. Josh Beckett (FLA) – Beckett helped pitch the Marlins to a World Series victory in 2003, and provided solid seasons for the team through 2005 before being traded to the Red Sox in part to acquire future face-of-the-franchise Hanley Ramirez.

2. Mark Prior (CHC) – Prior burst onto the scene in 2002 with 147 strikeouts in only 116 innings pitched, and went even further in 2003 with an 18-6 record and 243 strikeouts in 211 innings pitched to help lead the Cubs to the NLCS. Sadly, the pitcher who supposedly had “the perfect mechanics” apparently still could get injured. Baseball Reference kind of puts the perfect line to it unfortunately, as it says that his last game was on August 10, 2006. He is still trying to comeback, but at this point it remains to be seen if he will ever be able to get on a team again.

3. Hank Blalock (TEX) – Blalock was an All-Star in his second and third seasons with the Rangers, and hit 25 or more homeruns in 3 straight seasons during that time. Unfortunately for him, injuries also derailed his career to some extent, as he has missed time in each of the last 4 seasons. He did rebound nicely in 2009 with 25 homeruns in only 123 games, but hit just .234 in that time. He was recently released by the Rays, and is still looking for a job.

4. Sean Burroughs (SD) – Burroughs was best known for playing in the Little League World Series coming into his Major League career, and unfortunately that accomplishment could still be his crowning baseball achievement. He did hit for a nice average a couple of times, but never really developed the power that it was thought he would. He was out of baseball by 2007.

5. Carlos Pena (OAK) – Pena was traded during the 2002 season by the Athletics after getting off to a slow start. He was with Detroit for a couple of seasons, who (along with the Boston Red Sox) both chose to release Pena at one point or another. These moves have been Tampa’s gain, as he went to Tampa and immediately became an MVP candidate (2 top 10 finishes in a row), and has hit 30 homeruns or more in each of the 3 full seasons there.

It is interesting to me to see how some of them were such colossal misses. With prospects, it’s bound to happen, and there are some pretty stunning examples of players who just never lived up to the hype:

  • 9 – Drew Henson (NYY)
  • 14 – Ryan Anderson (SEA)
  • 16 – Nick Neugebauer (MIL)
  • 25 – Ty Howington (CIN)
  • 32 – Corwin Malone (CHW)

I have to be honest with you, I’ve never heard of either Howington or Malone. Looking at their profiles on Baseball Reference can help to explain that a bit – they never played a day in the Major Leagues.

Statistical Analysis: What is BABIP?


A term we hear a lot about when it comes to statistical analysis is BABIP. But what is BABIP, and how can it be used to help determine things about a player?

I had planned on writing about what I know about BABIP, but after reading this article, it is apparent I know less than I thought I did. So instead, I’m just going to suggest that if you are interested in this, you read this article by Tristan Cockcroft from ESPN’s Fantasy Draft Kit. It’s an excellent primer on the topic, and I’m not sure I honestly could say it any better or really add that much to it.

My biggest thing with BABIP is that it, like nearly all other statistics, don’t tell the whole story, but can help to give you an idea of something to look at when making distinctions about players. Let’s look at the top 5 and bottom 5 players in BABIP, and see what (if anything specific) we can discern about them.

Leaders from Fangraphs.com for 2009 season:

David Wright (.394 BABIP) – Wright hit .307 last season, which is well within his range of performance in the past. His BABIP was a bit higher than it had been in the past, previously ranging from .321 to .356 in the previous 4 seasons. With him, I am not entirely sure I am concerned about this, as he also saw a substantial drop in his home run total, and as a result would have had more balls in play. 10 additional homeruns (to bring his total for the season to 20) would have dropped his BABIP to .376, which while still higher than any previous season, would have been closer to the range he had hit in previously.

Ichiro Suzuki (.384 BABIP) – Ichiro hit .352 in 2009, which was one of his highest averages in his career. For him though, his range of BABIPs since arriving in 2001 leads me to believe that while he may have been slightly lucky, it was not that far out of his range of expected numbers. His BABIP range since 2001: .316 to .399

Hanley Ramirez (.379 BABIP) – Hanley hit for his best batting average to date, posting a .342 batting average in 2009. He had hit over .300 in each of the previous 2 seasons, and posted BABIPs from .329 to .353. There may be a little luck in there, but I think it would require more investigation into Hanley specifically to see if there is something else in there that helped him in 2009.

Joe Mauer (.373 BABIP) – Mauer had his best season to date, posting a .365 batting average. Mauer has never posted a batting average for a full season under .293, and as a result his BABIP has also never dropped below .319 during that time. While .373 was his highest BABIP so far, he has consistently posted BABIPs over .320, and seems unlikely to see a particularly large regression in 2010.

Joey Votto (.372 BABIP) – Votto completed only his 2nd full season in 2009, and improved his batting average by 25 points from his 2008 season (.297 to .322). However, his BABIP spiked from .328 to .372. While I don’t necessarily think he’s going to drop off the face of the earth for batting average, I could see him potentially regressing back closer to .300 than to .320. Another player who may have other factors playing into his statistics that aren’t as easily seen.

Bottom 5 (Regulars only):

Ian Kinsler (.241 BABIP) – Kinsler hit .253 for the season overall, and had posted BABIPs of .304, .279, and .334 in his previous 3 seasons. For me, I would think that he was probably at least a bit unlucky last season, as he was 30 points below his career low of .279. When he returns to the field of play, I could see a rebound back toward the .270 range for his batting average as his BABIP gets closer to the .300 range he had been averaging.

Carlos Pena (.250 BABIP) – Pena hit .227, which was low even for him. In his previous two full seasons, his BABIP had been .297 and .298 respectively. The part that isn’t seen as easily is the fact that in those two seasons, his batting average was .282 and .247. So while he also appears to have been a bit unlucky, it is hard to discern which of the two batting averages is more likely to be the one you’ll get from him.

Jimmy Rollins (.251 BABIP) – Rollins hit .250 last season, which was down from his career average of .275. Over the 6 seasons prior to 2009, his BABIP had never been below .281, and his batting average below .261. This is a player who has shown for the most part a specific range of what can be expected out of him, and should rebound this season as well.

Yuniesky Betancourt (.256 BABIP) – Betancourt hit ,245 last season, but had previously shown himself to be able to hit .280-.290. During those same seasons, his BABIP had been between .289 and .308. Another player who may have been a bit unlucky last season at the plate.

Aubrey Huff (.260 BABIP) – Huff hit .241 last season, well off of his career average of .282. His BABIP range doesn’t necessarily tell us everything about him though, as he has varied widely over the previous 8 seasons, ranging from .267 to .315.

Overall, I think that BABIP can help you to look at whether a player may be due for a regression or an improvement, but it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Over time, players will generally stay within a specific range of performance, and if that performance is high, BABIP may not tell you anything of use.

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 – First 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 First Basemen for 2010

1. Albert Pujols – STL
R HR RBI SB AVG
124 47 135 16 .327
If someone wants to try to argue that Pujols shouldn’t be the #1 overall player in fantasy baseball coming into the season, they’re free to do so. However, I’m not going to try that. He provides an excellent batting average, excellent power and runs batted in, scores a ton of runs, and even managed to steal 16 bases last season. Even if he cuts the steals down, he’s far and away the top player in fantasy starting this season.


2. Miguel Cabrera – DET
R HR RBI SB AVG
96 34 103 6 .324
It’s hard to remember sometimes that Cabrera will only be turning 27 years old this season. He is about as consistent as they come for a .320+ batting average, 30+ homers, and 100+ rbi. He had a bit of a tumultuous off-season, but look for his focus to be good as always when he hits the field again.


3. Prince Fielder – MIL
R HR RBI SB AVG
103 46 141 2 .299
Prince has really vaulted himself into another category of first basemen here, as the power and rbi totals were both at the top of the leaderboards for last season. The high average was a bit of a jump from his previous best, and although he may have a slight regression, I can’t imagine it’s going to be any more than 10 points. The only reason I don’t have Fielder ahead of Cabrera is that you could end up with the Fielder who gave you 34 homers and 86 rbi in 2008 as opposed to the monster from 2009. Another consistent season along those lines would be enough to move him ahead in my books.


4. Mark Teixeira – NYY
R HR RBI SB AVG
103 39 122 2 .292
With Big Tex, you draft him and remind yourself that he’s going to produce amazingly for 5 months. It’s that first month that you have to suck up and deal with to get it though. Last April was not so great for Tex again (.200, 3 HR, 10 RBI), but still didn’t really affect his season totals. Teixeira is another player who is pretty much a lock for 30 HR/100 RBI every season, and in the Yankees lineup will provide high amounts of runs as well. A great, solid fantasy first baseman.


5. Ryan Howard – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
105 45 141 8 .277
The only real “flaws” in his game as a fantasy player are a slight lack of speed (8 stolen bases last year was the first time over 1 in a season), and that he’s not a .300 hitter. But do you really need him to be with the rest of those numbers? He’s going to score a lot of runs in the high-powered Phillies lineup, and he’s the biggest masher they have. He’s a very good bet for 40 HR/120 RBI, which there’s not that many players that are going to give you that. And the average is definitely good considering all that, right?


6. Joey Votto – CIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
82 25 84 4 .322
This is where you tell me my wheels have come off, right? I can’t possibly have put Joey Votto above such luminaries as Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez, and Lance Berkman, right? Well, I have, and here’s why. Votto missed about 25 games last season due to off-days and the death of his father. When he was playing, he admitted himself that he was not himself, and was out of it while dealing with this and the social anxiety that came with it. And in spite of all these things, he still posted an excellent season. Which leads me to believe that he’s going to be even better this year. In spite of a high batting average on balls in play (.373), I think the power is legitimate. So I could see a 30 HR, .295 hitter instead of a 25 HR, .322 hitter. Still very good.


7. Mark Reynolds – ARI
Also qualifies at 3B
R HR RBI SB AVG
98 44 102 24 .260
I don’t think he’s the 40 homer run hitter necessarily, and I don’t think he’s going to turn into a pumpkin either. I can see a 30 homer, 20 steal season with a .250 average. The fact that he’s eligible at 3B also makes him a very nice option to have on your roster. He’s a nice upside play though, as he could potentially repeat the 40 homers as well.


8. Kevin Youkilis – BOS
Also qualifies at 3B
R HR RBI SB AVG
99 27 94 7 .305
Another personal favorite, Youkilis not only qualifies at two positions, but provides value in all 5 categories. Obviously, 7 steals isn’t a lot of value necessarily, but since you’re likely to get between 25-30 homers and almost 100 runs score with it, he’s a win-win. The numbers are all similar to his previous season’s numbers, so I’m fairly confident he can repeat them again. Especially with a Red Sox lineup that may actually have improved from last year’s version.


9. Kendry Morales – LAA
R HR RBI SB AVG
86 34 108 3 .306
Morales came into the league last season, and probably won quite a few leagues for his owners. Finally given regular playing time, Morales didn’t disappoint. I would normally be a bit concerned about a sophomore slump here, but I think that if he’s able to stay on the field all season like he did in 2009, he should have no problem producing similar numbers. Of some concern is the fact that the Angels lost leadoff man Chone Figgins via free agency, but I don’t believe that his RBI total will drop drastically as a result.


10. Adrian Gonzalez – SD
R HR RBI SB AVG
90 40 99 1 .277
It’s amazing how deep 1B is, with a 40 homerun hitter falling all the way to 10th on my rankings. Gonzalez provides no speed, and is unlikely to produce a higher batting average than he did last season. But the power is real, and could be epic if he gets traded midseason to anywhere that plays better than Petco Park. Something to track as the season progresses, as he hit 28 of his 40 homers away from Petco last season, along with a .306 average. If he does get traded, he could potentially vault into the top 5 of first basemen, or even higher.


11. Derrek Lee – CHC
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 35 111 1 .306
On a team that really didn’t do very well, Lee quietly had a very good season last year. Continuing this in 2010 would not really be that much of a stretch. The lineup for the Cubs is at least as good as it was last season, so RBI and R opportunities will probably remain similar. The home run total is not really out of range either, as he’s hit 30+ homers 4 times. Obviously, I’d love to see him start stealing bases like he has in the past, posting double-digit steal seasons 4 times as well. However, that ship may have sailed, and my lack of confidence in that to change leaves him here at 11.


12. Justin Morneau – MIN
R HR RBI SB AVG
85 30 100 0 .274
Kind of scary that my 12th best first baseman still had a bit of a down season, only hitting .274 and scoring 85 runs. The run total should improve with J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson added to the lineup. His batting average should improve some as well, but I’m not sold it will get all the way back to .300. But a 30 hr/100 rbi season should be expected out of him, and combined with all that, he could potentially have some upside here.


13. Adam Dunn – WAS
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 38 105 0 .267
Dunn is about as consistent as it gets also, with last year’s home run total (38) only being 2 less than he had hit in each of the previous 4 seasons. He’s going to give you nearly 40 homers, and 100 rbis every season. His run total should improve slightly due to the lineup for the Nationals improving with the addition of Pudge Rodriguez, although his batting average could see a drop back to the .250 range.


14. Pablo Sandoval – SF
Also qualifies at 3B
R HR RBI SB AVG
79 25 90 5 .330
Kung-Fu Panda had a breakout season last year, posting great value in 3 categories and solid value in the other 2. I think that with the improvements made to the Giants’ lineup this offseason, he could potentially reach both 100 runs scored and 100 rbi. I think his average may fall back to earth slightly, but will probably still be above .300. Odds are that you’ll end up using him at 3B for any fantasy team you own him on, but the additional flexibility is nice as well.


15. Carlos Pena – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 39 100 3 .227
Man, that batting average sure is ugly. But underneath it is a batting average on balls in play that was well below his career BABIP. So there should be a little improvement on that front. My only concern for the 2010 season is how he has recovered from the broken wrist that ended his season in 2009. If he’s 100% healthy, I can see him very easily returning to 40+ homers and driving in 120 this coming season. But the risk is what drops him down this far on my rankings.



Here’s the odd thing about the first base position. Even after the top 15, there are still definitely useful players if you don’t end up getting a top-tier guy early. You’ve got 20 home run hitters in Adam LaRoche (25), Paul Konerko (28), Billy Butler (21), Garrett Jones (21), Lance Berkman (25) Chris Davis (21), and Michael Cuddyer (32). You’ve got guys who drove in 80+ runs in Berkman (80), Todd Helton (86), Butler (93), Konerko (88), LaRoche (83), James Loney (90), and Cuddyer again (94). You’ve got .300 hitters in Helton (.325), Butler (.301), and Victor Martinez (.303). You even have a 10 steal guy in Garrett Jones. And that’s without even mentioning top-flight prospects like Justin Smoak (TEX) and Chris Carter (OAK).

My advice for this position is simple: Unless you’re getting one of the elite players (top 6 or so), you can probably wait, and see what your needs are as you progress through the draft. If you’re lacking power, it’s going to be there. If you’re looking for average, it’s going to be there too.

Sunday’s position for review: 2B