Tag Archives: Cliff Pennington

Fantasy Rankings in Review – Shortstop


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 SS rankings.

My Preseason Rankings
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Jimmy Rollins
4. Ben Zobrist
5. Derek Jeter
6. Jose Reyes
7. Jason Bartlett
8. Elvis Andrus
9. Marco Scutaro
10. Alexei Ramirez
11. Ryan Theriot
12. Asdrubal Cabrera
13. Miguel Tejada
14. Alcides Escobar
15. Cliff Pennington

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 15)
1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Derek Jeter
4. Alexei Ramirez
5. Jose Reyes
6. Stephen Drew
7. Alex Gonzalez
8. Marco Scutaro
9. Rafael Furcal
10. Ben Zobrist
11. Omar Infante
12. Juan Uribe
13. Miguel Tejada
14. Elvis Andrus
15. Ian Desmond

I also mentioned J.J. Hardy, Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar, and Everth Cabrera as potential deep league plays, and specifically to avoid Rafael Furcal.
From my preseason rankings, Cliff Pennington (19), Ryan Theriot (21), and Jason Bartlett (23) all finished in the top 25. Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Alcides Escobar all finished outside of the top 25.
Free Agents: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Juan Uribe

What We Saw

  • Despite missing part of the season, Troy Tulowitzki pretty clearly had the best season of anyone with SS eligibility. His September was definitely one to remember as well. I imagine we might see some rankings next year with him ahead of Hanley Ramirez, but I’m not sure I could go that far yet. But I definitely wouldn’t fault people who do that.
  • Derek Jeter had what was widely considered to be a down year for himself in 201, and still finished 3rd in Yahoo’s rankings. While the batting average was definitely down, he still had double digit steals and home runs, and scored 111 runs. Still a lot of value there.
  • So much for my thought that the fantasy value of Rafael Furcal was less than zero. Oops. He would have been higher up in the final rankings had he played more games, but I’m not sold he would have kept up that production if he had.
  • Jimmy Rollins is going to be a very nice value pick to some people next year, but I definitely don’t trust him to either stay healthy or to be productive when he is healthy. It is telling that he fell outside the top 25 at a position as shallow as SS.
  • Ian Desmond and Starlin Castro both strike me as players who will be in the top 15 for 2011, if not potentially top 10 players. They should improve with a full season under their belts.
  • Overall, the position is probably at one of its most shallow points. It seems to fall off pretty quick once you get past the top 5 or so, and you kind of end up with a lot of players who do 1 or 2 things, but not all 5.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Jose Reyes
4. Derek Jeter
5. Alexei Ramirez
6. Stephen Drew
7. Jimmy Rollins
8. Ian Desmond
9. Elvis Andrus
10. Starlin Castro

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Original Draft Series – Team # 22 – Oakland Athletics


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

Team #22: Oakland Athletics

General Managers(since 1994)

Sandy Alderson (1994-1997): 261-321
Billy Beane (1998-Current): 1051-891

Team Performance

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

My hometown Athletics generally tend to have spurts of excellence. They had 4 playoff appearances in a row from 2000-2003, and another in 2006. The Athletics generally have been able to develop some players, but the depressing part is that almost invariably they have moved these players to acquire younger, cheaper players in order to stay competitive.  All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Kurt Suzuki 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 410 gm, .272/.329/.404, 37 HR, 199 RBI, 11 SB, 176 R Currently with Org.
1B Jason Giambi 1992 – 2nd Rd 7 + 1 2000 AL MVP, 2 All Star Appearances
1036 gm, .300/.406/.531, 198 HR, 715 RBI, 9 SB, 640 R
Free Agency – 11/5/01
2B Bobby Crosby 2001 – 1st Rd (25) 8 2004 AL Rookie of the Year
677 gm, .238/.305/.378, 61 HR, 263 RBI, 34 SB, 320 R
Free Agency – 11/5/09
3B Miguel Tejada Int’l FA – 1993 10 2002 AL MVP, 1 All Star Appearances
936 gm, .270/.331/.460, 156 HR, 604 RBI, 49 SB, 574 R
Free Agency – 10/27/03
SS Cliff Pennington 2005 – 1st Rd (21) 5 164 gm, .253/.329/.367, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 20 SB, 68 R Currently with Org.
LF Ryan Ludwick 1999 – 2nd Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 1/14/02
CF Nick Swisher 2002 – 1st Rd (16) 5 458 gm, .251/.361/.464, 80 HR, 255 RBI, 4 SB, 267 R Traded to CHW – 1/3/08
RF Andre Ethier 2003 – 2nd Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to LAD – 12/13/05
DH Mark Teahen 2002 – 1st Rd (39) 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 6/24/04
SP Tim Hudson 1997 – 6th Rd 7 2 All Star Appearances
92-39, 3.30 ERA, 899 K, 382 BB, 1240.2 IP, 1.222 WHIP
Traded to ATL – 12/16/04
SP Barry Zito 1999 – 1st Rd (9) 7 2002 Cy Young Award, 3 All Star Appearances
102-63, 3.55 ERA, 1096 K, 560 BB, 1430.1 IP, 1.250 WHIP
Free Agency – 11/1/06
SP Dallas Braden 2004 – 24th Rd 6 18-27, 4.47 ERA, 231 K, 108 BB, 368.2 IP, 1.373 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Joe Blanton 2002 – 1st Rd (24) 6 47-46, 4.25 ERA, 431 K, 202 BB, 760.2 IP, 1.330 WHIP Traded to PHI – 7/17/08
SP Rich Harden 2000 – 17th Rd 8 36-19, 3.42 ERA, 523 K, 232 BB, 541.2 IP, 1.244 WHIP Traded to CHC – 7/8/08
RP Kevin Gregg 1996 – 15th Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Free Agency – 10/15/02
RP Vin Mazzaro 2005 – 3rd Rd 5 6-10, 5.30 ERA, 78 K, 52 BB, 120.2 IP, 1.732 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Tyson Ross 2008 – 2nd Rd 2 1-4, 5.77 ERA, 28 K, 16 BB, 34.1 IP, 1.485 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Brad Kilby 2005 – 29th Rd 5 1-0, 1.07 ERA, 28 K, 4 BB, 25.1 IP, 0.829 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Huston Street 2004 – 1st Rd (40) 4 2005 AL Rookie of the Year
21-12, 94 SV, 2.88 ERA, 271 K, 78 BB, 269 IP, 1.071 WHIP
Traded to COL – 11/10/08
CL Andrew Bailey 2006 – 6th Rd 4 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, 1 All Star Appearance
6-5, 39 SV, 1.84 ERA, 113 K, 31 BB, 112.1 IP, 0.899 WHIP
Currently with Org.
BN Trevor Cahill (SP) 2006 – 2nd Rd 4 16-15, 4.24 ERA, 132 K, 93 BB, 246 IP, 1.354 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Eric Chavez (3B) 1996 – 1st Rd (10) 14 6 Gold Gloves (3B), 1 Silver Slugger (3B)
1320 gm, .267/.343/.478, 230 HR, 787 RBI, 47 SB, 730 R
Currently with Org.
BN Ramon Hernandez (C) Int’l FA – 1994 9 1 All Star Appearance
595 gm, .253/.322/.400, 60 HR, 263 RBI, 241 R
Traded to SD – 11/26/03
BN Jeremy Bonderman (SP) 2001 – 1st Rd (26) 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to DET – 8/22/02
BN Travis Buck (OF) 2005 – 1st Rd (36) 5 167 gm, .255/.335/.432, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 7 SB, 74 R Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Athletics have had 32 draft picks in the first round since 1995, including the notorious Moneyball draft of 2002 where they had 7 picks. They’ve done reasonably well in the first round, with Barry Zito, Eric Chavez, Joe Blanton, Nick Swisher and Huston Street all showing as successes from the round. They have also seen some a lot of successful players out of the 2nd round, but not nearly as many of these players showed their success with the Athletics. Most notably is probably RF Andre Ethier, who was traded to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley before the 2006 season. The team did make a playoff appearance in 2006, and was helped by Milton Bradley’s production, but I’m guessing that they would still love to have Ethier back.

International Free Agency

The Athletics haven’t been particularly good at finding international free agents, with only Miguel Tejada and Ramon Hernandez showing up on this roster. Part of this is the fact that they were unwilling to spend money on the top tier talent, as they would use that money for other items within development instead. That policy has changed slightly in the past few years, as the A’s have signed some top prospects out of the Dominican, most notably Michael Ynoa, a very young, very projectable pitcher. Time will tell if they will continue to see some prospects out of the international markets, but to this point the return has not been all that good.

Overall Grade

I think that the Athletics get my first “C”, as they have seen some excellent success stories (Zito, Chavez, Hudson), but there are quite a few of these players who did not make any appearances at all with the big league team. The fact that the international market has been so poor of a talent pool for them is what keeps me from moving them further up in the rankings.

Team Preview – Oakland Athletics


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Kurt Suzuki SP 1 Ben Sheets
1B Daric Barton SP 2 Justin Duchscherer
2B Mark Ellis SP 3 Brett Anderson
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff SP 4 Trevor Cahill
SS Cliff Pennington SP 5 Dallas Braden
LF Rajai Davis Bullpen
CF Coco Crisp CL Andrew Bailey
RF Ryan Sweeney RP Brad Ziegler
DH Jack Cust RP Joey Devine
Bench RP Michael Wuertz
IF Jake Fox RP Craig Breslow
IF Eric Chavez RP Gio Gonzalez

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff Trade (SD) OF Aaron Cunningham Trade (SD)
SP Ben Sheets Free Agency OF Scott Hairston Trade (SD)
IF Jake Fox Trade (CHC)

Top Prospects: Chris Carter (1B), Michael Taylor (OF), Michael Ynoa (P), Grant Green (SS), Max Stassi (C)

2009 Review

The Athletics came into the 2009 season with the hopes that they would be able to compete in what appeared to be a weakened AL West. They had made the blockbuster trade to acquire OF Matt Holliday in the offseason, and had made some potentially excellent value signings in SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Jason Giambi. However, the team was once again decimated by injuries, and quickly fell out of contention. By July, the discussion was when the A’s would trade free-agent-to-be Matt Holliday, not if. They were able to get some solid return on trades including Holliday and SS Orlando Cabrera also.

The A’s did have some bright spots during the season. SP Josh Outman pitched well (4-1, 3.48) prior to getting hurt. SP Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06) and SP Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63) both pitched well in their first full season. The standout, to be sure, was AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey (6-3, 1.84, 26 sv). On the offense, OF Rajai Davis (.305, 41 SB) and C Kurt Suzuki (.274, 15 HR) were the shining stars.

Team Outlook for 2010

As has been the problem in recent years, again coming into 2010 the A’s look strapped for offense. They are hopeful that IF Eric Chavez will be able to provide some production, whether it be at 3B or somewhere else on the diamond. They brought back OF/DH Jack Cust, who should continue to provide some solid power, even at the cost of a low batting average. A full season of SS Cliff Pennington and OF Rajai Davis will also be a welcome addition.

This really looks like a team that could compete, but only if everything falls their way. They need an All-Star caliber season out of free agent signee Ben Sheets, and improvements across the entirety of the pitching staff. They need 1B Daric Barton to return to the form that made him a top prospect. And they need pretty much everyone else in the lineup to improve again this season, whether it be through health or through better production. If this doesn’t happen, look for the A’s to deal Sheets, and potentially Justin Duchscherer as well at the trade deadline.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The A’s are a bit shallow when it comes to fantasy talent. C Kurt Suzuki, OF Rajai Davis, SP Brett Anderson and CL Andrew Bailey are probably the top talents. SP Ben Sheets remains a very high-upside, high-risk player, but could definitely pay off for fantasy owners. In deeper leagues, 2B Mark Ellis and SS Cliff Pennington could potentially provide value, as well as SP Dallas Braden and Justin Duchscherer.

Prediction for 2010

The A’s simply haven’t gotten better by enough in my opinion to make a legitimate run at the division title. The rest of the division is simply too much better at this point. They will do well to continue letting their top prospects develop, and hopefully will compete in 2011.

79-83, 4th in the AL West

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.