December 2008

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Power/Speed Picks

The 20/20 player is a beautiful thing in fantasy baseball.  Unfortunately, I am projecting only seven of them for the 2009 season:

  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Grady Sizemore
  • Alfonso Soriano
  • Ian Kinsler
  • Nate McLouth
  • Corey Hart
  • Brandon Phillips

McLouth will probably be the last drafted of these seven, and he's going in the sixth round.

If I stretch my filter to 17/17 players, I find eleven more:

  • Alex Rodriguez
  • David Wright
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Matt Kemp
  • Carlos Beltran
  • Bobby Abreu
  • Alex Rios
  • Chris Young
  • Jayson Werth
  • Rickie Weeks
  • Chris Dickerson

The last three are the late-round bargains - all can be had in the 15th round or later.  Batting average is the biggest flaw with all three.  Elijah Dukes and Adam Jones might fit the mold as well.

If I stretch my filter still further, I find possible gems such as Lastings Milledge (12th round), Nelson Cruz (16th round), and even Torii Hunter (11th round).  I have B.J. Upton at 15 HR and 40 SBs, but his second round draft position gives full respect to his seven postseason HR and 24 bombs in 2007.

Who are your power/speed favorites?


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What It Takes To Win: HR

Next up in our What It Takes To Win series, home runs.  We're trying to determine the stats you should strive for to achieve fourth place in each of the ten standard 5x5 categories.  If you get nine points per category, you'll end up with 90 and a good chance at taking the title.  I'll use rotisserie leagues that I consider standard - 12 teams, 5x5, 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.  I was in two such leagues in 2008.

In the first league, 284 HR were required for fourth place.  In the second, 296 did the trick.  Last year, the benchmark was 283 HR.  In a 2007 roto league of mine with similar settings (it had two extra bench spots) 274 HR were required for fourth place.  I'd be comfortable aiming for 285 HR.

Since we are talking about leagues with 14 active hitters, you should aim to get 20-21 HR out of each starting spot on average.  If you're going to employ a Juan Pierre type who's only good for one home run, you'll have to average around 22 HR for each remaining starting spot.  On the other hand if you have Adam Dunn's 40 HR you can aim for 19 HR per each remaining spot.

I'm currently projecting 87 players to hit at least 20 HR.  That includes 3 catchers, 24 first basemen, 5 second basemen, 5 shortstops, 19 third basemen, and 40 outfielders.  I have 32 players projected to hit at least 20 HR and reach our benchmark batting average of .283.



Scott Kazmir In The Sixth Round?

Scott Kazmir is being drafted 12th among starters, in the sixth round on average.  I have Kazmir posting a 3.70 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 185 Ks in 170 or so innings.  There are definitely more than eleven starters I would take before Kazmir.

Kazmir missed April with an elbow strain, and he was mediocre-to-bad in the season's final three months.  His walks continue to damage his WHIP, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him miss more time due to injury or post an ERA over 4.00 in 2009.  There is no way I would take a player this risky in the sixth round.  The latest you'll see him drafted is the ninth round, but even then he wouldn't be my top choice among starters.



Carlos Quentin: Overrated?

Carlos Quentin is being drafted in the late third/early fourth round (position 37.76).  He's being picked 14th among outfielders.  Is this he a good pick at that point in the draft?

I'd say that if Quentin is able to muster a .290-30-100-100-5 season, he's worthy of being drafted in that spot.  Those are lofty heights, but the guy hit five home runs in his worst month this year.  If he wasn't coming off a wrist injury, I'd feel OK about him as the 37th pick.

Quentin has Jason Bay and Nick Markakis being taken before him, Alex Rios, Vladimir Guerrero, and Matt Kemp after.  Once again I really like Kemp.  He does it all, and should come close to 20 HR and 30 SBs.  I think Kemp has top five outfielder potential in 2009.

That's my other qualm with the early pick for Quentin.   I prefer to build my offense around power/speed guys, and Quentin doesn't bring the SBs.  I don't see him as a bust by any means, but I can't see myself taking him with my fourth-round pick.  It just seems like I'd be "buying high."



What It Takes To Win: AVG

The What It Takes To Win series here at RotoAuthority attempts to determine what stats you should strive for to achieve fourth place in each of the ten standard 5x5 categories.  If you get nine points per category, you'll end up with 90 and a good chance at taking the title.  I'll use rotisserie leagues that I consider standard - 12 teams, 5x5, 14 hitters, 9 pitchers, 3 bench spots, 2 DL spots.  I was in two such leagues in 2008.

Today we'll take a look at batting average.  In the first league, a .282 AVG was good for fourth place.  In the second, an AVG close to .281 did the trick.  Those are very close for two different leagues; maybe readers can offer more data if their league uses an identical format?

Last year we suggested you strive for a .283 team AVG.  I'm comfortable using that figure as the benchmark again.  I'm projecting about 67 players to pull it off with 500+ ABs: 4 catchers, 18 first basemen, 9 second basemen, 12 shortstops, 12 third basemen, and 24 outfielders (some players are eligible at multiple positions).  Players projected to be right around .283 include Russell Martin, Bobby Abreu, Geovany Soto, Jay Bruce, Johnny Damon, Vernon Wells, and Willy Taveras.



Power/Speed Shortstops

Looking for double digit HRs and SBs from your shortstop?  At this point I'm projecting six options:

  • Jose Reyes
  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Alexei Ramirez
  • Rafael Furcal
  • Derek Jeter

If you don't spring for one of the first-rounders, you're looking at Ramirez (fifth round), Furcal (sixth round), and Jeter (eighth round).  All three have their flaws, but Alexei interests me the most.  Sophomore slump or a leap into fantasy stardom?

Five other shortstops who could sneak into double digits in both HRs and SBs: Michael Young, Mike Aviles, Edgar Renteria, Felipe Lopez (assuming 13 games cuts it), and Asdrubal Cabrera.  Three with playing time questions: Brandon Wood, Clint Barmes, and Ben Zobrist.


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Answering East Windup Chronicle's Questions

Our good friends at East Windup Chronicle have proposed six early fantasy baseball questions.  Let's attempt to answer them. (Draft data from MDC).

  1. Whither Matt Holliday?  The Oakland outfielder is being picked at 12.19 on average.  EWC says people are overanalyzing the trade.  I concur - Holliday should be drafted 10th, once Reyes, Pujols, Hanley, A-Rod, Wright, Braun, M-Cab, Sizemore, and Rollins are off the board.
  2. Is Chien-Ming Wang falling too far?  Wang is being drafted at 189.22 on average, in the 16th round (50th among starters).  I rank him 56th among starters, after Jon Lester but above Joe Saunders.  I'd rather have Andy Sonnanstine or Gil Meche, who are being drafted later than Wang.
  3. At what point do I reach for a SS?  If you don't get one of the top 11 shortstops, you're screwed (Reyes, Hanley, Rollins, Furcal, Jeter, Alexei, Young, Tejada, Peralta, Tulo, Hardy).  All of these guys will be gone by the 11th round.  There is something to be said for springing for Rollins in the first.
  4. What to do with Rick Ankiel?  You can get his 30 HR pop in the 19th round, probably because he doesn't help in AVG or SBs.  He's going 59th among OFs.  I think that's about right.
  5. Breakout season for the Reds?  Couldn't agree more - tons of value in Reds players.  Harang in the 13th round, I'll consider it.  Cueto in the 17th - yes, please.
  6. Who should go #1?  I probably value steals higher than most.  Give me Reyes.


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First Five Picks: Is There Any Argument?

Can anyone make a decent argument that any other player(s) should be picked within the first five picks?

  • Jose Reyes
  • Albert Pujols
  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • David Wright

You can mess with the order, but these five form an elite tier.  I see a decent dropoff when you get to Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Jimmy Rollins, and Grady Sizemore.

Looking at Mock Draft Central data, we have seen Cabrera and Sizemore picked fourth on occasion.  Josh Hamilton is picked fifth sometimes.

You could make a case for Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, or Tim Lincecum being worthy of a top five pick (you really could).  But those guys won't start moving until the 18th pick so it doesn't matter.


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Mark Teixeira Signing Analysis

The Yankees made another huge move today, signing Mark Teixeira for $180 million.  Let's talk about the fantasy effects.

I had Tex at something like .298-33-114-97-2 in 2009, which would put him fifth among first basemen and among the top 25 hitters drafted.  I'm not sure how the new Yankee Stadium will play, but I don't see it causing a big difference.  It's also indeterminate whether Tex will see increased RBI chances as a Yankee.  With the Braves he hit behind Chipper Jones, who got on base 47% of the time.  With the Angels he followed lower OBP types.

Tex batted with 355 runners on base in 2008, 95th in the game.  Five Yankee players batted with more in '08, so that indicates maybe he will get more chances.  Still, I'm not comfortable counting on a player driving in more than 115 runs.

Right now it seems that the Teixeira signing reduces playing time for the group of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, and Nick Swisher.  However, it would not be surprising to see the Yanks trade one of them.

Unless the Angels go get someone, it's Kendry Morales at first base to start 2009.  With a Major League Equivalent of .276/.316/.429, it's hard to get excited.  I suppose he could approach 20 HR with 550 ABs.

The Teixeira signing seemingly makes the Nationals more likely to pursue Adam Dunn.  There would be a ballpark effect - his two home parks in '08 inflated left-handed HRs greatly while Nationals park suppresses them significantly.  Maybe Dunn's raw power overrides that somewhat though.

All in all I don't see a huge fantasy effect from this signing.  Most likely the Yankee Hype Effect pushes Teixeira from his current 14.23 average draft position into the first round.  I wouldn't take him there.



Mike Napoli: Top Five Catcher?

One fantasy baseball issue to follow closely for 2009 is the playing time of Angels catcher Mike Napoli.  Napoli got only 227 ABs for the Angels in '08, putting up a massive .273-20-49-39-7 line in that time.  He missed a month due to a shoulder injury, but even without that he would've projected for about 320 ABs. 

When a catcher shows that kind of massive home run power (and speed!), fantasy leaguers get delirious thinking what he could do with 400 ABs.  Reasonably, he'd have a shot at 30 HR, which would probably lead all catchers.  In a November mailbag, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer discussed the idea of having Napoli spend some time at DH, getting him 500-600 ABs.  Let's not get greedy - 400 would be great.  If Napoli is healthy, there's no reason Jeff Mathis should be stealing an abnormal amount of playing time.  The Angels are rumored to be in on various corner outfield/infield types, which would presumably leave less of a chance for Napoli to DH.

If Napoli gets those 400 ABs, he has a legitimate shot at being a top five catcher (and that allows for his AVG to drop under .260).  He is being drafted 11th among catchers, in the 19th round.  One health issue to monitor - he had arthroscopic shoulder surgery on October 31st.




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