March 28, 2010

Player Snapshot: Gordon Beckham

In a standard 12-team roto draft, with only one catcher, there are two positions that I would consider truly scarce, and both reside in the infield: 2B and 3B. Many would argue that shortstop is another position with a small talent pool, but with quality young players like the Escobars (Yunel and Alcides) and speedsters like Elvis Andrus and Everth Cabrera, I don't mind waiting a bit before picking a SS. But I digress. Back to the other two lineup spots. As the draft progresses and it starts to get down to the nitty-gritty, real question marks start to pop up about players at these two spots. Thats why securing studs at these positions will cost you. But what if, by some miracle, there was a quality player who could fill both of these postions, in case your stud gets injured and you need a replacement? What if there was a guy that could play 4 positions, if your league has CI and MI spots, is only 23 and has shown tremendous signs of being a major league star? Well that would sure be nice, but Ben where could I ever find a deal this good? Well he is sitting in the South side of Chicago, just waiting to be snatched up in the 8th round of average fantasy drafts.

After being selected with the 8th pick in the 2008 draft, Beckham shot through the ranks, spending only 7 games in AAA in 2009 before being called up to "the show". Over the 103 games he got to play last year, he put up very respectable numbers for a rookie, and even contended for ROY honors. Had he played the whole season at the same rate, Beckham's numbers would have probably come out looking something like this: 91/22/99/.270/11. Those are quality for an outfielder, let alone a guy who played 3rd base. Now, here's the kicker, while maintaining his 3B eligibility from last year, the White Sox will move him to second to start the season, letting fantasy owners move him there or to the MI spot after whatever amount of games your league requires. That is the key to Beck's value this year. You can now get corner infielder-type power numbers from a middle infielder and open up your CI spot for another slugging first baseman. As long as you can secure some steals at one of the other MI slots and a few of your outfielders, Beckham can be a real driving force for any team, as he produces quality power numbers from a position where it is rare.

While I think Gordon is going for a fair value in the late 80s, I am in love with his combination of position eligibility (as if you couldn't tell). When a good portion of leagues only allow weekly lineup changes, having someone who can jump around when another guy has a bad week of matchups, or a small amount of games, really pays off. Gordon Beckham is a very useful player, with a very high ceiling. He can be a quality player on any team, and who doesn't want that.

March 27, 2010

WFS: AL Central

Win: Justin Verlander SP, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 44.52)
I commonly advise people to pick pitchers with high strikeout totals, since ERA and WHIP can fluctuate so much from year to year. In 2009, Verlander put up a whopping 269 Ks, which is the most by a pitcher since The Big Unit struck out 290 in 2004. Anytime your strikeout numbers are being compared to Randy Johnson, you know you've done something right. Throw in the fact that he put up a very respectable 1.18 and 3.45 ERA, AND 19 wins?! I feel like one of those infomercial guys, just throwing more and more great things at you. The positive qualities keep flowing though, since he's only 27 and plays for a very good Tiger team. You might be asking yourself right now, "Ben, why is this guy not the first pitcher taken in every draft?" Well, the fact that Verlander threw a tiring 240 innings scares me a little, and he didn't have a season that resembled 2009, outside of wins, so that makes it a bit more risky to pick him. But, I still think picking Verlander is a great move for any fantasy team. Getting 200+ Ks and 15+ wins is something that everyone would love to have, especially in the 4th round.

Fail: Johnny Damon OF, Detroit Tigers (ADP: 120.53)
I was a Damon owner last year, partly because of his position in the Yankee lineup, and partly because I missed my draft and I got stuck with the former Jesus impersonator. I could not have been happier with how he turned out though, or should I say, how the new Yankee Stadium turned out. Now that Damon has moved from the lefty-friendly... no friendly isn't good enough. Now that Damon has moved from the lefty-friends-with-benefits confines of New York and made his way West to Detroit's righty-favoring Comerica Park. His speed numbers have been on the decline as he ages, and the change of scenery won't help that. Sure, he is one of the better players of our generation, but I don't think his past, or his beard for that matter is worth spending a 10th round pick in any draft on a guy who will probably end up going 15/15. Instead, look to younger, high-upside guys like Jay Bruce and CarGo who are going a few picks later.

Sleeper: J.J. Hardy SS, Minnesota Twins (ADP: 247.78)
Last November, the neighbors of the North, the Twins and Brewers, swapped underperfoming young guns as Carlos Gomez went to the land of Beer and Hardy got shipped to Minnesota. While Gomez should start, he may lose some playing time to the resurgent Jim Edmonds. Meanwhile, Hardy seems to be ready to take over from the somewhat boring Nick Punto, and if he can return to his form prior to last year, he could be a major contributor as a sleeper. In the two years prior to his distressing 2009, Hardy had an average line that looked like: .280/84/25/77. Of course, that doesn't mean he will do it again, especially after going .229/53/11/47 last year. What saves Hardy from falling off to oblivion in my mind is his age. He will be 27 for the majority of the season, the magical age when young players blossom into studs. I do think Hardy's best years might have been those '07-'08 seasons, but since he is so young he has the chance to at least return to that form and put up high homer totals from a position weak in that category. Take a tip from Abba and take a chance on Hardy, especially when you can snag him as a last round flier.

March 24, 2010

WFS: NL Central

This is the third edition of a series of articles I will be writing, where I will pick out three players in each division of the majors and tell you whether I think they will be a Win, Fail or Sleeper in the 2010 campaign. The Win player will be a high pick (1st 5-6 rounds) that I think will reward you with quality, if not excellent production. The Fail player will be one who, you guessed it, will fail to meet expectations, and the sleeper is self explanatory.

Win: Brandon Phillips 2B, Cincinnati Reds (ADP: 38.73)

Phillips got a major boost in my books without even swinging a bat. When Brian Roberts tweaked back, the pool of second basemen got a little shallower, pushing Phillips up my board a few spots. The great thing about Phillips is that he won't hurt you in any of the categories in a normal 5x5, which is not something a lot of 2Bs can say. Brandon is one of only 7 players to have made it into the 30/30 club over the last 5 years, and has had at least 20 homers and stolen bases each of the last 2 years. Hitting from the cleanup spot in a productive Reds lineup allows Phillips to provide quality runs and RBIs as well. This leaves the ever fluctuating batting average category, which his career .265 mark does not really make you feel confident in. However, take out his horrendous rookie stint in Cleveland where he hit a whopping .208 over 370, and the rest of his resume looks a LOT better. Still, while I would never venture that he will hit .300 for you, he will probably hit in the .275-.280 range and that's all you really need to win. The fact that you are able to pick up a player who can produce in every category, at a position where only one other player (Utley) can claim that, in the 4th round makes Brandon Phillips a great option for any team.

Fail: Alfonso Soriano OF, Chicago Cubs (ADP: 82.56)
Going from a 30/30 club member to a jacket wearer from the even more exclusive 40/40 group. They have to get cool smoking jackets right? Unfortunately, last year I bought on Alfonso, thinking that he might come close to repeating one of his vintage Yankee, or even National years and return to form after an injury plagued 2008. Throw in the fact that he aged three years in one after they found out his real age a few years ago and you have an injury-risk who is 34 and hit .241 last year. Alfonso is being drafted as a top 25 OF ahead of consistent options (Hunter and Ibanez) as well as young studs on the rise (McLouth and McCutchen). While he might be a power source, since he still hit 20 homers last year in limited ABs, Alfonso is a guy I will definitely be passing on in this year's drafts, especially as my number 2 option in the OF.

Sleeper: Ryan Ludwick OF, St. Louis Cardinals (ADP: 167.56)
About a week ago, I did a draft that I felt pretty confident about, but when I sat down and laid out the projected stats for my starters, something jumped out at me. I had gone overboard in terms of stolen bases, especially in my outfield. While I had dual threats like Reimold, Choo and McCutchen, I had only complemented them with Ichiro, Nyjer Morgan and lacked real pop at the position. Ludwick is a guy that I really am trying to trade for to fix that problem. There are two major flaws in the Cardinal's hitter's game, his stolen bases and average. He has never shown a propensity to run and the only time Ludwick hit over .280 was due to the fact that he hit an otherworldly .342 on balls in play. But, if there is anything that my drafted team's outfield can show its that those two categories are fairly easy to come by. In terms of the other three categories, Ludwick is a quality producer that you can snag deep in the draft as one of your last outfielders. He is a guarantee to hit 20 HRs, probably more towards the 25-27 range, despite being the baseball definition of elderly at 32 years old. Oh, not to mention the fact that he hits in the 5 hole in a lineup where the best 3, 4 punch in the majors reside in front of him. He is going to have TONS of opportunities to hit runners in and will still get to score a fair amount from the young guns like Rasmus waiting behind him. Sure, Ludwick has some flaws, and he will never return to his 2008 self, but he is still a great hitter in one of the best lineup positions in baseball that you can pick up on the cheap.

March 19, 2010


The last few times that I was dragged to a Padre game to watch the franchise I once loved, I couldn't help but fall into a bit of a stupor watching each friar go to the plate only to walk back to the dugout after a few failed swings. During these zoning out times, there was usually one thing which broke me from the trance, when Kevin Kouzmanoff came to the plate. While he might not have been the best player on the team, the stadium would erupt with a loud, "Koooooooouz" as he walked up to the plate. It was nice to finally feel some life from the stands, even if it resulted in a strikeout about a quarter of the time. That's why I was a little teary when I heard the news that we had shipped him off to Oakland to man third base there. While it might make Padre games a little less exciting, if that was possible, the move makes Kouzmanoff a very intriguing pick for fantasy baseball this year.

Normally a guy who hit 18 homers, .255 and amassed a whopping 1 stolen base doesn't show up on the radar for fantasy purposes, especially in mixed leagues. While the Coliseum may not be the most hitter friendly park, it is a HUGE improvement over Petco Park, pictured above and better known as "the place where offense goes to die". Normally, the stats I put before would justify him not being selected in 85 percent of mock drafts, but the fact that Kouz is in a new stadium, combined with his road stats from last year and the power he showed at home that could lead to a breakout season in 2010.

First, let's look at his road numbers to help us get a glimpse at what he might be able to do once he escapes the downer that is known as being a Padre. To give you an example as to just how much he struggled at home, he had a BABIP of .247, compared to a more reasonable .317 away. Overall, in 69 games on the road, Kouzmanoff hit a very respectable .287 with 31 runs and 52 RBIs. Those are very good stats for a guy you can find on the waiver wire, especially at one of the weaker positions this year. Combine those numbers with the fact that he was able to hit 9 HRs at Petco, to emphasize his pure power, and that could lead to a line that looks something like this: 75/25/90/.277. With those kinds of numbers, the new A's 3B could really outperform guys being selected before him, like Troy Glaus or even his replacement, Chase Headley.

Even with all of these positive indicators for Kouzmanoff's performance outside of America's Finest City, I would never recommend to start Kouzmanoff. However, he is definitely someone to place on your watch list, or pick up as a backup option in case you missed out on studs like Longoria or Zimmerman, or even as the injury replacement for other starters like A-Rod or Wright. At the very least, you will be able to yell "Kooooouz" when he comes up to the plate, who doesn't want to do that?

March 17, 2010

Behind the Numbers: 3rd Round Starters

Think back to a draft you've done this year. Whether it be a quick mock, a draft with your buddies, or the $100,000 money league you play in every year. Now, think of the first 3 pitchers off the board. Lincecum, of course, followed somewhat closely by the new and improved NL version of Doc Halladay. Now who was third? This is where the consensus will stray. Was it the hat tilting, CC Sabathia? The diamond stuck in the Kansas City rough, Zack Greinke? Or was it the man who has been dubbed a king by middle-aged white men everywhere, Felix Hernandez? Each of these 3 pitchers has their own pitch as to why they should be the 3rd starter off the board in each and every league, and I am going to try and make sense of who the best of this trio actually is.

According to Mock Draft Central, the average order that these three go off the board is: CC at 30, Greinke at 31 and King Felix at 32. Now, my personal rankings look more like: Greinke, Felix and CC. The fine people at ESPN projected it to come out: Felix, CC and then Greinke. The combinations for how to rank these guys are endless. (Well actually there's only 6, but it seems like there's a bunch). So let's break down each aspect of their games, and see who should be at the top (or at least in third place) of your SP rankings.

For guys in the offensively loaded American League, the only guy who put up a "normal" ERA number was Sabathia at 3.37. Meanwhile, Greinke and Hernandez were off the charts at 2.16 and 2.49 respectively. Sabathia's ERA should hover around that same number, since his career average is 3.62. Even Hernandez's figure seems somewhat repeatable, since the top aces in the league over the past few years has been around the 2.5-2.6 range, and Hernandez definitely has the stuff of an ace. Greinke is where the ERA department becomes dangerous. Last year, the Royals' star went out and hung a number so wicked that only steroid-era Clemens and vintage Pedro could compare with. What makes this even more amazing was that it was in the offensively charged AL, as well as a division that hosts 3 of the top 10 offensive ballparks, with his home at Kauffman coming in at number 5. Move him to Petco and we might have seen a sub-2.00 ERA. That's what makes him the most interesting in this group, in terms of ERA. While I think Greinke is a stud who will dominate, the odds of him repeating seem a lot lower to me. I decided to favor the repeatability of Hernandez's ERA over Greinke's, but only by a small margin. With that, the way they rank in terms of ERA looks like:
Hernandez (2.4), Greinke(2.40001)... Sabathia(3.25)

While CC might fall far behind the other two starters in terms of ERA, this is where he separates himself. The Mariners have so much unknown within their lineup, that I can't tell whether they will put up enough runs to win games for Felix. There is no unknown, just losing, out in Kansas City, so this is where Greinke's major downfall is. That leaves Sabathia and his silver spoon, as he gets to go out and make all sorts of mistakes, only to have A-Rod or Teixeira make up for it. That's one of the perks you get when you trade in your soul for the New York bucks. Even though wins are the hardest stat to anticipate; with these guys they are fairly easy to predict how they will come out:
Sabathia(19), Hernandez(18/17), Greinke(16)

Very similar to the ERA category, all three of these guys will help to put up nasty WHIP figures. I really didn't see anything that stood out to make me think it would differ any this year. So, they rank something like this in 2010:
Greinke(1.10), Hernandez(1.11), Sabathia(1.16)

Most people think that when you pick starters, this is the stat you should focus on, since most of the other categories vary from year to year. I am one of those that adhere to that doctrine. I like pitchers like Verlander and Lester because as long as they get a little more lucky, or a bit of extra defense, all of the other numbers will go down, where as a pitcher has to adopt a whole different pitch or motion to increase their K totals. Greinke ranked 3rd in the majors with his 242 Ks, but what was more impressive was his 9.5 K/9 ratio. Both Felix and CC put up great K numbers in similar innings, and should both get around 200-210 punchouts, which is a very respectable number. As a disclaimer, don't look at CC's 250 Ks in 08 and think that last year was a fluke. He logged 250 innings that year as the Brewers rode his hot streak and had him pitch just about every day, it seemed. The Yankees have no reason to ever wear him like that, so the 197 he put up last year seems a lot more reasonable. These three guys should finish out with numbers like these:
Greinke(240), Hernandez(210), Sabathia(199)

So with that said, looking at those numbers, I stand by the rankings I put in my intro. I like Greinke the best, since he will guarantee you Ks, and while his win numbers might be subpar, they are so unreliable that who knows, maybe he will win every start he makes. Of course the scores will all be 1-0, but whatever works. Along that same logic, I like Felix as my 4th ranked SP, since he is a young stud with great stuff. Of course, CC's no slouch, and if you want guaranteed Wins, you can't go wrong with a Bankee. I guess the best advice I can give is to wait. With these three guys being so comparable, and all having their own stud categories, I would sit and let my leaguemates make the tough decision and take the remaining player of this trio.

March 14, 2010

Behind the Numbers: Turning Doubles into Homers

Across leagues everywhere, Billy Butler is being picked in the 7th round of average 12 team drafts, making him the 13th 1B off the board. He is being drafted among the likes Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee. This is a first baseman who slugged only 21 homers, 93 RBIs and hits in the middle of a Royals lineup that is mediocre at best. Well if that's the case, why is he garnering such a high pick then? Well many people have come to the conclusion that young power hitters who have a high number of doubles in a season are destined to turn some of them into home runs as they grow into their big builds. After hitting 51 of them last year, it has become "fact" that Billy is destined to hit a handful more home runs in 2010. To figure out whether or not this assumption is true, I decided to take some recent data (going back to 2003) and see just how the rule of doubles growing into homers has acted over those 6 years. In order to qualify for the study, I wanted the players to be comparable to Butler and thus the player had to:

1.) hit 45+ doubles in a season.
2.) be 28 or younger in the season following the doubles season.
3.) have less than 15 SBs in the doubles season.
4.) play a traditional power position, defined by me as 1B, 3B or OF

Let me explain my rules real quick. #1 is self-explanatory, since that's number we are trying to study, and 45 was an elite doubles level during the period. #2 is to ensure that the player was still maturing as a hitter, and could potentially "grow" into his power. #3 helps to eliminate the guys who got the 2Bs as a result of their ability to leg a long single into a double, rather than the guys just missing a homerun because they didn't make it over the wall. Finally, #4 is probably the most disputable guideline, but I didn't want to clutter up the data with second basemen whose numbers would tell a completely different story due to their position.

After setting these regulations into place, I found 11 cases (5 1B, 5 3B and 1 OF) that fit the bill and compiled their HRs from year to year and their FB/HR% to balance out those hitters who might have had less at bats from one year to the next. With how much hype is surrounding the Royals' slugger, the results of my small study were fairly pedestrian. Overall, the average changes in HRs and HR/FB were +2.18% and +1.26, respectively. If you were to add those numbers to Butler's 2009 totals, you would only get 23-24 homers and a 13.2%. Those numbers are good, but not exactly starting 1B types of numbers, which is how he is being drafted. What surprised me even more was the fact that only 3 players saw an increase of 5 homers or more: Miggy Cabrera in 07, Adrian Gonzalez in 08 and Morneau last year.

So what does this mean for Butler in 2010? Temper your expectations. Sure, the doubles are probably a good indicator for an increase in home runs, but it doesn't necessarily mean that he is going to completely break out. Hell, 3 of the guys even saw decreases in their homer totals after a big doubles year. While Billy could realistically go out and hit 25-27 home runs this year, I wouldn't be banking on it as though its fact. The recent history has shown that doubles can be a very good indicator of a player's future, since the list holds top 3 round names like Cabrera, Teixeira, Holliday and Pujols, but it doesn't always mean that the player is destined for an amazing player right NOW. If you're in a keeper league, I would definitely recommend taking Butler and hoping his career blossoms like these stars, but make sure you stay realistic with just how many of those 51 doubles get over the wall this year.

March 9, 2010

WFS: AL West

This is the second edition of a series of articles I will be writing, where I will pick out three players in each division of the majors and tell you whether I think they will be a Win, Fail or Sleeper in the 2010 campaign. The Win player will be a high pick (1st 5-6 rounds) that I think will reward you with quality, if not excellent production. The Fail player will be one who, you guessed it will fail to meet expectations, and the sleeper is self explanatory.

Win: Kendry Morales 1B, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (ADP: 52.60)

When Mark Teixeira left for the holy land of baseball where money flows like the river of chocolate in Willy Wonka, the people of LA were not all that sad. Why wouldn’t they mourn the departure of one of the best young sluggers in baseball? There was a masher waiting to get a chance at a full time starting role waiting in the wings. After hitting .341/.376./.543 in the minors in 2008, many people saw big things coming from the monstrous Cuban in 2009. While he put up fairly good numbers throughout the first few months, Morales caught fire in the 2nd half, while capturing the August AL Player of the Month putting up a flat out nasty line of .385/22/10/33. If he did that every month, he’d even have Pujols bowing down at his feet. Now, I am in no way recommending that Morales be picked number one, or even in the first 3 rounds. What I am saying is that if you are in a position where you can choose between Utley and Teixeira, you can afford to take the guy from the shallower position (Utley in this case) because guys who will put up great numbers at first are waiting in the middle rounds.

Fail: Brian Fuentes RP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (ADP: 114.19)
A player who is going in the 10th round in average drafts don’t really come with much expectations, but when it’s the 8th closer off the board (7th now with the Nathan injury), you are counting on him to put up major save totals. Fuentes was a major factor in the save column, and carried many roto teams to a high total in the category. Many would argue that Fuentes’ 48 saves in 2009 would justify him being a top closer no matter what, but there are just too many negatives facing him this year for him to be my top saves guy. First, enter Fernando Rodney. Pretty much every closer out there is battling with a setup man, but all Fuentes had to deal with while blowing his 8 saves last year was the 8th inning mainstay, Scott Shields. Next, Fuentes’ stats last season, outside of the saves were atrocious, and it was the year he moved OUT of Coors Field. In his first year in the red and white, all of his major underlying statistics (K/BB, HR/9, BAA) and even those that counted (Ks, ERA and WHIP) got much worse. Had a guy with closer potential like Rodney been in the picture, there would have been a much bigger chance that Fuentes would have been dethroned as the Halos’ closer. Now, mix both of these together with the fact that he is turning 35 and that ugly mixture is too much risk for a guy I’m hoping will carry my team in a statistic.

Sleeper: Rich Harden SP, Texas Rangers (ADP: 218.15)

My first instinct was to put Ben Sheets here, but I already did a writeup on him and a few other sleepers here. Instead, I moved to another injury prone pitcher in Arlington. Over the last few years, Harden has become known as one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy. Unfortunately, those times have been few and far between. Hopefully, the Rangers plan to skip a few of his starts to get him to the 180 IP mark. Combine that with the fact that Harden has posted a 9.35 K/9 ratio in his career, and he could put up around 190 Ks if their plan works, which would be a very impressive total from one of the last pitchers you will probably pick. If he can add to that impressive K total with his other career numbers, 1.24 WHIP and 3.39 ERA, he could be a very quality starter in the Rangers rotation and in your lineup, if he’s healthy of course (knock on wood).

March 8, 2010

My First Team of the Year

I just did my draft for the small money league I am in. It is a 10 teamer (7th pick) with regular roto rules. The round that I picked each player in is in the parenthesis. Let me know what you guys think!

C: Miguel Montero (16)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez (4)
2B: Brandon Phillips (5)
3B: David Wright (2)
SS: Alexei Ramirez (12)
MI: Elvis Andrus (13)
CI: Gordon Beckham (11)
OF1: Ryan Braun (1)
OF2: Grady Sizemore (3)
OF3: Carlos Quentin (10)
OF4: Denard Span (15)
OF5: Nolan Reimold (21)
Util: David Ortiz (24)
Bench: Rickie Weeks (25), Kyle Blanks (27)

P1: Cliff Lee (6)
P2: Javier Vazquez (7)
P3: Ubaldo Jimenez (8)
P4: Joe Nathan (9)
P5: Jair Jurrjens (14)
P6: David Price (17)
P7: Kevin Slowey (18)
P8: Clay Buchholz (19)
P9: Stephen Strasburg (20)

Bench: Jason Frasor (22), Dice-K (23), Kevin Gregg (26), Brandon League (28)

Pitching went fast, so I had to reach to secure some of the better pitchers. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good draft. As long as guys like Wright and Quentin bounce back my hitting should pan out. I'm going to need one of the Blue Jays closers to pan out, and maybe stumble upon some other save outlet as well. But that's enough from me. How do you guys think this team will pan out?

March 5, 2010

EARLY 2010 Fantasy Football Mock Draft- 1st Round

The smell of freshly mown grass, leather gloves and fresh uniforms is floating throughout Arizona and Florida, filling the nation with baseball fever. So what am I talking about football for?! Well its never too early to look forward to America's new favorite sport and take a crack at what the first round will probably look like in your league's next draft.

1. Chris Johnson RB, Tennessee Titans- There isn't much to say about this guy that you don't know. Over 2,000 yards rushing, 16 total TDs and throw on 50 receptions for 500 yards and you got yourself the undisputed fantasy MVP of 2009. He did touch the ball a lot, which might cause some to be intimidated by a down year due to injury, but its only his 3rd year in the league so trust in his fresh (extremely fast) legs.

2. Adrian Peterson RB, Minnesota Vikings- Adrian put up #1 pick type numbers, but CJ was just too amazing. In any other recent year, AP would have been the consensus top pick yet again. He lead the league in rushing TDs, and got heavily involved in the passing game after Favre joined. The fumblitis is the only cause for concern with the Purple Jesus, but even if he can't correct that, which I think he can since even Ahman Green learned how to hold the ball, AP will be in the top 3 picks no matter what.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew RB, Jacksonville Jaguars- He is probably the most entertaining person to watch on this list. While some guys may have breakaway speed or a great stiff arm, this guy is a flat out bowling ball. Its fun to have him on your team because whenever the Jags are on TV (which hopefully isn't that often) you can always spot MJD on the field because he's that short guy running into, around and over everybody. He will get you tons of TDs, and if Garrard starts playing like the Pro-Bowler that he magically was this year, he could really start racking up the yards again on the ground and especially through the air.

4. Ray Rice RB, Baltimore Ravens- Alright, so this guy might put up a good fight with MJD for most entertaining player in the league, solely because he has the similar wrecking ball build. Rice is just like guys like CJ and MJD, in that he is a ticking time bomb in terms of big plays. One of my favorite plays from this season was when Flacco threw yet another checkdown to Ray in the middle of the field, and Rice pulled out all sorts of ninja-like moves as he evaded the entire Bengals defense and scampered down the field for a huge TD. It’s the one-man explosiveness that gets players into the elite tier, and Ray Rice has it.

5. Frank Gore RB, San Francisco 49ers- He is the first classical running back off the board in my mind. Gore knows how to take punishment and deliver it as he gains healthy chunks of yards every play. While you will get quality production on the ground and in the passing game with Frankie G you still are taking on a major injury risk with the best player on your team. If you can stomach that kind of reliance on chance, or don’t mind playing the Gore or Coffee game every week, the 49ers RB can really produce for you.

6. Michael Turner RB, Atlanta Falcons- Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Last year, you would have been a fool to let the Turner slip past the top 3 picks. But that's how the fantasy business works, we only care about what you've done lately, and the Burner wasn't so hot last year. Everyone chimed on the fact that the Falcons top weapon eclipsed the dreaded 370 carry mark in 2008, but he was supposed to be the exception to the case with his big frame, ability to absorb hits and relative lack of use while sitting behind LT in San Diego. However, while Turner had a mediocre season last year, the 370 curse seems even more pretty believable now after only playing 11 games and scoring 10 TDs. I'm looking for a bounceback season from Turner and the Falcons. So, while others look at his 2009 numbers and think "ho-hum" I'm going to look to pick him and reap the rewards that this extremely talented runner can give.

7. Jamaal Charles RB, Kansas City- He won so many leagues last year, that if he got a dollar from each of them, he would definitely be making more than his real salary. I mean the guy is only making $500,00 dollars! How can he live off of that? So start sending in your dollars, every donation helps.

8. Steven Jackson RB, St. Louis Rams- Now, in no way am I endorsing some kind of Rams bounceback season, but S-Jax is talented enough to put up numbers even with a guy named Keith Null at QB. They might as well just play without an O-Line and just tell the defense every play they draw up. Oh wait they kinda do that already. But that doesn't slow Jackson down amazingly enough. Against all odds, the Rams' RB posted 7 100 yard games and finished with 1738 total yards from scrimmage. His TD total (4) was nowhere near what you want from a 1st rounder but he has a great track record and whole lot of talent. The rams might not help in any way but there's no way they can do worse than last year right? Right?

9. Shonn Greene RB, New York Jets- Greene was the biggest surprise of the postseason as he exploded for 135 and 128 yards in the first 2 rounds. In the three games he got 19+ carries Greene had over 125 yards and a TD. Now that Thomas Jones is completely out of the way the 2nd year RB has a spot as the fixture in a great run first offense. While he only has a few games of starting experience under his belt, the games he has been the starter in have been spectacular performances. Picking Greene comes with a lot of unknown, and in turn risk, but could pay huge dividends if he pans out.

10. Andre Johnson WR, Houston Texans- Im not a huge fan of the whole wideout in the first round idea, but AJ is just too good to pass up. Matt Schaub put up a career year and showed no sign of slowing down after his impressive Pro Bowl. He has put up monster numbers the past two seasons with 100 receptions and 1500 yards in each. Although he has never eclipsed the 10 TD mark, Andre 3000 is a premier receiver on a heavy passing team, a lethal combo in fantasy.

11. Rashard Mendenhall RB, Pittsburgh Steelers- The FWP era in Pittsburgh has come and gone and it sure was a fun time while it lasted. Now steps in Rashard Mendenhall who showed signs of fantasy stardom last season. In games where he had 20+ touches he also had 100 yards from scrimmage. The fact that he put up 1369 total yards last season after only 58 in his first 3 games is a promising sign for Rashard as a starter for 16 games.

12. Cedric Benson RB, Cincinnati Bengals- This spot was a real toss up for me between Benson, Grant and Fitzgerald. While my Packer homerism told me to pick Grant, I was just not sold on him for some reason this season. Fitzgerald would have been guaranteed th spot, but Warner's retirement and Boldin's departure makes his stock go crashing. That left me with Cedric the powerful. Benson will give you constant production and while it might not be pretty it's still quality stats. Had he not missed the last 2 games of the season, he could have had a lot better line than the already impressive one he had lined up before the injury. Benson's draft status might be low but he puts up mid-1st round production in the games he does suit up.

That is how a league of 12 me's would turn out. How do you think your draft would turn out should you sit down at the table with your buddies right now. Tell me what you think by e-mailing me at

March 4, 2010

2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings #11-40

You can find a list of the guys I put in my top 10 here.

This is the continued list of my personal rankings heading into the 2010 MLB season, with some serious comments on their play, and a few more that would make you laugh if I was actually funny.

11. Evan Longoria 3B, Rays- A budding star, with a great bat, at a weak position.
12. Tim Lincecum SP, Giants- The best pitcher in the game. Unfortunately, he's still a pitcher, and that means he's a risk.
13. David Wright 3B, Mets- Even if he has a year like last year, hes a quality player, and that's saying a lot.
14. Matt Holliday OF, Cardinals- Check out his numbers after the move under the Big Arch.
15. Troy Tulowitzki SS, Rockies- A legit power threat at SS, that's hard to find.
16. Joe Mauer C, Twins- Led the AL in OBP, BA and SLUG, not bad for a catcher.
17. Justin Upton OF, Diamondbacks- Huge "Up"side. Ba-dum-tshhh.
18. Carl Crawford OF, Rays- Steals loads of bases, and still hits a HR or two now and again.
19. Jacoby Ellsbury OF, Red Sox- Steals even more bases, not so much on the HR thing.
20. Ian Kinsler 2B, Rangers- Sweet swing, sweeter hair.
21. Roy Halladay SP, Phillies- A true ace, and now in NL formats near you!
22. Grady Sizemore OF, Indians- The only problem drafting him is that when you google image him, you might not like what you see.
23. Jose Reyes SS, Mets- Reyes should make a comeback, but the Mets won't.
24. Ichiro Suzuki OF, Mariners- Comes with a 200 hit guarantee.
25. Adrian Gonzalez 1B, Padres- Check out my argument for him here.
26. Zack Greinke SP, Royals- If he didn't play in KC, he could win 35 games. That's a fact, that's science.
27. Brian Roberts 2B, Orioles- The back injury is starting to scare me more. Probably should be a post-30 guy.
28. Joey Votto 1B, Reds- If he played in LA, I can only imagine the "Vato" jerseys that would be made.
29. Ryan Zimmerman 3B, Nationals- He's one of my favorite picks this year. Great value in the 3rd- 4th rounds.
30. Dustin Pedroia 2B, Red Sox- I liked his MLB: The Show commercial better than Mauer's.
31. Pablo Sandoval 1B/3B, Giants- The nickname Panda has never been more suitable.
32. CC Sabathia SP, Yankees- You'd think with a contract like his he could afford a better fitting hat.
33. Felix Hernandez SP, Mariners- If he and CC traded teams, he would be up in the top 25 for me.
34. Kevin Youkilis 1B/3B, Red Sox- The guy can grow a mean goatee. That's what you look for in fantasy.
35. Jimmy Rollins SS, Phillies- Hopefully his BABIP is a sign of a rebound in 2010, and not his overall decline. I mean he went 30/40 one season. Let's give him some credit people.
36. Derek Jeter SS, Yankees- Hits at the top of a mean lineup, and has lots of lady friends to show for it, err I mean runs.
37. Robinson Cano  2B, Yankees- Same idea as Jetes, but without the girls thing. Poor Cano, poor poor Cano.
38. Mark Reynolds 3B, D'backs- He does great things when he makes contact. Unfortuantely, that's asking a lot of him.
39. Justin Morneau 1B, Twins- After surgery on his eyes and a back injury, you gotta think he might be 55 and using a fake birth certificate.
40. Dan Haren SP, D'backs- He was traded for Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Aaron Cunningham and Cris Carter... and it still seems like a good trade for the D'backs.

Well that's it for the top 4-0. If you have any questions, comments, concerns send a quick e-mail to and I can justify my rankings.

March 3, 2010

Behind the Numbers: BABIP

I was going into high school at the time the World Series of Poker became a phenomenon, so needless to say the majority of my allowance went to poker nights with the guys (I wasn't exactly the best player in the neighborhood). But what I came to decide after watching the WSOP and sitting at the table, is that poker is a game of luck that can be helped by skill. On the other hand, baseball is a game of skill, which you can occasionally get lucky in. As Jimmy Fallon said in the masterpiece that is Fever Pitch, "you can either hit a curveball or you can't... you can have a lucky day, sure, but you can't have a lucky career". That's where BABIP comes in, we can help to decide when a player will even out and stop foolin' everyone.
For those who are new to this stat that doesn't show up on the back of baseball cards (if those still exit that is) BABIP stands for Batting Average on Balls in Play. It is usually considered to be the rating of a player's luck, as it shows how often he got to first after making contact, no matter where it went. So, if a player has an unusually high BABIP, with .300 being the average, then you can expect the player to be a little less "lucky" and get out on a few more of those balls in the long run. On the opposite end, a very low BABIP player can expect a bump up in total average, since he will get more hits on the pitches he puts in play. The exception to this rule, is that speedy players can expect a slightly higher BABIP, since he can beat out slow rollers, so I won't really focus on these exceptions in this article.

Ian Kinsler 2B, Texas Rangers (2009: .241 BABIP, .253 BA)
The Rangers' 2B saw a major dropoff in average last season, and it wasn't exactly unforeseen. After hitting .319 in his 121 MLB games in 08, Kinsler fell, largely in part to an absurdly high BABIP of .334.  While he may never hit .319 for a full season, Ian should be expected to make a U-Turn after the 2009 campaign and if he evens out to a .300 BABIP, could hit .280 to go along with his great power and speed numbers for a second basemen.

Jimmy Rollins SS, Philadelphia Phillies (2009: .251 BABIP, .250 BA)
For a guy who swipes 30+ bases every season, a .250 BABIP really stands out. Rollins is not exactly young, and is a career .270 hitter, but thats not why you pick him. Like Kinsler, Jimmy gives you great production in HRs, SBs and Runs from a position where all three of those are rare to see. The Philly SS should be able to see a small increase in his BABIP and, maybe move back up towards his career .274 mark. If that happens, he will be a quality player, which is a lot better than a lot of sites are projecting him to be.

David Wright 3B, New York Mets (2009: .394 BABIP, .307 BA)
For a guy who had one of the highest BABIP in the league, Wright really didn't have that unbelievable of a season. For those who took him in the first round last year were left dissapointed, despite the fact that he hit over .300. It was assumed that his power would follow and he would put up another potential 30/30 season, especially if he could it .300. However, Wright's power numbers fell far behind his batting average, and his BABIP makes it seem as though he might not make a complete turnaround. Wright has some speed, but nothing that garners this type of a number. If the Mets' 3B shows any slide in his BABIP, which is extremely likely, he would need to bring down his strikeout rate. If he does and finds his power, it could be a great season, but if he doesn't, 2010 could be a big disappointment. That's why Wright is one of the biggest boom/bust plays of the year and is only suitable for those who like to gamble.

Kevin Youkilis 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox (2009: .359 BABIP, .305 BA)
Youk is probably the strangest case when studying BABIP. When you think speed, the goateed Red Sox hitter doesn't exactly come to mind, but he has put up a career .334 mark in that category. So, from a quick glance at his BABIP number, it would be easy to assume that a decline in average is in store for 2010. That's not to say that his average has to drop, but it is not as likely as the numbers make it seem. Even if Youkilis drops to hitting in his career .290 range, that is still a good contributor to your team batting average number. Whether it is his pure hitting ability, or knack for finding a hole in the defense, Youkilis will certainly hit for a high average despite what his BABIP might say.

The BABIP number is like any other statistic; it is interesting on its own, but only helpful when you look deeper into the player. While the 2009 Kinsler showed us how it can help predict the future, guys like Youkilis show that sometimes the hitter isn't just "lucky" whenever more that 30% of their balls in play become hits.

March 1, 2010

WFS- NL West

This is the first edition of a new series of articles I will writing, where I will pick out three players in each division of the majors and tell you whether I think they will be a Win, Fail or Sleeper in the 2010 campaign. The Win player will be a high pick (1st 5-6 rounds) that I think will reward you with quality, if not excellent production. The Fail player will be one who, you guessed it will fail to meet expectations, and the sleeper is self-explanatory.

Win- Manny Ramirez OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (ADP: 66.27)-

Let's take a little flashback to the last time that Manny was playing for a contract. Oh what a beautiful time that was. After a pretty abysmal start in Beantown, Manny came to LA and the rest was history, bashing home runs left and right and making dreadlocks cool again. Last year came with a tremendous amount of pressure, while he tried to show that he could do the late season heroic the entire time. Of course, last season wasn't exactly remarkable as his campaign was stained with the prescription drug scandal and wrist injury. What makes me believe in him, though is that Manny is a pure showman and he wants the big bucks to show for it. This year, he will make a cool $20 million, and I'm sure he would love to get that sort of deal next year. Now, most people would say that there is nobody who will pay him since he is 37, off the "performance enhancers" and a complete defensive liability, but Manny will do everything in his power to change GMs minds with his bat. The great thing about fantasy, unless you play by different rules, is that we only care about the bat, and Manny swings a mean one. Despite missing over a third of last season, Manny finished with respectable numbers at the plate, and it has been well documented that he had a drop-off following the beaning he got on his wrist that he tried to play through. The wrist will not be a problem this year, and Manny will earn those precious dollars, because as everyone says, " that's just Manny being Manny".

Fail- Jorge de la Rosa SP, Colorado Rockies (ADP 195.16)-

Alright, so Jorge might not be at the top of anyones draft lists, but he is still being picked among the likes of young studs David Price and Clay Buchholz. He won 16 games last year, which was impressive, but even if the Rockies have another playoff worthy season, I don't see that repeating. Jorge's strikeout number was impressive, but the number that stands out to me was his pedestrian GB/FB rate. When about half of your starts come in a park like Coors, you can't afford to be putting the ball in the air. De la Rosa might give you a healthy strikeout total from a late pick, which would seem like a great quality of a late pick, but picking him could really wreck your ERA and WHIP if the ball starts falling in those giant gaps, or even worse, going out of the park altogether.

Sleeper- Chase Headley 3B, San Diego Padres (246.55)-

It might be my Padres homerism catching up with me, but this slot came down to Kyle Blanks and Headley. I do think Blanks will put up good numbers, but you can find an article on him just about anywhere, so I decided to go with the new 3B at Petco. With the departure of Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland, Chase takes over at the hot corner, which really helps his value. With how shallow the 3B position is in fantasy, finding someone to take a flier on can really pay dividends. Chase was a pure masher in the minors, and all signs pointed to him being a breakout in the majors. The last two seasons were somewhat dissapointing, but this season he should see some quality pitches, being surrounded by Gonzalez and Blanks in the lineup. Petco Park definitely hurts his value, but after posting a .305 average on the road, Headley showed what he can do with the bat, once he figures out his home field. What would make me think that he could turn it around at home? Well he hit more than half of his homers there, and it is hard to do worse than .208 in a place where you spend 81 games a year. Chase has a little bit of speed, which adds to his value, since SBs are hard to come buy at third, but I really expect a big jump in his batting production since he has the tools, and is only 26. So, whether he turns into a quality starter in the late rounds, or just trade bait to someone whose corner infielder goes down, a guy like Headley could really help.