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.