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).