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.