April 1, 2010

WFS: AL East

This is the fifth 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: Curtis Granderson OF, New York Yankees (ADP: 51.05)
I wrote in the AL Central Article about how Johnny Damon would not be a good fantasy option now that he had left Yankee Stadium for Comerica Park. Granderson made the exact opposite move this offseason despite the fact that the two outfielders were not traded for one another. While Damon will lose the easy lefty homers that the New York stadium couldn't hold. Granderson, on the other hand, will have a number of his long fly balls to left field be turned into homers. Combine that with the fact that he hit 30 homers and swiped 20 bases last year, and you have a player who could very easily go 35/25. There are some minor questions regarding RBIs and runs, but playing in the most high-powered offense in the AL removes a lot of those doubts. The major knock on the Yankees' CF is his average, which was an abysmal .249 in 2009. While this makes him a major liability in roto leagues, there are definite reasons to expect a turnaround in that category. First off, he is a career .272 hitter, including last year's stats which drag the number down. Granderson also hit .275 on balls in play, which while only somewhat lower than average, is a significant low for a guy with the kind of speed that he possesses. As long as he can be a bit more "lucky" when he makes contact, Granderson should hit somewhere in the .270-.280 range, making him very comparable to Grady Sizemore, except 2-3 rounds later.

Fail: Brian Roberts 2B, Baltimore Orioles (ADP: 48.67)
Roberts had begun to slip in drafts due to his highly-publicized back issues, but as he seems to recover he has moved back into the 4th round. Roberts is definitely a legit 2B starter, but he is being drafted among the likes of a few players I would much rather have. Guys like Cano, Hill and Zobrist are all going around the same draft slot, despite the fact that they possess power, an attribute that is rare at their position. Cano hits behind some of the best hitters in baseball, Hill had an unbelievable year hitting 36 homers and Zobrist hit 25/15 and has outfield eligibility. Meanwhile, Roberts is only a minor power threat, who can steal somewhere in the 30 SB range, however, with his speed numbers slumping even 30 seems like it could be a stretch. Steals are abundant in the OF, and can be found much later on, whereas homers and RBIs are much harder to find, especially at second. Even if Roberts plays the entire season with limited pain and missed time, he still might not match the numbers of other comparable 2Bs, so why take the chance?

Sleeper: Jeff Niemann SP, Tampa Bay Rays (ADP: 214.85)
A lot of the guys I have selected throughout these WFS columns have ended up being 27, without picking them for that reason. Well, Niemann is yet another one of those guys entering the year that many people believe is the best bet for a breakout season by a player. Niemann already showed last year that he can survive in the Murderer's Row that is the AL East, going 13-6 with a very respectable 3.94 ERA. While his K rate (6.23 per 9) was less than stellar, he has shown an ability to post big strikeout numbers in the minors, so he may increase his total with a little experience under his belt. He also saw his K/9 number shoot up throughout the season, a sign of his experience kicking in.
He plays for a great team, playing together for one of the last times as baseball's "highest bidder" mentality will rob them of some of their free agents. With that motivation, he could very well post the same type of wins total. I don't really expect his ERA and WHIP numbers to come down that much, but they were respectable to begin with, for a late round sleeper pick. There really isn't much risk that comes with these picks, so taking a chance on a guy who could improve on numbers like Niemann's would make a great steal as  a starter to round out your rotation.