Thursday, February 25, 2010

What can you get for a dollar?

To me, $1 guys make or break your auction draft. Knowing how many $1 guys you like can determine your auction strategy. You can confidently go the extra few dollars for Albert Pujols if you think you can snag Wandy Rodriguez, Kendry Morales, and Rafael Soriano for $1.

Here are 27 players, currently listed at $1 or less by ESPN, that I wouldn't mind having on my team. Hitters and pitchers ranked in order of preference.

Cameron Maybin
Corey Hart
Edwin Encarnacion
Mike Napoli
Paul Konerko
Colby Rasmus
Marco Scutaro
Chris Ianetta
Coco Crisp
Magglio Ordonez
Chris Young
Drew Stubbs
JJ Hardy
JD Drew
Jermaine Dye (if starting)

Aaron Harang
Ben Sheets
Joel Pineiro
Octavio Dotel
Johnny Cueto
Erik Bedard
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Neftali Feliz
Derek Holland
Daniel Bard
Brad Penny
Derek Lowe

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three rookie infielders

All three of these youngsters should be starting in the bigs this year. Each of their teams let high-priced veterans go to clear the path for them (JJ Hardy, Placido Polanco and Chone Figgins).

I wouldn't enter a bidding war for any of these players in a redraft league, but if you can snag one for $1 or in a very late round take a shot. For 2010 fantasy purposes, Escobar will be a steals specialist, Wood a power specialist, with Sizemore an all around, boring specialist. I would rank them Escobar, Sizemore, then Wood mostly based on playing time and ability to stick in the majors.

Alcides Escobar - SS, Milwaukee Brewers

• Good speed: 42 steals in Triple-A 2009
• Batting average: combined .293 average over 6 minor league seasons
• Defensive wizardry will keep him in the lineup

• Never hit more than 8 home runs in a season, averaged about 2.5
• Struck out more than 3 times for every walk
• Not going to succeed at the top of the order in 2010

• Purely a steals specialist but his glove should keep him in the lineup. The shortstop position is pretty thin this year, which increases his value somewhat.

Scott Sizemore - 2B, Detroit Tigers

• Consistent .300 hitter in the minors
• Never had an OBP below .365 in the minors
• Brings some power and some speed
• Seems to have the inside track to the starting 2B job

• Doesn't have explosive upside in power or speed (no shot at 20/20)
• Struck out 95 times in 520 combined at bats last year
• Probably won't bat at the top of the order
• Not yet 100% after ankle fracture in October

• Good target in deep or AL-only leagues, or if you are desperate for a $1 infielder in the endgame.

Brandon Wood - 3B, Anaheim Angels

• Power: 43 HR in Double A (in 2005)
• 3B job is finally his for the taking

• Strikeouts
• Has had horrible MLB stats in limited time (.192 BA and 74 SO in 224 AB)

• Purely a home run specialist and I worry about his ability to stay in the lineup. At best, Ian Stewart from last year (25 homers, horrific BA, unpredictable playing time).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two rookie outfielders to target

First a few notes about rookies in fantasy:

• Avoiding rookies altogether is probably a good strategy in most fantasy leagues. They are high-risk but not really high-reward. If you are in a dynasty keeper league, rookies are more valuable, depending on the rules.

• Rookies are almost never impact fantasy players in their first season. If they are really productive, it is usually because of stolen bases. Don't expect too much and don't pay too much.

• Rookie hitters are a bit more predictable than rookie pitchers. Pitchers generally take several years of major league experience to really produce in fantasy. In most fantasy leagues, you will be best served by avoiding rookie pitchers altogether.

• In most fantasy leagues, if your rookie doesn't start off the season hot, you are going to have to drop them after a month anyway. There's always a chance they might end up batting ninth or getting sent back to the minors. Keep that in mind when drafting.

• If a rookie does start off the season hot, there's a great chance his performance will suffer in the second half. He's never faced such a long grind, and the league will figure out his weaknesses and force him to adjust. Have the guts to trade him away when his value has peaked.

• Most rookies come up late in the season, and can often be valuable in fantasy for the stretch run. That can be a safer investment, as a rookie has a better chance to succeed over a short stretch playing in meaningless games, without wearing down and before the league has time to catch up to him.

Jason Heyward, OF - Atlanta Braves
If you could only have one rookie, Heyward is probably the guy. He appears to have the right field job all to himself, and has nothing left to prove in the minors. Over 1,000 plate appearances in the minors, Heyward put up a .318/.391/.508 line with 29 homers and 26 steals. Don't expect a 20/20 season in 2010, but hopefully he can stick around with the big club and help your fantasy team. A .300 average with 10 homers and 10 steals is realistic, and he's only going to get better in 2011. Obviously a great target for those of you in keeper leagues. You can also follow him on Twitter (@JasonHeyward).

Julio Borbon, OF - Texas Rangers
Borbon is slated to get lots of playing time as the starting CF, and possibly even leadoff hitter, for a solid lineup in a hitter's park. Borbon has blazing speed - he stole 19 bases for the Rangers last year in just 157 at bats. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure 15 of those steals came in one game against my Boston Red Sox. He's an exciting player who has shown the ability to hit for average and take a walk, so he might be able to stick at the top of the order. Don't expect much power but bank on a .285 average with 30 steals and hope for a breakout in terms of runs scored.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Primed for a huge year

Let's get the 2010 season started with a list of star players who are primed for an even bigger year than most people expect. These players won't come cheap, but are worth spending an extra few dollars on, or drafting a few spots early. Think of them as the 2010 Blue Chip Studs. Draft these guys confidently and hope for a career year.

Ryan Braun
Matt Kemp
Matt Holliday
Joey Votto
Adrian Gonzalez
Prince Fielder
Justin Morneau
Ian Kinsler
Troy Tulowitzki
Jimmy Rollins
Ryan Zimmerman
David Wright
Evan Longoria
Roy Halladay
Cliff Lee

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Looking back at my 2009 predictions

Let's look back at my sleeper recommendations from early 2009. Red for those that didn't work out and green for those that did.

• Ian Stewart, 2B/3B - COL
• Travis Snider, OF - TOR
• Aaron Hill, 2B - TOR
• Kendry Morales, 1B/OF - LAA
• Mike Fontenot, 2B - CHN
• Jason Kubel, OF - MIN
• Dexter Fowler, OF - COL

• Rafael Soriano, RP - ATL
• Jordan Zimmermann, SP - WAS
• Kyle Davies, SP - KC
• Edwin Jackson, SP - DET

Overall, not a bad performance, especially when you consider that the ones I got right were some of the best value picks of the year. Not coincidentally, I won my rotisserie money league in 2009 with help from $1 pickups Kubel, Soriano and E-Jax. I dropped Kendry Morales after his early season struggles, which was the worst move I made last year - let us never speak of it again.