Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Fantasy Baseball Over and Undervalued: First Base

Now that my draft is over and my rankings are no longer a state secret from those who would use them against me, it's time to share the, um, knowledge. Or, at least, try to get something out of all of the work that I did in draft prep. Use in good health.


1) Ryan Howard.
The platoon troubles against left-handers are well documented by now, and no one is expecting 2009's 8 of 9 stolen base mark to come back. The big value for Howard came from playing every day in a band box for a very good offensive team, and with Jayson Werth in Washington, Domonic Brown on the shelf, Chase Utley in limbo and Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins on the down side of their careers, he's just not going to have the opportunities. When it comes to working against the Philadelphia lineup, 2011 is going to be a year where the opposition either goes after Howard because they are left-handed, or avoids him because they can. Expecting more than .270 / 30 / 100 will set you up for disappointment.

2) Adam Dunn. He hits home runs and gets on base like clockwork, and his new park is good for right-handed power, in a division that's not all that great. So why am I not in love with the guy? Maybe it's just not trusting 6'-6" 287-pound guys on the wrong side of 30. Maybe it's that he's spent his entire life in the National League, playing for teams that haven't done much of anything (Cincy, Arizona, Washington), whereas now he's going to be counted on to produce in a pennant race for a manager whose motivational style can charitably be described as hyper-aggressive. And maybe while no one was paying much attention last year in DC, his OBA dropped 25 points off his career average for his lowest single-season mark since 2003.

He'll still get you .250 / 30 / 100, which isn't going to seem like too much of a struggle in the historical record. But there's a reason why guys like Dunn are rarely on the rosters of teams that go to the post-season,and in a lineup filled with heavy-legged aging hitters (Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko, AJ Pierzynski), there's going to be an awful lot of GIDP and post-game Ozzie meltdowns. You can do better.

3) Justin Morneau. There's a lot to love here when he's healthy... but man alive, how long is it going to take for him to shake the cobwebs from last year's concussion and put a few knocks together? Baseball history is littered with guys who were never really the same after a catastrophic injury, and he wasn't exactly the picture of health before 2010, anyway. Couple that with the tough home park and the fact that the Twins are probably going to spotlight his at-bats against prime pitchers to get his confidence back, and I think we're not seeing the full six months of production here. If you are expecting a repeat of last year's .345 pre-injury numbers, I don't think you are seeing them; the spring training struggles alone should give you pause. Check back in 2012, but for now, I'm seeing .290 / 25 / 80, with the bulk of it coming in the second half.


1) Billy Butler.
So maybe all of those doubles won't become home runs, and maybe you're tired of watching a growing OPS that doesn't translate into runs or RBIs, because his team is so horrible. And yes, I get it, especially when the major-league organization is intent on signing every Fat Melky Cabrera and Pointless Jeff Francouer it can get its hands on; what the Royals consider a starting outfielder is just this side of comedy. But one of these years, they are bound to stumble into someone having a decent year in front of him (Mike Aviles?), and the minor-league prospects are starting to look downright tasty. And when they do, the old Billy Baroo is going go look as good as he really is with the stick. .310 / 20 / 95.

2) Kevin Youkilis. Oh, Lord, are the Sox going to score some runs this year. Everyone is already drooling about what Adrian Gonzalez is going to do in Boston, but what about the guy who knows how to hit there already, and has three straight years of improving his OPS despite the fact that he keeps flirting with 1.000? He's going to feast. Feast, I tell you, on all of the situations where Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford are going to be dancing on the basepaths, making pitchers twitch, and ready to score on any ground ball or reasonable fly out. Youk might not be better this year, but his numbers will be. .315 / 30 / 125.

3) Aubrey Huff. No, he's not sexy, and yes, he's going to regress from last year's hot rush close. But since no one in your league, assuming you aren't drafting in San Francisco, believes in him at all, take the late-round bargain for what it is. The Giants will still have men on the bases, still play in a relatively neutral park, and still will give A-Huff 150 games and 550 ABs to provide pop and a really nice OBA. And since Cody Ross and Pat Burrell are much more likely to slide than Huff, he'll also get OF work if the team decides to start the Brandon Belt era early. For a late-round corner slot or the starting first base slot in an NL-only draft where you zigged when everyone else zagged for Pujols/Votto/Fielder, you could do a lot worse. .285 / 24 / 95.

1 comment:

PokerFiend said...

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