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Monday, January 04, 2010
As this is my first column of 2010, it seems fitting to offer some resolutions for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. I'll omit a long preamble for a change and get right into them.
I will play in fewer leagues this year than last year. Last year, I participated in five leagues and it was a little much. One of the five is a co-ownership scenario and frankly I let my attention slip a little bit knowing my buddy was there to keep an eye out. My partner is extremely capable, but this whole dynamic was folly for a different reason. The co-ownership league is pretty high stakes and I actually prioritized other leagues over that one because the other four were under my account while the last one was under my buddy’s. So, every time I wanted to toggle into that league, I’d have to sign out of my account and into the other. I know this is really only the most minor of impediments but, in practice, I often resented having to jump back and forth between accounts to manage the other team. While you may be tempted to decide that I am the laziest person alive for actually voicing this gripe, I’d assert that this dynamic is not all that different from the dieting rule that dictates one should never bring the bag of chips to your seat; if you actually have to get up and refill the bowl, you often won’t bother.
The lesson here for all is that in a co-ownership scenario, the owner whose account the league is under should take primary responsibility for running the team. (This was actually the case in my scenario as I’m the “secondary owner” anyway.)
You may be tempted to outsmart this phenomenon and register a separate, third, account for a team with a co-ownership set-up. I’d advise strongly against that, as that would create a situation in which neither owner has “home field advantage.” It’s a lovely, equitable thought on paper, but would be counterproductive in practice.
I will shorten my leash on underperforming veterans. This is a tricky one for me, because as I’ve said many times I like boring older players as value picks and I think I display admirable restraint with the “drop” button. However, sometimes I do hold on to a player too long because I am seduced by his past.
I can’t stress enough that I think it is better to err on the side of caution in the higher end versions of this situation, such as a 2009 David Ortiz. But the real downside of holding a player too long is that it minimizes your chance of acquiring one of those waiver-wire gems that come out of nowhere every year.
Last year I held onto Garrett Atkins and Aubrey Huff long past their expiration dates. I’d like to continue to more finely calibrate my senses when it comes to such situations. To do this, I have to do a better job of realizing when I am beginning to repeat bad habits.
I will not be scared off of last year’s first-round busts. Provided no red flags emerge over the next few months, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Grady Sizemore are all totally legitimate and sensible first-round picks. One or more of them may slip outside the top 10 or 12. I hope they do in my drafts.
It seems like the top four are pretty set going into next year: Albert Pujols; Hanley Ramirez; Alex Rodriguez; and Ryan Braun. After that, things look pretty open, with players like Chase Utley, Matt Kemp, Tim Lincecum, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, and Prince Fielder all having plausible claim to a first-round selection. Reyes, Wright, and Sizemore still have arguments over any of the players outside that top four.
I will re-evaluate second-tier middle infielders. Last year, I was rather skeptical about the draft positions of many of the second-tier middle infielders and this led me to something of a stars and scrubs approach to filling out my middle infield. I wasn’t sure players like Dustin Pedroia, Robinson Cano, Brandon Phillips, Stephen Drew, and Chone Figgins were worth their pre-ranks or ADPs. I tried to nab Brian Roberts in a few leagues as I was pretty certain what he would produce and what I was willing to pay for it, but he went a tad early for my taste a few times and I was forced to wait and hope I could grab a slipping Derek Jeter or an overlooked Jose Lopez. Thankfully, I only got stuck with Jhonny Peralta in one league, though I had targeted him several times. In some leagues I simply spent my first pick on Jose Reyes or Chase Utley. I was right on more of those players than I was wrong. Drew was a total bust and Phillips and Pedroia were not top 25 players. Cano outperformed though and Figgins provided solid value and more than 40 steals, which is important as it seems fewer middle infielders are contributing strongly in the speed department these days. Of course, Figgins will not be middle-infield eligible this year.
This year I think we’ll see Pedroia and Phillips fall to a point at which I’d be much more willing to buy. Jeter’s price will be through the roof though, so I’ll stay away from him. Lopez and Dan Uggla look like they will still be bargains though and Reyes and Jimmy Rollins might be as well. Further, depending on the price, I don’t think I’ll be all too afraid to hitch my cart to the horse named Aaron Hill.
As has been mentioned by some of the readers, it looks as if the complexion of the entire infield is changing from a fantasy perspective. The once stacked third base position is now rather thin, while the middle infield positions are becoming deeper. However, a waning supply of middle infield speed is leading managers who miss out on the elite middle infielder speedsters to look to the outfield to supply more of their speed needs. This seems to drive up the value of corner outfielders capable of tossing in some swipes. Value middle infielders like Lopez and Uggla don’t provide any steals, meaning that those 15 or 20 steals from a Braun or Matt Holliday are that much more important to the balance of your team.
What are your resolutions for the upcoming fantasy baseball season?
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:47am
While 2009 was a career year for Marco Scutaro we won't know until next season what he can really be. His season made him and the younger Yunel Escobar two of the top 10 shortstops in fantasy baseball last year. With Escobar being only 27 this season, he will be much more trusted to put up another season like this if not better in 2010. So far they have been drafted at replacement level in 12-team leagues according to MockDraftCentral going, on average, as the 11th and 15th picked shortstops, respectively. Let's see if one or both might be getting undervalued for next year.
G PA AB R HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BB% K% Scutaro 144 680 574 100 12 60 14 5 90 75 0.282 0.379 0.409 0.789 13.60% 13.10% Escobar 141 604 528 89 14 76 5 4 57 62 0.299 0.377 0.436 0.812 9.70% 11.70%
Scutaro has never topped 600 PA before 2009 (came close in 2008 at 592) and his numbers include a lot of time as a pinch hitter. This is a more difficult approach and his numbers before have shown this. His walk rate has varied but even at his worst it was around 9 percent. Last year though he dropped his swing rate to 34.5 percent as he saw the lowest number of strikes per pitches seen. Even if pitchers attack the zone against him in 2010 you know he can still get on base by taking a walk.
Looking at Escobar, he hasn't quite shown an ability to have the elite walk rate similar to Scutaro even with a similar number of strikes seen. This isn't a terrible thing though as his 9.7 percent is one of the best among shortstops. He does make up for this by swinging more than Scutaro and making good contact. This has resulted in a better strikeout rate and the two players posted the best BB/K rates among shortstops.
For the first time in his career Scutaro hit double-digit homers, but his overall power numbers look fairly consistent. His career ISO is .119 and only rose to .127 in 2010. There was a rise in his fly ball rate to 43.6 percent, which could help explain his slight power increase. As a right-handed hitter moving to Fenway, he should continue to post SLG numbers near .400.
If we move on to Escobar, we can see he also has a bit more potential for power. His ISO dropped in 2008, but he has a career rate of .125. Since he is only going to be 27, you can see him adding even a bit more power next year. This again gives Escobar a slight edge as he can out slug Scutaro in 2010.
Speed and Baserunning
Overall, looking at their speed score of 4.2 for Scutaro and 3.8 for Escobar they get around the bases fairly well, but Scutaro found some extra steals last season. He topped double-digit steals last year and was caught five times. That isn't a great rate, but his move to Boston shouldn't concern you as they didn't seem to hold their players back in 2009. The Red Sox as a team stole 53 more bases than the Blue Jays.
This is one place Escobar still has some work to do. His success rate was only 55 percent and very similar to his career rate of 50 percent. It looks like Escobar should be held back on the basepaths, but it's unlikely the Braves will do that.
Roster and Lineup
Sometimes it's not always the player you draft, but what team they play on. So far we can see that these two are close, but even batting at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup, Scutaro should see similar chances to Escobar in counting stats. If Escobar sees more time in the No. 2 spot he'll have the lead in runs and fall in RBIs. On the other hand, in the fifth or sixth spot he would probably get more RBIs. Either way, Scutaro is expected to bat somewhere behind J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz. It's highly unlikely he sees only 227 plate appearances with runners on next season the way he did this year.
In the end it's an edge to Escobar for sure and with youth on his side that makes sense. Still, you shouldn't be afraid to take Scutaro just a few rounds later and have adequately filled your shortstop position. He has earned his time as a starter in the majors as well as a fantasy starter for your team.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 4:33am
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