Ten key questions for 2010
Although the pay's not great, being a fantasy expert certainly has its perks. I get to write about a game played by people who follow another game. I'm able to use the MLB Extra Innings package as a tax write-off -- at least I think I can. I should probably call my accountant. Best of all though, I've been able to meet, and befriend, many of the most important people in baseball. Whether drinking cocktails at
Over the winter, my new friends in baseball sought my counsel on a variety of topics. Due to legal concerns I can't divulge most of what we discussed, but in scouring old text messages and e-mails, I was able to extract 10 questions that, in a roundabout way, may just be of interest to all you fantasy enthusiasts out there.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure I have much ammunition for you. All his ratios last year were identical to the season before, with the only significant change coming in his home run-to-fly ball ratio (HR/FB), which jumped from 3.8 in 2008 to 12.1 last season; basically indicating that instead of doubles off the wall, the 6-foot-5, 220 pound catcher is now capable of crushing homers almost at will. Sorry, Justin, Mauer's power is for real. I recently watched a buddy take him in the first round of a mock draft and all I could do afterward was nod in silent approval. Maybe you should consider buying an Ed Hardy shirt if you want to keep up with the "Minnesota Long Ball" at the bar. It seemed to work for the
Geez, Pete. Everyone knows you never chase wins. You realize there were zero pitchers who reached 20 wins last year don't you? You know it's the single hardest stat to predict in baseball on a yearly basis, right? Whatever. I still owe you for that time in San Juan.
The way I see it, you have to make the safest bet possible if you decide to prospect for high win totals. That eliminates pitchers with subpar offenses, major injury concerns, and volatile pasts. By my math, that leaves
Boston fans have been pining for an
Whoever it is, Gonzo's sure to benefit. Of his 130 homers as a Padre, only 46 have come at spacious Petco Park. His batting average is a pedestrian .253 at home, compared to .302 on the road over the past three seasons. The only thing holding up a deal is selling the idea of trading a homegrown talent, and the team's only recognizable player, to the San Diego fans. It'll take a little work, but Gonzalez will be out of the Petco before the All-Star break. So Edgar, take solace in knowing that like
Ummm, possibly. He was listed at 245 pounds heading into last year, a laughable figure considering he topped out at over 270 by year's end. He dropped 10 pounds during a team-supervised training program in November, but then went home to Venezuela and mama's homemade cooking. Rumors of outlandish feedings and ballooning weight soon followed. According to
I see where you're coming from. The prodigious power, the gale force winds his whiffs produce, the second base eligibility, the black hair ... they seem identical to me. Looking deeper into their numbers, I was surprised to find that although similar in style, Stewart actually out-performs Uggla in the two things the Marlins two-bagger does best: banging out homers and whiffing balls. Stewart struck out on a ridiculous 28 percent of his plate appearances last year while bashing 5.1 percent of his opportunities over the wall. As a reference point, Uggla has a career 22.7 strikeout percentage and 4.5 homer rate.
Of course, Uggla didn't make his major league debut until he was 26 years old while Stewart already has 263 big league games under his belt at age 25. There's a chance Stewart develops into a more sophisticated hitter, but I'll be damned if his numbers don't make him look like he fell directly out of the Uggla family tree. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any legitimate familial relation between the two, and let's face it, if they were related, Stewart wouldn't have normal sized arms.
First off, enjoy the knife, John. You earned it. Second, you hit a career-high 24 homers as a 35-year old playing with the benefit of a short right-field porch. Granderson hit 30 as a 28-year old playing his home games in a big boy park. You do the math. I know his .249 average last year wasn't pretty, but he posted a .280 average in '08 and it was .302 in '07. The ability is there. Many people make the case that his low average was simply a result of trying to hit more homers, a theory backed up by his rising fly ball percentage. At new Yankee Stadium, he won't have to try to hit homers, he can just stick the bat out and the infant fences will do the rest.
As to your point about lefties, yeah, Granderson's atrocious against them, and with
That's not even a question, Bossman. And there's no need to yell. What could I possibly say bad about your boys? Sure,
I feel for you, Steve, I really do. If I had a dollar for every time a RotoExperts intern drove to my house and delivered a letter detailing our sexual exploits along with an in-depth description of my privates to the wifey, I'd have, well, zero dollars. But still, I feel for you man.
As for your prized pick, last year couldn't have been more awkward for Wright. He was trying to adapt his swing to a new home park, the Mets were without the entire top half of their batting order for a majority of the season, and he suffered a concussion in early August that undoubtedly contributed to his poor finish (.245 AVG/.658 OPS after being concussed). Don't make the mistake of placing undue blame on Citi Field; Wright hit five homers at home, and five on the road. It may cost him a few here and there, but he's still a player who'll hit over .300 and steal 20 bags. With a year to figure out his new surroundings, and a hopefully healthier supporting cast -- which will alleviate the pressure on Wright -- I fully expect the 20-plus homer power to return.
I'll be honest with you Billy, after giving us guys like
Sorry, Alyssa, I already have a prior engagement with four mock drafts and a six pack of beer. Hit me up in June, maybe we can hang. You know what your desperate attempt to seduce me away from my draft prep got me thinking of though? Busts. Not human ones, either -- I'm talking about the sort of bust you can only find in the early rounds of a fantasy baseball draft. I'm talking about
Ichiro posted his worst overall season in 2008, but when his average bounced back to .352 last year, thanks in part to a 27-game hitting streak, the critics quieted (his latest ADP was 39, 10th among outfielders). I'm not buying it. He struck out more frequently and walked less. His steals total dropped from 43 to 26, and his 88 runs marked the first time in his career he'd failed to top 100. Plus, he missed a smattering of games with a bleeding ulcer and a slow healing calf strain.
The guy's entire value is predicated on speed, hand-eye coordination, and durability, and at 36 years old, it's logical to think those qualities have started to diminish. I'd say we're looking at a .300/90/7/45/25 line, which basically makes Ichiro a less powerful