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Fantasy baseball mailbag


Pitchers and catchers report in less than two week. Let's get our first fantasy baseball mailbag of the year going ...

I love the upside of Josh Hamilton. My friend says I would be crazy to draft him ahead of Matt Holliday. What are your thoughts on the two outfielders?-- Andy, Florida

I think most people are coming down on the side of Hamilton, and I don't support that. Here are my thoughts.

1. Here is the ADP of each man according to Mock Draft Central: Hamilton (12.1) and Holliday (22.1).

2. Hamilton was the MVP last year and had a tremendous season, but aren't you concerned, at least a little bit, about his off the field issues? Even if you say "that stuff is in the past, so who cares," you have to explain to me how you evaluate a guy who has appeared in an average of 111 games the past two years. The only time Holliday has appeared in less than 139 games was during his rookie season (121 games in 2004).

3. I like to manage risk, as much as possible at least, early in the draft. Given that fact, and building off of point No. 2, I'd posit that Holliday is about as consistent an option as one could take in the top-25 picks of a draft. Over the past five years his worst yearly totals would have left him with a 5x5 line of .312-24-88-94-9. How many seasons has Hamilton matched those five fantasy numbers? Z-E-R-O. Hamilton has never, not once, matched the worst production that Holliday has had the last five years. Let's go category by category.

Holliday has hit .317 in his career, Hamilton .311.

Per 162 games Holliday has averaged 29 homers, 111 RBI and 107 runs.

Per 162 games Hamilton has averaged 32 homers, 115 RBI and 100 runs.

Hamilton might have more "upside" than Holliday, but his downside is also significant, whereas with Holliday you plug him into your lineup on Game 1 of the regular season and simply forget about him all the way through Game 162 knowing full well what you are going to get. I'll take that certainty over the uncertainty with Hamilton.

John Buck was huge for me last year, and I kept him in my mixed league since he cost me only $6. You agree that Buck can earn $6 this season, so I made the right decision to keep him, right?-- Shawn, Glendale, Ariz.

The Marlins certainly agree; they gave Buck a three-year, $18 million deal to be their backstop. I'll give Buck credit, he was almost as good as Mike Napoli last year, really.

Napoli: .238-26-68-60-4 with a .784 OPS

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Buck: .281-20-66-53-0 with a .803 OPS

Does that mean Buck will once again be as valuable as Napoli in '11? I'm not going to take that bet. In fact, I already tackled the issue of what to expect with Buck in '11 in the article How to Evaluate a Player. Here is a snippet from that piece. "Buck will hit home runs, he has a lot of power, but a run to another 20 homers seems improbable... I'd lay better than 50/50 odds that his average will once again drop below .250." Clearly, I'm not buying Buck if I have to pay for his '10 performance. However, the more pertinent question is: does it make sense to keep Buck at the cost of $6? The answer to that question is sure, why not? I'd probably see if I could grab a guy like Miguel Olivo or Chris Iannetta for less than $6 if I had my druthers, but at $6 there is still room to return a profit with Buck, so it certainly isn't a horrible call.

I saw that you drafted Nate McLouth in the FSTA draft. Really, Nate McLouth?-- Steve, Akron, Ohio

I'm the only one on the Nate McLouth bandwagon, so there is plenty of room if you want to buy a ticket.

I recently participated in the first major experts draft of the year, the FSTA event in Las Vegas, when I drafted a mixed league squad along with my Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio co-host Kay Adams (you can read about the team that we drafted in Vegas Baby, and the FSTA). In that 29-round draft we selected McLouth as our fifth outfielder in the 23rd round. Why would we take McLouth given that he appeared in only 85 games last season hitting .190 with six homers? As I've written before, there are a plethora of reasons to expect a rebound from McLouth.

1. GM Frank Wren said that McLouth will open the year as the Braves starting center fielder.

2. McLouth is only 29 years old, far from an age when his skills should be in decline.

3. He has hit a poor .229 in 581 at-bats with the Braves over 169 games the past two years. Still, he has also hit 17 homers, knocked in 60 runs, scored 89 times and has stolen 19 bags. Only seven men went 17-60-89-19 in '10 (Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Carlos Gonzalez, B.J. Upton, Drew Stubbs, Alex Rios and Chris Young).

4. In '08-09, McLouth averaged 23 homers and 21 steals while scoring an average of 100 runs.

There is no way that McLouth will hit .190 again -- that .221 BABIP mark of his was a joke -- and if he can stay healthy and in the lineup he has a chance of returning to the player who has, over the course of his career, produced a 5x5 line of .252-19-63-90-21 per 162 games. Buy low on him -- he's going to come on the cheap (his current ADP us just under 400) with a great chance to produce a substantial return on your investment.

I'm sick of seeing all these experts' drafts on the net -- it seems like everyone who has a blog is considered an expert. Are you as outraged as I am with the proliferation of "experts?"-- Not an expert and not afraid to admit it

I've seen a couple of on-line debates about this very topic. Here's my take -- is anyone really an expert at anything? I think it's one of those terms -- like "awesome" -- that is used too much. I also find it interesting that the term "expert" is often attached to the names of people I've never heard of before. I may not be the coolest cat in the room, but I certainly know the names of the people who have helped to make the fantasy sports industry what it is. Chances are if I don't know your name, you likely aren't worthy of the designation of "expert."

In general, "expert" is used to denote someone that does this full-time. There are some great part-time analysts, don't get me wrong, but those of us that spend 12-plus hours a day doing this are more likely to deserve the designation of expert. Regardless, the proof is in the pudding. If you are reading the work of someone and they don't know why OBP is a more valuable tool to measure offensive effectiveness than batting average, well, then you know they aren't an "expert." If you do your job, and you do it well, people will take notice and accolades will follow.

In closing I'll leave you with this thought. If anyone tells you "I'm an expert" I'd be wary of that person, something about clanging symbols.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at