Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is Eric Byrnes A Keeper?

Eric Byrnes seems to have settled down in Arizona after playing for three different teams in 2005. Last year was the first time he's ever stayed healthy and effective enough to play in 150+ games, and he was a quality fantasy player, racking up nice totals in runs and steals, and solid power numbers. Coming into 2008, Byrnes was a keeper-quality player.

Going out of 2008, not so much.

Was Byrnes injured for much of this season? Yes, he absolutely was. Should he be penalized for getting hurt? Some, but not a lot. Should he be penalized for not playing well before the injury eventually shelved him for the entire season? Yes. He played for a month and a half before being placed on the disabled list, and was not at all the same player. It's possible that his hamstring injury went undetected for a while and contributed to his unimpressive performance, but even if that's the case, he should've known he wasn't himself and tried to get better, rather than hurting his team (and his fantasy owners) by playing through it.

I think it's more likely, though, that Eric Byrnes had a surprisingly good 2007 season that was simply unsustainable. Let's take a closer look at that 2007 season, during which Byrnes was 31. He set career highs in batting average (.286), RBI (83), runs (103), and SB (50), and picked up 21 homers, his second-highest career total. The batting average, HR, and RBI totals don't constitute keeper numbers, however, so he had two keeper stats (runs and steals), with non-negatives in the other three categories. That made him a reasonable keeper.

But consider that those numbers were career-highs. If you were to project Byrnes for 2008, you'd probably be looking at .275, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 90 R, and 35 SB. You'd probably still keep somebody with those kind of numbers, but he'd be towards the bottom of your keeper list, and the kind of guy you'd move out of your list if you could. Now, with a dismal 2008 in the books, and the fact that he'll be 33 on opening day, I think you can safely let Byrnes fall back into the draft, and look at him as a 4th outfielder option for next year.

2009 Projected Stats: .265, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 70 R, 25 SB

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