Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 Middle Earth Fantasy Baseball League - Keeper Analysis

It's time to look at how the teams in our ultra-competitive keeper baseball league stack up. I know what you're saying. "Joe, you could've done this weeks ago." True, but had I done that, it might've affected our draft, and I'd never want to do that. I prefer that everyone make their moves, and I only look back in retrospect.

The first phase of this analysis will be to look at the keeper lists and give each one a rating out of 80, with 0 being eight unworthy keepers (think the Nationals' pitching staff) and 80 being eight first-round caliber keepers. With eight keeper slots, it'll be 10 points per slot, and I'll break it down slot-by-slot. We'll go in reverse draft order, starting with the #1 picking Those Guys, and moving on down to the Feisty Mosquitoes.

Those Guys
  • Adrian Gonzalez, 1B - 8 points
    Gonzalez is an upper tier power hitter, and while he'll never pierce that fifth category (steals), his upwards potential upon his inevitable exodus from San Diego is very exciting.
  • Grady Sizemore, OF - 7 points
    You have to think Sizemore will bounce back after a disappointing and injury-plagued 2009, but you also have to take into account that his strikeout numbers weren't really getting better, and his batting average has been going down for a few years now.
  • Shane Victorino, OF - 6 points
    I'm not sure that Victorino can provide anything above his expectations, but with solid runs, batting average, and steals, along with not terrible power numbers, he can be a valuable piece to a championship puzzle
  • Bobby Abreu, OF - 4 points
    It's not that there's anything wrong with Abreu's production. But he's 36 years old, and you can't expect his speed to hold up for much longer.
  • Josh Beckett, SP - 7 points
    Outside of a rocky 2006, Beckett has been one of the most reliable and effective starting pitchers in baseball. He hasn't let down anyone who's paid for him in the past three years, and he's a safe bet for good production once again.
  • Josh Johnson, SP - 6 points
    Johnson was everything fantasy owners could've hoped for and more in 2009. The problem is that it was the first time in three years that he'd been healthy. If he's healthy, he should be good again.
  • John Lackey, SP - 4 points
    I'm not sure Lackey was ever as good as I used to say he was, but he's certainly solid. I don't think going from the AL West to the AL East helps his potential, though.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, RP - 3 points
    Good closer, but just a closer.
Dunedain Rangers
  • Brian McCann, C - 3 points
    You're not generally crazy about keeping a catcher, but McCann is good enough to justify it. He wouldn't be a keeper at any other position, though.
  • Derrek Lee, 1B - 6 points
    Lee had a revitalization of sorts last year, and the hope is that he's back on track. Because of his up and down history, though, there is some risk.
  • Chone Figgins, 3B - 6 points
    Figgins is a superstar when it comes to steals, and he generally does well in batting average and runs as well. His utter lack of power numbers mitigates his value somewhat, though.
  • Jason Bartlett, SS - 5 points
    The worry here is that Bartlett had his first great year in 2009, and even his great year wasn't earth-shattering. A small step backwards and he's a borderline keeper.
  • Denard Span, OF - 4 points
    I've seen Span valued very differently by different sources, so I'll put him somewhere in the middle. He'll need to take a step forward in speed or power to justify a keeper slot, though.
  • Dan Haren, SP - 8 points
    While he's historically a first-half pitcher, his overall statistics are still very good. And if you can somehow dodge his end-of-season let-down, you've got a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP over 20 starts.
  • Brandon Webb, SP - 5 points
    If he comes back healthy and effective, he's a great keeper, probably a top 10 pitcher. But with the risk that all pitchers face in coming back from injury, the value is curtailed.
  • (no 8th keeper) - 2 points
    Because you can get talent out of a supplemental pick, the lack of an 8th keeper still carries some value.
The Usual Suspects
  • Matt Wieters, C - 4 points
    Plenty of upside, but it's as yet unrealized. What if he's just Ramon Hernandez?
  • Albert Pujols, 1B - 10 points
  • David Wright, 3B - 9 points
    His power outage in 2009 was of concern, but even a tiny bounce-back puts him on the cusp of the first round again. His across-the-board production is virtually unmatched at third base.
  • Adam Jones, OF - 6 points
    Every expert I've read has declared Jones as a great guy to have this year, but in every mock I've seen, he doesn't go until the sixth or seventh round. Put your money where your mouth is, "experts."
  • Nelson Cruz, OF - 4 points
    I really don't know what to expect out of Cruz, this year or any future year. But people say he'll be alright.
  • Justin Verlander, SP - 8 points
    He's on that third tier of starting pitchers, just behind King Felix and CC Sabathia, and there's not really any reason he couldn't move up with another year like 2009.
  • Tommy Hanson, SP - 6 points
    All offseason his value has gone up and up. It's not wrong that it's gone up, but I think you have to temper yourself a little bit when you're talking about a second-year pitcher.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez, SP - 3 points
    He doesn't post completely replaceable stats, but he'll need to take a small step forward to justify being kept again.
Cleveland Enforcers
  • Ben Zobrist, 2B - 7 points
    All the signs point to Zobrist being the real deal, even if it doesn't feel like he should be a star. I do wonder how his stats might fluctuate with the likely upcoming changes to the Rays' lineup.
  • Alex Rodriguez, 3B - 10 points
    After years of being the consensus #1 pick, he's now only going 3rd or 4th. The title of "Best Player Since Barry Bonds" is split between him and Pujols.
  • Gordon Beckham, 3B - 5 points
    I think we all expect him to continue to improve, but we've been waiting on Stephen Drew to improve for a while now without any luck. So you always have to be wary of youngsters.
  • Jose Reyes, SS - 8 points
    I feel like I can't penalize Reyes for his subsequent health issues, since at the time keepers were submitted, he was generally healthy. His condition is obviously a concern for the Enforcers, though.
  • B.J. Upton, OF - 5 points
    I know he's valuable and fairly well thought of. But I hate him.
  • Josh Hamilton, OF - 4 points
    Even four points might be a reach, but he showed in the first half of 2008 that he can be a superstar. Here's hoping injuries don't put him away for good.
  • Carlos Quentin, OF - 4 points
    His upside is a little bit lower than Hamilton's, but his likelihood of a rebound back to 2008 form is greater.
  • Cole Hamels, SP - 6 points
    The thinking is that he was overworked in 2008, with a ton of regular season and postseason innings, causing his drop off in 2009. If he can get back to 2008 form, though, he'll be pitching a ton again.
  • Joe Mauer, C - 9 points
    His huge leap forward in power numbers in 2009 makes Mauer a guy to consider late in the first round of a standard draft. The only concern is how much all these catching games are going to affect his offense.
  • Pablo Sandoval, 1B/3B - 6 points
    He's just got the one year under his belt, and he doesn't look like he'll develop into a premier power source, but he sure can hit. You just hope the Giants can give him some kind of help in that lineup.
  • Robinson Cano, 2B - 4 points
    I never know what to make of Cano, with his whole year ups and downs. But he's got the ability to hit well over .300, and he's in a stacked lineup.
  • Michael Young, 3B - 5 points
    Young is quietly one of the more consistent hitters in baseball, and there's value in reliably productive players.
  • Matt Holliday, OF - 9 points
    His underwhelming performance in Oakland last year is a taste that's hard to get out of my mouth, but his NL career is outstanding. Hitting in a lineup with Pujols doesn't hurt, either.
  • Jake Peavy, SP - 6 points
    His health has become a legitimate concern, but when healthy, he's one of the best pitchers in baseball. Word is, he's healthy.
  • Matt Garza, SP - 5 points
    If Garza can cut down on the gopher balls and get a little more consistent, he can move up next year's draft board in a hurry. He's got the Ks and the ability to dominate.
  • Joe Nathan, RP - 4 points
    Again, I won't penalize the keeper rating because of a subsequent injury.
Mercer AutoWreckers
  • Joey Votto, 1B - 7 points
    It looks like Votto is just a really good hitter, but the concern is that he's only got a little more pop than James Loney. He might be a lot better, but emphasis on the might.
  • Dustin Pedroia, 2B - 8 points
    He's not a superstar, and if you remember, neither Joe nor myself though that he deserved the MVP in 2008. But he's certainly solid, and the Red Sox still boast a potent lineup.
  • Derek Jeter, SS - 6 points
    He's getting up there, but he's obviously still got the talent to produce at a high level.
  • Nick Markakis, OF - 5 points
    Markakis might be one of the more over-valued players in fantasy baseball. He's got a solid batting average and decent run production, but doesn't offer exceptional production with regards to power or steals. Doesn't that put him just a tick above Chris Coghlan?
  • Andre Ethier, OF - 5 points
    In 2008, Ethier showed he can hit for average. In 2009, he showed he can hit for power. Can he combine the two? If so, he's a stud.
  • Felix Hernandez, SP - 9 points
    King Felix was one of the premier pitching prospects in baseball, and now he's just one of the premier pitchers in baseball.
  • Roy Halladay, SP - 9 points
    Halladay isn't as old as you think, but he's got plenty of miles on his arm. Still, the move to the NL will give a whole new group of hitters the opportunity to be mystified by him.
  • Heath Bell, RP - 3 points
    A solid closer, but he's on a bad team. There's talk of him getting traded, but you never know; sometimes those trades turn closers into setup men, and that would obviously kill most of Bell's value.
Vandelay Industries
  • Lance Berkman, 1B - 3 points
    It was curious that Vandelay traded for Berkman when they had Billy Butler as an option. Berkman's fine, but Butler is a better long-term option.
  • Aaron Hill, 2B - 5 points
    He probably won't hit 35+ homers ever again, but he's got enough pop at second base to be valuable for a long time.
  • Evan Longoria, 3B - 9 points
    If he could just move his batting average up a tick, he'd be right there with Alex Rodriguez at the top of the 3B heap.
  • Ichiro Suzuki, OF - 5 points
    Is the 36-year-old Suzuki taking the standard path of an aging hitter? Lower speed, higher power? Unfortunately, his power won't grow high enough, and if he steals 26 bases again in 2010, his value will take a beating.
  • Curtis Granderson, OF - 6 points
    I'm less excited about Granderson than other people, but in the Yankees lineup, he's obviously got the potential to explode. Time will tell.
  • Jon Lester, SP - 8 points
    Eventually traded by Vandelay, Lester is an elite pitcher in the making. Young, lots of strikeouts, good team, he's a quality #1 for most teams.
  • Adam Wainwright, SP - 8 points
    Part of the reason Vandelay could afford to trade Lester is he's actually got 2-3 aces, with Wainwright competing for the NL Cy Young last year. He's just a tick below Lester, and he's still plenty young.
  • Yovani Gallardo, SP - 7 points
    One of the more exciting pitching prospects out there, many experts see Gallardo taking a Felix-like step forward this year. If he does, look out.
Stewies SexyParties
  • Chase Utley, 2B - 10 points
    The best second baseman, bar none. Kinsler looked like he'd challenge, but Utley remains the best all-around option.
  • Aramis Ramirez, 3B - 5 points
    Though he's had trouble staying healthy most of his career, he's been productive when he's been on the field. And surprisingly, he's still just 31 years old.
  • Hanley Ramirez, SS - 10 points
    Worth slightly more than Freddie Sanchez these days.
  • Ryan Braun, OF - 10 points
    The best waiver pickup in league history, Braun has continued to develop into one of the elite fantasy players at any position. A very worthy top five pick.
  • Andrew McCutchen, OF - 6 points
    McCutchen spells his last name wrong, but other than that, he's got a lot going for him. His power/speed potential makes him particularly interesting.
  • Jason Bay, OF - 6 points
    You wonder what the move to a pitcher's park in the National League will do for his production, but he should still be keeper-worthy.
  • Cliff Lee, SP - 7 points
    At some point, I'll have to start believing in Cliff Lee. That point is now.
  • Chris Carpenter, SP - 6 points
    Carpenter is always an injury concern, and he turns 35 in April. But when healthy, he's on the same level as the very best pitchers. It's a risk/reward type deal.
Huber Heights Heroes
  • Mark Teixeira, 1B - 10 points
    Not a perfect fit for the Heroes with his ~.300 average, but value-wise, he's as good as first base gets outside of Pujols.
  • Ryan Howard, 1B - 9 points
    The poster boy for the Heroes' agenda, Howard is a machine when it comes to power and runs.
  • Mark Reynolds, 3B - 8 points
    Again, the batting average is of concern, but he was so good by the end of last year that you can't really fault him for that any more than you can fault Teixeira for not stealing bases.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, OF - 8 points
    Might be overvalued right now, as it doesn't look like he'll develop much power. He's not as good as Carl Crawford, but he's getting drafted around there. I'll value him the way I see him.
  • Adam Dunn, OF - 4 points
    Straight power broker, and I'm glad he's on the Nationals. It gives my local team a little something to cheer for.
  • Johan Santana, SP - 7 points
    Santana is coming off of his first serious injury, but we all expect him to be dominant once again. Still, you have to account for the possibility that it'll take some time for him to recapture his magic.
  • Matt Cain, SP - 7 points
    Cain finally broke through and posted a nice amount of wins last year, and if he can keep that up along with his averages and strikeouts, he'll be the next Josh Beckett.
  • Wandy Rodriguez, SP - 6 points
    All of his numbers are headed in the right direction. Another year of that, and he'll really catch some people's eyes.
Akron Pronks
  • Victor Martinez, C - 7 points
    Martinez really thrived after his trade to Boston, and a whole season of that production has fantasy owners salivating. Wipe your mouth, though, folks. He's still a good deal behind Mauer.
  • Kendry Morales, 1B - 6 points
    Morales had a breakout season, posting very good numbers across the board. You worry about a letdown after that kind of explosion, but hitters are generally able to keep pace.
  • Brian Roberts, 2B - 7 points
    His spring training injury is a concern. There's no "but" after that. It's a concern.
  • Kevin Youkilis, 3B - 6 points
    It's probably time to accept that Youkilis isn't getting any better. He's a .300-.320 hitter with solid power and run production, but he won't be jacking 40 homers ever.
  • Jayson Werth, OF - 7 points
    Werth was kind of a shocker in 2009, in that he had bounced around for five years, then followed up his breakout 2008 with an explosive 2009. His production is actually pretty similar to Mark Reynolds.
  • Shin-Soo Choo, OF - 6 points
    His numbers might startle you, but Choo was an across-the-board performer last season. If the rest of the Indians lineup can provide a little pop, he could be Beltran-esque.
  • Tim Lincecum, SP - 10 points
    Come on, don't make me say it.
  • Jonathan Broxton, RP - 5 points
    Probably the strongest closer option, with his torrid strikeout rate and his favorable situation. If he gets 7 wins again, though, I'll punch Joe Mandi.
Riders of Rohan
  • Miguel Cabrera, 1B - 10 points
    His level of commitment seems to be questionable, but his production is steady and spectacular.
  • Prince Fielder, 1B - 9 points
    I'd be a little surprised to see him hit .300, but the power numbers are impossible to ignore. He also played in all 162 Brewers games last year.
  • Ian Kinsler, 2B - 8 points
    Injuries and a weak batting average have bumped Kinsler out of the first round in most mocks, but he's still a potentially explosive player. Don't give him a bonus for playing second base, though; the position is stronger now than it's been in years.
  • Jimmy Rollins, SS - 8 points
    Rollins was the other side of the aforementioned Lester trade. Apparently Rollins had one of the most noticeably unlucky BABIPs in baseball last year, so his .250 average was likely an anomaly. Look for closer to .275 in 2010, with plenty of runs and steals.
  • Matt Kemp, OF - 10 points
    Kemp vaulted himself into the first round of most drafts with a great power/speed combo performance. If he gets moved into a more favorable lineup spot next year (he had 350 ABs in the 6-8 slots), his run production could put him into top three discussions.
  • Carlos Lee, OF - 4 points
    Lee's hitting is still there, but his baserunning seems to be deteriorating, both in the forms of steals and runs. A reversal of fortune isn't impossible, but projecting more than 80 runs seems silly.
  • Zack Greinke, SP - 9 points
    The AL Cy Young overcame confidence issues to have one of the best seasons by a pitcher this decade. Who knew that a guy could have a 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 242 strikeouts and still be uncomfortable. Chip up, brother. You're the man.
  • Clayton Kershaw, SP - 7 points
    Kershaw managed just 8 wins last season despite great numbers, owing partly due to the fact that he went seven or more innings in just 8 of his 30 starts. If he can get deeper into games, even if it sacrifices some of his strikeouts, he can be a superstar.
Feisty Mosquitoes
  • Justin Morneau, 1B - 7 points
    Morneau seems to have trouble putting together both power and batting average in the same season. In fact, the only time he's ever combined a .275+ average with 25+ home runs was his MVP 2006 season. If he matches them up again, another MVP might be in the works.
  • Brandon Phillips, 2B - 7 points
    Phillips has quietly had three straight 20/20 seasons, and last year he added in a career 98 RBI. Cincinnati may not be a hitter's paradise, but I can see Phillips having another very good season.
  • Ryan Zimmerman, 3B - 8 points
    Zimmerman had a completely predictable breakout in 2009, and if there's any development at all by the lineup around him, he could be in line for 120 runs and 120 RBI.
  • Troy Tulowitzki, SS - 10 points
    Everything bounced back about Tulowitzki in 2009, and he's now going in the first round of many drafts. If he can reproduce his numbers from last year, he'll be well worth the investment.
  • Carl Crawford, OF - 9 points
    Mark it down, 2009 was just another great year by Carl Crawford. Mark it down. I'll wait.
  • Justin Upton, OF - 7 points
    Upton is probably the sexiest pick in most fantasy baseball drafts this year, as just about everyone expects him to develop into an elite player. Just go compare his numbers to Shin-Soo Choo, though, and you'll see that the expert community is wrong about one of them; they're either too excited about Upton, or not excited enough about Choo.
  • Adam Lind, OF - 5 points
    Hopefully Lind is the next Shawn Green, and not the next Pat Burrell. Either is possible, though.
  • CC Sabathia, SP - 9 points
    While New York didn't see nearly as dominant a CC as Milwaukee did, they got one of the best pitchers in the junior circuit. Additionally, his performance was right in line with his career numbers, so you can justifiably expect similar numbers in 2010.

Totals (in order)
  1. Riders of Rohan - 65 points
    Makes sense, though, right? I'm the one doing the rankings, so I'm inevitably going to like my guys a little bit more. Still, I think any reviewer would put my squad in the top 3 or 4.
  2. Feisty Mosquitoes - 62 points
    Last year's champion still has a damn good team.
  3. Stewies SexyParties - 60 points
    All that top-end talent will keep Stewie competitive for a long time.
  4. Huber Heights Heroes - 59 points
    It's possible that on a functional level, the Heroes would be number one, since the points they "lose" based on their players' low batting averages are less meaningful than they would be to other teams.
  5. Akron Pronks - 54 points
    He's got Lincecum and a bunch of guys at 6 or 7. The math makes sense.
  6. Mercer AutoWreckers - 52 points
    Slowly but surely, the AutoWreckers are undoing the damage of some of their more tragic trades.
  7. Vandelay Industries - 51 points
    With solid keepers and a good draft position, Vandelay put themselves in a position to compete.
  8. The Usual Suspects - 50 points
    Naturally, the Suspects' draft looks nothing like a regular draft. To their credit, it's top-heavy, and they maintained a solid keeper list.
  9. Cleveland Enforcers - 49 points
    The Enforcers' list would've rated in the top three last year. It's a risk/reward list, with the most potential for a rebound in value next season.
  10. DamKnights - 48 points
    One thing you can be sure of, with the DamKnights' keepers, they're going to hit .300.
  11. Those Guys - 45 points
    Though their keepers rank fairly low, there's enough potential and talent here to field a solid 2011. They culled most of their draft to put together a solid keeper list.
  12. Dunedain Rangers - 39 points
    Sort of the opposite of Those Guys, they traded their top two pitchers in the middle of 2009 for extra 1st and 2nd picks in 2010. They even re-acquired Dan Haren at a slight discount. Could be one of the big movers for next year's list.

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