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Category Archives: Fantasy Baseball

Player Profile: Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez has had a productive spring in 2011.

This is mainly because he appears to have gotten past the chronic hip problems of the last few years. He showed up to Spring Training lighter and far more flexible, prompting him to use his legs to drive the ball instead of just relying on his arms.

Last year, A-Rod hit 30 home runs and had an average of .270. Not great stats for him, probably why he said that they were “unacceptable.”

Even with the down year, A-Rod still hit 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s. He has done that every year since ’08, putting him as one of three players(Joe DiMaggio and Chick Hafey) do accomplish that feat while playing fewer than 140 games.

With his stats from the last few years, it almost guaranteed that A-Rod hits 30 HR and 100 RBI again. But with him looking and feeling good in spring training, there is a good chance he rises to a 40 HR this season if he were to stay fully healthy all year long.

He also appears more focused than year’s past. With a focused and healthy A-Rod, fantasy owners will love him and pitchers will hate him when he steps up to the plate this season.

Player Profile: Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera is 41 years of age, but he is still playing at an incredibly high level of play.

Last year, he had an ERA of 1.80 in 61 appearances with 33 saves. In fact, in his last eight seasons, he has only had an ERA over two, just once. That’s pretty magnificent for a guy that was supposed to retire three years ago.

Overall, he has played 16 MLB seasons and has compiled a 2.23 ERA and 559 saves. He also has been to the All-Star game a whopping 10 times. He also has won the AL Rolaids Relief award five times. To top it off, he leads all active pitchers in career ERA and is 13th in MLB history.

However, how long will he be able to keep up the production?

In the past three years, I have noticed a steady incline in his ERA. It obviously has not been a dramatic increase, but it is evident.

Even though he only pitched six less innings in 2010 than in 2009, he threw 27 less strike outs. It seems remarkable that those are the only numbers that have actually shown signs of age, but it might be enough for me to place a red flag on Rivera.

In fantasy baseball, closer is a deep and also somewhat meaningless position. You can find closers for miles upon miles that are usable.

However, I still expect Rivera to have one more plausible season, in the two ERA range, then another declining season in the tank for an over three ERA. After that, he retires as his contract is up.

Player Profile: J.P. Arencibia

It looks like J.P. Arencibia is going to have the starting catcher gig in Toronto locked up.

Despite posting less than mediocre numbers this spring (two for 26), he does not seem to be in danger of losing playing time to backup Jose Molina. The team likes what he is doing behind the plate and trusts him to break out of his funk.

Arencibia hit .301 with 32 HR and 85 RBI in just 104 games in Triple-A last year. He’s not a hitter for average, as he only is a career .275 hitter in his minor league career, but the power has always been there and should carry over into the majors.

The Blue Jays anointed Arencibia the catcher of the future when they let John Buck walk.

I recently wrote about Arencibia in my newcomers article and I’m sticking to my word. Arencibia will be a useful fantasy asset this year.

He looks to have all the tools to make an impact right away. I’m expecting somewhere around .260 with 20 HR and 80 RBI for 2011.

I’ve waited in every league so far to draft him as my starting catcher in the final rounds.

One concern, though, is his high strikeout rate, but I draft him for the power that I am going to get at catcher and the cheap price.

I would say that is great bang for your buck if he is on the board in the final rounds of your draft.

Player Profile: Ubaldo Jimenez

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

Not many players in baseball will raise a greater debate about their potential production in 2011 as Ubaldo Jimenenez will.  So we know a couple of things about him for sure; he’s a 6’4  27 year old right-handed Dominican who throws gas.  So much gas in fact, that he has been clocked at 101 mph in games, with a 99 mph two-seamer. That’s right, I said 99 mph two-seamer.

Did he just break out last year with the two best months of his career, or is there still some more magic to be squeezed out of this guy? I say yes, and yes.

Last year basically showed a tale of two different pitchers, both named Ubaldo Jimenez.  One pitched in April and May, and the other in June and July.

The Ubaldo who pitched in April won five games with a 0.79 ERA, and in May won another five games with a 0.78 ERA.

The “other” Ubaldo that pitched in June won four games with a 4.41 ERA, and in July had a 6.04 ERA with only two wins.

But here’s something interesting to consider; the batting average against Jimenez in consecutive months of April – July was .186, .160, .264, and .210.  So while in July he had and ERA of 6.04, the avg. against him was only .210, which is far from terrible.

This leads me to believe that these two Ubaldos are actually the same guy.  That his ERA in April and May were rather exteme and lucky, and that his ERA in June and July of the very same year were treacherously unlucky.

July heat is rarely kind to anyone’s ERA in Colorado.  But these peripheral numbers show signs of some bad fortune for Jimenez in 2010, who in the beginning of June was having one of the best years we’ve seen in the past century.

Coors is still a hitters park, but not nearly the way it was before the days of the humidor that they use to contain the balls before games.  In 2010, Jimenez only gave up ten hrs, and just four of them were at Coors Field.  His fly-ball rate really isn’t nearly as much of a liability as some may perceive it to be.

It was almost as if in the course of just one year, he experienced the extremes of good and bad luck that Cole Hamels did in ’08 (good luck) and ’09 (terrible luck).  So it seems to me that Ubaldo’s 2011 ERA should fall somewhere in between, perhaps in the 2.70 – 3.30 range with another 200+ strikeout season.

That’s not bad, right?

Player Profile: Casey McGehee

AP Photo

Casey McGehee is a player whose value could vary a great deal depending on who you talk to.

One thing is for sure, fantasy owners of Prince Fielder last year are certainly well aware of McGehee’s ability to scoop up base-runners and bring them home.  In 2010 Mcgehee drove in 104 runs while his more notable counterpart Fielder, had just 83.

Now let’s be honest here, we aren’t talking about a guy like McGehee for his speed.  His .288 lifetime average is respectable, but the value McGehee will show this year is directly tied to how many runs he can drive home.  Some people think that McGehee’s RBI numbers last year were a mirage, and that more of them will be driven in by Fielder (who is in a contract year) and Braun.  That the RBI total was a quantified product of his 610 AB (7th most in NL).  But no one is questioning the likes of Ryan Braun to produce runs, and he had 619 AB with one less RBI than Casey did.

Am I implying that McGehee is the same caliber hitter as Ryan Braun?  Of course I’m not saying that, but there is good value to be had with a guy like him.  McGehee still has some possible room for growth too, if he can learn to start hitting right-handers with more authority.

In 2010 hit .316 with eight hrs in just 158 AB against lefties, while hitting .274 with 15 hrs in 452 ab’s against righties.

In conclusion, I believe that McGehee should have pretty similar numbers to what he posted last year, with maybe just 8-10 less rbi to be predicting on the more conservative side.

Fantasy-wise he is a nice value pick in fairly late rounds, especially if you’re looking for some cheap quality run production that won’t punch a hole in your batting average.  The amount of value he can bring will mostly be on how well he can progress against right-handed pitching, since hoping that twice as many lefties will suddenly show up in the bigs is futile.

Be sure to tune in to plenty of MLB action this summer and find out what will happen when this Casey is up to bat.

Player Profile: Francisco Liriano

That's Liriano dominating.

Francisco Liriano was dynamite in his rookie year. However, before the next season could start, he injured his arm and had Tommy John surgery.

It was a really tough break for a guy with such potential, yet, the Twins faithful, as well as others around the league, had confidence that he would return to form as the ace of the Twins staff.

That has not quite happened.

He had a 12-3 record with a 2.16 ERA and 1.00 WHIP his rookie year. The surgery put a quick end to that.

Liriano returned in 2008 with a quality season, compiling a 3.91 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in a half season’s work, leading everyone to believe that he would return to form in his first full year back from injury.

Not so fast.

Liriano had an abysmal season in ’09 posting a 5-13 record with a 5.80 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, with perhaps the most disturbing stat walking 66 batters to surpass his career season high.

However, Liriano returned back to fantasy relevancy last year putting up some impressive numbers. He threw for a 14-10 record with a 3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 201 SO, by far his best season since his rookie campaign.

Today, the question is, will history repeat itself with him posting less than mediocre numbers, or will he return to form the be the ace he was touted to be just five short years ago?

To me, it appears that Liriano may have worked out the kinks and has become fully healthy, despite a sore shoulder scare early this spring.

Sometimes, it just take two to three years to fully recover from Tommy John, and it looks like that was clearly the case here for Liriano.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Liriano puts together a Cy Young worthy season and I will be drafting him in every league I can get him in.

At age 27, Liriano is going to live up to the full potential that he was once touted to have.

Player Profile: Travis Wood and Mike Leake

AP Photo/Al Behrman

Last year, the Cincinnati Reds had two young pitchers that burst onto the scene.

One of them was Mike Leake, who skipped the minor leagues and started in the majors instantly. He stole a spot in the Reds’ rotation and ran away with it. He took the fantasy world by storm by going 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his first 11 starts. After that, he cooled off and his ERA climbed to 4.62 through his last 13 starts. The Reds took notice and shut him down after a start on August 24th, taking the cautious route not to overwork the young arm.

AP Photo

Travis Wood had a similar story, though he didn’t acquire a spot in the rotation to start the season, he was called up and started on July 1st and took advantage of the opportunity. In his first 9 starts, he compiled an impressive record of 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA. However, just like Leake, he cooled off down the stretch, but still finished with passable stats of a 5-4 record with a 3.51 ERA.

The question remains, will they have enough fantasy value to draft this year? The biggest obstacle for them to achieve an improvement on last season weighs on the pitching rotation race this year.

Current ‘locks’ for starting spots are Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. That leaves Wood, Leake and another young arm, Homer Bailey the favorites to battle out the final two spots with Dontrelle Willis as a long shot. Lucky for them, Cuban fireballer Aroldis Chapman is going to reside in the bullpen for 2011.

Both of the players have a decent shot at winning a rotation spot, but are either of them fantasy worthy this year?

Leake is likely going to have his innings capped for this year, so he seems unlikely to put up his numbers for a whole year again. The former first round pick is just one year removed from college, so it only makes sense.

I also don’t expect him to win a rotation spot this year, so some time in AAA might help him straighten things out as hitters figured him out down the stretch. I would expect around 15 starts this year filling in for starting pitchers who land on the DL at times this year.

Wood, on the other hand, will likely not have his innings capped, so if he gains posession of one of the two final spots, he could have a decent season. I don’t think a 3.50 ERA season is out of the question. You can probably expect around 180 strikeouts, and after posting a 1.08 whip last year, a repeat of that figure is highly unlikely, but 1.25 WHIP is in the realm of possibility.

I think Leake has more upside, but is probably a year away from making a true impact in fantasy, and probably in the real thing. Wood will probably win a starting gig, and is worth a flier in the late rounds of 10 team standard leagues. In deep keeper leagues, it probably wouldn’t hurt to grab Leake late.

Check out our other player profiles:

R.A. Dickey

Yadier Molina

Player Profile: Yadier Molina

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Yadier Molina was a tale of two players last year. In the first half of the season, he hit .223/.301/.294. In the second half, he hit .315/.368/.405. His end of the season splits ended up at .262/.329/.342. The big question arises. Which Molina will show up this year?

In the first half of last season, he was practically unusable. In the second half, he was a pretty solid option at catcher.

In 2008 and 2009, he was good for a .298/.353/.388 split. It’s pretty good numbers for a catcher, mesh that with the 55 RBI and 6 HR he produced, and he was a lower end starting catcher.

It only seemed fitting that he was going to put up similar numbers in 2010, right? Wrong.

The thing to remember about Molina is that he’s 28 years old and he’s a perennial gold glover (won it last 3 years in a row), meaning he isn’t going to lose many at-bats to anybody even if he struggles. If last year’s any indication, wait out the cold streak and ride the hot one.

Molina seems poised for a rebound year and isn’t getting drafted in half of the standard ESPN fantasy leagues, making him a solid late round draft pick or early waiver wire pick-up.

Said with confidence, I will be adding Molina to my fantasy teams this year.

Check out our MLB Preview Series:

Player Profile: R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey was quite the sensation last year, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. The question is, is he going to come back down to earth? History indicates that he will.

The knuckleballer  has posted an ERA no lower than 4.62 in his career, and a WHIP no better than 1.48, each stats with the exception of last season. He doesn’t strike many players out (hovers around 100 on a good year) and won’t give you too many innings. He also ranks in the top third of MLB in BAPIP, indicating that he had some luck on his side last season.

Throughout his career, he has bounced back and forth between being a starter and reliever until being a starter stuck last year, at age 35.

Whoa, red flag.

Dickey posted his best numbers ever as a 35 year old. Another bad sign.

In the end, Dickey composed one of the best seasons we’ve seen from a person coming out of nowhere, especially at his age. Owners that were able to latch on last year for the ride, I congratulate you and hope you had fun with a pick-up of the century candidate, but the buck stops there. Last year.

It’s possible Dickey may have just simply figured it out last season and will have a couple more productive seasons, but I won’t be drafting Dickey on my fantasy team this year.

AL East Preview

The A.L. East is known for being one the powerhouse division’s of Major League Baseball. Consisting of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, the A.L. East is almost guaranteed to have a World Series favorite amongst it year in and year out.

The A.L. East has been around for 41 years dating back to it’s creation in 1969. Since then, 25 division winners have went on to play in the World Series, while winning the World Series 14 times. Since the inception of the Wild Card playoff birth, the A.L. East has produced 12 of the 16 wild card teams.

Enough history, let’s get on to the current status of teams and my prediction for the division winner. (Teams will be placed in the order I believe they will finish, starting with number five.)

5. Toronto Blue Jays

Not many people realize that the Blue Jays actually finished eight games above .500 last year. Probably because of the dominance of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays in the division. Jose Bautista and Vernon Wells were hitting so many home runs for this club that it was hard for the pitching relief to screw up all the games. Bautista hit 54 while Wells hit 31. However, the 31 Wells hit is now going to be hit in Los Angeles. Plus you can’t count on Bautista having as successful year as last year. As far as pitching goes, losing Jeremy Accardo and Kevin Gregg in the pitching rotation will really hurt this team, especially with them both going to Baltimore. The only plus side I see in their pitching staff is the rising star of Ricky Romero. I don’t see this club taking a huge step forward this season.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

This may be a shocker to some, but the Rays are going to be hurting this year. The Rays lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano. Reuniting Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez won’t be as successful as they hope it will. Evan Longeria will help in the middle of the lineup and that will help in the batting rotation, but not enough. David Price and Jeremy Hellickson will help the pitching rotation keep them in games, but that won’t hold all season. This team has too many losses and not enough gains, leading up to an ultimately dissappointing year.

3. Baltimore Orioles

Call me crazy, but the Orioles will be a lot better than people think. They have gained a lot this year, and adding to the losses of Tampa and Toronto, this team will vault right into the third slot in the East. I mean, this team has added to it’s roster in huge ways. They grabbed Vladimir Guerrero and Derrek Lee to help with power hitting while also getting JJ Hardy and Mark Reynolds for more RBI’s. They also boosted their pitching staff tremendously with the additions of Accardo, Gregg and closer Justin Duchscherer. It won’t be enough to get them in wild card contention. . . yet. This team is headed in the right direction, though.

2. New York Yankees

Because of the losses of Toronto and Tampa and the fact that I don’t think Baltimore is ready to take a huge step forward will help the Yanks finish second in the East. They had a horrible offseason for Yankee standards that started when Cliff Lee snubbed them and went to Philadelphia and then ended with Andy Pettitte calling it a career. The Yank’s pitching staff is just not going to be dependable this year. C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes will be the only dependable pitchers. A.J. Burnett is too up and down and the additions of Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon won’t help much. The Yankees will really need their powerhouse lineup to carry them this year, but everyone knows you can’t win a World Series without a great pitching staff.

1. Boston Red Sox

While the Yanks were off trying to grab Lee, the Red Sox snuck in and grabbed another top free agent in Carl Crawford. He will be a huge addition in the bat’s category, not to mention Adrian Gonzalez. Getting those two in a lineup that already includes hitters like Dustin Pedroia, Jacob Ellsbury, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis is just insane. Hitting should not be a problem for this team. But then again, neither should pitching. Assuming Dice-K and Josh Beckett can have solid year’s, this team is primed for a run with a rotation with those two, Jon Lester, Jon Lackey and Clay Bucholz. Word just in though that Becket took a shot to the head and is having concussions symptoms, but it doesn’t seem too serious. It may not matter, though, because even if Beckett isn’t 100% to start the year, this team should still get by with hardly any trouble and become stronger when he would be 100%. But that’s just assuming the injury takes a turn for the worst. The Red Sox are a heavy favorite to win the American League Pennant, and rightfully so.

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