You probably think I'm crazy thinking about 2009 when we haven't even started 2008 yet, but I had a thought today and I wanted to throw it out there before it left my brain forever....
Last season (2007), we saw many top talents produce terrible fantasy seasons much below expectations. I'll only have to name a few here before you start screaming at your computer and bashing the screen with flashbacks of last year's frustrations like Travis Hafner, Lance Berkman, Dontrelle Willis, Chris Capuano, Andruw Jones, Julio Lugo, Justin Morneau in the 2nd half, A-Ram's power decrease, and younger talents that didn't live up to the hype like Felipe Lopez, Stephen Drew, and Chris Duffy to name a few. What makes some of these players special you might ask? Well, they're usually great bargains in most auction keeper leagues in 2008. Now fast forward to 2009, stealing a power bat like Berkman for $10-$15 less than he should be could turn into keeper gold in 2009. Let's take a quick look at some of the potential keeper steals for 2009....
* Assume a normal 12 team, mixed, $260 cap, 23 man roster
David Ortiz - Ortiz can be had at the auction this season for $30-$35 in most situations, that's a steal considering he provides .300/45/120+ potential. The thing about ortiz is that he battled knee and shoulder problems last season and only qualifies at DH in most leagues which is what's knocking his price down. If he overcomes the injury risks, Ortiz wil be a steal in 2009 if you have him for $35 or less.
Lance Berkman - I have done numerous mock auctions as well as real league auctions and one thing I can tell you, Berkman is consistently going between $25-$31. Barring any crazy bidding wars, this is also a steal. Berkman also has .300/40/120 potential and the new improved Houston lineup could do wonders. In 2009, keeping Berkman at say $26 is a steal!
Travis Hafner - Here's another player whose value is down because he plugs up the DH spot and he had a consistenly terrible season last year despite the Indians being great. Hafner is still in the middle of his prime so chances are he makes a bit of a comback this season but here's another top-notch 40+HR talent available for less than $30 which could prove to be a steal to keep in 2009.
Justin Morneau - Morneau's value is down because of a horrendous 2nd half, so bad in fact that Morneau is consistently selling for $24 - $29 in most auction drafts I am seeing. He's easily worth $30-$35 because of his power potential and turns 27 this year, so this might be the lowest you can steal Morneau for a long time.
Andruw Jones - Can we say horrendous? So terrible that you can get Jones for $10 or less in the auction all depending on when he's nominated. New team, new manager, and new supporting cast could be what the doctor ordered. If he his 30HR+ with a .275+, you'll have a steal on your hands for 2009.
Carlos Delgado - Delgado was at the point that Mets fans were booing him. Delgado has 35HR+/100RBI+ power and can be had for $5 or less in some leagues... an absolute steal in 2009.
Dontrelle Willis - You can get Willis for a buck in some leagues but I don't see him going for more than $5. New team means possibly new success. He's still young and this is the time his value is lowest.
Jeremy Bonderman - See Dontrelle Willis...except that Bonderman remains with the same team. Some injury problems and a terrible showing puts his value way down, so pounce for a buck or two or three and laugh all the way to 2009.
Julio Lugo - This guy was fantasy trash in 2007 while still providing 30+ SB. He'll do the same this year but expect a better season. You can grab this guy for $1-$5 and you'll have a .270/30+SB keeper in 2009 in deeper leagues.
Felipe Lopez - Value is down because of a crappy 2007 where he didn't live up to the hype. Still, Lopez is 27, has the potential to be modest and do .275/15/75/30, and has the talent to be a star if he can put it all together. If 2008 is the year he does it, 2009 and $1 will look like gravy!
Stephen Drew - Batted below .240 last season and everyone is waiting until the end of drafts and auctions to grab him. Scouts have said he could be a .300/20/100/100/15 potential. A nice showing in the post season gives high hopes to the few that have looked into Drew's potential. He's still quite young too so a buck in 2009 could be icing on the cake!
What's the point? Point is, everyone wants an edge. If you could predict the future, you could do very well in fantasy baseball. I'm attempting to predict the future. I am predicting that these players have better than expected years while you have them on your team at bargain prices!
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