Saturday, January 31, 2009

Derek Jeter in a Fantasy Decline?? BAH!

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Let me preface this by saying that Derek Jeter is my favorite real life player and that I am a die hard Yankee fan. So if you haven't now just clicked off this post, let me explain why you shouldn't pass on Jeter in the early to mid rounds of your fantasy baseball league draft (R6-R8).

Many are saying that Jeter is in a decline. Actually, everyone is saying it and I feel like I am the only one trying to defend him in this world we call fantasy. Look, I love Jeter as much as the next Yankee fan, but I do know what good value is in a fantasy draft. If I didn't, then you guys wouldn't be reading this, right? Now, I'm not always right and I can admit that, but I can tell the difference between being a "homer" and a smart fantasy baseball manager.

Jeter's line in 2008 at age 34:
.300BA, 11HR, 69RBI, 11SB, 88R,179H in 596AB

Here is Jeter in 2006 at age 32 in his 2nd best year:

.344BA, 14HR, 97RBI, 34SB, 118R, 216H in 623AB

Jeter in his best year in 1999 (before his prime):
.349BA, 24HR, 102RBI, 19SB, 134R, 219H in 627AB

Jeter has had other fantastic years and I guess I don't need to list every season since 1996. Obviously we can all agree that Jeter's best years are behind him, but I need to state my case that he his still productive enough for your fantasy team where you'd be a fool to pass him up in say the 7th round of your draft.

What would you say a typical projection for Jeter would be for 2009? Would you say... .300/15HR/75RBI/15SB/100R????? You don't think that's quality numbers at the weakest position in fantasy baseball leagues this season? That's my projection and I believe its modest.

Ron Shandler's projection in 2009 Baseball Forcaster (which you can purchase by clicking above)
.290BA, 12HR, 71RBI, 10SB, 93R, 170H in 586AB

Here is Jeter's 3 year average according to CBS Sports....
.323BA, 12HR, 80RBI, 20SB, 103R, 200H, 619AB

What do all these numbers tell us? That no one knows what to expect in 2009. I tend to move towards the 3 year average and then I look at Jeter's situation more than anything. Here are some of the pros for Jeter.....

1. He's going to hit in front of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez which means better pitches to hit. I'm sorry, but hitting with Bobby Abreu up next isn't so scary.

2. The Yankees offense was terrible in 2009 by Yankee standards. Jeter might have had something to do with that, but this also is the reason why Jeter only scored 88 runs which is un-Jeter like. You can't tell me that a Ron Shandler projection of 93 runs can hold up. I think you'll see more walks and more scoring from Jeter in 2009 and certainly 100+runs.

3. There is no way he can have a worse year than last year and 2008 was dismal for Jeter. A year like Shandler is predicting with his calculator suggests that Jeter is going to bomb again two years in a row, which certainly suggests a decline.

4. What makes Jeter valuable are 7 things.... Batting average, 100+runs, 15/15 potential plus more (there is upside here thanks to the revamped offense), he's super durable, reliable, consistent, all at the weakest position in the game!!

Tell me what SS in this game you can count on for all I mentioned in #4. No one. He's one of the most durable and reliable players in all of baseball. There's value in that in your draft in rounds 6-8. Here's a look at the competition and the risk at SS that's comparable to Jeter in the draft:

Stephen Drew
- Hasn't lived up to the hype yet, potential break out in 2008 but your stretching for upside in R6, not value.
Troy Tulowitzski - Terrible first half in 2008 and injured but hit .300 in the second half. Was the first half of 2008 part of a sophomore slump or was the second half more of what we can expect? There's some risk here. Plus, he lost Matt Holliday.
Rafael Furcal - When was the last time this guy played? 'Nuff said!
Jhonny Peralta - Has the power to be a 3B, maybe he hits 30HR this year finally but it comes with a .275BA.
J.J. Hardy - Same as Peralta but seems to always have a full half season slump. Too inconsistent but has 25+ HR power.

Michael Young - Still a good value, can put up same numbers as Jeter with more RBI but nursed injuries last season. A few years younger than Jeter but could be breaking down.
Miguel Tejada - No comment.
Mike Aviles - Sophmore slump?

Look at all these players. They all come with some sort of risk. In most of them, you are paying for upside and not quality value. Jeter was normally a top 40 pick in recent years. Now he can be had in the 8th round. Chances are, no one in your league is looking at Jeter as the first SS to be taken after the elite 3. But, by the 10th round, all these SS are gone with the exception of maybe Aviles who is normally gone by the 13th.

So what's the bottomline? Despite what many are deeming a decline, Jeter is the safest and most conservative pick on the board in rounds R6-R8 in 12 team mixed league drafts for this years weakest postion. Better yet, he actually possesses some upside as well considering the revamped Yankee offense. If there was one player the acquisition of Tex helps the most, it's Jeter!

Don't believe the decline hype by every other expert out there. You shouldn't expect a 2006 or a 1999 type of season, but you should expect better numbers than 2008, and I hope I proved that that is possible and probable. Look at the situation and not at last years declined stats.

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