Today we take a closer look at Justin Upton & Troy Tulowitzki as many people feel that these two players will be in the top five of National League fantasy baseball hitters for years to come. Is this true?
Justin Upton - Age 22
2009 - 26HR - 86RBI - 84R - 20SB - .300 Avg in 526 AB's.
Missed a month between August and September with a leg injury.
2008 - 15HR - 42RBI - 52R - 1SB - .250 Avg in 356 AB's
2007 - 2HR- 11RBI- 17R - 2SB - .221 Avg in 140 AB's
Justin Upton was the 1st overall selection in the 2005 draft by Arizona. As I stated in a previous article but it's worth repeating, the majority of scouts felt about Justin Upton that it was just a question of when Upton would become one of the top 5 position players in MLB. We saw that talent last year as Upton did it all. If Upton did not miss 25 games towards the end of the season, there's good chance Upton's final numbers would be 30-100-100-25-.300. I see no reason why you cannot expect that for 2010. In fact, I believe this time next year when we start talking about the 2011 season that the top 3 fantasy hitters in the NL will be considered Pujols, Hanley Ramirez & Justin Upton. In regards to Upton's stolen base jump from 2008 to 2009, it appears legitimate as Upton stole 15 bases in '06 & 19 in '07 in the minor leagues. Upton will have a full season as the Diamondbacks #3 hitter with Reynolds behind him. Bet big on Upton for 2010.
Troy Tulowitzki - Age 25
2009 - 32HR- 92RBI - 101R - 20SB - .297 Avg in 543 AB's
2008 - 8HR - 46RBI - 48R - 1SB - .263 Avg in 377 AB's
2007 - 24HR - 99RBI - 104R - 7SB - .291 Avg in 609 AB's
Troy Tulowitzki who also was a top pick in the 2005 draft like Upton(Tulo was the 7th pick overall by Colorado) and had an amazing rookie season in 2007. Injuries and probably big expectations(remember big expectations for the 1st time on a young player can cause problems) lead to a poor sophomore season. However, Tulowitzki bounced back with his best season to date in 2009. The concern with Tulo is, will he be a guy you can bank 20 steals a year on? We see he has been a plus hitter at the shortstop position with power and hitting towards the top of the lineup, so his runs & RBI's will be strong. We can count on that but can we count on the steals? Actually, Tulo has never notched 20 steals in an MLB season before last year but even in Tulo's 2 years in the minors, the most steals Tulo had in a season was 6. Another warning sign regarding the steals for Tulo is last season while he stole 20 bases, his success rate was 65%, which is not great. Tulo's career success rate is 57% which is even worse. Will he keep running if he keeps getting thrown out at a high rate? When I drafted Hunter Pence in 2008 I was figuring Pence would give me close to 20 steals that year, I was wrong. Pence got off to a bad start in trying to steal bags in 2008 but he kept getting thrown out and for a period of time he was afraid to steal. Pence finished 2008 with 11 steals in 21 tries (awful percentage). In 2009, Pence was slightly better with 14 steals in 25 tries. Now, maybe guys like Pence and Tulo will be able to make the adjustment and move their success rates from the 50 to 75 percent range. The problem is with Tulowitzki in an auction draft or for that matter a snake draft, will be viewed as a 20SB guy and you'll have to pay based on the fact those 20 steals are a given. I am here to tell you that SB's are not a sure thing, which really messes up how much I might pay for Tulowitzki. Those steals make a huge difference on Tulo's draft day price and I'm expecting 7-10 SB. That really lowers Tulo's value in my opinion. If someone is buying Tulo based on those 20 steals come draft day let them buy Tulo and you spend your money on Upton.
Next NL King Article will be part 1 of a 4 part series on Draft Strategies.
NL King - C.Lizza