Friday, February 26, 2010

NL King - The Draft Plan in a Keeper League Part 1

If you want to win your NL Only league you MUST have a draft plan. This is a given. Trying to head into the draft and "winging it" is extremely hard. Here are some key points and questions to help formulate a successful draft plan....

- Who are my keepers? What kind of stats do my keepers project? What do I need to reach my goals?
- How am I in terms of draft dollars to spend on draft day after my keepers?
- What are the strengths & weaknesses of the upcoming draft and how does that play into what my team needs?
- What other owners in my league share the same weaknesses as me and how much draft day dollars do they have?
- What positions do I need and how does that play into what I need?

A team in an NL only league should be compiled with your core & secondary players. The core of your team should consist of the top half of your team (10 to 12 players) which would be your top 6 to 8 hitters, your top 3 starters, your closer and if possible another releiver who can get you at least 10 saves. The second half of your team will be comprised of secondary players. These players may not be sexy but can give you good numbers at reasonable dollars (think of players like Aaron Rowand, Casey Blake or Joe Blanton). In my experience, teams that win the league or are at the top of the standings have strong secondary players.

A championship team displays a combination of power, speed, average, good front end starting pitching and a good closer or two if possible. This is a good model to start with in putting your team together (you can tweak this model to what fits your team and league best).

- Try to get your top 12 players to be your core players
- The remaining 11 spots will be your secondary players
- Leave a budget of $35 for three good players who go late in the draft (this will be part of your secondary players budget). This will be strong purchasing power at that stage of the draft.
- The remaining eight secondary slots should be able to be covered with $25 to $30. This will include your 2nd catcher, 5th OF slot, UTIL, either your 3rd middle infielder or corner, your 4th and 5th starting pitchers & two middle relievers who can give you 60 to 70 IP with strong ERA, Ratio and K numbers (possible cheap saves would be a great bonus - look at each teams 8th inning guys).
- That leaves a budget of around $200 for your core players

Using this draft plan model you can start putting together lists of adding to your already core keepers.

- Write down a list of core players available in the draft for the area's you need and go three deep on those different slots. So if you need a big hitter that gives you power & speed a possible list could be Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright for one of those core spots (estimate a draft day price range for each core spot).

- Being somewhat reasonable do this for all remainig open core slots.

- See how many draft dollars you have left after filling out the top 12 core slots. If you have at least $60 left for your secondary players then this draft plan can be a very good one as long as you have addressed all the essential items a championship team needs. Again this is power, speed, average, front end starting pitching and a closer.

Next Article: Executing the Plan on Draft Day

C. Lizza - NL King
About the NL King

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Draft Analysis: The Battle of the Fantasy Gods Auction League

Last week we kicked off the 3rd season of the Battle of the Fantasy Gods Expert Auction league. You can check out the results and some more analysis by other managers here. Are we all really fantasy gods? Hardly. I mean, who is? But, its a fun league with a cool name and a great group of fantasy baseball minds! That's a good mix to have! Click here for The Fantasy Man's Live Mock Draft Mania Podcast which I podcasted live during the draft. It's a tough listen as explained early on, but maybe you'll enjoy it!

Anyway, here's how The Fantasy Man's team shakes out. Feel free to post your comments and tell me I'm a dope or if I did well.

The League Basics:
12 team, Auction Draft, Mixed, 5x5, Roto, No Bench, 2C, 1B, 2B, 3B, MI, CI, 5OF, UT, 5P, $260 Auction Salary Cap... the basics...

The Strategy Overall:
I wanted to go with a well balanced team with a solid pitching staff with upside. I'm normally a "stars and scrubs" kind of guy but this year I wanted to go the safe route. This years pool of players certainly allows you to smartly build a balanced team as there are so many good upside players and solid vetereans slipping late into drafts. What I notice is that everyone in the world is saying how power is at a premium and is scarce, an dto an extent, they're right. But if you plan your draft out carefully, there's much power to be found late, you just have to trust your gut that some of the late players will pan out.

The Strategy Broken-down:
I wanted a well balanced team where every hitter was some sort of a power/speed combo and I did not plan to spend $40+ on a hitter. I also wanted a full-time starter in each slot. I wanted a pitching staff anchored by one or two mid-round type starting pitchers with huge upside (i.e. Jon Lester, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, Yovanni Gallardo), two solid closers, and cheap SP's with K potential who were undervalued. I wanted to spend about $70 on pitching and $190 on hitting. Here's how we stacked up...


C - Jeff Clement $2 - The Pirates are going to try out Clement at 1B, if he succeeds in spring training, this becomes a steal. If not, I'm sunk at catcher for now.

C- Jarrod Saltalamacchia - $2 - If Salty and his injuries get in the way.....see Jeff Clement!


1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $26 - With Ryan Howard/Prince Fielder going in the $37 range, I'll take the $10 discount on A-Gone who will only get me slightly less power than Howard but with a slightly better BA. I was saving this spot for Billy Butler or Derek Lee but I couldn't pass up $26 on A-Gone. I saw value here.

2B - Brandon Phillips - $20 - Does anyone think .275/20/100/20 isn't worth $20?? Me neither? I think the killer here is Phillips has 30/30 skills and can get you 100+RBI! (He had 98 in 2009 and was playing hurt!)


3B - David Wright - $32 - Probably the worst choice considering the risk but I'm inclined to think Wright will bounce back and hit at least 20HR and steal around 25 bases with the 300+BA and the 100RBI with Jose Reyes back. Five tools and a comeback can get me $32 in value but I would have been better off paying $38 for Howard or Fielder and stashing in my CI slot at the time. I think Wright was my first or second player taken.

SS - Jimmy Rollins - $26 - Average value here but he does it all and will get me 20 HR and 30+SB.

MI - Evereth Cabrera - $2 - Waited until the end but need to load up on some SB's and was lucky I had an extra buck to outbid. Cabrera seems like an easy bet to steal 40+ bases. he has no competition at the position and he's still young enough to work on that BA.

CI - Pablo Sandoval - $23 - I love the big Panda! This guy is going to be a beast! Great value here! Surprised with his hype he didn't go for $30.

OF - B.J. Upton - $20 - Boom or bust? If Boom, $20 was highway robbery! It's an investment but I paid for the risk.

OF - Adam Jones - $15 - He's a $25-$30 player by the end of the season!

OF - Juan Rivera - $1 - I paid $1 for .285+/25HR/90RBI with upside for more if he plays a full season! Best value on this team!

OF - Cody Ross - $1 - Last good $1 OF out there. If he hits me .270/20/80/10 again... I'm happy.

OF - Nolan Reimold - $3 - If he bats 4-5 in the lineup, he'll be super solid in which I'm projecting .280/20/90 on the low end with potential upwards of .290/25/100.

DH - Chris Carter - $2 - This was my cheap upside pick for power hoping he makes the team out of spring training. If not, with no bench, there should be plenty of useful players on the wire to fill my utility slot.

P - Chris Carpenter - $16 - 7 of the top 8 starting pitchers went between $22-$29 with Tim Lincecum at $29 and Johan Santana at $22. Carpenter ranks in the top 7 or 8 so at $16 I got a huge value. The other side is that I inherited the most risk. But, for $16, I'll take that risk. He seems more likely to stay healthy this season than ever before so I like my odds here and I added my first stud SP. This was the best way to go because I started my staff off with a star SP and now I could build from there.

P - Clayton Kershaw - $15 - He was thrown out a bit late, bad move! Not everyone had enough money to spend $15 and I was ready to go $20. I got stuck in a bidding war here so I could possibly have had him a bit cheaper. Steal. He's an ace!


P - Ubaldo Jimenez - $14 - He's a big time pitcher with big time stuff in a crappy ballpark. I know I should only expect 15 wins but I drafted him for his 200K potential along with Carpenter and Kershaw, he's got a good bullpen and a decent hitting team. Good chance for 15+ wins despite the hitters park. Passing on SP's because of hitters parks is overrated! Look at Cliff Lee last year once he went to Philly!

P - Carlos Zambrano - $7 - Steal! In shape, new attitude, wants to win. He's my dark hourse for Cy Young!

P - Jered Weaver - $9 - The ace of a winning team goes for $8.... I had to bid a buck more! Can't believe the bidding stopped! He's not overpowering but this guy can pitch, keep his ERA under 4, WHIP under 1.30, get me 15+wins and 170+K. Why did no one outbid me?


P - David Price - $7 - I had Price penciled in before we even started the draft. I love that by the time he was thrown out, no one had the money to spend on a risk. Considering the money I saved on Carp, Kershaw, Zambrano and Weaver, I was ready to go as high as $15 if needed.

P- Huroki Kuroda - $1 - My computer froze up and Kuroda was autopicked accidentally. I mmediately dropped him and picked up Scott Feldman who was supposed to be that $1 pick. Feldman has one of the best cut fastballs in the game and will have a breakout season!

P - Francisco Cordero - $9 - Cheap saves with a good pitching staff and maybe a surprisingly good team.

P - Rafael Soriano - $7 - See Francisco Cordero. Soriano is an injury risk but if he holds it together, should have plenty of opportunities as the Rays expect to be a solid team this year.


The Results:
Overall, I definitely stuck to my plan as far as having a balanced team. I got my cheap saves, I got my steals, I got my cheap pitching with upside, I got my power/speed combos, etc. I may lack a bit in power but where I lack there, I make up for it in pitching and speed. My biggest question mark is my catching, but at least its my catching and not my SS for example. The biggest blunder looking back at this is that top closers like Mariano Rivera, Jon Papelbon, Joe Nathan, and K-Rod all went in the $14-$15 range. WHAT!!! If I knew they would be that cheap I might have attacked pitching a little different. I might not have spent the $15 on Jimenez and I could have picked up another decent $1 SP. In the end though, I have the balance I wanted. I'll keep an eye on the wire for more power if Chris Carter doesn't pan out but I'm going to roll with this squad and see what happens. I'm not sure this is a top 1 or 2 team but it can certainly be a top 5 team as it stands. If David Wright goes back to being a top 5 fantasy player and Adam Jones and David Price break out as anticipated, I can certainly jump up to the top! This is a team I am excited about for sure!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NL King - Which NL Only Starting Pitchers can you bank on after the top 15?

This article may seem a bit harsh but as we go through the National League starting pitchers I think you will see there are some red flags.  You should be very concerned about 80% of the starting pitchers in the National League for your NL Only team!  This post could even help you with your mixed team leagues as well!.
 
I am not going to go into great detail but it's obvious you can bank on the following starting pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Ryan Dempster, Tommy Hanson, Ricky Nolasco, Johan Santana, Clayton Kershaw, Yovanni Gallardo, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Wandy Rodriguez.
 
Let's look at the rest in alphabetical order with a quick hit why you should be concerned...

Jair Jurrjens - ATL - Recent injury news now makes him a risk, but maybe a great value late in the draft!
Bronson Arroyo - Cinn - Pitched great in the 2nd half last year to finish with good numbers but overall light on K's and his ERA & Ratio numbers for 07 & 08 are not good.
 
Chad Billingsley - LA - Looked like this guy was at bare minimun a # 2 starter. Pitched like an ace until early June and then had a 5 ERA the rest of the way and Joe Torre couldn't trust him in the playoffs.
 
Joe Blanton - Phil - After an awful start, pitched great to have a nice year but remember, he had a 4.69 ERA with a 1.40 Ratio in 2008 and pitches in a bam box.
 
Dave Bush - Mil - Has never been good.
 
Chris Carpentar - Stl - Look, if he pitches 175 innings for you he will be a great buy but he is such an injury risk.
 
Kevin Correia - SD - Bad team and need to see more.
 
Johnny Cueto - Cinn - Was great in the 1st half and then wore down terribly in the 2nd. Has potential but .500 team at best and pitches in a bam box.
 
Jorge De La Rosa - Col - Last year was the first season he wasn't a negative player. I have to see it again.
 
Zach Duke - Pitt - Stay away from Pirates and look at his numbers year by year.
 
Jon Garland - SD - Ratio Killer.
 
J.A. Happ - Phil - Have to see another full season as a starter.
 
Aaron Harang - Cinn - He is 12-31 the last 2 years.
 
Tim Hudson  Atl - He is coming off major surgery and is entering his mid 30's.
 
Edwin Jackson - Arz - I know he has improved the last two seasons but I need to see one more year to say he can be one of your top starters.
 
Kenshin Kawakami - Atl - Could be a nice back end guy with limited K's.
 
Ian Kennedy - Arz - Did you watch him pitch for the Yankees?
 
Huroki Kuroda - LA - Again entering mid 30's and seems to be wearing down.
 
John Lannan - Wsh - Could be a back end guy like Kawakami.
 
Mat Latos - SD - Rookie and a bad team.
 
Ted Lilly - Chi - Love Ted Lilly, always have, feel he is under-rated and since becoming a Cub has been a great fantasy player. However, off season shoulder has Lilly missing at least April and then how long does the transition take coming off the injury?
 
Kyle Lohse - Stl - Everything has to come together for him to be decent.
 
Derek Lowe - Atl - Professional pitcher capable of bouncing back off his awful 2009 but he is in his late 30's and his ERA & Ratio numbers were scary last year.
 
Paul Maholm - Pitt - Do not draft Pirate starters. 2 of his last 3 years his ERA & Ratio were killers to your fantasy team.
 
Roy Oswalt - Hou - Deserved a better fate last year but the fact that his back gave him problems last year and that he has thrown over 1,800 innings the last 9 years are major warning signs.
 
Vicente Padilla - LA - He will hurt your ERA & Ratio with limited K's.
 
Manny Parra - Mil - When will he turn the corner?
 
Mike Pelfrey - NY - Low K's and had 5 ERA last year.
 
Brad Penny - Stl - Last couple of years he's been hit hard and been hurt.
 
Clayton Richard - SD - A rookie on a bad team.
 
Jonathan Sanchez - SF - Love the K's and the stuff but the walks must go down more. Last year was his best ERA & Ratio year with a 4.24 ERA & 1.37 Ratio. He can make the next step but you can't count on it?
 
Stephen Strasburg - Wsh - One day soon you will be able to bank on him but not sure when he will be in Washington this year and he is a rookie.   
 
Chris Volstad - Has potential and pitched great the first two months, then couldn't get anyone out the rest of the season.
 
Brandon Webb - Arz - Like Carpentar, if healthy, he'll be great. Pitched 4 innings last year.
 
Randy Wells - Chi - After 3 mediocre seasons in AAA I need to see more than his 27 starts last year.
 
Randy Wolf - Mil - Love last year but he's had many injury problems in the past, will be 34 during the season and before last year went 6 straight seasons with an ERA above 4 (his lowest ERA in that time was 4.23).
 
Chris R. Young - SD - Has had injuries and bad team.... but has ace stuff!
 
Carlos Zambrano - Chi - Last 3 years his ERA has been around 4, his ratio in the 1.3's, his K's down and has had injury issues.
 
I'm not saying that all of these guys on this list won't be good in 2010 but there are so many big question marks on 80% of the starters in the NL. Considering this, under no circumstances should you be spending big money on these starting pitchers. In the NFL draft they call that a reach. Don't put yourself in that position come draft day. In my opinion, if you are going to reach or over-spend do it on the top 16 starters. Also, do everything you can do get two guys off the top 16 in an NL only league and build the rest of your pitching staff around them. Try to find guys who can give you good W's & K's while not hurting your ERA & Ratio at reasonable dollars. Just because a guy has a name like Oswalt or Zambrano does not mean you should be spending big money on them.
 
NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, February 22, 2010

NL King - Justin Upton and Troy Tulowitzki the Next Generation of Roto Stars?

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

2010 Battle of the Fantasy Gods Expert Fantasy Baseball Auction League Results

The 2010 Battle of the Fantasy Gods Expert Fantasy Baseball Auction League drafted on Wednesday, February 17th at CBSSports.com.

Click
here for the auction results.

Click here for The Fantasy Man's Live Mock Draft Mania Podcast

Click here for Part 1 of Lenny Melnick's Live Draft Analysis via Podcast
Click here for Part 2 of Lenny Melnick's Live Draft Analysis via Podcast

Click here for analysis from Scott White of CBS Sports
Click
here for analysis from Ray Flowers of Baseball Guys
Click here for analysis from Grey Albright of RazzBall
Click here for analysis from Jeff Boggis of Fantasy Sports Empires
Click here for Part 1 analysis from Todd Farino of Fantasy Baseball Search
Click here for Part 2
Click
here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4


More to come shortly...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NL King - The Top NL Prospects for 2010 - Part 2

Part 2 of the NL King's National League Prospects focuses on the players who could help your fantasy team next year but won't get called up until possibly June or July.

Pedro Alvarez - Pitt - 3B - Alvarez was a top pick in the 2008 draft who has tremendous power potential. Also keep in mind Andy LaRoche is currently the starting 3B.

Aroldis Chapman - Cinn - SP - The Reds made a big splash by signing Chapman the international free agent this past winter by giving him $25-$30 million dollars. They say Chapman has electric stuff but is a bit raw and needs seasoning. Keep in mind the last few international free agent starting pitchers have not lived up to the ace hype such as Jose Contreas and to a lesser extent, Daisuke Matsuzaka in Boston.

Buster Posey - SF - C - The Giants were not ready to hand over the starting duties to Posey just yet as they brought Bengie Molina back for one more year. Posey should start the year in the minors to get regular playing time and could be up mid year to see some time and get some valuable experience. Posey projects to be a solid hitter who puts up good numbers at the catcher position. Posey will be the starting catcher for the Giants no later than opening day 2011 and for years to come.

Matt Gamel - Mil - 3B - In theory, if he had a huge spring he could make the Brewers on opening day, but the problem is he is a man who doesn't really have a position. Defensively Gamel is a liability and I can see him playing in the corners on either the infield or the outfield. The problem is the Brewers have Casey McGehee, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun & Corey Hart in those spots. If there was an injury he would get the nod as Gamel can hit as he hit .380 in AA two years ago. Line drive - average hitter who could give you good pop as well.

Fernando Martinez - NY - OF - I know Martinez looked over matched at the plate with the Mets last year (hit .176 with 1 HR in 91 AB's with the Mets) but keep in mind he is still considered a 5 tool prospect and just turned 21 in October.

Drew Storen - Wsh - RP - Was the 10th pick of last years draft by the Nats but projects as a hard throwing reliever. If Matt Capps fails in the 1st half this year would be one of the candidates to be the closer.

Todd Frazier - Cinn - OF - Frazier also plays 2B & 3B but with Brandon Phillips at 2B and Scott Rolen and his contract extension at 3B, Frazier should play at the MLB level soon but it will probably be in the outfield. Frazier is a line drive hitting machine and probably needs a little more polish. If no one claims that LF job in Cincinnati the first two months of the season watch for Frazier.

Yonder Alonso - Cinn - 1B - An injury slowed down Alonso's development last year which means Alonso will start the season in AAA. Alonso is the Reds best pure hitter in their system.

Starlin Castro - Chi - SS - A strong first half in the minors, and if the Cubs can't get answers from Jeff Baker or Mike Fontenot then you could see Castro starting at SS come the 2nd half with Ryan Theriot moving to 2B. Castro is a 5 tool talent who should be a 30 plus stolen base guy with 15 homers annually at the top of the Cubs lineup for years to come.

Jose Tabata - Pitt - OF - The ex-Yankee prospect (part of the deal that brought Nady & Marte to the Bronx) could be up mid season with the Bucs. If any of Milledge, Garrett Jones or Jeff Clement struggle in the 1st half and Tabata has a strong 1st half in the minors he will get an opportunity. Tabata is a 5 tool talent although has yet to really produce HR on the minor league level. Keep in mind Tabata turned 21 last August and Don Mattingly never hit more than 12 HR per season in his minor league career.

Logan Morrison - Fla - 1B - Balanced swing, plus power and projects as a classic # 3 hitter. If Gaby Sanchez hits the Marlins could move Morrison to LF. A big 1st half in the minors could have the Marlins thinking of a July call up.

Jason Castro - Hou - C - Really should get a full season in the minors in 2010 and then take over the starting catchers role opening day 2011 but have you seen the depth chart on the Astros catchers? Castro projects as a nice hitter (think John Baker of the Marlins) who could be a real good #2 catcher in NL only leagues.

During the season, as prospects get called up, I will do articles that day on that particular prospect.

NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NL King - Top NL Prospects who could help you in 2010 - Part I

What is Fantasy Baseball Advice without a top prospects list? Every year there is usually a number of prospects who get called up or make the opening day roster that can help your fantasy team. The one thing fantasy owners must watch out for is while these prospects can help and once in a while be a huge success initially, it is very important not to over rate these young players. Young players take time, so you should view these prospects as secondary players who can help your team. Most good fantasy baseball teams have a very strong base of secondary players like the ones below. While if you look at the teams in your league that are struggling, odds are, they have fewer star players with a wealth of underperforming secondary players.

With that said, let's take a look at the NL prospects for 2010 who could make the opening day rosters:

Jason Heyward - Atl - OF - Wrote a whole article on Heyward last week.... Again 5 tool player with intangibles. A decent to good spring and he will be the starting right fielder.

Alcides Escobar - Mil - SS - Escobar could be a real good leadoff hitter who is strong in average and runs and gives you 30 plus steals for years to come. However, while I like Escobar (hit .304 in 125 AB's in Aug & Sept last year with the Brewers) I wouldn't go bonkers with your aucton dollars come draft day. I believe that the Brewers will look to protect Escobar which means he will probably start the year batting either 7th or 8th. That means less runs and most importantly less stolen base situations. But a good first half and then I can see the Brewers putting Escobar at the top of the lineup in the 2nd half and you will see a big difference in runs and steals. If you do draft Escobar you must stay patient. I think 20 steals is a strong possibility (had 42 steals in AAA last year in 430 AB's) but don't count on anymore than that even though he is more than capable.

Stephen Strasburg - WAS - SP - We all know the stories about Strasburg between his velocity and stuff. However with young pitchers it is a big learning curve and the Nats are not exactly going to be compared to Murders Row. I would also think with the amount of money the Nats gave Strasburg (15 Mil signing bonus) they will be cautious with their future ace and I can see Strasburg starting the season in the minors and getting called up in June - July (not to mention to avoid Strasburg being a Super 2 in terms of arbtration). If Strasburg makes the opening day roster, do not spend more than $13 on him because on the Nats he will only win so many games and remember, he hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors, so an ERA below 4 & a ratio in the low 1.3's would be great. Strasburg should be a big help in K's for 2010 however. To be honest with you with a $13 auction price there is a good chance you won't get a $13 value in 2010 but in a keeper league $13 for Strasburg for 2011 could be a steal.

Gaby Sanchez - Fla - 1B - A good spring and Sanchez could be the starting 1B for the Marlins come opening day with Jorge Cantu manning 3B and making Bonifacio a utility player which is a role he is probably best suited for. Sanchez has a short swing, hits for average and scouts feel he has the ability to be 25HR guy. Sanchez did turn 26 in September and Logan Morrison is knocking on the door so this spring Sanchez needs to come up with the goods.

Madison Bumgarner - SF - SP - Bruce Bochy said last week that the #5 starting pitchers job was Madison Bumgarner's to lose. Bumgarner is only 20 years old but the Giants feel he has number one stuff. Also Bumgarner dominated in the minors the last 2 years. Bumgarner would be a great end of the draft pickup for the back of your rotation and again in a keeper league a low draft day buy this year would be a great keeper for 2011.

David Freese - Stl - 3B - As of now I don't know who is competing with Freese for the 3B job. Freese in the minors was a consistent .300 hitter with a short swing and drives the ball to the opposite field. All great signs but keep in mind Freese is a little bit of a late bloomer since he is 27. Having said that the league is full of proven players such as Raul Ibanez & Ryan Lucwick who didn't start producing on the MLB level until their late 20's.

Ian Desmond - WAS - SS - With the signing of Adam Kennedy last week or so to play 2B with the Nats and with Christian Guzman's contract (signed for 1 more year at around 8 Mil) it looks like if Ian Desmond makes the opening day roster it will be as a utility player. The Nats like Desmond and feel he would be good in that role. Desmond could be a great 14th hitter on your roster as he could play all over the field and give you nice numbers with some cheap steals.

Final point - In preparing for the last 3 drafts I have come up with a strategy of using my UTIL or 14th hitter on a prospect I targeted who I could get for a $1 or $2 at the end of draft on a kid who may not make the opening day roster but could get called up by June and help my team for that year or use as him as a trade chip with a rebuilding team in the 2nd half. For the 2007 draft I got Hunter Pence for $1 at the end of the draft, same thing in 2008 where I got Andrew McCutchen for $1 (used him as a trade chip in a big trade that helped me win the league that year) and last year in 2009 I got Dexter Fowler for a $1. I think this is a great strategy to use even if you give up small numbers in the beginning of the year by drafting a prospect who will start the year in the minors instead of guys like Craig Counsell or Gary Matthews Jr.

Part II will focus on the NL prospects who will be June - July call ups.

NL King - C.Lizza

Monday, February 15, 2010

NL King - Can these 5 Pitchers Rebound in 2010?

This is part two of the last article where we focused on 5 hitters who could rebound in 2010. These 5 pitchers all went from mid to high draft dollars in 2009 and really disappointed their NL owners...

Cole Hamels - Age 26
2009 - 10W, 4.32 ERA, 1.29 Ratio, 168K, 193 2/3 IP
2008 - 14W, 3.09 ERA, 1.08 Ratio, 196K , 227 1/3 IP

The 2008 World Series MVP had a very disappointing season in 2009. The warning signs were that the Hamels pitched more innings than ever before in his career after winning the World Series. In 2008 Hamels pitched 79 more innings than he pitched in 2007. Hamels total innings in 2008 including the post season was 262 1/3. Throw in the fact that Hamels, after becoming the World Series MVP in 2008, went on what is refered to the "Rubber Chicken Circuit". Basically a lot of paid travelling appearances which meant less time last off-season preparing for 2009. Hamels mentality looked fragile in the post season against the Yankees in 2009. Having said all this, Hamels is too talented and is on to good of a team not to have a good year in 2010. Plus having Roy Halladay around to pass on some great knowledge and help Hamels development could go a long way. Remember what Halladay did for AJ Burnett in Toronto. Hamels is just 26 as well I would expect 15W, and era at least at 3.50, a ratio in the low 1.20's and strikeouts close to 200. Of course Hamels can do even better than that. If Hamels goes for a discount in your league come draft day jump on him.

Derek Lowe - Age 36
2009 - 15W, 4.67 ERA, 1.52 Ratio, 111K, 194 2/3 IP
2008 - 14W, 3.24 ERA, 1.13 Ratio, 147K, 211 IP

Derek Lowe really fell off the map last year. Yes he had 15 wins but his K's were awful (usually close to 150K's for the year) and Lowe killed your era & ratio. Can he turn it around? Lowe before last year had 4 straight seasons of an era below 4.00 & over the last 4 years Lowe's worst year in ratio was in 2007 were Lowe had a 1.27 Ratio. Lowe did have new surrondings last year in Atlanta but last year was a veyr bad surprise. Having said that, Lowe is a professional pitcher and Atlanta should be a decent team in 2010. I believe in many leagues Lowe will go for a very good price come draft day in fact he will probably go for half the price he did last year maybe less. If Lowe goes for a discount again it's a great oportunity here. I believe Lowe can bounce back and give you 12 to 14 wins with an era around 4, ratio around 1.30 and K's should be around 140. If the price is right go for Derek Lowe.

Kyle Lohse - Age 31
2009 - 6W, 4.74 ERA, 1.37 Ratio, 77K, 117 2/3 IP
2008 - 15W, 3.78 ERA, 1.30 Ratio, 119K, 200 IP

Injuries and the Dave Duncan magic must have worn off in 2009. I think Lohse if healthy for a full season can give you 12-13 wins, but, at the end of the day, to me in roto he is a back end starter for you and on draft day you should spend no more than 6 or 7 dollars. On a good year, Lohse is slightly better than a push on era & ratio and Lohse gives you very few K's. Let someone else draft him.

Brad Lidge - Age 33
2009 - 0W, 31SV, 7.21 ERA, 1.81 Ratio, 61K in 58 2/3 IP
2008 - 2W, 41SV, 1.95 ERA, 1.23 Ratio, 92K in 69 1/3 IP

Lidge goes from a year where he doesn't blow a save including the post season in 2008 to what he did in 2009. How is that possible? Lidge is also coming off elbow and knee surgeries and could miss a little time at the beginning of the season. Would I be surprised if Lidge bounces back? No I wouldn't, but just to many issues for me so I would get a different closer for your team unless you can get a huge discount on Lidge.

Matt Capps - Age 26
2009 - 4W, 27SV, 5.80 ERA, 1.66 Ratio, 46K in 54 1/3 IP
2008 - 2W, 21SV, 3.02 ERA, 0.97 Ratio, 39K in 53 2/3 IP

Capps had 3 good seasons in a row as a reliever including 2008 where Capps took over as the closer. So last year was a bad surprise. Capps is only 26, gets a fresh start in Washington and also keep in mind of the 35 earned runs Capps gave up in 2009 15 of those earned runs came in 4 appearances that was over 3 innings in those outings. I think Capps in most leagues will go for a cheap price come draft and is a very good candidate to be come back player of the year. Having said that buy him only at a good discount.

Also you NL owners keep an eye where Chien-Ming Wang signs. It seems it is more likely to land in the NL (makes more sense for Wang to sign in the NL to get his value back up) and the early word is Wang could be pitching in the majors sometime in mid to late May. As of the posting of this article, Chien-Ming Wang will sign with the Washington Nationals!

NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Interview with The Fantasy Man

I stumbled upon an interview I did last season that I totally forgot about. Sometimes I amaze myself.... here it is again just for sh*%s & gigs....

http://welcometotheshow.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/05/fantasy_baseball_expert_interv_3.html

About Chris Lizza - The NL King

Chris Lizza, better know as the NL King, has been providing National League Only fantasy baseball advice for Fantasy Baseball Express since July 2009! Here is a deeper look into The Fantasy Man's newest fantasy baseball advice writer...

A deeper look into the NL King...
Chris started playing Rotisserie Fantasy Baseball back in the late 80's. One of his best friends, who is still in his league today, went to the bookstore one day and bought this new book about Rotisserie Baseball. After some mixed league fun and in the early 90's, Chris' group formed their current league which is entering it's 19th season in 2010. It's an NL Only, 12 team, 5X5, Keeper League. Chris has won his league five times, most recently in 2008. Chris has finished in the money between 60 to 65 percent of the time according to his records. Back in the day Chris remembers drafting a young rookie prospect named Chipper Jones in the farm system part of their draft and getting him for a buck.

Chris is a New York guy, grew up on Long Island, went to college on the island and now works in NYC as a finance guy in the advertising industry. Chris stumbled upon The Fantasy Man searching the web for fantasy baseball advice about 2-3 years ago and liked the content. Chris signed up for a subscription service and eventually approached Mike about writing articles. In July 2009 the NL King was born!

Chris loves Fantasy Baseball and finds it a great escape. Seems like these days so much stress on all our lives and the time he spends on his fantasy team and writing the articles is that great escape. Chris hopes his articles help fantasy managers win championships. Chris urges that you compile research and look at all the analysis and to do your homework! The articles will keep on coming and I hope everyone enjoys them and gets something out of them. Please feel free to leave your comments on each and every NL King post! Enjoy.

NL King - Can these 5 NL ONLY Hitters Bounce Back from a Disappointing Season in 2010?

These five hitters were coming off good to excellent seasons in 2008 and almost everyone was expecting similar years in 2009, if not better. However, that did not happen. Let's take a look at these five hitters closely.....

Russell Martin - Age 27
2009: 7HR-53RBI-63R-11SB-.250 Avg
2008: 13HR-69RBI-87R-18SB-.280 Avg
Martin saw his numbers fall in every category last year. Have the Dodgers played Martin too much the last 3 years? In the last 3 seasons Martin has played in 449 games with 96% of those games at catcher. Now Martin is a differnt kind of player because even in 07 & 08 where Martin had big years, his biggest appeal was he was a poor man's 5 category player though not that poor because Martin gave it to you at catcher, which numbers are very hard to come by. So what can we expect in 2010? Players do have bad years and Martin is only 27, but the work load over the last 3 years is a bit of a concern. I believe the smart way to look at Martin is his overall career which says that Martin is a better player than the numbers in 2009. Having said that, do not assume Martin will go back to his 07 & 08 production in 2010, and by no means pay for Martin on draft day based on 07 & 08. Expect a good year and hope for a great year.

Geovany Soto - Age 27
2009: 11HR-47RBI-27R-1SB-.218 Avg
2008: 23HR-86RBI-66R-0SB-.285 Avg
Soto saw his numbers almost cut in half if not more across the board while his average crashed in 2009. Soto did deal with shoulder and obligue injuries last year so I am sure that played a big role. However was it the whole story? Keep in mind sometimes it's very hard when expectations on put on your players for the first time. Going into season it looked like Soto was going to be one of the top NL catchers for the next few years. That still could happen considering he had 163 less AB's in 09. Good fantasy baseball advice would say close to 20HR, 70RBI & 50R are very realistic but figure an average around .260.

Kelly Johnson - Age 28
2009: 8HR-29RBI-47RBI-7-.224 Avg
2008: 12HR-69RBI-86R-11SB-.287 Avg
Johnson was basically the Russell Martin at 2B. Not a killer in any category but did everything good. Johnson has shown in his career that he is a streaky hitter and last year while Johnson struggled Martin Prado excelled and it made it very hard for Johnson to get AB's. Johnson now gets a freash start in Arizona and could be a nice buy come draft day at a very weak position.

Corey Hart - Age 28
2009: 12HR-48RBI-64R-11SB-.260 Avg
2008: 20HR-91RBI-76R-20SB-.268 Avg
Keep in mind that Hart missed pratically the last 2 months due to an appendectomy. One good sign is Hart's walks were up 59% in 2009. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Hart has dropped over 20 lbs this off-season. Hart put up 20HR & 20SB seasons in 07 & 08 and there are only a few guys in the NL who can do that. If you can get a good price on Hart come draft day roll the dice on him.

Alfonso Soriano - Age 34
2009: 20HR-55RBI-64R-9SB-.241 Avg
2008: 29HR-75RBI-76R-19SB-.280 Avg
There are a lot of signs here that say that Soriano's monster years are a thing of the past. First Soriano is heading to his mid 30's and had knee pain last year so one what have to think Soriano will only look to steal when games are on the line. If you can get 15SB's from Soriano next year take it and run. Also, Soriano, due to numerous injuries, has not reached 500 AB's the last 2 seasons. Throw in the fact that Soriano has always been an undisciplined hitter and I am very leary of Soriano. Soriano in most drafts will probably go more than he should because of his name, don't be the owner that overpays for him. I would pass on him and go after other players.

Next NL King article will feature 5 NL pitchers looking to bounce back in 2010.

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, February 12, 2010

John Iavarone of J2Comedy.com Presents his latest Spoof!

After the start of the 2009 fantasy baseball season, a friend of mine, a comedian from NYC and I got together to have some fun with YouTube. We came up with Stupid Boss Doing a Fantasy Baseball Draft at Work and was the first short film for what we now know as J2 Comedy! Say what you want. It was the first time The Fantasy Man has ever handled a movie camera or did any kind of editing. It was a bit long but it certainly packs a punch if you stick it out towards the end! Any of you who watched more than 4 of the 5 minutes of that video know what I am talking about!

Enter the John Iavarone of 2010! Older! Shorter! Smarter! Balder! Now, this video is not fantasy baseball related but John came up with a great idea and I wanted to help my friend get his comedy out there! Along with a great production crew (John's moving up in the world), they produced a great video! It's funnier and slightly shorter for your viewing pleasure! Please take a look at John's infomercial spoof called "The Pre-Sweated Sweatshirt"! Feel free to leave any feedback or to pass along the video!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Fantasy Man Particpates in a CBS Sports NL Only Draft

On Tuesday the Fantasy Man participated in a National League Only 5x5 Roto draft at CBS Sports in which you can review the results here. I represented The Fantasy Man.

Looking back, my plan was to pass on the $40+ players which is totally not my style! I like to grab that $50 Albert Pujols or the $51 Hanley Ramirez and then compensate later on in the draft. However, having done these drafts in the past, good solid $1 players are tough to find in the NL. So my plan was to spread it out a bit and go for maybe one or two $35 type players maybe two $20 players and then save my money for good solid players at slightly undervalued prices. Let's see how I did...

The Team:
David Wright $34 - Gotta get a top player, Wright was top 5 last season so this is a discount

Jose Reyes $36 - Sounds like he's healthy and its a contract year
Nyjer Morgan $21 - mmmm...speed...runs...batting average

Brian McCann $25 - Upside is worth the money
Martin Prado $13 - Love the versatile with the BA
Jorge Cantu $18 - I was saving $ for James Loney, but some dope paid $21 in a bidding war
Miguel Olivo $2 - 15+ HR in a platoon role in Colorado??
Jeff Clement $4 - Could have C/1B eligibility with good upside
Will Venable $3 - Love his upside, 20/15 power/speed combo
Kosuke Fukadome $1 - Has some upside
Christian Guzman $1 - I hate this pick but MI was running low
Freddy Sanchez $1 - If he starts healthy I get good BA for a buck
Ben Francisco $1 - An injury makes Benny a full-timer but a good power/speed combo as a 4th
Todd Frazier $1 - Wanted Chris Heisey but someone outbid me, LF is wide open in Cincy!


Clayton Kershaw $20 - No brainer for 200K's
Brandon Webb $20 - Probably overpaid slightly but should be healthy and ace-like

Trevor Hoffman $20 - Wanted good all-around stats + the saves
Edwin Jackson $14 - Steal of the draft in my opinion! He's just getting started...
Joe Blanton $8 - At first I hated the $8, but 12-15 guaranteed wins w/ serviceable stats is worth $8
Matt Capps $9 - Upgraded pitching staff means more save opportunities for a Nationals closer
Oliver Perez $3 - UGH!
Bronson Arroyo $4 - See Joe Blanton
Chris R. Young $2 - Former ace, still in prime, crappy team, great pitchers park, healthy, great stuff, upside

Immediate thoughts...
I love the pitching staff! I think Jackson was a steal at $14 and the move to the NL is going to be great! Two innings eaters who always get you 12-15 wins in Blanton and Arroyo, an ace with superstar potential in Kershaw for average SP money, two closers when most teams have only one and very few have good ones, and some projects in Chris Young and Ollie Perez. Bandon Webb at $20 was an impulse but has upside to give ace-like stats. As for offense, we lack power but runs, stolen bases and batting average should all be top 3 in each of those categories.

Shoulda Coulda Woulda...
I shoulda spent $31 on Jimmy Rollins and saved $5 instead of $36 for Reyes
I shoulda saved my money on McCann and used that $25 and go an extra buck to get Derek Lee at $28, I then wouldn't have needed Jeff Clement and his risk.
I coulda picked up Jesus Flores for $2 with the extra money I saved getting Rollins instead of Reyes
I woulda passed on Webb but good SP's with huge upside were running super thin

I shoulda grabbed Adam Kennedy instead of Christian Guzman
I coulda had Chris Heisey, OF, CIN but got outbid at the very end by a buck, thought I could sneak him in, Todd Frazier next best thing.
I coulda passed on Nyjer Morgan for $21 and bid on Carlos Gomez for pennies, then used that extra money for a better middle infiled than Guzman/Sanchez

Moral of the Story...
Pitching is deep, OF is somewhat deep, you have to pay for power, cheap speed can be had, lots of young upside players, and fantastic $1-$3 SP options with upside like Chris Young, Oliver Perez, John Maine, John Lannan, Bud Norris, etc. I found that I actually like to save my money a bit more than blowing it on 3-4 monster players. Looking back I would probably toss back McCann and Webb and save that money for later in the draft to upgrade players like Guzman/Sanchez/Francisco/Clement. I'd rather have 23 full-time players then say 15 full-timers and a bunch of $1 scrubs. That's the first step to being successful. It's okay to have a $45+ player but make sure it's someone who can carry a category like Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder with power or Jose Reyes with speed.

More Analysis...
Mike Gianella of Roto Think Tank analyzed my team
Erik Siegrist of RotoSynthesis (Powered by RotoWire) added analysis during the auction

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NL King - Player Profile - Jason Heyward

I can't think of more intriguing player in an NL only league for 2010 then Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are quoted in saying in Feb 5th's Atlanta Journal Constitution that "Jason Heyward will have every opportunity to win the Right Field job". If you think about the only possible starters the Braves have right now in the OF are Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera & Matt Diaz. Both Diaz (who kills lefties but is so-so versus righties) and Cabrera are probably best suited to get 350 AB's each. That means a good spring and Jason Heyward will be a starter come opening day.
 
When reading up on Heyward, you find so many great things and so little bad signs. Heyward is a guy who has great patience, great feel for the game, has a plan for every AB, makes adjustments, uses the entire field (drives the ball to the opposite field) and outstanding instincts on the base paths. He is a 5 tool player. But those other intangibles I mentioned along with his tools has most people in baseball believing that Heyward will be one of the game's premier players for the next decade. The only negative at this time I can find is he has had a little bit of the injury bug. Nothing major, no bad back or anything like that but has had a few injuries. Heyward only has 886 professional AB's.
 
So how does one look at Jason Heyward in an NL only league? Well in an auction league, assuming you have to get 23 players for $260 (roughly $11 per player average) I would say if you can land Heyward for $17 or under this is a good bet for the 2010 season and in a keeper league a great deal because next year he is much more likely to break out. As a starter player I feel confident that he can give you good power numbers, hit for a decent average and give you some quiet steals (maybe 10) and give you at least a $17 return.
 
With Heyward's talent anything is possible, but you cannot count on Heyward from the get-go from being a monster player. For every Ryan Braun & Tim Lincecum who performed at a high level from the beginning there are so many players who turned into big players that it took time. Hey, most people in baseball will tell you Roy Halladay is the best starting pitcher in the game today. When Halladay first arrived to the majors he struggled and had to be sent back to the minors before coming back to majors and becoming the player he is today. Same thing happen to a guy from Commerce, Oakholma by the name of Mickey Mantle. So you cannot bank on a huge year from Heyward. However, I am saying that if you can land Heyward at $17 or even better less than that you will get at least a $17 year with the chance he does better than that in 2010 and in a keeper league maybe just maybe $35 year in 2011.
 
It's been a long time where I read so many reports on prospect that everyone was convinced he would be a huge player. Keep in mind, not everyone hits but I am willing to bet Jason Heyward makes it big time.
 
NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Top 20 NL Only League Hitters

One might say.... why write an article on the top 20 "hitters" in the National League? We know these guys are either great or almost great so let's focus our attentions elsewhere. I have probably done that along the way myself. But think about an auction draft, the top 20 all go for high draft dollars (in most cases, higher than market value because of the lack of impact players) and in a traditional draft your lucky if one of these hitters makes it to the 3rd round. So there's a lot at stake with these players. You need to understand these players strengths and weaknesses just like the sleepers and every other player in the draft. I have broken the top 20 hitters into 2 groups the "elite" and "almost there".

The Elite:
These 7 NL Hitters, barring any setbacks, we know they will have big years. Here are those players in ranking order....

Albert Pujols - I mean, what else is there to say. The guy is a monster and he is probably the most consistent player in all of Roto. In his 9 year career the lowest amount of HR he had in a season is 32, RBI are 103, Runs are 99 and average is .314. It seems like that elbow issue that came up a couple of years ago that scared people is okay. Only negative I will say is don't count on 16 steals again. Maybe he will do it again but plan for around 8.

Hanley Ramirez - One of two players to go 20HR/20SB the last three years consecutively in the NL. The days of him stealing 50 are probably over but he should be knocking at the door on a 30HR, 100+RBI, 100+R, 25-30 SB and a very high average every year (career .316 hitter). Just turned 26.

Ryan Braun - It shouldn't be this easy to become a stud. In 3 years as a starting player Braun is a 30HR, 100+RBI, 100+R, 20SB and .300 hitter. Wouldn't be surprising if one day he is number one on this list.  Just turned 26.

Chase Utley - Best line I heard about him is that Utley plays like his hair is on fire. He plays with such intensity which means he tries to get everything out of every AB. Have to love that from your roto player. Similar to Braun's numbers but at 2B.

Matt Kemp - At less pop than Braun & Utley but double the steals. Just turned 25.

Matt Holliday - Keep in mind that 1st half in Oakland hurt his numbers last year. Should be a guy who goes 30+HR, 100+RBI, 100+R, 15 to 20 SB and is a career .318 hitter.

Ryan Howard - If he can hit close to .280, he'd be a monster. The 8 steals last year was a nice little bonus. Monster Power in a Bam Box.

Almost There:
These guys are either on the verge of making the elite or are really good hitters just one step below. This is to close to call on rankings so I just listed them in alphabetical order.

Andre Ethier - He may just stay on the 2nd tier list his whole career as a low $30 dollar player, won't get any SB's but if he can hit around .300 like he did in 08 instead of .272 in 09 then maybe he will be knocking on the door of the elite list.

Prince Fielder - Love 2007 & 2009, it's just 2008 wasn't on the same level as those years. Need to see a big year in 2010 and then we can put him on the elite list.

Adrian Gonzalez - If he played in any other NL park other than Citi Field he probably be on the elite list. The concern here is Gonzalez has 2 years left on his contract with SD and then he becomes a free agent. If SD is out of it come July, I am sure they will listen to trade offers. If Gonzalez gets traded to the AL during the year, how does your league handle that? This is a concern in an NL only league.

Brandon Phillips - Remember how I said Hanley was one of only 2 NL players to go at least 20HR & 20SB the last 3 years, Phillips is the other hitter to do that. Like Ethier, probably won't ever make it to the elite level and probably won't do 30-30 again like he did in 2007 but he can be a $30 player for the next few years and at 2B.

Jose Reyes - Oh boy this is a tough one. If Reyes is 100% he is a 60SB guy. Does anyone know the answer to that question? His 60 steals is what sets him apart. Because he is good in HR & RBI & Avg and strong in runs but it's the steals. If you are going to take on risk with a player there should be a bit of a discount. Meaning don't pay for Reyes on draft day if the price is based on him getting 60 steals.

Mark Reynolds - I have to see it again and then we will put him on the elite list. Obviously when you K like he does he raises some concern and want to see him hit .260 again instead of .239. I would say given his other numbers .250 is fine. A little concerned that out of no where he became a SB guy. Is this a 1 year wonder. Basically don't pay based on his 2009 numbers.

Jimmy Rollins - Just turned 31 and his steals fell from 47 to 31 last year. Also the average and his OBP were not good. He may now be a 30 SB guy due to his age and in that lineup in that ballpark he may not have to feel he needs to steal as much. His MVP season in 2007 is a thing of the past. Can still be a low $30 player.

Pablo Sandoval - He can flat out hit. Plays in a big ball park & doesn't currently play with any other great hitters. Those 2 facts will hurt his overall numbers in 2010. But still will get you a high average with really good power and position flexibility.

Troy Tulowitzki - Showed that 2008 was a sophomore slump I think. Again a little concerned like Reynolds with SB's that came out of now where.

Justin Upton - I remember reading about Justin Upton when he got called up and scouts where saying the question isn't whether he will be a top 5 player in MLB, the question is when. We saw that last year with his performance. He just turned 22 late in the season. This guy could challenge very quickly the #1 spot in the NL as a hitter.

Jayson Werth - He is a gamer. Average is a push but love the 20 steals in back to back seasons and in that lineup and in that ballpark will hit 30HR and knock on the door of 100 R & RBI. Only has 1 year left on his contract and then becomes a free agent. Good chance Philly uses their money else where and let Dominic Brown take his place in 2011.

David Wright - Everyone got hurt, let the ballpark get in his head and pressed last year. He is a gap hitter so while I think the HR will come back (10 HR last year) I think he will be closer to 20HR than 30HR. Love the average & speed.

Ryan Zimmerman - He doesn't get SB's but with the lack of a supporting cast has emerged as a solid 30HR, 100 R & RBI guy who hit around .290 last year. Just turned 25.

NL King - C.Lizza

Thursday, February 04, 2010

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

NL King - Percentage Categories What You Must be Aware of to Win a Championship

ERA, Ratio and batting average all have one thing in common..... these three categories, unlike the other seven categories (assuming you are in a 5 X 5 roto league), can move you up or down the standings daily. What I mean by that is one day your team ERA can be 3.75 and the next day it can be 3.83. Think about that for a second.  You can have a bad stretch and it can really hurt in that category. So with that in mind everyone must be aware of this fact in putting together your team.
 
Batting Average:
In regards to these three categories you do not want to fall way behind in the 1st half of the season because it is so hard to make up ground in these specific categories. For instance in the league I am in I would say in a 12 team league a .270 team batting average would probably put you around 5th or 6th place (7-8 Points for that category).  Now let's say your team has a terrible batting average for the 1st half and it's at .250. That means to hit the .270 average for the year your team has to hit .290 in the 2nd half which is an incredible average. Keeping this in mind you have to be careful on getting low average players on your team. Now batting average you have more wiggle room that ERA & Ratio because you have 14 hitters as oppose to 9 pitchers and the hitters can get AB's every day, where as the pitchers the starters only start once every 5 days and the bullpen guys at best will pitch 4 innings a week.
 
But getting back to batting average you must pick your spots regarding guys that are not good average guys but can help your team in the other categories. So guys like Mike Cameron, Ian Stewart, Adam Dunn, Kyle Blanks or Mark Reynolds who potential can hurt your average you must not load up on these kind of players even though they can help you in the other categories. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying these guys should not be on your team but at most you should have 2 of these guys as part of your team and ideally if you do have a couple of guys like this on your team you need to have a couple of high batting average starters to help offset these low average starters.
 
Finally regarding batting average, under no circumstances regarding role players on your team (your middle infielder, or your corner, 2nd catcher, 5th OF) do not take a guy who is a bad batting average player. So even if your 2nd catcher is a starter but hits .240 (like a Nick Hundley) your team would be 100 times better off having a guy like Ronny Paulino who is a backup but will hit between .270 - .280. No bad batting averages from role players.
 
ERA & Ratio:
Like I stated above with Batting Average, you have the same problems with ERA and Ratio but these pitching categories are more difficult because you get a lot less opportunities with IP than AB's to help reduce your ERA & Ratio. Again, these are not every day players and only 9 pitchers instead of 14 hitters. Okay, so regarding the pitching under no circumstances do you draft a pitcher who is a career 4.50 ERA or worst and or a guy who is a career 1.40 Ratio or worst. The only exception can be a guy who is a closer and can get you a lot of saves (think Brain Wilson in 2008 where he had a bad ERA & Ratio but 41 saves). At least in that case you only have 60 to 70 innings of bad era & ratio numbers. So when rounding out your staff regarding your extra starters and middle relievers stay away from these guys. Bad ERA & Ratio numbers are so hard to make up. Take a few less wins or fewer strikeouts to preserve your ERA & Ratio.
 
Everyone needs to respect these categories because they are very volatile and it's so hard to make up ground when you fall way behind the pack.
 
Will have another article next week. Everyone have a great week.
 
NL King - C.Lizza