Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Last Minute Spring Training Advice

Here's a quick little splash of fantasy baseball advice heading into the season and your last minute fantasy drafts.  Very little is made of a Spring Training performance, but every year a few guys make you look twice. I really don’t think springs matter, but in some cases it could be a small indication of great things to come:

Jordan Zimmerman:
Norman Notes: Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in August 2009, now having a tremendous spring hitting 95 on the gun. Stephen Strasburg stole all the headlines, but JZ could end up being the National’s best pitcher. Target Zimmerman is the late rounds as a possible mega sleeper.

Gordon Beckham:
Norman Notes: This Spring, he’s batting .339, slugging .597 with a .994 OPS with 3 homeruns and 11 RBIs. We all know he can hit at the major league levels, now at 27, can Gordon can finally have a full quality season?

Neftali Feliz:
Norman Notes: I hope you listened to me about Neftali Feliz. The Rangers announced he will close this year. Could be the best closer in baseball, draft him accordingly.

Brad Lidge: Lidge is not my favorite fantasy player, and an injury risk. He’s 34 now, and having shoulder problems. Ryan Madson is a much better pitcher and could be a steal at the draft (or a free agent acquisition if you’ve already drafted).

Chase Utley: With his knee tendonitis acting up, he’ll start the year on the DL, but if he falls far enough in your draft, he could be a bargain. Half a season of Uley, is still better than a full season of most other second basemen.

Kendrys Morales: 7 years and he finally realizes an S is missing? He’s going to start the year on the DL. Like Utley, if he falls far enough, I like him as a deeper sleeper.

Norman Homers

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Norman Homers Fantasy Baseball Roto Drafting 101

How can you win a fantasy baseball roto league? Fill your roster with some (or as many as possible) of these hyper consistent players.

That’s my strategy in Roto leagues. You don’t need your guys to be consistent on a daily/weekly basis like you do in head to head leagues, you just need them to fill the stat box… in the words of the great Chicago White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson, “They can put in on the board! YES!”

Heres a list of guys I’ll be targeting to fill my roto league rosters this season.

C Victor Martinez
The guy is a professional hitter. Since he’ll be playing DH for the Tigers, he should stay healthy and put up his career average numbers of .300 BA with 20+ homeruns.

1B Mark Teixeira
Starts slow, but ultimately knows how to fill out his stats. Look forward to a .290 BA and 30 homeruns batiing in the Yankees power lineup.

2B Dan Uggla
30 homeruns from second base? Check please…

3B Kevin Youkilis
Technically not a third basemen yet, but should be after about a week of games. Could easily finish as a top 5 at the position. 25+ homeruns and a .300 BA in the bank.

SS Derek Jeter
Let other people overpay for shortstops (Tulo and Hanley) and take Jeter. He’s getting older but the guy can still hit. Last year had one of the worst years of his career and still hit .270 with 10HR. That’s his basement, look for bigger numbers in 2011.

OF Matt Holliday
One of the most consistent hitters in baseball but still not a top 5 outfielder in 2011?. Pass on the less consistent top tier and take the consistency of Matt Holliday.

OF Ichiro Suzuki
Lots of critics are bashing Ichiro. I’ll be taking advantage of that criticism and getting the most consistent player of the decade. Seattle’s offense was horrible so that killed his accounting stats, but you cant overlook his .315+ BA and 30 SB talent.

OF Hunter Pence
2008? 25 homeruns, .269 BA
2009? 25 homeruns, .282 BA
2010? 25 homeruns, .282 BA
2011? The most unsexy lock for 25 homeruns and a .275+ BA.

OF Michael Bourn
In a roto league, you need a stolen base guy. 41, 61, 52 in his last 3 seasons. Take Bourn and his 40+ SB’s to get fill the category.

OF Aubrey Huff
2008: 32 HRs
2009: 30 HRs
2010: 26 HRs
Huff is a consistent 25+ homerun OF flying under the radar in an improving SF offense.

OF Adam Jones
Jones has yet to put it all together, but still managed 19 homeruns in 2009 and 2010. Tons of upside and little downside from this yet to “get-it” outfielder. Scary upside if everything clicks.

The Fantasy Man's Personal 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Plan

Looking for a killer Fantasy Baseball draft plan this year? Every year I sit down in November, I look at the players, and I start working on a draft plan. For the most part, I participate in 12 team mixed leagues as most of the expert leagues we do are 12 teamers. I like to come up with a scenario where I know what positions I want and what categories I want in any given round. As many of you know, I prefer categories over positions and is why I am not shy about loading up on power 1B's in the first three rounds. However, even The Fantasy Man can get savvy from time to time. Here is my 2011 fantasy baseball draft plan. This is my personal plan and now that I am done drafting, I will share more in depth. Many of you still have drafts, so remember this is my personal advice, not gospel. Hope it helps you. good luck!

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Planning my Draft Strategy:
I go hitting early and pitching late, pretty basic philosophy.  I go all hitting, first 5-6 rounds. A top hitter is normally more valuable in a typical 5x5 roto so that's why I'm loading up on hitting early.  My top priority is power, especially at the weak positions, but I am also a sucker for Carl Crawford and Andrew McCutchen. Both players can easily screw up my plan, but at the same time, I know how to adjust.  Here's what I know going in...
1. I know that I can grab speed later (Juan Pierre, Michael Bourn, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Dexter Fowler, etc... I believe Fowler/Jackson will both steal 30+SB)
2. I know power gets tougher to acquire late unless you're savvy (Mark Reynolds, Ian Stewart, Jason Kubel, Travis Snider, etc.)
3. I know there is plenty of starting pitching aces available between rounds 6-8 (Mat Latos, Tommy Hanson, Yovanni Gallardo, Francisco Liriano, Chris Carpenter)
4. I know there is plenty of either upside pitching late(Jonathan Sanchez, Phil Hughes, Clay Buchholz or Jon Niese, Jouhlys Chacin, Bud Norris, Brian Matusz later), or comeback/veteran pitching late (Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano, John Lackey).
5. I know that I like to draft closers early so I can take advantage of the better ERA/WHIP/K categories.
6. I know there are plenty of solid everyday outfielders available late, so unless I draft Crawford or McCutchen, you won't see me draft an OF until at least R10 or so if I'm itchin' to grab Juan Pierre, Brett Gardner or Michael Bourn.

Executing my Draft Plan (Snake Format):
R1 - Load up on Power - Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Carl Crawford, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Gonzalez. There are realistically the only guys I'm looking at. I consistently pass on Troy Tulowitzski, Evan Longoria and Joey Votto (You can listen to my podcasts for reasons why). Obviosuly, Crawford throws a wrench in the plan but I know I can get big power in R2).
R2 - If I have a middle pick and grab Cano/Crawford, I look for A-Rod to slip. If A-Rod is gone, I go Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder. There is always one available by the end of R2.
R3 - Jose Reyes - This is an opportunity to grab a potential contract year break out, get top speed, and cover a weak position. If I grab Crawford in R1, obviouslyI'm loaded at SB and I can concentrate on power for pretty much the rest of the draft.  If Reyes is gone, I go back to power at 1B, CI or I might grab Andrew McCutchen as a plan B. McCutchen is realistically Crawford minus some SB but more power.
R4 - I'll look at Dan Uggla here, Kinsler, Mauer, McCann, VMart. If all gone, I'll grab Adam Dunn.
R5 - Same as R4...whoever slips of that group. If all gone, I'm looking at Justin Morneau, Brandon Phillips, Buster Posey, and may stretch out to grab Carlos Santana or Stephen Drew. Otherwise, might just look best hitter available.
R6-R9 - All pitching. I like to grab a closer here first (Carlos Marmol,Brian Wilson, Heath Bell), then alternate SP, RP, SP. Bottomline, I want to come out these 4 rounds with two solid SP (Hanson, Latos, Gallardo, Liriano, Jimenez, Price, Oswalt, Carpenter) and two top RP (Marmol, Wilson, Bell, Soria, Rivera). If I miss on the other closer, I'll grab Stephen Drew in the middle here if I need the SS or Carlos Santana if I need a catcher. Then I'll look at Thornton, Valverde, Broxton, Lidge if the closer run started too early.
R10 - I'll look catcher if I need my first, other wise, I look Juan Pierre or Brett Gardner for speed if need. If I need power, I'm all over Mark Reynolds.
R11- 13 - Will look to grab my second catcher in Jorge Posada, Miguel Montero, or Kurt Suzuki depending on availability. If these guys are gone, then I just wait until late to grab another. I'll also look to grab an SP (Sanchez, Hughes, Buchholz if I'm lucky) and a closer (Broxton, Lidge, Thornton or Nunez if they slip).  Those are the three positions I like to fill in rounds 11-13.  At this point, managers are just filling spots, so you have to see what positions are getting weak and fill your spot with that last good player before someone else does. This is where rankings with tiers come in handy.
R14+ - The rest - Now your just filling needs like stolen base or power or starting pitching and looking at positions at the same time. Most solid power/speed combos are gone, so for speed, fill OF slots with guys later like Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson or power guys like Jason Kubel, Travis Snider, and throw an upside pick like Logan Morrison. Then fill in pitching as you go with good young SP's with upside.

Some other sleeper speedsters I like late (in order)...
Rajai Davis
Jose Tabata
Carlos Gomez
Cameron Maybin
Chris Cohglin
Michael Brantley
Peter Boujos
Coco Crisp

Power I like late (in order)...
Ike Davis
Jason Kubel
Travis Snider
Logan Morrison
Mike Morse
Ian Stewart
Kila Ka'aihue
Justin Smoak
Seth Smith

Pitching I like late (in order)...
Jaime Garcia
A.J. Burnett
Carlos Zambrano
Jake Peavy
Erik Bedard
Ervin Santana
Jordan Zimmerman
Javier Vazquez
Kyle Drabek
Jon Niese
Rick Porcello
Jeff Neimann

That's my personal plan and I'm confident its a killer! Good luck in 2011!

The Fantasy Man

Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight - Corey Hart

Today the fantasy baseball spotlight is shining brightly on Milwaukee Brewers OF Corey Hart. High risk/high reward fantasy OF entering the 2011 season.
It is hard to know what you can expect from Corey Hart from year to year. In 2010 Hart really put things together and posted some of the best numbers of his career, but failed to reach double digits in stolen bases as he had in previous seasons. The days of Hart stealing 20+ bases are over. I think 10-15 SB's are reasonable, anything over that should be considered a bonus!

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First, let me say that I am not a huge Corey Hart fan, but drafting is all about finding the right player at the right time in the draft. Take a look at the ADP below and you can see that Hart is going in the 10th round in a standard 10-team league. Pretty good value, based on some of the other players drafted in front of him.

It should be noted that Hart aggravated his strained oblique and his availability for opening day is in question. If your heading into your draft you may want to adjust your OF rankings a bit. Hart may be acquired on the cheap via trade by a savvy owner. Hart has the ability to be a top 40 outfielder and will be in the Brewers power packed lineup, so don't sell him too short.

Most drafts should be wrapped up at this point, so this is kind of a last installment for you late drafters. Stay tuned for a additional player spotlights throughout the season, but I will start to shift my focus on waiver wire gems now that the season is less than a week away! Good luck this season to all the readers out there!

Hart's current ADP on Mock Draft Central is 102, drafted after Tori Hunter (89), Grady Sizemore (92), Alfonso Soriano (94) and Vernon Wells (97).

Gregory's Projection: 500 at-bats, 94 runs, 26 HR's, 87 RBI's, 9 SB's, .269 batting average

Gregory Smith

Monday, March 28, 2011

Head-to-Head League Player Comparison - Juan Pierre vs Brett Gardner

Fantasy baseball strategies are plentiful and deciding how to draft for speed is an essential part of your draft plan.  Needed speed late in drafts the past few years? If you have, I bet you turned to Juan Pierre. Pierre is a guy I have fallen back on many times throughout the years in both roto and H2H leagues when I have failed to get enough base stealers early. If you go for power in the first few rounds you can easily find yourself locked out for the players who are great power/speed combos.

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Juan Pierre 2010: .275/1/47/96/68

He's not going to help you in the homerun department. He's also not going to help you by batting in many runs. However, he is going to steal a lot of bases while doing pretty getting runs. Pierre is also a career .298 hitter, so he's usually going to help you in batting average. With an ADP at 133.31 over at Mock Draft Central he is affordable if you need him.

Brett Gardner 2010: .277/5/47/97/47

Gardner had 174 less at bats than Pierre, yet he was still able to match Pierre's run total and steal enough bases to be highly valuable in that category. Last season was Gardner's first season to get significant playing time, so you would have to assume he is a player who is only going to get better. His ADP being 186.27, Gardner is an exceptional value. All this being said, I would still rather have Pierre in a standard 5x5 roto league based on the stat lines shown above as Pierre's long track record of steals make him a must get for fantasy teams in need of speed.
Juan Pierre 2010: .275/1/47/96/68/45/47/.341/.316/.657
Brett Gardner 2010: .277/5/47/97/47/79/101/.383/.379/.762

Now Gardner's ability to get on base really starts to reshape the argument. Depending on the extra categories your H2H league employs, Gardner can take on significantly more value. The strikeout category is the only new category that helps Pierre. If your league uses OPS you can definitely see the additional value with Gardner at .762 and Pierre at .657! If I am desperate for speed in this years H2H drafts I am zeroing in on Gardner.

There are some variables that really need to be taken into account with these players. The first is that you must remember the lineup Gardner is playing in. If it wasn't for all of the big bats in that lineup Gardner would possibly even steal more bases. Also keep in mind that if Gardner is moved to the top of the lineup, which is very possible, his OBP could help him put up monster numbers over an entire season. Gardner is speedster who is on the rise.

Andrew Bilbo

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A Fantasy Baseball Rookie, 48 Hours 'til Draft Day!

I’ve done a number of mocks, gotten my…expletive…together. I feel pretty good overall. I have my own draft value list worked out. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how the first round will turn out. Anyone who has been paying attention knows Pujols and Hanley Ramirez should go 1-2. I’m going with the strategy Lenny Melnick laid out a while ago, targeting 80 HRs and 60 SBs total with my first three picks. Not sure that’s achievable, but that’ll be one of my draft checkpoints.

My personal draft list has players color-coded, blue for guys I’m targeting, green for guys I’d certainly like, yellow for not sure, but if they drop a little…, red for probably avoiding unless they really drop off, and black for…well, let’s not be negative…there aren’t many players at that level anyway!

So, to hold me to some accountability here at the start of the season, I want to lay a few of my thoughts down, position by position. I’ll point out my blue-level guys, along with a few other notes going through my mind. Let’s face it, when you’re going into a draft, you probably have a handful of guys you have a passionate opinion about, another handful you have some basic thoughts on, and the rest are summarized as “okay”, “bleh”, and other monosyllabic words or sounds.

Since I try to reference other writers here as much as possible (coughcoughsuckupcough), I’ll refer to Mike’s (The Fantasy Man) 2011 positional lists, picking out the players I want to cover.

And FYI, I am in a league on, points league, values HRs and hitting for the Cycle, Wins, Shutouts, and penalizes Strikeouts for offensive players, and Losses for Pitchers. No CIF or MIF, rather than five generic OFs, I need one LF, one CF, one RF, then 2 OFs of my choice. I do have one Utility spot, so I can jump on a bargain player if I so choose early on.

I’m probably waiting on Catchers. I only need one, so depending on who I get, I may consider grabbing a couple with great upside that may be so-so this year.

Mike’s #7 Carlos Santana - Oh, how I want to make a musical reference. It will be music to my ears if he falls a little though. He’s #5 on’s list, which of course I want to ignore, but I don’t know that my opponents will.

#9 Jorge Posada - I’m hoping my opponents will overlook him in the middle and late rounds.

#14 Yadier Molina - More of a desperation pick if I take him, but as far as desperation picks go, I wouldn’t mind this one.

Handful of his top picks: Again, if they fall a couple rounds somehow, I’d probably pounce on a number of them, but I can’t pick them as most of them are going.

#15 Ryan Doumit - Can’t throw out a baby crawling to Second Base, so I’m not sure he’ll stay at Catcher much longer. Offensively, he doesn’t blow me away and I’m really skeptical of his sleeper status.

First Base
Mike suggests that he has no issue with taking two 1B in the first three rounds, and I can see why! Through my mock drafts, I’ve found that, yes, this ties up my Utility spot, but what a Utility player I’d have! Makes complete sense to this rookie.

#4 Prince Fielder - I’m a Brewer fan, so I know what this season means to Big Vegi.

#6 Adrian Gonzalez - Absolutely love him. #12 on our ESPN list, #7 (currently) on mine. I like him more than that, but I’m not afraid to get someone else later…like Prince, for example.

#11 Adam Dunn - I didn’t like him for a long time. Then he actually did this thing called “playing defense” for Team USA a couple years ago, and I’ve liked him ever since. Ks are a concern, but power is at a premium in this league.

#26 Smoak, #28 Moreland, #29 Wallace, unranked Brandon Belt - If I don’t get a 1B I like in the first 5-6 rounds, I may very well wait until the later rounds and grab two of these guys. Smoak should come around any time now, Moreland looked solid last year, and Wallace is…well, doing pretty well for the moment. Belt has a starting job in San Fran, which keeps him on my list of guys to watch.

#3 - Miguel Cabrera - Sounds like his situation is leveling out, and he may be the Miggy we’ve known for years. I still have him redlisted on my draft board, but I’m going to move him up. I’m feeling much better about him now. I was planning to avoid him unless he fell A LOT, but I’m really feeling more confident now.

#5 Ryan Howard - I keep feeling like this guy is gonna collapse and quickly. Still, the power numbers have me thinking about him if he falls a lot.

#9 Kendry Morales - Just scares me. Been off the field a long time, dunno that I’d get great numbers from him anyway.

#2 Joey Votto - Probably letting my personal feelings toward the Reds come into play here, but sometimes those feelings turn out to help me. Again, falls a little, I probably still select him.

#27 Matt LaPorta - SO GLAD the Brewers traded him. Wouldn’t have fit on our team (1B/LF on a team with Fielder and Braun), still looks rough overall, and if Melnick doesn’t like him, I, as a sheep, will follow his beliefs!

Second Base
Definitely one of the shallowest spots. The Yays and Nays summarize my thoughts entirely.

#1 Robinson Cano - My opinion,, if you don’t like Cano (from a fantasy perspective), something is wrong with you. I’ve had him 4th on my list, but I’m bumping him to 3rd on my next revision. I got him in a mock last night, followed by David Wright and Prince Fielder, and I LOVED how that looked. Carl Crawford is the guy falling to 4th on my list, but if I can snag my 2B/3B combo in the first two rounds, I’ll be thrilled.

#3 Dustin Pedroia - Honestly, I can go on and on about him or Weeks or Uggla, but I don’t think I need to explain any of them. They’re all high on my list though, along with Brian Roberts, although to a lesser extent.

#23 Tsuyoshi Nishioka - Heard great things, seen good things, if I end up waiting on a 2B, I will look very closely at him.

#6 Brandon Phillips - See “Joey Votto” on my list, but add that he has a big mouth. Can’t ignore his number though…another “if he drops, we’ll see” kinda guys for me.

#2 Chase Utley - Chasing Surgery

Not very deep either, but I won’t get too worked up about not getting one of the top guys here.

#3 Jimmy Rollins and #5 Derek Jeter - Totally with Mike on these two. Both are getting older, both are projected to go around the same spot, but I would probably be happier with either of them than I would with Tulowitski…at least in terms of value.

#7 Rafael Furcal - Something I like about him this year. Don’t know what…

#2 Jose Reyes - Really don’t get why everyone is SO high on Captain Crutch. Not saying I wouldn’t take him, but again, he’d have to drop a while.

#9 Starlin Castro - Probably wrong on this…but seems like a drop-off is in order for this Cub. Did I mention I don’t like the Cubs either?

Third Base
Another shallow field, another batch of guys I don’ t like here.

#1 Alex Rodriguez - He’s been moving up in the mocks I’ve done, especially in the last week or so. I’ll wait for Longoria to go before I think about ARod, but I’ll target him around the middle of the 2nd Round.

#4 Ryan Zimmerman - Dropping a little due to ARod’s rise, but looks like a good bat on a bleh team.

#5 Jose Bautista - I think Mike said something to this affect on his pod cast…as a 30 HR player, I still like his value in the draft. If he gets me more, tremendous.

#12 Pablo Sandoval - Do I need to explain this one?

#26 Chipper Jones - And I don’t even like Larry Jones…but if he can play half the season, he could be a heck of a lot better than most people late in the draft.

#6 Kevin Youkilis - Not as high as he’s projected to go…there are plenty of other Red Sox I like this year.

#7 Aramis Ramirez - Am I the only one that sees a downward trend from him? Used to like him, didn’t like that the Cubs acquired him, but I don’t want go near him right now.

#9 Adrian Beltre - Again, do I really need to explain?

#23 Placido Polanco - Ahh, good ole’ Placibo. That Phillies’ lineup has me worried.

For me, the Outfield seems to be the equivalent of Running Back in Fantasy Football…I can’t get enough of them! I like picking them early, middle, late, wherever they look good.

#1 Carl Crawford - Even though I’m bumping him from the third spot on my board, I’d still be thrilled to get him, especially if it’s late in the 1st round.

#7 Andrew McCutchen - Melnick Bandwagon, departing on Track Won! Choo choo!

#11 Ichiro - In theory, due to fall off any time now…I’d rather he be on my team anyway.

#12 Alex Rios - Not a huge target, but I like his turnaround in Chicago.

#17 Jay Bruce - Yeah, I like his potential…I feel dirty writing that.

#20 Mike Stanton - The power jumps out at me, the rest…ehh…

#21 Jacoby Ellsbury - One of the many Red Sox that are among reasons I’m not drafting Youkilis this year.

#25 Corey Hart - Lot of people aren’t sure about him this year, and I fully understand why. That said, I’m still looking to snag him.

#30 Delmon Young - Just had a friend (whom I am not drafting against) recommend him, and I’ve gotten enough praise from other people about him too.

#47 Ryan Ludwick - 3 or 4 hitter for San Diego should suit him well.

#48 Michael Bourn - Speed kills, and he’s well armed in that regard.

And IF Lorenzo Cain gets serious playing time in KC, he’ll be up here.

#22 Grady Sizemore - Undraftable if you ask me.

Starting Pitchers
I’m still following the basic formula I’ve heard everyone give: wait on pitching, go offense heavy early and often. Now in this league, there are bonuses for Complete Game Shutouts and Wins, punishments for Losses, hits, Earned Runs, stuff like that. I’ve been advised to put a little more emphasis on pitching. I still won’t get any of the biggest pitchers out there, but of course, there’s PLENTY of pitching late that can keep me competitive. So I’m not even looking very much at the first 5 guys on the list.

#8 Justin Verlander - There can be only one Verlander!

#15 Yovani Gallardo - Oh, how I love him. I’m a little concerned about the IP though; getting through the 7th inning is tough sometimes.

#19 Cole Hamels - Again, Bandwagon, on it.

#20 Chris Carpenter - GREAT value for where he’s going.

#27 Shaun Marcum - My Brewers, making a good deal…love what he can do this year…it would just figure if he got injured.

#36 Gio Gonzalez - See “Cole Hamels”

#45 Carlos Zambrano - I can see a bounce-back year.

#50 John Lackey - I’d take a shot late on him.

Unranked Jordan Zimmerman - Definitely a guy I look for using the “offensive first strategy”.

#12 Josh Johnson - One quote I’ll take from ESPN’s fantasy guys, “If Stephania Bell is concerned about you, I’m concerned about you.”

#13 Mat Latos - Scares the crap out of me.

Relief Pitchers
Saves are of great value in this league as well, but I don’t expect closers to go any higher than they normally would, so I’ll wait a little bit. I do want to get 3 solid Closers in 4 of my bullpen spots though.

#3 Heath Bell - #1 Closer on my board

#5 Joakim Soria - Closers on bad teams are good things (when the closer is good). Maybe I’ll write an article down the road about that.

#11 John Axford - I’m a homer.

#21 Ryan Franklin - I think he’s a good value late in the draft. Third closer? I’m okay with that. Fourth? I love that.

#39 Evan Meek - One of those pitchers any opponent can look at and say “I wish we had THAT guy.”

#7 Brad Lidge - Liked him, picked him in earlier mocks, but lately I’ve heard nothing but bad things about how he’s looked, how his fastball is not looking sharp, etc.

#22 Francisco Cordero - If he’s right, he’s excellent. If he’s not, he could destroy my whole week. He does that juuuust often enough that I’m not sure I want him at all.

Sometime next week, I’ll let you know how my draft went, and for you n00bs in the future who are reading this, I’ll give you my thoughts as the draft went on.

NL King - Executing a Fantasy Baseball Draft Plan

We're nearing the end of the fantasy baseball draft season and you've been offered advice, from me, the NL King since last fall. Now, after all that hard work, I thought it would be interesting to write an article on executing a draft plan. Talk about one's draft plan, did they execute it, did they adjust to how their individual draft went and how did it come out. I had my N.L. Only League Auction draft last night and will use my team as the guinea pig to illustrate this exercise. If you still have your draft this week, I hope this helps.

My League: I am in an NL only 12 team, 5X5 traditional keeper league. We can keep up to 10 players to be decided before draft day.

My Keepers: I winded up keeping the max amount of keepers in 10, my 10 were: Freddie Freeman (1B), Melvin Mora (3B), Carlos Gonzalez (OF), Andrew McCutchen (OF), Tyler Colvin (OF), Ubaldo Jimenez (P), Clayton Kershaw (P), Luke Gregerson (P), Evan Meek (P), Jason Motte (P) and I had $174 draft dollars. These keepers were the result of a rebuild last season.

My Game Plan: With my keepers, I felt the most glaring need was to get a strong closer and then simply add to both my hitting and pitching. My game plan was to get either Brian Wilson or Carlos Marmol who I figured would go between $30 and low 30's. The other big player I was focusing one was to get a bat for between $28 - $32 who could give me power and speed. My targets in order were Justin Upton, Matt Holliday, Hunter Pence, Jason Werth, Jimmy Rollins and Brandon Phillips. The rest of my team was going to be built with depth, I was going to try and bring back to my team Miguel Montero for around $15, get 3 more hitters for between $15 to $20 per player, get my 3rd starting pitching for $15, get my 4th starting pitcher for close to $10 and get a young guy with upside hopefully cheap at the end. Finally try to have a good end game filling out my last 4 hitting spots.

Hitting:  Justin Upton came up in the first few picks and I made what I thought could be the winning bid at $32 but Upton winded up going $36 because of his huge potential, so I didn't get him. The next player up was Joey Votto and the bidding was struggling when he hit the high 30's, I bid $40 and won the bid and landed the 2010 NL MVP. I felt I got an elite player, the 2nd best player in my draft and at an undervalued price. The down side was my draft plan budgeted my top hitter for $32, so I was minus $8 versus my draft plan so I was going to have to adjust and take that into consideration going forward. I did get Miguel Montero back for $17, a couple of more dollars than I wanted to pay but there were no solid catchers in my draft. I winded up only getting 1 hitter in the budgeted $15 - $20 range in terms of pricing and that was in Starlin Castro who I got at $21. His great spring aside, this kid has huge potential and will be hitting in the two spot for the Cubs. Then I acquired 3 solid bats in the last third of my draft in Ryan Ludwick ($11), Miguel Tejada ($9) and Brad Hawpe ($9). Ludwick I had in my draft as part of the $15 to $20 group so I saved 4 dollars on him which help offset the $8 more I spent on Votto versus my draft plan. My end game hitters were, JR Towles ($1), Skip Schumaker ($3) and Nate McLouth ($5).

Hitting Analysis - While I didn't follow my draft plan 100%, I felt I adjusted to the draft and took advantage of values. In addition I added one of the elite hitters in the national league in Joey Votto which gives me 3 stud hitters on my squad with Votto, Cargo and McCutchen. I added solid bats in Tejada, Ludwick, Hawpe and Montero who is one of the few catchers who can hit and has upside. I added a young gun in Starlin Castro who has a lot of potential and goes with my other young guns in Freddie Freeman and Tyler Colvin. I already have Melvin Mora as a depth player and added JR Towles, Skip Schumaker and Nate McLouth to go with him. If McLouth can even just regain 2/3 of his old form I got a steal. I also added for depth in the reserves - taxi squad part of my draft Scott Cousins of the Marlins and John Mayberry Jr of the Phils. I feel my lineup is deep, has power, speed and is strong in average. Other than JR Towles everyone is either a starting player or will get significant playing time. I also like the balance of my roster between studs, potential young guys and solid veterans.

Pitching: Brian Wilson was nominated before Carlos Marmol and since I valued the two of them roughly the same my game plan was to be aggressive on the first guy that comes up because I did not want to find myself in a bidding war on the second guy on a two player list. I landed Brian Wilson at $32, I was aggressive in my bidding and probably over paid by let's say $4 or $5 in my league but I secured the talent. I know he has the oblique thing but he should be back worst case mid April I think he will be back sooner than that but it's a long season. Then I made an adjustment to my draft strategy, my plan was to spend around $23 on my 3rd and 4th starting pitchers but the starting pitchers for whatever reason in my draft were going very high and I was worried about over paying on a $15 guy. Also one of the guys I was targeting for around $12 Jair Jurrjens had an MRI Friday afternoon on his right side and the results were not going to be available until Saturday and it didn't sound good. So when Matt Garza came up and the bidding was crawling in the high teens I bid $20 and won Garza. Having Jimenez, Kershaw and Garza as my front 3 starters I feel is very strong. I added late Johan Santana at just $3, Santana could be back late June and felt that at that crazy price for him it was a great gamble versus getting a depth starter. I then landed to fill out my pitching roster a young guy who could break through in Bud Norris at $1. In the reserve portion of my draft I added Wade LeBlanc of the Padres to serve as a quality depth starter for me, Mike Leake a young guy with talent but has to get that ratio down otherwise he will never be on my active roster and Ryan Webb who I think just might have a crack at the Marlins closer role sometime this season.

Pitching Analysis: I landed my stud closer, got an even better #3 Starting Pitcher than I planned in Matt Garza, landed Bud Norris as I planned for my 5th starting slot but my #4 starting pitcher in Wade LeBlanc I was hoping for a little bit better but LeBlanc can be useful. Feel like 7 of my 9 pitchers are big plus guys in the percentage categories and all of them are strong in K's. My last 2 spots went to Norris who is strong in K's and has potential and LeBlanc a solid veteran. I only have 1 closer for sure come opening day in Brian Wilson but arguably he is the best one in the NL and between Luke Gregerson, Jason Motte, Evan Meek and Ryan Webb between their stuff and the closer situations on those teams there is a very good chance one of them becomes a closer sometime this season.

Summary: While I made deviations from my draft plan I felt they were for the better. I landed a lot more upgrades in talented than I budgeted for but the good news was I got a lot of solid players later on in the draft so it did not come at the expense of the 2nd half of my roster. I am very optimistic about my team this year, all I am asking for is good health and let the chips fall where they may. Hope you guys enjoyed this article.

NL King - C.Lizza

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fantasy Sports Are For Losers!

That may well be the #1 thing I learned from Fantasy Football. You’re likely to lose every year in every league you are in. For example, if you enter a 10 team league, you are 90% likely to lose that league. Of the people in that 90%, 95% of them are likely to say that the winner was “lucky” rather than “skillful.”

Having been on both ends of that idea, I can say that those statistics are 100% accurate. Usually, you win a league because you made some solid draft picks, you picked up a couple good free agents during the year, and the injury bug didn’t seriously affect you. You lose a league because of the exact opposite, at least one dumb pick you made, a lack of picking up that key free agent when you had a chance (seriously, who would have thought Brandon Lloyd would become the King of Consistency?), and injuries no doubt completely obliterated your otherwise perfect team.

If you're new to Fantasy Baseball, and to fantasy sports in general, get used to losing. After all, lowered standards are key to a happy season!

I mentioned in my previous article a series Mike wrote called “2011 Fantasy Baseball for Beginners”. He pretty well covered the basics there, including things like “Participate in Mock Drafts” and “Keep Emotions in Check.” NL King also did an article called “Draft Preparation and Game Planning Strategies.” I want you to read through those if you haven't already because I'm simply going to add a few points and ideas to those lists.

As a quick aside, speaking of injuries, if Tim Lincecum swings for the fences and tears an MCL, will it be referred to as a “Freak injury?” Yeah, I know, that was an easy one…on to the serious stuff…sorta…

1) Don’t overvalue
Remember my last article, bullet point 2...that guy who drafts Prince Fielder, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera with his first three picks? Yeah, don’t be that guy. People hate that guy. Do your research (of course), but remember that the players you really want could be available via trade. If you have the 3rd overall pick and you really really want Joey Votto, don’t take him there. He will probably be gone by your next pick, but if you grab a player someone else wants even a little bit, you can still work Votto onto your team after the draft.

2) Know yo’self  B ‘fo you wreck yo’self
As I look at numerous draft results, I notice how quickly I could get thrown off.

Let's say I'm drafting 3rd and I snag 1B Miguel Cabrera with my first pick. My second pick comes up and Joey Votto and Adrian Gonzalez are the best available players on my board. I won't be real pleased. I could've grabbed my SS, my 3B, just about anything, and here I am looking at a second 1B instead (note: in my league, we have no corner or middle Infield spots, just a Utility spot). I could still use Votto or Gonzalez, but I'm handcuffing myself and my depth at other positions will not be as strong as they might be.

I may love First Basemen. There's a bunch of really good offensive players at that position, but I have to pace myself and look at the big picture. I know I need to find balance around the diamond rather than jumping on First Basemen without a thought about the rest of the draft. Yes, their fantasy appeal of many of these guys look like Scarlett Johansson now and I’d like to pick all of them, but they're not all for me.

In Fantasy Football, Scarlett Johansson would best describe Running Backs. I love Running Backs. In a 16 round draft, I probably take 6 RBs with ease, no question. If I get three RBs early on though, I know I have to go easy on them in the middle rounds if I want to grab my favorite sleepers late. I call the sleepers my “Diane Lane” picks. They look beautiful now, but they'll look even better later in their season.

The way my FB league this year is set up, whomever I draft has to be “my guy” at that position. I don’t have a lot of bench spots, so I have to be cautious about who I grab when.

3) Don’t love or hate anyone too much
I thought RB Arian Foster would be garbage. I am officially a moron. My eyes were wrong, and I could’ve had him several rounds later than his projected spot. I let him go, someone else did really well with him.

Make it clear to yourself…which players will you take if they fall multiple rounds (and how many is “multiple”) and which ones won’t you touch as long as you live? Let’s say you don’t like Adrian Beltre. You don’t trust he’ll produce at the level that most people seem to. Let’s say his Average Draft Position is roughly in the late 5th round. Let’s say you don’t have your Third Baseman yet, and you’re now in the 11th round, and Beltre is STILL on the board. Do you take that chance? What if it’s the 15th round? Have some idea of where you might take him in a draft, even if that’s “over my dead body.” You don’t want to ask yourself this question during the draft, so have it worked out ahead of time.

On the other hand, don’t fall too in love with any players. This is probably more obvious, especially given my first point in this piece.
4) Have your own value charts
I can tell you how I do mine, but I don't know that they'd be exactly what your vision of value charts should be. I go position-by-position, outline who the Top 10 players at each position are (since I'm in a 10 team league), and identify how I value the depth at each position based on that. I'll identify the players I think are undervalued and mark them as such, but keep them in an order of how I'd expect them to be drafted. Later on in the draft though, things become more fluid, and I can stray from my chart a little. I know in FF you can grab a projected-15th round player in the 13th without catching much (if any) flack for it. In FB, I'm thinking it's probably the same thing in the last several rounds there. Stick with the charts early as best you can, loosen it up a little as the draft goes on.

My chart not only marks the ADP, but also highlights the categories that will be scored, such as HRs and SBs. As I look those over during my draft, I can not only see who my top available players are, but also who will fill some of my needs. Getting a mess of players who can steal bases is great, but not if it costs me in the home run department. This is true in a 5x5 league and a points league and probably any other league with sensible scoring.
5) Know your rankings – Know the league's rankings
If you are drafting on a site like Yahoo!, ESPN, or so forth, you should be able to find their default rankings. You have your own rankings worked out from an outside source (or two, or three...), and you will probably notice that they are very different about some players. Consider the possibility that your opponents may be following the default rankings on the site in question. One source I'm using says Jose Bautista is the best Third Baseman to pick this year, but I know he's not ranked in the Top 5 on my league's default list of players. That tells me (presuming I agree with my other source here...) that I can probably wait a little while on drafting Bautista, and I can still get the guy I really want. My opponents may overlook him because he's not one of the top players available. One year in a Fantasy Football league, I drafted Derek Anderson. I felt like a moron a few picks later because someone else picked Donovan McNabb, who I would have greatly preferred, but I didn't look at my own list. I used the default list. Because of that, I suffered through a terrible year at QB.

That said, it's getting very close to my draft, and I need to get mocking! I've done a number of drafts against the computer, but so far, none with 9 other real people. Hopefully I'll get that done soon, and I'll report back here.

Until then, keep studying...failing to prepare is preparing to fail!

...although that would still be preparation...I never got that saying...

David Bobke

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

2011 Verducci Rule Candidates

Fantasy Baseball experts and analysts nationwide are notorious for creating useful draft strategies. Many work, some are just noise.   Within those strategies there's comeback players, magical age of 27, third year starting pitchers, etc.  The Verducci Rule is an advanced subject quality managers need to at least be aware of. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated publishes an annual list of young pitchers (under 25) who had a significant bump in innings pitched from the previous year (more than 30 IP). It’s a rule of thumb that draws a correlation with possible injury risk. The lower the age, the more likely the risk. This is not a DO NOT DRAFT list, it’s simply a BE AWARE list.

2011 Candidates:
1. Madison Bumgarner (age 21) +73 IP
2. Matt Latos (age 23) + 66.1 IP
3. David Price (age 25) +58.2 IP
4. Phil Hughes (age 24) +46 IP
5. Gio Gonzalez (age 25) +41 IP
6. Travis Wood (age 23) +38.1 IP
(source: Tom Verduci

I like (as I’ve said) numerous pitchers on this list to take the next step into the elite class. I’d caution against drafting multiples of them to the same team. Feel free to draft any guy your heart fancies, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Just a tip from your friend,

Norman Homers

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Introducing Norman Homers, Fantasy Baseball Express Contributor

Norman Homers is a 20-something consultant living and working in the Snowiest Metropolitan City in the US. He’s a 2007 Syracuse University graduate with 14+ years experience playing fantasy sports. He started playing in the dark ages (before Al Gore invented the internet), back when you had to wait for weekly results to come via regular mail.

He loves fantasy football, but fantasy baseball is his preference. He roots for the Syracuse Orange, the NY Giants, his fantasy players, and the NY Yankees….in that order.

Monday, March 21, 2011

National League West Questions

Here are the key questions facing the NL West.  These questions can be useful in determining value for your N.L. Only league draft. Sometimes the best fantasy baseball advice comes in the form of a question.

Arizona Diamondbacks:
- Will Justin Justin Upton become a $30 NL hitter this year?
- Who's on 1st ? Juan Miranda, Brandon Allen or Russell Branyan?
- Will Kelly Johnson show that 2010 was no fluke?
- What will Daniel Hudson do over a full season?
- Will JJ Putz be that closer he was when he was in Seattle?

Colorado Rockies:
- Will CarGo be considered the #1 NL hitter after 2011?
- Will Dexter Fowler break through?
- Does Todd Helton have anything left?
- Who's on 2nd ? Jose Lopez, Herrera, Eric Young Jr?
- Can Chris Ianetta hit above the Mendoza line?
- Will Ubaldo Jimenez challenge for the CY Young?
- Will Jhoulys Chacin break through this year?

Los Angeles Dodgers:
- Will Matt Kemp show up every day?
- Is Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames really going to play LF every day?
- Can Rafael Furcal play close to 150 games?
- Will Clayton Kershaw challenge for the CY Young?
- Will Jonathon Broxton go back to elite status or just another guy in the carousel of NL closers?

San Diego Padres:
- Can Will Venable take the next step?
- Will Cameron Maybin become an every day player with speed?
- Will Ryan Ludwick be a strong source of power?
- Will Matt Latos become a proven ace this year or will last years increase in IP hurt him?
- Will Heath Bell be an NL closer the whole year?

San Francisco Giants:
- Will there be enough AB's for Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and Mark DeRosa?
- Will Andres Torres show he is the real deal?
- Will Aubrey Huff put up back to back strong season?
- When will Brandon Belt be up?
- Will Tim Lincecum bounce back with a stud year?
NL King - C.Lizza

Sunday, March 20, 2011

National League Central Questions

Today we take a look at the key questions facing the NL Central team by team....

Chicago Cubs:
- Can Carlos Pena hit .250 and have a monster power year?
- Will youngsters Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin break out?
- Can Carlos Zambrano keep it together for a full season?
- By moving from the AL East to the NL Central can Matt Garza become a front of the rotation starter?

Cincinnati Reds:
- Will Drew Stubbs emerge as one of the top 10 NL hitters this year?
- Will Jay Bruce break out with that monster season we are all waiting for?
- Will Joey Votto repeat his MVP season?
- Will Edison Volquez go back to his 2008 form?
- Who will win the last 2 spots in the rotation between Travis Wood, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake?

Houston Astros:
- Can Bill Hall be a nice sleeper?
- Will Chris Johnson show us he is the real deal?
- Will Clint Barmes be hot or cold?
- What will JA Happ do over a full season?
- Can Brett Myers repeat his 2010 season?

Milwaukee Brewers:
- Will Rickie Weeks stay healthy like last season?
- Will Prince Fielder have a monster season on his final year of his contract?
- Can Carlos Gomez be a source of cheap steals and get you 30 steals?
- Will John Axford show he is no fluke?
- Will Yovanni Gallardo and Shaun Marcum have big seasons?

Pittsburgh Pirates:
- Does Andrew McCutchen become one of the elite NL hitters this year?
- Does Pedro Alvarez hit 30HR?
- Does Neil Walker show 2010 was the real deal?
- Will Joel Hanrahan be an effective closer, Meek knocking at the door?
- Will any Pirate starting pitcher have a decent season?

St. Louis Cardinals:
- Can Lance Berkman be relatively healthy and be a productive hitter
- Is David Freese healthy and can he be a productive hitter
- Will Colby Rasmus break through with a big year
- Will Jamie Garcia step up with the loss of Wainwright
- Will Ryan Franklin hold the closers job the entire year

NL King - C.Lizza

Friday, March 18, 2011

Everything I Learned, I Learned From Mocking Kindergarteners

Hopefully you're following along with me while on my journey to conquer a championship in my first ever fantasy baseball season. One of the reasons I started doing this series was due to the lack of material and advice I could find for brand new fantasy baseball players like myself. What I did find reminded me that there are two types of new players. There are people who are new to fantasy sports as a whole, and others who are familiar with other fantasy sports. So with that in mind, let me try to appease both groups.

If you are totally new to fantasy baseball, you have a lot of basics to learn if you want to compete for a title. I’d recommend you check out Mike’s “2011 Fantasy Baseball For Beginners” articles. I think he covers the basics pretty well. If you’ve done the fantasy thing before (why does that sound dirty to me?), you may have that stuff covered already, so let me give you an idea of what I’m doing this year based on my Fantasy Football experience, and as usual, if you’re an experienced Fantasy Baseball player, give this a look over and decide for yourself if I’m setting myself up for success or disaster. Feel free to say so in the comments; that’s what they’re there for!

Now I was planning to do this article strictly on applying FF knowledge to FB (Fantasy Football to Fantasy Baseball, I’ll use those abbreviations if you don’t mind!) and doing my next piece on prepping for my first official mock draft. What I found was that my notes were covering a lot of the same tips and strategies and prep work. So I’ll boil it down to this basic list of my personal ideas for the fantasy-minded individual who maybe doesn’t know how to start prepping for FB season. Next time, I’ll add a few tips to what Mike’s already said for the totally new folks.

What I lerned so Phar...

1) Get a Lot More Prep Work Done.

I’ve learned this early on…it’s not just about knowing the players and what position they play, it’s about knowing exactly where in the lineup offensive players are projected to hit AND what other positions they’re eligible for. In FF, there’s only like five two-position guys. Danny Woodhead, Joe Webb…annnnnd…I may have miscounted. On top of that, there’s generally only six positions to draft for. QB, RB, and WR are the only things on my mind in the first few rounds, then TE comes into play, and K and DEF if I don’t forget to grab them before the draft ends (which happens sometimes, I get overly excited about my sleepers).

Just in the prep work I’ve done so far, I realized just how many baseball players I know nothing about. As I’ve been hearing and reading about how drafts are going this year, I’m realizing just how tricky filling my offensive spots will be. I can tell you I will be working on this right up to my actual draft. As Lenny Melnick has said numerous times, “There’s so many guys out there.” There might not be as much a difference between the 1st and 10th best First Baseman as there is between the 1st and 10th best Running Backs, but I think “value” is what I really need to hound myself on in the coming weeks.

2) Mocks are necessary, but…

Don’t take too much away from them. There are plenty of reasons to participate in multiple mocks before you start your official draft. They help you identify trends, helps you gauge your own instincts, and you can gain a lot of confidence because you have a better idea of what to expect…


…in my experience, mocks can only get me a certain amount of knowledge. I draft against people of all sorts, usually people who have played a lot more fantasy football than I have. When my real draft comes along…how do I put this nicely…I draft with idiots (not all of them! Just one or two who won’t be reading this article anyway). There are strange picks throughout the draft, and I would suggest to you that if you’re playing FB with a group of friends who haven’t been playing in more competitive leagues (i.e. for money), at least one of them will be selecting very strangely. This is the person who will pick Prince Fielder in the 1st round, Derek Jeter in the 2nd round and Mariano Rivera in the 3rd. Not only will you want to punch this person (at the VERY least), but your mocks will seem much less important.

Again, do a lot of mock drafts to prepare, but also prepare for the unexpected.

3) Be annoying…to an extent

This is my personal strategy in a draft…drive the players next to me crazy. I can usually work out who my friends like, and I can frustrate them pretty well that way. Sometimes because I know they told me truthful information (unless you know they’re telling you the truth, disregard anything your friends say…they’re probably lying to you!). I know one friend, hardcore Packer fan, who loved Aaron Rodgers and Jermichael Finley. So, if the opportunity arose, I was going to snag one of those guys if they were on my list at that point. I won’t overdraft, I won’t compromise my own team, but if I get the chance I will drive my friends nuts. If you get the chance, give it a shot. It’s tremendous fun!

4) If your team turns out badly, tough it out

I played in four FF leagues last year. I thought two of those drafts went very well, one went pretty well, and the last one I thought was only okay. Guess which league I won...

Yep, the last one is the one I won. Not only do people get frustrated when a fantasy owner abandons his team, but this is where point 3 comes back into play. Imagine the wonderful feeling you could get when you pull an upset over a buddy late in the year and cost them a playoff spot. The spoiler role can be great fun, and you can take more chances. The stress of putting your very best team out there is not as important as it would be if you were trying to hold on to first place. A few good free agents can turn things around as well. Your friends will appreciate that you toughed it out all season.

5) This is where I lose you…

Okay, here’s where you can tell I’m a single guy. I told you to do plenty of mock drafts earlier, but I take my mocks one step further. Feel free to try this, but try not to laugh too hard if you think this is crazy…

I mock draft…against myself. Literally. I create my own worst-case scenarios, and force myself to consider these terrible situations. What if I pick a First Baseman with my first pick, and everyone else (or close to it) waits on First Basemen? I’ll make the selection process as hard on myself as I can stand. Now I realize this may indicate that I am a few fries short of a Happy Meal or may be much closer to the nearest looney bin than I’d care to admit, but I can at least admit that it’s a little crazy. It does get me prepared though, not to mention grateful when my real draft doesn’t turn out to be “worst-case” in every round.

As I stated before, these are a few thoughts to you folks who are somewhat familiar with fantasy sports already that are just getting into baseball. For those of you who are new to fantasy sports as a whole, look around  and look for his “Fantasy Baseball For Beginners” article I mentioned earlier. That should get you off to a good start. When you see me next, I’ll have a few other tips for you to consider.

In the meantime, keep mocking yourself friends.

David Bobke

Thursday, March 17, 2011

National League East Questions

Some times the best fantasy baseball advice comes in the form of a question, and not necessaryily the answer. Eevery team has question marks with certain players whether it's injuries, line up concerns, ballpark dimensions, or comeback years to name a few. Below we'll separate the National League into it's three divisions, each in a separate post and simply point out the question marks. Feel free to respond in the comments sections with your thoughts on any of these issues. At Fantasy Baseball Express, we believe that the best advice doesn't come from "experts", it comes from you, the people who play fantasy baseball on a daily basis, year after year.....

Atlanta Braves:

- Will Nate McLouth resurrect his career or is he done?
- Does Jason Heyward become a $30 player this year?
- Who wins the 5th SP slot - Mike Minor or Brandon Beachy?
- Can Chipper be relatively healthy for 130 games?
- Will the kids be alright closing in Craig Kimbrel and Johnny Venters?

Florida Marlins:
- Will Mike Stanton be a $30 player this year?
- Will Matt Dominguez be a steady 3B player?
- Can Rickey Nolasco become a #2 starter?
- Can Javier Vazquez bounce back and be a #3 starter?
- Who is the closer, Nunez, Webb, Hensley or someone else?

New York Mets:
- Does Jose Reyes have a monster year?
- Is Carlos Beltran healthy?
- Will Jason Bay be okay in Citi Field?
- Can Angel Pagan repeat his 2010?
- Can Mike Pelfrey be consistent?
- Is RA Dickey the real deal?
- Will anyone out of Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes or K-Rod be on the Mets come Aug 1st?

Philadelphia Phillies:
- Is Chase Utley's knee going to be a problem?
- Do we see Dominic Brown in Philly before Mid May?
- Is Rollins days of being a $30 player over?
- Can Lidge have back to back good years?

Washington Nationals
- Will Jayson Werth put too much pressure on himself because of the contract?
- Who gets the majority of AB's between Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel, Mike Morse and Roger Bernadina?
- Do Desmond and Espinosa have strong years?
- Does Jordan Zimmerman break through?
- How does Drew Storen handle the closers role?

NL King - C.Lizza

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Head-to-Head League Player Comparison - Francisco Cordero vs. Daniel Bard

Draft a closer early. Don't draft a closer early. There are many experts on each side of this annual fantasy baseball argument. Even the most casual of fantasy baseball managers has a position on how he or she wants to draft relievers whether they have a strategy for anything else or not. Personally, I like to get at least one of the stable top notch closers, then wait for value. Speculating on saves is not something I want to do until the late rounds when there isn't really any risk. If a closer without much risk of losing his job falls a little bit in the draft, then I will not hesitate to draft him.

Francisco Cordero 2010: 6/3.84/59/1.43/40

Cordero had one of the ugliest stat lines of all of the closers last year with more than 20 saves. All of his value came from his ability to get saves. He didn't really help you out that much in any other categories. However, in the saves category he was very valuable to fantasy owners as he tied for sixth this past season with 40 saves. He also had 39 saves in 2009 and 34 in 2008. With a Mock Draft Central ADP of 218.05, Cordero is one of the better options for managers who don't want to draft closers too high yet want big save totals.

Daniel Bard 2010: 1/1.93/76/1.00/3

Bard is one of the more dominant non-closer relievers in baseball. He had great numbers last season, and he will be entering this season looking to prove he can be relied upon to be a big league closer. With decent strikeout numbers and an outstanding WHIP to go along with his 1.93 ERA he is a pitcher who can really help your team even though he isn't guaranteed to get many saves this season. With an ADP of 360.98 over at Mock Draft Central he will not be difficult to get.

Francisco Cordero 2010: 6/3.84/59/1.43/40/36/7.31/1
Daniel Bard 2010: 1/1.93/76/1.00/3/30/9.16/32

In a standard 5x5 roto league I would take Cordero over Bard based soley on the value of his ability to get saves, yet in most H2H leagues this ability to get saves, while still valuable, is not as important because of the addition of the holds category. Bard will get many opportunities to amass holds this upcoming season as well as pick up a handfull of saves. With holds counting just as much as saves in many H2H leagues the better numbers Bard puts up in the other categories makes him more valuable.

The roles for both Bard and Cordero are very subject to change. It is very possible that the Red Sox could trade Jonathan Papelbon openning up the 9th inning to either Bard or his teammate Bobby Jenks. My money is on Bard to get the job if that scenario plays out. Then when you look in Cincinnati it isn't hard to see that the much hyped Aroldis Chapman is a contender to steal the closer job away from Cordero. Chapman hasn't been properly stretched out to be a starter for a full season, yet he seems about ready to make the move into the big leagues. On top of that the Reds' rotation is already full. With this uncertainty hanging over the only thing that makes Cordero valuable to fantasy baseball owners, I would definitely take the up and coming Daniel Bard in H2H leagues.

Andrew Bilbo

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tackling The Fantasy Man's 2011 Fantasy Baseball Closers Rankings

By Norman Homers

I tend to draft closers differently each year. Most years, I employ “don’t pay for saves” philosophy. Contrarily, last year I decided to get a few elite guys early and lock down the position. I took Jonathan Broxton and Joe Nathan…bad choices. They were both top 5 closers going into 2010. Based on last year’s folly, my advice this year is wait on saves. Neftali Feliz, John Axford, and Bill Wagner are just a few examples of closers that had awesome years and were available late into the draft. This year? I like JJ Putz, Drew Storen, and Chris Perez to fill those roles.

1. Carlos Marmol
Norman Notes: Elite strikeouts from a relief pitcher are a nice bonus. But, I still get nervous every time he pitches. Huge command issues and a high whip are not exactly what I want from my top closer. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Kerry Wood the closer in Chicago to end the year. Be warned.
2. Brian Wilson
Norman Notes: This guy is an absolute nut job, but he will get plenty of save opportunities with the Giant’s pitching staff.
3. Heath Bell
4. Mariano Rivera
5. Joakim Soria
Norman Notes: Unless injury strike, I cant see this trio not finishing in the top 5. Even if Bell or Soria gets traded, what team wold they not close for?
6. Neftali Feliz
Norman Notes: I love Netflix. Read why here.
7. Brad Lidge
Norman Notes: Draft Brad Lidge is your league rewards blown saves. You’d have to be CRAZY to draft him as the 7th closer of the board.
8. Jose Valverde
9. Jonathan Papelbon
Norman Notes: Valverde and Papelbon are both solid guys who could lead the league in saves. Don’t sleep on them. You could do worse.
10. Andrew Bailey
11. John Axford
Norman Notes: I love the Ax Man in Milwauke…and his ironic moustache. He sports a 11.9 K/9 and only allowed ONE homerun in 58.0 innings. Norman sleeper stamp of approval here.
12. Jonathon Broxton
Norman Notes: What the heck happened? Could return to greatness or could be another down year. I’ll let someone else draft him to find out.
13. Huston Street
14. Francisco Rodriguez
Norman Notes: Street and K-Rod are 2 wildcards. Street has elite stuff, except hes often injured. K-Rod is one of the best closers over the past decade, but now has legal issues and contract issues. I don’t like it when there’s financial incentive for the cash strapped Mets club to not let him close games.
15. Matt Thornton
Norman Notes: Reports are Thornton has Sox’ closer job. Keep Chris Sale on Speed dial just incase,
16. Drew Storen
Norman Notes: Attention Bargin City Shoppers: I love this youngster as the new National’s closer.
17. Joe Nathan
Norman Notes: I have faith that he will be back to his old self in no time. Matt Capps aint got nothing on Nathan.
18. David Aardsma
Norman Notes: Don’t draft Aardsma. Norman bust stamp. Take Brandon League instead.
19. Fernando Rodney
20. Leo Nunez
21. Ryan Franklin
22. Francisco Cordero
Norman Notes: Somehow gets it done every year, if you dond mind an inflated whip. 22 is low so if you wait on Cordero, he’ll already have been drafted.
23. Octavio Dotel
Norman Notes: I’m not sure why The Fantasy Man has Dotel is 23. It looks like Frank Francisco will win the closer gig in Toronto (exiled after the birth of Netflix in Texas). Avoid Dotel and take Frank the Tank Francisco instead.
24. J.J. Putz
Norman Notes: Sleeper city. Putz had closer stuff back in Seattle. Really has a sleeper hold on the Arizona job.
25. Joel Hanrahan
Norman Notes: The Pirates only guy. I love closers who have a lock on the job.
26. Craig Kimbrel
Norman Notes: Atlanta is going to win a lot of games and Kimbrel has nasty stuff. I like him to win the job vs Johnny Venters, but he’s no slouch himself. Check back right before your draft to see who wins the closer job. It’s possible they are both used in the 9th, leaving no fantasy owner happy.
27. Brandon Lyon
28. Koji Uehara
29. Chris Perez
Norman Notes: If Chris Perez falls to me as the 29th relief pitcher, I’ll do be doing back flips. Cameramen everywhere are warned.  In all seriousness, Chris Perez is a top 15 closer, maybe top 10 (not 29). The argument that he won’t get many save opportunities because he’s on a bad team is flawed. I present evidence example #1: Joakim Soria.
30. Kyle Farnsworth
Norman Notes: I cant see any possible way I would ever draft him. My bet is Jake McGhee wins the closer Job in Tampa Bay. Draft him instead of Farnsworth.

And that concludes Norman Homer’s debut critique of The Fantasy Man’s 2011 preseason rankings. Stay tuned for future more mumbo-jumbo about my weekly takes on fantasy baseball and any advice I can offer.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

N.L. Only League Auction Draft Tips and Strageies

By NL King - C. Lizza

Fantasy baseball advice these days is plentiful, but when it comes to your auction draft, trying to weed through the best strategies can be overwhelming. Below are thoughts that draftees should consider when preparing for their auction draft.

- Stick to your game plan. When you have needs at a position or category, and a player is on the board for less than expected, you can deviate from your plan to purchase that value. However, if another player you like goes for less but is not needed (position or category), let that player slide in the first half of the draft as it could interfere with your overall plan. The example would be if we are only talking about a player who went for a few dollars (between $5 and $7 let's say). So if you are strong in speed, I don't care if Michael Bourn goes a few dollars less, that is not you are of need. Stick to your draft plan and what you need.

- Remember the goal is to walk out of the draft as one of the top contending teams. The goal isn't to walk out saying wow I got great value on players X and Y.

- In the second half of the draft when teams have serious money restricted that is when it's a good time to add to a strength when players go under valued and only cost you a few dollars. So using the scenario above if you are strong in speed and in the second half of the draft Cameron Maybin comes up and goes for a song then that's a good time to pounce on a value and adding to your strength.

- Know your other owners tendencies and how that will impact your draft plan. Must size up the competition on who else in your league are possible suitors for your targeted players. In keeper leagues, you can email manager and chat about trade offers which is a great way to collect information.

- You must monitor during the draft the other owners who needs the same kind of players as you and where they stand during the draft with their draft dollars.

- Remember steals and saves are like a game of musical chairs, don't be caught at the end of the draft without a chair. If you are chasing these categories late in the draft odds are you will be over paying for mediocre talent.

- AT the end, if you need a player, aim for a hitter and not a pitcher. A lot more players come through the waiver wire that are at least decent hitters than guys who can help you're starting rotation or get you saves. Also a lot easier to trade for a hitter than a quality pitcher.

- Sometimes you have to overpay. If the guys on your draft board lists start dwindling down, you must make sure you secure the kind of players you need to win. If that means you have to overpay by $3 to $5 for that player so be it, much better than losing out on the talent.

- Do not put yourself in a position where there is an area of need and there is one guy left that you have to have. Reason being you could wind up in a bidding war and way over paying.

- Attack the draft with your draft dollars. Most owners increase they're bidding by $1 or $2 at a time. Do not be afraid to increase it by $7 or $8 or even more as long as you're getting the player you want at your estimated price. In any kind of auction there is a psychology to it. Also remember many owners get cautious as your break certain threshold numbers during the draft especially after the first couple of rounds. Take advantage of that. Threshold numbers would be $10, $15, $25 , etc., so bid just beyond those thresholds.

- Do everything you can to save a few bucks for roughly your last 6 players so you have some purchasing power. This will be huge as you will be able to get the better secondary players at the end of the draft. Very hard filling out the back end of your roster when you have $7 for 5 slots.

- Target a promising prospect who could be up 2 months into the season as your 14th hitter for $1. The guy I would choose this year would be Brandon Belt of the Giants.

- Don't take too many older players, or too many rookies, or too many injury risks or too many guys trying to bounce back from a bad season. Pick your spots wisely.

- Early on it's a good idea to bring up big players that you won't be bidding on to get some of the competition draft day dollars drained as soon as possible, especially a manager who could be in competition for your primary targets in the draft.

- Remember do not draft any player who kills you in the percentage categories - ERA, Ratio and batting average.

- Finally you must be patient with your draft plan. Do not panic. As long there are players on the board that fit the bill for your open core slots there is no reason to panic. As your lists start to dwindle like I said above you may have to spend a little more to secure the talent. Remember every draft is its own animal.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Head-to-Head League Player Comparison - Mark Reynolds vs. Pablo Sandoval

By Andrew Bilbo

I am sitting here after having just finished another mock draft wondering "Am I the only sober person that does mock drafts?" I mean seriously. Have you seen the ADP's or done a mock draft? There are a few players I seem to get in every mock draft. I get A-Rod and Jacoby Ellsbury quite frequently as I think they are severely undervalued as a result of injuries and perception. I end up getting Prince Fielder and Mark Reynolds in almost every draft. The thing about Reynolds is that he ends up slipping far enough in many 10 team mixed league drafts that I am able to get him as a bench player. Its nice having a bench player who hit 32 homeruns in only 499 AB at a shallow position.


Mark Reynolds: .198/32/85/79/7

You don't have to be a very observant person to notice why he is probably slipping. His .198 batting average. In standard 5x5 roto leagues I will draft Reynolds every chance I get at the value I am regularly seeing in mock drafts. He is currently being drafted around pick 130 (sometimes even as many as 15-20 picks later than that). His career low batting average is almost certain to rise this upcoming season along with his three year low in at-bats.

Pablo Sandoval: .268/13/63/61/3

Kung Foo Panda was high on many people's boards last year for the hot corner, and he was rather disappointing to those expecting a bust out year from him. His batting average dropped 62 points and his homerun total was halved. Last year's expectations were more than a little too high and were definitely too early. He is better than last year's stats, but not enough to beat out Reynolds for my 5x5 roto team.

That brings us to their head-to-head values. If you are in a 6x6 or 7x7 H2H league that includes BB and K then you need to take a further look. Reynolds has one of the worst BB/K numbers in the league.

Mark Reynolds: .198/32/85/79/7/83/211
Pablo Sandoval: .268/13/63/61/3/47/81

Isn't that atrocious? If you are in a league like this you need to run from Reynolds like the plague. Combine those strikeouts with that batting average and you could have a recipe for disaster in H2H leagues if you are relying on Reynolds for much of anything.

Ultimately, again, it all depends on the categories your H2H league uses. If you take off strikeouts and add in slugging percentage this discussion would be totally different, but the fact remains that most H2H leagues use K's which is horrible news for prospective Reynolds owners. Expect both players to have rebound years when it comes to fantasy value, yet when it comes to H2H leagues go with the Panda.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Introducing David Bobke, First-time Fantasy Baseball Playing Extraordinaire

Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of stealth and haste.

And plagiarism.

My name is David (but you can call me Bob). I’m in my mid-20’s, and I am a first-time Fantasy Baseball player. Throughout the 2011 season, I plan to take you through my season, including all of my trials, tribulations, and random musical references.

I’ve contemplated just up-and-joining a league for a while, but I’ve elected against it year after year. I think the main reason I’ve waited until now is that I know how long the season is, and just how tedious the season could get if I didn’t know anyone in my league (and I wasn’t about to start my own league up; that would require actual work on my part).

This year however, my friend Anthony invited me into a 10 team Mixed League. I’m still working out the league scoring format, which is a little different than what I’ve been studying for the last 2 weeks. I was bracing myself for a 5x5 league. For those of you in my shoes, or socks, or perhaps your still my bed about this whole Fantasy Baseball thing, the 5x5 scoring format factors in 5 stats from the offensive side of things, and 5 from the pitching side. Guys who can rack up stolen bases help you, guys who hit home runs help you, guys who can rack up strikeouts thrown help you. There are other factors of course, but you can look that up elsewhere. I’ve only got so much room to write here.

Although my friend’s unique scoring format has me a little confuzzled (my word, get used to seeing those!), I have identified a few sources that I will refer back to as the season goes on. Needless to say, I’m going to a website called “The Fantasy Man”, which I presume is referring to Fantasy Sports rather than a dashing, tall man with dark hair and piercing blue eyes. I haven’t met Mike yet, so I can’t say he’s not both of these things, but frankly, I’m only concerned with the part that will be posting my articles. I certainly hope it’s the fantasy sports part because otherwise…well, I digress. Not only am I posting my pieces here, but I’ll be taking notes from Mike’s insights and applying them as I see fit.

I’ve also gotten hooked on FantasyPros911, in particular, I pay attention to Lenny Melnick. He’s sounds like he knows what he’s doing. That is to say, he sounds old. Just kidding Lenny! I only kid the ones I respect. And Charlie Sheen. I actually remembered Lenny's voice from the end of last season talking about how much he's always loved Rickie Weeks. From this, I presumed he knew what he was doing, and I probably owe my entrance to fantasy baseball to him.

My league has a few weeks before the draft, so my plan is to guide you through my preparation during that time. Hopefully, I’ll help you n00bs, present and future, on how to get yourself ready for your first season in Fantasy Baseball. For those of you more experienced than I am, hopefully I’ll provide some insight to the newbies (or as you may call them, “fresh meat”) view of this game. Check in here throughout March to see how my preseason develops!

The Case against Neftali Feliz - DEBUNKED

By Norman Homers

In all sincerity, Neftali Feliz or as I call him, NetFlix (it doesn’t really work, but just go with it), is one of my favorite players in fantasy baseball. I’ve been a Feliz supporter for two years and loved every second of it. It’s not often that a young flame thrower with that much talent enters the majors.

Going into 2011 drafts, I’ve heard arguments that Feliz isn’t worth his draft position because he may be moved into the starting rotation. I find serious flaws in that logic. Their argument is he’s not worth his draft position because:

1. If you draft him as a closer where he’s currently being drafted, then he’s less of a lock than the other closers in that range (Jonathan Papebon, Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez).

2. If you draft him as a starter where he’s currently being drafted then he’s not as good as the other starters in that range (Shaun Marcum, Max Scherzer, Roy Oswalt, Matt Garza, Colby Lewis).

His Mock Draft Central ADP is 111.

That would mean if you drafted him as a closer, then he would need to keep the role and out produce those closers in his draft vicinity (Papebon, Valverde, Rodriguez). If Feliz remains the closer (which I think he will) then he will have no problem having a better fantasy season than the closers in his draft range.

If you think he will be converted to a starter then he would need to perform in the class of Marcum, Scherzer, Oswalt, Garza, or Lewis. While Feliz might not rack up the innings of a Marcum, Oswalt, or Garza, as a starter, his ratios will be equal if not better with significantly more upside than those established pitchers.

So don’t let people talk you out of Neftali Feliz in 2011 because of his ADP. Great things are in store for the Texas flamethrower, I call Netflix.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Head-to-Head League Player Comparison - Zack Greinke vs. Cole Hamels

By Andrew Bilbo

When you're watching your favorite baseball team, what do you like to see most during a game? If you're like most, you love raw power. You like to see that three run bomb into the upper deck. You also like to see your team's starting pitcher strikeout the side and run off the field like a madman with a fist pump. In fantasy baseball, things are more complicated. In a standard 5x5 roto league, a strikeout is only directly felt in 1 out of 10 categories. That's it. If that pitcher can't keep his ERA down or win many games he loses a ton of value.


2010 Zach Greinke: 10/181/4.17/1.25

Although Greinke had 242 strikeouts in 2009, he hasn't done anything like that at any other point in his career. I realize that he is only 27 years old, but he has been in the league since 2004. I think the sample size is large enough to start pinning down where to expect his numbers to land at season's end. My gut tells me he is most likely to finish the year between 185-195 strikeouts. Once a player shows an ability to do something I believe they always have the capacity to do it again, but that doesn't make it probable. In a standard roto league I would love to own Greinke. He should have no problem winning more games in Milwaukee than he did in KC, and his ERA should at least come back down to the mid 3's if not lower.
2010 Cole Hamels: 12/211/3.06/1.18

Hamels definitely had the better year last year, but has had just as many career swings as Greinke. Both seem to go from an average season one year to a great one the next. Then just when you expect them to string along 2 great seasons in a row...they lay an egg. Hamels has had the luxury of being surrounded by a better team than Greinke which has to have helped with his confidence and mental toughness. But now Greinke gets to pitch for a team with a chance to go somewhere too. These new surroundings and expectations should raise his game to a new level. Saying all of this I believe Greinke is going to be the better pick in these standard 4 categories this upcoming season.
Zach Greinke: 10/181/4.17/1.25/55/7.40
Cole Hamels: 12/211/3.06/1.18/61/9.10

Now for those of you who love strikeouts here is some good news. H2H leagues place extra value on strikeout pitchers. One of these reasons is simply because H2H leagues usually count K/9 as a category. If you are in 6x6 or 7x7 H2H league that counts K/9 and BB then I would advise taking Cole Hamels instead. If you throw out 2009, Hamels has been on a steady incline to his 211 strikeouts of 2010. He progressed year after year until he suffered a poor season in all statistical categories in 2009, which I believe can be blamed on his innings increases catching up to him and affecting his velocity that season.

So how are they being valued in mock drafts up to this point? Currently Mock Draft Central has Greinke's ADP listed at 48.63 while Hamels' is listed at 63.24, so if you are playing H2H with K/9 go get Hamels at the better value. Barring anything catastrophic, it will be worth it.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Draft Preparation and Game Planning Strategies

By NL King - C. Lizza

Listed below are my fantasy baseball strategies and advice which I'd like to share to help you prepare for draft day. Let's keep this simple....

1. You must have at least a basic draft plan, winging it does not work. I know Mike (The Fantasy Man) says he doesn't go into most drafts with a set game plan but he has core beliefs such as buy power, don't but too much into position scarcity (you have to savvy with your end game), etc., You need a basic plan or philosophy going in a draft. In an auction league, it's a must as there's just too many variables to contend with.

2. Ask yourself, what are my team needs going into the draft? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the draft and how does this play into my team needs. You must list the various options you have on your team needs. If there are a lot of options it gives you a lot more flexibility on what players to acquire for the various categories. If need outweighs supply, then you must be more aggressive in securing those particular players.

3. A contending team is a balanced team. You should never punt a category. Why start the season in a huge hole? If one other component of your team fails, you're sunk.  Don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll be able to make trades during the year for certain categories because you're going to wind up short in these particular categories. Remember it's not easy to make trades and if everyone knows you need to make a trade that will hurt you're bargaining position. Make sure you are not way short in any category after the draft. Must be within striking distance of all categories at least.

4. Your draft plan must respect the percentage categories in Batting Average, ERA and Ratio. I wrote a whole article earlier this off- season about the percentage categories.

5. Do your homework on the late round non-hyped players because just maybe you can find a gem. Most teams in auction leagues have very little money left to spend on those last few players. This is your chance to strike gold and find huge value and potential returns. Try to anticipate which players who will be available at the end of your draft this year and do your homework on them. Last year on my final spots I landed Brett Myers at $4, Ryan Spilborghs at $2 and Eric Hinske at $1 in my NL Only league. Remember, the goal here is for your $1 to $4 to land complementary players who can give you a $10 year. If you can accomplish this, it will be a big step into building a contending team.

6. On your key draft day targets try to figure out who will be your chief competition for those players. What are these owners tendencies? Is there a way for you to get that other owner to spend on other players during the draft so when your targets come up those owners are less of a threat.
7. Put together a work sheet of all 23 positions that you have to get for your team. In a keeper league slot in your keepers and calculate how many draft dollars you have come draft day. Your first draft of your game plan should be "The Wish List Game Plan". Slot in all high end players you would love to get within reason under your various hitters, starting pitchers and relievers. Then from their see how many players you still need to get, and figure out how much money you could have left. If you still need 10 players and have $40 draft dollars then this plan will not work. The Wish List Game Plan on the first draft almost never works but it's a good starting point then you can start scaling back and being more realistic in filling out potential roster. I believe it's an excellent tool to start with when putting together a draft plan.

Monday, March 07, 2011

2011 Fantasy Baseball Spotlight - Rickie Weeks

Today the fantasy baseball advice spotlight is shining brightly on Milwaukee Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks - Milwaukee's first-round pick in the 2003 draft (2nd overall), Weeks dodged the injury bug in 2010 and put together a season that fantasy owners have been expecting for years. In 2010 Weeks batted  .269/29/83/112/11.

So, why is Weeks not getting the love from fantasy experts? The most obvious reason is his inability to stay healthy. Lets have a quick review...

2006: Missed 69 days, torn tendon in his right wrist
2007: Missed 19 days, right wrist inflammation
2008: Missed 15 days, left knee sprain
2009: Missed 140 days, torn tendon in right wrist
In addition to injuries, Weeks had the 11th-highest strikeout rate (28.3%) in 2010.

So, going into your perspective drafts you are now well aware of Weeks' injury history. Now enough with the doom and gloom, lets' look at some of the positives that Weeks brings to the table. He sits atop a potent Brewers lineup and bats in front of Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee. Weeks will score plenty of runs for sure and is a good bet to add double digit SB's as well. Weeks. Mr. Rickie tied Cano in HR's last year and finished second only to Dan Uggla in HR's.

The talent is there and let's not forget that second base is fairly shallow this year. Outside the top three second basemen there are plenty of questions marks. My advise: Draft Weeks who is in his prime at 28 years of age. If he is staring at you in the 4th round then it's time to snatch him up (anything earlier than that is a reach in my opinion). Just don't forget to draft a decent replacement in the closing rounds of your draft to fill-in for Weeks if or when the injury bug bites again.

Weeks' current ADP on Mock Draft Central is 37, below the obvious Robinson Cano (11), Chase Utley (18), Dustin Pedroia (31) and Brandon Phillips (34). I would not hesitate to draft Weeks ahead of Phillips in any fantasy format! Baseball statistician Bill James predicts 522 at-bats, 94 runs, 21 HR's, 61 RBI's, .257 batting average.

Gregory's Projection: 540 at-bats, 105 runs, 24 HRs, 70 RBI, 11 stolen bases, .261 batting average

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Top NL Only League Prospects in 2011

By NL King - C.Lizza
Plucking prospects at the end of your fantasy baseball draft can be exhilerating. Sometimes you make the pick and think to yourself, "I just made the steal of the draft!" Maybe you chuckle to yourself or pat yourself on the back. Then you realize everyone else is on autodraft because it's 1:30 in the morning. Nice pick.

I decided to highlight some prospects in the National League that I am targeting who I believe can eventually help teams in NL only leagues in 2011. We are focusing purely on 2011 production so top prospects like Bryce Harper and Julio Teheran, who are a year or two away will not be discussed in this article. Nor will players who will be on the opening day rosters such as Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Dominic Brown and Matt Dominguez. The prospects below will start the year in the minors but have a strong shot at making the team at some point later in 2011. Let's break it down by position.

Derek Norris, C - WSH - It looked like Derek Norris was going to be the Nats catcher of the future for sure but then Washington traded Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos. Norris was #72 on Baseball America Top 100 2011 Prospect List. Norris has good power potential but did only hit . 235 in high A last season. If Norris has a great first half and Ramos struggles then Norris could be up with the team sometime this summer. If Ramos shows he is a starting catcher than Norris will be trade bait.

Wilin Rosario, C - COL - If Chris Ianetta is hearing footsteps they are Wilin Rosario's. Rosario was having a huge year last year in AA (19HR, 52RBI, .285 AVG in 270 AB's) before hurting his knee and having surgery. I am sure the Rockies will not rush Rosario back but if the catcher situation with the Rockies is faltering the first half of the season.  You could see Rosario take over by the 4th of July. Was ranked #49 on Baseball America's top 100 list for 2011.

Yonder Alonso, 1B - CIN - Yonder Alonso is ready to show if he is going to be a player at the major league level. The problem is his natural position is 1B and he is blocked by Joey Votto. Watch to see where the Reds play Alonso this Spring Training. He is good looking hitter and really has nothing to prove at the minor league level but the Reds need him to get everyday AB's so he very well might start the season there. Watch his spring closely, was ranked # 73 on Baseball America's top 100 list for 2011.

Brandon Belt, 1B - SF - Hard to find a minor league player who put up better numbers last year than Brandon Belt. Last year Belt played at high A, AA and AAA and at those 3 levels had 23HR, 112RBI, 99R, 22SB, . 352 AVG, .455 OBP. Bruce Bochy has said he can make the team but between all the different players the Giants have, Belt would have to have a gigantic spring for that to be given consideration. Odds are Belt will start the year in AAA (keep in mind only played 13 games at AAA last year) and if after the first couple of months Belt is still mashing he will be up with the Giants playing 1B and Huff will take control of one of the OF spots. Belt was #23 on Baseball America's Top 100.
Zack Cozart, SS - CIN - Played the whole year at AAA in 2010 and showed great power and speed potential. Cozart had 17HR and 30 steals but did just hit .255 and had 107K's in 553AB's. The Reds shortstops on the big club is Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria, those are short term solutions. If Cozart can get some of the rough edges off his game he can be the Reds starting shortstop come June 1st.

Todd Frazier, OF - CIN - Very similar to Zack Cozart in terms of good power and speed potential (had 17HR and 14SB in AAA last year) but needs to cleanup some of the rough edges on his game (.258 Avg and 127K's in 480AB's). Can play 1B, 3B, LF and maybe even 2B as well. Has been compared to Ben Zobrist on the major league level. Reds are not in love with Johnny Gomes who is on a one year deal. The Reds want someone more athletic than Gomes.

JD Martinez, OF - HOU - Has the potential to be a real nice power bat (18HR, 89RBI, .341Avg in A and AA last year). If Brett Wallace struggles the first half and Martinez excels the Astros can move Carlos Lee to 1B and have Martinez become the everyday Left Fielder.

Jerry Sands, OF - LAD - Has great power potential as Sands mashed last year in A and AA with 35HR, 93RBI's and hitting .301. The Dodgers have Marcus Thames and Jay Gibbons for Left Field. A big first couple of months for Sands and come sometime in June Sands could be the starting Left Fielder.

Simon Castro, SP - SD - Had a 3.28 ERA in 25 starts last year at AA and AAA. Looking at the back end of the Padres starting staff and Castro time will come no later than early June. Was ranked # 58 on Baseball America's top 100 list for 2011.

Jordan Lyles, SP - HOU - Had a solid season last season at AA and AAA with a 3.57 ERA. Again like Castro, once Lyles shows he is ready he will join the rotation. However, since Houston is in a rebuilding mode Lyles won't be rushed. Was ranked # 42 on Baseball America's top 100 list for 2011.

Lance Lynn, SP - STL - Went 13-10 with a 4.77 ERA at AAA last year. Needs to refine the rough edges of his game but could up by early summer.

Jenry Mejia, SP - NYM - Mets started him in the bullpen last year with the major league club. Very short sighted but hey, it's the Mets. They are going to make him into a starter and the Mets hope he will be a front of the rotation guy. Does have really good stuff, should see him sometime this summer in Flushing. Was ranked # 44 on Baseball America's top 100 list for 2011.

Jhan Martinez, RP - FLA - Hard throwing reliever and if Leo Nunez falters the closers job for the Marlins is up for grabs.
Eduardo Sanchez, RP - STL - Like Martinez a hard throwing youngster and with Ryan Franklin retiring at the end of the 2011 season will be on the short list of in-house candidates to become the next Cardinals closer.
Keep an Eye Out: These guys you most likely won't see until 2012 but if these prospects have huge first halfs and there is a need at the major league level in a big way there is a chance they get called up sometime this summer.

Devin Mesoraco, C - CIN - #64 on BA Top 100 - Game plan is to go with Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan this year. Had a huge year in 2010 between A, AA and AAA, still needs more seasoning.

Tony Sanchez, C - PIT- #46 on BA Top 100 - Pirates aren't going to rush him and should be decent offensively but a top prospect because of his defense.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B - SD - #75 on BA Top 100 - Part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade, had huge year in A and AA last year. Brad Hawpe is a stop gap.

Dee Gordon, SS - LAD - #26 on BA Top 100 - Furcal most likely on the last year of his contract.

Zack Cox, 3B - STL - #62 on BA Top 100 - The Cards 3B of the future, really needs a full season in the minors but could have a hole at 3B in 2011

Brett Jackson, OF - CHC - #38 on BA Top 100 - Has power and speed potential but unless there is an injury in the Cubs OF will spend a full season in AAA in 2011.

Casey Kelly, SP - SD - #31 on BA Top 100 - Also part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade, was just converted to a pitcher a couple of years ago, has front of the rotation stuff and will not be rushed.

Shelby Miller, SP - STL - #13 on BA Top 100 - Has front of the rotation stuff but the Cards say they will not rush him but what if they are in a pennant race.

Jarrod Parker, SP - ARZ - #33 on BA Top 100 - Missed 2010 from Tommy John Surgery will spend 2011 getting his feet back on the ground, has front of the rotation stuff and Arizona is in a rebuild so he won't be rushed.