I’d like to start off by welcoming everyone to the inaugural launch of BaseballFantasy.org; as we begin the journey towards draft day. For those of you who don’t know, we are relatively the same staff that brought you Top-Fantasy-Football.com; the innovated Fantasy site that offered you—the Fantasy manager—nothing but the best Fantasy advice around.
Now, we are venturing into the more expanse area of Fantasy Baseball, and for those of you looking to get a jump on your season, there really isn’t any other place you’d rather be.
It’s simple. For the next couple of months we will be focusing on all the player rankings and draft positioning as everyone else does, but we will also be writing and offering the type of player advice you typically find AFTER the season starts in an effort to give you a leg up before your season begins.
We start by taking a look at 10 players that most folks have already forgotten about, but really shouldn’t. We will cover every position as a team: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, C, SP, RP, and 3 outfielders.
These players are radar gems in the making, and after you sift through some of the top names out there that will surely be plucked early, these players will be just as good—if not potentially better—than the rest of the crop.
So let us begin shall we.
#10: Brett Anderson-SP-Oakland: A starting pitcher for the Oakland A’s…really? Believe it. The pool for starting pitchers is as crowded as an opening day fan’s hotdog and beer riddled stomach, and it is because of this that you need to keep your focus outside the box, since pitchers come and go all year long.
Anderson finished his rookie campaign with an 11-11 record posting a respectable 4.06 average and an incredibly sick 150/45 K/BB ratio—remember he’s a rookie playing in the AL.
The knock on Anderson is he gave up 20 HRs and 15 unearned runs which doesn’t hold much water considering the level of competition he faced AS A ROOKIE, and the fact that he is a fastball pitcher.
Those numbers in theory should’ve actually been higher making Anderson’s value secretly higher than most think. Add in the fact that the A’s went through some serious upgrades this year, and could wind up being a sleeper team, and this guy could be a huge value pickup.
#9: Chris Davis – 1B – TEX: Owners of Chris Davis spent most of the season condemning him and yelling obscenities at their screens due to his poor play, and his unbelievable strikeout count (150 to be exact…ouch).
So why in the blue hell would he be mentioned as someone to key in on as a value draft pick up?
Well, for starters although Davis did strikeout more times than a blind man playing tetherball, it’s his accomplishments that went unnoticed. In only 391 AB, Davis still managed to hit 21 HRs and 59 RBIs while finishing with a .238 ERA. In September, however, he began to turn things around closing the season with a .306 ERA and 5 HRs and 19 RBIs in only 27 games, which shows that Davis could be a huge sleeper pickup this year. Remember, there are a couple of first basemen I can name who also wore the strikeout dunce cap, fell in the draft rankings the year after, only to wind up being value picks themselves.
#8: Eric Aybar – SS – LAA: The Angels let Chone Figgins go and because of that Aybar stands to benefit the most, and he WILL be a huge sleeper pick; trust me.
Last year, the knock on Aybar was a slow start and a low Fantasy value due to him primarily hitting at the end of the rotation. But despite all that cute bogus “expert” advice, Aybar still finished the year hitting .312 with 5HR and 58 RBIs and a nice compliment of 14 SB. In addition, he also had a total of157 hits with 32 extra base hits; important categories most managers forget about Fantasy baseball.
This year, Aybar will more than likely be the leadoff hitter in the city of Angels, and that will surely increase his SB value, his runs scored value, and his OBP value. Grab him early or miss out on the gravy train.
#7: Miguel Montero – C – ARI: Who the heck is this guy? He came out of nowhere, was one of the hottest waiver wire pickups last year, and now is the clear choice at catcher for Arizona this year—not to mention a definite top ten catcher.
Again, most folks will go after the names they are familiar with at catcher which could leave Montero lingering around; which would be astonishing.
Last year in only 425 AB, Montero hit .294 with 16 HR 59 RBIs with a .355 OBP and a .478 SLG percentage. Still think he isn’t worth an early look?
#6: Marco Scutaro – 3B – BOS: The consensus right now—for those of you wondering why Scutaro is listed as third base—is he will in fact take over there, which could make Scutaro an early third base value pick.
The third base pool is a 50/50 crap shoot with only three players currently in the Top 25: A-Rod, Evan Longoria, and David Wright. After that, the sea is wide open and for Scutaro, he has the ability to become an elite third baseman.
Last year—Scutaro’s best by far—he hit .282 with 12 HRs and 60 RBIs while driving in a whopping 100 runs while adding 14 SBs.
Most managers will attempt to build their initial roster early, which is good, and if the big boys are off the board, Scutaro could easily be a number 5 or 6 in overall third baseman rankings. Grab him if you can.
#5: Michael Bourn – OF – HOU: Quite possibly the most underrated outfielder in baseball coming into this year’s draft, and a must have in all formats period.
Bourn finished the year in the top ten in runs scored, with a .285 ERA and 3 HRs and 35 RBIs. At first glance, most of you will quickly say, “no thank you, drive through please.”
Yeah, uh-huh, well how about you add to those stats 61 stolen bases—that stat is correct; 61 stolen bases. But what’s sicker than that is the fact he only got caught 12 times ALLYEAR LONG; the guy could take Speedy Gonzalez in a foot race and beat him to Milan in just under 10 strides.
Stolen Bases are the one stat that can be a saving grace for a manager’s team, making Bourn’s value incredibly high, should you be the type to play that strategy as I did last year—it placed me second missing out first place by only 1 point.
#4 Jeff Samardzija – RP – CHC: Shhh. Don’t tell anyone you’re picking this guy up early, and when June spills over into July, you can laugh all the way home.
Samardzija will be overlooked in favor of a myriad of other players that have more familiar names on their backs, but as baseball proves each and every year, a household name—especially in pitching—doesn’t mean anything…Johan Santana anyone?
In Mexican league play this year, Samardzija is pitching with a very nice 2.24 ERA, and considering the Cubs will more than likely NOT throw him into the starting lineup just yet, he will undoubtedly become a valuable relief option in the early goings; perhaps even a closer by year’s end.
Samardzija is worth an early grab.
#3 Andrew McCutchen – OF – PIT: When we think of the Pirates we think of very little in regard to Fantasy, that was until McCutchen broke onto the scene last year and turned some heads right quick.
In 2009,. McCutchen hit .286 with 12 HRs and 54 RBIs with 22 SB in only 433 AB; the kid is legit!
The Pirates went out and signed Akinori Iwamura, and his primary role will be batting 2nd behind McCutchen, and it is this signing that should give McCutchen more breathing room for runs scored, and his stolen base count should rise considerably making him a great option in the mid rounds.
Don’t pass him up.
#2 Nyjer Morgan – OF – WSH: The Nationals had a very impressive winter thus far and they were able to stave off an interest in Morgan that was thrown their way by the Chicago Cubs.
The Nationals brought in Morgan late last year from Pittsburgh, where he was just starting to bloom.
Morgan is a serious contender for elite outfielder that most will probably pass on early—a horrible mistake—making him an intriguing option for you and your draft strategy.
Before fracturing his hand in August and cutting his season short, Morgan was enjoying a robust .307 AVG, 74 runs scored, 25 extra base hits, and a stellar 42 stolen base count.
It’s those types of stats that should translate into bigger things for Morgan in 2010 which means make him an early consideration.
#1 Ben Zobrist – 2B/OF – TB: I remember writing about this guy two years ago, when the Rays were playing Zobrist in a small role; primarily at 2B. At that time, he was impressing a lot of people and quickly became a waiver wire gem, but never got the recognition he deserved.
Last year, his playing time increased, but his ownership percent was still low early on.
At the end of the season, Zobrist finished with a .297 AVG, with 27 HRs and 97 RBIs alongside 17 stolen bases in 501 AB, making him the total package for those of you smart enough to pick him up.
This year—as of January 5, 2010—the guy is barley in the Top 100 and still not getting the recognition he deserves; Jason Bartlett is ranked higher than him for cripes sake.
Zobrist will become a fulltime second baseman this year thanks to the exodus of Iwamura, and remember, those numbers I mentioned above…all came in part time duty.
This guy deserves a first round look since the pool of second baseman is wide open.
The idea with all of this is to remember one thing about Fantasy Baseball: nothing is a sure thing. IN Fantasy Football, you know that Chris Johnson will run over a Mack truck, and Peyton Manning will throw for over 4’000 yards in 100 mile an hour winds, but in baseball it isn’t so easy.
Building a team of balance is the first step towards winning outright, and becoming the most dominate force in your league.
Well there you have it, our first installment here at BaseballFantasy.org which we hope you all have enjoyed. Be sure to check back regularly, as we will be posting our rankings, our advice, and our collection of player news and hot stove info.
And as always—even if it is too early—Good Luck this year!