Will Derek Jeter's 2011 be closer to 2009 or 2010?
Keep dreaming about 2009. Maybe a better version of the latter.
Fantasy reliability at the 6 tumbles off a cliff soon after No. 2, but he has ample risks himself. The 36-year-old's bat speed is wearing down, and right-handers are his poison. But after the first few shortstops are taken, you'll have trouble finding as stable a skill set that can hover at 100 runs and 20 steals, along with double-digit homer potential, as faint as that's becoming.
His profile, mainly his contact rate (which increased for the second straight season), says he can bring his clip back toward .300 with a few tweaks. Hitting coach Kevin Long is an artist, after all. Most importantly, you must judge whether your draft room favors positional scarcity or is scared of his age.
How will Phil Hughes respond to his career-high workload?
He didn't adjust well as last season wound down (4.42 ERA, 1.27 WHIP after July). Sure, he has profound upside, but some might overpay for a 2011 continuation. His velocity and K/9, though respectable for a starter, were much better out of the 'pen, and though some argue his mph conservation could help him, it probably leaves him more vulnerable.
Control defines his game and can fall off following a jump of 99 innings, including postseason. Oh, wait, there's that whole fly-ball thing; his rate was one of the worst among qualified starters last year. Now we add a possible Verduccification? Tread lightly. He needs to find a way to induce more grounders.
What's the state of the Bronx's backstop bunch?
Starter Russell Martin is a low-risk, moderate-reward investment both in reality and fantasy. Don't count on double-digit homers, but any capable offensive backstop can put up respectable numbers in this lineup. Martin's top-notch batting eye matches what New York preaches.
Maybe a limited workload will help Martin, who's coming off a fractured hip and years of ample crouching. New primary DH Jorge Posada will make a weekly cameo or two behind the plate. Francisco Cervelli is insurance.
Of course, there's Jesus Montero and, to a lesser 2011 roto extent, Austin Romine. Both are trade bait but not long shots to receive Bronx time. If and when Montero arrives, fantasy owners should jump in, even if his D still needs work. A desperate Yankees team will find at-bats for him if he's handling Triple-A arms, Martin isn't getting the job done, Posada is slipping, or some combo of these.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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