by Bryce McRae
on April 2, 2009 @ 01:00:00
Editor's Note: Player analysis profiles appear in the positions at which the players are projected. Profiles of players who may be eligible at other positions in your league include fantasy baseball advice related to a potential increase in value as a result. A player must have started at least five games or have played at least 10 games to be eligible at another position. Criteria for fantasy baseball leagues vary, so check your league rules.
Pros: Wright, 26, has the following four-year averages in the major rotiserrie categories: .311 average, 106 runs, 20 home runs, 112 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. A proven second-half player (.330-16-54 in 261 at-bats last year), his power is still developing (increased fly ball and line-drive rates).
Cons: The 34 stolen bases in 2007 proved to be an aberration, as he hasn't stolen close to that many in the minors or majors. He managed just 15 last year.
Fantasy tip: The 2001 draft pick should be considered within the first five picks, and he could go as high as first overall. View him as a No. 1 third baseman, one still with a bit of upside; he's fine as the foundation for a fantasy team.
Pros: A-Rod has hit at least 35 home runs and accrued at least 103 RBIs in every season but one (1997) since becoming a regular in 1996. In addition to the power, he has a career average of .306 and has stolen at least 15 bases in each of the last six years.
Cons: Karma struck quickly for Rodriguez. After admitting to steroid use during the offseason, he will be sidelined up to 10 weeks with a cyst and a torn labrum in his hip. He underwent successful surgery Monday, March 9. Even when he returns, he'll be dealing with the fallout from his steroid allegations. Already fragile mentally, the pressure will be heavy on him this year.
Fantasy tip: He was worth a pick at first overall prior to his hip injury. Now, he'll be dropping in drafts. If you can stomach the worry he'll bring, he is worth a selection in the middle rounds as a No. 1 third baseman. Just make sure to lock up additional help at the hot corner for the first couple of months.
Pros: His consistency - Ramirez has at least 25 home runs and 92 RBIs in seven of the last eight years. He hits in one of the top hitters' parks in the National League, and the Cubs offense was the best in the NL last year.
Cons: In two of the last three years, Ramirez's average has been .291 or lower, which sits more closely to his .284 career average. His power numbers are trending down, with just 26 and 27 homers in each of the last two years, respectively - despite a spike in flyball rate.
Fantasy tip: Ramirez is a consistent option as a No. 1 third baseman that you should choose after the first couple of rounds. There's some slight downside here.
Pros: An outstanding hitting prospect, he took to the majors almost immediately and finished fourth among third basemen with a .531 slugging percentage. He posted three months with a .300 average, proving he can hit at this level.
Cons: His batting eye has to catch up at the major league level - this could leave him vulnerable to slumps. Longoria does not have the track record of players around his draft position. Pitchers seemed to figure him out as he struggled in the postseason. There's some concern that he opens up too much against lefties.
Fantasy tip: It comes down to risk - do you feel comfortable taking a second-year hitter, albeit a very talented one, this high in the draft? He is a No. 1 third baseman with great upside, but you're paying for a lot of uncertainty.
Pros: Jones' average has jumped considerably in each of the last four seasons, culminating in his .364 clip last year - he flirted with .400 until the end of June. He has hit 21 home runs or more in every season since becoming a full-time player (1995). Last year, from the right side, he began concentrating more on making contact because he has less power.
Cons: Injuries have limited Jones to 472 at-bats or fewer in four of the last five seasons, and he strained his oblique in the World Baseball Classic, meaning he'll probably miss the rest of the event. His age has to be a concern given his injury history. Don't expect him to hit .364 again; his BABIP was a ridiculous .388.
Fantasy tip: A fourth- to sixth-round draft pick is a lot to ask for Jones, which is why he may slip. Acquiring him is a personal decision; he's money, but only take him when you're confident. Grab a solid backup so you'll be prepared when he misses some time.
Pros: His contact rate is fairly high, and he has hit above .300 in all but one of the last six seasons. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is favorable to hitters, and several sluggers follow him in the lineup, so he should be good for 100-plus runs. His eligibility at shortstop is a bonus.
Cons: A position shift could make him unhappy. Age could be a problem - he is turning 33 this year. His slugging percentage has declined in four straight seasons. A steady decline in line-drive rate suggests an average well above .300 is a thing of the past.
Fantasy tip: Young's eligibility at shortstop is the only thing that makes him worthwhile at the beginning of the middle rounds, especially if you need to boost your average. However, there isn't much upside with this pick.
Pros: Figgins has stolen bases at a prolific rate since joining the Angels on a full-time basis in 2004. He has at least 34 steals in each season from then on. He also carries a .290 career average. In some leagues, he's eligible at second base.
Cons: He missed a significant number of games (47 in 2007, 46 in 2008) in each of the last two years due to injuries. His steals have been dropping for the four straight years, and he could find it tougher on the basepaths as he approaches an "elderly" age for speedsters.
Fantasy tip: Owners may be slightly overvaluing him. If he has eligibility in the middle of the field in your league, it's enough to justify reaching for him in the sixth or seventh round, though.
Pros: He plays half of his games at Coors Field, where he posted a .342-9-55 line in 298 at-bats last year. He hit 54 homers and drove in 231 runs combined over 2006 and 2007. In addition, he has a .298 career average.
Cons: The Rockies have looked at trading Atkins - he is only an average hitter away from Coors Field. His slugging percentage, batting eye and contact rate dropped for the second straight year, all worrying signs. A groin injury has bothered him this spring.
Fantasy tip: Atkins could be overvalued as a pick late in the first third of your draft, especially given his significant drop-off in the second half last year. There is certainly downside and risk here given where he may go.
Pros: Zimmerman hit 44 homers and collected 201 RBIs over 2006 and 2007 - his first two full seasons in the majors. A shoulder injury in the first half last year didn't keep him from hitting .306 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 222 at-bats in the second half.
Cons: An anemic Nationals offense surrounding Zimmerman can make it tough for him to rack up RBIs and runs. There has to be some worry that his shoulder has weakened - he hit fewer home runs in the second half, and his flyball rate was down considerably from the previous year.
Fantasy tip: Still a developing talent, Zimmerman has the ability to produce higher than his average draft spot. He has great upside as a No. 1 third baseman and could be a sleeper worth reaching for in the seventh round or so.
Pros: He might catch flak for not living up to the 48 homers he cranked in 2004, but Beltre has at least 25 home runs in each of the last three years. He has also averaged 88 RBIs in that stretch. Beltre said his thumb is no longer bothering him. He's in a contract year.
Cons: Although his BABIP was a lowly .279 last year, he still hit only .268 and .276 in 2006 and 2007, respectively, so don't expect a big bounce-back in that department. Seattle's offense could be one of the worst in the AL. Beltre has shoulder and thumb surgeries in September.
Fantasy tip: Beltre is supposed to be completely healthy and could be slightly undervalued: He's still in his prime, has a history of smoking 20-plus dingers and is relatively consistent. You may be able to wait until the beginning of the late rounds.
Pros: The old adage rings true: Once you demonstrate it, you own it. Cantu displayed power not seen since 2005, with 29 homers and 41 doubles last year. He showed improvement in contact rate.
Cons: From '06 through '07, Cantu managed just 528 at-bats, hitting only .250 with 15 homers, 75 RBIs and 52 runs, mostly in '06. He has never stolen more than one base in a season before last year. Sure, he may have resurrected his career in Florida, but he could easily slip back into his form from the two previous years. A poor batting eye says so.
Fantasy tip: Prone to streaks, Cantu will probably be taken as a weak No. 1 third baseman in the middle rounds; ideally, he is a corner infielder for you.
Pros: His power has been trending up over the last four years, culminating in a career-high 26 home runs in 2008, and he should be entering his power prime. Half of his games come in Great American Ball Park, which is a right-handed slugger's dream. He's making small strides in contact rate and batting eye, and a low 2008 BABIP says possible bounce-back.
Cons: Encarnacion is incredibly streaky, so be prepared to stash him on the bench when he freezes up. In addition, his average is a concern - his line-drive rate has decreased noticeably in each season. He attempted just one stolen base last year.
Fantasy tip: As far as power-hitting third baseman go, Encarnacion has plenty of upside. Just be aware that he's still pretty risky to rely on as a starter. He may be overvalued and not worth the gamble in single-digit rounds.
Pros: Joining the big-league club in August, Sandoval hit .345 with three homers, 24 RBIs and 24 runs. His eligibility at catcher is a huge bonus. Sandoval's ability to hit has never truly been in question.
Cons: He has just 145 at-bats in the majors and is only 22 years old, so there's not much proof. He never played Triple-A ball. Sandoval struggled significantly against southpaws (.237 in 38 at-bats). He's not very comfortable at third, but he won't have the chance to play it much until the season starts.
Fantasy tip: Sandoval has been hyped based on his play at the tail end of 2008, his eligibility and the upside he offers. He's risky given his lack of track record and the uncertainty about his PT. If you can nab him as a catcher, a reach for him during the middle rounds is acceptable. Otherwise, you'll be taking a sizable chance.
Pros: DeRosa has hit .291 over the last three seasons - his first three years with regular playing time. He has eligibility at a middle infield spot, a nice bonus.
Cons: Away from Wrigley Field, DeRosa hit just .254 last year, which may not bode well after his offseason trade to Cleveland. His isolated power spiked last year (.196), so expect a fall-off in that department.
Fantasy tip: DeRosa is an intriguing option late in the middle third of drafts because of his versatility. However, don't overvalue him, as some do, simply because of that and his performance at hitter-friendly parks.
Pros: He is a solid contributor in the power categories (homers, RBIs), and he can chip in a few steals at a position not known for speed. He has hit one dinger every 20.1 at-bats during his two seasons in the majors.
Cons: He's inconsistent: 19 of his 28 home runs came in the first half, and he hit just .226 in the second. His horrible batting eye (204 strikeouts, 64 walks) leaves him prone to slumps, and his abysmal contact rate only hurts him more. The D-backs have a couple of others who can play at the corners.
Fantasy tip: If you need a boost in homers and RBIs, you may not find a better potential value than Reynolds, who at 25 should still be getting stronger. You can target him in the final third; don't wait when you get there, though.
Pros: Gordon improved both his average (.253 to .277) and home run rate (32.4 to 27.4) in the second half - a sign he is finally catching up. He has been working with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer since early December on his mental approach to hitting. He showed development with his batting eye.
Cons: His prodigious talent has yet to take in the majors; he hit just .253 with only 11 homers in 356 first-half at-bats last year and just .247 with 15 home runs in 543 at-bats in 2006. He has struck out an astounding 257 times in his two years.
Fantasy tip: Baseball America's 2006 Minor League Player of the Year, Gordon is on the verge of a breakout. How close? He's still overvalued because he's too risky to think of as a starter. However, if he falls to the middle of your draft, as he sometimes does, he's worth a shot.
Pros: Despite hitting at one of the worst parks for sluggers, Kouzmanoff still managed to smack 23 home runs last year. At just 27, he is at the beginning of his power prime.
Cons: PETCO Park is among the worst parks in the majors for hitters. He had the worst batting eye of any qualifying big leaguer last year, with 139 strikeouts to a measly 23 walks. Combined with his low contact rate, he may struggle to hit .270. The Padres offense should again be one of the worst.
Fantasy tip: Kouz is a low-upside pick, but he has upside nonetheless. He may remain a pedestrian hitter, but he could at least be a serviceable corner man. He's worth a shot in the final few rounds.
Pros: His second-half tear last year was off-the-charts good - he hit .376 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs in just 48 games (186 at-bats). His contact rate of the past couple of seasons is encouraging.
Cons: Although it was minor, Mora underwent shoulder surgery in November, a discouraging sign for hitters, especially aging ones. He is streaky. His home run-to-flyball percentage was by far its highest since 2004 - despite a continued drop in flyball percentage.
Fantasy tip: With his age, the surgery and the fact his groundball rate actually increased last year, Mora is likely overvalued considerably. His 2008 campaign was more likely a late-career anomaly; he's only a reasonable choice near the end of your draft.
Pros: A streaky hitter, Blake can rake when he is seeing the ball well, as evidenced by last year's June (.366-3-17 in 101 at-bats) and July (.341-4-12). There should be little uncertainty about where he'll play, unlike in recent seasons when he was with the Cleveland Indians.
Cons: He hit just .251 after joining the Dodgers in a midseason trade last year. His home run rate was far higher than it had been in recent years, suggesting an outlying year. He's on the downside of his career.
Fantasy tip: There's no real upside here, so you're settling if you take him in the final third of your draft. He's fine as a low-end corner infielder, but like for many of these types, don't reach.
Pros: Lowell should be healthy after various injuries derailed his 2008 season. He still hits in one of the top offenses and has at least 17 homers in all but one year this decade. With a rising flyball percentage, that may be sustainable.
Cons: His batting eye has been declining since 2003 and hit a recent low of 0.62 last year. His 120 RBIs in 2007 are the outlier, as he has failed to eclipse 80 in all but one of his last four seasons. His average also dipped to .274 (from .324 the year before), which is closer to his career mark of .279. He had hip surgery in October.
Fantasy tip: Lowell is a decent pickup in the last rounds as a corner infielder. He's likely in decline, but he probably isn't washed up. You shouldn't have to risk much to take a shot.
Pros: He is expected to hit cleanup in one of the top offenses and one of the top hitters' parks. If healthy for an entire season, he can put together a great year, as he showed in 2004 (.276-32-110). He reminded us when he hit .337 with eight homers in September. The shift to designated hitter could keep him healthy.
Cons: Blalock will have to shake the "injury-prone" label; he has taken just 208 and 258 at-bats in the last two years, respectively. When he was playing nearly full seasons, he would fall off in the second half.
Fantasy tip: At this point, Blalock has failed to live up to his lofty 2004 numbers, and he is running out of chances. View him as a respectable corner infielder who could be less risky. Given that he's still a gamble, he's overvalued since you probably can't wait until the late rounds.
Pros: Considerable power combined with Coors Field should make Stewart a great power option, especially with his middle infield eligibility. He hit a line drive on one quarter of his batted balls last year. He is just entering his power prime, too.
Cons: Stewart needs a regular spot in the lineup with third baseman Garrett Atkins and second baseman Clint Barmes ahead of him at their respective positions. His batting eye and contact rate haven't been great in his previous two major league stints, suggesting he'll struggle to hit for average.
Fantasy tip: As a corner infielder, Stewart is nothing special; as a middle infielder, he offers considerable upside, especially in the power categories, and can be had in the late rounds of mixed drafts.
Pros: Crede can crank homers - 30 in 2006 and 17 in 335 at-bats last year. He also makes contact about 80 percent of the time, a solid rate. His agent said he's healthy. The Minnesota Twins had a top-five offense last year.
Cons: His chronic back problems are always going to make him risky. He has a career .257 average and a poor batting eye. Is the Twins' lineup really that good? It was the first time they had cracked the top 10 since 2003.
Fantasy tip: Crede is an intriguing mixed league flier despite his injury problems. You don't have to risk much for him, and if he pans out, it should be a more than worthy investment.
Pros: The former first-round pick has looked "incredible" hitting the ball during the offseason. He is expected to return for Spring Training. From 2000 through '06, Chavez hit at least 22 home runs and drove in 100-plus runs four times. The A's made significant upgrades on offense.
Cons: Chavez has been a constant on the Athletics' disabled list over the last two seasons, compiling just 430 at-bats. He's only 31, but it seems like an old 31. His isolated power has been in slow decline. The shoulder injury he suffered last year could sap some of his power. Back problems have followed him, too.
Fantasy tip: He is worth a shot as a value buy in AL-only leagues, especially with his new friends. However, make sure to have a backup plan for his inevitable trip to the DL. In mixed leagues, keep an eye on him, because talent like his isn't ignorable.
Pros: When healthy, he has been a solid power threat. Rolen revamped his batting stance last year to take some strain off his shoulder. It seemed to work as he hit .307 with three homers and 11 RBIs in September.
Cons: Health is a huge concern, especially on the nasty turf in Toronto. Rolen has managed more than 408 at-bats just once in the last four years. His average has dropped through the floor in that time, only once hitting above .265.
Fantasy tip: Once a perennial All-Star, age and injuries have caught up with Rolen. Don't call his name on draft day in mixed leagues unless you are struggling to find a corner infielder in deep setups.
Pros: His batting eye, along with his contact rate, has been steadily improving as he ages. It has paid off, with moderate increases in average in each of the past two seasons.
Cons: Glaus underwent shoulder surgery Jan. 22 and might not be back until May. Shoulder surgery for a power-hitting third baseman who turns 33 in August doesn't sound like a recipe for success. His home runs-per-flyball ratio has been trending down five years running.
Fantasy tip: News of surgery makes Glaus only barely considerable at the end of a deep mixed-league draft. He isn't a risky pick at that stage, but the payoff may require some patience that a low-end corner man doesn't deserve.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
Don't miss these great reports....
Recent KFFL releases
Fantasy Football Rankings: Standard Scoring
Fantasy Football Rankings: PPR Scoring
Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: White Sox chaos coming?
Fantasy Football Rankings: Scoring only