Fantasy Baseball: AL East Burning Questions
1. Will Matt Wieters become an elite Catcher?
He came with a lot of fanfare and he delivered for the most part. He was at his best in August and September hitting .305 with 5 HRs and 27 RBIs. He struggled against Yankee pitching (.143, 0 HR, 0 RBI), but he chewed up the rest of the AL EAST (.368, 5 HRs, 22 RBIs). He’ll be more comfortable at the plate and with the pitching staff, which should lead to a productive 2010 season.
Markakis has been solid for the past three years averaging 99 runs, 45 doubles, 20 HRs, and 100 RBIs while hitting .299. For him to take the next step he’ll have to increase his HR total. At 26, with an emerging Wieters, Adam Jones, and newly acquired Garrett Atkins in the lineup, Markakis can do just that.
3. Can Jeremy Hermida finally reach his potential?
With Jason Bay moving on to the Mets, Jeremy Hermida has an opportunity to hit in Boston’s vaunted lineup. He’ll have to hold off Mike Cameron or wait for J.D. Drew’s inevitable injury.
His power has been on decline the past few seasons.
2007 – 18 HR in 429 AB (23.8 AB/HR)
2008 – 17 in 502 (29.5 AB/HR)
2009 – 13 in 429 (33.0 AB/HR
His OPS has been .729 and .740 the past two years, which is not characteristic of the Red Sox style. Soon to be 26 though, he could come into age for the Red Sox this year.
The Red Sox are going to move Jacoby Ellsbury to LF and start Cameron in CF, which diminishes Hermida’s value.
4. Which Big Papi will show up?
David Ortiz entered June with just 1 HR and 18 RBIs in 46 games. He had 27 HRs and 81 RBIs in the remaining 104 games. If Papi, whose age now matches his number, can hit at a high level again, the rest of the Red Sox lineup gets a big lift.
5. What will the Yankees do in Left Field?
They have already went on record saying Matt Holliday isn’t the expensive answer to the question. There is a chance that Johnny Damon is brought back for another year. Brett Gardner could get the chance. He was decent in the first-half (.282, 36 runs, 18 SBs in 188 ABs). Personally I think he’s better suited as a spot starter/defensive replacement/pinch runner. Reed Johnson, Jerry Hairston, Jr. or even Xavier Nady could emerge as the eventual winners.
6. Will B.J. Upton bounce back?
After his impressive postseason run, much was expected of B.J. last year. Other than his SB total (42) he was pretty much a disappointment. He only hit above .231 in one month last year. Even his SB production tailed off (31 in his first 81 games, 11 in his last 63). Assuming he is healthier in 2010 I don’t see any reason he can’t bounce back completely to at least his 2008 production. His rough 2009 season should make him a much better value in your upcoming draft.
7. Was David Price more 2008 or 2009?
Price was electric upon being called up in 2008. He was openly upset about not starting the season in the bigs, and he struggled in the minors. When he finally did get the call, he struggled with a 4.70 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in his first nine starts. Though his strikeout rate dipped from 9.61 K/9 to 5.9 in his last 14 starts, he was a much more effective pitcher. He went 7-4 in those starts with a 4.27 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. His stuff is so electric that I feel the strikeouts will return. He should also be a nice value this coming season.
8. Is Ben Zobrist for real?
Ben bounced around quite a bit for the Rays last year before injuries settled him in at Second Base. He responded with 27 HRs in 501 ABs (18.6 AB/HR). While it came out of nowhere considering he had 15 HRs in his previous three years, he did hit 12 in 198 ABs in 2008 (16.5 AB/HR). Even if he takes a dip from the 91 runs, 27 HRs, 91 RBIs, 17 SBs he had last year, he’ll still be a high-end Second Basemen. Though with the stability he earned himself, I don’t expect him to take that step back.
9. Will Vernon Wells get dealt?
The Blue Jays are clearly playing for the future. Though they would love for somebody to take Vernon Wells’ hefty contract off their hands, the likelihood of that happening seems slim.
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