.
Are you the type of fantasy baseball player that doesn’t worry much about closers, figuring if you’re aggressive on the waiver wire you can get your share of saves? After all, John Axford had 24 saves last year, Chris Perez had 23, Alfredo Simon had 17, Juan Gutierrez had 15, and the list goes on.
.
If you are the type that employs this strategy, don’t overlook Jon Rauch as he’s the first temporary closer that can get you short-term saves. You remember him as the 6’11″ tattooed relief pitcher that saved 21 games for the Twins last year. He is with Toronto now, and thanks to injuries to Frank Francisco (pectoral) and Octavio Dotel (hamstring) he could start the season as the Blue Jays closer. Neither injury is considered serious so don’t expect a ton of saves from Rauch, bu the could be a nice late round addition that can give you a good short-term saves boost. If you have already drafted, he’s worth adding off the waiver wire.
.
.

Also check out:

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2011 KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft with the following industry heavyweights.

.

.
I’m in the 12th slot.
.
Round 21 – Johan Santana, SP, New York Mets
Johan is out until around the All-Star Break, but he could give me a big lift down the home stretch. Worth the risk in the 21st round.
.
Round 22 – Bronson Arroyo, SP, Cincinnati Reds
He isn’t sexy, but he’s averaged 15.7 wins over the past three seasons. His ERA the past two years (3.84 & 3.88) and WHIP (1.27 & 1.15) won’t do too much damage. Plus, he’s a workhorse having thrown 200+ innings for six straight years. He is what he is, which isn’t a bad fifth starter in a 12-team league.
.
Round 23 – Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres
Headley has decent potential, and a solid utility option while giving me depth at third base and the corner infield position. He doesn’t offer much power, but does provide a fair share of stolen bases.
.
Round 24 – Anibal Sanchez, SP, Florida Marlins
Sanchez is coming off a solid year going 13-12 with a 3.55 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 157 strikeouts. He has good upside for a pitcher this late in the draft.
.
Round 25 – Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Jones has hit 21 HRs in each of the past two seasons. He also has quietly stolen 17 bases during that stretch. He has multiple position eligibility making him a decent option with the 300th pick of the draft.
.
Round 26 – Clayton Richard, SP, San Diego Padres
Richard probably isn’t as good as the 14-9, 3.75 ERA he posted last year, but is a decent option to use in a weekly format when he is schedule to have a start or two at home, where he sported a 3.15 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and .227 BAA.
.
Round 27 – Mike Aviles, 2B, Kansas City Royals
Aviles showed a little pop in September, swiped 14 bases, and hit .304. He’s gives me depth at second base and middle infield.
.
Round 28 – Chris Snyder, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
He has a little pop, 15 HRs last year and double-digit HRs in three of the past four years. He gives me depth at catcher.
.
.

Roster
C:  Mike Napoli
C:  Miguel Olivo
1B:  Billy Butler
2B:  Gordon Beckham
3B:  Evan Longoria
SS:  Elvis Andrus
MI:  Alex Gonzalez
CI:  Michael Cuddyer
OF:  Josh Hamilton
OF:  Alex Rios
OF:  Denard Span
OF:  Jason Bay
OF:  Jason Kubel
Util:  Chase Headley
.
P:  Tim Lincecum
P:  Jered Weaver
P:  Roy Oswalt
P:  Brett Myers
P:  Bronson Arroyo
P:  Anibal Sanchez
P:  Drew Storen
P:  Jose Valverde
P:  Francisco Cordero
.
BEN:  Garrett Jones
BEN:  Mike Aviles
BEN:  Chris Snyder
BEN:  Clayton Richard
BEN:  Johan Santana

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2011 KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft with the following industry heavyweights.

.

.
I’m in the 12th slot.
.
Round 13 – Francisco Cordero, RP, Cincinnati Reds
It was time I got into the race for saves. Cordero had 40 last year, and has averaged 39.3 over the past four seasons. I’m expecting 35 saves in 2011.
.
Round 14 – Jose Valverde, RP, Detroit Tigers
One closer isn’t going to cut it and with all those picks between my 14th and 15th pick, I had to add another one. Valverde had 26 last year with a 1.16 WHIP and a 3.00 ERA. I’m hoping he avoids the second half struggles from last year. I’m expecting 30 saves in 2011.
.
Round 15 – Drew Storen, RP, Washington Nationals
With few closer left on the board, I wanted to add a third. All of the remaining closers have question marks, but at least Storen was groomed for the role. He has a good K/9 ratio and should get more rope than the remaining closers. I’m expecting 30 saves in 2011.
.
Round 16 – Brett Myers, SP, Houston Astros
Myers gives me a solid fourth starter. He was a workhorse last year racking up 223-2/3 innings going 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, and 180 strikeouts. I felt he was a good value in the 16th round. I’m expecting 13 wins, 180 strikeouts, a 3.50 ERA, and a 1.28 WHIP.
.
Round 17 – Miguel Olivo, C, Seattle Mariners
Olivo has averaged 16.2 HRs and 56.4 RBI over the past five seasons. He gives me some pop and fills my second catcher spot.
.
Round 18 – Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota Twins
Kubel had a down year, but still managed 21 HRs and 92 RBI. He won’t score a lot of runs or steal any bases, but I expect a decent average and similar power numbers to last year.
.
Round 19 – Alex Gonzalez, SS, Atlanta Braves
My starting shortstop has no pop so I added a backup/MI option that smacked the second most HRs among shortstops. He wasn’t as good for the Braves, but he should get plenty of opportunities for them.
.
Round 20 – Michael Cuddyer 1B/OF, Minnesota Twins
I hadn’t quite filled my quota for Twins outfielders so I added Cuddy. Actually, he fills the CI slot and gives me outfield depth. His numbers weren’t great last year at .271-93-14-81-7, but they were good enough for this stage of the draft.
.
Roster
C:  Mike Napoli
C:  Miguel Olivo
1B:  Billy Butler
2B:  Gordon Beckham
3B:  Evan Longoria
SS:  Elvis Andrus
MI:  Alex Gonzalez
CI:  Michael Cuddyer
OF:  Josh Hamilton
OF:  Alex Rios
OF:  Denard Span
OF:  Jason Bay
OF:  Jason Kubel
Util:  Empty
.
P:  Tim Lincecum
P:  Jered Weaver
P:  Roy Oswalt
P:  Brett Myers
P:  Empty
P:  Empty
P:  Drew Storen
P:  Jose Valverde
P:  Francisco Cordero
.
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2011 KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft with the following industry heavyweights.

.

.
I’m in the 12th slot.
.
Round 9 – Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox
Beckham is a great young talent that brings power to the table at the second base position. He struggled early last year, but found his groove. He’s expected to hit second in the Sox powerful lineup, which should lead to solid numbers. He’s a wildcard because he has just 822 ABs so far, but I’m expecting a .270-80-22-75-5 line.
.
Round 10 – Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies
Oswalt will occupy the third ace role for the Phillies, which means he should have plenty of favorable starting pitching matchups. He dominated in his brief stint with the Phillies going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Obviously those numbers won’t translate over a full season, but I’m expecting 15 wins, 165 strikeouts, a low 3.00 ERA, and a WHIP below 1.20.
.
Round 11 – Denard Span, OF, Minnesota Twins
Span gives me a quality third outfielder while providing in runs (averaged 91 the past two years) and stolen bases (averaged 24.5 the past two years). I believe his average will be much better as he produces a .290-100-5-60-25 line.
.
Round 12 – Jason Bay, OF, New York Mets
Bay was limited to 95 games last year, but averaged 100.6 runs, 31 HRs, 102.8 RBI, and 11.8 SBs in the five previous seasons. I felt like he was a good risk at this point in the draft. I’m expecting a .280-90-25-90-10 season from him.
.
Roster
C:  Mike Napoli
C:  Empty
1B:  Billy Butler
2B:  Gordon Beckham
3B:  Evan Longoria
SS:  Elvis Andrus
MI:  Empty
CI:  Empty
OF:  Josh Hamilton
OF:  Alex Rios
OF:  Denard Span
OF:  Jason Bay
OF:  Empty
Util:  Empty
.
P:  Tim Lincecum
P:  Jered Weaver
P:  Roy Oswalt
P:  Empty
P:  Empty
P:  Empty
P:  Empty
P:  Empty
P:  Empty
.
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty
BEN:  Empty

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2011 KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft with the following industry heavyweights.

.

.
I had the 12th slot.
.
Round 5 – Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Things were getting thin at first base so I wanted to secure a good one. Butler was the best one on my board. He’s hit +.300 the past two years, including a career high .318 last year. He doesn’t have prototypical first base power, but he has the ability to hit 20+. I’m expecting a .310-80-20-90-1 line in 2011.
.
Round 6 – Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers
Andrus fills two needs for me. He gives me a quality shortstop and he gives me a ton of speed. He’s had 33 and 32 stolen bases the past two years, a number that could reach 40 this year. Injuries took their toll on him at the end of last year, but his .280-57-0-25-23 line before the All-Star Break screams breakout potential. I’m expecting .270-100-3-45-40 this year. I also considered Justin Verlander andJacoby Ellsbury.
.
Round 7 – Mike Napoli, 1B/C, Texas Rangers
In a two-catcher league I figured it was about time to add a catcher. I like Napoli for a number of reasons. He should get plenty of at bats in that powerful Texas lineup at C, 1B, and DH. That extra eligibility makes Napoli desirable. With 20+ HRs for three straight years, he helps make up for Andrus and Butler, who are lacking in that department. I’m expecting a .270-65-28-75-3 line.

.
Round 8 – Jared Weaver, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Lincecum was getting lonely as my only pitcher so I knew it was time. Weaver led the Majors in strikeouts last year, which helps solidify that category. He was also among the league leaders in ERA (3.01) and WHIP (1.07). At 28 he’s primed to continue last year’s dominance. I’m expecting 16 wins with 220 strikeouts, a low 3.00 ERA and a sub 1.20 WHIP.

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2011 KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft with the following industry heavyweights.

.

.
I had the 12th slot.
.
Round 1 – Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
I have Longoria ranked first at perhaps the shallowest position in baseball. He is coming off a down year.294-96-22-104-15, but that’s what afforded me the opportunity to take him at the end of the first round. He’s just 25 so a bounceback should be in order. I’m expecting a .285-100-30-100-10 line. I did not consider anybody else in this spot.
.
Round 2 – Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
Hamilton had an unbelievable season hitting .359 with 95 runs, 32 HRs, 100 RBI, and 8 SBs in 133 games. He’s an injury risk due to his style of play, but when he’s on (and healthy) there aren’t many better hitters in the game. I considered Robinson Cano here, but wanted to take an outfielder since you start five. I’m expecting a .320-90-30-110-8 line from Hamilton.
.
Round 3 – Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants
Lincecum’s down year consisted of a 16-10 record, 3.43 ERA, and 231 strikeouts. He came alive in the postseason, reminding us why he’s a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He was a first round pick last year so getting him in the third is a great value. I’m expecting 17 wins, 250 strikeouts, an ERA below 3.00, and a WHIP below 1.20.
.
Round 4 – Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox
Rios finally returned to the promise he showed with the Blue Jays from 2006-2008 posting a solid .284-89-21-88-34 line. He gives me a nice mixture of power and speed to compliment my first two picks. He also gives me two quality outfielders. I’m expecting a .280-90-20-90-30 line. I also considered Ian Kinsler, but didn’t want two injury-prone Rangers.

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the 2010 KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft.

I had the second overall pick.

Round 1 – Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida Marlins
With the second overall pick I chose Hanley Ramirez. He is a five category player averaging 117.5 runs, 25.8 HRs, 78.3 RBIs, 41 SBs, and a .316 average over the past four years.

I also considered Alex Rodriguez and Chase Utley, but Hanley, who is 26, offers more upside. I’m looking for Hanley to hit .330 with 115+ runs, 30 HRs, 100 RBIs, and 35 SBs.

Round 2 – Victor Martinez, C/1B, Boston Red Sox
The Catcher position is relatively deep, but there are only a couple that stand out. Victor Martinez is one of them. If his 56 game performance of things to come for Martinez, sign me up. He hit .336 with 32 runs, 8 HRs, and 41 RBIs.

Hitting third in the Red Sox lineup behind Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia should provide him ample opportunities to reach 100+ RBIs again. I am expecting a .310 season from him with 80 runs, 20 HRs, 110 RBIs.

Round 3 – Pablo Sandoval, 3B/1B, San Francisco Giants
With five players with third base eligibility going in the first 24 picks, the position is drying up rather quickly. Not that it’s a deep one to begin with. Pablo Sandoval should help maintain the high batting average I’ve established so far, while bring some power and run production. I’m predicting another .330 year for the Kung Fu Panda with 85 runs, 25 HRs, and 85 RBIs. If the Giants are able to add another bat, his RBI total should increase.

Round 4 – Zack Greinke, SP, Kansas City Royals
Greinke was an absolute beast last year going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA, and a 1.07 WHIP. His ERA was the lowest in baseball last year. He also had 242 strikeouts, which was good for third in the league. Greinke was equally as effective, save for the win total, both before and after the All-Star Break. He’s just 26 and really coming into his own. I’m expecting a 15-8 record with 240 Ks, a 2.50 ERA, and a 1.10 WHIP.

Round 5 – Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
I couldn’t resist going back-to-back with power pitchers. Verlander led the majors last year with 269 strikeouts. He also tied for the league lead with 19 wins and posted a respectable 3.45 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Verlander turns 27 this month and has been a force three of the past four years. I like that the Tigers locked him up to a long-term deal so he doesn’t have that distraction to deal with. I’m looking for a 18-8 season from Verlander with a 3.30 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP, and 250 Ks.

Round 6 – Carlos Lee, OF, Houston Astros
A lot of outfielders have come off the board, and I figure it was time for me to get in the game. Though Lee will turn 34 this summer, he hasn’t shown signs of stopping. He’s hit .300 for four straight years, has had 99+ RBIs since 2003, and 26+ HRs since 2002. He’s not the slugger he once was, but in the sixth round he represents a good value.

Round 7 – Jonathan Papelbon, RP, Boston Red Sox
A couple of top closers already came off the board and there is a long time until I pick again. If I chose to wait on a closer here, I could be looking at scraps in the 8th round. Papelbon should be good for around 40 saves, a sub-2.00 ERA, a sub 1.000 WHIP, and 75 Ks.

Round 8 – Joakim Soria, RP, Kansas City Royals
Soria is one of the filthiest closers in the game. He should provide healthy save and strikeout totals with a microscopic ERA and WHIP. Securing a second elite closer should establish me as a leader in the saves category.

Round 9 – Michael Cuddyer, OF/1B, Minnesota Twins
By picking up Cuddy I now have additional first base flexibility. I can use at 1B, CI, or OF. He set a career high last year with 32 HRs. Cuddy will turn 31 next month so I expect him to continue to produce.

Round 10 – Denard Span, OF, Minnesota Twins
Span continued the recent tradition of quality Twins’ centerfielders (Puckett, Hunter), and quietly was their most important player not name Joe Mauer. He’s not going to give you a lot of power. That’s not his game. He will score a ton of runs, especially with Orlando Hudson solidifying the two-hole. He will also give you a healthy average and around 30 stolen bases.

Round 11 – Chad Billingsley, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Billingsley regressed a bit in 2009, but still managed to post a 4.03 ERA with a dozen wins. I see him posting numbers more like 2008 when he had a 16-10 record with a 3.14 ERA and 201 Ks.

Round 12 –  Placido Polanco, 2B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
I think Polanco will do well in his new digs. He’s going to a much better lineup and to a better hitters’ park. Neither power nor speed are his game, but he should hit .300 or better with 90 runs, 10 HRs, 70 RBIs, and 5 SBs. He fills a hole for me at 2B and once he gets his 3B eligibility will give me added flexibility.

Round 13 – Corey Hart, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Hart was down last year hitting .260 with 12 HRs. He’ll turn 28 in March, and is a year removed from back-to-back 20-20 seasons. I can use both the power and the speed. I’ve built up my average enough so far that I can stomach the possible .260ish season he could have.

Round 14 – Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals
In a two-catcher league I wanted to secure a solid number two. Molina is better known for his defense (back-to-back gold glove winner), but has hit .304 and .293 the past two years. He was also 11th and 12th among catchers in RBIs. Additionally, his 9 SBs last year are promising.

Round 15 – Frank Francisco, RP, Texas Rangers
Francisco recorded 25 saves for the Rangers last year. He also sported a nice WHIP of 1.12 and 57 Ks in 49-1/3 IP. C.J. Wilson had 14 saves for Texas last year so if Francisco can stay healthy 30+ saves with 75 Ks is not out of reach.

Round 16 – Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Seattle Mariners
Gutierrez makes a great fourth outfielder (or fifth depending on how my roster shakes out). He hit for average (.285) with decent runs (85), HRs (18), and SBs (16). He has the potential to have a 20-20 season. His RBI total should increase with the addition of Chone Figgins.

Round 17 – Octavio Dotel, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates
After punting the saves category last year, I’m doing the opposite. Dotel is my 4th closer and should give me a leg up on the competition. His career 11.0 K/9 ratio  is an added benefit.

Rount 18 – Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres
Cabrera fills a need at MI as well as provides me a boost to the SB category. He had 25 in 103 games last year, and could challenge for 40 this year. I’m hoping for 80-90 runs as well.

Round 19 – Mark Buehrle, SP, Chicago White Sox
With my 4th pitcher I’m going with the steady Mark Buehrle. He doesn’t get a lot of K’s, but I’ve addressed that need earlier with Greinke and Verlander. You can pretty much pencil in 13-15 wins, a sub-4.00 ERA, and a sub-1.30 WHIP.

Round 20 – Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Oakland A’s
I chose Kouzmanoff to fill my Corner Infield position. He has averaged 19.7 HRs and 82 RBIs the past three seasons. Having escaped PETCO, he should be able to at least match that production.

Round 21 – Josh Willingham, OF, Washington Nationals
Willingham is a decent source of late round power. He has averaged 21.5 HRs the past four seasons.

Round 22 – Derek Lowe, SP, Atlanta Braves
Lowe has had at least 12 wins every year dating back to 2002. His ERA & WHIP went to hell last year, but he’s a good candidate for a rebound.

Round 23 – Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
I figured I’d inject some youth in my lineup with Snider. Snider struggled in his first taste with the Jays, but has a ton of power potential.

Round 24 – Skip Schumaker, 2B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Skip gives me the flexibility to play him at 2B, MI, and OF. He’s hit .302 with 87 runs and .303 with 85 runs the past two years. Not much for SBs or HRs, but a good, solid bench player.

Round 25 – Garrett Atkins, 1B/3B, Baltimore Orioles
You can’t be happy with the way Atkins has been trending, but he has shown ability to be a four category producer. He also gives me positional flexibility.

Round 26 – Gil Meche, SP, Kansas City Royals
At this stage in the draft I’m looking for some pitching depth. I’m hoping Meche is more like his 2007 & 2008 version by giving me 10 wins, a sub-4.00 ERA, and 150 Ks.

Round 27 – Jesus Flores, C, Washington Nationals
At this point I’m looking for catcher depth. Hoping he can hold off Pudge. His BA & OPS have improved each year. All he needs is ABs.

Round 28 – Jose Guillen, OF, Kansas City Royals
He averaged 21.5 HRs and 98 RBIs in 2007 & 2008 making him worth a gamble at the end of the draft.

The first ever Rotoprofessor Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide is officially ready for delivery.  The early feedback has been great, so don’t miss out!

This is not like the normal draft guide you purchase, because it will be consistently updated reflecting player movement and news (it has already been updated for Bengie Molina’s signing with the Giants).  The guide will be in Excel and you will receive an updated document every 2-3 weeks up until the start of the season.  For just $5, you will get to enjoy the following:

  • Over 525 player projections
  • The Rotoprofessor’s quick take on every player projected
  • Expanded Rankings (i.e. Top 30 Catchers, Top 100 Starting Pitchers)
  • Top 300 Overall (set to be released next week)
  • Projected lineups and rotations
  • As a special bonus, in mid-February you will receive a Top 50 Prospects for 2010 list (on the website, I will be releasing a Top 20 list)

Remember, this draft guide is not a replacement to the website.  Instead, it is a supplement to it.  In fact, if there is a player that I’ve done an article on their name will be linked back to the website so you can easily access those articles for more in depth information on any player.

If there is any player who is not included in the original draft guide that you would like to see added, please make the suggestion and I will do my best to include them in the next revision.

This is your chance to have all of the information you need to thrive in your fantasy leagues in 2010.  Place your order now and immediately start reaping the benefits!

Click here to place your order.

kffl-fantasy-baseball-analysis-draft

I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the KFFL Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft.  It is a group of 11 fantasy baseball experts and little old me.  Here is a look at the participants:

  • Derek Carty and Victor Wang, The Hardball Times
  • Scott Engel, RotoExperts.com
  • Todd Farino, Fantasy Baseball Search
  • Ray Flowers, Baseball Guys
  • Steve Gardner, USA Today
  • Paul Greco, FantasyPros911.com
  • Joe Hamrahi, Baseball Prospectus
  • Tim Heaney, KFFL.com
  • Ryan Lester, Lester’s Legends
  • Nicholas Minnix, KFFL.com
  • Jock Thompson, Baseball HQ
  • Pasko Varnica, CREATiVESPORTS
  • Round 1 (5th Overall) – Albert Pujols
    albert-pujols-headshot
    Phat Albert has averaged .334, 118 Runs, 40 HRs, 122 RBI in his brilliant eight-year career.  He’s a bona fide stud.  Though his production has dipped the past two years, he’s still too good to pass up in the five spot.  The drawback is his position.  I figured I’d get Jose Reyes or David Wright in this spot.  However, their production compared to other Shortstops and Third Basemen exceeds that of Pujols compared to other First Basemen.  He was #1 in Yahoo rankings last year.    
    Prediction:  .330, 115 R, 40 HR, 120 RBI, 5 SB

    Round 2 (20th Overall) – Lance Berkman
    lance-berkman-headshot
    I know I already have an elite First Basemen in Albert Pujols, but Berkman was too good to pass up here, especially in a league that has a Corner Infielder slot.  I like that he contributes in Average, Runs, HRs, and RBIs.  He even stole 18 bases last year, though I don’t see him coming near that number.  Since 2001 he’s averaged 101 Runs, 37 Doubles, 33 HRs, 110 RBI, and a hit .303.  As a friend of mine noted, if Pujols goes down for a month, Berkman is the type of player who could carry my team.  He was #7 in Yahoo rankings last year.
    Prediction:  .310, 110 R, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 9 SB

    Round 3 (29th Overall) – Jason Bay
    jason-bay-headshot
    Bay has scored 100+ Runs with 30+ HRs and 100+ RBI in three of four seasons since 2005.  He essentially has two leadoff hitters in front of him in Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.  His numbers with Boston last year project out to 30 HRs and 120 RBI.   That was with an injured David Ortiz and Mike Lowell.  With the Red Sox Offense firing on all cylinders, Bay is going to rake in 2009.
    Prediction:  .290, 110 R, 35 HR, 120 RBI, 9 SB

    Round 4 (44th Overall) – Joe Mauer
    joe-mauer-headshot

    Having missed out on the top Second Basemen, Shortstops, and Third Basemen, I wanted to get on of the top Catchers.  He has two batting titles under his belt already, and despite a medicore 2007 campaign has averaged 82 Runs, 31 Doubles, 10 HRs, 76 RBI, and 5 SBs over the past three years while hitting .325.  Getting that kind of production in a two Catcher league is very attractive.
    Prediction:  .330, 95 R, 10 HR, 80 RBI, 5 SB

    Round 5 (53rd Overall) – Troy Tulowitzki
    troy-tulowitzki-headshot

    I felt it was time to add a Shortstop.  After an outstanding Rookie season, Tulo struggled with an early slump and a quad inury last year.  He finished strong though, hitting .327 with 31 Runs and 30 RBI in 62 games after the All-Star Break. 
    Prediction:  .300, 100 R, 25 HR, 110 RBI, 8 SB

    Round 6 (68th Overall) – David Ortiz
    david-ortiz-headshot
    With a bad wrist Big Papi still scored 74 Runs and had 30 Doubles, 23 HRs, and 89 RBI in 109 games.  A healthy Papi averaged .304 with 111 Runs, 42 HRs, and 135 RBI from 2004-2007.  I don’t see him reaching those lofty goals, but he should be able to put up much better numbers in 2009.
    Prediction:  .300, 110 Runs, 35 HRs, 120 RBI

    Round 7 (77th Overall) – Chone Figgins
    chone-figgins-headshot
    I decided to inject some speed into my lineup.  Not only does Chone do that with an average of 44.6 Stolen Bases since 2004.  He has also averaged 88.4 Runs and hit .290 over that stretch.  He doesn’t provide much in the HR or RBI department, especially for a Third Basemen, but those are areas I’ve covered with my previous selections.
    Prediction: .280, 90 R, 3 HR, 50 RBI, 40 SBs

    Round 8 (92nd Overall) – Roy Oswalt
    roy-oswalt-headshot
    I finally decided to dip my toe in the Pitching pool.  Getting one with a career winning percentage of .668 isn’t a bad start.  His ERA rose to 3.54 last year, but his WHIP was an impressive 1.179.  Plus, he was a completely different Pitcher after the All-Star break going 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and a .206 BAA.
    Prediction: 18-12, 3.20 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 160 Ks

    Round 9 (101st Overall) – John Lackey
    john-lackey-headshot

    Last round I was debating between Roy Oswalt and John Lackey.  Since Lackey made it back to me I didn’t have a tough decision this round.  Aside from last year, Lackey has averaged roughly 33 starts since 2003.  His ERA has been well below the league average in the past four years, and his WHIP has been below 1.300 the past three.
    Prediction: 18-12, 3.50 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 180 Ks

    Round 10 (116th Overall) – Félix Hernández
    felix-hernadez-headshot
    I continued to add Starting Pitching in Round 10.  King Felix will turn 23 next month, but is already a season vet. He has been fairly consistent as his WHIP has remained fairly steady between 1.34 and 1.39 the past three years, along with a Strikeout range of 165 t0 176.  I don’t have blinders on.  I know Seattle has a bad team.  However, Felix could still win a moderate share of games with a nice strikeout total and solid ERA & WHIP.
    Prediction:  14-10, 3.30 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 180 Ks

    Round 11 (125th Overall) – Carlos Zambrano
    carlos-zambrano-headshot
    I continued to assemble my Pitching Staff with Carlos Zambrano, who is 78-40 since 2004.  He faded after the All-Star Break going 4-3 with a 5.80 ERA.  He has worked on his conditioning this offseason, dropping some weight and getting some zip back on his fastball.  With the run support he should recieve from the Cubs, I feel he’s a great candidate to bounce back in 2009.
    Prediction:  18-10, 3.50 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 160 Ks

    Round 12 (140th Overall) – Jorge Cantú
    jorge-cantu-headshot
    I went with Jorge Cantú this round so I could move Chone Figgins over to Second and have a decent stick at 3rd.  He was solid last year with 92 Runs, 29 HRs, and 95 RBI.  He had a big year in 2005 with Tampa Bay when he had 28 HRs with 117 RBI, which eases my mind a little on the fluke factor.  Though I dont’ think he’ll match his 2008 production, he gives me good value for this round.
    Prediction:  .275, 80 R, 25 HR, 80 RBI

    Round 13 (149th Overall) – Matt Cain
    matt-cain-headshot
    Cain won’t likely contribute heavily in the Win category, but he will add to my Strikeout, ERA, and WHIP categories.  Despite averaging just ten Wins the past three years, he does sport a career 3.74 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.  I wasn’t enamored with the Hitter options here so I added to my Pitching rotation.

    Round 14 (164th Overall) – Coco Crisp

    coco-crisp-headshot
    Prediction:  12-14, 3.70 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 175 KsWhy did I pick him?  Simple.  I’m cuckoo for Coco Crisp.  Kidding aside, I selected Crisp to add to my Runs and Stolen Bases without taking too much of a hit with his Average.  With some luck he’ll return to the 15 HR potential he showed in his last two years in Cleveland.

    Round 15 (173rd Overall) – Mike Cameron
    mike-cameron-headshot
    Cameron’s batting average leaves plenty to be desired, but he makes up for with his speed and power.  He has hit 18+ HRs nine times and stolen 17+ bases in eleven of the past twelve years.  He’s also a decent producer in the Run and RBI categories.
    Prediction:  .250, 80 R, 20 HR, 75 RBI, 20 SBs

    Round 16 (188th Overall) – Ramón Hernández

    ramon-hernandez-headshot
    I wanted to add some power from the Catcher position.  Hernández has averaged 15 HRs per year since 2000.  He should have no problem reaching that makr playing in a Hitter’s park like the Great American Ball Park.  Plus, he’s in a contact year, which has been known to motivate players.
    Prediction:  .260, 50 R, 20 HR, 60 RBI

    Round 17 (197th Overall) - Carlos Gómez

    carlos-gomez-headshot
    I took Go-Go for speed.  He had a .296 OBP last year and still managed 33 steals.  He’s worked this offseason on being more selective.  If he can cut down his strikeouts and flyouts, he could score a ton or funs and swipe 50+ bases.  Plus, he even has a little pop in his bat.
    Prediction:  .270, 85 R, 10 HR, 45 SBs

    Round 18 (212th Overall) – Jeff Francoeur
    jeff-francoeur-headshot
    Francoeur had a down year in 2008 batting .239 with just 11 HRs.  He did, however, manage to drive in 71 Runs.  He’s just 25 though, and I’ll take a chance that a slugger of his pedigree (two 100 RBI season) can bounce back.
    Prediction:  .260, 80 Runs, 18 HRs, 85 RBI

    Round 19 (221st) Overall – Jered Weaver
    jered-weaver-headshot
    I added Weaver here to give me another young arm on a good team that can help me with Strikeouts and WHIP.  He should reach double-digit Wins and post an ERA that doesn’t hurt me too badly.
    Prediction:  12-10, 4.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 150 Ks

    Round 20 (236th Overall) – Randy Winn
    randy-winn-headshot
    In a five Outfielder you need a steady backup.  Winn has averaged 602 At Bats per year since 2002 hitting .294 with an average of 85 Runs, 13 HRs, and 20 SBs.  He isn’t a sexy pick, but you know what you’re getting with him.
    Prediction:  .285, 75 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 15 SB

    Round 21 (245th  Overall) – Felipe López
    felipe-lopez-headshot
    Quite simply I chose Felipe for his versatility.  In our Yahoo league he qualifies at 2B, 3B, SS, and OF.  I’m hoping he can build on his second half from last year when he hit .360 with 35 Runs, 24 RBI, and 4 SBs in 55 games.
    Prediction:  .270, 75 Runs, 8 HRs, 50 RBI, 15 SBs

    Round 22 (260th Overall) – Yadier Molina
    yadier-molina
    With Joe Mauer’s status for Opening Day in question I decided to take a third Catcher.  He obviously can’t replace Mauer, but he did hit .307 last year.  He’s been trending up the past few year, and at 27 (this July) I see no reason why he can’t progress further.
    Prediction:  .280, 40 Runs, 10 HRs, 60 RBI, 1 SBWith three DL and five Bench spots I decided to stash away John Smoltz for a mid-season shot in the arm.  Even if he gives me 100 Innings, I’d be getting a nice boost across the board.  He hasn’t posted a WHIP above 1.20 sinc 1995 or an ERA above 3.50 since 1994.  In round 23 it’s a low risk, high reward pick.
    Prediction:  8-2, 3.30 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 90 Ks

    Round 23 (269th Overall) – John Smoltz
    john-smoltz-headshot

    Round 24 (284th Overall) – Mark Buehrle
    mark-buehrle-headshot
    I went with Old Reliable in Round 24.  Mark has thrown at least 200 Innings every year since 2001 averaging 15 Wins over that stretch with his ERA climbing over 4.00 just twice.  He’s not going to wow you, but he’s steady and very low risk at this point of the draft.
    Prediction:  15-10, 3.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 125 Ks

    Round 25 (293rd Overall) – Edgar Renteria
    edgar-renteria-headshot
    I added SS/MI depth with Renteria.  He’s a career .290 hitter that should contribute in Runs and add a few HRs/SBs.  Gone are the days of 20+ Steals, 90+ Runs, and 70+RBIs, but he fits the bill as a steady backup.
    Prediction:  .280, 80 Runs, 10 HRs, 60 RBI, 10 SBs

    Round 26 (308th Overall) – Jack Cust
    jack-cust-headshot
    You know what you’re getting with Cust.  Power.  He has 59 HRs in 876 the past couple of seasons, which was good enough for fourth in the league for ABs per HR.  He won’t play every day, but if gets 400 ABs he should be able to crank out 25 HRs or so.  His average leaves plenty to be desired, but he should contribute in Runs and RBI.
    Prediction:  .240, 65 R, 25 HRs, 70 RBI

    Round 27 (317th Overall) – Hideki Okajima
    hideki-okajima-headshot
    It’s pretty obvious that I’ve punted the Saves category in this draft, focusing on Wins, K’s, ERA, and WHIP.  Okajima should give me about 60 Innings of low ERA & WHIP in case some of my Starters falter.  He also averages nearly a Strikeout per Inning, which is beneficial.
    Prediction:  3-2, 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 60 Ks

    Round 28 (332nd Overall) – J.P. Howell
    jp-howell
    I wrapped up my draft by adding another middle reliever coming off an outstanding, high Strikeout, low ERA and WHIP season.  He showed a knack for picking up Wins in relief as well last year. 
    Prediction:  4-2, 2.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 80 Ks


    Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

    Let me ask you this, had Chase Utley not gone down with injury, would you be considering Ian Kinsler in the first round?  Your answer to that question should go a long way in determining if Kinsler is deserving of a first round draft choice or not.

    That’s not to say that Kinsler is not a tremendous player.  That’s not to say that Kinsler is not a player that I crave to own.  In fact, in my keeper league he was the one player that I informed other owners that was nearly off-limits in trade talks, unless they came to the table with an offer that simply blew me away.

    Kinsler is that good, and his 2008 performance backs it:

    518 At Bats
    .319 Batting Average (165 Hits)
    18 Home Runs
    71 RBI
    102 Runs
    26 Stolen Bases
    .375 On Base Percentage
    .517 Slugging Percentage
    .339 Batting Average on Balls in Play

    Can he stay healthy for an entire season?  At this point that’s a question that all fantasy owners need to be asking themselves.  He’s missed time each of the past three seasons:

    • 2006 – Dislocated thumb
    • 2007 – Stress fracture in his foot
    • 2008 – Sports hernia

    One could argue that these are all just separate instances, not related to each other in the least.  That is a very fair point, and while it is true you have to wonder why they keep happening to him.  Will 2009 finally be the season he stays healthy all the way through?  Hopefully, but are you willing to bet your first round pick on it?

    As for the numbers, I have little reason to believe that he can’t repeat his tremendous 2008 campaign.  He was a career .303 hitter in the minor leagues, and while a lot of that success came at lower levels, it still does show that he can hit.

    His strikeout rate dropped tremendously, from 17.2% in 2007 to 12.9% last season.  I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep the number that low, but I wouldn’t expect a full regression either.  Hitters mature, they develop.  He will be 27-years old on June 22, so it’s not like this improvement came in his late 30’s.  He’s just entering the prime of his career.

    Couple the fall-off in strikeouts with a likely fall in BABIP (he was in the Top 20 last season), and a .300 average no longer looks like a certainty.

    The power and speed are for real, as he’s shown that potential in each of his three major league seasons.  In the power department, he’s posted:

    • 2006 – a HR every 30.20 AB
    • 2007 – a HR every 24.15 AB
    • 2008 – a HR every 28.78 AB

    Utley last season hit a HR every 18.39 AB, though there’s no real comparison between the two in the power department.  Over the last three seasons, Utley has hit 87 HR vs. Kinsler’s 52.  Utley is the cream of the crop when it comes to power hitting 2B.

    Kinsler’s advantage comes in the speed department, where he has shown the potential to steal 30 bases in a season.  The key word there is potential, because he’s never actually achieved it, including in the minor leagues.  Is the first round really where you want to be drafting on potential?

    I know, he’s already been a 20/20 second baseman (in 2007), and likely would have gotten there last season as well.  But what makes him a better option in the first round over, say, Brandon Phillips, who has actually posted a 30/30 season?

    Is it the average?  Well, I’ve already said that I’d expect Kinsler’s to fall under .300, so the difference is not going to be all that great.

    Is it the runs?  That may be a fair, as Kinsler has a big advantage there.  He will be hitting atop a Rangers line-up expected to score runs in droves.  That makes him a 100+ run candidate once again, something that only five second baseman did last season.

    While Kinsler is not going to threaten driving in 100 runs, only one second baseman did that last season (Utley).  His 71 RBI placed him ninth, and while a healthy season would move him up the list, he’s not going to be among the elite at the position.

    So, we put everything together and what do we get?

    • An average at or around .295
    • 100+ runs scored
    • A potential 20/30 player, who has never actually reached that plateau
    • A potential injury risk

    There seems to be an awful lot of inherent risk there, a whole lot of what ifs.

    If that were not enough to scare owners off, the fact that a player like Brandon Phillips, who could outperform Kinsler in both HR and SB, is posting an ADP of 30.22 (according to Mock Draft Central), or a third round pick.

    Couple that with the fact that if Utley was healthy, owners would not even be considering Kinsler in the first round, says it all.  He is not a player that I would take when he’s going.  I’d much rather take a player who I know what I’m going to get, before targeting one of the other names in the third or fourth round.

    What about you?  Are you willing to select Kinsler in the first round?  If so, why?

    Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.


    Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties