Monday, October 1, 2007

Centerfielders Revisited

Before I finish up my look at the bottom half of our list of National League centerfielders, I'd like to take a moment to congratulate Nate (Naterade) Swanson on winning our Yahoo fantasy league's 2007 championship. Nate finished second in the regular season standings, and eventually beat Tim Ledoux's Macafeys in a final between the top two teams of the regular season. Nate's lineup was not the strongest, but he was always consistent, only losing by more than one category twice over the season's course. My hat is off to you, Naterade.

Here we are back to the list. The first part can be found here.

Alfredo Amezaga's main value to the Florida Marlins is his defense. He has a strong range factor and a good zone rating, and he while he does provide some speed on the basepaths -- he has 33 stolen bases over the last two seasons -- his success rate is only 63%. (The league average was 74%.) Amezaga posted a career best .682 OPS this year, but he profiles best as a defensive utilityman. The Marlins would rather have started Alejandro De Aza in centerfield this year, but injuries allowed Amezaga to get the majority of playing time.

Mike Cameron's batting average and slugging percentage were well below last year's marks, but he had almost as many home runs and doubles. Both his range factor and his zone rating were also down from last year. Cameron's batting average is the only major detraction to his fantasy value; he needs to hit .260 or better and cut down on his strikeouts in order to be more than a 4th outfielder. An increase in plate selectivity, coupled with his talent for power and speed, would make Cameron a great value for next season.

Bill Hall was a major disappointment to many fantasy owners this year, including myself. Yahoo rated him 93rd among all players at the beginning of the season, and somehow he managed to end up 706th. I didn't expect him to hit 35 homers again this year, but 25 seemed manageable, which is eleven more than he ended up hitting. Hall's slugging percentage was 42 points below his career average, and his four stolen bases were the least he's ever had in a full season. Primarily an infielder, Hall was moved to centerfield this year to make room for Rickie Weeks. His defense has been unremarkable at best, and it is unclear what the Brewers plan to do with him, as he lost time down the stretch to Corey Hart. Hall's value for next year depends on his playing time and his ability to rebound at the plate.

The Washington Nationals started a variety of players at centerfield, but Nook Logan received the majority of the starts there. Logan has little power and a poor on-base percentage, but he is fast, stealing 23 bases in 118 games. Logan is very good defensively, but unless he improves his ability to reach base, he has little value as a starter. The Nationals acquired Wily Mo Pena near the trading deadline, and it seems they would like to start him in right next year and move Austin Kearns to center. Logan should only be on fantasy radars if it appears the Nationals will be giving him playing time, and only those looking for stolen bases shoud be interested.

Baseball America ranked Nate McLouth the Pirates' 10th best prospect in 2005, citing his contact ability and speed as positives. McLouth improved on his offensive numbers from last year, with very large increases in slugging and on-base percentages. He was an underrated source for stolen bases this year, stealing 22 out of 23 attempts. If he gets a full season of playing time, McLouth could be considered a sleeper candidate for a 20 homerun/20 stolen base season in the near future. That is a large if, as the Pirates also gave a lot of playing time in centerfield to Chris Duffy and Nyjer Morgan this year. McLouth is still relatively young, so he is definitely one to watch in larger leagues.

Willy Taveras missed significant portions of August and September due to a strained right groin, ruining his chances at his first 40 stolen base season. He set career highs in batting average, and on-base and slugging percentages. Injuries and poor marks on defense keep him from being higher on this list. Good thing fantasy doesn't count defense; a healthy Taveras is definitely one to watch for next year.

Injuries were also a big factor for the Cardinals' Jim Edmonds, who spent the offseason recovering from toe and shoulder surgeries. Edmonds only started 99 games in center due to injuries, and his production was down for the second year in a row. With his defensive and offensive production slipping, Edmonds stellar career appears close to being over. Do not draft Edmonds next year.

Dave Roberts had his fifth season of 30 stolen bases or more, despite platooning with Rajai Davis for part of the season, so Roberts still has value despite being on the downside of his career. His OPS was his lowest in five years. Given the right opportunity, Roberts is a good source of stolen bases, but it might not be with the Giants as they appear ready to give Rajai Davis, whom they acquired from Pirates this year, a shot at the starting centerfield job. With the Barry Bonds era over in San Francisco, the Giants will probably try to go younger, and Roberts will most likely not fit in their plans.

Well, that's the list. I started this list back on August 20th, with more than a month left in the season to play, so this authority of this list is definitely debateable. Players have done their best and worst to move up and down, and this list is far from definitive. So please, let me know where I got it wrong, or if you're so disposed, where I got it right.

Next thing I'll probably write about will be a look back at my Yahoo fantasy league, and we'll discuss why my inability to stick with a focused strategy enabled me to run my team into the losers' bracket for the second year in a row.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fuck you dude, u know nothing about fantasy. matthew barry is the best