Friday, November 16, 2007

Keepers Part II

We continue our look at keepers for each team in my Head to Head league, with the consolation championship runner-up The Balls. John's team has a balanced mix of top pitching and top hitting, with some solid options to fill out the rest of his picks with. Let's dive in.


Moisés Alou (NYM - OF)
Garrett Atkins (Col - 1B,3B)
Milton Bradley (SD - OF)
Robinson Canó (NYY - 2B)
Michael Cuddyer (Min - 1B,OF)
Rajai Davis (SF - OF)
Cliff Floyd (ChC - OF)
Adrián González (SD - 1B)
Khalil Greene (SD - SS)
José Guillén (Sea - OF)
Xavier Nady (Pit - 1B,OF)
Carlos Peña (TB - 1B)
Mike Piazza (Oak - C)
Albert Pujols (StL - 1B)
Hanley Ramírez (Fla - SS)

Erik Bedard (Bal - SP)
Jeremy Bonderman (Det - SP)
Mark Buehrle (CWS - SP)
Matt Cain (SF - SP)
Roger Clemens (NYY - SP)
Phil Hughes (NYY - SP)
Scott Kazmir (TB - SP)
Ted Lilly (ChC - SP)
Jake Peavy (SD - SP)
Oliver Pérez (NYM - SP)
Chris Young (SD - SP)

1. Albert Pujols
A no-brainer choice, Pujols was the consensus number one draft pick amongst almost everyone last year; despite a 2007 season that was below his standards, Pujols still placed in the top ten for OPS. His power numbers were lacking his normal "oomph", but his batting average was within his normal levels. This is the type of player you build your team around for the next six or seven years.

2. Hanley Ramirez
Another no-brainer, the former NL Rookie of the Year raised his numbers in almost every offensive categories in his second year. Arguably the best hitter at his position, Ramirez is also a major threat on basepaths, stealing 102 bases in 312 games. Only 23, Ramirez could be a dominant fantasy force at his position for the next decade. Even if concerns about his defense force him to the outfield in a few years, he should still be a great asset for any fantasy team.

3. Jake Peavy
One of the more talented pitchers in the league just keeps getting better. Peavy set career highs in wins, strikeouts, and batting average against last year, placing in the top three in each category, including ERA. Peavy has the talent to be the top starting pitcher every year, and while he plays in a great pitcher's park, he's just as good on the road. I don't usually keep pitchers, but if you have one the best pitchers in the National League in his prime, you have to hold on to him.

4. Erik Bedard
Before he was shutdown by the Orioles with a strained oblique muscle, Bedard was making his case to be considered one of the top pitchers in the AL. He compiled 221 strikeouts in 182 innings to go along with a 3.17 ERA, despite the fact that he plays in a tough park for pitchers. The strained oblique doesn't appear to be serious, as Bedard could have been activated a few days before the end of the season, but the Orioles chose to end his season early. Bedard has great talent, and could lead the AL in most of the major pitching categories in 2008.

5. Robinson Cano
Cano's age and the position he plays make him a solid keeper for 2008. He hit his way into the top five for batting average and slugging percentage among all second basemen, and he was the only second baseman besides Chase Utley to make it to the top five for both. The only thing Cano lacks is speed, but he is surrounded by a great offense, and his youth means he could possibly hit as many as 25 homeruns a year in his prime.

6. Garrett Atkins
Okay, here's where it gets tough, as John's team has a few possible options for these last two spots, and they all happen to play a corner infield position. Since John already has Pujols at first base, I'm going to pick Atkins to fill the third base spot. Atkins plays a shallower position, and despite having an OPS lower than Carlos Pena, his mark of .853 was good enough for seventh among all third basemen. Atkins has shown the ability to hit for average and power. He's definitely a product of Coors Field as shown by his .254 average and .446 slugging percentage on the road, but unless the Rockies trade him away to make room for Ian Stewart, he'll continue to have the benefits of his home field. For more of my thoughts on Atkins vs. Pena, see here.

7. Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez or Pena, it's basically comes down to your fantasy philosophy. Pena offers more pure power, aided by the fact that he plays in a park much more conducive to hitting, while Gonzalez has shown himself to be a more well-rounded hitter. Basically it comes down to my belief that Pena will not be able hit .280 with 45-plus homeruns in 2008. I think his batting average will regress closer to his career average of .252. Gonzalez can flat out mash, just look at his slugging percentage of .500 or better over the past two years, which he was able to do even though he has to play half his games at cavernous Petco Park. Even when he's not hitting homeruns, Gonzalez can still help you with his batting average.

The Also-Rans
Carlos Pena was hard to keep off this list, but I just don't see him sustaining that batting average. It's more likely that he'll either strikeout, walk, or hit a homerun, two of which are not bad outcomes, but it's unlikely that he'll help your team any other way. At least Gonzalez will be able to drive in runs without relying on hitting homeruns. I know John has Milton Bradley in high regard for what he was able to do for the Padres while healthy, but he'll miss a large portion of the season to his injury suffered bizarrely last year at the hands of Bud Black. Khalil Greene has a lot of pop for a middle infielder, but that's about it; he doesn't have more overall value than Cano, Atkins, or Bedard. Jose Guillen has a lot of talent; keep an eye on where he signs next year as his home park could enhance his value, but otherwise he's still only a fringe keeper.

All in all, this is a good group of keepers, with some great studs both at the plate and on the mound. Next time I'll be back to look at Ted's Gunny Jetloves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty great, detailed analyses, especially the latest one since it's about me. Very professional except for the fact that you're forced to write "The BALLS" in it.