Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Keepers Part III

Moving on in our keepers series, let's look at the roster for Ted's Gunny Jetloves. Ted's team has a lot of aging veterans, with some stars near the top, but not too much depth to fill the team out. Before we look at which seven I think he should keep, a quick recap of our league's structure:

Our league is a 12 team, 5x5 category, Head to Head league. Each team consists of 25 players, and each manager gets to keep seven players with no restriction. There is no limit to innings pitched, so starting pitchers are devalued somewhat by constant streaming. I will be going through each team's keeper in their draft order for 2008.

Gunny Jetloves

Craig Biggio (Hou - 2B)
Casey Blake (Cle - 1B,3B,OF)
Orlando Cabrera (CWS - SS)
Chris Duffy (Pit - OF)
Jermaine Dye (CWS - OF)
Pedro Feliz (SF - 3B)
Nomar Garciaparra (LAD - 1B,3B)
Troy Glaus (Tor - 3B,SS)
Luis Gonzalez (LAD - OF)
Geoff Jenkins (Mil - OF)
Derek Jeter (NYY - SS)
Chipper Jones (Atl - 3B)
Joe Mauer (Min - C)
Magglio Ordonez (Det - OF)
Sammy Sosa (Tex - OF)
Brad Wilkerson (Tex - 1B,OF)
Dmitri Young (Was - 1B)

Bronson Arroyo (Cin - SP)
Jeff Francis (Col - SP)
Jeremy Guthrie (Bal - SP,RP)
Greg Maddux (SD - SP)
Hideki Okajima (Bos - RP)
Johan Santana (Min - SP)
Claudio Vargas (Mil - SP,RP)
Carlos Villanueva (Mil - SP,RP
Chien-Ming Wang (NYY - SP)
Jered Weaver (LAA - SP)

1. Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer ended up 6th among all catchers last year on ESPN's player rater, but he has the talent to be top three every year. Mauer's year was hurt by injuries; he appeared in only 109 games, but his numbers compare favorably to his 2005 season and it's not unimaginable that he could have broke into the double-digits for homeruns for the second year in a row. Mauer could still hit 20 homeruns some day, but for right now expect 10-15 with an average around .300. One interesting stat: Mauer hit .342 on the road last year and .248 at home.

2. Johan Santana
Johan Santana is arguably the best pitcher of the past decade. His career ERA is 3.22, and opponents have batted only .221 against him since he first came in the league. Santana is right in the middle of his prime, averaging 245 strikeouts over the past four years, and he's young enough to dominate like that for at least another three years. Santana had a rough second half in 2007, getting lit for an ERA of 4.04, but that number is skewed by a particularly bad September. Despite the high ERA, opponents only hit .236 against Santana after the break. One stat to watch: Santana gave up 33 homeruns last year, third most in the league. Still, Santana will compete in 2008 for the title of best pitcher, and he's definitely one to keep.

3. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter is often derided in fantasy circles as overrated, but while he isn't a top-five fantasy shortstop, he does provide solid value for his position. He's durable, averaging 639 atbats over the past four seasons. He provides a good batting average, can hit 15 or more home runs, has the ability to steal 15-25 stolen bases, and he scores a lot of runs by playing in a high-powered offense. Derek Jeter might not be a fantasy superstar, but he's a solid multicategorical producer.

4. Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones is someone who I consistently write off, but at the age of 35, Jones put in a season that rivaled some of his best during his prime. Jones always misses a few games each year, he's averaged 122 over the past four seasons, but when he's healthy, he produces. He's slugged close to .600 over the past two years, and even though he'll start the 2008 as a 36 year-old, there's no reason to assume he can't hit 25 or more homeruns with an batting average near .300. His numbers have no where to go but down, but it seems like he has the talent to slow the decline over the next couple of years.

5. Magglio Ordonez
Magglio Ordonez had an incredible MVP-caliber season last year. He hit .363/.434/.595 compared to his career averages of .312/.370/.522. Ordonez is highly unlikely to repeat last year's numbers, and it would be foolish to expect 30 or more homeruns, as it's been a long time since Ordonez last did that. Ordonez is getting older, but he's in a very solid lineup, especially with the addition of Miguel Cabrera, and he shouldn't feel pressed to shoulder all of the offensive burden. One hopeful sign is the patience Ordonez showed at the plate last year; his walks per plate appearance in 2007 was a career high of .112, up from .070 in 2006. Ordonez should easily hit 25 homeruns with an average around .315.

6. Jermaine Dye
Jermaine Dye had a horrible first half last year, batting .214 before the break, but he rebounded nicely in the last two months, hitting .300. He's near the end of his prime, but he does have the talent to hit 30 homeruns, though I would put that number at the high-end of my expectations for next year. His strong finish to the 2007 season hopefully signals a strong 2008; with any luck, he'll hit around .275-.280 next year. Dye is a solid second-tier outfielder and he's not a bad keeper for next year.

7. Troy Glaus
Low-average, high-power has always been Troy Glaus's calling card, but last year represented a significant drop-off in power. Glaus only played in 115 games in 2007, so he could still easily hit 30 homeruns over a full season. Glaus had a good first-half, hitting .277, but a batting average around .250 is more what you should expect. Hopefully the Blue Jays will bat him fifth, where he hit .353 in 102 at bats, as opposed to 4th, where he hit .229 in 175 at bats. There will be streaks, but Glaus is a decent source of power. His inclusion is more a statement of the talent on Ted's team than of Glaus's own.

The Also-Rans
There weren't too many other players I considered keeping. Most of the rest of Ted's hitters are aging former stars like Nomar Garciaparra, Craig Biggio, Geoff Jenkins, and Luis Gonzalez. Chien-Ming Wang is a solid source for WHIP and wins, but he doesn't provide any strikeouts. Jeff Francis is solid across the board, but he's not quite keeper worthy.

All right, time to get back to the weekend. Until next time, stay thirsty my friends.


Nathanael said...

Ben - I really like this style of analysis. Although I think you are undervaluing Ordonez. Even if he has just a career average year, those are still some pretty awesome numbers. Plus look at that line-up he will have

Ben Westrup said...

True, I may have undervalued Ordonez a bit, but only because I don't think his RBI totals will be that high, only because he hit .391 with runners on last year, and that number is bound to drop. He is in a great lineup, which I definitely think will help his numbers by keeping the pressure off him to produce. I think he'll do well, probably top 10, but I think he just misses out on top 5.

Nathanael said...

Fair enough. But even if Ordonez is "only a top 10 RBI guy," doesn't that make him more valuable than Jeter and Chipper Jones? (even factoring in positional scarcity)

Ben Westrup said...

You're definitely right. I think the confusion stems from the fact that I'm putting these players in no particular order. I'd put Ordonez above Jeter and Jones, but I just happened to write about them first.