Friday, March 7, 2008

Keepers Part X

We move now to our second-place finisher in 2007, the Macafeys. Managed by Tim Ledoux, the Macafeys finished first in the regular season due to a impressive collection of speed and power, solid relief pitching, and a heavy reliance on streaming. The Macafeys ultimately lost in the championship round, but the abundance of talented young players on their roster should again make them competitive in 2008. Let's take a look.

As always:
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.

The Macafeys

The Hitters
Billy Butler (KC - 1B,OF)
Adam Dunn (Cin - OF)
Alex Gordon (KC - 1B,3B)
Brad Hawpe (Col - OF)
Ian Kinsler (Tex - 2B)
Derrek Lee (ChC - 1B)
Wily Mo Peña (Was - OF)
Mark Reynolds (Ari - 3B)
Jimmy Rollins (Phi - SS)
Álex Ríos (Tor - OF)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Tex - C,1B)
B.J. Upton (TB - 2B,3B,OF)
David Wright (NYM - 3B)
Kevin Youkilis (Bos - 1B,3B,OF)

The Pitchers
Homer Bailey (Cin - SP)
Chad Cordero (Was - RP)
Kevin Gregg (Fla - SP,RP)
Trevor Hoffman (SD - RP)
Kei Igawa (NYY - SP)
Aaron Laffey (Cle - SP)
Brandon McCarthy (Tex - SP,RP)
Joe Nathan (Min - RP)
Jeff Suppan (Mil - SP)
Brett Tomko (KC - SP,RP)
Barry Zito (SF - SP)

The Keepers

1. David Wright
If it wasn’t for a certain 2007 AL MVP, David Wright would be the best third baseman in baseball. As it is, being number two is not a bad place to be, especially if you’re also considered one of the top three hitters in fantasy baseball. Wright went 30/30 in 2007, one of only three players to do so last year, and the only third baseman of that elite group. Wright provides great production in all five categories, rare for a corner position, and he’s still yet to reach his prime. He’s even shown the ability to increase his understanding of the strike zone, as shown by his career-high 94 walks last season. Wright should flirt with another 30/30 season in 2008, and he’ll finish the season as one of the top-five fantasy hitters in the MLB.

2. Jimmy Rollins
Shrewd drafting over the past couple of years as allowed Tim to acquire two first-round keepers in their primes. Jimmy Rollins is a top-three shortstop who also went 30/30 last year. He proved that the 25 HR he hit in 2006 were no fluke, topping that number with a career-high 30 HR last year. Rollins’ power growth as arrived over the past two years, but he’s always been a great base-stealer, averaging 35 steals a year since his rookie season, topping 40 three times. Rollins took a while to get going last year, hitting .250 and going homerless in May, but he hit .310 the rest of the way to win the NL MVP award. Rollins plays in a favorable ballpark, and bats leadoff for a powerful lineup, so a 130 runs scored should again be achievable. Even if his power regresses, he’ll still provide 20+ HR with 35-40 SB, and I believe that this is the year he hits .300. Another solid 5-category producer.

3. B.J. Upton
Continuing a trend of infielders with power and speed, B.J. Upton is another young player with 25/25 potential. I don’t think his .300 BA in 2007 was for real and I do expect BA regression in 2008. Upton struck out once every 3.08 at bats in 2007, by far the most frequent rate among .300 or better hitters last year. Upton cannot sustain that high of a batting average unless he cuts down on his strikeouts. I think an average around .275-.280 is more likely. Upton is a star in the making, but he did appear to become overmatched as the season went on, hitting .260 and striking out 69 times in 205 at bats from August to September. Expect him to take a step back in 2008, but the power and speed is for real, he will only need some experience before he can improve upon his 2007 numbers.

4. Alex Rios
I’m already jealous of the talent that Tim has accumulated with his first four keepers, as each of these hitters provides, at the very least, four-category production. Alex Rios has long tantalized fantasy owners with his 20/20 upside. He’s never matched his potential, mainly due to the fact that he tends to wear down over the course of the season, only exceeding 481 at bats once in his career. Last season he appeared in 161 games, hitting .297/24/85/17, and it’s this kind of production that makes me think he’ll be a top-15 outfielder in fantasy baseball. Heck, if it all falls together for him, he could be top-10, but I’m not expecting it. Rios needs to improve his numbers against right-handed pitching if he wants to be a .300 hitter. I don’t think he’ll improve that much on his 2007 numbers, but even if he doesn’t, he’s still a solid contributor in nearly all areas.

5. Adam Dunn
By now we all know what to expect from Adam Dunn; he’s a durable player who swings for the fences, providing you with a low batting average and a high number of home runs. Over the past four years, Dunn has averaged 158 games played, 41 home runs, and a .250 batting average. Tim already has a few guys on his team who hit for a high average, so he can afford the effects of Dunn’s poor batting average in order to reap the benefits of his power. With the benefit of a favorable home stadium, Dunn should continue to mash, and his power will place him among the top-20 outfielders. Of course, Tim wouldn’t have Dunn if I hadn’t traded him for Morgan Ensberg in 2006, right before Ensberg took a dive in the second half, crapping all over my season. Let’s move on.

6. Derek Lee
Derek Lee is getting older, and last year was a bit disappointing for those expecting his fourth 30 HR season, but Lee is still a top-ten first baseman for 2008. As long as he’s healthy, he should be good for 25 home runs and a .300 average. I don’t see him reaching double-digits in steals, but he could be good for 8. What gives me hope for a power resurgence for Lee is that he got better as the year went on, with 16 of his 22 home runs coming after June. What doesn’t give me hope is that he’s not hitting as many fly balls as he once did. Lee still has the power to hit 30 HR, but he can’t do it if he doesn’t hit the ball in the air. I’m still confident that he has another top-ten first baseman season in him, so go ahead and keep him.

7. Alex Gordon
Alex Gordon was another player who disappointed fantasy owners in 2007, as the “fabled heir” to George Brett ended up playing like just another rookie. Expectations aside, if we judge Gordon’s season on its own merits, 60/.247/15/60/14 is quite respectable for a 23-year old facing his first major league competition. AJ Mass at recently discussed how the hype surrounding Alex Gordon skews our perception of his final 2007 stats. As for me, I know that Tim already has two good corner infield options, but I say you have to take another chance on Gordon, if only because he could be one of the few 1B/3B eligible players to go 20/20 this season. It might take some time for him to get that batting average up to a respectable area, but the power and speed are there. Gordon has enough upside to justify taking the CI spot on Tim’s roster.

The Also-Rans
Tim has a couple players that could be kept instead of Gordon, but I like his upside too much to recommend them over him. Brad Hawpe showed continued power growth in 2008, hitting 29 HR in just 516 at bats, but I think he’ll have trouble hitting .290 again if he continues to struggle so badly against left-handers (.224 against them over the past three years). I think he’ll be a solid outfield option, but there’s enough outfield depth that Tim can afford to pass on him. Ian Kinsler is another guy who went 20/20 in 2007 (geez Tim, how many of those guys did you have last year?), but I don’t think he does it again next year. His power really left him in the second half last year, only six home runs, though he did miss most of July due to injury. He does provide a good combination of power and speed, but his inability to hit right-handers keeps his average down, and besides, Tim already has a 2B-eligible Upton on his squad. There’s a quartet of closers that Tim has the option to keep, but Joe Nathan is the only one I would consider keeping, and I wouldn’t take him over Alex Gordon. Nathan’s averaged 40 saves and 88 strikeouts over the past four years that he’s been Minnesota’s closer, so he’s definitely valuable, but there will be many closers available in our draft, so Tim should do fine without Nathan. Trevor Hoffman is still a good closer, but he’s older and getting more unreliable every year. Kevin Gregg was a surprise closer last year for the Marlins, but he still doesn’t have the job security needed for a closer to be deemed keeper-worthy. Chad Cordero is another closer whose skills have been slipping, as his K/BB rate has steadily decreased over the past three seasons; he could find himself traded or passed over for another option like Jon Rauch. Billy Butler has the skills to hit .300 this year, but he hasn’t displayed much in the way of power yet, and Kansas City is not necessarily the best place to find Runs and RBI. He has value, but wait until the later rounds to get him. Kevin Youkilis will give you a good average, okay power, and a good amount of Runs, but Tim already has his corner infield spots locked up, so he’s redundant.

Tim, you have a very impressive collection of players with both power and speed. Four top-50 players in a 12-team league is an excellent base to start from. I think Tim could be the team to beat in 2008.

All right, one more team to go. Hopefully by Sunday I’ll have posted my look at Nate’s team and will have finished my series of keeper analysis for each team in my league.


Jonathan B said...

One more to go??!!?!?!? Can't overlook Adrians!

Anonymous said...

i will now admit to voting for albert pujols 3 times on your last poll. not sure who ended up winning...