Thursday, February 26, 2009

Almost Out Of Keepers - The Balls

As we near the finish line, let’s look at last year’s third-place finisher, The Balls.  Will they be contending for a title in 2009?  Here’s their roster.

The Balls

Garrett Atkins (Col - 1B,3B) 

Mike Aviles (KC - 2B,SS)     

Milton Bradley (ChC - OF)   

Pat Burrell (TB - OF) 

Jack Cust (Oak - OF) 

Mark DeRosa (Cle - 1B,2B,3B,OF)  

Chone Figgins (LAA - 2B,3B,OF)    

Adrián González (SD - 1B)   

Ramón Hernández (Cin - C)  

Ryan Howard (Phi - 1B)        

Carlos Quentin (CWS - OF)  

Hanley Ramírez (Fla - SS)     

Shane Victorino (Phi - OF)    

Randy Winn (SF - OF)          

Bronson Arroyo (Cin - SP)    

Erik Bedard (Sea - SP)          

Zack Greinke (KC - SP,RP)  

Trevor Hoffman (Mil - RP)    

Joe Nathan (Min - RP)           

Ricky Nolasco (Fla - SP)       

Jake Peavy (SD - SP) 

Mariano Rivera (NYY - RP)  

Matt Thornton (CWS - RP)   

Edinson Vólquez (Cin - SP)  

Adam Wainwright (StL - SP)

Chris Young (SD - SP)          

Hanley Ramirez is an easy choice, as he’s typically believed to be one of the top-two players in fantasy baseball.  He’s only 25, he has a career OPS of .906 in three seasons, and he’s averaged 45 SB in his short career.  According to his coach, Ramirez will hit primarily out of third spot this year, possibly limiting his stolen base opportunities but increasing his RBI chances.  Ramirez will give The Balls another elite season.

Ryan Howard is not the first-round fantasy hitter that he was during his MVP season in 2006, mainly because it doesn’t look like he will ever help you in batting average, but his power keeps him among the elite first basemen in the league.  Howard has averaged 51 HR in the last three seasons, and he should come close to hitting 50 again this year.  Howard is surrounded by a strong offense, so he’ll have a lot of opportunities to score and drive in runs.

Carlos Quentin was one of Arizona’s best prospects, but he was never able to put things together until he was traded to the White Sox, where he put together a great year until he missed all of September because of a fractured wrist.  Quentin might lose some power because of last year’s wrist injury, but he should be able to repeat his other stats from last year.

The Padres tried to dump his contract during the offseason, but that doesn’t mean you should think about getting rid of Jake Peavy.  Peavy missed some time last year with an elbow injury, but he pitched great when healthy, and he’s been an elite talent for the past few years.  If Peavy can bring last year’s K/9 rate up to his career numbers, he’ll be in for another great season.

Adrian Gonzalez is another Padre, but unlike Peavy, playing at Petco doesn’t help his value.  Gonzalez has put up solid power numbers since joining the Padres, but most of his best work is done on the road, where his OPS is over .100 points higher than at home.  He’s only 26 and he had his most homers yet for the Padres last year, so there’s hope that we might one day see him hit 40 HR in a season.  Even if it’s not this year, expect another 30 HR season from Gonzalez.

Shane Victorino might not ever be a 20/20 player, but there’s nothing wrong with being a 15/30 player.  Victorino will give you close to 100 Runs and an average around .290, but the steals are where he gets most of his value.  Not a bad outfielder to have, he’s being drafted in the 8th round on average over at ESPN. 

For the final pick, I’m going to eschew my normal guidelines and take Joe Nathan, a closer.  I took Joe Nathan instead of guys like Chone Figgins and Garrett Atkins because I feel he gives you the best value.  Nathan has never had less than 36 Saves in a season, and he rarely walks anyone, giving your team a good WHIP and ERA.  Nathan’s K/9 rate has been dropping from its formerly elite levels over the past couple of years, but he still strikes out a batter per inning which is more than closers such as Huston Street, Joakim Soria, and Matt Capps did last year.  I think Nathan is the guy to go with here.

As far as Figgins and Atkins go, I like Atkins better, but I’m not sold on Atkins ever developing the power that you want from a corner infielder.  Don’t be seduced by Figgins’ steals totals over the past few seasons; he will not give you much of anything else.  This team already has Ramirez and Victorino, so they should be fine with the speed they have going into the draft.  Figgins has been running less over the past couple of years because of injuries, but don’t expect him to suddenly steal 45 bases this year.

All right, just one more team to go, last year’s champion Macafeys.  I hope to get to their keepers next week, and then once everyone submits their 2009 keepers, I will do a short rundown of the top 3.  


John said...

Yeah, wouldn't change any of those. Wish I still had Pujols though...

Micah said...

Dude, you caaan't keep Victorino. Its just too big of a conflict of interests. Do you really want to root for this guy

Keep Atkins.

Ben Westrup said...

Yeah, what was that trade last year that you did? Didn't it involve Howard and Cano?