Wednesday, April 08, 2009

It's Just a Fantasy...2009, Part II

The 2009 MLB season is now just about three days in. At this point I'd like to point out to the many overly anxious fantasy owners out there that there is still about 160 or so more games to play in the season so you should temper your expectations (whether positive or negative) based on this extremely small data sample. This goes out especially to all those gun jumping owners who are currently extrapolating Marlins 2B Emilio Bonifacio's current prolific output for the rest of the season. Seeing as how the season, however, is well underway I figured I'd better get the rundown of my second fantasy baseball team in before the selections lose their optimism and start to look foolish. Lets take a look at last year's team:

League: Ah Me Gusta Beisbol
My Team: Team Korea All Stars
Draft order: 11th pick out of 12
Previous Year's Rank: 6th out of 10

Although my team enjoyed a brief stint in first place at the midway point of the season last year, by the end of September they had totally run out of gas to finish in the bottom half of the standings. Looking back, the team had a solid offensive core but was done in by injuries and poor second half performances by basically the entire pitching staff (Carlos Zambrano, John Smoltz, Kelvim Escobar, John Maine, Chad Cordero, Oliver Perez, Bronson Arroyo). To go with the super obvious sports talk radio expert answer: had it not been for those rash of second half injuries and ineffectiveness, there was a good chance I would have finished first. With an additional two teams added the the league this year, I'll have to dig a little deeper for quality, consistent, talent:

Rd1. Jimmy Rollins SS - For the second year in a row, J-Roll becomes my first pick of the draft. It isn't all that surprising given the fact that I got slotted in the same second to last pick position I had last year (although that was 9 out of 10 while this year it was 11 out of 12). His injury hobbled post MVP campaign last year may have been a general disappointment, but he's still a top tier option in a scarce position. While, doubtful he'll put up number similar to his MVP year again, he's still effective when healthy and still steals a ton of bases, which is always fantasy gold.

Rd2. Evan Longoria 3B - Last year I picked rookie of year winning, superstar third baseman Ryan Braun; this year I picked rookie of the year winning, superstar third baseman Evan Longoria. Braun came through on his high expectations for his sophomore year and I expect Longoria to be as productive as well. Some sources at the beginning of the year tag him as a dark horse MVP candidate, so I've got high expectations about him overall.

Rd3. Brandon Webb SP - As last season and many previous fantasy seasons will attest to, I have a knack for picking pitchers that promptly get injured or suddenly lose their talent for the upcoming season. Webb has been one of the most consistent and dependable fantasy starters over the past three years. I chose him because I wanted a stone cold ace who I could just plug into the starter's position and never worry about for the rest of the year. This is why I am not overly concerned that he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings on his first start Monday. Oh he's missing his next start? No worries there either.

Rd4. Kevin Youkilis 1B - Youks put up some major MVP-like numbers last year. Although I wonder if he'll be able to repeat those career numbers this year, I'm pretty confident that he'll still produce enough to be a big contributor to the team. In retrospect I would have liked a little bit more power coming from my 1B position though.

Rd5. Matt Holliday OF - A top ten fantasy pick last, but a disappointingly unproductive season and a trade away from the hitter friendly thin air of Coors Field plummets his value to the fifth round. His home/away split stats in Colorado seem back up this assumption, but I still think he will maintain his stellar average and still be capable reaching the 30 hr/100 rbi plateau.

Rd6. Joe Mauer C - Picking up a catcher in the 6th may be a bit early, but it's actually more restrained then last year when I took Russell Martin in the 4th round. I sort of think Mauer's a tad overrated, but I can't deny he'll give me a major boost in the batting average category from a position that normally is poison to it. Of course this is all when he comes back from his stint on the DL for back problems.

Rd7. Cliff Lee SP - For all those people who thought Cliff's amazing, out of nowhere, Cy Young winning season last year was the fluke of a lifetime, his opening day start seems to indicate that they were totally right. However it is of course only one game and while I can't expect him to repeat last season, I still think he'll end up being a solid number 2 starter.

Rd8. Bobby Abreu OF - Sure he's getting a bit long in the tooth and his home run power has notoriously dipped since his famous home run derby win in 2005, but the man is still a five category roto machine. In that quality Angels line up, I expect another productive year from him.

Rd9. Matt Capps RP - Ah Matt Capps, the patron saint of second tier closers. When he comes off the board, you know you better start scrambling for the remaining closers left. As terrible as the Pirates are, they'll still win plenty of savable games, and Capps is dependably entrenched as the starting closer. I could have done better but I also could have done a lot worse.

Rd10. Carlos Zambrano SP - Once again I turn to probably my favorite fantasy pitcher, the rock steady Zambrano. What more can I say then I wish I had five Carlos Zambranos starting for me.

Rd11. Brian Wilson RP - What second tier closing tandem is complete without the addition of Brian Wilson? I actually had to pick him up two rounds higher than in my previous draft due to an early rush on closers. I'm obviously just looking for quantity of saves rather than quality.

Rd12. Andre Either OF - Yet another repeat from my first team. What can I say, every year you end up drafting a handful of the same players either due to similar circumstances or some personal favoritism. I for one am exited for the young OF and expect a breakout year from him.

Rd13. Zack Greinke SP - Did I mention I ended up with a a lot of repeats in this draft from the first draft?

Rd14. Adrian Beltre 3B - I feel sorry for Adrian Beltre. The man is forever haunted by the one straight up monster year he had in 2004. Every year since then has been a disappointment by comparison, despite the fact that they have been consistent to better than his career averages. They're steady, good numbers but nowhere near 2004. Of course he totally cashed in on that 2004 season when he signed his lucrative long term deal with the Mariners, so I guess I should really feel bad for the Mariners.

Rd15. Chien-Ming Wang SP - Wang's a great pitcher in reality but, in the realm of fantasy, his meager strikeout numbers and decent ERA and WHIP make him a merely good pitcher. He really only provides superb numbers in one pitching category: wins. Everybody loves wins.

Rd16. Ted Lilly SP - Deja vu?

Rd17. Brad Hawpe OF - He's a solid back up OF option. It also helps that he plays for the Rockies and he has demonstrated in the past (2007) that he was capable of elite fantasy numbers. While it remains to be seen if he could reach those numbers again, he's still a good hitter.

Rd18. Kazuo Matsui 2B - Unfortunately I waited just a bit too long to draft Jose Lopez as my 2B in the later rounds of the draft so I got stuck with Kaz Mat. It's a pretty bad situation, I may have to turn to trading to remedy it. For now, I'll have to plug in him and hope that he stays relatively healthy and continues to steal bases.

Rd19. Troy Glaus 3B - Definitely not as useful as he used to be when he qualified for SS and was taking steroids. The guy had 27 hrs and 99 rbis last year, yet he's totally relegated to late round bench fodder.

Rd20. John Smoltz SP - Just like my first team, I took another chance on Smoltz again during the late rounds. However at the time, there was no news that he wouldn't be ready to pitch until June. He's chilling in the DL slot for now but I may have to drop him.

Rd21. Fausto Carmona SP - Sort of a less consistent version of Chien-Ming Wang, not really sure what I'll do with him. Last year was trash, but I took a flyer on the assumption that he might be alternating good odd year seasons with bad even year seasons like Brett Saberhagen in the 80s.

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