Archive for December, 2009

Wednesday: 12.23.2009

2010 Focus: Kevin Slowey

One of my favorite pitchers coming into 2009, Slowey was cut down after just 91 innings with a strained right wrist that eventually required surgery and ended his season on July 3rd. Though known for his remarkable control, Slowey isn’t a junkballer who gets by strictly on that control. He has maintained an above average strikeout rate since coming into the league in 2007 and it has steadily improved year over year. He went from 6.3 in 67 innings in 2007 to 6.9 in 160 innings in 2008 to a very healthy 7.4 last year. All the while keeping his BB/9 in the 1.3 to 1.5 range. That is sheer brilliance. To wit, only Joel Pineiro (1.1) and Roy Halladay (1.3) were sharper in 2009 amongst pitchers with at least as many innings as Slowey (1.5). In 2008, nobody bested Slowey’s 1.35 mark. It was moved out two decimal places because Cliff Lee (1.37), Mike Mussina (1.39) and Greg Maddux (1.39) were close. And in 2007, even with keeping the innings threshold in line with Slowey’s total (67), he finished 7th at 1.5.

He is expected to be ready to go by the start of Spring Training and I expect him to pick up where he left off and make good on the breakout promise he has shown thus far. He will be 26 years old shortly after the season begins (May 4th to be exact) and I believe he has another level to be reached in his game. It will all hinge upon his ability to keep the ball in the yard. Slowey is a severe flyball pitcher which thus far stands as the lone fly in his ointment (see what I did there?). It has led to ugly HR/9 rates ranging from 1.2 (in 2008 during his best season) to 2.2 (in 2007 which led to a 4.76 ERA). Last year, despite a brilliant 5.0 K/BB ratio, he was saddled with a career-worst 4.86 ERA because of a 1.5 HR/9.

The potential downside of the laser-like control displayed by Slowey is the fact that the ball is almost always over the plate. That means the ball will be hit, often. Where it goes determines the pitcher’s success. The perfect storm is pinpoint control and a high groundball rate to match. That leads to something resembling Pineiro’s excellent 2009 season in which he had a 3.49 ERA and 1.14 WHIP thanks to a 60% GB rate accompanying his aforementioned league-best BB/9 of 1.1. Imagine if he had the strikeout rate of Slowey, he’d have been nearly untouchable.

I don’t expect Slowey to all of a sudden induce groundballs at that kind of eye-popping clip. Heck, no one expected Pineiro to either as it was an 11% increase on the rate he had produced in the two years previous. Right now, Slowey is averaging around 33% each year. In order to have the kind of staff-leading season his K/BB suggests he can have, he will need to get that up to at least 40% if not closer to 45%. In the absence of such a rise, he will need to dramatically cut his HR/9. It can be done. Jered Weaver has shown as much with a flyball rate nearly identical to Slowey’s, but a HR/9 consistently at 1.0. Of course Weaver does this by defying the generally accepted norm of 10% HR/fb rate. He has held steady at 8% for virtually his entire career. Slowey can learn from what Weaver is doing should he not be able to correct his flyball ways instead.

For now, I strongly advise you pay for 2008 as your ceiling (3.99 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, nearly 7.0 K/9) while knowing that hidden value may be on the horizon in the form of an improved groundball rate which could easily lop as much as 0.50 off of his ERA giving you an ace-like pitcher at #2 or even #3 cost, depending on how your league values injury comebacks. Go the extra dollar to secure his services and your WHIP will thank you mightily.

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Tuesday: 12.22.2009

Javy Vazquez to NY: The Fantasy Impact

Twitter is blowing up with 140-character chunks of analysis on the latest Yankees trade which netted them Javier Vazquez for the Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn and Arodys Vizciano. Instead of focusing on who won or lost the deal (consensus is the Braves were slaughtered, but I’m not entirely sure), let’s look at the fantasy baseball impact of the move.

In early November, I published the first edition of my top 60 starting pitchers for 2010. It was a first run that has already undergone serious changes (I had forgotten about Jordan Zimmerman‘s Tommy John Surgery for one thing) and this trade will affect yet another big change. I rated Vazquez 9th in between Josh Beckett and Jake Peavy. I loved him as an ace based not only on his excellent 2009 season, but also the elite skills displayed each of the four years prior to 2009. In those four seasons he struck out 8.4 per nine while walking just 2.3, but he was saddled with a 4.41 ERA and a sub-.500 record (49-51). I expect the skills to remain strong, but I’d be blown away if he managed an ERA anywhere near his 2009 mark. He has a 4.02 ERA in 1664 National League innings, but a 4.52 ERA in 826 American League innings.

Vazquez is going to move down my list a healthy bit with his move to New York. If you’re looking for specifics on his numbers, I’d project at least an ERA of 4.20 and a WHIP slightly above his career level of 1.25. The biggest problem will be the rise in HR/9. He was at a sparkling 0.8 last year, but 1.5 during his first tour in New York. If he’s at 1.5 again in 2010, the 4.20 ERA might be way off. Look for at least a 1.2 mark, which would be at least 10 more home runs if he kept his 2009 inning count intact.

He will still crack the top 60 of course, but he doesn’t stand a chance at being in the top 15 first tier in the next SP list update.

Wednesday: 12.16.2009

Best Tool Ever!

In part 1 of the third basemen rankings, I tried out something I saw mentioned on Twitter last week. Now I don’t remember who asked about this feature nor who answered the inquiry to lead me to this wondrous tool so I can’t dole out proper credit, but I absolutely love this and it’s a must for baseball writers on the internet.

It’s called Player Linker from the good people at FanGraphs.com. You take your body of text and put into the box, hit Link Players Now! and BOOM, you’re linked!! You also have a few options including whether to open the player page in a new browser, whether to link the player’s name just once or throughout and something called THT Tag which I’m unclear about.

Big A+ from the folks at FanGraphs!!! And thanks to whomever I’m following on Twitter that pointed me in the direction of this remarkable tool.

Tuesday: 12.15.2009

2010 Third Basemen: 18-34 & Others

The long promised tour around the diamond is finally beginning! I severely underestimated how busy work would be as the holidays approached. I’m in a different role than I was this time last year so I didn’t really know what to expect. Then a stint on the DL this weekend backed up this piece and the shortstops one. Don’t worry though, there will be plenty of content throughout December, January, February and March. Without further ado, let’s start the 2010 rankings:

I arduously debated how I was going to do this list before finally settling on what you’re about to read. I’m not sure the rest of the infield will be like this or not, but this is how I’m going to run with the hot corner. The goal, for me, is to write about enough players at a position without going overboard. The problem is that I’m not great at writing just a little bit about guys, but at the same time there are a group of players that simply don’t need 1,000 words written about them for the upcoming season. So I’ve put together a list of 47 players eligible for third base. The first group of 13 is what I’ll call the Clearance Bin. They won’t be drafted in a lot of leagues, and they will last deep into the draft of the leagues they will be selected in, but they have some value. The remaining 34 will be split into two groups of 17 with the first group (18-34) holding a level of upside that will merit drafting in most leagues depending on the various structures.

Clearance Bin (listed alphabetically)

Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates – His value in keeper leagues is much different than it is in one-year leagues. He hasn’t hit AAA yet so even if he does come up in 2010, it likely won’t be until after the All-Star Break.

Geoff Blum, Houston Astros – He’s 37 years old with a little pop in his bat, but not much else. The Astros are seeking a better option at third base which will only crush Blum’s miniscule value into complete oblivion.

Emilio Bonifacio, Florida Marlins – Looking at his batting average from Opening Day throughout May looks like the Dow as it steadily dwindles from .800 to .269 by month’s end. He set the fantasy world afire those first few weeks, but many saw him for the fraud he was pretty quickly. He’s cheap speed who will likely be picked up repeatedly throughout the season for those looking to pick up a quick base or two.

Pedro Feliz, Free Agent – He just watched the Phillies sign his replacement in Placido Polanco, but he won’t go unemployed given his strong defense and capable bat. As of right now, the Astros, Orioles and Twins have all been rumored to be interested. (The Astros have since signed Feliz.)

Josh Fields, Kansas City Royals – After a 23 HR debut back in 2007, Fields has disappointed in the two seasons since and now he finds himself with a change of scenery. He’s blocked by Alex Gordon, but Gordon hasn’t exactly been the model of health nor played up to expectations so Fields could get some time. He is still just 27 (on December 14th), but it remains to be seen if he can recapture the power stroke he displayed in 2007.

Mike Fontenot, Chicago Cubs – After a strong 243 at-bat sample in 2008, Fontenot was projected to build on that success in 2009, but instead fell flat on his face barely matching his counting stats in 130 more at-bats while dropping his average from .305 to .236. Now he enters 2010 as a 29-year old utility man, whose playing time is uncertain as the Cubs will no doubt be among the movers & shakers during the offseason.

Jake Fox, Oakland A’s – Fox hit the radar last year by hitting .409 and 17 home runs in 194 minor league at-bats prior to reaching the majors. He didn’t quite bring that kind of average and power to majors hitting .259 with 11 home runs. The playing time will be available in Oakland, but we all know how offense gets sapped in that park, too. As a guy with 20 home run potential, he just missed the cut into the Clearance Bin, but for now here is where he resides.

Mat Gamel, Milwaukee Brewers – Gamel is a big time power prospect who got his first taste in the majors last year, but didn’t do a whole lot. The emergence of Casey McGeehee and return of Rickie Weeks could relegate Gamel to bench duty, especially since he is atrocious in the field.

Troy Glaus, Free Agent – He’s 33, coming off of a lost season, injury prone and jobless. I don’t think he will remain jobless, but betting on a 2008 repeat (.270 AVG, 27 HR, 99 RBI) is a very risky proposition. He could easily make the top 34 once his 2010 destination is known, for now he’s a non-factor in most formats.

Jerry Hairston Jr., New York Yankees – A veritable fantasy baseball Swiss Army Knife, Hairston can play several positions, but that’s about the extent of his value. He’s never going to be an everyday player, but he can be a stopgap capable of running a bit.

Bill Hall, Seattle Mariners – With Chone Figgins aboard, Hall is really going to struggle for at-bats. It doesn’t help that he was completely awful in 2009 hitting just .201 in 334 at-bats with eight home runs. His 35 home run season back in 2006 seems eons away at this point.

Adam Kennedy, Free Agent – A career resurgence at age 33 should get Kennedy signed this offseason, but there is absolutely no reason to bet on a 2009 repeat. Seriously, no reason.

Ty Wigginton, Baltimore Orioles – He snapped his streak of 20 home run seasons in 2009, but it wasn’t because a lack of playing time. He actually had more at-bats than he had in 2008 when he hit 23 home runs. At 32, he’s not old by any stretch and he should get work in Baltimore as they wait for Josh Bell.

Third Basemen 18-34
34. Garrett Atkins, Free Agent – Atkins was, not surprisingly, cut loose by the Rockies after an abysmal 2009 season. He barely made the cut into the rankings because despite how awful he was last year (.226/.308/.342 in 354 AB), he was one RBI short of three straight 20+/100+ seasons from 2006-2008. Of course even that performance is looked at skeptically because of how disparate his home/road splits were for the latter two years of the stretch (OPS in 2007 H-.936/R-.773; 2008 H-.904/R-.661). I think Baltimore would be a nice destination for him where he could be a usable part in AL-Only leagues with a mid-teen home run total and low 60s RBI total. Think Stephen Drew of 2009, but that’s a ceiling at this point so Atkins still has plenty to prove.

33. Brandon Wood, Los Angeles Angels – The Angels hate Brandon Wood. Don’t ask me why, but it is quite clear that they do. Even with Figgins in Seattle, the depth chart shows Maicer Izturis as the starting third baseman. Despite three straight big seasons in AAA, he can’t get a legitimate shot at the big league level. He has posted a .287/.353/.548 line in 313 AAA games with 76 home runs and 233 RBIs while playing strong defense at shortstop and third base, yet the Angels seem entirely disinterested in using him. His best bet would be to get moved to a team that would actually use him, but in the interim he’s potential-laden 25 year old waiting for a break.

32. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays – An injury-riddled 2009 saw EE shift from the Reds to the Blue Jays at the trading deadline where he was a little better, but still below average. He has shown the skills of a middle (5-6-7) of the lineup run producer at different times from 2006 to 2008. He looks to be capable of hitting for power, taking walks and managing a strong batting average, but can he put it all together for 600 plate appearances, a mark he has yet to reach in his career. He is in the midst of his prime and he will get every opportunity to succeed with the Jays. He sets up as a decent sleeper whether in a mixed league or AL-Only.

31. Juan Uribe, Free Agent –There is a market for third basemen this year so on the heels of a very strong 2009, Uribe will be picked up by some team despite three sub-.300 OBP seasons in row prior to last year. He has got pop in his bat and plays solid defense, which is essentially the prototype for a third baseman once you get past the game-changers.

30. Brett Wallace, Oakland A’s – Wallace earned this ranking because he has the best shot at a full-time job. A strong 32-game stint (.281/.403/.438) at AA Springfield in the Cardinals organization earned him a promotion to AAA Memphis where he was solid, if unspectacular (.293/.346/.423) in 62 games before being the centerpiece return for Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal. His 44 games in Sacramento (.302/.365/.505) proved to be his most complete stop of the season. Combining it all, he notched 600 plate appearances and posted a .293/.367/.455 line with 20 home runs and 63 RBIs in 138 games. Eric Chavez just isn’t a legitimate roadblock keeping Wallace in AAA so as long as GM Billy Beane thinks his 443 plate appearances proved enough, he should start the season at third. I wouldn’t expect anything higher than .293-20-63 across a full season of work as he will have rookie struggles while playing in an atrocious park for hitters.

29. Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies – Technically he won’t qualify here until he plays 20 games at the hot corner to open the season. Regardless of that fact, he will be drafted as a second baseman and likely stay there for his owner’s team for the duration of the season. With 10 home runs last year and a career high of 17 (set back in 2004 with the Phillies), he just doesn’t have enough power to stick at third base in fantasy baseball. However, since the position is so Mary-Kate Olsen thin, I’m still listing him because there will probably be some owners who get in a situation where they need Polanco there or even perhaps at corner infield. You should draft him as a second baseman and then enjoy his flexibility throughout the season as you deal with injuries or engage various trades. If you enter the 2010 season with him as your #1 third base option, you’d better be excellent everywhere else or you did something wrong.

28. Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds – You can ask me why the Reds traded a 27-year old injury-prone third baseman for a 35-year old injury-prone third baseman, but that doesn’t mean I have an answer. After a career year in 2004 in which he still only played 142 games and snapped a stretch of three straight seasons over 150 games, he played just 56 in 2005. He bounced back with 142 in 2006 giving him five out of six seasons with 142+ games and 593+ plate appearances. That said, he was past 30 and injuries once again became a big part of who he was. An injury-marred 2007 saw his lowest slugging percentage ever at .398 as he managed just 112 games. Things didn’t get much better in 2008 when he played 115 and posted another uncharacteristically low SLG (.431). He missed 34 games last year, but hit .305 with solid runs scored and driven totals despite another meager power output (11 home runs). He will be 35 right around Opening Day and the injury history is too blatant to ignore despite the potential to be a valuable fantasy asset. He’s nothing more than an NL-Only option on draft day.

27. Andy LaRoche, Pittsburgh Pirates – LaRoche went through an up-and-down 2009 season mixing in two great months with four awful ones leaving him with a .258/.330/.401 line to show for it. With Pedro Alvarez breathing down his neck, the pressure is on to start producing at the level of his minor league tenure: .295/.382/.517 with 95 home runs, 333 RBI and 346 R in 1800 at-bats from 2003-2008. The biggest thing in LaRoche’s favor is that Alvarez has yet to take a swing in AAA, so he will be in Indianapolis for at least two months. But if he tears that league up like he did AA (.333/.419/.590 with 13 HR in 258 PA) and LaRoche struggles, then LaRoche could be in trouble. With Akinori Iwamura brought in to man second base and Garrett Jones and Steven Pearce holding down first base, there aren’t any alternatives for LaRoche right now.

26. Mark Teahen, Chicago White Sox – Teahen is essentially at the ceiling I gave Atkins with additional speed positional flexibility. He is never going to make or break your season unless you play in a 15-team AL Central Only league, then and only then could he become an elite force. Use 2008 and 2009 as a guide and hope he can recapture his 2006-2007 batting average.

25. Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers – This was virtually a carbon copy of his 2006 breakout except he had a sparkling first half, good enough for an All-Star nod, followed by a putrid second half and 2006 was the reverse. And he played through injuries throughout the second half which really took their toll on his performance at the dish. There was many instances when I was watching him gut it out that I respected the effort, but saw him as a detriment to my Tigers because he just had nothing left in his legs. Assuming full health in 2010, he has high teens power with low 70s RBI capability, but he will always be a drain on the batting average or on-base percentage, depending on league parameters. Don’t bid with 25+ HR power in mind, it takes too much going abnormally right for it to happen consistently for him.

24. Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers – Journeyman minor league castoff latches on with division rival and enjoys a breakout season reaching new heights in many statistical categories. It’s a great story, but it’s incomplete and I have a feeling that Brewers fans might not like the dénouement. At 27, it’s unreasonable to project more growth from McGehee. In fact, projecting anything but regression seems foolish. I think he would be lucky to match his 2009 counting stat totals even with 200 additional PA (from 394 to a round 600). At this point, it remains unclear if he will even be an everyday player with Rickie Weeks back and Mat Gamel looming. Let someone else have this Cinderella story play out on their team because midnight is right around the corner and could hit before Memorial Day of 2010.

23. Mark DeRosa, Free Agent – Though teamless right now, it isn’t because a lack of interest in the veteran utility man. After smashing a career-high 21 home runs in 2008 (previous high was 13 in 2006), DeRosa’s approach went out the window as he seemed set on being a power hitter. Sure, he set a new career high with 23 home runs, but his average plummeted from the 2006-2008 mark of .291 down to .250. I would bet on more of the same in 2010 , but you can do much worse than 75-20-75 with an average around .260-.265 at third base.

22. Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves – Prado is another guy who is eligible at third base, but offers the most value at second base. He will also enter 2010 with first base eligibility making him a daily transaction owner’s dream. He showed signs of his breakout in limited work during 2008 when he posted a .320/.377/.461 line in 254 PA which is nearly identical to his 2009 work of .307/.358/.464 in 503 PA. He’s a great #2 hitter, which is where he saw most of work, but he was a Swiss Army Knife in the lineup too batting everywhere but first throughout the season. The power, though still modest, is a new wrinkle to his game so I wouldn’t bet on a spike even going into his age 26 season, but he can be a very useful player somewhere in the neighborhood of .300-80-10-60 with three position eligibility and a chance to add outfield during the season.

21. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals – Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me until you retire because I refuse to give up on you, that is love, not shame. Though he hasn’t progressed as rapidly as many expected or hoped, he is still just 26 years old (or will be in February of 2010) and played just 130 games at AA as his only minor league experience before reaching the majors. He should have been tearing up Omaha for at least a season and a half when he was racking up 1171 big league plate appearances. And he showed marked improvements from years one to two. Last year was a throwaway lost to injury, but it was good that he got two months worth of action to close out the season so that Opening Day 2010 wasn’t his foray back into the mix after hip surgery. This year is definitely put up or shut up, but I think he puts together a fine .275-80-20-80-10 season at a great bargain price as a post-hype sleeper.

20. Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox (for now) – The word about town is that Lowell is headed to Texas, but he will have to pass a physical first. Anyone who knows anything about Lowell knows that that won’t be easy. I’m willing to be he is in the Opening Day lineup for a team in April (barring a Spring Training injury) and he’s bound to put up season similar to the one he’s up two years in a row: 55 runs, 17 home runs, 75 RBIs, solid to good batting average in fewer than 450 at-bats. Set that as your ceiling and take any at-bats above that mark as pure profit.

19. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres – Headley wasn’t too bad in his first full season of work, but there was a sharp home/road split, just as you might expect from a San Diego Padre. At home, he was a vomit-inducing .208/.300/.351 while sharply improving to .305/.377/.426 on the road. The upshot was that he managed seven home runs at home. If he can match that mark while improving the five from the road, then the high-teens are well within reach.

18. Jhonny Peralta, Cleveland Indians – Poised for his biggest season yet, Peralta fell flat on his face with his worst season yet in terms of runs, home runs and all three triple slash stats (average, on-base and slugging). He became a groundball machine (50%) which led to the power outage, which made his 83 RBIs all the more impressive. His 83 RBI/.691 OPS combo was just the second time since 2000 that a player managed that many RBIs or more while posting a .691 OPS or worse. I loved Peralta coming into 2009, but I’m cautiously optimistic for 2010. The groundball percentage spike seems to be only the big change from 2008 to 2009 so a correction there should bring back the .275-80-20-75 lines we saw in three of four seasons from 2005 to 2008. Don’t be surprised Peralta corrects that GB% malfunction and actually builds on his 2008. From the good people of Hedge City, USA – I’m not saying bet on it, just understand that the possibility is real and wouldn’t take a series of events to occur.

Next: 17-1

Monday: 12.7.2009

Update

I’ve been working hard on material to post this winter and the long-promised third basemen rankings should be out no later than tomorrow evening. From there, I’ll make my way around the diamond. I hope to finish those off before the holidays. Then during my Christmas vacation, I’ll put together & post my monster outfield & pitcher lists.

Of course if the Tigers trade Curtis Granderson, I might jump off of a bridge…

Tuesday: 12.1.2009

2010 Mock Draft: Round 3

Continuing my analysis of an on-going draft taking place in the BaseballHQ.com forums:

3.1 – Victor Martinez, C/1B – Boston Red Sox
Outside of 2008 in which he was hurt, this is another durable and consistent performer with a solid BB% for a catcher. I’m curious to see if you guys think I’m overvaluing positional scarcity with this pick, but I’m pretty high on V-Mart with a full year in a potent BOS lineup.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Albert Pujols, 1B
Rd 2 – Kevin Youkilis, 3B

My thoughts: This is a powerful team so far with one very scarce (catcher) and another relatively scarce position (third base) locked up. Sometime you’ll hear gripes about picking first, but I think this drafter is off to a great start building around the best player.

3.2 – Dustin Pedroia, 2B – Boston Red Sox
This was a tough one; I think in an absolute sense, I’m passing on a few better players here. But Pedroia gets me a few things:

1. I need some steals after taking Dunn at 2.12.

2. There’s a dearth of OBP at 2B. Pedroia gets me that. And a ton of runs.

3. At just 26 this upcoming year, I get the hope of upside. But if he just does what he did in 08 and 09, I’m still pretty happy. I love the combo of consistency + upside.

Pedroia’s HR and SB splits by half were pretty weird in 2009, but I’ll chalk it up to noise.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Hanley Ramirez, SS
Rd 2 – Adam Dunn, OF/1B

My thoughts: For the reasons the drafter mentioned, Pedroia is a very solid pick here. I really love the trio he has put together. It has dominant OBP, great power, great speed and great runs. Three picks in, I think I like this team the best.

3.5 – Jayson Werth, OF – Philadelphia Phillies
36 HR, including 21 in the second half of 2009, with 20 SB in 23 attempts, this guy is clearly the best power/speed combination still on the board. Strangely enough despite his obvious base-stealing skills, his SX rates under 100 due to the almost total absence of triples. I think the only reason to possibly avoid this guy would be his past injury history, but he has now shown what he can do when completely healthy.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Ryan Braun, OF
Rd 2 – Joey Votto, 1B

My thoughts: Of course as I say I like one team the best, I move on to another that I really like. This team is also very well built with offensive production across the board. The only reason I’d give team 2 the edge is because they have more position scarcity covered.

3.6 – Jason Bay, OF – Boston Red Sox
I felt that I needed to add a run producer since I took Ellsbury with my second pick. In 4 of the last 5 years (2007 was the bad year) Bay has hit over 30 homers, driven in and scored over 100 runs and has not had a OBP below .374. I am a little concerned about his low contact rate but he seemed to make up for it with his 15% BB. I might not have taken him at this point if we were using BA; however his career OBP is very good.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Mark Teixeira, 1B
Rd 2 – Jacoby Ellsbury, OF

My thoughts: Like team 3, this team is building from the deep positions, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If superstars last, you take them even if they are at the positions perceived to be the deepest. Tremendous power and speed here as well. There are a few others I’d have taken instead of Bay to go with Teix and Ellsbury, but it wasn’t a bad pick, either.

3.07 – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – Washington
Third base is pretty thin for being a top power position with five very good ones already gone (ARod, Wright, Reynolds, Longoria and Youk). I actually have Zimm ahead of Youk for 3B so I’m getting the 5th-best by my list. His power really developed in 2009 and we might not have seen the peak as he is just 25 years old. With four full seasons under his belt, I’m sure that last piece about his age surprised some of you. His value is unchanged with the switch from AVG to OBP as he remains good, but not great. That said, I think his OBP will improve in the coming seasons by way of more walks. Even if it doesn’t happen in 2010, I’m happy with a big power source locked up at 3B.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Matt Kemp, OF
Rd 2 – Grady Sizemore, OF

My thoughts: I really wanted to get a 3B before the talent cliff dove and I couldn’t be happier with a young emerging star like Zimmerman.

3.8 – Chone Figgins, 3B – Los Angeles Angels
I have to admit since this is a mock draft that I feel like I was forced into this pick. My top 6 guys for this slot were picked in the last 8 picks and I feel that the dropoff at 3rd base for the team I’m building is huge after Figgins. 42 steals last year would be a welcome addition to my team with the 30/30 chance with Kinsler. 114 runs and a .397 obp more than make up for the fact that he doesn’t hit for power and his RBI’s are low. I also feel that the other guy I had targeted will be picked next.

I may sound a little defensive with this pick, but I can be huge on tiers. I just see the dropoff at third being to big to not take Figgins since all of you guys took my other targets.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Prince Fielder, 1B
Rd 2 – Ian Kinsler, 2B

My thoughts: It was between Zimmerman and Figgins for me. I would’ve been fine with either as I could’ve used a top base stealer just as much as a legit run producer. This team has an excellent infield.

3.9 – Jimmy Rollins, SS – Philadelphia Phillies
I have a feeling that this pick is going to come off as a “homer” pick as I am a Phils fan. His 1st half of 2009 was a complete disaster and that is masking a really nice 2nd half for Rollins. In the 2nd half of 2009 he hit .295 with 15 HRS, 50 RBIs and 21 SBs (can I just times that by 2 for 2010!). Jimmy hit the same amount of FBs in the 1st and 2nd halves but more of his GBs turned into LDs. Jimmy posted the 2nd lowest K% of his career combined with the lowest BABIP at .253 (career avg. is .295). I am assuming the sub .300 OBP is a thing of the past while locking up 25 HR/40 SB potential in RD 3 from SS is valuable.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Joe Mauer, C
Rd 2 – Mark Reynolds, 3B

My thoughts: A lot of risk locked up in this team with three of the biggest question marks for 2010 in three rounds. Two are coming off of career years with everyone wondering how sustainable it is while the other has fallen from his MVP-caliber production leaving many wondering if he’ll get back to that previous level. It’s more risk that I’m comfortable with this early, but it could really pay off.

3.10 – Justin Morneau, 1B – Minnesota Twins
Nothing out of the ordinary here. Hoping for health but reports say he’ll be fine.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Tim Lincecum, SP
Rd 2 – Evan Longoria, 3B

My thoughts: As long as he will be fine, this is an absolute steal in the third round.

3.11 – Pablo Sandoval, 3B – San Francisco Giants
After watching my 3B picks disappear before my eyes, I’ll not gamble on waiting for the 4th round. Kung Fu Panda for me. He may well move to 1B but for now he’s 3B eligible.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Ryan Howard, 1B
Rd 2 – Jose Reyes, SS

My thoughts: When you look at what Sandoval did in 2009, this pick isn’t surprising especially given how 3Bs were going as the drafter noted.

3.12 – Brian Roberts, 2B – Baltimore Orioles
Sandoval was my pick. I was praying he’d fall that far. The last month of last season Roberts showed a good walk rate, an almost .400 OBP. He’s a 20/30 guy, and I pretty much have stolen bases wrapped up with a good amount of power left on the board.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Carl Crawford, OF
Rd 2 – Matt Holliday, OF

My thoughts: Excellent consolation prize after losing out on Sandoval. Roberts is an unsung guy, but he’s a great addition to any team.

3.13 – Adam Lind, OF – Toronto Blue Jays
And Roberts was mine! I can’t believe you just snagged him.

Lind just kept staring at me and the more I looked, the more I liked. He’ll be 26 years old in 2010 and coming off of a 93/35/114/.370OBP season with an even better 2H power-wise. The reversion back to a normal G/F ratio in ’09 over ’08 also gives me comfort in his future, as do the doubles that came with the HR. I didn’t want to wait too long for my first OF, either.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Rd 2 – Troy Tulowitzki, SS

My thoughts: One of the bigger surprises of 2009, but I think he’s for real giving this team three elite run producers with a little foundational speed from Tulow. Great group to start considering he’s picking 13th.