January 22, 2004
American League West Hitters
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be providing a team-by-team look at many of the major league players from a fantasy baseball perspective. I want to do this for a couple of reasons. First, I love fantasy baseball and love discussing what I think of certain players. Second, I know that many people who take the time to read baseball sites like this one participate in fantasy baseball leagues as well.
However, I do understand not everyone gets into fantasy sports, and that’s OK too. I do not think that my “analysis” will be too “statty” so it should be enjoyable for any baseball fan to read.
I know it is a little bit early to be talking about fantasy baseball, but I know that many keeper leagues have to turn in their ‘keepers’ this month. Also, aside from Ivan Rodriguez and Greg Maddux, most of the free agents still available will be bit players and may or may not affect some of the comments below. However, there could still be some trades which could alter some of these opinions. For instance, if Alex Rodriguez ever does get traded to the Red Sox, that move could drastically affect the Rangers, Red Sox, maybe the White Sox and the Dodger.
Another point to mention before getting started is that there are many forms of fantasy baseball. There are the traditional rotisserie leagues, 5x5 leagues, head-to-head, simulation, keeper leagues, American League Only, National League only and many more. Most leagues probably vary in subtle ways. I am not going to try to analyze for any specific variety. I will just give my opinions on the players. When I project a round-range where the player could be drafted, it will be based on a 30 round major league draft.
If you have any questions or comments about what I write here, or regarding your league, please e-mail me.
Disclaimer: What you read below are simply my opinions. Obviously I have no knowledge of what will happen in the 2004 season, so please take the information for what it is worth (fun). Also, these opinions are subject to change as spring training approaches. All players listed are either projected starters, or starters based on my opinion. I will try to project where each player could be drafted, assuming a 30 round draft.
Here is the schedule for this project:
Tuesday - Part 1 - American League Central Hitters
Wednesday - Part 2 - American League East Hitters
Thursday - Part 3 - American League West Hitters
Friday - Part 4 - National League Central Hitters
Monday - Part 5 - National League East Hitters
Tuesday - Part 6 - National League West Hitters
Wednesday - Part 7 - American League Pitchers
Thursday - Part 8 - National League Pitchers
Friday - Part 9 - Rookies and Prospects
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST HITTERS
Today, we will be discussing the American League West. This division could be wide open. Oakland still has pitching and a decent lineup. Seattle can hit and should be decent for another year. Anaheim was busy this offseason, and adding some pop to their order will be Vlad Guerrero and Jose Guillen. Texas should score a lot of runs again, but how often will they outscore their opponent on a given day? I know this division probably isn’t as strong as the AL East, but it is not far behind. Also, how many straight seasons has the AL MVP come from the AL West? So, let’s get going on some analysis. If you have any comments, arguments, agreements, questions or anything, please feel free to e-mail me. When this project is complete, I would like to put together a Mailbag issue with many of those comments.
C - Bengie Molina
Interestingly, in 2000 and 2003, Molina hit exactly .281 with 14 homers and 71 RBI. If he is able to duplicate those numbers, Molina becomes a good second-tier catcher. Those two years in between, he hit .262 and .245, with a combined 11 homers. If that’s the guy you think you’ll get, don’t pick him until really late. I think that he will have another really good year in 2004, so I would consider him in about the 19th round.
1B - Darin Erstad
In 2000, Erstad hit .355 with 240 hits, 25 homers and 100 RBI. Since then, he has been a below average player. Last year, he hit just .252 in only 67 games because of injury. Hopefully the move from CF (where he was a Gold Glove winner), will help preserve his body and keep him in the lineup all season. When healthy, he also was good for about 25 stolen bases a season. In summary, the 29 year old Erstad has been good every even numbered year and really poor in the odd numbered years. 2004 is even, but he’s still risky, wait until about the 25th round.
2B - Adam Kennedy
I’m not sure which Adam Kennedy we will see in 2004. In 2002, he hit .312, but with little power. Last year, he hit 13 homers but hit just .269. He’s a solid player, but will probably still be hitting 9th, meaning he will get less opportunity. I would predict he’ll hit .285 with 8-10 homers. He could also approach 20 SBs. 22nd round.
3B - Troy Glaus
Since hitting 47 home runs in 2000, his HR totals have dropped, from 41 to 30 and last year, he had just 16, but it was in 90 games. I can’t explain the declining power. He is similar to one of those old-time sluggers. Doesn’t hit for average (career .253 hitter), but has the ability to hit a lot of homers, but strikes out a lot. Assuming he is back to 100% health, it is safe to assume 30 homers and 100 RBI. It is, of course, entirely possible that he could return to his 40+ homer days, so he could be a steal in the 6th round. I really wouldn’t take him any higher than that.
SS - David Eckstein
I love watching him play because of how much he hustles. Last year he missed 42 games, and hit just .252. In 2002, he hit .293, can score a lot of runs, and even steal some bases. I think that he could be drafted entirely too early, but if you can get him after the 20th round, you could get a lot of value from him.
LF - Jose Guillen
With significant injuries to all three of the Cincinnati Reds outfielders (Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr and Austin Kearns), Guillen finally got another chance to be a full-time player. He certainly made the best of that opportunity. Even after a trade deadline move to Oakland and a broken bone in his hand. For the full season, Guillen hit .311 with 31 homers and 86 RBI. He turned the successful season into a two-year deal with the Angels. He has always been a headcase, but now that he’ll play full-time, he could be a 5-tool star. I would take Guillen around round 9.
CF - Garrett Anderson
Anderson is one of the most consistent players in baseball. Another guy that I feel get a bad rep because he doesn’t walk much. What he does do, is hit! Since 1996, he has had no less than 33 doubles (including 56 and 49 in the last two years), he has averaged 30 home runs and 120 RBI over the past four seasons. He is a career .299 hitter and hit .315 last year. I would take him in the 4th round.
RF - Vladimir Guerrero
Last year, Guerrero missed 50 games with a back injury, yet he still hit .330 with 25 homers and 79 RBI. In the five seasons before that, he averaged 159 games, 37 doubles, 39 home runs, and 116 RBI. In the two previous season, he averaged 39 stolen bases. I would expect that with the back injury, he won’t steal that many bases. But playing on the grass field in Anaheim, he should stay healthy, and put up big offensive numbers. He is a Top 10 overall pick. He would be a Top 3 pick probably, without the injury risk.
DH - Tim Salmon
Tim Salmon has been a very good hitter for about ten years. In recent years, however, injuries have really cost him a lot of playing time. Every season in which he has played in over 150 games, he has hit 30 or more homers. But, he has only played in 150 games once in the last six years. A move to DH could help him stay in the lineup. If he is healthy, look for a slight improvement over last year’s numbers of .275 with 19 homers and 72 RBI. I’d wait until Round 20 to take Salmon though.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Guerrero, Anderson.
The Bad - There are injury-risks with at least seven of the 10 players mentioned above.
The Questions - Can Jose Guillen back up his career year? Can Glaus and Erstad reclaim their 2000 numbers?
C - Damian Miller
Miller was sent from the Cubs to the A’s last month, essentially in exchange for Michael Barrett. Miller is really a defensive catcher, so not much of a fantasy option. He has never played more than 123 games in a season. However, in his playing time, he has been productive. In the last five years, he has averaged about 11 home runs and 45 RBI. So, he’s not a bad option. He should split time with Adam Melhuse, but I wouldn’t draft either.
1B - Scott Hatteberg
One of the stars of the book Moneyball, Hatteberg is known for taking pitches. He averages seeing an average of 4 pitches per at bat. In his two years in Oakland, he has averaged just 13.5 homers and 61 RBI, while walking an average of 67 times and striking out about 55 times each season. I expect about a .270 average with 12 homers and 60 RBI again. For a 1B, there are many better options. Take him around round 25.
2B - Mark Ellis
I thought Mark Ellis was going to bust out in 2003. I was wrong. He hit just .248 with 9 homers and 52 RBI. He did hit 31 doubles, so that leads me to think that he does have the ability to be a good hitter. Maybe 2004 is the year. But to think that is a risk. He could be a sleeper in the 23rd round.
3B - Eric Chavez
I think a lot of people were disappointed with Chavez last year, but he hit .282 with 29 homers and 101 RBI, but that is only slightly down from his previous two seasons. I think some of that can be attributed to the slow start by Miguel Tejada. In the last three seasons, Chavez has averaged 38 doubles, 32 homers and 108 RBI. I believe it is a contract year for Chavez, so maybe he’ll have that huge breakout year. I wouldn’t count on it. With Tejada gone now, someone else will need to step up for Chavez to see many pitches. He’s still one of the best 3B in baseball, take him in the 4th round.
SS - Bobby Crosby
To expect Crosby to completely replace Miguel Tejada this season would be unfair. It would not be unfair to say that Crosby is a leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year. He has moved swiftly up the A’s organizational ladder since being taken in the first round (25th overall) in 2001 out of Long Beach State. Last year, he hit .308 with 22 homers and 90 RBI in AAA. Don’t let his 0-12 showing with the A’s in September make you think less of him. I would gamble and take Crosby around round 15.
LF - Bobby Kielty
Bobby Kielty is in a position to get full-time playing for the first time in his career. In 2003, between the Twins and the Blue Jays, he hit .244 with 13 homers and 57 RBI. So, why did Toronto and then Oakland want Kielty so badly? Like Hatteberg, Kielty averages seeing nearly four pitches seen per at bat. He also, despite a career batting average of .261, has an on-base percentage of .367, which is just what Billy Beane is looking for. Now, many fantasy leagues don’t care about walks, so I would probably not draft Kielty until the last few rounds. If your league does value such things as walks and OBP, move Kielty up your OF list.
CF - Mark Kotsay
Kotsay is a very solid CF. Last year, he missed 34 games due to injury and hit .266 with 7 homers and 38 RBI. He is a career .281 hitter in about six seasons. If healthy, he could hit between 10 and 18 home runs. He is a consistent contributor and may have value to your fantasy team as a fourth outfielder. I wouldn’t draft him before round 20.
RF - Jermaine Dye
2003 was a lost year for Jermaine Dye. He missed more than half of the season with injury, playing in just 65 games. In that time, he hit just .172/.261/.253 with 4 homers and 20 RBI. Before his leg injuries, Dye had three very strong seasons and looked like he was becoming a star. From 1999-2001, he averaged 29 homers and 114 RBI. But since the injury, he hasn’t been the same. He was healthy at the end of last season, so he should come to training camp healthy. I think Dye could definitely re-claim his form. It is a huge risk, but I think drafting him in the low-20s makes a lot of sense.
DH - Erubiel Durazo
Another of Billy Beane’s prizes, Durazo hit just .259 last year for the A’s. However, he had an OBP of .383 with 100 walks. He had 21 homers and 77 RBI. Sometimes when watching, I wish he would swing at more pitches because of his power, but he is content just taking walks. I think 2004 could be a huge season for Durazo, but he could be a sleeper, still available in round 17.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Chavez.
The Bad - From a fantasy perspective, this could be a boring team. So many walks.
Question Marks - Can Dye come back to 100%? Can Kielty, Durazo and Ellis have breakout years? How good can Bobby Crosby be?
C - Dan Wilson/Ben Davis
Wilson is back for his 11th season with the Mariners. The former Gophers catcher is the #1 catcher, however, now that means playing in 120 games, not 140. He has not been a good hitter really since about 1997. Defensively he’s great, but that means little in fantasy baseball. Last year, in 96 games, he hit just .241 with 4 homers and 43 RBI. The other half of the M’s catching duo is Ben Davis. In 80 games last season, he hit .236 with 6 homers and 42 RBI. Combined, they make up one pretty adequate catcher. However, neither is really worth drafting.
1B - John Olerud
Mr. Consistency himself, the 35 year old finally had a poor season last year hitting just .269 with 10 homers and 83 RBI. Poor as in, his career average is .297 and he twice hit over .350 in his career). In his 13 full seasons, he has averaged 35 doubles, 17 homers and 84 RBI. I would expect Olerud to improve on his 2003 numbers, but not significantly. I would not draft him ahead of Kevin Millar or Doug Mientkiewicz, but would take him in the 24th round or so.
2B - Bret Boone
Outside of Soriano, Bret Boone is by far the best 2B, especially in fantasy terms. Last year, he hit .294 with 35 homers and 117 RBI. In 2002, he hit .278 with 24 homers and 107 RBI. In 2001, he hit .331 with 37 homers and 141 RBI. Even if he drops down to his 2002 numbers, he is worthy of a late 2nd round pick. I would expect somewhere in the middle.
3B - Scott Spiezio
Spiezio is an interesting signing for the Mariners. They needed desperately to get better at 3B than Jeff Cirillo has provided them the past couple of seasons. In Spiezio’s past two seasons in Anaheim he has hit about .275 with 14 homers and 83 RBI a season, which would be mountains above Cirillo’s production. Spiezio was originally a 3B, but became a Gold-Glove caliber 1B with the Angels. This is an improvement for the M’s, but I wouldn’t draft him in a fantasy draft until at least the 17th round, even that might be high.
SS - Rich Aurilia
Last year with the Giants, Aurilia played in 129 games and hit .277 with 13 homers and 58 RBI. That’s just two seasons after his bit .324/37/97 season. Pac Bell (or SBC Stadium now) was not a good hitter’s park. Seattle’s is not any better, so don’t expect much from Aurilia in 2004. Don’t take him before the 16th round.
LF - Raul Ibanez
Many people do not like the signing of Raul Ibanez. Losing Mike Cameron, the M’s needed another outfielder. In 157 games with the Royals last year, Ibanez hit 18 homers and drove in 90. In 2002, in 137 games, he hit .294 with 24 homers and 103 RBI. Because he should play every day in Seattle, I would project him to hit about .285 with 15 homers and 100 RBI. I think he could hit 40 doubles. I think that would be a pretty productive season. I think Ibanez could be drafted around Round 11.
CF - Randy Winn
Randy Winn came over from Tampa Bay last year and got off to a slow start. I’d say he got comfortable, ending the seasons with hitting .295 with 11 HR and 75 RBI. The year before, in Tampa, Winn hit .298 with 14 homers and 75 RBI. I think Winn is in line to have another productive year, probably better than his 2003 numbers. With the stolen bases (27 in ’02, 23 in ’03), consider drafting him in the 13th round.
RF - Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro ended the season in a terrible slump, but even with that, finished with a .312 average, 13 homers and 62 RBI. He added 29 doubles and 34 stolen bases. For his three year career, his average is .328 and 40 stolen bases. If his power continues to grown, he could rise on my list, however, I wouldn’t draft him before the 4th round.
DH - Edgar Martinez
The definition of “professional hitter”, this could very well be Edgar’s final season. A career .315/.423/.525 hitter with almost 500 doubles, 300 home runs and 1,200 RBI. However, the 41 year old is physically showing signs of his age. He can not run at all any more. Yet somehow last year, he still hit .294 with 24 home runs and 98 RBI. His numbers indicated being drafted in the first 8 rounds, but I would be hesitant to take him in the first 20 rounds, if at all.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Boone, Ichiro.
The Bad - The catchers.
The Question Marks - Can Edgar last one more year? Can Randy Winn take the next step? Will Ichiro’s average continue to drop? How will Aurilia hit in Safeco?
C - Einar Diaz
Diaz signed a big deal to play in Texas. Last year, he caught 101 games and hit .257 with 4 homers and 35 RBI. Some may think that was an off-year for Diaz, but not really. He’s a career .259 hitter and has never hit more than 4 home runs. Actually by the end of last season, he was losing at bats to Gerald Laird. Don’t draft him unless you’re desperate!
1B - Mark Teixeira
Teixeira was drafted after Joe Mauer, Mark Prior, Dewon Brazelton and Gavin Floyd in the 2001 draft. Last year, he was given a major league roster spot, without a position. He spent time at 3B, LF, RF, 1B and DH. He started out slowly, but really proved what kind of hitter he was as the season went along. He became an every day player, primarily at 1B. He ended his rookie season with a .259 average and 26 home runs and 84 RBI. I would expect Teixeira to really put up some huge numbers in 2004. He could hit 40 homers. Depending on your league’s eligibility rules, he could be eligible at a lot of positions. I’d take him in round 7.
2B - Michael Young
You may not know it, but in 2003, Young hit .306 with 14 homers and 72 RBI in 160 games. That is a huge improvement from the .262 /9/62 he put up in his first full season in 2002. If you think he will maintain the numbers he put up in 2003, and I really do, I would draft him around Round 10.
3B - Hank Blalock
Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock were actually battling for the 3B job last spring. Blalock had really struggled badly his rookie year, 2002, hitting just .211 in 49 games before being demoted. Blalock was ready in 2003. He was an All-Star (winning the game for the AL with a dramatic homer off Eric Gagne). He hit .300 with 29 home runs and 90 RBI. I would expect that Blalock will continue to hit at or above .300 with similar power numbers. That makes him a good pick in the 7th round.
SS - Alex Rodriguez
Isn’t it sad when A-Rod hit .298 with 47 HR and 118 RBI last year and I call it an ‘average year for him?’ I didn’t think his numbers were as good as they were in previous seasons, but that says more about his previous seasons. If you look at an ‘average’ season for A-Rod, looking at his 8 full seasons in the big leagues, it would look like this: .311 with 42.5 home runs and 121 RBI. And he’s a shortstop. That all leads up to him being the #1 overall pick in most draft formats. If he falls below that, consider it a steal!
LF - Kevin Mench
Mench is probably best known as having the biggest head in the big leagues, literally, but he can hit. He was injured last year and played in just 38 games. He hit .320. In 110 games in 2002, he hit .260, but added 15 homers and 60 RBI. I’m not certain that Mench will start, or play full-time, that is why I would not draft him. However, if he looks like he could play a lot out of spring training, he’s a sleeper pick in the late rounds.
CF - Laynce Nix
Laynce Nix is one of those 5-tool kinds of prospects. He did get a chance to play in 53 games in the second half with the Rangers. He has a very smooth swing and can absolutely launch the ball (As can most of the Rangers hitters). In 184 at bats, Nix hit .255 with 10 doubles, 8 homers and 30 RBI. I am sure the concern is his 53 strikeouts. If he can control that number, I think he could hit 20+ home runs in 2004. Monitor him in spring training. I wouldn’t draft him, but keep an eye on him.
RF - Brian Jordon
Brian Jordan is a very good hitter with some power. However, he always gets hurt. The Rangers are hoping this is a year that they can get 150 games out of him. When he plays that much, he usually hits close to .300 with 20-25 home runs. However, last year for the Dodgers, he played in just 66 games. He did hit .299 with 6 homers and 28 RBI. I think his injury risk is very high. If he can even play 120 games, you may want to consider drafting him after the 25th round, but someone in your league will probably take him before that. Don’t let it be you!
DH - Brad Fullmer
Another guy coming off an injury-season, Fullmer played in just 63 games with the Angels in 2003. He did hit .306 with 9 home runs and 35 RBI in that time. If he stays healthy, I can see Fullmer hitting .280 and hitting 20-25 home runs and diving in 100 runs. He may be worth the gamble around Round 23!
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - A-Rod, Blalock, Teixeira.
The Bad - Diaz, but offense has never been the problem with the Rangers.
The Question Marks - Can Nix be their every day CF? Will Mench get most of the LF time? Will Teixeira and Blalock continue to move upward? Will A-Rod be on this team? (may be the biggest question!)
Well, that is it for Part 3 of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The same format will be used for the rest of the teams in baseball. Tomorrow I will discuss the National League Central Division hitters. Please let me know what you think. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me.
Last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves went up to Toronto and defeated the Vince Carter-less Raptors. After going into halftime trailing, the Wolves performed great in the 2nd half and came away with a 108-97 victory, improving their record to 28-15, staying 1 ½ games up on the Spurs.
The Wolves were led by the 30 points, 7 rebounds and 13 assists from Sam Cassell. Kevin Garnett scored 28 points with 11 rebounds (his 34th double-double of the season). Latrell Sprewell added 24 points. Former Timberwolves forward, Donyell Marshall, led the Raptors with 22 points. Vince Carter is out with a strained quadricep.
Any thoughts on those Wolves? E-mail me.
Not really anything on the Twins today. However, yesterday, Jesse Orosco did officially retire. I know it’s hard to believe. Unfortunately, he retired as an Arizona Diamondback, since he did sign with them a month ago. The 46 year old Orosco had spent every season in the Major Leagues since making his debut with the New York Mets in 1979, a year after he was drafted in the 2nd round by the Twins. A major league record (by far!) 1,252 games later, Orosco finished with an 87-80 career record, with a 3.16 ERA. 2003 was really the first really poor season he has had in those 24 seasons. Congratulations on a great career, Jesse!
Remember TwinsFest starts on Friday. Check out their schedule of when players will be signing autographs here If anyone is going to it, please send me an e-mail and next week I would like to post your thoughts on it for our readers.
Well, that is it for today. Tomorrow we will discuss the six-team NL Central Division. I also hope to run an update on all of those Reality TV shows that I can’t help but watch!!! As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me.
Back to Archives Home