Wednesday, January 25, 2006
FANTASY PERSPECTIVE 2006:
American League West Hitters
Good morning everyone! Over the course of the next couple of weeks (or month), 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. Second, I really enjoy discussing what I think of certain players. Third, 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. As much as anything else, it is essentially a look at who is playing for which teams, how they got there, and some thoughts on how I think that they will do.
For the first time this year, I will be including some 2006 projections for most of the players that will be analyzed. Why? I don't know, but this is what I posted over at John Sickels' site yesterday in regard to 'projections' in general:
I have done some 2006 projections for my Fantasy Perspectives series which I will be starting tomorrow for the AL West teams.
Projections are just fun. The reason that I decided to do them this year are primarily for my fantasy baseball cheat sheets. Think about it, we all spend a lot of time reading baseball sites and blogs for information. We all have a ton of information, and have probably developed a lot of our own opinions on players throughout the league.
My projections are done like this:
1.) I look at the age of the player.
2.) I look at the numbers and trends for the last couple of years.
3.) I think about how much playing time they will get (based on offseason moves, etc.)
4.) I try to figure out where they will bat in the batting order.
5.) I consider their team, and the players who will bat around them in the lineup,
6.) I GUESS. Seriously, isn't that what projections are? They are semi-educated guesses. No one can predict when an injury will occur. No one can predict a sudden 50 game suspension. We all try to predict the breakout players and the flops (based on our own reasons), but we really don't know.
So again, my projections are educated guesses, and an attempt to give myself a cheat sheet for my fantasy drafts that I can feel good about as containing what I really believe will happen.
(Note - I like to think I know a lot, but I pretty much always finish in the bottom third of my leagues!)
So, there you have it. You will find my projections below each player's analysis. It is simply my guess for how the player will perform in several offensive categoriess in 2006. I am not trying to downplay my methods and thinking when making my projection by calling it a guess. I did put a lot of time into those thoughts. However, like I said, in the end, 'projection' is really just a guess.
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. If you would be fun, feel free to ask questions or comment on anything down below in the Comments section.
Disclaimer: What you read below are simply my opinions. Obviously I have no knowledge of what will happen in the 2006 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.
To this point, I have only done my look at the:
Top 20 Impact Rookie Hitters for 2006, and
Top 20 Impact Rookie Pitchers for 2006.
PART 1: AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST HITTERS
Today, we will be discussing the American League West hitters. After starting with the AL Central (for alphabetical reasons) in the past years, I thought I would mix it up and start with the AL West this year. Last year, the Angels had to fight off a midseason rush by the Oakland A's to win the division. The Mariners were awful again despite their big spending spree, and the Rangers got no pitching to go with their remarkable lineup. So, what will happen in 2006? The Angels had Vlad Guererro, but they also have a lot of very mediocre players they are loyal to with some incredibly talented minor leaguers waiting in the wings. Oakland has done a nice job of mixing some veterans with their immensely talented (now) second year players. Seattle needs to start seeing the dividends of their big 2005 investments as well as a big year from Ichiro and Ibanez. And the Rangers, well, we know they'll hit. I now believe that they have the best hitter in the division. I know this division probably isn’t quite as strong as the AL East or even the AL Central, but it should be a very competitive division nonetheless. 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 some of those comments.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
C - Jose Molina/Jeff Mathis
After years of backing up his brother Bengie, Jose Molina takes over the catching duties for the Angels this year. Last year, Bartolo Colon said that he preferred to pitch to Jose. Molina is a solid defensive backstop, but offensively, he leaves much to be desired. He hits adequately against left-handed pitching, but last year, he hit just .189 with a .490 OPS against righties. So, Molina is the starter, but I do believe that Jeff Mathis will also see a lot of playing time. After an off year in 2004, he came back with a very strong 2005 season reminding people that he was considered the second best catching prospect behind Joe Mauer just a couple of years ago.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS Molina 110 351 27 96 16 1 12 150 47 21 83 4 3 .274 .315 .427 .742 Mathis 62 162 21 44 6 0 2 56 24 12 28 0 1 .272 .322 .346 .668
1B - Casey Kotchman
With the trade of Steve Finley last month, Darin Erstad will move back to CF. The reason? To open up 1B for Kotchman. He has done everything he can in the minor leagues and he is too young and too good to keep down on the farm or on the bench. I think that Kotchman will thrive. He demolished right-handed pitching last year. Still just 22 years old, Kotchman will only get better as time goes by.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSKotchman 123 406 45 117 26 0 14 185 71 56 71 4 2 .288 .374 .456 .830
2B - Adam Kennedy
Kennedy is a solid hitter. Every third year, he manages to hit .300 or more. There are two problems with that though. First, he hit .300 in 2005, so it will likely be another year or two before he does that again. Second, even with the .300 average, his OPS was just .724. The other thing working against Kennedy is the emergence of Howie Kendrick as one of baseball's best offensive prospects. Kennedy really needs to stay healthy or Kendrick will be brought up, and he will Wally Pipp Kennedy.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSKennedy 108 381 43 98 18 1 4 130 35 24 52 14 5 .257 .301 .341 .642
3B - Chone Figgins/Edgardo Alfonzo
I think that Figgins is likely to spend a lot of time at 3B this year. The Angels acquired Alfonzo from the Giants for Steve Finley. Because of Figgins ability to play so many roles, he will get plenty of time in CF and 2B, and other places. That will allow Alfonzo to get some time at 3B. Dallas MacPherson will get another shot at 3B at some point too. Figgins value in a fantasy league is two-fold; first, is his ability to be played in multiple positions, but secondly, he gets a lot of stolen bases.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSFiggins 154 611 94 169 23 12 7 237 51 58 99 51 16 .277 .339 .388 .727Alfonzo 91 287 29 81 15 1 4 110 36 23 28 1 0 .282 .335 .383 .719
SS - Orlando Cabrera
Cabrera is in an interesting situation. He has not played well (offensively) since his Montreal days three years ago. But, Brandon Wood had 100 extra-base hits last year in the minors and over 50 home runs and is one of the top prospects in baseball. Also, Erick Aybar is still one of the better prospects too. Both play SS. However, Cabrera has another three years and about $32 million remaining on his contract with the Angels. 2005 was a bad year for Cabrera. He hit .257 with a .674 OPS. He was consistent at least, having a sub-.700 OPS at home and on the road, against lefties and against righties. I do expect him to be improved in 2006, but not much.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSCabrera 154 585 79 158 34 4 11 233 61 38 54 24 5 .270 .315 .398 .713
LF - Garrett Anderson
Anderson is a career .298 hitter. His career On-Base Percentage is .327. That is a horrible Isolated Disciple of just .029! Anderson can hit, but he no longer is what he was. His power is down and his OPS has dropped .150 over the last two years. I don't expect him to fall below the .743 OPS of last year, but because of his arthritic bones and joints, he will never be the player he was in the past. It is interesting to note that last year, he was horrible at home, and worse against right-handed pitching than lefties. In terms of fantasy baseball, he has gone from a solid 5th or 6th round pick to a below-average corner outfielder.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSAnderson 151 602 75 174 32 1 20 268 91 24 79 1 0 .289 .316 .445 .761
CF - Darin Erstad
Offensively, Erstad is a terrible 1B. However, he can be an average offensive centerfielder. Defensively, he is the best at 1B, and is one of the top 5 as a CF. So, the move back to CF probably makes Erstad a little more valuable. However, last year, as a 1B, he played in 153 games. The previous two seasons, as a CF, he played in a combined 192 games. Erstad plays all out, all the time, and it has taken a toll on his body. By moving to CF, I think that means that he will miss some time due to injury. He has not had an OPS over .750 since his All-Star campaign of 2000.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSErstad 119 459 64 124 21 1 6 165 58 35 68 8 3 .270 .322 .359 .681
RF - Vladimir Guerrero
Vlad has been one of my favorite players to watch over the last half-decade. However, if you watched him in the ALCS last year, he probably saw what I have been seeing for the last two years. I see now a guy who can hardly run anymore, a guy whose back has to be in tremendous pain. I don't know if anyone swings harder that Guerrero, even in batting practice. From what I've written so far, you would think I'm predicting a bad season for Guerrero. But take a look at the .950 OPS with 55 extra base hits. He will likely miss some time during the year. I would advocate giving him a mandatory day off every tenth game, just in an attempt to keep him fresh.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSGuerrero 145 554 99 180 35 1 29 304 104 71 52 8 3 .325 .402 .549 .950
DH - Dallas McPherson/Juan Rivera
McPherson still has a chance to be the big-time power producer that so many envision. Yes, he will strikeout a lot, but if he can just stay healthy through the season, maybe it can happen for this year. He is still just 25 years old. Rivera probably deserves a chance at more playing time. He his over .300 in 2004. Last year, he hit .271 but had 15 homers.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSMcPherson 122 365 38 92 18 0 16 158 51 31 119 6 1 .252 .311 .433 .743 Rivera 74 203 24 53 13 0 6 84 27 18 33 1 2 .261 .321 .414 .735
One 2 Watch – Howie Kendrick/Kendry Morales/Brandon Wood
The future is so very bright for that Angels infield. I can't just pick one. I think very highly of Kendrick raked all year last year. Morales is the Cuban defector who has a chance to be a very good hitter. He is just 22 years old and could play multiple positions. Brandon Wood was the minor league player of the year after he put up monster numbers. He is technically still behind SS Erick Aybar. Reggie Willets has a chance to be decent. The Angels farm system is so strong.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Guerrero, Figgins the futures of Kotchman, Kendrick, Morales, Mathis and Wood.
The Bad - Molina, Kennedy, Cabrera and Erstad
Three Questions - Can Guerrero stay healthy? How good can Kotchman be? When will the young guys get called up?
C - Jason Kendall
After nine seasons with the Pirates, Jason Kendall went to Oakland and had the worst season of his big league career. Never a power hitter, Kendall did not hit a single homer in 2005. It would be nice, especially for A's fans, to think that Kendall can come back and post a .300+ AVG and an OPS over .800 again, but with him being 31 years old already and a catcher, it is hard to believe he will jump back up to elite status.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSKendall 142 538 71 152 29 1 3 192 45 55 39 7 2 .283 .349 .357 .706
1B - Nick Swisher
Swisher showed excellent power in his first full big league season with 32 doubles and 21 homers in just 131 games. His batting average was a poor .232, but he had an Isolated Discipline number of .086, very impressive for a young player. The switch hitter had an OPS of .816 with 18 of his 21 homers from the left side of the plate. Against lefties, his OPS was just .635 and he hit just three homers. I project that although he will continue to strike out a lot, his average will jump a little bit as will his raw power numbers.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSSwisher 153 484 81 123 37 2 27 245 89 71 133 1 1 .254 .350 .506 .856
2B - Mark Ellis
Rapid City native, Mark Ellis missed all of the 2004 season and a little bit at the beginning of 2005. But, when he came back and started playing, he earned back his playing time! In 122 games, he his .316 with an OPS of .861. He has a great approach at the plate, and doesn't strike out much. I certainly don't think that he will be able to maintain those numbers again in 2005, especially if he plays even more, but I also think that he will still be a very solid 2B option.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSEllis 150 510 81 138 33 4 12 215 53 49 67 2 2 .271 .335 .422 .756
3B - Eric Chavez
Last year, Chavez had an OPS of .588 in April and .588 in May. But after the horrific start, he came on to put together a great rest-of-the-year. Overall, his .794 OPS was his worst since his first full season, in 2000. His struggles were in line with the A's terrible start. I do think that Chavez's numbers will sneak back up a little bit. He has more protection around him, so his power numbers will be strong again.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSChavez 158 610 91 169 36 1 31 300 106 67 116 5 1 .277 .349 .492 .840
SS - Bobby Crosby
The 2004 AL Rookie of the Year missed about half of last year due to injury, and even when he was playing, he was not always at 100% However, even from the diminished playing time, you can see his improved numbers across the board. I think he'll stay closer to those numbers in 2006, and if he can stay healthy, he could be one of the better SS in the second tier of SS in the league.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSCrosby 143 513 72 139 34 5 17 234 73 56 102 3 1 .271 .343 .456 .799
LF - Jay Payton
The 33 year old Payton came to the A's at midseason last year and really helped add power to the team's offense. In 2006, he will be expected to do some of the same. He is a very veteran hitter. Although he doesn't walk a tremendous amount of times, he does put together quality at bats. I don't expect him to play every day, and when he does, I don't expect him to set the world on fire.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSPayton 109 371 56 94 15 2 17 164 42 34 53 1 0 .253 .316 .442 .758
CF - Mark Kotsay
If you're looking for a trend, expect the 30 year old Kotsay to have an OPS in the mid-.800s. However, I don't really expect that. He will put up numbers very similar to his 2005 stats, only I think he will play in more games. Last year, in a down year, he actually had significantly more RBI than in the previous season. This really just shows how the RBI statistic is not really a fair representation of a hitter.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSKotsay 149 611 72 173 33 2 13 249 66 51 73 6 3 .283 .338 .408 .746
RF - Milton Bradley
So much talent. It's really too bad. Bradley was traded by the Dodgers to the A's (along with IF Antonio Perez, for minor league OF Andre Ethier) after more problems with teammates in LA. When he's just playing ball, he can be so good. Last year, he had several injuries and played in just 75 games. As you can see, I expect Bradley to again miss a bunch of games. When he plays, he will contribute though.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSBradley 95 342 51 96 24 1 11 155 47 33 65 8 2 .281 .344 .453 .797
DH - Dan Johnson
The Coon Rapids, MN, 26 year old finally got his first chance in the big leagues and he came through for the A's. He has good power and excellent plate discipline. As you can see below, I do expect him to continue to improve with his increased at bats. I am sure there will be some rough adjustment spots during the season, but as long as he maintains his approach at the plate, I expect a very strong year from him.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSJohnson 152 532 74 148 31 1 23 250 89 68 72 1 1 .278 .360 .470 .830
One 2 Watch – Frank Thomas
There is no way that I would sign Thomas, but it continues to look like the A's will sign The Big Hurt. As Terry Ryan said, there is a reason he is still a free agent. Teams are scared of his injury situation. If he does sign with the A's, it will likely be in a very incentive-laden contract. If he does sign with the A's, it will cause several dominoes to fall. First, he would be the primary DH (when healthy). If that happens, Dan Johnson would move to 1B, Nick Swisher would move back out to RF, Milton Bradley would move to LF, with Jay Payton either moving to the bench or being traded.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Chavez, Crosby and Johnson.
The Bad - Jason Kendall
Three Questions - Will the team sign Frank Thomas? How will Milton Bradley behave? Can Dan Johnson and Nick Swisher continue their progress?
C - Kenji Johjima
After going out and acquiring Yorvit Torrealba, the Mariners were able to sign Johjima from Japan. Jojima has shown plenty of pop in his bat in Japan. However, he is already 29 years old, old for a catcher, and his performance the past two years have been diminished from the lofty marks he had set the years before that. We can assume some drop in his numbers just for the translation from Japan to the USA, but I do think that he will be a very solid contributor.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSKojimi 120 456 67 134 22 1 17 209 54 31 24 4 5 .294 .339 .458 .797
1B - Richie Sexson
What do we know about Sexson? When healthy, he is in the lineup every day. He hits a lot of home runs, drives in a lot of RBI and strikes out a LOT. He will not hit for much average, but he has a good eye at the plate. And again, that power! That is what makes him a draw. Despite the perception of a rough first season in Seattle, Sexson still hit 39 homers. I expect him to build off of those numbers in his second year with the Mariners.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSSexson 160 583 104 159 35 1 41 319 127 94 159 0 1 .273 .374 .547 .921
2B - Jose Lopez
Last year in my look at the Mariners, I commented that I thought Lopez and Betancourt would be the keystone combo in Seattle starting late last year. Well, that was right. Lopez started the season, slowly, in the minor leagues, but he played in 54 games with the M's late in the year. I expect that he will get most of the playing time at 2B in 2006. He will not be a big offensive force, but he should be able to steal some bases. He is not a good fantasy option in 2006, but he is so young and should continue to improve.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSLopez 148 524 52 134 26 3 7 187 47 25 76 22 9 .256 .290 .357 .646
3B - Adrian Beltre
Beltre had what was largely considered a disappointing season in 2005. Should we really have been disappointed? I mean, honestly, Beltre's only really good season in his entire career, despite all his talent, came in his free agent year. Most of the talk was about whether or not he would just be happy having earned a huge pay day. His numbers in 2005 were not far below what he had done before 2004 in LA. Well, I guess I'm not all that cynical. I choose to believe that Beltre just took some time to adjust to the American League, and that he was now in a pitcher's park. He got off to a very slow start. He was solid from June through August, and again tanked in the season's final month. I expect that Beltre's numbers will increase again in 2006. He will not be anywhere near his 2004 numbers, and probably never will be again, but he will at least be respectable.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSBeltre 159 601 76 161 41 1 24 276 96 52 99 5 2 .268 .326 .459 .785
SS - Yuniesky Betancourt
Betancourt is still very much a question mark. The 23 year old Cuban defector came up to the Mariners for the final 60 games and performed admirably, but certainly not great. In 211 at bats, he did manage 17 extra base hits, including five triples. He is quite fast yet has not figured out the stolen base yet. I do think that 2006 will again be a rebuilding season in Seattle. I think that Betancourt's defense up the middle will be very strong and keep him in the lineup despite unimpressive offensive numbers.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSBetancourt 152 532 61 144 27 8 3 196 46 29 66 23 12 .271 .308 .368 .677
LF - Raul Ibanez/Matt Lawton
Raul Ibanez continues to be greatly underrated. He has been a very consistent performer each of the past five seasons. At 33 years old, I do expect that his numbers will drop a little bit, although he will continue to play almost every day between LF and DH. Lawton admitted his steroid use and immediately signed a deal with the M's. I don't know how he really fits in. Because Carl Everett is set as the team's DH, and there isn't really an opening in the Mariners outfield right now, I don't see him getting a lot of playing time. As you can see below, I project that he will get some time in left field, primarily replacing Everett in the lineup.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSIbanez 156 597 81 171 31 1 16 252 87 51 88 6 2 .286 .343 .422 .765 Lawton 121 193 33 49 8 1 4 71 34 29 33 4 1 .254 .351 .368 .719
CF - Jeremy Reed
In 2005, Reed was the starting CF for the Mariners in 141 games. He did not perform, offensively, to match the numbers he had put up in the minors and in brief major league appearances. He hit .254 with a .674 OPS. Reed is one of the players that I do predict a significant improvement from in 2006. No, his average won't jump to .300, but still will increase by .030 points. His power numbers won't increase a lot, but his stolen base proficiency should be better. Had he been traded to the Red Sox, his value would have gone up significantly, but unless he hits in the #2 spot of the M's lineup, his runs and RBI will remain somewhat low.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSReed 155 553 99 157 39 4 3 213 67 54 48 34 10 .284 .348 .385 .733
RF - Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro only had 214 hits in 2005! It seemed like such a boring season for him after his 2004 season when he broke George Sisler's single-season hit record. But he still hit over .300. Ichiro is 32, so he isn't getting any younger, but I do predict that his average will come up a little bit while his doubles go up but his triples and homers come back down a little. He will still garner extra points for his ability to steal a lot of bases.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSIchiro 161 687 117 214 24 7 11 285 64 47 67 29 12 .311 .356 .415 .770
DH - Carl Everett
As you can see, I don't predict much of a season from the 34 year old Crawford. I think that there will be an injury. I also think that his attitude could be a question mark as the team racks up losses. He hasn't hit for AVG for quite a while, but he does do a good job of taking walks. This is where some other players will be able to take up some at bats.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSEverett 93 334 46 86 14 0 12 136 49 32 67 2 1 .257 .322 .407 .730
One 2 Watch – Shin-Soo Choo
The 23 year old Korean was just 1-18 in his brief time with the Mariners last year. However, at AAA, he his .282 with a .382 on-base percentage. He could hit double-figure homers and plenty of doubles. He may work his way into an OF rotation by midseason if he continues to perform.
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Sexson, Beltre, Ichiro.
The Bad - Offense in the middle infield could be suspect.
Three Questions - Can Beltre jump back with some All-Star numbers? Will Jeremy Reed make a big jump? How will Jojima produce offensively and work defensively in his first year in the big leagues?
C - Rod Barajas/Gerald Laird
Rod Barajas is a solid fantasy baseball catcher. Why? Because he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ball park. (Granted, it is the Rangers ballpark) However, he does not hit for much average. I present Gerald Laird, who may not be much defensively, but he can hit. He will hit for better average and get on-base more. I think that Laird will take some significant playing time from Barajas this year.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSBarajas 104 312 44 79 21 0 12 136 47 18 54 0 0 .253 .294 .436 .730 Laird 79 206 29 59 12 1 7 94 34 19 47 5 2 .286 .347 .456 .803
1B - Mark Teixeira
Teixeira now has to be classified as a Top 5 overall player in all of baseball. That is certainly not surprising as big things were expected, but his 2005 numbers were off the charts. In 162 games, he hit .301/.379/.575 with 41 doubles, 43 homers and 144 RBI. How can he top those numbers in 2006? I don't know if he can. I have him for a couple less doubles, and a couple more homers. Overall, I would expect similar numbers from the 25 year old 1B who also won his first Gold Glove in 2005. Any question who the best player from the 2001 draft is? Where can he improve? Well, in Arlington, he had an OPS of 1.109 while away from home, his OPS was just .809.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSTeixeira 161 622 105 186 39 2 46 367 139 86 114 3 1 .299 .384 .590 .974
2B - Ian Kinsler
Kinsler put himself on the big-time prospect map after a remarkable 2004 season split between Low-A and AA ball. I remember reading after the 2005 season that Kinsler had an 'off' year and some didn't think he projected as highly. Well, I took a look at his AAA numbers in 2005, and they don't look too bad to me. In 134 games, he his .274/.348/.464 with 28 doubles, 23 homers, 94 RBI and 19 stolen bases. That sounds like a very good season to me. And then moving into the hitter friendly confines in Arlington should only aid his case for 2006 AL Rookie of the Year. I don't foresee him putting up Soriano numbers in 2006, but then again, I don't see Soriano putting up Kinsler's numbers in 2006!Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSKinsler 151 597 73 163 29 2 19 253 76 45 92 14 5 .273 .324 .424 .748
3B - Hank Blalock
There was so much talk about the Twins wanting Blalock, but the Rangers wouldn't budge unless Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano were in the deal. At the time, we heard a lot about how much better he was at home than on the road (OPS .895 compared to .611), and against righties than lefties (OPS of .813 compared to .583). But all told, we are still talking about a 25 year old 3B who plays most every day, and at season's end has put up solid numbers again. His splits just do not give us any reason that he would be a solid offensive weapon if he played for another team. However, he is a Rangers hitter, meaning that he should continue to put up very strong offensive statistics, even with his obvious fall-backs.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSBlalock 159 630 84 171 34 2 30 299 96 51 133 1 1 .271 .326 .475 .801
SS - Michael Young
Is it possible that Young is the most underrated player in baseball. He is in the shadow of others, but continues to put up spectacular numbers. Unlike most of his teammates, Young is very consistent in any situation. He had an OPS of .913 at home and .884 on the road. It was .900 against lefties and .898 against righties, so Young is legit! His OPS has jumped at least .050 points each of the past two years. So, does that mean he'll have an OPS around .950 in 2006? Probably not, but he should hit over .300 for the fourth straight year. He could hit 20 homers for the third straight season. Michael Young is one of the better SS out there.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSYoung 160 659 106 205 32 4 21 308 88 51 89 8 3 .311 .361 .467 .828
LF - Kevin Mench
Mench was the subject of many trade rumors throughout the offseason, but he is still around. He is a quality right-handed bat in the middle of a lot of lefties (and switch hitters). Last year, given the opportunity to play in a career-high 150 games, had an OPS just under .800. It dropped almost .080 points from the previous year. However, we are talking about an OF who is good for about 30 doubles, 25 homers and 65 RBI. He won't hit for a real high average, but is a solid hitter.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSMench 148 496 63 131 28 2 21 226 64 44 56 3 2 .264 .324 .456 .780
CF - Gary Matthews, Jr.
Laynce Nix is probably in the mix for some playing time in CF too, but I think that Matthews has done enough to warrant most of the playing time. Last year, he played in a career-high 131 games and launched 17 homers with 25 doubles and 55 RBI. He could improve on those numbers, although at age 31 now and without any playing certainty, I would expect that he reached his plateau. But, we shall see.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSMatthews 104 344 53 88 17 1 10 137 35 33 68 6 1 .256 .321 .398 .719
RF - Brad Wilkerson
Wilkerson has been an enigma to baseball people throughout his five big league seasons. He has a wonderful batter's eye as evidenced by his career Isolated Discipline of .109. He has also put up great power numbers both in the form of doubles and homers. Last year, he hit just .248 with only 11 homers. However, he remained the team's leadoff hitter, and with the team's move to RFK Stadium, his power numbers really took a hit. Now, he will be playing in a strong lineup in a strong hitter's park. He should absolutely thrive. I expect him to hit anywhere from 4th to 6th, providing plenty of RBI opportunities. He should still walk plenty, but when he hits some fly balls that were outs a year ago, they will now be home runs. I expect him to have a monster breakout 2006!Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSWilkerson 158 590 96 164 39 2 34 309 111 91 141 6 4 .278 .374 .524 .898
DH - David Dellucci
Dellucci is another very interesting example. How many teams have a leadoff hitter who strikes out as much as Dellucci did in 2005 (121)? Answer: probably just the Indians' Grady Sizemore. Also, how many teams have a leadoff hitter who hit 29 home runs? What a great 2005 season Dellucci had. He hit .251/.367/.513 with 17 doubles, 29 homers and 65 RBI. What a remarkable Isolated Discipline he had. In 2006, I expect him to play a little bit less, but when he does, I expect he will come close to maintaining his walk rates. His power numbers have to come down a little bit, but he will still be very solid.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSDellucci 119 368 55 92 15 2 18 165 56 56 109 8 4 .250 .349 .448 .797
One 2 Watch – Phil Nevin
Nevin was essentially benched by the Padres after 29 games a year ago. He then came to the Rangers in exchange for Chan Ho Park. He did next to nothing for the Rangers yet they have to pay him still in 2006. I think that he could platoon with Dellucci at DH, get plenty of pinch hitting opportunities and maybe give a breather in RF, 3B, 1B or even Catcher.Player G AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPSNevin 83 253 36 66 17 1 13 124 44 19 66 0 0 .261 .313 .490 .803
Team Fantasy Summary -
The Good - Teixeira and Young are as good as anyone at their positions, and Wilkerson could be a star in 2006.
The Bad - Possibly catcher and CF.
The Question Marks - How good can Teixeira be? Can Wilkerson become Teixeira-like? Can Kinsler become the AL Rookie of the Year?
Well, that is it for Part 1of my Fantasy Baseball Preview. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. The same format will be used for the rest of the teams in baseball. Next up, I will discuss the American League East Division hitters. Please let me know what you think. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions would be welcomed! E-mail me or leave Comments below.
Here are just a few other sites that I noticed yesterday:
NBC has decided to take The Book of Daniel off of its schedule. In basic terms, it is being canceled. I really did enjoy the show and hope that it turns up again. They were disappointed by the ratings, but then again, if they wanted ratings, it should not have been on Friday nights.
Randy Bush was Aaron Gleeman's choice as the #40 Twins player of all-time. Today, he presents Player #39 to us. Check it out!
The Twins and Nick Punto agreed to a contract yesterday to avoid arbitration. Oh boy!
Kelly Thesier is on the South Leg of the Twins Winter Caravan this week with Joe Mauer, Carlos Silva, Tony Oliva and Dick Bremer. Here is her first story from that trip.
I would encourage people to check out Around the Minors (with Mayo). Last Friday, he had Kevin Slowey on his mlb.com radio show. Having listened to it, I wrote Mr. Mayo an e-mail saying that I had a Q&A with Kevin and he participated in my Football Picks, etc. I then wrote that this was not for radio, just for some fun reading for him. However, he did not see that until he started reading the e-mail on-air. In the end, he was kind enough to mention my site, which is really against mlb.com policy, so thanks to him. He has since exchanged a number of fun e-mails with me.
Finally, is anyone going to Twins Fest this weekend at the Metrodome? I would absolutely love to, but the concept of driving 7 hours down there does not sound too appealing. I am still hoping to find someone to drive down with me, but even if I can't, I may still go down by myself. Let me know if you're going to be there. Wouldn't it be nice to have a blogger's table or something where people can meet?
And on that note, I wish you a great Wednesday. If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read above, please e-mail me. Have yourself a great rest of then week!
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