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Split Squad: Star Watch

Conan Hines

Conan Hines

Conan Hines writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Justin Green

Justin Green

Justin Green writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

This is our last article for a while and we decided to give some analysis on a few notable performances from the 2010 season. Look for monthly articles in the offseason and please contact us with any topics or players you would like to see debated.

The 2010 Greenies Ė (by Justin Green)

Rising Star (Rookie/Prospect to Remember)

Jeremy Hellickson Ė I donít think there is much debate that Hellickson has major potential in 2011. As a 23-year old, he threw 35.1 major league innings and finished the season 4-0 with a 3.57 ERA. His 4.71 K:BB ratio is very impressive and the confidence and poise he showed on the mound bodes well for his future. Hellickson had a miniscule 1.08 WHIP and batters posted a below-average .281 BABIP against him. Major league hitters will make adjustments as more tape on Hellickson becomes available, but there is no question he got off to an excellent start. His 2011 role has not been officially defined but I couldnít imagine the Rays opening the season without him in their rotation.

Forgotten Star (Better Than Expected)

Jose Bautista Ė Underappreciated is either an understatement or completely obvious, but thatís why I decided to talk about Bautista. The dude has blasted 54 homers so far, with 124 RBI and 109 runs. Those are amazing numbers and the obvious question is, can he keep it up? That question is not easy to answer. The 30-year old has only played more than 128 games once before this year. In that 142-game 2007 season with the Pirates, Bautista hit 15 homers and drove in 63 runs. Not bad for a Pirate. You have to assume he didnít have much around him that year, so 63 RBI isnít horrible. Last year as a Blue Jay Bautista played in just 112 games but hit 13 homers and drove in 40. His BB% in 2009 was 13.9 and he struck out 25.3% of the time. Those numbers changed to a 15% walk percentage and a 20.3% K-rate in 2010, a solid improvement. Long story short, I wouldnít count on 50+ homers again next year, but after only his second full season as a starter, Bautista has shown he has some skills the Pirates may have missed. On the downside, the word is out and Bautista may experience a Mark Reynolds-like decrease in production and overestimation of fantasy value. Bautista was better than advertised for sure, but donít overpay for him next year.

Inflated Star (Not as Good as Advertised)

Prince Fielder Ė There was so much talk about Fielder potentially getting traded in 2010 that few commentators discussed his decrease in production. With just a few games left in the season, Fielder has hit 14 less homers and driven in 58 less runs than he did a year ago. His OPS dropped 132 points and his average dropped from .295 in 2009 to .265 in 2010. Fielder came into the 2010 fantasy season with a big price tag and owners did not get what they paid for. His peripherals stayed about the same, he walked and struck out at about the same rate in 2010 as he did in 2009, but the numbers simply weren't there. Thus, fantasy owners should tread carefully when making a move for Fielder in 2011.

Falling Star (Decent Season, but Falling)

Bobby Abreu Ė The guy is 36 yearsold, so although a decline is to be expected, Iím still going with him. Despite posting decent numbers - 86 runs, 20 homers, and 73 RBI - Abreuís production is on the decline. Abreu amazingly had seven straight 100+ RBI seasons but drove in just 77 runs this year. I know he canít be blamed for the Angels' lack of offense , but it has to be considered when determining Abreuís fantasy value. More shocking than the RBI drop-off, Abreu's batting average dropped 37 points from .293 in 2009 to .256 in 2010. This year marks Abreuís first sub-.280 average season since 1997, when he only played in 51 games. He walked less and struck out more this year than last, probably a result of him Ďpressingí and trying to make something happen for the light-hitting Angels. Fantasy owners should take note of the warning signs.

The 2010 Hinesies Ė (by Conan Hines)

Rising Star (Rookie/Prospect to Remember)

John Jaso Ė I could have gone with some of the big name prospects that emerged onto the scene in 2010, but I feel like Jaso needs his recognition. I love this guy for a bunch of reasons: 1) his 14.8% BB rate, 2) he plays for the Rays, 3) he is used consistently in the leadoff spot, and 4) he plays catcher. Also, if you take batting average out of the equation, Jaso put up a comparative stat line similar to Joe Mauer. If one prorates Jaso's stats over the same 577 PAs Mauer received this season, he would end up with an 82-7-63-6 production line. Compare that to Mauer's 88-9-74-1 numbers - it's not far off. You can find your average at other positions, but Jaso certainly wonít hurt you in that department considering he hit .266 with only a .286 BABIP. He could easily hit .270 going forward, and keep in mind he experienced just his first full season as a major leaguer. Jaso is certainly worth a late-round pick in next year's draft.

Forgotten Star (Better Than Expected)

Jered Weaver Ė Iíve talked about him before, and I donít believe he will get his due in 2011 drafts despite some impressive numbenrs. Yes, Weaver will move up quite a bit from his triple-digit ADP last year, but I think next season will be the last you can get him at a reasonable price. Pitchers who rack up 229 K in 217 IP are few and far between. The Angels are no longer the front-runner in the miserable AL West, so though Weaver might not put up a big win total, you canít go wrong with his other numbers. There were no statistical anomalies in his performance. All his peripherals straddled the norms. He increased his groundball rate and limited the home runs more than usual, and the kid will turn only 28 in a few days. Heís entering his prime and is dueling like an ace. One more season and he will be a stud Ė and no longer available at a reasonable price.

Inflated Star (Not as Good as Advertised)

Joe Mauer Ė I could catch a lot of heat for this one, but this guy went way too early in drafts this year. Plucked somewhere between the second and early third round, Mauer returned closer to sixth-round value. Heís still the best at his position, but outside of batting average he doesnít outshine a slew of other catchers by that much. His 20% HR/FB rate in í09 should have had alarm bells ringing in your head. Parlay that with the spacious new outdoor stadium and eager owners were doomed for a disappointing return. I love Mauer, but Iím afraid Iíll never see him on my fantasy team the way he gets ogled. The fact that he only plays 135 games per season hurts even more. Stay away from Mauer before the fifth round. There are a ton of other stars out there Ė and thereís always a John Jaso in the late rounds to pick up cheap.

Falling Star (Decent Season, but Falling)

Johan Santana Ė The injuries are beginning to pile up on the Venezuelanís sub-six-foot frame. Once known for his treacherous punch-out ability, Santana's K/9 rate has steadily decreased over the last three seasons, culminating in a 6.5 K/9 rate in 2010. Iím not saying Santana will not be productive if healhty in 2011, but donít view him as an ace any longer. In fact, the only thing keeping him at ace status is his track record and the fact he plays home games at Citi Field. Santana's GB% has dropped 5% the last two seasons from his career mark. I also donít know if youíll ever see him throw 230 innings again, making his impact even lesser. Santana is another one of those guys that will go earlier than he should based on name recognition alone, but with the NL East only getting stronger, I think most owners will be disappointed if they take him before the 8th round next year.