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Circling the Bases: Chris Iannetta vs. John Buck

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.


ADP TALK

John Buck vs. Chris Iannetta

According to ADP information from Mock Draft Central, in 5x5 leagues Buck is being taken with the 233rd overall pick, Iannetta the 324th.

On the surface this looks like a perfectly acceptable gap for the two players given their 2010 production. In fact, the comparison is actually laughable if we look only at least year's numbers.

J. Buck: .281-20-66-53-0
Iannetta: .197-9-27-20-1

However, those numbers don't exactly tell the whole story. Let's continue the comparison of the two by looking at the career slash lines.

J. Buck: .243/.301/.421
Iannetta: .234/.353/.435

Admit it, you are a bit surprised just how well that Iannetta stacks up against Buck aren't you? A big key is that OBP difference because when you hit .235 you need to be able to get on base to stay in the lineup consistently.

Since Buck has an advantage of more than 1,000 at-bats in his career over Iannetta, we can't compare their career numbers in the counting categories. Instead, here are the numbers for each hitter per 500 at-bats.

J. Buck: 19 homers, 70 RBI, 58 runs
Iannetta: 23 homers, 83 RBI, 67 runs

Is the clarity on the picture starting to come into focus?

Pretty much any way you slice it, Iannetta has been a more productive hitter than Buck – unless of course you look solely at their performances in 2010. Given that Iannetta finally appears free and clear of the Rockies' shackles, meaning that he will be given every shot to be the everyday catcher, I simply can't understand why there is such a massive gap between these two backstops, other than the gap in their production in 2010. While I think that Iannetta will vastly surpass the numbers he posted last season, I'm not at all sure that Buck will, and for more on that give How to Evaluate a Player a read.

Edwin Jackson vs. Ervin Santana

According to ADP information from Mock Draft Central, in 5x5 leagues Jackson is being taken with the 192nd overall pick, Santana the 242nd.

These pitchers are closer than the two backstops, though that is hardly a surprise given that the two hurlers posted very similar numbers last season.

Jackson: 4.47 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 7.78 K/9, 2.32 K/BB, ,265 BAA in 209.1 IP
Santana: 3.92 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 6.83 K/9, 2.32 K/BB, .259 BAA in 222.2 IP

The main difference between the two, other than the listed difference in their strikeout rates, is their diametrically opposed records – Jackson was just 10-12 while Santana was 17-10. So why the difference in ADP? Perception perhaps?

Jackson was really good last year with the White Sox with a 3.24 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, not to mention 77 Ks in 75 innings. Still, we are talking about 75 innings from a guy who owns a career ERA of 4.62, a WHIP of 1.49 and a record of 48-51. Are you going to more heavily weigh 75 innings of strong work at the end of last season or the 800-innings of so-so work previous to that? Maybe that's not really fair, Jackson has certainly pitched better of late, so let's widen our review to two years with these hurlers (2009-10). How do they stack up?

Jackson: 23-21, 4.04 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7.27 K/9, 2.31 K/BB
Santana: 25-18, 4.35 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.86 K/9, 2.30 K/BB

I'm not going to say unequivocally that Santana will be the better performer in 2011, but given how close their numbers are he might turn out to be the better value.

BREAKING DOWN: Dexter Fowler, Rockies
Current ADP: 283rd overall, 57th in the outfield

A young, highly gifted physical specimen, the perception with Fowler is that he either stalled or regressed in 2010. The reality though is that he was basically the same player he was in his strong rookie effort, albeit with the result being a major regression in the steals column that caught everyone's eyes. Honestly, it's pretty amazing that he was able to post nearly identical marks in back to back seasons.

2009: .266-4-34-73 with a 0.58 BB/K, 115 hits and a .406 SLG
2010: .260-6-36-73 with a 0.55 BB/K, 114 hits and a .410 SLG

Of course, that doesn't wipe out the fact that his steals total fell from 27 to 13, and let's face it – outfielders who don't reach double digits in homers or those who aren't hitting .275 aren't of much use in mixed leagues if they are barely reaching double digits in steals. One would have to think his steals total will climb this season, after all his speed hasn't gone anywhere, and his career OBP of .351 is pretty solid for a youngster. In fact, his ability to get on base, combined with his speed and what could be an increase in playing time this season, would point to the very real possibility that he could set a career best in the steals column in year three.

Also encouraging is the fact that Fowler hit a few more balls on the ground last season. He posted a 1.15 GB/FB ratio in 2009 before pushing that total up to 1.36 last year. That number, combined with his solid 21.1 percent career line drive rate hints that his batting average could be headed north after languishing in the .260's the past couple of years.

Will Fowler break out and turn into Juan Pierre on the base paths? No. But that doesn't mean he won't return to his steal total of 2009. If his average comes up as it very well could, and he is in the lineup every day, it's conceivable that his 5x5 production could match the level of what Austin Jackson posted last year for the Tigers (.293-4-41-103-27).

WHO AM I?

I hit more homers last year than Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Howard.

I drove in more runs than Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche and Prince Fielder.

I scored more runs than Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee and Billy Butler.

I had a better OBP than Mark Teixeira, Dunn and Howard.

I had a better SLG than Gonzalez, Howard, Teixeira and Fielder.

I had a better OPS than Shin-Soo Choo, Evan Longoria, Joe Mauer and Ryan Braun.

Still don't know who I am? How about this extra hint.

In each of the last eight seasons I have hit at least 23 homers with 89 RBI each campaign. Moreover, I've hit at least 30 homers with 100 RBI in six of those eight seasons.

BY THE NUMBERS

.194: The batting average of the players who filled the role of designated hitter in 2010 for the Mariners. That putrid level of performance is not a shock given that the Mariners scored 513 runs, the lowest mark in the AL since the league shifted to the DH in 1973. You think they should have held on to Russell Branyan, who hit .251 with 31 homers for them in 2009, the entire season last year? Branyan went on blasting last year with a .237 average and 25 homers, including 15 for the Mariners before he was sent to the Indians. Shockingly, despite playing only 57 games with the Mariners, Branyan ended up leading the club with 15 homers – three more than Franklin Gutierrez. In case you have forgotten over the offseason, Troy Tulowitzki hit 15 homers last year for the Rockies in the month of September.

1.70: The career ERA of ace Athletics' reliever Andrew Bailey. He will start the year on the DL, and there is obviously some concern given his track record of issues with his wing, but there is no denying his dominance when on the hill. In fact, amongst pitchers who have thrown at least 130 innings in their career, he has tossed 132.1, his ERA is the best in the history of baseball (Al Spalding is second at 1.78).

2: The number of shortstops in the history of baseball who have qualified for the batting title and hit over .300 in a season in which they were 37 years old (Honus Wagner and Luke Appling). Why is this significant? Derek Jeter will be 37 years old in June. Jeter, who hit a career worst .270 last season, owns a career batting average of .314. Jeter also hit at least .300 each year from 2006-09 and previously had never hit lower than .291, so it will be interesting to see where the future HOFamer will finish the season.

2.01: The career ERA of Joakim Soria over 255 frames. Obviously that is a dynamic number, and historically speaking it's almost as impressive as the number posted by Bailey in that it is the third best mark in baseball, since 1900, amongst hurlers who have tossed 250 career innings. The only two hurlers to better Soria's mark are Ed Walsh (1.82) and Addie Joss (1.89), and both of their careers were over by 1917.

144: The number of homers that Carlos Pena has hit the past three years, an average of 36 dingers per season. His total of 144 big flies is the sixth best mark in baseball ahead of such luminaries as Miguel Cabrera (143), Adrian Gonzalez (137) and Mark Teixeira (135). Of course, Pena has hit a paltry .238 the past four years, only .092 points below the .330 mark posted by Albert Pujols. Moreover, Pena's .238 mark was just 189th in baseball amongst batters who accrued at least 1,500 plate appearances the past four years, so while the homers are fantastic, the batting average drain somewhat mitigates the greatness of his power stroke.

I AM...

The Red Sox' David Ortiz.

Ortiz hit 32 homers in 2010, one more than Gonzalez and Howard.

Ortiz had 102 RBI, Gonzalez 101, LaRoche 100 and Fielder 83.

Ortiz scored 86 runs, Dunn 85, Lee 80 and Butler 77.

Ortiz had a .370 OBP, Teixeira .365, Dunn .356 and Howard .353.

Ortiz had a .529 SLG, Gonzalez .511, Howard .505, Teixeira .481 and Fielder .471.

Ortiz had a .899 OPS, Choo .885, Longoria, .879, Mauer .871 and Braun .866.

Ortiz isn't the hitter he once was, but the guy can still slug it well enough to help out almost any fantasy roster.


Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.