|Although Iím stating the obvious, Johan Santanaís fantasy value sees a definite boost with the move to the Mets. Not only will the league switch be huge, but he also improves offenses as well. Itís ironic that the best pitcher in baseball has only one plus pitch. Of course, that pitch is probably the best in the game. Also, his command Ė the most important aspect of pitching Ė is pretty good as well.
In most drafts, there seems to be a clear top-3 (ARod, HRam, Reyes), but Iím going to argue thereís actually an obvious top-4, with David Wright sliding in next. A rarity, Wright contributes in all five roto categories, and itís easy to forget heís still just 25 years old. Last seasonís 30/30 campaign looks even more impressive when you realize he finished April with zero homers and just three stolen bases. He hit .364/.465/.596 with a 42:53 K:BB ratio after the All-Star break. In fact, I donít think he can go too high in drafts this year.
Carlos Pena is moving up my draft list as the season approaches. Itís never easy backing someone coming off such an obvious career-year, and heís almost guaranteed to regress in 2008. However, I actually think he can become a bargain because of those facts. A once big-time prospect, Penaís power and plate discipline are for real. When looking at his home runs from last season, a far greater percentage were ďno doubtersĒ than the league average, so the luck element canít be blamed. Also, Penaís isolated slugging (.344) was better than Alex Rodriguez (.331) and Prince Fielder (.329). He also had more walks per plate appearance (.168) than stars like Ryan Howard (.165), David Wright (.132) and Magglio Ordonez (.111). Donít go taking some lower upside first baseman like Derrek Lee over him.
In honor of the writerís strike hopefully coming to an end, here are my top-10 shows from the past year: 1. Curb Your Enthusiasm 2. Tell Me You Love Me 3. The Office 4. Lost 5. The Sarah Silverman Program 6. The Sopranos 7. Dexter 8. 30 Rock 9. Flight Of The Conchords 10. Mad Men
One good thing to remember when analyzing a playerís walk rate is that K:BB ratios donít always tell the whole story. Placido Polanco has a terrific batting eye, but his walk totals donít reflect that because pitchers simply arenít afraid of his bat. Conversely, itís no coincidence that hitters like Sammy Sosa started walking at incredibly higher rates once he started compiling those 60-homer seasons. How pitchers treat hitters can have just as much of an affect on walk rates as the skill itself.
If you are looking for a breakout candidate, look no further than the Nationalsí outfield, where one exists at each spot. I like Lastings Milledgeís power/speed potential the most, but Austin Kearns isnít too far behind. He saw his strikeouts per plate appearance (.157) drop dramatically last season, and RFK Stadium really suppressed his numbers, something that wonít be a problem this year. He may not ever develop into the star that he was once expected to, but still just 27 years old, thereís time for him to become a major fantasy asset. Oh, and Wily Mo Pena could easily clobber 40 bombs this season as well. And for those in NL-only leagues looking for a late flier, try Elijah Dukes, who would also likely excel if one of the aforementioned players were to get hurt.
What an awesome product. Iím definitely purchasing one of these.
Willy Taveras looks like a better value pick than Juan Pierre this season. Pierre has the big contract, but heís the Dodgersí fourth best outfielder, so banking on playing time is a little risky for the price it will take to get him. Taveras, meanwhile, is locked into his role on the Rockies, which included a 55-steal pace last year. An injury left him with 33 SBs, and since his career-high is still a modest 34 SB campaign, his price tag on draft day shouldnít be too outrageous. He has Coors Field at his aid, and the Rockies clearly have given him the green light.
Pedro Martinez is another player I see as a bit undervalued right now. His surgery is far enough in the rearview mirror that he should enter 2008 close to 100 percent, and while his fastball no longer breaks 90 MPH, his changeup and ability to locate remain top-notch. It also doesnít hurt that other than maybe Greg Maddux, heís the gameís smartest pitcher. His 32:7 K:BB ratio and zero homers allowed over 28 innings last season reveal thereís still plenty left in the tank, and with that offense, he should have no trouble in the wins department either. Heís 36 years old, which is hardly ancient when you realize Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens are 44 and 45, respectively. However, taking Martinez in your fantasy draft would be tempting the karma gods, as this is pretty disturbing.
Posted by Dalton Del Don at 2/6/2008 5:57:00 PM