The Good Vic, Avoiding a Panda, and other Fantasy predictions for the 2010 Baseball Season

Every fantasy magazine, columnist, and talking head seems to the think the same thing. Cole Hamels looks great in spring training, Jason Heyward is probably going to cure world hunger, Curtis Granderson will hit 40 homers with the assistance of the Yankee Stadium jet streams, and as always, Alfonso Soriano sucks.

Well I’m here to give you some more in depth and different predictions at each position that will help you win your league (and take all your friends money, pending the legalization of gambling between my writing this and your reading it). After all, anyone can watch ESPN, but only you are reading Venuing Voices.

Prediction: Victor Martinez is the best buy for a catcher this year. Yup, ahead of the mighty Joe Mauer.

You’re probably saying to yourself “self: why am I spending time reading this guy when his first prediction is so ridiculous?” The defending AL MVP is a great player and will have a great year, but he isn’t as valuable for where you’ll get him as Vic. Here are Martinez’s numbers before the all-star break last year: .294 14 homers 59 RBI’s in 330 AB’s. After the break? .314 9 homers 49 RBI’s in 258 AB’s. Anyone remember what happened after the break? He went to a better lineup. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer had a career high in BABIP (translation: luck) last year, hitting .373 compared to his career average of .344. Mauer will be great and his numbers may even be better this Martinez, but snag Vic in the late 5th round (where he’s currently going) compared to the early 2nd round (for Mr. Mauer) and thank me later.

First Base
Prediction: No first baseman is worthy of a first or second round pick.

You ever heard of the Nash equilibrium? In A Beautiful Mind (and in real life) John Forbes Nash theorized that if you take your opponents strategy into account in game theory, you will be in better shape. He won a Nobel Prize. Let’s give it a shot.

Great first baseman are plentiful this year, with the top 4 (Pujols, Fielder, Tex, Howard) going in the top 14 picks. These guys will produce, but given the price and plethora of first basemen, they’re not worth it. Your opponents know this and will do one of two things: draft one of them anyway, or wait and take a second tier guy (see: Youkilis, Kevin). With that in mind here’s what you do: wait even longer. Adam Dunn (Average Draft Position: 72) and Carlos Pena (ADP: 93, and in the ever popular contract year) will have 1b eligibility this year and are good for a guarenteed 40 homer/100 RBI season. The only difference between the big four and these two are average and RBI’s. Fill your lineup with better average guys (Victor Martinez? See, symmetry) and nab these guaranteed homers late.

Second Base

Allow me to elaborate. Brandon Phillips is the Mad Men of fantasy baseball. Everyone knows he’s good, but people still don’t draft him. He’s been 20/20 (homers/steals) in each of the last 3 seasons (hitting .275 on average) and was 30/30 in 2007. Take Don Draper a round later then Cano or Pedroia, sit back, and sip your scotch.

Third Base
Prediction: Don’t be fooled by Pablo Sandoval, fill this spot early.

Early as in your 1st round pick. Third base is the scarcest position this year. After the first 6 guys (7 if you count Mark Reynolds, who I don’t want) it gets ugly. Evan Longoria is entrenched in a great lineup with two of his best teammates (Pena and Carl Crawford) in a contract year. Think those two are looking for pay-dirt and will play as such? Think it’ll help Longoria? His average, homers, and RBI’s are trending up and he is still very young.

Conversely, Sandoval had a very high BABIP last year (.350) and had 10 less home runs than his entire professional career combined last season (25 to 35). Even if the average stays, the homers won’t. The lineup is god awful. That will make whoever drafts him a sad panda.

Prediction: Go old school

How old school? Miguel Tejada, that’s how old school. He’s eligible at shortstop this year and you should take a good, long look at him. Tejada’s numbers last year, playing for the Astros in their cavernous ballpark: .313 14 homers 86 RBI’s 5 steals. Here’s the numbers from our mystery player X in a much better ballpark for a much better team: .250 21 homers 77 RBI’s 31 steals. Player X? Jimmy Rollins, currently going 28th overall compared to 213th overall for Tejada. Sure Rollins had more steals, but you can find those in the outfield (hooray foreshadowing!) Tejada is going to an underrated, young Orioles lineup with Matt Wieters in year two (If Jason Heyward doesn’t cure world hunger, Wieters might), Nick Markakis, a developing Nolan Reimold, and Adam Jones. This means expect more RBI chances and a slight upturn in homers (even if the average drops to around .280 or .290) with the move to Camden Yards for Miggy.

Prediction: You can find good outfielders late. Like, starting level good. Also, get your speed here.

Speed is in the outfield. That’s the one thing I’ll mirror the talking heads on. What they’re not saying, is that you can get your outfielders way later then other positions. If you’ve followed my advice up to this point, you probably need some average and speed help. If you want them both, Shane Victorino (ADP: 76) will give that to you. He hit .292 and stole 25 bases last year. Granted, he may be moving back in the order, but that lineup is good enough where it doesn’t matter. Expect more chances to run (need to produce runs for the back of the order) and a similar average.

What? You want a young guy with 30/30 potential being taken 132nd overall? How about Carlos Gonzalez? Last year in 89 games he hit .284 with 13 homers and 16 SB’s. With a full year in Colorado he is almost a lock for 20/20 and may flirt with 30 stolen bases. His walk percentage is trending way up (more walks = more stolen base chances) and strikeouts are trending down (more chances for balls to fall in, see: raise in BABIP = raise in average).

Another guy who was vastly different after a change in scenery last year is Jeff Francoeur (ADP: 212). With Atlanta, in the first half of last year, he hit .250 with 5 homers and 35 RBI’s. After being traded to the Mets he hit .310 with 10 homers and 41 RBI’s in 7 fewer games. Those post-all star numbers are similar to Andre Ethier’s (AD: 59, .298 13 and 50) and better than Nick Markakis’s (ADP: 62, .296 10 and 44). For what it’s worth, I also like Colby Rasmus (ADP: 228) and think Torii Hunter (ADP: 84) will put up top tier second outfielder (think 11th-14th best outfielder) numbers, despite being drafted as a third outfielder.

Starting Pitchers
Prediction: Brett Anderson will be a top 20 pitcher. Also, check out Clayton (no, not that one).

Hello, Mr. Anderson. His first full year was solid, expect him to get even better. In his minor league career his K’s/9 innings were significantly higher than last year (as high as 11 compared to 7.7) and it doesn’t hurt that he plays in Oakland, where fly balls go to die. Usually pitchers see a slight difference from their minor league career to their major league one, but these numbers are pretty significant. Young pitchers take some time to get adjusted, and once he was adjusted Anderson was great. His first half ERA was 4.64, compared to 3.48 in the second half. He’s being drafted 28th amongst starting pitchers currently, and he’ll be better then that.

Clayton Kershaw, meet Clayton Richard. Tricky Dick is going undrafted currently but he’s got some pretty interesting numbers. Check these out; his ERA once he got out of the AL and into San Diego, where fly balls that escape Oakland go to die: 4.65 in Chicago, 4.08 in San Diego. In fact, once he got fully acclimated to San Diego at the end of the season, his ERA was a fantastic 3.12. Granted this is a small sample size, but for a guy going undrafted you could do a whole lot worse. Take him at the end of your draft.

Prediction: Ryan Franklin is a top 10 closer.

What if I told you there’s a closer who plays for a top 5 team in the MLB, had a sub-2.00 ERA, saved almost 40 games and who is going 18th overall amongst closers (behind Billy Wagner and Brian Fuentes)? That’s Franklin. He will get plenty of chances and showed last year that he can convert. If that’s not enough, his HR’s/9 dropped from 1.14 in ’08 to .3 last year. Pretty significant.

So there it is, my predictions for 2010. Sure, they’re a little different, but so am I. Use these to win your league (and if gambling has been legalized since you started reading this, take your friends money).

Until next time, keep the bat on your shoulders.
-Backwards K

3 Responses to “The Good Vic, Avoiding a Panda, and other Fantasy predictions for the 2010 Baseball Season”
  1. Queens Street Hooligan says:

    Good stuff, at first I was thinking, is this guy gonna give me a reason to draft a Red Sox player at every position? I think if gambling doesn’t get legalized I might get charged with burglary for stealing everyone’s money.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] speed out of your last outfield spot, but you took Jeff Francoeur (who I happen to love, as shown here). No worries. There are always undrafted options. Every position has eligible players going […]

  2. […] Martinez – Boston Red Sox (Catcher) I’ve talked about my love for Victor Martinez here but there’s more here than just him being a better buy than Joe Mauer. He’s hitting […]

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