|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 6/3/1977|
Profile: In 2010, Hafner played in more than 100 games for the first time since 2007, and managed an unflashy, but useful, .278/.364/.449 line in a deflated 2010 run environment as Cleveland’s primary DH. However useful that may be in real baseball, for a DH-only player in traditional 5×5 leagues, it won’t cut it. Hafner was last a good fantasy piece in 2006, a lifetime ago in baseball terms. Without the power to truly make pitchers pay, his walk rate has dropped. Even 2010’s numbers need to be seen in light of his .332 BABIP, so his average will likely drop. Cleveland doesn’t really have any other options at DH next season, so if he stays healthy (and even in 2010, he only played in 118 games) Hafner will help in counting categories; although, given the condition of the rest of Cleveland’s offense, he isn’t going to get that many opportunities to drive runs in or be driven in. Expect .260/.350/.430 with about 60 runs, 60 RBI, and 10-15 home runs. In other words, at this point Hafner is Billy Butler without the average. He should go drafted in all but the shallowest leagues, but don’t spend a high draft pick or more than minimal fantasy dollars on him. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Hafner had a mini-comeback in 2010, but the pre-2007 Hafner is almost certainly gone for good. He’s better than people think in real baseball, but not in ways that can help a fantasy team very much.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 5/29/1976|
Profile: It’s been two seasons since Hairston hit .326 with 15 steals, and since then he’s hit just .247 with 16 steals total. He has added a bit of power (ten homers in both 2009 and 2010) and always provides multi-position eligibility, but the big question is playing time. Hairston has managed 400+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but it took an injury to Everth Cabrera to get him that much playing time this past season. Jerry Jr. is also coming back from injuries of his own — including an elbow strain and a stress fracture in his tibia — something that might not be so easy at 34 years old. Hairston is expected to be a part-time player regardless of where he ends up in 2011, limiting his value even more. Keep him away from your draft board, but also keep an eye on his playing-time situation and see if he goes on a BABIP-induced tirade at some point during the season. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Hairston’s value is limited by his seemingly never-ending status as a part-time player, but he has managed to find regular at-bats thanks to injuries in the last few seasons. Keep an eye on him to see if he repeats his 2008 magic again.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 5/25/1980|
Profile: Usually a player will see his power numbers fall off with a move to Petco Park, but not Hairston. His ISO jumped into the .200s after a trade from the Diamondbacks to the Padres back in 2007, but that has more to do with playing time than anything. The younger Hairston brother was a decent home-run play from ’07 through ’09, averaging 15 long balls per season, but his skills in the other traditional fantasy categories are lacking. Scott has never hit for a high average, topping out at .265 in 2009, and his general role as a part-time player limits his RBI and runs-scored potential. Only once in his career has he swiped double-digit bases, so that’s not part of his game either. Hairston has a tendency to go on hot streaks and smash five homers in eight games on occasion, so unless you keep an eye on him and cash in on one of those stretches, he doesn’t have much else to offer a fantasy team. Late in the offseason, Hairston signed with Washington. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: The younger Hairston brother offers double-digit home runs and not much else. His fantasy value is also limited by his general role as a part-time/platoon player.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/28/1979|
Profile: After a few years in limbo, Bill Hall will again get a chance to start in 2011. He had a nice bounceback in 2010, hitting more than 15 home runs for the first time since 2006. The most important factor with Hall is his regular spot. He’ll man second base for the Astros, and will likely get a decent spot in the batting order. If he can replicate his 2010 in 150 games rather than 120 then he can be a decent backup, and perhaps a fill-in player. He might even be good enough to start in deeper leagues. He’s probably not going to hit for a high average, but he’ll have some power at Minute Maid Park. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Once a very good starter for the Brewers, Hall will once again get a chance to start after a couple of years in a utility role. His new park in Houston could help enhance his power.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 5/21/1981|
Profile: It’s not entirely accurate to call Hamilton’s 2010 a “bounceback” season. While, yes, it’s true that his 2009 line of .268/.315/.426 was considerably lower than his excellent 2007 and ’08 seasons, his 2010 was so much better than either of those earlier years, that to suggest that he was bouncing “back” to anything is absurd, as he transcended any personal precedents considerably. Hamilton’s .359/.411/.633 was enough to make him the second-best fantasy value on a per-game basis — behind Carlos Gonzalez — and also to win him the American league MVP award despite missing 29 games. Those 30 missed games are meaningful when evaluating his future prospects: Hamilton has proven to be injury prone, and shouldn’t be counted on for much more than 130-135 contests per season. In terms of his production, last season’s .359 batting average, buoyed by a likely unsustainable .390 BABIP, probably isn’t due to be repeated. That said, on account of he mostly crushes the ball, Hamilton has repeatedly produced higher-than-average BABIPs. Accordingly, his 2011 line could likely resemble his career numbers: .311/.371/.544, with something just south of 30 homers and 100 RBI and runs. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Is unlikely to repeat crazy 2010 season and is also prone to injury. In other words, don’t overpay for him, even though he’s obviously very talented.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/16/1980|
Profile: Although the Reds are bringing back veteran Ramon Hernandez for one last season, Hanigan likely hit his way into an extended role with the team in 2010. He showed some power (.128 ISO) for the first time in his career, and he parlayed that in to a .300/.405/.429 line in 243 plate appearances as Hernandez’s backup. This power boost just serves to build on excellent plate skills, as Hanigan walks at a high rate (12.6% career) and strikes out at a low rate (11.5% career). That combination is what give Hanigan the potential to put up .400 on base percentages, even with only marginally high BABIPs like his .313 last season. Hanigan’s fantasy value is going to be highly dependent on his playing time. Due to Hernandez’s age, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Hanigan pick up a majority of the catcher PAs, and his average and the potent Reds lineup should make him a decent play in NL-only leagues. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Hanigan seems primed for a big year at the catching position. However, it won’t matter if the Reds stick with Ramon Hernandez as the starting catcher.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 8/19/1982|
Profile: Two years ago, Hardy was viewed as one of the best sources of power production at a premium position – say that five times fast –after launching 50 home runs between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. While none of his other skills have seen much change since, his power is now eligible to be pictured on the side of a milk carton, as he has just 17 home runs over the last two seasons. Given that he doesn’t hit for a high average or steal bases, his ability to hit the ball over the fence was the only thing that made him an interesting option in most leagues – if that’s gone forever, then there’s not much of a reason to draft him. However, there are reasons to think he could find his power stroke again in 2011. Five of his six home runs came away from Target Field last year, and moving to a friendlier home ballpark should help. He’s also just 28 years old, so his power should not have atrophied entirely at this age. If you need some power up the middle, he could be worth a flyer. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: 2011 is the year he tries to prove he’s not the new Ben Grieve. He’s worth taking a risk on, but don’t count on a complete revival of his early career performances.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 3/24/1982|
Profile: Corey Hart has been somewhat of a frustrating starting outfield option for fantasy owners in the past few years. Until this past season, his AVG and SLG numbers decreased every year from 2007 to 2009. And while Hart posted career highs with 31 HRs, 91 runs and 102 RBIs with a robust .283/.340/.525 in 2010, his real value early in his career came from his 20/20 seasons. In 2010, Hart attempted only 13 stolen bases and was caught stealing six times. While he did spend most of his time hitting second in the Brewers’ lineup, look elsewhere if you want a 20/20 outfielder. His plate discipline actually worsened from 2009 to 2010, as he walked less and struck out more. The 2010 slash-stat numbers look good, but his high BABIP of .324 doesn’t seem sustainable if you look at his season-by-season numbers. Based on his average BABIP seasons and his trend in K% (increasing every year since 2008), expect something along the lines of .260/.330/.450. In standard leagues, Hart is a fringe starting third outfield and will be riding the waiver wires if his BABIP regresses back to the average. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Hart may not be a potential 20/20 outfielder ever again, which kills his fantasy value. If he can hit 30 HRs again, he will be a third outfielder in most fantasy leagues, but he will need to improve plate discipline.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 6/22/1979|
Profile: Until 2010, Hawpe was one of the most consistent fantasy performers you could draft. You knew you were going to get around 25 home runs and a batting average of .285 or better. Playing for some decent Colorado clubs, Hawpe would also contribute at least 80 RBI a year. He wasn’t spectacular, but Hawpe was solid, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hawpe lost a good deal of his power in 2010, and that toyed with his batting average, and also his home-run and RBI totals. It’s weird to think of a guy with a .300 BABIP having a hard time with balls in play, but his career BABIP is around the .340 mark. Hopefully staying in the NL West and moving to first base should help his numbers, but playing in Petco Park certainly won’t. Hawpe may get himself strong enough to hit homers on the road, but he’s going to have a hard time in San Diego. If he can manage a .275 average, Hawpe may be worth having on your bench in NL-only leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Hawpe was a consistent performer for many years, but he slipped in 2010. He could be a decent bench option in NL-only leagues if he can get have a little bounceback season.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 5/9/1984|
Profile: Primarily a left fielder during 2008 and 2009, Headley became a full-time third baseman after Kevin Kouzmanoff was traded to the A’s. While UZR rated Headley as a plodder in the outfield, he excelled back at third, the position he played at Tennessee and in the minors. He saved more runs with his glove than any other player at the position. Offensively, he was more of a mixed bag. On the positive side, he was an unexpected source of steals by nabbing 17 bases in 22 tries. However, his ISO declined for the third straight season. After putting up a .151 ISO in ’08, Headley had a .131 ISO in ’09 and a .111 mark in 2010. Headley’s waning power has come with decreased K rates — 31.4% in ’08, 24.5% in ’09 and 22.8% this past season. If he’s making a conscious effort to make more contact, his lower whiff totals haven’t compensated for fewer extra-base knocks. Headley’s wOBA totals have declined from .334 during his rookie year to .328 in 2009 to .314 in 2010. He’s locked into the lineup, but he needs to start stinging the ball again to rebound at the dish. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Headley’s fantasy value already suffers from having to take swings at PETCO, and he’s not helping matters by turning into a singles hitter seemingly more concerned with putting the bat on the ball than making authoritative contact. Grip it and rip it, Chase.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 8/20/1973|
Profile: For the first time, Helton had a truly lackluster season with the bat. The 37-year-old’s power has been on the wane for several years, but his .256/.362/.367 line and .328 wOBA didn’t distinguish him from Jonathan Herrera, much less elite first-base sluggers. Helton, hampered by a degenerative disc condition in his lower back, missed nearly a month of the season and managed a measly .111 ISO. He still took his walks (14.2 BB%), but Helton’s lumber looked slow, as he was exactly average against fastballs (+1.41 runs/100 versus fastballs since 2002) and pulled fewer pitches. From 2002 to 2009, Helton pulled the ball 38% of the time, went up the middle 32%, and went to the opposite field 30%. In 2010, he pulled 30%, went up the middle 36% and went oppo 34%. Pulled pitches have the best results for most hitters. According to wRC+, which adjusts a hitter’s wOBA for park and league effects, Helton’s bat was 128% better than average when he pulled, but 12% below average to center and 82% below average to the opposite field. A relative rebound might be in store, but betting on a late-30s player with a balky back is risky. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Helton’s days as a fantasy stalwart are over. He’s still a good source of OBP and he might not be so punchless in 2011, but you’d be nuts not to have a backup plan in the likely event that Helton’s back acts up again.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 5/20/1976|
Profile: Ramon Hernandez re-signed with the Reds to a one-year contract after a .297/.364/.428 season with 18 doubles and seven HRs in 352 plate appearances. The bad news is that Ryan Hanigan has taken over as the Reds’ everyday catcher, so it’s tough to project more than 400 plate appearances for Hernandez. And while Hernandez did post the best OBP of his career, his days of 130+ games and 15-20 HRs are behind him. In his two years at Cincinnati’s homer-happy ballpark, Hernandez managed 12 HRs in 683 plate appearances. Hernandez doesn’t figure to help fantasy owners much in the rate statistics either, because, although he had the best slash-line of his career, he was helped by a career-high BABIP of .332, very unlike the .250-.290 BABIP numbers he has had every other season the past decade. It is unlikely that Hernandez will reach 50 runs or 60 RBIs. The good news is that Hernandez does have a roster spot this season, but unless you’re in a deep NL-only league and are willing to punt the catcher spot, Hernandez won’t be on any fantasy owner’s radar for potential sleepers. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Hernandez will return to the Reds after hitting .297/.364/.428 but has lost the starting catcher job. Unless you’re in a deep NL-only league willing to punt the catcher position, Hernandez won’t be on anyone’s radar.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/9/1989|
Profile: The 21-year-old Heyward entered 2010 with a lot of hype but he did not disappoint. His ’10 numbers suggest that a strong sophomore season could include a .280-.300 average, 20-25 homers and both 100 runs and 100 RBI. Although Heyward still produced a respectable .346 wOBA against southpaws last year, he does produce better numbers against right-handed pitchers and that will likely continue in 2011. The addition of veteran slugger Dan Uggla should afford Heyward some more protection, especially with Chipper Jones on the noticeable decline and the loss of Derrek Lee to free agency. Heyward should be one of the best hitters available in NL-only leagues and he doesn’t possess the same level of risk that a lot of sophomores carry. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Heyward was not your typical rookie and he most certainly won’t be a traditional sophomore. He should be considered a top target in NL-only leagues and should fly off the board in mixed leagues, as well. Heyward should hit for both power and average.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 3/21/1982|
Profile: Like fellow ’09 breakout star Adam Lind, Hill struggled mightily in 2010. The second baseman got homer-happy and got away from his line-drive approach. His line-drive rate dropped from 19.6% in ’09 to 10.6% in ’10, one of the lowest rates in the Majors amongst regulars. Despite the significant increase in fly balls, Hill’s home-run output dropped from 36 to 26 (albeit in 154 fewer PAs). The Jays are expected to work with Hill on getting back to his old approach in 2011, which is good news for fantasy owners. He’s a great buy-low candidate as a lot of people will sour on his .205 batting average. Although he’ll probably never be as good as he was in ’09, Hill is not going to produce a BABIP of .194 again. As of this writing, Hill was still a candidate to move to third base in 2011, but he’ll likely remain at second base. Some time at third base, though, would increase his fantasy value. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Hill’s 2009 power output got into his head and he tried too hard to hit for power in ’10. If he can get back to hitting hard line drives then he should have significant value as an offensive-minded second baseman.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 8/5/1977|
Profile: Hinske did his usual corner super-sub routine, and endeared himself to yet another team. He doesn’t hit for average, but he can provide homers and RBI off the bench. Depending on which team signs him this offseason, he may run — he stole at least 12 bases in each of his first 3 seasons, and 10 bases in 2008, on Joe Maddon’s theft-happy Rays — but he has only stolen one base since the beginning of the 2009 campaign. He’s a bench bat, but he can be a worthwhile waiver pick-up whenever injury presses him into an emergency starting role. (On the 2010 Braves, it wasn’t injury so much as the radioactively bad performances of left fielders Melky Cabrera and Matt Diaz.) Still, he’s streaky. He had a 1.001 OPS through May 31, and a .708 OPS after. So he’s worth riding as a hot hand, and jettisoning when he goes cold. He’s a basically average defensive outfielder, and he’s generally been healthy — he hasn’t been on the DL since 2003. His power is his one real calling card: he’s sort of a modern version of Glenallen Hill. That’s a useful type of player, as long as he isn’t starting. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: His power is his one real calling card: he’s sort of a modern version of Glenallen Hill. That’s a useful type of player, as long as he isn’t starting.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 1/15/1980|
Profile: Matt Holliday is one of those players on whom you can count nearly every season. He’ll hit between 25 and 30 home runs, will drive in 100 or more, will score around 100, and will hit .300. While there are no guarantees, Holliday presents as good a bet as any in the outfield. He might even benefit more, by way of RBI, if the Cardinals can fit in some better hitters at the top of the order. Even if they don’t, they’ll always have Pujols hitting in front of him. In addition to the consistent performance, there’s always the chance Holliday has a 2007-esque season. That makes him a safe bet with potential to be a top-five performer. He likely won’t make it out of most first rounds. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Consistent, predictable performers are fantasy heaven, and that is Matt Holliday embodied. Count on .300-plus with around 100 runs scored, 100 RBI, and 25 to 30 HR.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/19/1979|
Profile: Ryan Howard had a good year last year, but it wasn’t up to his standards. He went on the DL for the first time since 2007. After playing in all but two games in 2008 and 2009, he missed 19 games in 2010, and after averaging 50 homers and 143 RBI a year from 2006 to 2009, he hit just 31 and 108 last year. The aging Phillies lineup is not as potent as it was on the 2008 world champions, as Rollins and Howard have both taken serious steps backward, Werth has departed, and Utley turned 32 in the offseason. So it’s likely that some of those runs and RBIs are simply gone for good. Not all the signs are bad: as Jack Moore has pointed out, Ryan Howard cut his strikeouts significantly, which could be a very good trend for the future if the change is real. But his walk rate has fallen a bit, and the improved strikeout rate is moot if he can’t get his power stroke back. At least in 2011, as long as he stays healthy, his homers will go up again, but he may never again hit 50. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: As long as he stays healthy, his homers will go back up, but he may never again hit 50.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/12/1977|
Profile: Hudson has been decent at second base for the Twins, but his future is a little murky, His only fantasy value that stuck out in 2010 was his 80 runs scored, but that stat was more to do with batting second in the Twins lineup. He doesn’t hit for a good average anymore, falling from .305 in 2008 to .268 in 2010. He has not hit double-digit home runs since 2007 and that is looking even worse moving into spacious PETCO park. In 2010, though, he was able to tie a career high in SBs with 10. By signing with the Padres, he looks to have the starting second-base job. The Padres lineup isn’t nearly as productive as the Twins, so his Run+RBI might take a hit. Also, his position in the batting order has not yet been set. If he bats leadoff or in the two-hole, he should be able to accumulate a decent number of runs. Expect him to be drafted in deep-mixed leagues or NL-only leagues. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Hudson’s skills have been declining and his value looks to have taken a hit by signing with the Padres.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 12/20/1976|
Profile: San Francisco bought low on Aubrey Huff and was rewarded with a surprising .290/.385/.506, 26 HR, 86 RBI, 100 R performance. This contribution to the 2010 World Series winner earned him a two-year, $22M extension, condemning Bay Area residents to another year of hearing about the “rally thong” [/end digression]. Perhaps the surprise was unwarranted, as Huff had been a competent run producer, albeit for second-division teams, for much of his pre-San Francisco career. It might not quite be realistic to expect Huff to match his overall 2010 performance, but full seasons of Buster Posey and Pat Burrell should help ensure solid run and RBI totals. Huff will also have the benefit of a consistent spot at 1B in to 2011, though moving around didn’t seem to affect his game at all last year. (Patrick Newman)
Quick Opinion: Huff’s bargain-bin contract paid dividends for both the team and player in 2010, leading to a two-year encore.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/8/1983|
Profile: Throughout his career in the Majors and the minors, Hundley has shown the ability to hit for power and walk at a good clip. However, he also strikes out quite a bit, leading to a low batting average and, thusly, a lower OBP. He dropped his strikeout rate this past season, making contact in and out of the zone at a higher rate. While doing so, he kept up his power numbers, posting a slugging percentage over .400 for the second straight year. Yet, the Padres only felt comfortable playing him in about half of their games, as he started only 73 contests in 2010. Hundley’s value is going to come down to how often the Padres are willing to play him. If he can get 400-plus trips to the plate, expect double-digit home runs and a solid RBI count. His average will hamper his overall value, so he’s not worthy of a draft pick unless you play in a deep or NL-only league. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Hundley has shown good power throughout his career, but he’s lacking in most other categories. Unless the Padres commit to using him full-time, there’s no need to pay mind to Hundley unless you’re in a deep or NL-only league.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 7/18/1975|
Profile: Hunter has long had a little bit of everything: power, speed, defense. Unfortunately, he’s 35 now and squarely in his decline phase. His 2010 ISO tied a career low (.183), his defense slipped enough to move him off of center field for Peter Bourjos, and he failed to steal double-digit bases for the first time since 2003. It’s probably even worse than that, since his Bill James’ four-component speed score was a career low (2.5, 5.0 is average) in 2010. He can still hit 20 home runs, and he’ll steal a handful of bases, but he probably won’t challenge 20/20 any more. And, with his mediocre plate-discipline stats (7.2 BB% and 19.4 K% career), he has shown mediocre batting averages every other year or so. In leagues that break out the outfield positions, he’ll have one more year as a sneaky strong center fielder, but regular mixed-league drafters should move him down their boards as his stolen-base totals dwindle. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Unless he’s a center fielder (and not an OF) or you’re in a deep league, Hunter is best left for the very end of your draft. His speed is dissipating and his power and batting averages were never the main draw.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/8/1983|
Profile: For some reason or another, Iannetta has never gotten a fair shake in Colorado. Whether it be concerns about his defense or batting average, the Rockies have decided to give a combination of Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo much more playing time over the past two seasons. In every year since his extended rookie season in 2007, Iannetta’s contact skills have steadily improved, and he’s made especially large strides when it comes to making contact with balls outside of the zone. Iannetta’s power skills are superb for a catcher, but we really shouldn’t expect a slugging percentage near the .505 mark he posted in 2008. But, he should still easily hit four or five homers for every 100 trips to the plate, which is very nice for a backstop. If Iannetta could just keep his batting average above the .250 mark, he could be fantasy silver, but not gold. With Iannetta, just add water (along with consistent playing time) and you’ll have a top-12 fantasy catcher. You’ll have to keep you’re eye on him, because even if the Rockies say he’ll get more ABs, their history suggests otherwise. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Iannetta is a bundle of power just waiting for playing time. If the Rockies allow him to make 400 trips to the plate, he’s worth drafting in every league.
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 6/2/1972|
Profile: After faltering in the second half of 2009, it appeared Ibanez was done as an impact fantasy player when he struggled early in 2010. But Ibanez batted .309 with 9 HR and 46 RBIs in 70 games after the All-Star break last year, showing there was still life in his 38-year old body. Given Ibanez’ age and streakiness the past two seasons, some hesitancy among fantasy players is in order. But he also hit 34 HR in 2009 and has been a consistent R + RBI producer in eight of the past nine years. Last season, there was no big decline in any of his plate discipline numbers and his BB/K numbers were his highest since 2005. His main issue was a drop from his career-high 21.1 HR/FB rate of 2009. Ibanez followed that up with a 9.3 mark, his lowest since we’ve had numbers in 2002. One thing to keep in mind is that Ibanez had a sports hernia repaired at the end of the 2009 season. It may explain his drop in production at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010. If the injury was to blame and Ibanez is back at 100 percent health now, he could be a huge bargain at his current ADP of 213. (Brian Joura)
Quick Opinion: After a poor first half, Ibanez rebounded in a big way after the All-Star break last year. He could be a nice value at his current ADP if injury problems are behind him.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/26/1981|
Profile: Of course, the BABIP jumps out at you when looking at Infante’s 2010 line. His .355 BABIP begat the .321 batting average, and probably had something to do with his All-Star appearance — and maybe even the trade to Florida. When it returns to his career level (.313), he’ll be a lot less interesting, since he has very little power (.121 career ISO, .096 in 2010) and doesn’t take a walk (6% career walk rate). Then again, he doesn’t strike out much (17% career, 13.0% in 2010), and plays mediocre defense at tough positions, so he has real-life value and even fantasy value at shortstop in deeper leagues. But even with more at-bats in Florida, where he’s looking at a starting role somewhere on the infield, he might not hit double digits in home runs or steals. He’ll still have a decent batting average, but that can only take you so far in fantasy baseball. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: With some excellent luck and the ability to play most infield positions competently, maybe you too could be turned into an elite second baseman through the wonders of the Major League Baseball trade market. But would you then be a good starter on your new team?
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 5/19/1977|
Profile: Well, it’s true: every team does need a third baseman. Inge is a decent player in “real” baseball, mostly because of his glove. In fantasy baseball, his only real virtue in the past was his power and that has precipitously declined the last few seasons. At this point, slugging .400 might be asking a bit much from Inge. If you need a warm body who can hit 15 or so home runs and you don’t care about batting average (.250 would be a minor miracle for Inge), then Inge is your man. Someone will have to start him in deep leagues, and if it’s you, don’t pay too much. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: If you’re in a league that counts defense and doesn’t count batting average, Inge might just be your man.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 2/10/1980|
Profile: Izturis has seemingly been around since the dark ages, but he’ll be a mere 31 years old when the 2011 season begins. Izturis has sustained a career thanks to his ability to “hit” from both sides of the plate and play above-average defense at shortstop. The Orioles were not happy with his production in 2010, so they brought in J.J. Hardy via trade to take over as the starting shortstop. Izturis elected to stay in Baltimore, and he will serve as the backup to Hardy and second baseman Brian Roberts. Izturis has only been a viable fantasy option twice during his ten-year career, and that may even be pushing it. Unless he spends the entire offseason in the weight room and then plays in 150 games, he won’t be worth diddly squat. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Izturis has been in the league for awhile, but is rarely a fantasy option. Barring serious injuries, he’ll spend the majority of 2011 on the bench, so stay away from him.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 9/12/1980|
Profile: Maicer Izturis is like a lighter version of Erick Aybar when it comes to fantasy. Izturis is three years older and has less of a defined role on the team. He might be the front-runner to start at third base, but it seems unlikely that the Angels will stick with him there the whole season and he might return to an infield backup role. Izturis is also less of a speed threat on the base paths and has similarly no power. With the less playing time comes the smaller opportunity for him to score and knock in runs. Izturis is more prone to taking walks so if you are in a league with on-base percentage, that raises his stock a little, but there’s still the concern over how many at-bats he will get. He could have use as a short-term waiver pick-up during stretches where you know he is starting and you could use a boost in steals. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: If you draft Izturis before Erick Aybar, then you have done something wrong and Erick Aybar might not even be worth drafting.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 2/1/1987|
Profile: Jackson did well as Curtis Granderson’s replacement in Detroit’s center field in 2010, playing good-to-great defense and displaying impressive speed. Despite his speed, expect his average to come down given his luck on balls in play and unexceptional contact skills. He’s still young, so some increase in power is to be expected, but 10 home runs would be a gift in 2011. Something like .280/.340/.400 is a reasonable expectation from Jackson in 2011. However, he’s leading off in front of some good hitters, so he’ll probably score around 100 runs again. Moreover, he’ll probably steal at least 20 bases. Put together, that means he should be starting in all leagues, and is a potential No. 3 or even No. 2 outfielder in deep AL-only leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Jackson may have been lucky on balls in play in 2010, but his speed and leadoff status mean that he’s should be owned in all leagues, and is in the top half of fantasy outfielders in AL-only leagues.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 5/7/1982|
Profile: Oakland took advantage of Arizona’s front office transition/fire sale last year to buy low on Conor Jackson, acquiring the former top prospect for bullpen righty Sam Demel. Jackson has had a rough go of things over the last two seasons, missing most of 2009 with an extended bout with Valley Fever, and struggling with hamstring problems in 2010. Jackson didn’t set the AL on fire after moving over on June 15, but the A’s were happy enough with his performance to tender him a contract for 2011, retaining him over a cast of players like Jeff Larish, Jeremy Hermida, and Travis Buck. In 2011, he’ll be in the mix for playing time at 1B, LF and DH. He could potentially be in the A’s lineup quite a bit, as some of the players ahead of him on the depth chart (Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney, and to a lesser extent Josh Willingham) have had issues staying on the field over the last few seasons. There are reasons to be optimistic about Jackson’s potential: he walked more than he struck out last season — so he still has his batting eye — he’s just two seasons removed from a .300/.376/.446 line, and at 29 he still has some bounce-back time. (Patrick Newman)
Quick Opinion: Jackson won a battle of attrition among reserve outfielders for a spot on Oakland’s 2011 roster; will he regain the form he showed in 2006-08?
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/12/1982|
Profile: You know we’ve come a long way from the late-90s when Paul Janish looks like a relatively decent option at shortstop in fantasy baseball. This isn’t the Nomar/A-Rod/Jeter/Tejada era anymore, and no longer can owners look down their noses on shortstops who can play every day and potentially provide a little bit of pop. Janish isn’t the strongest guy in the world, but he showed some pop in the minors and plays in a park that can turn fly balls into home runs with regularity. As a good defender, Janish should get the bulk of the playing time, even with World Series hero Edgar Renteria lurking in the background. If Dusty Baker gives him 500 at-bats, he could launch double digit home runs, and in this day and age of scarce offense from the position, that makes him worth drafting if you’re going cheap at the position. Given the expensive options, that’s not the worst idea in the world. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: He’s not much of a hitter, but neither are his peers – he does provide a pretty high likelihood of regular playing time and some chance to hit a few bombs, and that makes him better than a lot of the other crap available.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/19/1983|
Profile: In the Rays’ search for consistent play behind the plate last year, they turned to 26-year-old rookie John Jaso. The rook crashed onto the fantasy radar, hitting .400 in first 10 games and, more importantly, only striking out once during that time. If not for low BABIPs in a couple of months, he could have had a very consistent season in which he hit .263 with five homers and four steals. Batting average aside, Jaso’s 2010 is about what you should expect from him. A handful of homers and a couple of steals is all he’s good for, but he does have solid gap power which could improve in the next year or two. However, a .275 average with a few homers and steals sprinkled in here and there is solid if you don’t want to spend money on a catcher. Jaso isn’t going to be an outstanding fantasy catcher by any means due to his lack of home-run power and mediocre batting average. However, if you play in an OBP league, Jaso’s worth drafting and you should slot him into your lineup every time he hits the field. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Jaso showed good contact skills and solid gap power during his rookie season. He’s a nice get in OBP leagues thanks to his plate discipline, and he’s a cheap option in standard leagues if you don’t want to pay for a catcher.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/15/1985|
Profile: A .432 BABIP early on helped Jay get off to a tremendous start last season. But playing every day the final two months of the season, Jay posted a .244/.309/.314 line over 193 PA with a .295 BABIP. And to make matters worse, he does not have a starting job, as the Cardinals signed Lance Berkman to be an everyday outfielder. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Jim Edmonds is now in camp to soak up further playing time that might have gone to Jay. Right now, he is not even a lock to make the Cardinals roster out of Spring Training and has minimal fantasy value. (Brian Joura)
Quick Opinion: A high BABIP fueled Jay’s early season success. Disappointing production in the second half of the season and new additions leave his roster spot in doubt.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/30/1986|
Profile: The Rays are generally pretty conservative with promoting their top prospects to the big leagues, knowing that they need to get production from the first few years where they control a player’s rights at league minimum salaries. After a mediocre year in Triple-A last year, they won’t be in any hurry to rush Jennings to the big leagues, so expect him to spend a significant amount of time in Durham in 2011. However, owners with the ability to carry a guy who won’t do anything in the first half of the year should think about burning a roster spot on Jennings – he’s an injury or two away from being a regular in Tampa Bay, and even through his struggles last year, he stole 39 bases in 45 attempts. Once he comes up, he could rack up steals in bunches, and the odds of Johnny Damon, B.J. Upton, and Matt Joyce all staying healthy for the entire season are pretty low. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: You need the ability to carry a guy who won’t play in order to roster him in non-keeper leagues, but if you can wait around for his arrival, he could end up stealing a good amount of bases this year.
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 6/26/1974|
Profile: The Captain’s career reached its nadir in 2010, as Jeter was a below-average batter for the first time in his 15 years as a full-time starter. His extra-base pop continued its gradual decline, as his ISO was a career-low .100, but the biggest reason for Jeter’s tepid .270/.340/.370 line was a sharp decrease in his BABIP. From 2007 to 2009, Jeter’s .356 BABIP was the sixth-highest figure among qualified big-league hitters. In 2010, though, it dropped to a career-worst .307. Jeter has long been a ground ball-heavy hitter, with a career 57 GB%. But he hit more grounders than anybody this past season (65.7%) while getting fewer hits on those grounders. Jeter’s BABIP on ground balls was .239, compared to .270 from 2007 to 2009. After a very public and sometimes acrimonious negotiations between his agent and the Yankees, Jeter will be in pinstripes through at least 2013. As his 37th birthday creeps up, he’ll need to loft the ball more often and prove that his wheels haven’t slowed to enjoy a rebound season. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Jeter’s BABIP this past season was over 50 points lower than his career average prior to 2010. He should turn in a better year with the bat in 2011 with more balls in play finding holes, though a full BABIP rebound might not occur and his power production has mostly dried up. Draft him based on his current talents, not name recognition or past accomplishments.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/1/1984|
Profile: When the Astros realized their season was toast and they needed to turn to their young potential building blocks, Johnson began to play regularly at third base, and he proceeded to put up some impressive fantasy numbers. But while his production was great, the underlying aspects of his game suggest he won’t be able to repeat in 2011. Johnson’s high line-drive rate was certainly nice, but in no way should it lead to a BABIP around .390. However, his 11 homers in fewer than 350 at-bats is a good sign that Johnson has some legit power in his bat, and his recent power numbers in the minors help back that up. Johnson also had a lot of problems making contact last year, and those will probably continue in the 2011 campaign. While he could put up decent power numbers, the rest of his game won’t be good enough to warrant a draft pick. He’s worth a flier in deeper keeper leagues, but he’s too big of a risk to use a pick on in standard leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Johnson put up some nice fantasy numbers last year, but his underlying skill set suggests he won’t have a repeat performance in 2011. He’s worth a selection in deeper keeper leagues, but not in standard leagues.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 8/10/1979|
Profile: Johnson had perhaps the most productive .198 season in recent memory, drawing enough walks and hitting for enough power to be useful even with his sub-Mendoza batting average. However, unless you play in a league that credits you for all those walks, Johnson probably isn’t a guy you should be betting big on. Yes, there is some power potential, but with the Rays always-rotating line-ups and love of platooning, it’s unlikely that they’re going to give him a full-time job. If he hits righties well, he’ll play enough to hit 25 bombs, but there’s also the very real possibility that he hits .150 for two months and loses out on any kind of regular role. The Rays have the depth to not have to live with Johnson if he’s not hitting, and considering his career average is .243, there’s a real chance that he might be perceived as not hitting, even with all those walks. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: If your league counts walks as a category, then he’s worth targeting. If not, he’s more of a lottery ticket – don’t count on him, but he’s worth rostering in case he pulls a Carlos Pena.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/22/1982|
Profile: After the Braves made the bone-headed decision to release Johnson after the 2009 season, the Diamondbacks cashed in and inked him to a deal. Quicker than you can say “Holy hot April, Batman,” Johnson had already matched his 2009 home-run production and was dropping jaws everywhere. Although he could not continue at his epic pace, and struggled through May and especially June, the D’Backs had faith in their second baseman, and continued to trot him on the field every day. Johnson surged again in July, and closed out his season with an excellent September. While his batting average for the year came in over .280, Johnson had the worst contact rate of his career and had a high strikeout rate because of it. Unless he fixes those issues this off-season, Johnson’s batting average will be heavily reliant on how many homers he hits. Although Arizona didn’t have a great team, Johnson gets enough playing time to score a good deal of runs, and also picked up 13 steals during the year. As long as he stays healthy and gets over 500 at-bats from the Diamondbacks, Johnson will be a valuable second baseman next year, giving a nice boost to your home-run and runs-scored categories. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Johnson’s first season in Arizona was a smashing success, as he hit more than 25 homers for the first time in his career. Expect some of the same in 2011, as 20 homers and a .280 average is quite the production for a second baseman.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 8/1/1985|
Profile: Jones always seems to get a ton of hype coming into drafts, and then rarely lives up to it. After a .277-19-10 season in 2009, some owners were expecting yet another step forward for the youngster. That step forward never came, and owners were stuck with a .284-19-7 campaign. Jones always seems to be overrated based on potential that he’s failed to flash at the Majors, and that’s likely to be the case for at least another season. If you’re one of those people who sees great things from Jones, there is good news: he’s still only 25 years of age, so he could still take some steps in the right direction and deliver on all of the promise he’s shown. If he could just get his act together and spend some serious time in the cages at every opportunity, he could a whole lot better. He’s a nice third, maybe second, outfielder in most leagues, but you’re going to have to think he’s better than that to pick him up in drafts. If you’re in an OBP or OPS league, however, his value is seriously diminished due to a lack of patience and underwhelming power. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Right now, Jones is a solid third outfielder with some potential for more. If you’re willing to bet on an extra five homers this year, pick him, because that’s the only way he’ll be worth it.
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 4/23/1977|
Profile: Does Andruw Jones still have what it takes? This might be hard to believe, but Andruw Jones recorded the third-highest home-run rate of his career in 2010 with the White Sox, hitting a robust 19 home runs in only 278 at-bats. Not that this bears any predictive value for the 2011 season, but Jones also stole nine bases, the most in a season since 2001 when he did not have on as much weight. Still, the power numbers that Jones put up are encouraging, even if you consider that it was aided by U.S. Cellular Field. However, wherever Andruw Jones spends most of his time next season, he may not get over 350 plate appearances, which isn’t enough for a 20 HR season at age 33. Unless a projection of .226/.330/.455 sounds enticing to you, there may not be much value for the outfielder / designated hitter unless there is more certainty that he will get playing time and that the 2010 season was not a fluke. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Jones regained some of his former power, hitting 19 HRs in 278 ABs. However, without any certainty on consistent playing time and whether or not 2010 was a fluke, Jones’ time is up.
|Debut: 1993 | BirthDate: 4/24/1972|
Profile: With the end of his career rapidly approaching, and his ligaments on the mend, it’s tough to recommend drafting Chipper Jones in most leagues. Perhaps in the final rounds of a deep league that counts OBP instead of batting average he might make a fine sleeper. He’s walked in 14.5% of his at-bats in his career, and he’s actually started walking more as he’s declined (16+% the last three years), so he’ll help in that category. The power is mostly gone — his ISO has eroded from elite (.273 in 2006) to barely above average (.161 in 2010) — and with his wheels getting creaky, his BABIPs have been on the way out as well (.280s the last two years, .315 career). In real-life ball, his walks, lack of strikeouts (14.8% in 2010, 15.7% career), and mediocre pop will give him value should he be able to return to most of last year’s level of production. Without the batting average or the home runs, though, he’ll be hard to own in standard fantasy leagues. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Old Chipper Jones, he ain’t what he used to be, ain’t what he used to be. Larry Wayne has seen his declining wheels affect his power and speed to the point that he doesn’t put up the batting averages and power totals most fantasy players need from their third basemen, but it’s been quite a career and he’s still useful in the odd league.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 6/21/1981|
Profile: As a late-20s player who blasted big-league pitching in 2009 after half a decade of undistinguished Triple-A work, Jones’ 2010 regression was more predictable than the plot of a Two and a Half Men episode. Splitting his season between first base and right field, Jones didn’t really stand out as a power hitter (.167 ISO) and his walk rate fell from 11.2% in 2009 to 8.1%. He was a little unlucky, with a .274 BABIP, so he’s likely to hit closer to .270 than .250 moving forward. But even so, there’s not much reason to recommend him — Jones’ secondary skills aren’t great for a guy playing positions where offensive excellence is expected. Also, Pittsburgh might look for a platoon partner for Jones at first base, as the lefty batter has a .210/.249/.381 line versus same-handed pitching in 350 PA and a .282/.359/.495 slash in 746 PA against right-handers. That Jones figures to get most starts at first base again in 2011 says more about Jeff Clement’s disastrous season than anything else. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: The collectible Pirates fans got on Garret Jones Action Figure Day this past year will end up in the attic with those Pokey Reese and Kip Wells bobble heads. Jones’ 2009 production isn’t coming back, and while he’ll be a little better next year, that does little to separate him from other guys knocking around Triple-A who could do the same if given the chance.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/3/1984|
Profile: The Rays had high hopes for Matt Joyce when they traded Edwin Jackson for him prior to the 2009 season. But due to injuries and the Rays depth, he hasn’t gotten much playing time yet. That should change in 2011. With the losses of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, Joyce should have a regular role. He might not bring points via batting average, but given 600 plate appearances he could break the 20 home-run mark and drive in 80 runs. Those won’t be top-flight outfielder numbers, but they’ll be above average. That can be valuable, since Joyce isn’t exactly a household name. The addition of both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez could really cut into the playing time of Joyce. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: A number of players on the Rays will get bigger chances this season, and Matt Joyce is one of them. He’s shown power in the past and can probably provide an above-average number of HR and RBI.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 3/29/1984|
Profile: Ka’aihue finally got an something like an extended look in Kansas City (206 PA isn’t really “extended,” but you take what you get from the Royals) during 2010 after once again destroying the minor leagues for half a season, and made the least of it, hitting .217/.307/.394. It’s a small sample, but hardly encouraging, and at times he seemed overmatched by the pitching. Nonetheless, the Royals haven’t made any noises yet about bringing in a terrible player like Mike Jacobs to block Ka’aihue, so perhaps they are serious about letting Kila be Billy Butler’s 1B/DH partner to start 2011. It isn’t a bad idea. Ka’aihue won’t be a star, but he can probably be an above-average hitter, if he can hit .260/.350/.440 as a DH that would be a significant improvement over the recent years for Royals. That doesn’t help fantasy teams as much, especially given the limited RBI opportunities. Factor in the short leash the Royals will probably have for Ka’aihue given their past treatment of him, and it means that Ka’aihue, while definitely draftable, is a low-end option at 1B/DH in most leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Kila finally got a chance in 2010, and pretty much flopped. He has some potential, the question is whether or not the Royals give him a chance to realize it.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/28/1988|
Profile: Entering 2010, the Red Sox appeared to have one of the more defensively impressive outfields in the Majors, featuring J.D. Drew in right, Mike Cameron in center, and Jacoby Ellsbury in left. Unfortunately (for them), the latter two of that contingent played a combined total of only 66 games. Fortunately (for the present player), that meant an early introduction to the Majors for Ryan Kalish, who proceeded to bat a not-terrible .252/.305/.405 in 179 plate appearances while starting 32 games in center. With the arrival of free-agent Carl Crawford and the return of Mike Cameron from surgery, Kalish’s prospects for Major League at-bats don’t seem great. Just 23, he certainly has time to make an impact at some point — and will likely be a 20-20 threat when he does. It’s unlikely, however, that 2011 will be that year. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Kalish profiles to be a 20-20 player given a full season in the Majors. With the acquisition of Carl Crawford, however — plus the returns of Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron — 2011 is unlikely to be his breakout season.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 5/20/1980|
Profile: Make the Yankees the third team that Austin Kearns has disappointed in his young career. He has a good glove and a rocket arm, but his early power has mostly evaporated, making his above-average walk rate moot. In 2010, he somehow managed a .235 batting average on a .355 BABIP, which is awfully hard to do — and it suggests that his seeming bounceback, a half-season with the Indians that was the best he’d played in three years, was something of a mirage. He doesn’t do anything particularly well offensively. He doesn’t even have much of a platoon split: he actually has a slightly higher SLG against righties than lefties, though he has an OBP 42 points higher against lefties. He’ll get a part-time job somewhere with a team that wants a cheaper version of Jeff Francoeur. That’s one of the last things that a fantasy team needs: a utility outfielder who hits like a backup infielder. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: He’s a cheaper version of Jeff Francoeur: a platoon outfielder with a good arm and a bad bat.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/23/1984|
Profile: 2010 was a wasted year for Kemp, as he went the wrong direction in nearly every aspect of the game. His defense was bad enough that GM Ned Colletti publicly called him out early in the season, and he didn’t hit enough to make up for the lackadaisical effort. His strikeout rate skyrocketed and he was caught stealing nearly as many times as he was successful, and both problems were attributed to a lack of focus. While it can be tempting to write off these complaints as frustrations of old-school white guys who don’t like the way young urbanites act, work ethic is a skill, and those around Kemp haven’t exactly shown a fondness for Kemp’s willingness to get better. While there’s still the physical abilities for Kemp to be a 30-30 player and a fantasy star, he wouldn’t be the first talented player to peak early and fade as his salaries grew larger. Draft with caution. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: One of the highest risk-reward plays around, he’s a good fit for an owner who loves to take big gambles.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/12/1983|
Profile: Over 2000 plate appearances into his career, the bloom is off the Kendrick rose. It’s not that he’s a terrible player — he has a little power (.131 career ISO, .152 peak ISO in 2009), speed (47 career stolen bases, 5.2 career speed score), and the ability to put up decent batting averages (.295 career) — but maybe he’s not the Future Batting Champ that has been predicted of him. Or, maybe he could still win a batting title someday (he makes decent contact with a career 17% strikeout rate, and his speed has led to a career .339 BABIP), but the rest of his package still mutes his overall upside. Last year saw a step back from 2009 in ISO (.152 to .128) and speed (6.0 to 4.9 speed score), but he only just turned 27. A bounceback year would see him crack double-digits in home runs and strikeouts while adding a .300 batting average. Acceptable, but not exciting. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: “Acceptable, but not exciting” may not have been the description Kendrick supporters thought he’d garner in the peak of his career, but his lack of game-changing speed or power leaves him as a mostly one-category performer. And that category (batting average) is a flighty one.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 1/10/1976|
Profile: A FanShot at SB Nation blog Halos Heaven from late December 2009 (courtesy of user chairmanofthebar) reads, “I met Adam Kennedy at Rembrandts Bar last night in Fullerton. Really cool guy.” In those fantasy league’s where coolness is a relevant category, it’s likely that Kennedy could be a big target; however, as it stands now, Kennedy is a free agent coming off a .249/.327/.327 line. The infielder became irrelevant in Washington after Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond proved capable of starting up the middle for the Nats, at which point the team declined to pick up the option on Kennedy’s contract. When he played in 2010, Kennedy continued to display base-stealing abilities, going 14-for-16 on the base paths. His power has declined, though, from what was already a pretty low peak, and he’s unlikely to break camp as a starter for whichever team signs him, making him a candidate for the waiver wire, if anything. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Signed by Seattle in January, Kennedy can still steal bases, but is unlikely to be a starter at any point.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 4/21/1980|
Profile: Keppinger had a silently good year with Houston in 2011. He posted a .288/.351/.393 (.298 BABIP) triple-slash line while playing premium positions (primarily 2B and 3B, but also some SS) for the Astros. His main skill is his ability to make consistent contact. His strikeout rate last season was a miniscule 7.0% of at-bats, equivalent to his career average. Throw in good walk rates, semi-existent power, and an average BABIP, and that contact ability makes Keppinger an above-average hitter. However, he didn’t put up great fantasy numbers, partially due to the incompetence of the Astros lineup. He hit .288 with 62 R, 59 RBI, 6 HR, and 4 SB last season. In 2011, the Astros will likely look to move Keppinger now that Bill Hall and Chris Johnson are set at 2B and 3B, respectively. This change of scenario can only be a good thing, as Keppinger will turn more of those times on base into runs. Look for a similar season overall for Keppinger, and since he will qualify at SS in some leagues (10 starts, 12 games at the position), he could have some decent value in standard leagues. In single-league or deeper leagues, particularly those in which Keppinger qualifies at SS, he could be a very sneaky value pick but he might also begin the season on the DL. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Jeff Keppinger was sneaky good in 2010. His contact skills could make your fantasy team sneaky good in 2011
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 6/22/1982|
Profile: Two leg injuries cost Ian Kinsler 69 days on the disabled list in 2010. That is worth remembering as it should hamper his projected playing-time totals. In addition to his loss of at-bats, last season brought a significant decrease in power production, perhaps tied to his injuries. After 31 home runs in 2009, Kinsler smacked just nine balls over the fence last season. Unsurprisingly, his stolen bases also suffered, down to 15 from 31 in 2009. Both should be expected to rebound to around the 20-25 level in 2011 but re-injury could risk Kinsler’s opportunity to accumulate those stats or might even force him to change his offensive strategy. That is the downside, though. His upside remains reachable — that being a return to 2009’s home-run and stolen-base totals without the freakish low batting average that resulted from an unusual drop in batting average on balls in play. Kinsler is worth taking high, just make sure to have another second baseman that can cover for him if the power does not return or he lands on the disabled list again. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Ian Kinsler is a good offensive second baseman, but coming off some troubling injuries. Nab him if healthy.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 3/5/1976|
Profile: Konerko did his best to maintain the Myth of the Big Contract Year in 2010, having literally the best offensive season of his career at age 34. Yes, .312/.393/.584 with 39 home runs is mighty impressive; the last time Konerko came even close to that was 2006. That should tell you how much weight to put on Konerko’s 2010 season. No, it shouldn’t be discounted — it happened. But again, it’s by far the best season of his career (he hadn’t slugged over .500 since 2006), he relied on an inflated BABIP (again, his best since 2006), and most importantly, Konerko is a first baseman in his mid-30s, so it’s still best to bet on a decline. That isn’t to say that Konerko isn’t valuable. He is, especially in Chicago’s hitter-friendly environs. However, his 2010 output makes him look like one of the best fantasy first basemen out there, when in reailty he’s more likely to be near the top of the second tier of AL first basemen. Something like .270/.350/.500 with 25-30 home runs and 100 RBI seems about right. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Konerko’s monster contract year in 2010 put him among the best-hitting first basemen in baseball, but given his age and prior performance, he’s more of a second-tier fantasy piece.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/22/1983|
Profile: 2010 was considered a make or break year for Kotchman, a former top first base prospect whose offense had regressed since breaking into the big leagues. He responded to his one final shot at regular playing time with the worst season of his career, mixing in a pathetic .217 average to go with his general lack of power for the position. Most of the shine he had as an intriguing young player in Anaheim has now worn off, and he’s likely to settle into the role of defensive replacement and injury fill-in for the rest of his career. He signed a non-guaranteed deal with Tampa Bay that will give him a chance to sub in for Dan Johnson late in games, but the Rays aren’t likely to count on Kotchman playing regularly as they try to chase down Boston and New York. His lack of power and regular playing time give him little to no fantasy value. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Not the kind of guy you should be using a roster spot on. There are better upside buys with real chances to play.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 5/10/1983|
Profile: Kottaras earned a moderate amount of playing time in 2010 thanks to the youth of Jon Lucroy and the injury to Gregg Zaun. In 250 plate appearances, Kottaras posted a triple-slash of .203/.305/.396, a nearly league-average line and a very good line for a catcher. He was debilitated by a .209 BABIP, but his 13.2% walk rate and .193 ISO suggest a well above-average hitter. However, his defense behind the plate leaves something to be desired and his value would be questionable if forced to move behind the plate. Kottaras will be forced to fight for the backup catching spot behind Jon Lucroy in spring training against veteran Wil Nieves, whose bat may be too far gone to make an MLB roster. If Kottaras does indeed make a roster, his situation will be worth keeping an eye on. If Kottaras makes the team and Lucroy goes down with an injury, he will be worth an immediate pickup, as he can provide power that most catchers cannot. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Kottaras is a better hitter than he looked last season, due to a precipitously low BABIP. However, his defense may keep him off the Brewers MLB roster in 2011.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/25/1981|
Profile: Kevin Kouzmanoff gets oddly little recognition in baseball for his actual talents, having been an above-average player in each of the past four seasons. That he accomplished that in San Diego and Oakland probably has a lot to do with the lack of notoriety. Normally, that is fantastic from a fantasy perspective because it usually leads to the player being less known and therefore undervalued. In Kouzmanoff’s case, however, it matters little because his skill is with the leather not the bat. Kouzmanoff does offer a little bit of power, but he has trouble maintaining a serviceable batting average due to his contact issues. Furthermore, the A’s expressed some interest in Adrian Beltre this winter and while he signed elsewhere, it does show a willingness on their part to move on from Kouzmanoff so you might want to keep that in mind when considering his playing time in 2011. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: If Kevin Kouzmanoff ever landed in a hitter-friendly park, he could be a star. Or at least, more appreciated.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 5/25/1982|
Profile: When viewed in the context of his entire career, 2009 now looks like a pretty big outlier. After an age 27 spike, Kubel went right back to being the same player he had been before – a decent but flawed hitter who should be strictly platooned and probably never play the field. The problem is that the Twins don’t view him this way, and have miscast him as a regular outfielder. However, with Justin Morneau potentially returning from his concussion and with Jim Thome back in Minnesota expecting to serve as the Designated Hitter with some regularity, Kubel may be squeezed out of an everyday job and into the part-time role he’s better suited for. If this scenario holds, his rate stats will improve even as his counting stats take a hit from the reduced playing time. I’d expect a bump in batting average, but he probably won’t be good for more than 20 home runs, so bid accordingly. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: He’ll offer some occasional power, but you can probably do better with a guy who will play more often or offer a better package as a part-time guy.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 11/13/1979|
Profile: If you’re reading a fantasy profile for Gerald Laird, then you’re either lost, incredibly bored, or in something like a 38-team NL-only league. “One Man, Five Tools” won’t even help you much in a Bizarro league, as he’s been signed to back up Yadier Molina in St. Louis. It’s really too bad, since Laird can’t run, hit for average or power, and yet used to get marched out there almost every day in Detroit (to be fair, he’s a good defender). He’s a Jason Kendall in training, except without the playing time. If that appeals to you, go nuts. Otherwise, go to bed, it’s Gerald Laird. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Laird should be one of the first player off of the board in most Bizarro leagues, except that he’s backing up Yadier Molina. Then again, maybe LaRussa will develop a Kenneday/Rasmus/Rolen relationship with Molina… Hope!
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 1/8/1985|
Profile: Matt LaPorta’s dreadful 2010 Major League line (.221/.306/.362) might make those who remember him as the centerpiece in the CC Sabathia trade groan. LaPorta’s been disappointing so far for sure, and, at 26, there probably isn’t much development time left. In the Major Leagues, his power and ability to make contact have been disappointing and his walk rate hasn’t high enough to make up for it. However, there are reasons for hope — LaPorta doesn’t have the extremely high strikeout rate that many young sluggers do, and his large samples in the upper minors all are impressive. It’s still an open question as to whether his success in the minors will translate into the Majors, and even a .270/.350/.450 line in 2011 might be on the hopeful side. However, a big part of fantasy value is simply having the player on the field. Cleveland currently doesn’t have any better alternatives for first base, and they have no reason not to give LaPorta the longest leash possible. That means decent counting numbers. There probably isn’t much upside here, but there is a little. LaPorta isn’t a likely fantasy stud, but you could do much, much worse filling your 1B spot in all but the shallowest leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: LaPorta probably won’t turn out to be the stud at the plate most thought he would be as a minor-league prospect, but he’ll get enough playing time for a rebuilding Cleveland team that he can put up some decent counting stats.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/6/1979|
Profile: The average Major League first baseman hit 25 homers with 91 RBI and a .263 AVG in 2010. Adam LaRoche hit 25 homers with 100 RBI and a .261 AVG in 2010. That about sums up his fantasy value: he’s an average play with little upside for more. LaRoche has hit 25 homers right on the nose for three straight years, hovering between 80 and 100 RBI with a .260 to .280 AVG. Despite the homers, he’s averaged just 73 runs scored in those last three seasons because his on-base percentage has never been great (.339 combined). We know what LaRoche is by now, and that’s a solid-but-unspectacular option at a loaded fantasy position. There’s value in predictability, and that’s what he gives you. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: LaRoche’s value comes in predictability, because he’s an average play at a loaded fantasy position. Take the guaranteed 20+ homers and 80+ RBI, but don’t expect a ton more.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/13/1983|
Profile: Sometimes an excellent minor-league or late-season stat line can influence the decision-making of fantasy owners for two or three years after the fact. Consider, for example, Jeremy Reed’s slash-line of .397/.470/.466 in 66 PA at the end of 2004, or the case of Shane Spencer, who batted .373 and hit 10 homers in just 73 PAs at the end of the Yankees’ 1998 season. Of course, neither player ever developed into even an average Major Leaguer, but that probably didn’t stop fantasy owners from developing positive connotations with either. LaRoche presents a similar situation. He arrived in Pittsburgh in 2008 as part of the high-profile Jason Bay trade, had been on Baseball America’s top-100 prospect list for four years running, and had slashed .310/.412/.544 in 707 Triple-A PAs. That’s a lot of positives; however, the realities have been decidedly underwhelming. LaRoche slashed just .226/.296/.341 in 1044 PAs as a Pirates, and though one might suppose his BABIP (.252) over that time would likely regress up to the mean, even that wouldn’t make him an overnight sensation. A free agent as of press time, he’s a candidate for a minor-league contract or bench role in 2011. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Former prospect entering his age-27 season… as a minor leaguer, probably.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 6/20/1976|
Profile: “El Caballo” looked ready for the glue factory in 2010. The defensively challenged, 34-year-old outfielder compiled a .308 wOBA that was, by far, the lowest mark of his career. For the third straight season, Lee’s patience and power eroded — he walked in just 5.7% of his plate appearances, while failing to crack the .200 ISO mark for a second consecutive season (his 2010 ISO was .170). Lee’s lousy walk rate was the result of an expanded strike zone. He chased 34.5% of pitches off the plate, well north of the 29.3% MLB average. Unsurprisingly, that put him behind in the count often. Pitchers got a first pitch strike against Lee 60.1%, compared to the 58.8% big-league average. The chances that he hits like a utility infielder again are slim — his .238 BABIP was fourth-lowest among qualified hitters and nearly 50 points below his career average. But don’t expect a .300 BABIP from a guy who hits more pop ups than most and whose first-base times could be clocked with a sun dial instead of a stop watch. Lee’s best days are well behind him. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: The Astros are stuck paying Lee embarrassing amounts of moolah through 2012, but fantasy owners luckily have no such ties. Lee will perform better in 2011, but, even so, he’s no longer an impact hitter and comes with considerable risk as a old player with waning power.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 9/6/1975|
Profile: Derrek Lee played in 148 games last year, but he was hurt for much of it. After the season, he had surgery on a thumb that had bothered him for much of the year. He still has chronic neck and back pain, and he’s 35, so it’s hard to imagine he’ll hit 30 home runs again like he did in 2009. If the thumb heals, he at least should be a good bet to rebound in the batting-average department. But he’s an aging first baseman whose reputation often outpaced his performance even at his peak — he’s only driven in 100 men twice and only scored 100 runs once — and after all of his injuries, his running game has virtually disappeared, with just two steals in the past two seasons. He could be a pleasant surprise on a cheap contract with playing-time incentives, but fantasy owners don’t get that luxury. Twenty homers and a decent batting average should be within reach, but don’t bet on much more than that. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: An aging first baseman. He’ll probably hit 20 homers if he stays on the field, but his elite days are over.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 12/9/1980|
Profile: As has been the case for most of his career, the biggest thing standing in Lewis’ way is playing time. The majority of his power comes in the form of doubles rather than homers, and at 30 years old there’s no real reason to expect him to start clearing the fence consistently. Lewis is capable of 20 or more steals over the course of a season, but, again, he just hasn’t been given much of a chance to do that. Because of limited RBI and runs-scored opportunities, Lewis’ primary value come in the form of steals. He might approach a .280 AVG with some BABIP luck, but he hasn’t done that in either of the last two seasons. Lewis was a trendy sleeper pick a few years ago, but the blush is starting to come off the rose. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Lewis’ issue is playing time. If he gets enough of it, he’ll hit .280-ish with doubles power and 20+ steals, but that’s a big if.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/17/1983|
Profile: After a breakout 2009 season, which led to a multi-year contract in the offseason, a lot was expected from Lind in 2010. The designated hitter struggled early, though, and hit just .174 in May and .156 in June before hitting 14 of his 23 homers in the final three months of the season. Expect better numbers from Lind in 2011 but he may not be as good as he was in ’09. He’ll certainly need to improve his contact rates after striking out 144 times; his strikeout rate was 7% higher than it was in ’08 and ’09. A rebound should see him hit in the .270-.290 range now that manager Cito Gaston (who encouraged an overly aggressive approach at the plate) has been replaced. Also look for Lind to hit 20-25 home runs. Fantasy owners should appreciate that he’s expected to see the majority of time at first base for Toronto in 2011, replacing Lyle Overbay, who signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Lind struggled in 2010 after a breakout ’09. He may not hit as well as he did during his breakout but he should be significantly better in 2011. He’s a solid AL-only target.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 5/7/1984|
Profile: For the third straight year, Loney saw his AVG drop. Last year he hit just .267, which is not acceptable for a fantasy first baseman, especially one without 35-HR power. Making matters worse is that Loney has been very consistent with his BABIPs, meaning that we cannot dismiss his results last year to poor luck. Many felt that Loney would add HR once he matured but he now has three full seasons under his belt and has yet to top the 15 HR he posted in his rookie season of 2007 when he had just 375 PA. Loney turns 27 in May, so there is still an outside chance he could add some power to his game. But the player who looked like a potential fantasy darling in 2007 has simply not materialized. He is still worthwhile to consider as a corner infielder late in the draft but he is not someone to target or reach for under any circumstances. (Brian Joura)
Quick Opinion: Loney is a first baseman with little power and last year his AVG declined for the third straight year. He is merely a CI in mixed leagues.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/7/1985|
Profile: While Longoria is legitimately one of MLB’s best young talents, his fantasy prospects for 2011 seem a bit less exciting. The loss of Carl Crawford will reduce his opportunities to drive in runs, and while he has power, he’s not an elite slugger. The questionable options the Rays have strung together behind him also limit his runs scored potential. He’ll give you a nice balanced mix of value across categories, but his best skill is his defense, and that’s not counted in traditional roto leagues. I’d also be a bit worried that his offense hasn’t progressed much since arriving in the big leagues. He’s managed to raise his average by cutting down on the strikeouts, but it’s come at the cost of reduced power, and that’s not a trade-off that has improved his game as much as simply adjusted it. Unless he can find a way to get that power back without swinging and missing so often, he looks settled into being a good hitter rather than a great one. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Above average at a lot of things, but not great in any single fantasy category makes him a nice secondary player.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/24/1983|
Profile: Coming off a horribly disappointing 2010 season at the plate that saw him rank as one of the game’s worst hitters, Lopez found himself traded to Colorado. That is good news for Lopez as Safeco Field was one of the worst fits for him as a dead-pull, medium-power hitter, but bad news because he finds himself without a starting mandate in Colorado’s crowded infield. If Lopez can outplay Eric Young Jr. or whomever at second base and capitalize on the benefits that Coors Field will give him, he could provide a nice return on a minimal investment. The Jose Lopez of 2008 and 2009 was a productive fantasy player, averaging 21 home runs, 70 runs scored, 93 runs batted in and a .285 average. That talent is still there — Lopez did not suffer through any injuries – but there are hurdles to clear before he even gets an opportunity to prove that. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Watch out to see if Lopez advances on the Rockies depth chart. He can be a useful fantasy player, especially in the friendlier confines of Coors rather than Safeco Field.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/17/1984|
Profile: Lowrie shut up a lot of critics who had come out of the woodwork following his 2009 struggles with an impressive final couple of months in 2010. By posting an even BB/K and an ISO of .240, he showed the kind of secondary skills that are usually reserved for lumbering sluggers, not switch-hitting shortstops. However, before you get too excited, there’s another number to keep in mind, as in 197 – the amount of plate appearances he accumulated last year. His season line looks great, but it’s a small sample and he’d never shown that kind of ability before. It’s possible that he’s a late bloomer and will be a better player in the majors than he was in the minors, but it’s generally not wise to bet on a player being an exception to the rule. Given that Lowrie will have to share time with Marco Scutaro, keep your expectations in check. He’ll be a nice source of average and some decent power for the position, but he’s a year away from being worthy of your starting shortstop spot. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Could be too expensive on draft day due to impressive (and probably unsustainable) 2010 line – draft him more like a good player with a part-time role than a superstar in the making.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 6/13/1986|
Profile: Lucroy burst onto the scene in 2010 thanks to a labrum injury to consummate veteran Gregg Zaun. After it became apparent that George Kottaras couldn’t handle playing behind the plate, Lucroy earned the starter’s job in June. He hit quite well in the minors, showing decent power and fantastic on-base skills. In the majors, though, Lucroy stopped taking walks (6.1%), and although he made contact at a decent enough rate (15.9%), it wasn’t enough to make his line respectable. He showed little power and was below average on balls in play, resulting in a drab .253/.300/.329 batting line. With his decent defense, that makes him an average catcher in the real world, but as a fantasy play there’s not much here. He does have potential to put up a 10-10 HR/SB season, but that’s only if everything breaks right. Otherwise, he’s a low average, low run, low RBI player, only worth a spot in a deep league or as injury filler. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Jon Lucroy has established himself as the Brewers catcher of the future. However, his bat isn’t good enough to warrant serious fantasy consideration at this time.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 7/13/1978|
Profile: A change of scenery can help some players, but that doesn’t mean it’s a universal good. Ryan Ludwick went from St. Louis to San Diego last July, and his production dropped off a cliff. In 209 AB he managed just six home runs and hit .211. He figures to be back for a return tour, and he figures to hit a bit better in 2011. Even so, much of Ludwick’s value comes from his breakout 2008 season, which he hasn’t come close to matching since. He could be good for 25 home runs, but that seems like a long shot in San Diego. If he uses the gaps to his advantage he might be able to drive in a few runs, but that’s about the extent of his fantasy value. His 2010 totals, including his time with St. Louis, should provide an adequate forecast of his 2011: .250 BA, 17 HR, 65 R, 65 RBI. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Ludwick has value to the Padres as a starter, but probably not much to a fantasy team. He’s a fine injury substitute and he’s an adequate bench guy, but he probably won’t rank among the top-40 outfielders.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 11/16/1975|
Profile: Lugo’s value in both fantasy and reality have cratered over the last few seasons. Once a guy that would post a solid AVG with 30 or more steals on a regular basis, he’s failed to clear a .268 AVG in three of the last four seasons and it’s been two full years since he’s stolen double-digit bases. Lugo’s power is pretty much gone at age 35, not that it was anything special to begin with. Even if he manages to find regular playing time in 2011, the best you could hope for is an empty .270-.280 AVG with maybe 20 steals, but that’s a pretty big if. Having eligibility at multiple positions helps a little bit, but Lugo is one player to steer clear of come draft day. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: No longer the guy that offers 30+ steals a year, Lugo’s fantasy value is very limited despite multi-position eligibility.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 6/30/1982|
Profile: The Royals keep bringing in stopgap center fielders so that they don’t have to play Mitch “MITCH” Maier, but they never end up being much better than Maier (Gregor Blanco), and most have been worse (Rick Ankiel, Ryan Freel). Maier isn’t much more than a stopgap or fourth outfielder in real baseball, and he doesn’t really have a particular skill that would stand out in most fantasy leagues. His doesn’t steal bases, and despite improving strike-zone judgment, doesn’t have an impressive average. His decent minor-league power hasn’t translated to the Major Leagues, and at this point it is probably time to stop waiting for it. Add in the questions regarding Maier’s role (Gregor Blanco and perhaps organizational favorite Jarrod Dyson are other center-field possibilities for Kansas City) and it adds up to very little fantasy value outside of the deepest leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Maier has the skills to be a solid part-timer or stopgap in the Major Leagues, but they aren’t ones that will help a 5×5 team very much.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 4/16/1983|
Profile: Tommy Manzella may be the least talented hitter to get regular playing time in 2010. In 282 plate appearances, Manzella put up a shameful triple-slash line of .225/.267/.264. His .238 wOBA was only above fellow Astro Pedro Feliz among players with 250 plate appearances. Sadly, Manzella can’t even blame his struggles on BABIP luck. He finished the season with a .302 BABIP, but struck out 71 times (27.5%), only walked 12 times (4.2%), and had all of eight extra-base hits (seven doubles, one home run). There’s nothing particularly surprising here, as Manzella never impressed in the minor leagues. It’s hard to imagine Manzella receiving any sort of meaningful playing time in 2011, and even if he does, he has no business on anybody’s roster even in the deepest of leagues. You may even be better off leaving your shortstop slot empty. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Tommy Manzella just might be the worst hitter in baseball. Obviously, that doesn’t make him worth consideration for fantasy purposes.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 11/17/1983|
Profile: Overall Nick Markakis’s 2010 season wasn’t significantly below his career average, but he did experience a considerable dip in power. The direct result was a reduction in home runs — to 12, a career low. Indirectly it might have also affected his runs and RBI totals. He drove in only 60 in 2010 after having driven in at least 87 in each of the previous three seasons — and in two of those years he drove in over 100. He also scored just 79 runs after having at least 94 in those three previous years. Part of the decline was the Orioles poor hitting in the early goings, but part of it was Markakis’s own power outage. The Orioles did improve, and Markakis himself, hitting 4 of his 12 homers in the final month of the season. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: A decent option in the OF, Markakis does have concerns following a power outage in 2010. With a slight rebound, and with better hitters around him, he could again put up serviceable numbers in 2011.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 2/15/1983|
Profile: Two words you really don’t want to hear when you’re a catcher – “hip fracture”. However, that’s the injury that kept Martin on the shelf for most of the second half last year, and it’s also one of the main reasons the Dodgers decided to non-tender their starting catcher and go in another direction. Los Angeles rode Martin pretty hard early in his career and his body may have finally broken down as a result. Now a member of the Yankees, Martin will see a reduced load in splitting time with Francisco Cervelli and possibly Jesus Montero. If he’s healthy, he might be able to serve as a decent stop-gap, but the Yankees seem intent on giving Montero a chance at some point, so Martin may be shoved aside in the second half of the year. He could potentially provide value early in the season, but don’t count on him as your regular catcher for the long haul. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: A stop-gap to give the Yankees another option if Jesus Montero falters, but you don’t really want to be drafting a guy who has that kind of prospect breathing down his neck.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/23/1978|
Profile: When healthy, Victor Martinez provides plenty of value. That he’ll serve as Detroit’s primary DH in 2011 means he’ll have a better chance of staying on the field. It also means that he has the chance to get far more at-bats than your typical catcher, making him even more valuable at the position. In the past he has been good for 20 HR, 80 R, 80 RBI, and a .300 AVG in under 600 AB. In 2011 he could top that mark, and could therefore see an increase in his HR, R, and RBI. While Joe Mauer will be the first pick among catchers in most leagues, Martinez, because of the increased playing time and reduced physical toll, just might be the best of the bunch in 2011. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: A move to DH, while retaining catcher eligibility, will greatly enhance Victor Martinez’s value. Because of the chance at increased at-bats, he could be the best catcher available.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 3/31/1983|
Profile: Jeff Mathis might be able to catch — and that’s important to his organization and his coach — but it’s clear that he cannot hit. His .199/.265/.311 career line has been accrued in over 1000 plate appearances, and his peripherals are just as bad. He walks at a below-average rate (7.0% career BB), strikes out way too often (30% career K), has no power to speak of (.112 career ISO), and the line-drive rate of a backup (13.7% career LD). FanGraphers can see that he’s accrued a negative WAR and isn’t a good player that should accrue close to 250 plate appearances a year, but what will Mike Scioscia say? He’s publicly disparaged his other catcher’s defense while praising Mathis’ work there, but something has to give. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Mathis would need to be the best defensive catcher in the league to make his bat play daily at this point. And he’s probably not the best defensive catcher in the league.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 6/12/1974|
Profile: Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Hideki Matsui’s 2010 season was that he only appeared in 18 games in left field. That means he’s a designated hitter or utility player in most leagues and has lost most of his eligibility-based value. It’s not like his bat is worth enough to roster him in shallow leagues these days — the 36-year-old has settled in with above-average, but not great, power (.185 ISO last year, .190 career), good plate discipline (12% walk rate last year, 11% career), and a mediocre batting average (.274 two years in a row). The bat formerly known as Godzilla hasn’t dropped off a ton — his power has always oscillated somewhat wildly from year to year — but unless he somehow adds another 100 plate appearances in Oakland, he just won’t have enough home runs to be relevant in 12-team mixed leagues. In a league that is deeper that, though, he can help you in your utility spot late in the draft. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: He’s a DH-only in most leagues and going to a ballpark where offense goes to die, but Godzilla still has a little bite left in his bat and will play in deeper leagues for another year.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 4/19/1983|
Profile: If there is any downside to Joe Mauer it’s that he just can’t crack that 550 at-bat mark. He never has in his entire career. Then again, few catchers do. He actually led the majors in AB for a catcher in 2011 with 510, despite missing 25 days with various nagging injuries. That’s what happens when you are good enough to DH on some days off. He led catchers in runs by 24 and finished just four behind the leader in RBI. And, of course, he led in batting average. There’s a reason he’s almost universally the first catcher off the board. With little having changed between 2010 and 2011 he should again rank among the best catchers. If he sees some of his 2009 power return, it could be a landslide. Joe Mauer is just that good. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Mauer represents the complete fantasy package at catcher, as he frequently leads the position in batting average and runs scored. If some of his 2009 power returns he could distance himself considerably from other catchers.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/4/1987|
Profile: The San Diego Padres let go of Tony Gwynn Jr. and got a player who could probably be described as Tony Gwynn Jr. with upside. Both are burners who play great defense with weak offense, but Maybin has a mouthwatering minor-league track record that suggests the former five-tool top prospect just needs a change of scenery. Unfortunately, cavernous PETCO Park is not the best place for a struggling hitter to try to turn it around. The key for Maybin is always his strikeout rate, which ranges from high to debilitating. In the minors, his walk-to-strikeout ratio was 0.52; in the majors, it’s 0.27. In other words, his control of the strike zone has slipped from his grasp. His .133 major league ISO is intriguing for a center fielder, and his walk rate wouldn’t be awful if he could get his batting average up. For him, contact will be everything, especially as there’s no reason for him to swing for the fences every time in PETCO. As long as he plays a full season, he’ll probably get double-digit steals and homers, but the batting average will determine the rest. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Maybin could probably be described as Tony Gwynn Jr. with upside. As long as he plays a full season, he’ll probably get double-digit steals and homers, but the batting average will determine the rest.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/20/1984|
Profile: McCann hasn’t quite hit the same high point he showed in 2006, when he made his full-season debut and showed his best ISO (.240) and batting average (.333). Since then, he’s shown some years where the power was close, or the batting average was close, but no season featured quite the same mix. Last year, his worst combination of strikeout rate (20.5%) and power numbers (.184 ISO) collaborated to produce his worst batting average (.269), and it’s a bit worrisome that his two worst strikeout seasons have come in the last two years. In the fantasy world, you pay for his consistency (18+ HRs, .269+ batting average, 89 RBIs per full season) at a difficult position, and there’s little reason he can’t at least hit those benchmarks next year. In fact, he’s entering his year-27 season, and could easily peak by cutting down the strikeouts back to the mid-teens, and pumping up the power a little. He shouldn’t be declining yet. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Another year, another 20+ home runs with a decent batting average from a tough position’s second-best player. If he makes a little more contact in 2011, he could have another year like 2006 or 2008, too.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/10/1986|
Profile: Pittsburgh’s franchise player proved his cross-category prowess in 2010, working the count, using his wheels and adding a dash of power for good measure. McCutchen batted .286/.365/.449, with a .363 wOBA that matched up pretty well with his .368 mark during his rookie season in 2009. The 11th-overall selection in the ’05 draft stole 33 bases in 43 attempts (a 77% success rate), but he offered more than base thievery. He displayed superb strike-zone discipline by swinging at just 20% of pitches thrown out of the zone. The MLB average was 29.3%, and McCutchen’s O-Swing was lowest in the National League among qualified hitters. Putting pitchers in tough counts (McCutchen’s 56.4 first pitch strike percentage was below the 58.8% MLB average), he walked 10.7% of the time. And the quick-wristed center fielder popped 16 HR with a .163 ISO. McCutchen is already a fantasy star, and considering that he’ll play the entire 2011 season at age 24, we likely haven’t seen his best yet. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Few players in the game offer McCutchen’s blend of speed, power, patience and upside. Draft him high and enjoy his entrance into full-fledged superstardom.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/12/1982|
Profile: Casey McGehee looks to have secured his place as everyday third baseman for the Brewers after hitting .285/.337/.464 last season. While his below-average defense may move him to the outfield or first base when Prince Fielder is traded, it doesn’t look like the Brewers can risk handing the third-base job to prospect Mat Gamel just yet, as the latter has shown improvement in K% but only had 17 plate appearances in the Majors in 2010. McGehee posted good power numbers in his first full season given a near league-average BABIP of .306, hitting 23 HRs and 38 doubles. If McGehee can post a .350 wOBA again, he should crack the top-15 third basemen list in 2011, a position that is relatively shallow this season. Pick him up if you are in a deep or NL-only league, but make sure to keep an eye on him throughout the season if your starting third baseman, such as Pablo Sandoval and Mark Reynolds, doesn’t bounce back from a down season. He is a good backup option in case top third baseman Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Zimmerman can’t stay healthy. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: McGehee should have the everyday 3B spot secured unless prospect Mat Gamel rises unexpectedly. He has good power numbers and is a good option if your starting 3B doesn’t bounce back from a down season or can’t stay healthy.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 10/28/1981|
Profile: Other than a terrible BABIP (.221), much of McLouth’s 2010 looked like the rest of his career. He walked at a double-digit rate, struck out around 20% of the time, showed some power and stole some bases. Then again, his strikeout rate was a career-high and his ISO and line drive rates were at a career-low, so it really was a bad season. When he returned to the major leagues, he did show his old form (.275/.345/.549), so the bounce-back predicted by the projection systems may be in the cards. His poor batting average even good years makes him a better fit for later in deep league drafts in leagues that use the stat, but he works as a cheaper starting outfielder in OBP leagues of any size. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Not a centerfielder for much longer, and with a sometimes-flawed approach at the plate, McLouth still has some pop and speed and works well as a cheaper outfielder in OBP leagues in particular.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 4/5/1985|
Profile: The Pirates gave Milledge a starting job in 2010, but the former Met and National did little to justify that confidence and he ended the year nursing an oblique injury. Milledge hit .277/.332/.380 with a .314 wOBA. Once again, he showed little patience, chasing pitches off the plate 33.6% of the time (29.3% MLB average) and walking in 6.8% of his plate appearances. And his power… well, what power? Milledge barely cracked triple digits in ISO (.103), hitting grounders about 49% of the time (44% MLB average). Yes, he was once regarded as a top farm talent, but Milledge is now an arbitration-eligible corner outfielder with marginal defensive chops and nonexistent secondary skills. Depending upon what Pittsburgh does with Ryan Doumit, Milledge could enter 2011 still getting the bulk of playing time in right field. However, he could be limited to the short half of a platoon: Milledge has been gobbled up by fellow right-handers in the majors (.261/.313/.377 in over 1,100 PA), but he has a .289/.363/.435 line in 500+ PA versus lefties. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Milledge has little plate discipline or pop, and he hasn’t offered anything in the stolen-base department since 2008. He’ll turn 26 in April, so the “he’s still young” refrain is getting old — at best, he’s a platoon outfielder.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 7/20/1974|
Profile: Still a free agent at time of publication and coming off a horrific .623 OPS season, Bengie Molina is a long shot to be worth any fantasy attention in 2011, if he even plays at all. In years past, Molina was a decent option for his moderately good batting average and solid power, but the average has been slipping for a while and he managed just five home runs in 2010. If Molina does find employment this winter, it is unlikely to be as a starter. That makes him just waiver fodder for the beginning of your fantasy season. He is not worth a draft pick. Move along. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Bengie Molina is about as likely to find a starting gig and return to form as you are to win your fantasy league should you spend anytime drafting him.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 7/13/1982|
Profile: Yadier Molina is a very good baseball player. He would be an important piece for any franchise, thanks to his remarkable defense at the catcher position. However, thanks to his deficiencies at the plate, his fantasy value is limited to the position that he plays. What we saw from Molina in 2010 is essentially what we’ve gotten his whole career: a middling batting average, 35-45 runs, 50-65 RBIs, six or seven homers, and, somehow, almost 10 SBs the last two seasons. There’s no reason to expect much to change next season. Molina will continue to draw a moderate amount of walks and make contact at a high rate. Power will continue to elude Molina as well. However, thanks to the dearth of productive catchers around the league, Molina has some value. He will pick up a lot of plate appearances, which makes playing time less of a concern than with many other catchers. That combination of production and playing time makes him a good player in deeper leagues and particularly NL-only leagues, and perhaps serves to illustrate just why if you don’t get an elite catcher early, you can wait until very late in the draft to fill the position. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: For as good of a catcher as Yadier Molina is, he has some struggles at the plate. He’s pretty mediocre everywhere, and although that can play at catcher, his fantasy value is small.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/9/1983|
Profile: Coming off a breakout performance in 2009 (.357 wOBA, 16 HR, 3.0 WAR), Montero was poised to take a step forward and join the ranks of baseball’s elite fantasy backstops in 2010. An early season torn meniscus got in the way, but after a two-month stint on the disabled list and Chris Snyder’s eventual trade to Pittsburgh, Montero was finally able to step back in and assume the team’s starting catching job. A hot first few weeks off the DL makes Montero’s .326 post-injury wOBA look mighty fine, though in the season’s final three months he produced at just a .304 wOBA pace. Montero’s clearly a better player than that, and it’s very possible that the knee injury hampered his production. The offseason can cure many ills, especially physical ones. A typical 5-4-3 weighting system puts him at a .340 wOBA with double-digit homers in 2011, well above average for a backstop. Still just 27, Montero is a fine fantasy option should you miss out on one of the traditional big three backstops. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: A knee injury cost Montero two months of the 2010 season and may have hindered him even after returning, though the 2011 outlook is kind. Montero offers plenty of power for the position and is the undisputed number one with Chris Snyder in Pittsburgh.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/8/1984|
Profile: The Catcher Of The Future turned out to be a Flop Of The Present, as Adam Moore’s rookie season in Seattle was nothing short of a disaster. While he’s never been seen as a great receiver, his offense was supposed to make up for it. Unfortunately, he ended up hitting like a pitcher, and while it was only 218 plate appearances during his first shot in the big leagues, he was bad enough to convince management that they couldn’t go into 2011 with Moore as their starting catcher. Over the winter, the Mariners signed Miguel Olivo to a two year contract, essentially relegating Moore to part-time duty at best, and potentially another trip back to Triple-A. His bat has shown some life in the minors, with gap power and decent contact rates, but he’s going to have a hard time usurping Olivo for regular playing time, which means you should probably look elsewhere. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Limited upside and a lack of a regular job – you can probably do better than this.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 2/7/1972|
Profile: Melvin Mora is one of those players that has enough going on that you can talk yourself into drafting him. He offers eligibility at multiple positions, so he provides a decent amount of depth while taking up just one roster spot. Whlie he’s leaving the friendly confines of Coors Field, he’s moving to the almost equally high-offense park in Arizona. He hit .285 last year, and he’s still flashed a bit of power. You look at him from enough angles, and you can convince yourself that he’s a decent fill-in at second base. Don’t do it. Run away. Mora is 39 years old and his average was based on his highest BABIP since 2004, and as the father of quintuplets, his Parental Adjusted Age is more like 84. The end is coming for Mora, and it won’t be pretty when it hits. You don’t want to be the guy who has to cut Mora in May because he’s hitting .170. Don’t be that guy. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: If your league has a bonus for helping to deliver five children at once, Mora is draftable – but you might want to consider that your league is crazy.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 6/20/1983|
Profile: After one of the more infamous broken legs in baseball history, a leading question for Morales might be health. So far so good on that front, as he’s on track to be ready for spring training. Now the question turns back to power. Morales showed top-tier power in his breakout 2009 (.263 ISO), but last year’s effort (.197) was more in line with his muted minor-league career. Of course, batting average qualifiers at first base averaged a .203 ISO last year, so his bat will play at the position with either level of power. But fantasy owners are best served to expect the latter when drafting, even if the former represents his upside. The good news is that the batting average should be solid either way, and at 27 going on 28, he’ll be right in his peak years. If the lineup around him can take a step forward, too, then the runs and RBI will be there for him. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: The broken leg should heal even if our memories will always be scarred by that ill-fated celebration. The real question is wether Morales has the average power he showed coming up in the minor leagues, or if he can possibly repeat the power he showed in 2009.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/21/1987|
Profile: After the disastrous Mark Teahen experiment, the White Sox are understandably looking for better defense at the hot corner. In Brent Morel, they may have one of the best young defensive third baseman in baseball, and his glove could open a door for real playing time in Chicago this summer. How well he’ll hit is another question, however. His lines in Double-A and Triple-A last season look good, but they’re heavily based on high BABIPs, and the combination of gap power and an aggressive approach isn’t one that usually works in the big leagues. I don’t know that Morel will hit enough to justify an everyday job this year, but this is an organization that used Mark Kotsay at DH, so their standards may be lower than we might think. If Morel makes a few flashy plays in spring training, he could open camp as the team’s third baseman. He probably shouldn’t be on your squad this year, however. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Average power at best, an approach that could be exploited by good pitchers, and minimal experience against high level competition mean that Morel is probably not the kind of guy you’ll get much offense from this year.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/6/1985|
Profile: The trade of Justin Smoak to division-partner Seattle cleared the way for Mitch Moreland to assume the starting first-base duties for Texas for now. Chris Davis is still in the organization but his multiple failures at the Major League level has put him on short leash and given Moreland more breathing room to adjust. Moreland may not even need that as he did just fine for himself in his 173 PAs with Texas last season. Despite nine home runs in that limited trial, you should not count on Moreland to provide you with a lot of home runs over a full season. Moreland has been around 15-20 home runs per year at each level. He could develop more, especially considering his potent doubles totals, but it would be silly to assume it happens in 2011. Moreland is not going to steal you any bases and it is not clear yet where he will bat in Texas’ batting order so his RBI projections are in flux. Still, Moreland represents a possibly mid-level first-base talent that may not cost much to acquire. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: A potential buy-low target, Moreland has added value in keeper leagues. Make sure he’s not overtaken on the 2011 depth chart however.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 7/2/1980|
Profile: At some point during the middle of 2009, it became clear that Morgan could be a valuable player — both from a real-life perspective (as his 4.9 WAR for that season attests) and also from a fantasy one, too (buoyed, in particular, by .300-ish averages and a stolen base about every three or four games). At some point in the middle of the 2010 season, it became clear that Morgan — in addition to his baseball skills — is also a genuine crazy person. He received one suspension at the end of August for throwing a ball at a fan in the stands, and then another, not long after, for charging Marlin pitcher Chris Volstad after the latter appeared to throw at Morgan. The incident with Volstad was actually spurred by a third incident in which Morgan unnecessarily collided with Marlin catcher Brett Hayes. Provided his 2011 is without incident, fantasy owners can probably expect, if not a BABIP-fueled .300 average, then at least something in the .280s along with 30-plus stolen bases and leadoff-y runs and RBI totals. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Provided he’s not a real-life crazy person, should offer .280-ish average and 30-something stolen bases with very, very, very modest power numbers.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 5/15/1981|
Profile: The only question mark about Justin Morneau’s 2011 is his health. He was limited to half a season in 2010 because of a concussion and the lingering effects. But with over seven months to recover, he could be back in full force for 2011. When he’s on the field he provides value from all angles, including a batting average around .300, around 90 runs scored, over 100 RBI, and between 20 and 30 HR. In 2010 he was on pace to destroy those totals, too, and we’ve seen in the past that he can have a monster season. As long as the lingering effects of the concussion don’t carry over into 2010, he’ll be one of the league’s top first baseman. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: For the past few seasons Justin Morneau has been a tremendous producer. As long as his concussion doesn’t affect him in 2011 he should rank among the league’s top first basemen
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/25/1987|
Profile: Morrison has faced some obstacles over the past two seasons. The 23-year-old sophomore battled injuries in 2009 and then was blocked by Gaby Sanchez at his natural position of first base at the MLB level in 2010. The Marlins moved the talented rookie to the outfield to get his bat into the lineup. Morrison played below-average defense in the field but he produced a solid line of .283/.390/.447 in 244 at-bats. He’s battled wrist injuries, which have sapped his power over the past two seasons, but he appears healthy now and is a threat to hit 20 homers in 2011. Like Sanchez, Morrison gives the club another player who will post above-average walk rates and get on base a lot. He could have some added value for fantasy manages in 2011 if he sees some playing time at first base, as well as the outfield, while spelling Sanchez. Morrison is a solid option to consider in the middle rounds of NL-only leagues and is a sleeper in mixed leagues (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Morrison could have added value if he sees time at both first base and in the outfield. A wrist injury sapped his power in 2010 but it could return in ’11.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 3/22/1982|
Profile: One of the pleasant surprises on the 2010 Nationals, Morse flashed enough power — 15 homers in just 266 AB — to earn at least a part-time job in 2010. There’s a good chance it was a career year, though. He turns 29 in March, and his .289/.352/.519 was well above his career minor-league .271/.330/.425. The batting average and OBP are particularly likely to come down, as they were likely inflated by a .330 BABIP. (His career BABIP is .348, but though he’s played in parts of six seasons, he’s barely amassed a season’s worth of plate appearances.) Depending on the Nyjer Morgan situation, he could see significant playing time in the Nats’ outfield and is likely to provide double-digit homers. But that’s about his only advantage in a 5×5 league: he doesn’t run, the Nats won’t give him many RBI or run-scoring opportunities, and his average is bound to come down. He shouldn’t be more than a waiver-wire pick-up for fantasy owners. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Pleasant surprise in 2010, and a possible source of waiver-wire power in 2011.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/18/1981|
Profile: Murphy provides interesting upside for a guy who probably won’t get a lot of love on draft day. With no regular starting job, he’ll be a tough guy for owners to be too aggressive on, but he’s the main reserve for two injury prone corner outfielders and a starting center fielder who can’t hit. Odds are good that Murphy is going to play an awful lot, and his gap power and above average speed give him an outside chance at a 20-20 season if he lands in an everyday role. Even if he’s just a frequently used reserve, double digit steals can be expected, which make him a nifty backup at least in traditional leagues. Don’t be too afraid of taking a shot at Murphy – between questions about all three outfielders, Michael Young’s future with the organization, and whether Mitch Moreland can avoid the sophomore slump, there are a lot of ways for Murphy to end up with significant playing time in 2011. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: For people who focus on depth charts, Murphy will fly under the radar. Be willing to use a roster spot on Murphy, as shorting the performance and durability of five Rangers’ starters is a pretty good idea.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 11/14/1978|
Profile: Xavier Nady’s first season back after a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow was not promising. Nady platooned with Micah Hoffpauir at first base after Derrek Lee was traded to the Braves, attaining 317 at-bats while batting .256/.306/.353 in 2010. The Cubs had a crowded outfield for much of the season while Nady continued to have plate-discipline problems, striking out on 27% of at-bats while struggling greatly against left-handed pitchers during his stint with the Cubs. Unfortunately, Nady does not appear to be a starting outfielder on most MLB teams, let alone fantasy teams, and is unlikely to hit 20 HRs again in the near future. Optimistic projections have him at .260/.330/.420. With two Tommy John reconstructive surgeries, you have to wonder which teams are going to even take a chance with him. Unless he clearly is an everyday outfielder who stays healthy, Nady is not even a buy-low candidate you should consider for your fantasy team. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Nady had a second Tommy John surgery and does not project to get much playing time in the Cubs’ crowded outfield. Two surgeries and uncertainty at a starting job should convince you to look elsewhere, with optimistic projections having him at .260/.330/.420.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/31/1981|
Profile: Napoli had quite the winter, getting shipped from Anaheim to Toronto and then on to Texas, where his arrival apparently contributed to Michael Young demanding a trade. That’s a lot of action for a guy who has never been a full-time player, but don’t be surprised if he’s also a hot commodity on draft day. With power scarce at the catching position a new home park that should only enhance his ability to knock balls into the seats, Napoli should be near the top of the home run leaders among backstops in 2011. However, that doesn’t mean you should go broke trying to put him on your roster. His defense is poorly regarded enough that Ron Washington is unlikely to use him behind the plate all that frequently, and as of this writing, Michael Young is still a Ranger. If Young sticks around in Texas, there won’t be an everyday job for Napoli, and he’ll end up filling a similar role to the one he had in Anaheim. If you need power, he’s one to target, but know that he could end up sitting more than you might expect. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: A catcher who could hit 30 home runs or could end up as a platoon player who only gets 400 at-bats. Keeper league owners should be aware that he probably won’t have catcher eligibility for too many more years.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/9/1984|
Profile: For the second year in a row, Navarro made Joe Maddon’s glasses fog up by showing absolutely nothing at the plate. Since putting up a .330 wOBA in 470 plate appearances for the Rays as a 24-year-old back in 2008, the switch-hitter has barely hit his weight with a .212/.263/.306 triple-slash and a .254 wOBA in 552 PA. That wOBA is dead last among all MLB hitters with at least 500 trips to the plate over the past two seasons. Some of Navarro’s godawful offensive numbers might be due to bad luck — he had a .231 BABIP in 2009 and a .223 mark this past year, compared to a .273 career average — but he’s really slow (2.5 career Speed Score) and he pops the ball up a lot (12.9% infield fly-ball rate; 7-8% MLB average). Considering his ordinary plate patience and absence of power, Navarro’s still a lousy hitter even with a few more balls falling for hits. Non-tendered by Tampa, he latched back on with the Dodgers and will battle A.J. Ellis for the right to back up Rod Barajas. That Navarro might not outhit the retiring Brad Ausmus tells you all you need to know about his fantasy worth. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Navarro’s greatest contribution to the 2010 Rays came during the playoffs… when he was left off the roster and decided to chill at home rather than sit in the dugout. He’s just 27, but Navarro could be spending a lot more time on the couch if he doesn’t show something in L.A. this year.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/26/1982|
Profile: Jayson Nix shares at least two traits with his brother Laynce: (1) a superfluous and annoying “y” in his first name, and (2) the ability to do just enough things non-horribly to hang around a Major League roster. Nix is best suited to be a part-timer, but fantasy players should still pay attention since Nix has as good a chance as anyone at the moment to get most of the starts given the team’s lack of alternatives (third-base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall likely doesn’t figure into Cleveland’s plans in a significant way until 2012). It’s not as if Nix is a sure thing, but the loser of the Jason Donald-Luis Valbuena battle at second likely isn’t much of a threat. A bit of power aside, a chance at playing time is about all Nix really offers fantasy players in 2011. He doesn’t hit for average or take many walks, and his low on-base percentage cuts into his chances to utilize his above-average speed. Given playing time, he might hit .260/.330./.420 with around 10 steals, but that’s probably a bit optimistic for a prototypical utility infielder. Nonetheless, he should be drafted in all deep leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Nix will probably start 2011 as Cleveland’s third baseman. That says more about the state of the franchise than about Nix.
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