|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 7/15/1978|
Profile: Olivo has racked up double digit home run numbers in five consecutive seasons while playing for three different franchises, but he’s decided to really challenge himself in 2011 – he’s going to the worst park in baseball for his particular skillset. As a right-handed extreme pull hitter, Safeco Field punishes his strengths more than any other park, and Olivo is going to have to do a lot of damage on the road to repeat his 2010 numbers. You would think he might have noticed what Adrian Beltre did in Boston after leaving Seattle, or how Jose Lopez failed to make this same approach work in Seattle, but Olivo took the security of a two year deal and now has to try to overcome baseball’s version of death valley for RHBs. Given that former Catcher Of The Future Adam Moore is still hanging around, Olivo will have some competition for playing time, so if he struggles, he might find himself on the bench more often than he had anticipated. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Let someone else pay for Olivo’s expected power – his new home ballpark will stifle his production in a big way.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 1/28/1974|
Profile: Ordonez was having a decent 2010 season (.303 average, 12 home runs and R+RBI of 115 in 84 games) until a fractured ankle sidelined him in July and he never played again. After re-signing with the Tigers he looks to have a spot in the outfield to play everyday. There is no reason not to expect around 20 home runs and a .300 average from him, if he is 100% healthy. The problem is determining how well his 37-year-old body will heal and get back into form. It’s probably best to shy away from him as an everyday outfielder going into the season, but maybe take a chance with him as a bench player, grabbing him in drafts before others get a chance. If you are in a deeper league, you may have to take a chance with him as a starter earlier, though. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Figuring out the status of Ordonez’s injury will help to determine his value in 2011.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 11/18/1975|
Profile: Pundits have been predicting the demise of David Ortiz for a few years now, and in each of the last two Aprils he’s made it look like his number was finally up. The one they call Big Papi rebounded each time, though, finishing 2010 with a .270 AVG, 32 homers, and 102 RBI. A weighted 5-4-3 projection has him at a .361 wOBA and damn near 30 homers again in 2011. Even if we dock him a bit and call it a .345 wOBA and 23-25 homers going forward, you’d still be hard pressed to find more productive hitters at his average draft position, which in some leagues is a double-digit round. The biggest issue is that Ortiz is a non-factor against lefties (.268 wOBA vs. LHP in 2010) in a division full of quality southpaws, so you can’t leave him in there day after day. Fantasy players will be skeptical of Ortiz’s early season slumps and for good reason, but count on Papi coming back strong once again to have a big year before his contract expires. He’s got the potential to be a nice late-round steal if too many people shy away in the middle rounds. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Another slow start will have owners wondering if this is the year Ortiz crumbles, but there’s still enough pop in his bat that 20+ HR and 80+ RBI are a realistic expectation. Just don’t start him against a lefty.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 1/28/1977|
Profile: A change of leagues, especially from the AL East to the NL Central, can sometimes do wonders for a player. After spending the last five seasons with the Blue Jays, Overbay moves to Pittsburgh in 2011, where he’ll serve as the starting first baseman. That gives him a chance to improve on his production from the recent past. He did flash some power in 2010, hitting 20 home runs for the first time since 2006. His gap power could also lead to a decent RBI total, but that will depend more on the rest of the Pittsburgh offense. One perhaps overlooked factor is the lack of a truly dominant lefty in the NL Central. The Cardinals have Jaime Garcia and the Astros have Wandy Rodriguez, but there is no CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, or David Price in the division. That could play to Overbay’s favor. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Overbay has always been a middling player, supplying around 15 home runs with decent runs-scored and RBI totals. A move to the NL Central could serve to increase those numbers.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 7/2/1981|
Profile: Pagan doesn’t walk a ton (7.2% career), and his power is below average (.135 career ISO), but focusing too long on those aspects ignores the parts of the game at which Pagan excels. By using his wheels (7.2 career speed score) and avoiding the strikeout (16.8% last year), he is able to put up nice batting averages (.285 career) and stolen-base totals (37 last year). His excellent defense makes him the center fielder of the near future for the Mets, and especially in leagues that break out the CF designation, he’s a sneaky play despite some injury risk. In leagues that only designate “outfielders,” he doesn’t quite have the power to be worth an early pick, but the wheels still make him a great late play for speed and batting average alone. Just remember that he is already 29 — it took him a while to grab an everyday job — so don’t faith-cast him for much more power in the future. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Injury issues have dogged this Angel in the outfield, but he had quite the Pagan feast in 2010, showing enough power to make his speed and defense package work well.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/6/1987|
Profile: During 2009, Parra’s rookie season, the outfielder was a very safe fantasy option. He hit for a high average, scored some runs, but wasn’t going to contribute much else of value. With uncertainty surrounding his playing time, Parra wasn’t getting any love from owners coming into the 2010 campaign. During this past year, Parra only started 93 games for the D’Backs, and his numbers suffered because of it. While his BABIP was still well over .300, his batting average slid thanks to a declining contact rate. However, his contact skills were still right around league average, and high line-drive and ground-ball rates should help boost his batting average in the future. We still don’t know how often Parra is going to see playing time in 2011, but one could venture a guess and say “not very often.” If he isn’t going to play much, or hit for a high average, then there is no place for Gerardo Parra on your roster. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Parra may have been a safe option in 2009, but he struggled in 2010. Unless the rest of Arizona’s outfield dies in a fiery car wreck, it’s unlikely he’ll have enough value to warrant a roster spot.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 8/13/1979|
Profile: After bouncing around in 2009, Patterson found a home with the Orioles in 2010 and provided solid production while filling in for injured players. Patterson showed that he still has some juice left in those legs of his, but he strikes out too often to properly utilize them. He also proved that he still has a little pop left in his bat, as well, but not enough to force his way into a lineup any time soon. The Blue Jays were willing to take a no-risk chance on him, and it will probably pay off for them. However, it won’t pay off for owners looking at Patterson as a 2011 sleeper, as there doesn’t seem to be room on Toronto’s outfield for Patterson to see significant playing time. If you’re in an AL-only league and Patterson sneaks into some at-bats, he might not be a bad option to have on your bench. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Patterson performed well while filling in for injured Orioles in 2010, but Baltimore decided not to bring him back. He shouldn’t see enough ABs to be worthy of consideration in any league.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/21/1981|
Profile: Ronny Paulino will begin the baseball season a few games after his teammates, as he serves out the balance of a 50-game suspension for a banned substance. The Marlins reacted to his suspension — and .293 wOBA — by signing John Buck to a remarkable $18 million contract, so the arbitration-eligible Paulino will need to find a new place to start. He was a surprise success in 2009, backing up John Baker with a .272 average and eight homers in 80 games. Last season marked his first starting role since 2007, but he managed just four homers and a .259 average in 91 games. The suspension may make other teams wary to sign him to anything more than a backup role. He has a bit of power, and a career batting average over .270 — which isn’t bad for a catcher — but the 29-year-old will have trouble finding a place to collect a season’s worth of at-bats. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: He has a bit of power, and a career batting average over .270, which isn’t bad for a catcher. But the 29-year old will have trouble finding a place to collect a season’s worth of at-bats.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 8/17/1983|
Profile: One of many Red Sox players to hit the disabled list for an extended period of time in 2010, Pedroia will return in 2011 from a broken foot with no reason to be skeptical of his performance going forward. His average has dipped a bit over the last few seasons, from .326 to .296 to .288 (BABIPs: .331, .297, .291, respectively), but he’s made up for it with increased power (career-best .205 ISO in 2010, by far). Pedroia will be productive as long as he stays healthy, and there’s no reason not to expect him to be. The foot injury was a fluke, suffered on a foul tip. He’ll give owners a high batting average with 15 or more homers and one of the highest runs-scored totals in the game, and he’s also good for 20 steals. With no worse than average production in four of the five traditional scoring categories, Pedroia should be the third second baseman off the board behind Robinson Cano and Chase Utley. It would not be stunning if he outproduced those two in 2011 either. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: The only thing that stopped Pedroia from another brilliant season in 2010 was a broken foot, and there’s no reason not to expect a rebound in 2011. Solid or better production in all five traditional scoring categories from a middle infielder? Yes, please.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/7/1982|
Profile: Pena looks to be the starting catcher for the Royals in 2011 with Jason Kendall being out for an unknown amount of time. He was used sparingly in 2010 until Kendall went down with an injury, but then he became the full-time catcher. It may look like he offers little value, but he may be a pleasant surprise for fantasy managers looking to take a flyer. Pena seems to like regular playing time and in September/October he hit .309/.349/.432. He has shown signs of hitting around .280 (2008 = .286, 2009 = .273), which would put him in the top-10 catchers in the league for batting average. Also, at times he has shown to have a power stroke. In 64 games in 2009, he hit six home runs and, with regular playing time, could hit 10-15 dingers. Only four catchers hit better than .280 and had 10 home runs in 2010 (Buster Posey, Victor Martinez, John Buck and Geovany Soto). One problem Pena faces is that he will have few chances to score or drive in runs with the Royals’ low-powered offense. One item to understand with catchers is that you will need one or two extras on your team if you want to fill the position every night and Pena could be a nice fill-in in 12-team leagues and may be an okay starter in AL-only or deeper mixed leagues. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: With regular playing time, Pena could be nice fantasy sleeper at the catcher position.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 5/17/1978|
Profile: A fantasy breakout star a few years ago, Pena has dropped off a bit every year since then, culminating in a .196 AVG in 2010. The good news is that Pena still provides value because he hits for a ton of power (no fewer than 28 homers in each of the last four seasons) and brings all the other stuff that comes along with it (runs scored and RBI). He’ll absolutely kill you in batting average, though, hitting just .237 from 2008 to 2009, before this past season. His BABIPs will always been low because of all the homers, but one should expect a rebound from 2010’s .211 mark.The important thing to remember is that Pena is moving from Tropicana Field (a below-average hitter’s park for lefty batters) to Wrigley, which boosts offensively performances from lefties quite a bit. A return to 30+ homers is likely, but you have to proceed as if Pena will hit .220. That’s just who he is. Make sure you pay attention to the pitching matchups, as well: Pena struggles against lefties and that limits his value as well. It sounds a little crazy, but there’s a chance he’ll be a little undervalued on draft day because of the low batting average, so be prepared to pounce in the later rounds. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Pena will kill your team in batting average, but a move to Wrigley should help get him back over the 30-homer plateau. A slight BABIP rebound will get his AVG off the interstate, but proceed as if he’ll hit .220 just because he probably will.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/13/1983|
Profile: Throughout Houston’s fall from grace, Hunter Pence has been one of the few bright spots for the Astros. After getting called up to the bigs in 2007, he has cemented himself as a consistently good fantasy option in the outfield. Pence has never had a full season in which he’s had under 640 plate appearances, and he has hit exactly 25 homers in three straight seasons. He also hit exactly .282 with a LD% of 14.6% in each of the past two seasons. Scary, ain’t it? For someone with good speed and power, Pence’s BABIP tends to be low thanks to a poor line-drive rate. This factor drives down his batting average down further then it should be, hurting his fantasy value. Even with a bad team around him last season, he managed to drive in, and score, more than 90 runs for the first time. Even if he can’t figure out his swing, Pence will still be a very good outfielder, and is worthy of being the second outfielder you draft. If he can “fix” his swing, he could be worth much more than you’ll pay. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Pence has hit 25 homers and stole over 10 bases in each of the past three seasons. You’ll have to pay for his consistent production, and he’s worthy of being your second outfielder off the board.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 6/15/1984|
Profile: In his first full season as Oakland’s shortstop, Pennington was solid with the glove and weak with the bat. His glove will keep in him Oakland’s lineup — in 2010 he handled more chances than any AL shortstop other than Alexei Ramirez. On the downside, Pennington’s .250 BA placed him towards the bottom of a sea of .250-ish hitting AL shortstops. The only real standout offensive skill that Pennington showed in 2010 was an ability to steal bases. He swiped 29 in ’10 as part of a fleet-footed trio that included Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp. With the A’s projecting to lack home-run power again in 2011, Pennington figures to be frequently green-lighted this season as well. As for his other offensive contributions, it would be a surprise to see him start hitting with power, as he never showed that skill in the minors. So the rest of his value will be tied up in his ability to improve on his on-base skills. Pennington was one of the A’s that managed to stay healthy last year, which is a good sign for 2011. (Patrick Newman)
Quick Opinion: Pennington showed strong defense and foot speed in his debut season. Can he improve on his batting as an encore?
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 5/28/1982|
Profile: Jhonny Peralta showed plenty of promise as a 23-year-old in 2005, and then had a few more good years in Cleveland. But in the past two years he has dropped off considerably. He still has decent power for a shortstop, but he probably won’t break the 20 home-run barrier, especially playing in Detroit’s Comerica Park. His batting average has also been poor in recent years, so he’s certainly a back-end shortstop. The real bet with Peralta is whether his batting average will rebound to the .275 to .280 range, or whether he’s stuck around .250. The answer to that question will reveal much about his value. That’s certainly not an early-round gamble. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: While Jhonny Peralta has had a number of good years, he has been below average for the past couple. His new home in Detroit could further suppress his offensive numbers.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 6/28/1981|
Profile: In 2010, Phillips was one of the better fantasy second basemen, scoring 100 runs, hitting 18 home runs, and adding 16 stolen bases. However, his .275/.332/.430 line (quite similar to his career line) doesn’t quite put him into the elite level of second basemen. His position at the top of the order has limited his RBIs, and his propensity for low BABIPs (.286 career) limits his ability to post top-flight batting averages. Especially with the solid Reds lineup behind him, he should be able to continue to threaten the 100-run mark on a yearly basis. His natural power combined with the friendly configuration of Great American Ballpark should make him a top home-run threat at the position as well. We’ve seen Phillips as a Red for five years now, so we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Look for Phillips to post a line similar to .275, 90 runs, 60-80 RBIs (depending on his lineup slot), 20 HR, and 15-20 SB in 2011. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Phillips posted yet another solid season in 2010. He’s not quite on the level of Chase Utley or Dan Uggla, but he’s one of the better fantasy second basemen around.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 2/8/1985|
Profile: It was supposed to be Felix Pie’s year in 2011. After the Cubs gave up on him they traded him to the Orioles, where he disappointed for the first half of the year. But then, after returning from an injury in late July, he went on a second half tear, hitting .300/.357/.514. He got off to a hot start in 2011, but before April was half over he got hurt and missed almost two months. After his return he just couldn’t keep up the pace. Pie is a player who, in an ideal scenario, will hit for average and steal some bases. The problem is that he hasn’t yet done it, and hasn’t given many indications that he will. Combined with health issues, he’s a tough pick to justify. It might be best to wait it out and see how he starts the season. There are plenty of superior corner outfielders. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: We need to have patience with young players trying to put it all together, so we should keep an eye on Felix Pie. But from the get-go, there are plenty of better options in the outfield.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 8/14/1977|
Profile: Pierre is a pretty bad hitter. Yeah, he can probably dink out another .280 average even at 33, but with few walks and virtually no power. However, this is fantasy, not reality, and Pierre does one thing really well: steal lots and lots of bases. Even in his seasons with the Dodgers when he was a part-timer, he managed to steal 30 or more bases, and, set loose with the White Sox in 2010, he stole 68. He’s under contract with the White Sox for 2011, and, as bizarre as it seems, if they keep giving him so many plate appearances, Pierre’s steals make him an extremely valuable outfielder in most 5×5 leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: In reality, Juan Pierre should be a low-cost fourth outfielder. In fantasy 5×5 formats, his high steals numbers rank him among the most valuable outfielders in the game as long as he gets the playing time.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 12/30/1976|
Profile: For a while it seemed like Pierzynski would be leaving Chicago for good, but at the last minute the Sox brought him back. He’s been in decline seemingly forever, and doesn’t really offer anything on offense other than being a decent hitter for a catcher… which is something, to be fair. He doesn’t walk or hit for power (even in the White Sox’ launching pad), and when his BABIP drops, there goes the average. Still, at catcher, his likely .270/.300/.400 2011 with 50-60 RBI and 40-50 runs is valuable, and he stays healthy enough. He’s a starter if you need one, just don’t overpay. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Pierzynski’s seemingly endless run with the White Sox will continue for at least one more year. He isn’t really good at anything at the plate until you remember he’s a catcher.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 3/18/1976|
Profile: Podsednik’s fantasy value is declining, but he has some fantasy value at age 35 depending on if he is able to find a starting job. First of all, Podsednik hit .304 and .297 in 2009 and 2010. Though a .300 average is not great, using him as a fill-in will not bring down your batting average (and may raise it). Also, he still looks to try to steal bases. Though his success rate is down, he is still getting 30 stolen bases a season. His 35 SBs in 2010 was 10th in the majors. He has very little power and the runs and RBI total will probably be dependent on the team he ends up with. He is not going to win you many leagues, but as a fill when player has an off day or injuries, he won’t cost your team much. He should be drafted in all leagues (if he finds a starting role) based on just the SB numbers, but finding finding that job may prove to be difficult considering his real talent is diminishing. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: If Scott is able to find an everyday job, he is valuable based on his batting average and stolen bases.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 10/10/1975|
Profile: In the first year of a three-year contract, Placido Polanco did what he pretty much always does: porduced a good batting average, mediocre OBP, single-digit homers, single-digit steals, 70-80 runs scored, between 50-60 RBI. An elbow injury sent him to the DL and held him below 140 games played, both for the first time since 2006. His defensive versatility is a plus, as he logged time at both second and third last year. (The Phillies briefly played him at left field and shortstop in 2005, not long before trading him to the Tigers. He hasn’t played either position since then, so it’s probably safe to consider him a 2B/3B rather than a supersub.) There’s little reason to expect his production will change much. With Jayson Werth gone from the Philly lineup, Polanco might score fewer runs, and his RBI total will depend somewhat on whether Shane Victorino or Jimmy Rollins can reclaim the leadoff spot and post an OBP above .330, which neither of them managed last year. Otherwise, Polanco’s production will be what it always is: he’ll hit .290-.300 with single-digit homers and steals. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Polanco’s production will be what it always is: he’ll hit .290-.300 with single-digit homers and steals.
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 8/17/1971|
Profile: Posada’s career has been rather remarkable; backstops that average .285/.387/.493 with 19.7 HR annually from age 31-37 are few and far between. He started to slow last season, though he still hit 18 homers with a .248 AVG while nagging injuries (mostly suffered on foul tips or hit by pitches) took their toll. The Yankees intend to use Posada as their primary designated hitter in 2011, which should (in theory) help him stay on the field and productive deeper into the season. The days of a .280 AVG with 20+ homers and 80+ RBI are likely in the past, but Jorge still has enough juice in his bat and enough on-base guys hitting in front of him to remain a top-tier fantasy catcher. It’s all about health; as long as he’s on the field he’ll be productive for the Yankees and your fantasy team. That’s far from a given at age 39 and with close to 13,000 innings behind the plate taking their inevitable toll. It’s a high-risk move with the potential for lots of reward, but proceed with caution. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: A new life as a most-of-the-time DH should help keep Posada both healthy and productive in 2011, but he’ll still maintain that all-important catcher eligibility.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 3/27/1987|
Profile: You can’t ask for much more from a rookie. Posey reignited the Giants’ offensive, while producing a personal triple-slash line of .305/.357/.505 in 406 at-bats. He also guided the talented pitching staff to a World Series title. Heading into 2011, Posey has the full-time gig all to himself as backup Eli Whiteside should not see much time behind the dish. Posey is one of few catchers that has a legitimate shot to hit .300 and provide 20+ homers. With a full season in a run-producing spot in the lineup, he should drive in 80+ runs — and that number would be even better if he had more talent around him. If Aubrey Huff can have another solid season and Pablo Sandoval rebounds, Posey’s numbers will be on the upswing. He’s a top mixed-league target at the backstop position. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: With Posey you’re getting a catcher who will play a lot of games while providing above-average offensive numbers at a young age. He’s the real deal and there is no reason to fear the sophomore slump with this player.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/27/1983|
Profile: Prado wore down at the end of the season, slumping noticeably before finally suffering a season-ending oblique injury. But no sooner had he established himself as one of the premier second basemen in the league than the Braves traded for Dan Uggla and shifted Prado to left field, where his bat looks a bit more ordinary. Still, Prado has had a pretty established level of performance at this point: his 2009 and 2010 are almost identical in their triple-slash lines, and with Prado established as the Braves’ leadoff hitter, he’s likely to score a lot more runs. He doesn’t run much, but he’s pretty good bet for another .300 average and homers in the teens, which plays anywhere on the diamond — last year, Prado was one of only 19 players in the Majors to hit .300 with more than 12 homers. He was an All-Star, but he still could be underrated, especially because of his unusual 2B/LF eligibility. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: He’s a left fielder now, but Prado’s a good bet to bat .300 no matter where he plays.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 1/16/1980|
Profile: Let’s be honest – you didn’t pay for The Second Opinion to find out whether we think Albert Pujols is good. I could spend a few hundred words trying to explain why he’ll be one of the first guys off the board, but when you’re done reading it, you won’t know anything you didn’t know before. So, instead, here are a few fun little tidbits. Since his rookie season in 2001, Pujols has +80.6 WAR, or essentially the same amount as Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez combined. During that time frame, he is first in batting average, second in on base percentage (behind only Coors-inflated Todd Helton), and first in slugging percentage. Oh, and by the way, he’s also at the top of the UZR leaderboard for defensive value from a first baseman as well. He’s not just a great player – he’s one of the greatest who ever lived. He’d probably help your team win this year, but that’s just a hunch. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: He’s Albert Pujols. If you have the chance, draft him. Even if you don’t win your league, you’ll have fun rooting for the best player in the game.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 11/8/1977|
Profile: No reasonable excuse exists for having Punto on your fantasy baseball team. He cannot hit for average, with a lifetime .247 average, and no power (13 home runs in a 10-year career). He also has quickly declining speed (six stolen bases in each of the past two years). It is not like he is going to get any better/faster at age 33. Punto’s only value as a MLB baseball player is his superb infield defense and being qualified at three positions. You may be interested in using him as a super-sub your team. Don’t. There are many other players that are qualified at several positions that are better fantasy assets. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Though a great fielder, Punto has no fantasy value at all.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 8/28/1982|
Profile: As of this writing, Carlos Quentin is still on the Chicago White Sox, although there have been rumors of him being moved. Assuming he stays in Chicago for 2011, he should have ample opportunities for big numbers hitting behind Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn… if he manages to stay healthy. No, he probably won’t ever hit again like he did in 2008, and he’s more likely to hit .250 than .280. However, he’ll still only be 28 to begin the 2011 season, and a .255/.355/.495 line with 25+ home runs, 80-90 runs and 90-100 RBI or more is a reasonable expectation, provided he stays healthy and the White Sox let him play in the outfield despite his questionable defense there. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Despite questions about his health and defense, Quentin is still a very good hitter who will be hitting in the middle of a loaded White Sox batting order if he stays in Chicago in 2011.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 8/2/1979|
Profile: The strong-armed backstop got more playing time than ever before in 2010, proving that his bat is wretched even by the modest standards of the catching position. In 276 PA, Quintero had a .254 wOBA and a .234/.262/.317 slash line (hey, he outhit J.R. Towles). With a walk rate under 3%, an ISO barely above .080 and a strikeout rate exceeding 22%, it’s pretty clear that Quintero is in the Majors for his well-regarded defense. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the 5-foot-9, 220 pound plodder, with a career 1.4 Speed Score (five is average) has hit grounders nearly 55% of the time during his career. The righty batter mostly caddied for Jason Castro once the left-handed hitter and 10th-overall pick in the 2008 draft was summoned from the minors, and it looks like he’ll fill that role again this season. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Short of a “Captain Trips”-like plague that wipes out the world’s catcher population, Quintero’s totally irrelevant in fantasy leagues. Even then, you might wanna draft the dearly departed before you turn to Quintero.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 4/17/1981|
Profile: The utility man appeared at every position on the diamond, save for shortstop and catcher, while batting .280/.340/.474. Raburn didn’t show great control of the strike zone in walking 6.6% and whiffing nearly a quarter of the time, but he again produced more pop than you’d expect from his skinny frame. Knocking 15 pitches out of the park, Raburn posted a .194 ISO. His career ISO in nearly 1,100 career big-league plate appearances now sits at .192. Defensively, UZR shows that Raburn has cost his club about a win and a half all over the field during his career. Raburn’s not someone you want trying to turn two for your favorite team, but he started fifteen games at second base in 2010 and gets a boost in leagues where that’s enough to qualify at the position. As for 2011, the Tigers appear ready to hand him a starting spot in one of the outfield corners. Raburn’s capable of replicating his 2010 work, and he could be a nice find late in drafts as a good source of power with multi-position eligibility. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: A utility player poised to snag a starting role in Detroit’s 2011 outfield, Raburn has good power and will also qualify at second base in many leagues. Owners could surely do worse at the keystone spot.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/22/1981|
Profile: At first glance, Alexei Ramirez has been a relatively consistent shortstop since he was called up by the Chicago White Sox in 2008, producing around 15-20 home runs and 65-75 RBIs annually. Expect much of the same in 2011. Ramirez has kept a consistent MLB-average BABIP in his career thus far, while his HR/FB numbers have fluctuated. Still, with a fly-ball percentage north of 33% every season, expecting close to 20 home runs in 2011 isn’t crazy for him. In 2010, Ramirez hit .282/.313/.431 with 13 stolen bases, and should easily be a top-10 fantasy shortstop. One major concern is the huge drop in walk rate from 8.1% to 4.3% and a rise in K rate from 12.2% to 14.0%. That didn’t prevent Ramirez from scoring over 80 runs for the first time in his career, but keep an eye on his plate discipline in April just in case. If your league doesn’t count OBP, Ramirez is a good value pick for an all-around shortstop. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Ramirez should hit 15-20 HRs and 65-75 RBIs like he’s done his entire career at shortstop. Keep an eye on his plate-discipline issues in case it affects his all-around value.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 6/25/1978|
Profile: Ever since Aramis Ramirez dislocated his left shoulder in May of 2009, he hasn’t been quite the same hitter. That’s not to say he doesn’t have 30 HR, 100 RBI potential again, but at the age of 32, you’ll have to be cautiously optimistic. One concern is that he reached a career low in BABIP last season with .245, which contributed to his batting line of .241/.294/.452. His power hasn’t disappeared just yet, with the third baseman hitting 25 HRs in 124 games and keeping a HR/FB ratio consistent since 2007. Compared to the middle infielders, third base has been a relatively deep position, and Ramirez looks to be at least a top-seven third baseman. His walk rate of 6.7% in 2010 was his worst ever as a Chicago Cub, so if he can figure out whatever plate-discipline issues he had last season, Ramirez will help many fantasy owners. Ramirez will be with the Cubs for at least one more year after exercising his 2011 option. Projections have him at .275/.342/.498, matching his career numbers rather than his career years. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Ramirez did not have a season up to his standards, and, while he still has power, his walk rate in 2010 was his worst ever as a Cub. If he figures out his plate discipline issues, he should be good for 30 HR and 100 RBI potential again.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 12/23/1983|
Profile: If Hanley Ramirez slips because he performed below expectations in 2010, he could be a steal in a draft. Unfortunately, he’s become enough of a household name that it’s not likely except in novice leagues. Entering his prime at age 27, Ramirez should see a rebound in his batting average and home-run totals. The only monkey wrench is the departure of Dan Uggla, who frequently drove in Ramirez. That doesn’t mean that Ramirez can’t return to 100-plus runs and RBI. What it means is that he has to rely on youngsters such as Mike Stanton to step up and start driving him in, while at the same time hoping top-of-the-order guys such as Chris Coghlan, and perhaps new addition Omar Infante, can get on base enough for him to drive in more than 100. Ramirez will also supply steals, probably in the 30 to 35 range. The days of 50 steals appear over. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: The absence of Uggla could hurt Hanley’s runs total unless Mike Stanton or Gaby Sanchez steps up. Expect a rebound, as Hanley is a proven talent entering his prime.
|Debut: 1993 | BirthDate: 5/30/1972|
Profile: While many owners will focus on Ramirez’s age (39 in May) and his disappearing power (just 9 home runs in 2010), I’m bullish on his abilities to bounce back this year. It’s rare for a player’s power to completely disappear overnight, and given how good Ramirez was in 2008 and 2009, there’s still reason to believe that he can be one of the better designated hitters in the game. Finally given the chance to play the position he was born for, Ramirez won’t have to deal with injuries caused by futilely chasing balls in the outfield, and a healthy Ramirez could be wildly productive, even at this late stage of his career. At worst, he should still hit for a good average, and if the power bounces back, he’ll be a solid fantasy option at both OF and DH. He’s not a superstar anymore, but he’s better than he showed last year. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: You don’t generally look for upside in 39-year-olds, but Ramirez is a strong candidate for improvement over last year’s numbers. Target him as a buy-low opportunity.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/10/1987|
Profile: After coming over from Minnesota in the Matt Capps deal, Wilson Ramos collected a few September at-bats and held his own. (His .312 wOBA in 82 PA is none too shabby for a 22 year-old rookie catcher; Matt Wieters put up a .303 wOBA at age 23.) But he’ll struggle for playing time last year’s starting catcher, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jesus Flores also in the mix, as well. Ramos isn’t a finished product yet, so he may well spend some of 2011 in the minor leagues. Eno Sarris predicts that his typical offensive season may look like Ivan Rodriguez — but specifically “the Tigers’ version of Rodriguez.” He doesn’t have much power yet, and probably won’t ever have foot speed, but he hit for a fairly high batting average in the minors (.285), making him an intriguing backup or starting catcher option in the future. This year, his playing time is too uncertain to make him a good draft choice. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Will have to battle for playing time as Nats’ backup catcher; provides batting average and little else.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 8/11/1986|
Profile: Although the big story with Colby Rasmus during the 2010 season was his ongoing feud with manager Tony La Russa, he and the Cardinals did actually play some games during the summer. Rasmus compiled 534 plate appearances, struggling mightily with strikeouts (31% of ABs) but excelling in every other offensive factor. He hit 23 home runs in a power explosion not seen since his 2007 season in Double-A. His .354 BABIP canceled out much of his strikeout issues, resulting in a decent .276 batting average and a very good .361 OBP. Although Rasmus is clearly a talented player, there are question marks heading into 2011. Due to his inconsistency in the minors, his power can be questioned. It’s unlikely he hits for a .354 BABIP again. And we still don’t know how reliably La Russa will use him in the lineup, particularly against left-handed pitchers. Despite the very high potential — a cut in strikeout rates would do wonders for his game — there are too many mitigating factors to consider Rasmus an elite fantasy outfielder. Rasmus should still provide 15 HRs, 10 SBs, and decent RBI/R numbers, but he may hurt in batting average and probably won’t be a full-time player. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: The focus with Rasmus will certainly be on his feud with manager Tony La Russa. When Rasmus is on the field, expect him to be a solid fantasy outfielder in 2011.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/12/1983|
Profile: There are sophomore slumps, and then there’s what Nolan Reimold went through in 2010. He debuted with a .365 wOBA in over 400 plate appearances in 2009, then slumped down to a .274 wOBA in 2010 before being demoted to the minors. His performance improved in Triple-A but he didn’t set the world on fire, posting a .341 wOBA. Reimold’s batted-ball profile didn’t change much from 2009 to 2010 at all, though about two percent of his line drives turned into regular old fly balls. That won’t account for an 80-point drop in BABIP or a 66-point drop in ISO, however. Reimold did swing at roughly ten percent fewer pitches in the strike zone last year (54.5%), and overall he swung at just 38.9% of the pitches he saw in 2010, one of the lowest marks in baseball. It’s possible that he’s become too passive at the plate and is letting hittable pitches go by. The Orioles are set in the outfield going into 2011 with Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Felix Pie, though Reimold will likely be given a chance to usurp Pie for the left-field job in spring training. If he doesn’t beat him out, it’s back to Triple-A for him, meaning there’s no reason to draft him in just about any kind of league. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Reimold found himself back in the minors following his breakout 2009 campaign, and unless he has a huge spring, he’s likely headed back there in 2011.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 6/11/1983|
Profile: Jose Reyes will be 28 in March, but it’s hard to escape the thought that he’s on the downside of his career. Following Reyes’s 2009 calf injury and 2010 thyroid issue and oblique injury, the Mets are so worried about his health issues that they have put off discussing an extension until spring training. His recent leg injuries have probably caused his slipping defense and stolen-base totals. But most worrisome of all is his deteriorating walk rate, which fell to its lowest level since 2005 and was nearly half his walk rate from 2007-2009. So while his batting average is still relatively high, and his double-digit homers and 30 stolen bases are nothing to sneeze at, he’s not the elite five- to six-win player he was in his mid-20s. A full year of Carlos Beltran could help increase his run total, but all his counting stats clearly depend on his health — not just whether or not his speed is deteriorating, but whether his fragile legs will let him stay on the active roster. Soon, Reyes will probably be moved to a less demanding position, but for 2011 he’s a pretty good shortstop who used to be great. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: A full year of Carlos Beltran could help increase his run total, but all his counting stats clearly depend on his health — not just whether or not his speed is deteriorating, but whether his fragile legs will let him stay on the active roster.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/3/1983|
Profile: A 42.3% strikeout rate is impressive for many reasons. It’s impressive that a team left him out there for almost 600 plate appearances with that high of a strikeout rate, for one. In a related note, it’s impressive that he managed a wRC+ of 100 in a season that saw him hit under .200 and strike out in two-fifths of his at-bats. His patience was still there (13.9 BB% in 2010, 11.4% career), and the power still sparkled (.234 ISO in 2010, .241 career). A year with fewer strikeouts and better luck on the batted ball (.257 BABIP) might mean a better batting average, but that batting average will smell more like Adam Dunn than Ichiro Suzuki. In OBP leagues or H2H leagues where you can punt batting average, he should be a stud, but in most standard leagues, the “Adam Dunn of third base” is looking more and more like his ceiling. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: The King of the K would have broken the strikeout record with a full slate of at-bats, but it’s a testament to his power and patience that he still managed to put up average production while striking out in two-fifths of his at-bats.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/18/1981|
Profile: Alex Rios had a nightmarish 2009 during which he was flipped from the Blue Jays to the White Sox for nothing in return. He got off to a monster start in 2010, and, while he tailed off to finish the season, he did manage to restore faith in his abilities. Rios is an above-average player in reality, but is a protypical “better in fantasy” player for those in 5×5 leagues. He doesn’t get an excessive number of walks, but makes enough contact to probably hit around .280. He doesn’t have monstrous power, but the park will help him hit around 20 home runs over a full season. The White Sox like to run, so he’ll probably add in 20 steals, too. He hit in the middle of the order for much of 2010, and, if that repeats itself, he’ll get his share of RBI opportunities. A .280/.330/.450 line isn’t all that mind-blowing, but his situation will generate the kind of counting stats that will likely make Rios very valuable to fantasy players in 2011. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Rios cooled off from his monster start in 2010, but given his combination of power, speed, and situation, he’ll be a very valuable outfielder in 2011.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 7/3/1978|
Profile: Rivera was born to be the right-handed portion of a platoon, but has kept getting forced into everyday roles that he’s just not cut out for. As a below average defensive corner outfielder who doesn’t walk and doesn’t have elite power, he’s simply not a good option against right-handed pitchers, but he provides enough pop to be a nice lefty masher and bat off the bench. The Blue Jays had to take the final year of his contract as part of the Vernon Wells dump, and while he may not be part of their long term plan, it seems likely that they’ll use him in exactly the role he was created for. His playing time will take a big hit, but the Sky Dome rewards right-handed power hitters in a big way, and Rivera could see his rate stats all increase significantly in a part-time role. He won’t rack up huge counting stats, but he could be a cheap source of average and power for those in deep leagues. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: A better option for those in Strat-O-Matic or Diamond Mind leagues where you can play the match-ups, but Rivera does have some potential thanks to his new home park. For a late round flyer, he might give you more home runs than you’d expect.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 10/9/1977|
Profile: Roberts has been one of fantasy’s best second baseman for half a decade now, regularly flirting with a .300 AVG while stealing 40 or so bags and hitting a dozen or so balls into the stands on an annual basis. An oblique injury cost Roberts the first three months of the 2010 season and, when he did return in July, he wasn’t his usual self. A late-season concussion (suffered when he hit his helmet with a bat) didn’t help matters. Roberts isn’t terribly young anymore (he’ll play 2011 at age 33), so his performance should start to trend downward pretty soon, particularly bad news when it comes to stolen bases. That said, he should have another solid season or two left in him, meaning he’ll continue to be one of the best second baseman available because he impacts so many categories. As long as the concussion doesn’t linger, count on a .280 AVG with upwards of a dozen homers and 30 steals. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: An injury plagued 2010 season robbed owners of Roberts’ steady production, and age is starting to coming into play, as well. As long as he’s on the field, Roberts will provide value with steals alone, but the potential for a high AVG and a decent amount of homers is still there, as well.
|Debut: 1994 | BirthDate: 7/27/1975|
Profile: By most measures Alex Rodriguez experienced his worst full season in 2010. His AVG and OBP were at career lows, and he didn’t hit for the type of power we’ve seen in the past. But even amid this season-long slump he still managed to drive in 125 runs. Since he hits in the middle of the Yankees lineup, and since he has done it for the past 13 seasons, there’s little reason to believe that A-Rod will drive in fewer than 100 in 2011. If he rebounds in other ways he could also provide 100-plus runs and hit .300, as he has done so many time sin the past. But even if he doesn’t he’s a good bet for 30 HR and 100 RBI, which puts him near the top of the third-base pack. He might not be a top-five pick as he’s been in the past, but if you find yourself late in the second round and he’s still on the board there shouldn’t be much hesitation in taking him. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: A down year might have hurt his stock, but even then A-Rod managed to drive in 100 and hit 30 HR in 2010. A rebound to anything near his normal levels will mean yet another monster season from the Yankees clean-up hitter.
|Debut: 1991 | BirthDate: 11/30/1971|
Profile: He still has value behind the dish, but nearly none at it. The 1999 MVP is now 39, the owner of the all-time record for most games caught, and he hasn’t posted a wOBA above .300 since 2008. Now that the Nationals have Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores to back him up, they have a good excuse to give him more time off, which is good for his knees but potentially bad for his counting stats. Between 2009 and 2010, he lost 37 SLG points and six homers, and those are two things that 39-year-old catchers don’t usually regain. He can still hold runners with the best of them, but he doesn’t hit for power or average any more, doesn’t score runs or drive them in any more, and his health isn’t what it used to be. Last year marked his first DL stint since 2002, but it was a back injury, which is the kind of thing that can nag. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: He doesn’t hit for power or average any more, doesn’t score runs or drive them in any more, and his health isn’t what it used to be.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 4/26/1985|
Profile: When the Rays acquired Sean Rodriguez in 2009 as part of the Scott Kazmir trade, it appeared as though he was on the verge of breakout. He had hit .299/.400/.616 in Triple-A, which is impressive even for the Pacific Coast League, and especially for an infielder. In 2010 he played a part-time role and continued to hit for power, though his plate discipline lacks a bit. In a full-time role we can expect somewhere around 15 home runs and upwards of 80 to 90 runs scored. His batting average might lag, but his power number should help compensate. He’ll get chances this year, as the Rays do have a few openings. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: After playing a part-time role in 2010, Sean Rodriguez should get some more playing time in 2011. He’ll provide some power, which is good for an infielder, but it’s not likely that he hits for average.
|Debut: 1996 | BirthDate: 4/4/1975|
Profile: If we say that a 2.0 WAR is league-average, then here’s a list of the years in which Scott Rolen has been below average since his first full Major League season (1997): 2005. Certainly, his career performance (now 71.6 WAR) qualifies him as a legitimate Hall-of-Fame candidate (the 50-50 point is around 55 WAR). Curiously, though, his reputation in the league doesn’t seem to reflect the performance. Why that is exactly is a conversation for another space; however, the perception in real-life can certainly carry over to fantasy circles, too. Of course, injuries are part of the reason for Rolen’s reputation, and that’s a legitimate concern. But also consider that, in 2010, 133 games of Scott Rolen was worth almost as much as 157 games of Casey McGehee. Provided some measure of diligence on the part of owners, Rolen plus a replacement-level third baseman could provide some late-round value. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Contrary to reports, Rolen is not a 700-year-old person. Contrary to common perception, Rolen is really, really good.
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 11/27/1978|
Profile: It’s been a rough three years for Jimmy Rollins: since playing every game in his 2007 MVP season, his batting average, SLG, and OPS have declined in three straight seasons. In those three years, he made three separate DL trips with injuries to his ankle and calf, and in 2010 he also missed time with injuries to his foot and hamstring. And he turned 32 on November 27. All those leg injuries, combined with advancing age, have probably sapped some of his foot speed, and the Phillies may want to try to protect his legs by preventing him from running quite so often. So, while he’s still a top-five fantasy shortstop, almost a mortal lock for double-digit homers and 20 steals, he probably won’t hit 25 homers or steal 40 bases again. The real question is his health. If he plays 150 games, he has a good chance to score 100 runs, as he did in an otherwise miserable 2009. He probably won’t knock in many runs, and his batting average may not climb much higher than .260. Rollins is a health risk, but there are few shortstops who provide his combination of speed and power. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Still a top-five shortstop with a good chance of 10 HR and 25 SB, but injuries really sapped his stats in 2008 and 2010.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 5/20/1983|
Profile: Adam Rosales took advantage of a chance offered by the A’s injury-ridden 2010 roster to step up, racking up 279 plate appearances at five defensive positions. He handled 2B and 3B capably, while serving as an adequate fill-in at SS, 1B and LF. At the plate he offered a a .271/.321/.400 line with a few bombs and a pair of stolen bases, a respectable performance for a utility guy. But, alas, he too succumbed to the injury bug, suffering a stress fracture in his right ankle in early August and missing the remainder of the season. The injury eventually required offseason surgery, and is projected to keep Rosales on the shelf until mid-March. Even making the assumption that there will be no further setbacks, it is highly unlikely that Rosales would be available for opening day. If he can make it back to the MLB level before too much of the season has gone by, he still should rack up a decent number of plate appearances in 2011. (Patrick Newman)
Quick Opinion: Oakland will be down a utility guy to open the season, with Adam Rosales on the shelf with a lingering ankle stress fracture.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/20/1980|
Profile: Cody Ross was quite a story in the 2010 postseason, but it was only two months earlier when the Marlins placed Ross on waivers after a respectable .270/.321/.469 in 2009. The Giants claimed him, and Ross proceeded to hit .288/.354/.466 the rest of the season (albeit, in a small sample of 82 plate appearances with a whopping BABIP of .360). Two NLCS home runs off Roy Halladay, one off Roy Oswalt, and a World Series ring later, Ross has hopes for a pay raise in 2011 before his first chance at free agency in 2012. Still, don’t be too certain about optimistic projections for a 2011 season. He will hit closer to his 2010 batting line than most will think: his career batting line is .265/.323/.466. He should hit 20 HRs and 70 RBIs, but his lack of patience at the plate (he walks fewer than 40 times and strikes out more than 120 times a season) will keep his average suppressed to .270. Important: keep tabs on whom manager Bruce Bochy names as his Opening Day starters. If Ross can’t maintain such production in 2011, he may get pushed out of the Giants’ crowded outfield. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Ross made quite a name for himself in the 2010 postseason, but realistically will hit no higher than .270/.330/.470 in 2011. That should be good for 20 HRs and 70 RBIs, but keep an eye on the Giants’ crowded outfield.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 8/29/1977|
Profile: Rowand is no longer an elite defensive center fielder, and, aside from the numbers he put up in 2004 and 2007, his bat has been slightly below average. He has, however, been a viable fantasy option in more than the two aforementioned seasons, even though he has had some problems staying on the field for a full season. As of right now, it appears that Rowand is not in the Giants’ plans for 2011, and he’ll spend a majority of his time on the bench until San Francisco feels the need to bring him in as a defensive replacement. If he does see significant playing time, he could put up some decent home-run numbers, but his batting average will weigh you down. If you’re in an AL or NL-only league and are a little desperate, keep an eye out and be ready to pounce on Rowand if he’s dealt to a team with a hole in their outfield who will be willing to play him every day. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Rowand has gotten by on his defense and two offensive seasons, but no more. The Giants’ don’t plan on playing him, and neither should you.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 1/22/1979|
Profile: Carlos Ruiz can take a walk (11.1% career). Almost 500 Major League games into his career, we can say that much. When it comes to power, we’re a little less certain, but it looks like he can manage average (if slightly park-aided) power for a Major Leaguer, which plays better at his tough position. Despite not striking out much (12.9% career), he probably won’t hit .300 again next year. He’s still a slow-footed catcher with a career BABIP (.280) out of line with last year’s work (.335). In an OBP league, he’s always useful for his approach at the plate, but in standard leagues he’s more likely to be overrated than underrated. Given the fact that the team seems to want to limit his time in the squat, it’s not likely that he’ll crack double-digit home runs, the hallmark of a useful fantasy catcher. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: In OBP leagues, Ruiz is already an established boon at a tough position. In other leagues, however, fantasy managers will find his lack of power even less exciting once his batted-ball luck regresses to the mean.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 3/26/1982|
Profile: Although he still provided some value with his glove, 2010 was an absolutely catastrophic year for Ryan’s bat. Ryan posted a .223/.279/.294 line, producing ground out after ground out en route to one of the most miserable 486 plate appearances in the last few years. The problem, as it typically is with historically poor offensive performances, was largely in the BABIP. Ryan’s was a microscopic .253, coming off the heels of a .332 BABIP in 429 PAs the season before. When the balls are finding the gaps for Ryan, he’s a productive hitter, as he walks enough and makes enough contact to produce high OBPs in those situations. However, the Cardinals had seen enough and shipped him out to Seattle during the winter. Ryan was never a power hitter anyway (nine career home runs), so Safeco shouldn’t have much impact on him. With his lack of power and the general inability of Seattle’s hitters to bring runners home, Ryan won’t have much fantasy value outside of his position — in most leagues, he will qualify at 2B, SS, and 3B. He can steal some bases (in the teens) and should bring the batting average to an above-average number this season, but his fantasy usefulness is probably limited to the bench or deeper leagues. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Ryan was traded to the Mariners during the offseason. Look for a rebound out of Ryan, but his fantasy value is limited to batting average and a few stolen bases.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 5/2/1985|
Profile: Once one of the crown jewels in the blockbuster trade for Mark Teixeira, Salty has fallen on tough times. His offense has played hide-and-seek the last several years, and then he battled “the yips” trying to throw the ball back to the mound last summer. He says he’s beaten that mental problem, but whether he can regularly beat Major League pitchers is still an open question. His career .307 wOBA isn’t great, and it looks even worse once you realize that it’s propped up by a .330 batting average on balls in play. He’ll need to make better contact in order to keep the starting job the Red Sox badly want him to have, because he doesn’t have the kind of power to make the rest of the package work if he’s striking out once every three times up to bat. With Jason Varitek back in the fold, Salty won’t be able to stay in the line-up if he’s not hitting. There’s still some potential there, but it comes with a lot of risk. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: A starting catcher, but only sort-of – with Captain Varitek still around, Salty can’t struggle at the plate and still play regularly. His high strikeout rate is a legitimate concern.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/20/1983|
Profile: The Astros had a bit of a revolving door at shortstop during the 2010 season, but it was Sanchez, a minor-league journeyman, who finished the year playing the position every day. He’s never hit for power (.067 ISO for the Astros, .098 in over 900 Triple-A plate appearances) or stolen many bases (zero for Houston, just a dozen in the minors over the last three years), so any fantasy value he has will be tied to his batting average. Sanchez is a .279 career hitter in the minors and .283 at the Triple-A level, and in 272 plate appearances with the Astros last year he produced a .277. Solid but not enough to make up for the lack of homers or steals. Clint Barmes and Bill Hall will hold down the middle-infield spots in Houston in 2011, so Sanchez will have to settle for a bench role at best. His fantasy value is minimal even if an injury forces him into everyday duty. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Nothing more than a minor-league journeyman, Sanchez hit an empty .277 in close to 300 plate appearances for Houston in 2010. He’s a bench player for the team going forward, meaning his fantasy value is basically nil.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 12/21/1977|
Profile: Freddy Sanchez, 2010: 111 games, 479 PA .292/.342/.397, 7 HR, 3 SB, 55 R, 47 RBI. Freddy Sanchez, 2009: 111 games, 489 PA, .293/.326/.416, 7 HR, 5 SB, 56 R, 41 RBI. If nothing else, we can say that Sanchez has been consistent at the plate over the last two seasons. The gap power and high batting averages from his Pittsburgh heyday are likely a thing of the past, but Freddy still contributes a solid bat and steady glovework. The Giants would probably like to have him on the field more often in 2011, as Juan Uribe has defected to a southern California rival and Mike Fontenot’s services as utility infielder could be spread thin in 2011. Regardless of how much playing time he gets, Sanchez is a good bet for a respectable .280-.290ish BA. He’ll likely bat towards the top of the Giants’ order, in front of Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, so chances are he’ll cross the plate a few times, as well. (Patrick Newman)
Quick Opinion: A thinned-out infield San Francisco could use a healthy year from Sanchez, who was steady but dinged-up as a Giant.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 9/2/1983|
Profile: Sanchez was a late-blooming rookie in 2010. The 26-year-old first baseman produced a solid triple-slash line of .273/.341/.448 in 572 at-bats; he has a good shot of equaling — or surpassing — those numbers in 2011. Although he has average power for the position (.178 ISO), Sanchez has shown a knack for driving in runs and he produced 85 RBI last season. He also slugged 37 doubles in ’10 so some of those could find their way over the fence in the coming season. He has added value in fantasy leagues that count OBP and/or walks, as he shows a good eye at the plate and isn’t afraid to take a walk. The Marlins lineup will have a little less thump in it in 2011 with the trade of Dan Uggla and loss of Jorge Cantu, so Sanchez will face higher expectations and will have less protection. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Sanchez doesn’t have the power that most fantasy managers seek but he’s a safe bet to hit .280-.300 with modest fantasy numbers all around.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 8/11/1986|
Profile: The Kung Fu Panda posted a disappointing follow-up to his phenomenal 2009 season, with the nadir coming when he watched most of the World Series from the Giants’ bench. Over the long haul of the season, he saw his numbers regress from a .330 BA to .268, and 25 home runs to 13. Sandoval struggled with high fastballs all year, and failed to drive the ball like he did in 2009. Astute observers will note the ugly dip in Sandoval’s BABIP, from .350 to .291. One might counter that with the observation that only 7% of the fly balls he hit turned into home runs, down from 14% in 2009. If he had muscled a few more of fly balls outside the playing field, his BABIP and overall production would have looked a bit more respectable. On a more positive note, most of Sandoval’s component percentages — strikeout, walk, contact, line drive — were consistent from 2009 to 2010. The Giants have been pushed him to take his conditioning seriously this offseason. He seems to have heeded their words and manages to recover his power stroke, he’s a reasonable bet to bounce back in 2011. (Patrick Newman)
Quick Opinion: Sandoval hunkered down and hit the gym this offseason. We’ll see if the slim Panda hits like the fat one did in 2009.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 4/8/1986|
Profile: While the Matt Wieters hype train has run off the tracks, another switch-hitting American League backstop lived up to expectations – and then some – in his debut last year. Before knee surgery ended his season prematurely, Santana was performing at an elite level and making comparisons to Victor Martinez seem like an understatement. A more apt comparison might be Jorge Posada but with better defense. Santana is legitimately a star in the making as long as his knees hold up and allow him to stay behind the plate, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he hit .280 with 20 home runs in 2011. He should be among the top catchers on your draft board, and if you’re in a keeper league, there are few players you should be more excited about adding. He’s the real deal. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: Buster Posey got the recognition in October, but Santana was the best rookie catcher in baseball last year. Be aggressive in your valuations here.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 8/31/1979|
Profile: Santiago has been playing since 2002, but has never had much fantasy value. In those nine seasons, he has hit a total of 20 home runs. In the last four seasons he has four stolen bases. His batting average has declined in the last three season sfrom the season before, and stands at .248 for his lifetime. It’s hard to say how he’s been able to accumulate almost 1,800 plate appearances over his career. He should be lumped together with Willie Bloomquist and Nick Punto for being completely useless in fantasy. There is no reason to draft him in any type of league unless your friends are paying you $20 to do so. Twenty bucks is twenty bucks. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Santiago has no value fantasy traits and people should look elsewhere to fill their middle-infield positions.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 11/19/1986|
Profile: Coming into the 2011 season, Michael Saunders has the inside track — and perhaps the only track — on the starting gig in left field for the Mariners. After a profoundly disappointing debut in 2009, Saunders got a half season with the team last year and, though his batting numbers improved, they are still unworthy of your attention as a fantasy player. Saunders has some pop and Safeco doesn’t destroy left-handed home-run power, so he could blossom into a 20-25 home run threat over a full season of time. While Saunders was a stolen-base threat in the low minors, that portion of his game hasn’t transferred yet to the big leagues. He as the innate speed for it so it’s still a possibility that he could develop into a player that swipes 20 or so bases a season. His contact issues are pervasive enough that his batting average will remain low even if he holds down the starting job, so Saunders is overall a poor bet to be anything more than a fantasy fifth outfielder for the time being. In a deep AL-only league and keeper leagues, he might have some speculative value based on his power potential. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: A young fourth outfielder thrust into a starting role means he will get at-bats but is unlikely to do anything good with them. He might hurt your team more than he will help it.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 2/15/1984|
Profile: Schierholtz has been on San Francisco’s Major League roster for the majority of the past two seasons, but hasn’t had a chance at sustained playing time. The Giants have mostly used the right fielder as a defensive replacement, thanks to his impressive arm and above-average range. His offensive game is suspect, and he hasn’t flashed nearly the power that he showed in the high minors a few years ago. Schierholtz won’t be playing much this upcoming season, as the crowded Giants outfield already includes Mark DeRosa, Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, and Pat Burrell. Unless three, and possibly four, of those players get hurt, Schierholtz won’t be getting many at-bats for the reigning World Series champs. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Schierholtz is a good defensive player whose offense has not lived up to its promise. He won’t get enough at-bats to be relevant in 2011.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 2/3/1980|
Profile: For as much as Tony La Russa hates Colby Rasmus, he inexplicably loves Skip Schumaker. The foundation of Schumaker’s success at the plate, his BABIP, crumbled in 2010. After three straight seasons with BABIPs of .328 or better, Schumaker’s BABIP fell to .294. Although his walk and strikeout rates saved him from becoming a total zero at the plate (.328 OBP), his fantasy numbers suffered. His batting average fell to .265 and his run total fell below 80 for the first time in three seasons. As Schumaker provides no power at all and a surprisingly low stolen-base total for a quick player, his fantasy value was completely tanked. For 2011, Schumaker still appears entrenched as the Cardinals starting second baseman. Although Schumaker can be an effective Major League hitter, his two best assets — low strikeout rates and high walk rates — don’t typically translate to a ton of fantasy value. Look for a moderate uptick in BABIP from Schumaker, but not enough to make him a good fantasy play. His only real asset is runs scored, and possibly batting average if his BABIP makes a full recovery to 2008 levels. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Schumaker has the ability to be a decent Major League hitter, but even when he’s at his most effective, he won’t put up relevant fantasy numbers.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 6/25/1978|
Profile: Beware the player coming off a career year. Luke Scott had one of them in 2010, which should boost his stock in 2011. In terms of fantasy, though, his only real big bump was in batting average, where he went from the mid-.250s to .284. That did correlate with a rise in BABIP, but it wasn’t severe. In other words, it’s not out of the question that Scott maintains a higher batting average in 2011. He might also see a bump in runs scored and RBI, even though he didn’t in 2011. These are team-dependent stats, and the Orioles were horrible early in the season. But they picked it up in the last two months. If that’s a sign of things to come, Scott can be a valuable mid-round pick to fill out an outfield. He might be even more valuable later in the season if the Orioles trade him to a contender. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Even though he had a career year, Scott only saw a significant bump in his batting average. There are signs that he could again have a decent year at the plate, as the Orioles are an improving team.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 10/30/1975|
Profile: When the Red Sox signed Scutaro to a two-year deal, they likely expected him to start for them in both those year. Scutaro played in 150 of Boston’s games in 2010, but his playing time is in question for 2011. Jed Lowrie made big strides in limited action, and the Red Sox are going to have to evaluate the situation in spring training. There is a very good chance that Scutaro starts the year with the job with Lowrie becoming the utility infielder, at least until he can force his way into the starting lineup every day. If Scutaro gets the majority of at-bats at shortstop, he can be a valuable commodity in AL-only leagues. His double-digit home-run totals and handful of steals are only so-so, but his runs-scored propel him above a majority of AL shortstops. He’s not young (35 on opening day), but he’s a safe bet in standard and AL-only leagues if he can lock down some playing time. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Scutaro did just fine in 2010, but Jed Lowrie’s improved game puts his playing time in jeopardy. If he plays, he’s a safe bet to perform and is worth a draft pick in all formats.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 4/29/1980|
Profile: Kelly Shoppach’s first season in Tampa Bay didn’t go quite as well as expected. He got hurt early on, which opened the door for John Jaso. The two platooned once Shoppach returned, but the latter player is the right-handed hitter, and therefore lesser used, half. When he did play he didn’t provide much value — at least not to a fantasy team. He’ll probably get more than 187 PA in 2011 if he stays healthy, but he’ll still be the right-handed half of a platoon. That limits his value beyond where it was already limited. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Kelly Shoppach will play more than a typical backup catcher, since he’ll start against left-handed pitchers. But that’s not enough playing time to justify drafting him.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 8/2/1982|
Profile: An elite fantasy option through 2008, knee problems have made Sizemore a massive question mark. While he’s supposedly healthy, you have to wonder how well his speed has held up through the extensive rehabilitation, and whether he’ll be willing to continue puttting his body on the line to play the style that made him a star. If he’s not running regularly, he’s a pretty pedestrian player – he strikes out too much to hit for a high average, doesn’t have huge power, and won’t score a ton of runs in an Indians line-up that has a lot of question marks. With just 17 stolen bases (and 27 attempts) in what amounts to one season’s worth of playing time between 2009 and 2010, Sizemore clearly didn’t his good legs the last few years. Did surgery make him as good as new? History says it is unlikely, and that you should probably pay for 10 steals and consider any more than that a bonus. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: While he’s young enough to stage a dramatic comeback, you have to question the long term value of a speed player who has extensive knee surgery. Even if it just makes him more cautious, his value was based on being aggressive on the bases.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/30/1982|
Profile: With Brad Hawpe gone, Seth Smith might get his big chance in 2011. Then again, considering his immense platoon split, he might again be a part-time player. When he does face righties he can absolutely mash them. Even amid a rough season in 2010 he still hit 17 homers in 306 AB against righties. If he continues to play only against righties and rebounds to somewhere between his 2008 and 2009 seasons he can be a valuable player off the bench, ready to sub in when the Rockies face a weak right-handed pitcher. As a platoon player it’s tough to expect much in the way of runs or RBI, and even if he does play full time he might struggle enough against lefties that it holds back his totals. But if he’s around in the later rounds he’ll be worth a few points per week if deployed strategically. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Platoon lefties can provide value, and Smith hits righties with the best of them. If substituted properly he can be an excellent bench player.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 12/5/1986|
Profile: Justin Smoak is the de facto starter at first base for the Mariners in 2011 and should be given many opportunities to fail if he ends up needing them. The depth behind him is mediocre and the Mariners are in no great hurry. As a switch-hitter, Smoak will spend most of his time hitting from the left side, which will help him to take advantage of Safeco Field’s shorter right-field fence and avoid its more torturous left-center death alley. Where he hits in the batting order will largely be determined by how fast he adapts to big league pitching, if at all, but he should start somewhere in the middle of the order in April. Smoak is not going to be stealing any bases and he has too big a problem with strikeouts right now to prop up a high or even acceptable batting average. He could be an asset in home runs and moderately useful in runs and runs batted in, and playing for the Mariners could keep him low profile, making him a possible sleeper. However, he would be a sleeper for a reason; he is not anywhere near a sure bet. Rate him higher in keeper leagues. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Justin Smoak is more 2012 than 2011, but could give you a cheap first baseman down the line in keeper leagues.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/2/1988|
Profile: Snider is still just 23 years old and has parts of three MLB seasons under his belt. The former No. 1 draft pick was on a hot streak in 2010 before an injury derailed his season. When he returned, the young outfielder struggled to find his consistency. For the first time in his career, he’s assured of a full-time job at the MLB level in 2011. Snider has impressive power potential — 25-30 homers in a full season — but he still has some learning to do. He produced a .304 OBP and had a bad habit of chasing pitcher’s pitches and is still learning to work the count to take advantage of mistakes. Depending on where Jose Bautista ends up on the diamond, Snider could split time between left and right field. He has produced better defensive numbers in left field. The talented young player could be in line for a breakout 2011 season but he’s not guaranteed to open the season in a run-producing spot in the lineup. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Snider is still young and has the potential to break out into a true offensive force. It may not happen in 2011 but he should be a solid AL-only contributor.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/12/1981|
Profile: After missing much of 2009 with a lower-back injury that required late-season surgery, Snyder fell behind Miguel Montero on Arizona’s depth chart and was traded to Pittsburgh in July for some pocket lint and a chipped Jason Kendall bobble head. As in ’09, Snyder barely crossed the Mendoza Line while drawing enough walks and hitting for enough power to avoid being a liability at the plate. He batted .207/.320/.376 overall, walking nearly 14% of the time and putting up a .169 ISO. Snyder’s BABIP could perk up a bit in 2011, as his .241 mark this past year was nearly 30 points below his career total, but we’re speaking in relative terms. With a career 0.9 Speed Score (five is average), the 6-4, 245 pound backstop has the foot speed of a centenarian. He’s not beating out many dribblers down the line. And with a career pop-up rate of 15% (about twice the MLB average), Snyder gives pitchers some easy outs on balls put in play. The Pirates are committed to Snyder (possibly under team control through 2012) as the everyday catcher until prospect Tony Sanchez is ready, meaning Ryan Doumit is trade bait or a pricey bench player for a small-market club. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Snyder’s batting average causes some fantasy players to screech and run far, far away, and his past back problems are another source of concern. If you can stomach the low-.200s average, though, Snyder does posses better patience and power than most catchers.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 1/7/1976|
Profile: Soriano’s contract remains a punch line, but his bat showed some life in 2010. He still strikes out too much, but he showed a return of the power that made him a legitimate star at the start of his contract. His ISO shot back to .238 from .182 in 2009 as Soriano clubbed 40 doubles to go along with 24 home runs. It seems unlikely now, though, that Soriano’s average returns to the .280+ level it sat at for much of his career. There is a bit of a log jam in the outfield in Chicago, with Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome, and Tyler Colvin all looking for playing time. Soriano turns 34 this season, so further decline is a definite possibility. However, his brutal 2009 season, in which he posted exactly 0 WAR, looks like an aberration. Instead, look for a similar season to 2010 out of him in 2011 — 20+ home runs on the plus side, but only around 70 runs and RBIs and a poor batting average. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Soriano’s bat will never justify his contract, but 2010 was a return to competency. He can provide good value in HRs but the rest of his usefulness is limited.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 1/20/1983|
Profile: Geovany Soto reached back to his power potential by hitting 17 home runs in only 387 at-bats in 2010, an improvement from 2009 partly due to the increase in BABIP from .246 to .324. His walk rate has increased every year since being 2008 NL Rookie of the Year, reaching a 16% walk rate in 2010. This led to a .393 OBP, bringing Soto back to a top-six or -eight catcher. Soto shouldn’t have a problem battling Koyie Hill for playing time anymore, and fantasy owners should be happy to know that his shoulder surgery back in late September means he will be ready by spring training. Young players such as Buster Posey and Carlos Santana are premium catchers, so if other owners are bidding high for catchers, Soto could be a bargain. If Soto can avoid another injury-filled season, If Soto plays everyday, he should collect 20 HRs, 75 RBIs, and a batting line of .270/.370/.480. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Soto has improved his walk rate every year, but is still not a premium catcher given the rise of Posey and Santana. If Soto can stay healthy, he will be good for 20 HRs and 75 RBIs.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 2/27/1984|
Profile: While his triple-slash numbers all took a nosedive, leading to the perception that Span regressed significantly in 2010, he was essentially the same player in most core statistics. Most importantly, his batted ball profile didn’t change at all, and he maintained the same ratio of walks to strikeouts even while making a bit more contact overall. The performance drop came from a huge drop in his BABIP, which swung from .353 to .294. As a ground ball hitter with good speed, Span should regularly beat the league average mark in BABIP, and his true talent level is probably closer to 2009 than 2010. Given that he also improved his base stealing efficiency, Span looks to be a potential bargain this year. If owners are discounting him based on his poor 2010 line, bid him up – you’re likely to get a pretty nice bargain when his numbers rebound and you have a .300 hitter who racks up the runs and steals. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: A guy to target – Span offers a lot of potential value beyond his 2010 performance. Make him a guy to go after.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 9/5/1979|
Profile: With crowded outfields in Colorado, Spilborghs has dutifully held down a part-time platoon role for the last five years, and he’s expected to serve in that capacity once again in 2011. With Brad Hawpe out of the picture, there may even be an expanded opportunity for Spilborghs, who is coming off a pretty strong offensive season by his own standards. However, as a right-handed batter, he’ll likely get the short end of the playing time stick in a job share with Seth Smith, and if Dexter Fowler finally has the breakout the Rockies are expecting, Spilborghs could find himself actually playing less than he did a year ago. If given 600 at-bats, he might produce double digits in home runs and steals and be a decent fantasy outfielder, but that scenario is pretty unlikely. Unless you’re drafting him as a hedge against Fowler, you can probably do better. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: The kind of guy who was born to play a specific role on a Major League team, he’s not much of a fantasy asset, even with the Coors Field factor.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 11/8/1989|
Profile: Just 20, Stanton had a very impressive 2010 season and has positioned himself well to have a solid sophomore season with The Fish. With the loss of Dan Uggla, though, there will be more pressure on Stanton to be a run producer — and it also means he should be in a better position to produce RBIs. The right-handed hitter slugged 22 homers (.248 ISO rate) and could reach the 30+ mark in 2011 if he stays healthy. Stanton, though, could see another low batting average in the coming year due to his propensity for strikeouts (34.3 K%). He hit .259 in ’10 but was aided by a high-ish BABIP of .330. Because he’s one of the more high-profile young hitters, it’s possible that Stanton will be overrated in 2011 drafts. Don’t spend a high pick or a ton of auction dollars on him just yet. He’s really only going to help you in the home run and RBI categories in 2011. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Despite being a sophomore, Stanton has the potential to offer big numbers in the homer and RBI categories. He could also rack up big K numbers, and produce a modest-at-best batting average.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 4/5/1985|
Profile: For a third straight season, Stewart turned in an adequate offensive showing that hardly stood out considering the friendly confines of Coors. Stewart hit .256/.338/.443 in 441 plate appearances, missing nearly a month with an oblique injury suffered in late August and once again seeing limited action versus lefty pitching. He managed a double-digit walk rate for the second year in a row, drawing ball four in 10.2% of his plate appearances, though eight of those were intentionals coming as a result of his low spot in the batting order. His .187 ISO fell well short of his .235 mark in 2009. A lefty swinger, Stewart hasn’t shown a glaring platoon split when allowed to face same-handed pitching. His line in 294 career PA versus left-handers is .234/.330/.430, compared to .248/.332/.457 in 988 PA against righties. But while Melvin Mora is gone, Stewart again figures to sit against some southpaws with Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez now in the fold. Another negative for Stewart’s 2011 value is that he will lose second-base eligibility in most leagues after not playing an inning at the keystone last year. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: If Stewart hit in a less hospitable environent, his disappointing offensive numbers would be more apparent — in nearly 1,300 career PA, his lumber has been 1% worse than the average batter once park and league factors are accounted for. He’ll play next season at age 26 and he does get to call Coors home, but he needs to become more than an average hitter to live up to his past prospect billing.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/4/1984|
Profile: Drew Stubbs had a successful first full season in the majors, hitting 22 homers and stealing 30 bases. He still has a lot to improve in plate discipline, having a high strikeout rate for much of his minor-league career. However, any batter with 30/30 potential is valuable in an era where such combo players are hard to come by in fantasy baseball. Stubbs is more likely to steal 40 bases one day than he is to hit 30 HRs, so draft him for his speed and the added bonus of power. Stubbs will be the Reds’ everyday center fielder because of his fielding ability, so previous years of uncertainty on whether manager Dusty Baker would play the young righty shouldn’t be a problem. If Stubbs improves his OBP and strikeout rate, he may end up holding the lead-off spot ahead of Brandon Phillips, which would produce even more base-stealing and run-scoring opportunities. Until then, expect a .260/.340/.430 batting line with 90 runs and 80 RBIs. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Stubbs had a successful first full season, hitting 22 HRs and stealing 30 bases. He is more likely to steal 40 than hit 30 HRs, so draft him for his speed with added bonus of power.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 10/22/1973|
Profile: The man who just will not age – at 36, Ichiro hit .315 and racked up 42 stolen bases, the fourth highest mark he’s had since arriving in the states. He keeps himself in tremendous shape through a variety of stretches and an exercise program that most Major Leaguers half his age couldn’t perform, and while his advancing years may scare off other owners, you shouldn’t be too concerned with his date of birth. He’s a near lock to hit over .300, play 150 games, and be among the league leaders in stolen bases. The Mariners offense is putrid enough to drive down his runs and RBI totals, but it’s unlikely to be as bad as the historically inept unit they put on the field in 2010, so expect better numbers in each of those categories than he posted last year as well. It’s not often that a 37-year-old can be viewed as a candidate to improve, but Ichiro could be a bargain on draft day. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: An elite average/steals guy who should produce more in runs/RBIs in 2011. As long as you don’t need HRs, he’s a great buy.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 10/4/1983|
Profile: With the signing of a long-term deal with Oakland, Kurt Suzuki is certainly going to continue being the starter at catcher for the Athletics for a while. Not having job-sharing expectations at catcher instantly makes him more valuable. Suzuki was one of only seven catchers last season to qualify for the batting title. Suzuki’s batting average dipped last season but based on his batted-ball rates (similar to years past) and a drop in BABIP, one should expect his average to bounce back. Suzuki has medium power for a catcher — 10-15 home runs are a reasonable expectation — and he will get you a couple steals as well. Neither of those makes him stand out. Oakland’s park and offense limit his run totals a bit, but his playing time overcomes that. Over the past three seasons, only Joe Mauer has scored significantly more runs than Suzuki has and only Mauer and Brian McCann have knocked in a sizeable chunk of more runs. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Kurt Suzuki is one of the more productive catchers in baseball and does not carry the reputation to match. I love the smell of arbitrage on draft day. It smells like victory.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 2/20/1985|
Profile: Ryan Sweeney is like many an Oakland Athletic position player. He is, overall, a solid asset on the baseball field, but his value comes primarily from his defense, which is of little value in fantasy except when it helps keeps a player in the lineup. Unfortunately for Sweeney, he’s clearly outside Oakland’s starting outfield depth now with David DeJesus, Coco Crisp and Josh Willingham in the fold. Sweeney could have offered some marginally good average, but he does not have much base-stealing ability or home-run power at all. That makes him a poor pick even in deep leagues unless your league has some sort of defensive metric. If he manages to get into the batting order, do not expect much out of it. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Ryan Sweeney is a good player, but a defensively minded fourth outfielder is about as worthless as you can get in a traditional 5×5 fantasy league.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 11/25/1980|
Profile: In terms of wOBA, little distinguishes Swisher’s 2009 season (.375) from his 2010 (.377). But the way in which he got that career-best 2010 mark was drastically different. The switch-hitter with the perpetual grin worked on his swing with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long and was much more aggressive at the plate this past year, swinging at 25.7% of pitches thrown out of the strike zone. That was still roughly 12% below the MLB average, but consider that Swisher’s O-Swing was 30% below the big-league average in 2009, 26% below in 2008 and 34% below in 2007. As a result, Swisher walked just 9% of the time in 2010 after drawing ball four about 15% the previous three years. Yet, his offensive production didn’t decline due to a .335 BABIP that was far and away the highest of his career (2007 is the only other time he topped .300; his 2007-2009 BABIP was .275). Swisher staved off decline by batting near .290. But unless he can sustain that gigantic BABIP increase (don’t bet on it), he will be best served in the long term by getting back to working deep counts. (David Golebiewski)
Quick Opinion: Fantasy types might look at Swisher’s much-improved batting average and conclude that 2010 was a big positive for his value, but that might not be the case if he continues to be more aggressive while his BABIP regresses to previous levels. Odds are, his walk rate returns to the double-digits and his batting average is closer to .250-.260 next year.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/12/1988|
Profile: It seems like Tabata has been around forever — especially after he wore out his welcome in New York — but he just turned 22 late in the 2010 season. The outfielder had a solid rookie performance for Pittsburgh last season and showed the ability to hit between .280 and .300. He doesn’t walk a ton, so he won’t be much help in fantasy leagues that use OBP, but he also makes pretty consistent contact, which should help him flirt with a .300 batting average. He also nabbed 19 bases in 102 games; if so motivated, Tabata could be in line for 20-30 bags in 2011, but he’ll have to watch his conditioning. His power output (.101 ISO) leaves something to be desired but you could do a lot worse than an outfielder than can hit .300 with 20-30 steals. With little outfield depth on the 40-man roster, Tabata’s starting role is pretty secure. He should be a solid outfield option in NL-only leagues and a fringe starter in deep mixed leagues. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Tabata has the potential to be a nifty third or fourth outfielder on fantasy rosters. He won’t hit for power, but he could maintain a good average and steal some bases.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 9/6/1981|
Profile: Mark Teahen required surgery on his right middle finger back in June, disappointing fantasy owners who were looking for Teahen to increase his home-run numbers at his new home ballpark at U.S. Cellular Field. Teahen was able to return in mid August without much improvement, producing a .258/.327/.382 season and batting mostly in the bottom of the order for the White Sox. There isn’t any indication that Teahen will improve his plate discipline, as he struck out on over 26% of at-bats in 2010. With Teahen’s batting-average numbers heavily dependent on his BABIP (mostly above average), there is little potential left for him to hit 20 HRs; the risk isn’t worth taking even if you are considering him for his third-base eligibility. There is quite a lot of potential in future third basemen in 2011, with several top prospects in Pedro Alvarez and Josh Bell worth taking a shot at before you even consider sniffing at Teahen. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Teahen hasn’t shown any improvement in plate discipline, achieving a career high in K rate last season. Even with his 3B eligibility, top 3B prospects in Pedro Alvarez and Josh Bell are more valuable options at this point.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 4/11/1980|
Profile: Teixeira is known to start his season at a snail’s pace, and pick it up as the year moves along. Well, Teixeira did struggle out of the gate this season, but he didn’t exactly pick up the pace after April was ripped from his desk calender. Teixeira eventually got his power stroke back, and hit at least 30 homers for the seventh straight season. His average never got out of the doldrums, but a lot of that was thanks to his .268 BABIP, which is bound to improve next season. Teixeira isn’t exactly an old man, but he will be 31 years old at the start of this season. He stills does a good job of making contact and drawing walks, and, as long as he can hit 30-plus dingers, he’s a very good option to start on your roster. As an added bonus, assuming the Yankees’ lineup does not cease to be productive, Teix will have plenty of RBI chances and should cross the plate at least 100 times. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Teixeira continued his annual tradition of starting slow, but found his power stroke as the season progressed. While his average never rose to the equation, Teix will still be a top-10 1B in 2011.
|Debut: 1997 | BirthDate: 5/25/1974|
Profile: Apparently his work in San Diego proved to veteran-loving Brian Sabean that Tejada could be a Major League-regular shortstop for another year at least. Thankfully for fantasy baseball players, defense is not a part of that particular game — at least not directly. Could he defend poorly enough for the Giants to make a change? That depends on the quality of the backup shortstop, probably. In the meantime, we can concern ourselves with his bat, which, though reduced, may play in many fantasy leagues due to the paucity of strong offensive options at the position. He’s no longer got the power of yore — he’s settled in with a below-average ISO — but he makes contact (his strikeout rate hovers around 10% these days). That has allowed him to rack up 170+ hits for three straight seasons. Double-digit home runs and that many hits will play at the position, even if the lineup around him may not lead to a ton of runs and RBIs. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: No longer the powerful shortstop of his youth, Tejada’s high-contact approach should net just enough hits to make his barely double-digit home-run total palatable in most leagues.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 10/27/1989|
Profile: Most notable for his age last season (20), Tejada did little right in his debut. I guess you can say he walked at an average rate (8.6%) and didn’t strike out a ton (17.6%), but he showed negative power (.069 ISO), didn’t show great speed either (two stolen bases, two caught stealings), and didn’t impress with the glove (-11.3 UZR/150 at 2B). That might be why the reports say that he will likely be returned to the minor leagues by the new administration in New York. He’ll play shortstop, and his brand of contact-heavy slap hitting might play well enough if the glove translates to his new position. And if Jose Reyes gets traded, he might even see some late-season time at short. But he doesn’t own a ton of upside – even if he debuted at a tender age. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Ruben Tejada debuted young, but that’s the most impressive portion of his resume. A long shot to contribute in 2011, if he does, at least it will most likely be at shortstop.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 12/7/1979|
Profile: Another reason to love 5×5 leagues: Ryan Theriot is a flat-liner at the plate, not Jason Kendall-level, and maybe a bit better than Yuniesky Betancourt, but not much. But hey, this is 5×5 Fantasy, and, given the playing time, Theriot will probably still about 20 bases! Plus, he’s a shortstop. What this means is that while Theriot shouldn’t figure significantly in your draft-day plans, he should be somewhere on your list. He’s not going to do anything else for you besides add some steals and fill the shortstop spot (his average won’t kill you, probably, but it isn’t going to be good), but if the Cardinals decide to start him most of the season, that has value. Should be drafted in most NL-only leagues. (Matt Klaassen)
Quick Opinion: Theriot can’t hit, but he can steal some bases. That and shortstop eligibility is enough to give him value in NL-only leagues, at least.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 10/28/1986|
Profile: Thole has only been a full-time catcher for a few years now but he’s quieted a lot of doubters. He showed a knack for hitting for average in the minors and that carried over into the Majors; Thole hit .277 in 202 MLB at-bats in 2010, while also showing a good eye with a walk rate of 10.6 BB%. He also does a nice job of limiting the strikeouts, which helps him maintain the above-average batting average. On the downside, Thole will not provide any power whatsoever, which also means his run-producing numbers will be modest. Despite that, Thole remains a solid second-tier option in mixed leagues. Often times, fantasy managers are simply looking for catchers who won’t hurt them. Thole is a great option at $1-$3 in auction leagues but keep an eye on how much playing time newly acquired veteran Ronny Paulino is expected to receive in 2011. If it’s a strict platoon, the left-handed hitting Thole should still come out on top. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Catchers traditionally do not offer a lot of value in fantasy ball. Thole swings a nice stick and should hit for a good average but he won’t hit for power and doesn’t walk much.
|Debut: 1991 | BirthDate: 8/27/1970|
Profile: Thome had a good season in 2010 as the DH for the Minnesota Twins by hitting 25 home runs and batting .283. He went mainly undrafted, but for the people that picked him up he added some much-needed home-run numbers. There is no reason to think that he can’t repeat these numbers in 2011. By being only the DH, his 40-year-old body will not be stressed by playing in the field. Being only a DH also brings up the question on where to draft him. He is only available for the utility position and that position should be filled at the start of the season by a position player (surplus good-hitting 1B or OF, if available) and, when an injury occurs, this player moves into the main lineup. It’s possible that many fantasy owners will stay away from him entirely and some team could easily concentrate there money or picks at other positions and take the chance that he will be available later in the draft or for little money. Now, all some team needs to do is sign him and state their intentions of using him as a full-time DH. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Thome’s value could take a hit because he doesn’t figure to play everyday for the Twins.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 7/19/1978|
Profile: After touring the NL West, with stops in San Francisco, San Diego, and Colorado, Torrealba is taking his show to Texas for 2011. Don’t expect him to land regular catching duties, however. With both Matt Treanor and Mike Napoli on the roster, it is unlikely the Rangers will have a true #1 catcher, and Torrealba will probably top out at 350 plate appearances in 2011. While he has some decent across-the-board skills, he doesn’t have any one single tool that will let him stand out as a valuable fantasy catcher. His power will get a little bit of a boost from moving to Texas, but he doesn’t have enough juice to regularly drive the ball over the fence and maximize the park’s kindness to power hitters. If you need a guy who won’t drag your average down too much, Torrealba is a decent option, but there’s limited upside and legitimate risk he could lose out on regular playing time. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: A useful second catcher who won’t actively hurt you, but offers little in the way of real impact in any category.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 1/26/1978|
Profile: Andres Torres played in his first relatively full season last year — at the age of 32. As the primary center fielder playing left or right occasionally for the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants, Torres experienced the best season of his career, hitting .268/.343/.479. He did hit 16 HRs and drive in 63 RBIs in about 500 at-bats, but his main value might be his legs, swiping 26 bases in 33 tries. Having had multiple stints for multiple teams during and before his prime, he will not be in high demand by fantasy owners. Even if he turns out to be the Giants’ Opening Day starter in center field (which in itself is uncertain), he’s a candidate for platoon situations because of how poorly he hits lefties. Unless you’re desperate for stolen bases and can take the hit in batting average and other rate statistics (Torres had BABIP numbers of .347 and .331 the past two seasons, but couldn’t hit above a .270 batting line in either season), playing time and upside is uncertain for Torres, especially with the Giants’ crowded outfield. (Albert Lyu)
Quick Opinion: Torres came out of nowhere in his first full season at age 32, hitting .268/.343/.479 with 16 HRs and swiping 26 bases in 33 tries. The outfielder will get you stolen bases but both playing time and upside are uncertain as he’s a platoon candidate.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 10/10/1984|
Profile: After returning from a stint on the disabled list, Tulowitzki was perhaps the best player in baseball in the second half of 2010. He absolutely destroyed the National League down the stretch and finished the year with an epic September power surge. Perhaps most encouragingly, he hit for power while keeping the strikeouts in check, which is a combination that only truly great players can achieve. His top shelf power and ability to sustain high averages while playing a quality shortstop make him among the very best players in the game, and most of that value carries over to the fantasy side as well. The big question is health – he’s spent a lot of time on the DL during his career, and he’s had nagging problems with areas that can linger on. When he’s on the field, he performs at an elite level, but you may need to discount the amount of games you expect him to play in 2011. Even if he only starts 130 games, however, he’s still an elite player. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: 40 home runs isn’t out of the question if he stays healthy, and as a shortstop who also hits for average and steals some bases, he should be near the top of your draft board.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 3/11/1980|
Profile: Uggla has moved from Miami to Atlanta, and it has the potential to benefit his power numbers. Sun Life Stadium hinders home runs, thanks in part to the Teal Monster in left. Since Uggla pulls the majority of the balls he puts in play, he could sneak a few more over the wall. The only drawback is that the left-center alley at Turner is a bit deeper. That should help ensure that Uggla produces another 30-plus home run season. It’s unlikely that he hits .287 again, since the only other time he’s cracked .260 was in his rookie season. But he should be good for 100 runs or RBI, depending on where he hits in the Braves lineup, and will probably have at least 90 of each. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: A new stadium could help Uggla’s power numbers, and as a middle-of-the-order hitter he should produce 90-plus RBI and runs. His batting average, though, will probably dip back into the .250 range.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 8/21/1984|
Profile: If you’ve owned B.J. Upton in either of the past two years, you’ve undoubtedly been disappointed with his results. In 2007 and 2008, Upton was great, and for two different reasons. In both of those seasons, Upton was 2B eligible, and he either provided a nice mix of power and speed (2007) or dominated the stolen-base category (2008). While Upton still gives owners 40+ steals with double-digit power, his batting average and lack of infield-eligibility severely hampers his value. By now, we all know that Upton is extremely lazy and lacks enough motivation to put up strong numbers. Either that, or because he strikes out far to often, doesn’t hit enough line drives, and swings at pitches outside of the strike zone more than he should. Nah, he’s just lazy. If Upton can simply shorten up his swing and utilize his speed and on-base ability, he’s going to be a far better fantasy option for 2011. Otherwise, another season with a .240 average, 15 homers and 40 steals is your best bet. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Expecting Upton to ever match his 2007 and 2008 numbers is just silly. However, he’s a good bet to hit .240 with 15 homers and 40 steals, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 8/25/1987|
Profile: At this time last year, the younger Upton brother was one of the game’s top up-and-coming talents, coming off a 4.6 WAR season that featured a .388 wOBA with 26 homers and 20 steals. A nagging shoulder injury to his non-throwing shoulder put a damper on his follow-up campaign in 2010, in which he dropped to a .349 wOBA with 17 homers and 18 steals. Still just 23, Upton is now the guy in Arizona’s lineup with Mark Reynolds traded, and it’s easy to dream on his talent. He hit about four percent more fly balls in 2010 than 2009 but saw his HR/FB ratio fall more than six percent, something that should even out going forward. Upton’s talent is undeniable, and, although it’s easy to be discouraged by his relatively disappointing season, count on 20-20 output in 2011 with the potential for a lot more. Very rarely does a player go from very good to elite over several seasons; quite often the jump happens all at once. You’ll want Upton on your team when his light bulb goes on. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: You know a player is a special talent when a 3.1 WAR season is considered a disappointment. Upton battled a shoulder issue in 2010, but 20-20 is a safe bet in 2011, and the jump to superstardom can occur at any moment.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 3/22/1979|
Profile: I think it’s because the Giants had a shortstop named Juan Uribe in RBI Baseball for the NES, but doesn’t it feel like Juan Uribe is a 40 year veteran? I look at his player card and can’t believe that he only made his big league debut in 2001, and only turns 32 in March. Everything about him just seems much older, but the reality is that he’s still going strong. He continued his career resurgence by posting a career best walk rate (okay, it’s just 7.8%, but it’s a move in the right direction) while also posting his lowest strikeout rate since 2006 and setting a career high in home runs. While his average wasn’t great, his BABIP was 25 points below his career rate, and if he keeps hitting for power and making contact like he did last year, he should hit something closer to .280 than .250. With a dearth of good hitting shortstops in the game, Uribe is one of the better bats you can target for the position this year. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: He gets something of a bum rap because of his low OBP, as a guy who can legitimately play shortstop and hit the ball over the wall, he has value in both MLB and every kind of fantasy league. He’s also not as old as he seems.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 12/17/1978|
Profile: The only thing keeping Chase Utley out of the first round of every fantasy draft on the planet is the question of health. He missed 49 days last season with a thumb injury, and overall it was his worst season since becoming the everyday starter in 2005. The good news is that the injury really only affected his power. He still hit for a decent average, and in just 115 games he still managed to score 75 and drive in 65. If his power comes back he’s probably the most valuable second baseman in the league. If it doesn’t, he’s still top five. The difference is a matter of a few spots in a draft, but considering Utley’s history it’s a decent bet that he bounces back. At this point Robinson Cano is the only better bet. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: Health questions might keep Utley out of the first round, but even then he’s going to be a high draft pick. Considering the drop-off after the top five second basemen, he’s worth it.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 11/30/1985|
Profile: Valbuena has not lived up to his potential of a few years ago and should struggle to make the Indians’ Major League team this year. He looks to be a Triple-A MVP and just can’t harness that ability to the majors. In 2008 to 2010, he had the following OPS rates while in the minors: .756/.975/1.032. In those same years while he was in the Majors his OPS rates were .662/.714/.531. So far in the Majors, he has a batting average of .227 in 762 plate appearances. In 2009, he was able to put up 10 home runs in 91 games, but was not able to continue that trend in 2010 when he hit just two in 91 games. The other problem, besides his inability to effectively hit the ball, is that prospect Jason Kipnis is looking to break into the majors. Kipnis should start the season at Triple-A and could get a call-up sometime during the season. Valbuena will probably get one more shot at 2B and, if he falters, Kipnis will take over. There is also a good chance that the incumbent may be moved to a team looking for help at second base or off the bench. He should be drafted in deep AL-only leagues in the hope that he will be able to get his career going. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Valbuena looks to have one more shot at achieving his potential and securing a full-time gig with the Indians.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 5/20/1978|
Profile: Well, he’s no Chase Utley. There are worse players than Wilson Valdez, who played slightly above-average defense and below-average offense at second base while Utley was injured. But few of them are forced into a starting role. No one could have fully replaced Utley, a Hall of Famer still in his prime, and Valdez was worth about a win. That’s probably about the best he’ll ever do: he’ll turn 33 in May, and he’s pretty much the very definition of a replacement player. (His career minor-league OPS is .687. His OPS last year was .667.) It’s the most he’s ever played in the majors — his 363 PA last year were nearly equal to the 369 PA he had accrued since making his brief debut in 2004 — and everything about his performance in the Majors and minors suggests that last year was probably about as good as he is capable of being. For the Phillies’ purposes, that’s good enough: every team needs its share of one-win bench players making the league minimum. But fantasy owners don’t. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Every team needs its share of one-win bench players making the league minimum. But fantasy owners don’t.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/19/1984|
Profile: Valencia put in a respectable half season as the the Twins’ third baseman. He was able to hit for average (.311) and had decent power at the plate (seven home runs in 322 PA). His numbers were enough to have him finish third in the AL ROY voting. It’s hard to say what to expect from him in 2011. He has always hit for decent power in the minors (averaging ~15 HRs each year) and hit for decent average (.298). He could hit .300 with 15 home runs. In 2010, only three other third basemen reach that level of production. He may have a high R+RBI total depending where he bats in the Twins lineup. Expect him to be drafted in most leagues, but with a wide range of draft positions. Don’t reach for him, but if he is available with similar type players, there are no problems with picking him up. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Valencia had a great rookie season, but now he must avoid the sophomore slump.
|Debut: 2008 | BirthDate: 10/29/1982|
Profile: Whenever he took the field, Venable was likely to contribute to one of your counting stats, but his rates were nothing to go wild about. Venable continued to show slightly above-average power, which is saying something for a hitter stuck in spacious Petco park. That much we expected. What we did not see coming, however, is the sudden outburst of stolen bases from the Princeton grad. While Venable showed stolen-base skills in Single- and Double-A ball, he hadn’t showcased them again until recently, swiping almost 30 bases this past season. Venable has always been an athlete, as he was an All-Ivy League player in basketball and baseball, so seeing him use his speed is a big plus for owners. He’s into the prime of his career now, and while that may mean more power, it doesn’t mean he’s magically going to learn how to hit the ball better. Venable’s inability to simply make contact is going to kill his batting average, no matter how fast he is or how many homers he can hit. If he can hit a mere .255, he’s worth having around as a third outfielder, or a bench option at the very least. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Venable is a machine when it comes to counting stats, but he’s going to hurt you in the batting-average category. If he can simply hit .255, he’s worth having around.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 3/10/1989|
Profile: The return of veteran first baseman Paul Konerko to Chicago — as well as the addition of Adam Dunn — certainly has an impact on Viciedo. The portly Cuban will no longer be in line for regular playing time at first base. His best shot for regular at-bats will be at the hot corner, but he’ll face stiff competition from fellow rookie Brent Morel. Viciedo arguably has a higher offensive potential but Morel should be more consistent and also possesses Gold Glove potential. Viciedo projects to be merely adequate at third base. At the plate, Viciedo possesses 25-30 homer power but his lack of patience (two walks in 38 games) and contact (24.0 K%) are both significant concerns. He hit more than .300 in his debut, but Viciedo was aided by a .365 BABIP; with his body type, he likely won’t maintain a consistently high BABIP. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Viciedo has power potential but his lack of patience hurts him. He has adjustments to make before he becomes a value contributor at the MLB level.
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 11/30/1980|
Profile: In the first year of his three-year extension with the Phillies, Victorino had a mixed but mostly successful campaign, setting career highs in both homers and strikeouts. His batting average on balls in play fell by 42 points, precipitating a 33-point drop in batting average; while his RBIs increased by seven, his runs scored fell by 18. He spent half the year as the leadoff hitter, filling in for an injured Jimmy Rollins, and liked it there, with an .810 OPS in the leadoff spot and just .678 in all other spots in the order. His batting average and OBP are likely to climb to normal levels next year as his BABIP returns to its usual levels. But his power may have topped out. His home runs went an average distance of 376 feet, and six of his 18 homers last year were classified by Greg Rybarczyk as “Just Enough.” He has enough power to pull a mistake over the fence, but he probably won’t hit 18 again next year. He could certainly repeat for 15 homers and 30 steals, though it’s not clear whether the Werth-less Phillies can drive him in a hundred times. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: He could certainly repeat for 15 homers and 30 steals, though it’s not clear whether the Werth-less Phillies can drive him in a hundred times.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 9/10/1983|
Profile: The fact that Votto managed to surpass such players as Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez for his first career MVP award reflects just how impressive his numbers were. In case you still need convincing, Votto posted a .324/.424/.600 line behind a 14% BB rate and a massive .276 ISO last season, good for a .439 wOBA and 7.4 WAR. Votto was helped a bit by a .361 BABIP, but his numbers to date suggest that he could be one of those special hitters who repeatedly posts such numbers. In 1282 balls in play, he has a .353 career BABIP. Due to the variable nature of the statistic, we still can’t conclusively say that he will maintain that mark. However, he’s a good bet for at least an above-average BABIP, and with the rest of his skill set, he can bring the total fantasy package. Votto is a legitimate No. 2 on draft boards this summer, as another .320-35-100 season would be no surprise at all out of the Reds’ young superstar. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Votto won his first MVP in impressive fashion. Regression could lower his batting average, but he’s still among the best players in the league, well worth a first-round pick.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 9/10/1985|
Profile: Walker surprised a lot of people in 2010. The former No. 1 draft pick had some disappointing minor league seasons and had one foot out the door before a solid 2010 showing in Triple-A gave him one last shot. Walker isn’t going anywhere now and he’s the odds-on favorite to start at second base for the Pirates in 2011. His value is still down a bit from when he was drafted, simply because he doesn’t catch anymore. However, he will likely serve as the club’s third-string catcher and an injury to one of the top two could increase Walker’s fantasy value significantly depending on the games-played requirement in your fantasy league. He may already have third-base eligibility in some leagues after making six appearances there in 2010. Like fellow rookie Jose Tabata, Walker has the potential to hit .280-.300 but he’ll hit for more power and could slug about 15 homers. He could potentially reach the 20-homer mark if his line drives (22.4%) get a little more loft. (Marc Hulet)
Quick Opinion: Walker could be a solid contributor at second base in NL-only leagues. If he plays some third base, his versatility could make him even more attractive and could end up on some benches in mixed leagues.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 8/26/1986|
Profile: After a year of getting shuffled between organizations (from St. Louis to Oakland to Toronto to Houston), Wallace finally reached the Majors with the Astros. His first 159 plate appearances as a Major Leaguer went about as poorly as possible. Wallace posted an atrocious .222/.296/.319 triple slash, showing none of what made him a highly touted prospect (but apparently not highly touted enough for his organizations to hold on to him). The particularly worrisome thing for the Astros is that this wasn’t just some token small sample size BABIP aberration. His BABIP was actually .326. It was in the other facets of the game, ones where we actually might get some meaningful information about Wallace’s performance in 150 PAs, where he struggled. He walked in only 5.4% of PAs, struck out in over 30%, and had a horrible .097 ISO. Right now, it just doesn’t appear as if Wallace is a Major League-quality hitter. The Astros seem to agree, as Carlos Lee may play first base to start the season, relegating Wallace to Triple-A for more seasoning. Even if Wallace makes the 25-man out of camp, he is not a viable fantasy option. (Jack Moore)
Quick Opinion: Brett Wallace was terrible in his MLB debut in 2010. There’s no reason to expect much better in 2011
|Debut: 2003 | BirthDate: 9/13/1982|
Profile: Prior to 2010, Weeks had never, in his five-year career, played more than the 129 games he played in 2008. He’d broken his wrist twice since making it to the big leagues (once in May 2007 and the other time in May 2009) and served stints on the DL both for wrist tendinitis and an MCL sprain. He was, in short, the definition of a talented-but-snake-bitten player. That portrait of Weeks requires some revision, however, after a 2010 that saw him play 160 games, slash .269/.366/.464, and generally realize his potential. Though the speed from previous seasons didn’t entirely show up (Weeks was just 11-for-15 on SB attempts), he tied for second among second basemen with 29 homers, and — with his combination of on-base skills and a strong lineup around him — scored a position-high 112 runs. While it’s unlikely that he hits the 160-game mark again, it’s at least evident that his talent is real. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: After years of what-ifs, Weeks finally demonstrated in 2010 what he could do in a full season. He should still be regarded with some caution, but we know the talent is real.
|Debut: 1999 | BirthDate: 12/8/1978|
Profile: Wells was a hot fantasy pick in 2007, as he was coming off a season in which he hit .303 with 32 homers, 106 RBI, and 91 runs scored. But the next three seasons were disappointments, leaving Wells as a risky pick in 2010. He came through, though, with another 30-homer season. But even then, he hit just .273 with 79 runs scored and 88 driven in. That still makes him valuable among center fielders, but now at age 32 it appears a resurgence to his 2006 form is not in the cards. In leagues with position-specific outfielders he’ll hold some value, and he can help out a team deficient in power. There’s a chance, too, that he drives in more runs, although a move from Toronto to Los Angeles could mean fewer power numbers. A change of scenery could help the veteran outfielder nonetheless. (Joe Pawlikowski)
Quick Opinion: He certainly has the ability to hit 30-plus homers, but it appears as though Wells can’t be counted on for much more. In leagues with separate positions for outfielders he can still help in center field.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 5/20/1979|
Profile: The newest Washington National has a lot to live up to, after receiving the 14th-most expensive contract ever. But what can fantasy owners expect? Strangely, though 2010 was probably the best year of Werth’s career, it wasn’t necessarily his best fantasy season, because his homers dropped by nine, his RBIs by 14, and his steals by seven. He could lose a few more homers in Washington, as Nationals Park has depressed homers more than Citizens Bank during each of the three years of its existence. However, Werth led the league in doubles last year while suffering an unaccountable dip in his home-run to fly-ball rate, so, assuming that he stays healthy, he’ll probably bounce back closer to an even 30. However, his batting average is almost certain to fall closer to his career .272 mark. He isn’t quite as elite a fantasy player as his contract might suggest — like Raul Mondesi, he has never driven in 100 runs, and that’s despite having Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard all batting in front of him. But he’s probably good for 29 homers, 15 steals, and somewhere around 90 RBI and 90 runs. That’s certainly good enough for now. (Alex Remington)
Quick Opinion: Like Raul Mondesi, he has never driven in 100 runs, and that’s despite having Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard all batting in front of him. But he’s probably good for 29 homers, 15 steals, and somewhere around 90 RBI and 90 runs.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/21/1986|
Profile: Wieters arrived in the big leagues with perhaps more hype than any position-player prospect since Alex Rodriguez, and why wouldn’t he? Switch-hitting catchers that boast a .442 minor-league wOBA after being a top-ten draft pick deserve to be hyped. The transition to the big leagues hasn’t been easy for Wieters, who’s posted a .315 wOBA in just shy of 900 career plate appearances. His power remained static from 2009 through 2010 (.124 ISO vs. .128) but his AVG dropped 39 points, all due to a 69-point fall in BABIP. That’s what happens when 3.1% of your line drives turn into ground balls, like they did for Wieters last season. It’s easy to forget that the Orioles’ backstop is still just 24 years old with close to 4.0 WAR to his credit after just a season and a half in the AL East, and that’s not shabby at all. The future is still extremely bright, and he could easily jump into .340 wOBA territory last year. Even if he doesn’t, he still provided double-digit homers and 50+ RBI in 2010 (11 HR, 55 RBI), and that always has value from catcher. His stock is down, which means buy buy buy. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Is this the year that Wieters turns into what everyone expects him to be? Likely not, but double-digit homers and 50 RBI with a solid AVG is the bare minimum here.
|Debut: 2002 | BirthDate: 10/11/1977|
Profile: Wigginton hit at least 20 homers from 2006 to 2008, but something happened in 2009 and he had trouble getting the ball out of the yard. He brought his boomstick back in 2010, and once again surpassed the 20 home-run mark. While he’s past his prime, he can still hit for some power without killing your average. His strikeout rate rose last year, but his contact skills actually improved. Moving out of the AL East and into the NL West should help his cause. Wigginton’s value has usually come from his ability to fill multiple positions on your fantasy roster while maintaining regular playing time. He’ll be eligible at quite a few positions, and while we can never be quite sure what the Rockies will do, it doesn’t look like he will be playing every day in Colorado. However, Wigginton is an injury away from getting on the field, and if he plays he is worth an add in NL-only and deeper standard leagues. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Wigginton still has decent power and won’t kill your batting average, but he needs playing time. If he sees the field regularly, Wigginton will be worth a pick-up in deeper standard leagues.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 2/17/1979|
Profile: Like David DeJesus, alongside whom he’ll now be playing in Oakland, Willingham is a player whose real-life value is generally misunderstood. Writing in January of 2009, our Dave Cameron noted the similarities between Willingham — generally considered either a strong role player or borderline starter — and Jason Bay, a player given a four-year, $66 million deal before the 2010 season. Nor did 2010 do anything to dispel the notion that the two are in the same class: Willingham struck out less often, walked more often, and hit for more power than did Bay. Perhaps the reason for the two players’ perceived differences is the fact that Bay has performed much more ably in the fantasy categories, recording four 100-RBI, 100-run, and 30-homer seasons while Willingham has failed to reach even one of those thresholds. It’s no given that Willingham’s 2011 will be any different, but mid-20s home runs and mid-70s RBIs and runs are a likelihood. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: May not cost as much as Jason Bay, but might be almost as valuable.
|Debut: 2001 | BirthDate: 12/29/1977|
Profile: Unless your league counts UZR as a category, Wilson probably isn’t a guy you should be looking hard at on draft day. He’s in the big leagues for his defensive work, with the Mariners accepting whatever offense he provides as a bonus. He lacks power, doesn’t run well, and is extremely injury prone, in addition to playing for an offense that doesn’t score many runs and plays half their games in a pitcher’s park. The Mariners have even acquired his eventual replacement in Brendan Ryan, who will likely slide over to play shortstop once Dustin Ackley is deemed ready to handle the second base duties. Given Wilson’s history of stints on the disabled list, his advancing age, and his expiring contract after 2011, Seattle won’t feel all that compelled to run Wilson out there on a daily basis, so the total package results in a part-time player with limited offensive skills and a lot of health risks. Pass. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: If he’s your best option at shortsotp, you have bigger problems to worry about, or your league is just too big.
|Debut: 1998 | BirthDate: 6/9/1974|
Profile: No active player has appeared in more big league games without a playoff appearance than Randy Winn, and that figures to continue in 2011 after he signed a minor league deal with the Orioles. Winn has no redeeming fantasy values these days, beyond maybe the five or ten steals he’ll give you in the semi-regular playing time that does not appear to be in his future. He slipped to a .300 wOBA (.239 AVG) in 2010 after a .302 wOBA (.262 AVG) in 2009, and at age 36, there’s no reason to expect him to rebound. Not when he’ll have to battle Felix Pie and maybe even Nolan Reimold for fourth and fifth outfielder time. Winn was a solid fantasy option back when he was hitting .300 with double-digit homers and 20+ steals on an annual basis, but those days are so far gone that you can’t even see them in the rear view mirror anymore. Unless you’re in some kind of weird 30-team, AL-only league that uses 50-man rosters, just forget it. (Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Winn’s at least two years past his fantasy expiration date, with little potential for AVG or any counting stat other than SB.
|Debut: 2007 | BirthDate: 3/2/1985|
Profile: Stay away. Stay very far away. Brandon Wood is not going to repeat his atrocious 2010, but he may not even get the chance. Wood will turn 26 before the season begins and, despite Major League appearances over four different seasons, he has shown little to no improvement from an awful stat line. Wood has power for sure, though playing in Salt Lake helps to enhance his reputation in that regard. What Wood does not have is any ability to avoid catastrophic strikeout totals. That leads to a very poor batting average and an inability to stick high in the batting order, which damages Wood’s chances to score or knock in runs even when he does get the rare chance to play. (Matthew Carruth)
Quick Opinion: Brandon Wood would be a great asset if his stats counted for your pitchers. In fact, if he’s in the Angels’ lineup that raises the prospective value of the opposing starting pitcher.
|Debut: 2010 | BirthDate: 9/30/1985|
Profile: Somehow Worth accumulated 115 plate appearances with the Tigers in 2010 and hit .255 with 2 home runs. The batting average was close to what he put up in the minors (.251). Also while in the minors he averaged 2.1 home runs per season. He just doesn’t have much hitting ability. He does seem to be able to steal a few bases, 34 while in the minors. In 2010 in Triple-A, Worth was able to steal 12 in 177 plate appearances before he was called up to the Tigers. Once in the majors he only went 1-for-3 in stealing bases. There’s no reason to chase the few steals you may get here. He can’t hit for average. He can’t hit for power. He should not be drafted in any format. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Worth has shown some signs of speed, but that is not enough to give him any fantasy value.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 12/20/1982|
Profile: David Wright gets a lot of guff for a third baseman with power, patience and speed. Sure, his defense isn’t what it used to be, and his power is more of the “line drive” than “light tower” variety, but he’s still an excellent player in real life. In fantasy, his value is augmented even further by his ability to put up home runs and stolen bases at a premium position. He’s been striking out more in recent years (27.4% in 2010, 21.2% career), which means that his batting average is a little shakier than it once was. Along with the higher strikeout rates, he’s now had plus BABIPs for two years running (.394 and .335), but that’s about par for his career, too (.343 career). Now that he’s figured out Citi Field (or something), and is in the peak of his career (28 going into 2011), there’s no reason not to love Wright in fantasy baseball. You can worry about declining steals totals and injury concerns later in his career, and hem and haw over the higher strikeout rates, or you can enjoy what you’ve got right now: a solid power/speed combo and first-round pick on the infield. (Eno Sarris)
Quick Opinion: Don’t worry about the strikeouts or defense — David Wright is a solid first-round pick with power and speed at a position that isn’t what it once was. Nothing wrong about that in fantasy baseball.
|Debut: 2004 | BirthDate: 3/15/1979|
Profile: Youkilis has long been a solid fantasy option due to his overall ability to hit the ball and get on base while playing for teams with strong lineups. Even though it hasn’t been his primary position since 2004, Youkilis has always played enough at the hot corner to give him 3B eligibility year after year. After manning third only twice during 2010, his magical eligibility was in question. However, once the Red Sox made the move and acquired Adrian Gonzalez to play first base, it was clear that Youkilis would be 3B eligible yet again, and would be playing third every day. Youk’s power has looked good over the past three years, even with an injury-shortened 2010 on his resume. Last season was actually a revelation of sorts for Youkilis, as he significantly increased his contact rate while maintaining a high slugging percentage. While a thumb injury prematurely ended his 2010 season, it looks like he’ll be healed up and ready to go come spring training. Youkilis should be a top-five third baseman in 2011, and is even worthy of a draft pick to be your starting first baseman if you so choose. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: With third-base eligibility back under his belt, Youkilis is going to be a top-five fantasy option at the hot corner. He’s no spring chicken, but he’s still got some good years left in him.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/5/1983|
Profile: With his comeback campaign, Chris Young had his best season as a big leaguer. While he didn’t quite join the 30-30 club, he came very close. His batting average wasn’t very nice, hut it was the best rate he’s had throughout his career, so it’s hard to ask for more. To go along with his homers and steals, Young scored, and drove in, over 90 runs for the first time in his career. Because it was a season of career bests, Young also had his best swinging-strike rate, and laid off more pitches than ever before. While it may not seem like it, Young is just entering his prime, so we could see some more small improvements next year. If he can make minor improvements next season, and somehow end up with a 30-30-100-100 year, owners will be in a fantasy heaven. However, it is far more likely that Young’s numbers stay around the 25-25-90-90 level, which is still good if he can keep his average at a reasonable clip. (Zach Sanders)
Quick Opinion: Young had a nice bounceback season, setting career bests in many important categories. He’s just entering his prime, so we can expect years like this for the next couple of seasons.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 9/14/1985|
Profile: Young had a breakout season in 2010 and may be finally living up to some of the hype that surrounded him in the past. He had great fantasy numbers of 21 HRs, 112 RBI and a batting average of .298. In the past he has put up a near .300 averages, but never demonstrated the power he showed in 2010 (there were signs in 2009 with 12 home runs in 416 PA). To go along with the the career high in home runs (21 vice 13), he showed an increase in power by hitting the most doubles ever in his career. The real question will be if in 2010 is the career or breakout year for Young. The most likely projection fo Yound is somewhere around his 2009/2010 level (adjusted for the fewer games played in 2009) of 20 HR, 180 R+RBI and a .300 average. Don’t overpay for a possible larger breakout because he may drop back to hitting 10 and 140 R+RBI. Those values aren’t bad, but you can’t spend or draft him like he is going to put up 30 HRs and 200 R+RBI. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Quick Opinion: Last year was a great one for Young, but will he be able to match that production in 2011?
|Debut: 2000 | BirthDate: 10/19/1976|
Profile: There’s a very good chance that Young is overpaid in what certain, unenlightened people refer to as “reality.” He was a 2.7-win player as a 33-year-old in 2010 and is under contract for $48MM through 2013 (an average of about $16M per). With something like regular age-related decline, he’s unlikely to be worth his pay in 2011 — even considering this past offseason’s market inflation. As a fantasy option, however, he’s probably a starting third baseman even in 12-team leagues. He’s likely to hit somewhere around .290-.300; he’s likely to hit close to 20 home runs; and, thanks partly to the quality of the offense around him and his home park, he’s likely to finish with something like 75-85 runs and RBIs. There’s an elite group of third basemen, including David Wright, Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, and Alex Rodriguez — and maybe Jose Bautista, too, depending on if he qualifies there in your league — but Young is probably no worse a bet than anyone in the next tier. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Whichever position Young ends up playing in 2011, he’ll still enter the season as one of the better second-tier third baseman.
|Debut: 2009 | BirthDate: 5/25/1985|
Profile: While the son of EY racked up some remarkably impressive stolen base totals in the minor leagues – in 2006, he racked up 87 steals on 118 attempts in just 128 games – his future is still very much in question. His complete lack of power (just eight extra base hits in 250 big league plate appearances) means that it’s easy enough for opposing defenders to cheat in, taking away his one real weapon. Without some added strength, Young is going to find it difficult to get enough hits to put his speed to use, and will simply be relegated to setting records for quickest trips back to the dugout. The Rockies brought in Jose Lopez to give them another option at second base, and have been incessantly linked to Michael Young all winter, so they’re clearly not depending on Young as a vital cog in their offense. He’s probably going to max out as a utility player. (Dave Cameron)
Quick Opinion: With only one way to provide value, Young is easy to defend against, and his inability to succeed at anything besides running fast will likely keep him from ever being a big league regular.
|Debut: 1995 | BirthDate: 4/14/1971|
Profile: Zaun enters 2011 as a free-agent catcher in his age-40 season having missed all but 28 games of 2010 thanks to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder — an injury that ultimately required surgery. That’s not exactly what one might call a “recipe for signability”; however, the chances are that (a) Zaun will play in 2011 and (b) perform pretty well when he does. Zaun controls the strike zone as a batter, allowing him to post almost as many walks as strikeouts each season and giving him OBPs consistently in the .340-.350 area. That makes him pretty valuable in real-life. In fantasy play, however, his value’s lower. His age prevents him from carrying a full-time load and, owing to lower-than-average BABIPS, his batting average often settles around .250. He’ll almost definitely work as a backup this season and might become rosterable for a week or two at a time, but isn’t what you’d call a “draft target.” (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Provided labrum surgery hasn’t finished him, Zaun is likely to end up playing in 2011, but almost defintely as a backup.
|Debut: 2005 | BirthDate: 9/28/1984|
Profile: Among field players, Ryan Zimmerman is the third-most valuable by WAR over the last two seasons, trailing only Albert Pujols (16.0 WAR) and Evan Longoria (14.2) by that measure. Though much of his value comes from excellent defense, Zimmerman excels offensively, too, slashing .299/.375/.518 over those same last two seasons, while also averaging 29 home runs per. He’s unlikely to steal much more than five stolen bases, but — beyond that one weakness — there are few other reasons to regard him as anything other than one of the top-three or -four fantasy third basemen in the league. Because he’s likely to be available after Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, and maybe Adrian Beltre, Zimmerman represents a potential value pick despite what are very clearly All-Star-type numbers. (Carson Cistulli)
Quick Opinion: Is one of the best third basemen in the Majors, in real-life and fantasy.
|Debut: 2006 | BirthDate: 5/26/1981|
Profile: There’s nothing more exciting than a player with the ability to hit for average, hit for power, and get on base at a high clip with multi-position eligibility in fantasy leagues, and that’s exactly was Zobrist was coming into 2010. Unfortunately, he reverted back into the Ben Zobrist of old, following up his .297 AVG, .405 OBP, 27 HR season with .238/.346/10. His BABIP dropped from .326 back to his career average of ~.273, but he also swung at and made contact with more pitches out of the strike zone — 25.3%, 72.6% respectively — than in the past. That could be behind the ~3% increase in his ground-ball rate and the ~2% decrease in his line-drive rate. Zobrist is certainly still a valuable fantasy piece because he is eligible at basically every position under the sun and will give you 20 steals with double-digit homers in regular playing time. His new contract (three more years with $18M left) ensures that, yes, he’ll be on the field everyday. It’s up to Zobrist to prove that 2010 was the fluke, not 2009, and until he does so you should treat him as the player he’s been for most of the last three years.(Mike Axisa)
Quick Opinion: Zobrist was a fantasy disappointment in 2010, but he’s still valuable because he’s eligible at a ton of positions and will steal you 20+ bases with double-digit homers in regular playing time.
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