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Saturday, March 04, 2006 

NL Fantasy Draft Preview

Who Cares About the AL Anyway?

I continue to have people asking me who to take in fantasy baseball drafts, so I thought I would finally start taking a small look at it today. My look will be position-by-position, and National League only. I will list my top-5 recommended players at each position, for leagues with traditional fantasy stats. Sorry guys, this is a little boring, especially if you dont have any interest in Fantasy Baseball.

Catcher


1. Michael Barrett – Should be the best power hitter out of all the NL catchers, but the reality of that this year might mean only 15 home runs. Should get 70 RBI’s, but needs to learn how to walk more often.
2. Brian McCann – Another power hitter who needs to have a better eye to raise his average over .260 this year.
3. Paul Lo Duca – Not who he used to be, but still good for a .275 average and the fewest strike outs of any catcher. Don’t expect any home run power left in that bat of his, though, he’ll be extremely lucky to get to even 10 playing the whole season.
4. Josh Willingham – He’d be the number one choice if you could be certain he’d get 400 at bats on the season. Hard to say for sure, though,
5. Johnny Estrada – Lacks power, speed and an eye (easy 100 strike out bet), but should still have the best average of any NL cather. This position has really lost any of the little flair it gained in the 90’s. Might as well just wait and take whoever is still there after 6 or 7 catchers are already taken. It’s pretty much all the same.

First Base

1. Albert Pujols – Poo Holes. .340 average, 40 home runs, 125 RBI’s. Obvious first overall pick in any league. Everyone knows Poo Holes. Ha.
2. Derek Lee – A .300 hitter with a strike out problem that he backs up well in the home run department. His ability to steal bases, and knock in 120 runs make him a great second round pick in any size league.
3. Todd Helton – Less Home Runs and RBI’s than Lee, but also less strike outs, more walks and a much better on base percentage. Lee’s stolen bases with his power still make him a better choice.
4. Carlos Delgado – Everyone is going to love playing for the Mets this year. A great surrounding cast in the batting order should do wonders for Carlos’ stats again. More home runs and RBI’s could be in the works.
5. Ryan Howard – Could get 40 home runs. Could also lead the league in strike outs. He’s a gamble, but if he pays off it’ll be sweet.

Second Base

1. Chase Utley – Only second baseman capable of 40 home runs and 110 RBI’s.
2. Alfonzo Soriano – Most well rounded – decent power, decent base stealing, decent on base percentage. All around good choice.
3. Marcus Giles – Only second baseman likely to hit over .300, with some speed and power to go along with it.
4. Rickie Weeks – I know what you’re thinking – Weeks ahead of Kent, Vidro and Freel? I say yes. If you need someone to cover every stat, he’s your guy. Unfortunately, he covers strike outs as well.
5. Jeff Kent/Ryan Freel Jeff Kent will get you 25 home runs and a .290 batting average, but remember Freel in leagues that heavily weigh stolen bases. He’ll lead the second basemen by far.

Short Stop

1. Jose Reyes – Home runs and RBI’s are easy to give up if you’re getting 60 stolen bases in return. Stolen bases aren’t in your league, you say? Then Reyes likely shouldn’t be either.
2. Jimmy Rollins – After Reyes is gone, who else is going to get you 185 hits and 35 stolen bases?
3. Rafael Furcal – Not Furcal, 185 hits aren’t in the picture for him. 35 stolen bases aren’t a problem, though, and maybe even 10 triples if he gets lucky.
4. Felipe Lopez – All his stats should be identical to Furcal, except give up stolen bases and gain home runs and RBI’s. If you’re deciding between the two, keep that in mind. He’ll stike out a little bit more as well.
5. Nomar Garciapara – His best feature is that he will likely qualify to play 3 positions in most fantasy leagues. A great backup for any other position, and actually looked really good before being injured last year. Could be a great mid-round steal if he heals properly.

Third Base

1. David Wright – D-Dub is a great candidate for second overall pick, after Poo Holes. 35 home runs, 115 RBI’s, 100 runs, 25 stolen bases, and a .315 batting average aren’t unrealistic expectations here.
2. Miguel Cabrera – Only third baseman capable of hitting for better average than Wright, and will keep up in home runs too. No speed, though, means no stolen bases and fewer runs.
3. Aramis Ramirez – Another .300 hitter with power and no speed. Picking between him and Cabrera is really up to your preference.
4. Morgan Ensberg – Same thing, lower average and less power, but maybe 5 stolen bases instead of none. Why can’t third basemen steal? Shouldn’t third basemen be agile? That’s a reaction based position. Hard to understand why the Eric Hinske’s of the world end up there nowadays.
5. Scott Rolen – See above description almost to a tee.

Outfield

Sorry guys, but there are too many outfielders that are too similar to bother commenting on them. It may just bore me to tears. Just trust me, this is the ranking order, and the reasons for it are excellent!

1. Bobby Abreu
2. Andrew Jones
3. Carlo Beltran
4. Jason Bay
5. Juan Pierre
6. Barry Bonds
7. Adam Dunn
8. Lance Berkman
9. Carlos Lee
10. Jim Edmonds
11. Brian Giles
12. Matt Holliday
13. Pat Burrell
14. Chad Tracy
15. Ken Griffey

Starting Pitcher

1. Pedro Martinez - Not mister perfect like he used to be, but still good for 200 strikeouts in 200 innings, and a 4 to 1 strike out to walk ratio. Could hit the 20 win mark again in New York if he stays healthy.
2. Jake Peavy - San Diego isn’t good enough as a team to get Peavy 20 wins, but in many other locations he easily would. Another pitcher capable of 200 strike outs in 200 innings, and an ERA under 3.00. Despite only 13 or 14 wins, still worth a pick.
3. Ben Sheets - Pitching in Milwaukee, while not as painful as in the past, is still the major knock on Sheets. A strike out an inning, and an ERA just above 3.00 make for a safe pick despite the team.
4. Jason Schmidt – Another strike out an inning pitcher who will log around 15 wins. Seems to be all there is to say about these guys.
5. Roy Oswalt – Less strike outs, but fewer walks as well. Plays on a team that can help him to 20 wins and more than a couple of complete games. Could very well be the second best choice at pitcher.
6. Mark Prior – Like Oswalt but with more strike outs, less wins and less complete games. 3 to 1 strike out to walk ratio, if he stays healthy, is worth a pick up.
7. Chris Carpenter – I hate to tell people to take Carpenter. I have little confidence in his ability to keep his game at the level it was at last year. He may still get 16 wins from playing in St. Louis, and maybe 180 strike outs somehow, so take him if you want. But it’s against my advice, especially if the 6 mentioned above are still available.
8. Carlos Zambrano – See description of Prior above, but knock his strike out to walk ratio down a bit.
9. Brett Myers –3 to 1 strike out to walk ratio, 200 strike outs and playing in Philly means 13 wins. Same old story.
10. Andy Pettitte – Like Myers, less strike outs, less walks and about the same wins. Talking about pitchers sure is boring.
11. Dontrelle Willis - I don’t think this guy will ever be as good as it once looked like he’d be. He’ll be .500 at best this season, but the prospect of what could be is worth still giving him an early look.
12. Brandon Webb – Decent pitcher, like the others there. That’s enough of this starting pitcher thing, 12 is all I can stand. Just consider John Patterson, Tim Hudson, and Zach Duke as well, if you must.

Relief Pitcher

1. Brad Lidge – The only NL closer I’d bet on today to get over 40 saves. An ERA barely over 2.00, and a 4 to 1 strike out to walk ratio are easily within Lidge’s grasp. The class of the NL, unless Gagne can come off his injury better than expected.
2. Billy Wagner – Wagner closing for the team the Mets have assembled is a wonderful thing. Wagner will only walk a guy every 4 innings, and could be the other lock for 40 saves, if not for the fact that something is going to go wrong for the Mets. It just will. That’s just what happens.
3. Derrick Turnbow – definitely not as powerful as you might want your closer, but effective nonetheless. Milwaukee is looking a bit better this year, and certainly likely to win more close games. That bodes well for Derrick.
4. Jason Isringhausen - Good closer on a good team, that may just win too many games out of save range. With a little more power he’d be worth a higher pick, but I’m just not big on taking closers early who can’t even come close to a strike out an inning.
5. Chad Cordero – Some 35 save guy whose got a better strike out to walk ratio than Trevor Hoffman.
6. Trevor Hoffman – Some 35 save guy whose got a worse strike out to walk ratio than Chad Cordero. Word.

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