Archive for Monday, September 4, 2006

Lessons learned from 2006 draft

September 4, 2006


Losing fantasy owners: Aren't you glad you got A-Rod with the first or second overall pick?

It's not your fault. Every fantasy expert said you were a moron if you didn't draft Alex Rodriguez there.

He was part of the "Big 2" this past March. He and Albert Pujols were the consensus top picks, and it was solid intelligence leading us to that conclusion.

How's that going for you, A-Rod owners?

With most fantasy sports fans focused on football drafts, it's time to apply that hard-learned lesson.

Fantasy football drafters know well that there's a consensus "Big 3" (LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Shaun Alexander) this year. Veer from one of those guys in your draft and you'll be called many names.

Don't be so sure you know what you think you know. That's why they play the games.

Draft with your gut and don't let anyone bully you.

Remember, the following questions may have made little sense in March.

But now, they're all perfectly valid:

Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees (.275-26-94)


Garrett Atkins, 3B, Rockies (.315-21-91)

Who would have thought this question would have any basis in reality at the start of September? But it's a perfectly reasonable one now, since Atkins hits line drive after line drive and has shown surprising power without the benefit of a typical Coors Field boost. Meanwhile A-Rod has drawn frequent jeers at Yankee Stadium. Last weekend in Anaheim, Rodriguez went 1-for-15 with an outlandish 10 strikeouts. Keep in mind that Ken Griffey Jr., six years older than A-Rod, started his fall from elite status about six years ago. It's sad to watch this future Hall of Famer's skills fade.

Eric Chavez, 3B, Athletics (.240-16-57)


Adrian Beltre, 3B, Mariners (.265-16-60)

This question is no surprise, since fantasy owners have been debating it for many years. The surprise is the answer: Who cares? Two of the league's so-called elite hitters have fallen so far that now there are arguably 25 third basemen with more fantasy value than these two. Barring a September miracle, Chavez will fail to hit 30 homers for the fourth straight season and watch his average fall for the fourth consecutive year. Beltre's bat has woken up in the last month with seven home runs, but he certainly doesn't look anything like the MVP candidate from 2004 (.334-48-121). Next year, punt on both of these guys.

Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians (.292-20-60, 18 SB)


Eric Byrnes, OF, Diamondbacks (.278-20-60, 18 SB)

This is no knock on Sizemore, who is an excellent young outfielder and may yet improve. It's more an acknowledgment of Byrnes, who has matured into an elite fantasy outfielder without anyone noticing. 20 HR-20 SB guys are exceedingly rare (only Alfonso Soriano and Johnny Damon are currently there, with Jimmy Rollins closing in) and tend to get drafted very early. Yet if you're in a mixed league, Byrnes may well be sitting on the waiver wire still. Will fantasy owners wise up and draft him high next year, or will he continue to get little respect?

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals (.322-39-109)


Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins (.317-32-110)

Granted, Morneau has 50 more at-bats than Pujols, but this just illustrates how good the Twins 1B has become. Keep in mind this may be Pujols' best season yet, and Morneau is right there with him. There is absolutely no reason not to draft Morneau next year in the top 10 overall, maybe the top five.

Huston Street, Closer, Athletics (29-of-37 SV, 3.22 ERA)


Joe Borowski, Closer, Marlins (31-of-34 SV, 3.21 ERA)

Remember back in March, when Borowski was the only closer not drafted in your league because he had underwhelming stuff and played for a team that was going to win 50 games, maximum? Shows what we know. Borowski still doesn't have elite stuff, but he's been as steady a closer as there is in the majors this year, blowing fewer opportunities than Billy Wagner (five) or B.J. Ryan (four). Will he get respect as a closer in drafts next year? Probably not. He's just not a dominant pitcher.

Roy Oswalt, RHP, Astros (10 W, 127 K, 3.25 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)


C.C. Sabathia, LHP, Indians (10 W, 138 K, 3.22 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)

Oswalt was supposed to be one of fantasy baseball's three best pitchers. Sabathia was supposed to be overweight. Neither of these things have been major fantasy truths so far this year. Oswalt may have dominating stuff, but he's been inconsistent and most importantly his strikeout rate continues to fall. Sabathia has had a very good year, but the bottom line here is that if Oswalt no longer whiffs 200 batters in a season, he's a solid-but-unspectacular fantasy starter and that's it.

Brett Myers, RHP, Phillies (10 W, 146 K, 4.24 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)


Scott Olsen, LHP, Marlins (11 W, 133 K, 4.24 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)

Olsen hasn't even been the best of the Marlins' rookie starters, but he's already attained the same fantasy status as Myers, who is certainly among the better National League starters. Myers, when on, is elite because he strikes out nearly nine batters a game. But he lacks the consistency to be a top-flight fantasy starter. The exact same things now can be said about Olsen.


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