Fantasy Baseball: Experts Draft Analysis

BY foxsports • February 9, 2011

Twelve experts recently conducted a rotisserie draft for the FOX Sports Fantasy Baseball Magazine. For many of us, it was the first time that our preliminary positional and overall rankings would be tested and compared with the sentiments of our peers.

I don’t believe that I’d take a do-over for this draft. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the team that I drafted. However, I have a player right at the top that still has me on the fence. Would I select him again?

View all 252 picks of the <a href="/fantasy/baseball/story/Fantasy-Baseball-Experts-Draft-020711">21-round experts draft</a>.

1. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees (1st round, pick 10)

I immediately felt the twinge of buyer’s remorse after selecting Rodriguez with the 10th selection overall. His batting average has dropped in three consecutive seasons, and his 2010 slugging percentage established a new career low.

Can he stay healthy? Are the power numbers and his batting average destined to drop?

I understand there is risk here, but I can’t dismiss his power numbers and potential for five-tool contributions. Rodriguez hit 30 home runs and drove in 125 runs last season, his 13th consecutive season of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI. My main concerns are the recent rash of injuries and the possibility that his days of running are behind him.

2. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas (2nd round, pick 15)

It must be “the year of living dangerously” in fantasyland for me this year. The day after this draft completed, Hamilton went into the hospital with pneumonia. I had a chance to talk to Nolan Ryan, who assured me that Hamilton would be ready for spring training, but the extended hospital stay certainly didn’t help my confidence.

Clearly, I’m anticipating that Hamilton ends his on-again, off-again pattern of good and bad performances. He appeared in 90 games in 2007 and 89 games in 2009. Hamilton decimated opposing pitching in 2008 and 2010, including his AL MVP performance last year (he hit .359 with 32 home runs and 100 RBI in 133 games). I don’t doubt that he’ll hit the disabled list at some point this season. I was satisfied in the knowledge of the dominance I’d receive when he was in the lineup to make the selection here.

3. Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia (3rd round, pick 34)

When I finally sat down and tweaked my rankings for dissemination on the pages of FOXSports.com, Lee shook out a tad lower among starting pitchers (he was the fourth starting pitcher selected when I hit “Submit”). His return to Philadelphia does carry some risk given the ballpark (compiled a 3.39 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 12 starts for the Phillies in 2009). I’m anticipating strong four-category production and boldly stepped out for the anchor to my staff.

4. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco (4th round, pick 39)

I’m not normally one to leap forward for a catcher. I did own Matt Wieters in a league or two last season, but I bought him before his stock soared.

I had no reservations about selecting Posey here. His rookie season was impressive on so many levels. He slammed 43 extra-base hits with 67 RBI and a strong .305 batting average in 406 at-bats. That was just the beginning.

5. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (5th round, pick 58)

The selection of Kershaw here gave me two powerhouse arms to anchor my rotation. Kershaw has produced a dominant 2.85 ERA while striking out 9.52 batters per nine innings in the past two years. He allows only 6.7 hits per nine innings, which is essential given his frighteningly high walk rate (4.1 per nine IP). At age 22, Kershaw is coming into his own, and I suspect that the lineup bounces back following a difficult 2010 campaign.
 

6. Adam Dunn, 1B, Chicago White Sox (6th round, pick 63)

What else do I need to say? I’ll receive huge power numbers in a fantastic ballpark with a weak batting average (career .250 batting average). Dunn has hit at least 38 home runs in seven consecutive seasons.

7. Mariano Rivera, RP, New York Yankees (7th round, pick 82)

After building my power base and securing two huge arms, I decided that it was time to grab “Mr. Automatic.” Perhaps it was too soon to snag a closer (you can certainly wait and still snag a top-tier option), but I liked having the ability to nail down an automatic option. Rivera shows no sign of breaking down and remains a dominant four-category contributor.

8. Stephen Drew, SS, Arizona (8th round, pick 87)

I had Alexei Ramirez ranked just above Drew on my shortstop list. Ramirez’s selection in the back-end of the prior round removed my choice and made the selection for me. I wanted a middle infielder with solid power and numbers across the board (had a career-best 10 steals in 2010).

9. Vernon Wells, OF, Los Angeles Angels (9th round, pick 106)

I drafted Wells when he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, but I’m still onboard for a strong follow-up campaign in Los Angeles. He posted the third 30-home run season of his career with 44 doubles (has 30 or more in each of his full MLB seasons) in 2010. Wells teams with Torii Hunter and Kendry Morales to form a potent heart of the lineup. He’s drafted as a three or four-category contributor this season. Well’s activity on the basepaths is the wild card.

10. Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, Tampa Bay (10th round, pick 111)

I snagged Zobrist as a bounce-back candidate and to add a speed element to my power-heavy lineup. He’s stolen 41 bases in the past two seasons. I’m banking on less “bad luck” balls in 2011 and boosts to his batting average and power numbers.

11. Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago White Sox (11th round, pick 130)

Quentin may never reclaim the brilliance of his 2008 season when he produced superior power numbers with a strong .288 batting average. His batting average in the past two years (.240) certainly leaves something to be desired. Take the power numbers in the rebuilt Chicago lineup that takes advantage of the glorious home ballpark.
 

12. Jonathan Sanchez, SP, San Francisco (12th round, pick 135)

Sanchez took a giant leap forward during the 2010 season. He reduced his ERA by a full 1.17 runs, won five additional games and established a new career mark with 205 strikeouts. Obviously, the big hiccup in Sanchez’s game is his eye-popping walk rate. Sanchez has allowed 4.6 walks per nine innings during his career. He’s continually flirting with disaster.

13. Brad Lidge, RP, Philadelphia (13th round, pick 154)

With one automatic closer option in tow, I decided to carry a little more risk in the second slot. Lidge saved 27-of-32 opportunities last season while generating a solid 2.96 ERA (and a 1.23 WHIP). He leaves you uneasy during each appearance, but usually gets the job done. Lidge will certainly have opportunities to affect your heart rate behind the Philadelphia rotation.

14. Edwin Jackson, SP, Chicago White Sox (14th round, pick 159)

Jackson’s long been a player of interest in the fantasy realm. He won games in Tampa Bay and Detroit in the past, but he didn’t put it all together until last season’s union with Don Cooper. In 11 games with the White Sox, Jackson won four games while pitching to career-best ERA (3.24) and WHIP (1.21) totals. He also struck out more than one batter per inning as a member of the White Sox. He’s potentially a huge value in the 14th round.

15. Vladimir Guerrero, DH, Baltimore (15th round, pick 178)

I drafted Guerrero when he was a man without a contract. I don’t know that he matches his monster production from 2010 in Texas, but I’m certainly not anticipating a precipitous drop-off. I like the moves made in Baltimore this season and can’t wait to see Guerrero hitting regularly in the AL East.

16. Evan Meek, RP, Pittsburgh (16th round, pick 183)

I slotted Meek as the closer at the time of the draft. It appears that he’ll open the year as the setup man to Joel Hanrahan. For now, I’ll take the low ERA and WHIP totals and a big strikeout rate.
 

17. Luke Scott, DH/OF, Baltimore (17th round, pick 202)

The signing of Guerrero by the Orioles definitely hurt me here. Scott will move to left field, but he’ll lose at-bats and innings to Felix Pie. He remains a strong power option (he averaged 25 home runs in the past three years), but questions about his playing time clouds his value.

18. Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox (18th round, pick 207)

Beckham’s transition to second base in 2010 didn’t quite go according to plan. He did find his stride during the second half of the season. Beckham batted .310 with six home runs, 12 doubles and 27 RBI in 54 games. He gives me flexibility if I want to slot Ben Zobrist in the outfield.

19. Jason Kubel, OF, Minnesota (19th round, pick 226)

Kubel’s batting average may give you pause, but I decided to add another power bat for the outfield. He hit 21 home runs in 2010, his third straight 20-home run campaign. The Minnesota lineup returns Justin Morneau and Jim Thome alongside Joe Mauer.

20. Ervin Santana, SP, Los Angeles Angels (20th round, pick 231)

With my second-to-last selection, I chose the enigmatic Santana. He’s dominant at times and will leave you scratching your head just as often. Just look at his win totals of the past five years (16-7-16-8-17). I’m optimistic that he builds on last year’s sub-4.00 ERA (3.92), his second such season in the past three years. I have little invested here, so a rough start sends Santana and his wins (and his varying strikeout rate) back to the wire.

21. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Florida (21st round, pick 250)

With my final pick, I grabbed some more power for the bench. Sanchez batted .273 with 19 home runs, 37 doubles and 85 RBI last season and batted .312 at home against a tepid .234 road mark. I’m intrigued to see his progress in his second season, particularly having already found success at home.


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