Friday, October 28, 2005


This upcoming 5 part series will review how my Fantasy Baseball positional assessments panned out.

For the record, I nailed both Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey Jr. as the AL and NL "Comeback Players of the Year." Oooh, ouch, I think I sprained something whilst' patting myself on the back.

Anyway, I cut & pasted in my "pre-C prognostication"... and have included final season stats and brief comments for each athlete.

I thank EVERYONE who reads and supports my Blog!

Baseball's Top 10 3rd Baseman:

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Alex Rodriguez (NY): "Even having had an "off year," A-Rod was an owner's dream last season. And quite frankly, A-Rod's "off year" would qualify as most ball player's career years. He'll give you power; 40 HRs last season, RBIs, 106 last season, Runs, 112 last season... and rare for a 3rd Baseman, speed. Rodriguez thiefed 28 bases in '04. Not only is A-Rod the top 3rd Baseman, A-Rod still ranks as fantasy Baseball's #1 pick overall. Comfortably settled into the Yankees stocked lineup, look for A-Rod's average to bounce back to more "Rodriguez-ian" numbers...
I'd look for .290./38/110 ... and oh yes, look for another 20+ Stolen bases."

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN': While A-Rod had a fine statistical season... Yankee fan-atics may feel that Rodriguez was positively UN-clutch. Rodriguez played Gold Glove caliber 3rd Base for NY... but never seemed to carry the team. Ever. The Yanks' consistently waited for the "big 7th inning," and rarely, if ever, developed a sense of desperation. Here's a critical distinction: AS A FANTASY PLAYER A-ROD IS ALMOST PEERLESS, ESPECIALLY IN 5X5 LEAGUES. AS AN MLB'ER, RODRIGUEZ CAME UP SHORT ALL TOO OFTEN, AND HAD AN ABYSMAL POST-SEASON. Rodriguez's Post-C diggies? 2 for 15 (good for a .133 Avg.) with a Double, 2 Runs scored, 5 Ks, 1 SB, 1 CS, and a SLG % of .200
For the season, A-Rod posted a stupendous .321/48/130, with 21 swiped bags. However, with stats like that, is it not telling that A-Rod hit out of the 2 hole? With 48 round-trippers', one would expect to see such a batter swinging from the clean-up or 5 spot. Rodriguez's irritating penchant for leaving the bases full o' Yanks' forced coach Joe Torre to hit him 2nd.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Scott Rolen (STL): "In another loaded lineup, Rolen gets the kind of protection a big brother offers his hot sister. With Edmonds and Pujols in the Cardinal lineup, not to mention another 4 or so .290+ power hitters... it's not like you can pitch around the guy. Fantasy owners should have concerns about Rolen's balky back, but despite missing 18 games late last season due to injury (a leg injury... wasn't even his back) it should NOT deter you from grabbing him. Rolen remains an elite hitter and a top 4 fantasy 3rd Baseman."
Look for .299/35/115 in '05.

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN':Rolen suffered an injured shoulder and was limited to 196 ABs in '05. Whether it was that achy-breaky shoulder, his balky back, a naggy' knee, or some other issue that remains unrevealed, Rolen struggled at the plate even before his season-ending injury. Coming up on his 13th big-league season, Rolen may NEVER return to All-Star form. While I had concerns about his durability... I thought that he'd remain a formidable batsman. The Card' 3rd Bagger stunk the joint up, and at .235/5/28, with 28 strikeouts and a SLG% that at .383 was almost 100 points below his next lowest SLG % or .469 in '97 (aside from his first, 130 AB '96 season... even then he hung a % of .400)... best leave Rolen to another owner; one willing to take a gamble on him.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Adrian Beltre (SEA): "For a guy who's had a history (and he's only 26 mind you) of being a 2nd half player, Beltre started off hot and didn't cool off until roughly, October. The interesting thing 'bout Beltre is that he's had HUGE expectations heaped upon him since he was 16 years old, but had never really lived up to them. That is, until he blew UP last season to the tune of .334/48/104. Beltre also notched 104 Runs and had a ridiculous Slugging % of .629. The guy can't help but come back down to Earth a little bit next season, especially seeing as how he'll be adjusting to his new Seattle digs. Nevertheless, I like Beltre and don't think last year was an aberration. And, while he can't be as white hot as he was ALL last season, he'll still remain a top 4 fantasy 3rd Bagger."
Look for a more reasonable, .320/41/115... and a Slugging % closer to .550 than .650. And I'll take those "more modest" numbers any day!

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN': Beltre was a season-long enigma. Owners kept waiting... and waiting... and waiting for the former Dodger to ignite. And while he eventually warmed up, frankly it's nothing short of amazing what a "walk year" can do for a players' numbers! Aside from an increase in his strikeouts and 4 more Doubles, EVERY one of Beltre's figures dropped from '04 to '05. Owners who expended a "Keeper" slot on Beltre... or worse, drafted him in the top 3 rounds were sorely disappointed. The Seattle "slugger" swatted a meager .255/19/87, (.334/48/121 in '04) with a SLG % of .413 (over .200 points below his mark of .629 in '04) and an OBP of .303 (.85 points below '04's .385 OBP) While Beltre may rebound a bit in '06 as Seattle may have taken some getting "used to," Beltre clearly hung career high diggies' in '04, and without MultiMillion dollar motivation... is nothing more than an average player.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Eric Chavez (OAK): "(Chavez) must be wondering why the hell he re-signed with a team that held a Pitching fire sale. Having dealt aces (for possible jokers) Hudson and Mulder for prospects, essentially, Chavez is rightfully angry. For a team that was "thisclose" to competing for a World Series... they've taken 1 biiiig step backwards. Having missed over a month due to a broken hand, it took Chavez a while to get back on track in '04. He still had an enviable season however, and fell 1 HR short of a 3rd consecutive 30 HR season. And, those 29 Homers were the most any Athletic hit last season. Chavez matured as a hitter last year and started spraying the ball to all fields."
A top 10 3rd Baseman, look for .279/35/105.

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN': Chavez was the glue that bound a relatively young A roster together. The possible "joker" pitchers performed better than expected, though Mulder (Helped clinch the divvy' and guided his team to the NL Championship) and Hudson (Helped the Braves clinch their... I dunno', 23rd consec' divvy' title? Went 15-9 with a sub 3 ERA) are certainly amongst the top hurlers in the game. Although he suffered through a variety of knicks and knocks, Chavez gritted his teeth through 160 of 162 games. And, even without big bat talent and protection, Chavy' had a fine fantasy (and real, for that matter) campaign; .269/27/101... VERY close to what I projected. With another off-season of work and perhaps another bat in the lineup, Chavez (who's slated to have off-season arm surgery) and his small market teammates will be a thorn in the AL's side. *NOTE: I'm LOVIN' young Closer Huston Street by the way. While the A pitchers don't warrant using a "Keeper" tag in Street... you could do far worse as a #2-ish fantasy Closer.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Melvin Mora (BAL): "I don't know if I'm entirely sold on Mora, he's a guy coming off a career year who's had a history of injuries. He was UN-conscious last season though, hitting .340/27/104 and recording 11 swiped bags. I'm still concerned about injuries, but will look for .325/25/99, and 15 SBs. Mora remains a top 10 3rd Baseman, but I'd draft a guy who offers flexibility at 3rd... just in case."

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN': Mel' was still swell... but the dude couldn't help BUT to come back to planet Earth. He played in 149 games, his injuries were less problematic in years past, and he benefited from the occasional day off. Mora's a streaky hitter, and it wasn't unusual to see him go 0'fer... or 1'fer, and then blow-up with multiple hits, multiple bases, and multiple ribbies'. Balty' didn't get anything close to what they expected from high-priced OF'er Sammy Sosa, C Javy Lopez missed a good chunk of the season due to injury, and we all know 'bout the Raffy' Palmeiro saga. Mora's slugging and OBP %'s fell considerably, and really... all of his numbers were below those of '04; some, like Runs scored (11 in '04, 86 in '05) and 2Bs (41 in '04, 30 in '05) dropped substantially.
With a line of .283/27/88, Mora was a solid... but far from great, fantasy 3rd Bagger.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Chipper Jones (ATL): "A bum Hammy' hobbled Jones all season long and he was never able to get himself right. Even still, Chipper bashed 30 Homers and notched 96 RBIs. Admirable numbers for any player, let alone an injured one. I fully expect Jones to bounce back and record a great year,"
...look for .290/30/100.

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN': The Jones boys positively lit opposing pitchers UP in '05. Andruw more so than Chipper... but an aging Chip', who was forced to contend with injury and hence played in only 109 games, still managed to find a comfort level at the dish and hit his groove. "CJ" also managed to hit the Curve, Fastball, Off-speed, and rare hanging Slider! Although painful injuries limited his numbers, an '05 "cam-pain" saw the perennial All-Star stroke .296/21/72, with 30 Doubs', a SLG % of .556 (his best in 5 seasons) and an OBP of .412 (also his highest since '01). Perhaps more impressively, Chipper took 72 Walks, K'ed only 56 times, and was one of the toughest outs in Baseball. Jones has promised to re-dedicate himself to conditioning, and although he's no youngster, his bat speed doesn't seem to have diminished at all. With ample protection around him and promising young bats moving up... Jones projects to be a top op' at his position for at least another 2 seasons.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Aubrey Huff (TB): "Arguably Tampa's best player, Huff is also versatile; qualifying at 3rd, 1st, and depending upon your league's requirements, OF as well. He started last season rather slooowly, but if he hits the basepaths running... look for him to improve upon last season's figures of .297/29/104."
Let's assume he will, and pencil him in for .305/33/105.

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN': Yes, the versatile Tampa Bay Devil Ray is known for "slow starts." However, he's also been known to heat up and right his numbers... usually around the All-Star Break, This season, however, Aubrey's bat never developed a "huff" and his numbers stayed low... too low, considering his young teammates hit better than expected and DID provide protection. While I predicted a .300/30/100+ season for multi-positional Ray... he disappointed with a line of .261/22/92. Further, Huff's strikeouts increased, his Walks decreased, and both his SLG and OBP %'s fell as well. Chalk it up to a bad season, as Huff's too talented to have fallen off the pace.

IN FEBRUARY, I SAID: Hank Blalock (TEX): "A young player with a bright future, the knock on Hammerin' Hank is his rather irritating habit of falling off after the All-Star break. His split season stats are seriously stupefying. In just his 3rd season, expect Blalock to put in the necessary batting cage work and improve his numbers. He broke the 30/100 mark last season... and that should be the first of many such seasons. Look for a VERY productive year out of Blalock...
I'd gamble an even higher pick upon him this season, and project him for .293/35/112.

IN OCTOBER, I'M SAYIN: A key cog in the Texas Rangers' lineup. Blalock teams with 1B Mark Teixeira and together... the 2 anchor what is arguably the most productive Infield in the Majors. Hammerin' Hank still strikes-out WAAAAY too much, but his pitch recognition seems to be improving. Now, that may be just wishful thinking... but his ABs went up.... and his Ks went down, modestly. I projected Blalock's average to rise with improved plate discipline... but that was too optimistic, apparently. Much to my dismay, "B-Lock's" season was... at least statistically, a step backwards; .263/25/92, with 34 Doubles, 51 Walks and a still-whopping 132 Ks.
If Blalock is to become a top tier 3rd Bagger, he'll have to cut down upon his punchouts... BIG time. Still, even with a season that saw his SLG % plummet 70+ points... Blalock was a fantasy force. Look for hard off-season work to manifest itself next season.


Mike Lowell (FLA): A doubles machine, Lowell's starts each season like a ball of fire... and finishes like a ball of cotton. Having developed a history for falling off significantly during the season's second half, here's the plan; trade Lowell for a position of need just before the All-Star Break. At age 31, a ball player's a known quantity and won't be surprising anyone... unless of course your Barry Bonds, and then you're just getting started. Look for a very respectable, .297/31/104 from Lowell this season... and I'm as serious as a heart attack about that whole trade thing.

Aramis Ramirez (CHI N.): In his first full season with the Cubbies, Ramirez positively blew up and recorded a career high in HRs. He was hobbled with a pulled groin for much of last season, but was still a very productive fantasy player. The defection of Sosa to the Orioles shouldn't hurt Ramirez's numbers, Sosa has been in decline for the past 3 years and was a non-factor for much of last season. The last of the top 10 3rd Baseman, look for Ramirez, who doesn't strike out very often, to turn in an even better '05 than '04; .312/38/108.

B.J Upton (TB): Very young and still trying to find a home defensively... the knock on Upton has been his glovework. Nevertheless, Upton's got a nice upside and is worth taking a flier on... he might even be able to be acquired via the Waiver Wire.

David Wright (NYM): An impressive '04 campaign bodes for an even better '05. This kid has all the tools, especially power. It's quite possible that he could be the Met's best pure hitter since Strawberry.

Aaron Boone (CLE): Let's assume that Boone has learned his lesson about playing pick-up Basketball. However, having heard fairy tales from athletes that range from the ridiculous, "I tripped over my dog" to the inane, "I fell washing my truck," Boone's honesty was refreshing, should be applauded, and he got a raw deal from the Yankees who should never have cut him.

Chone Figgins (ANA): I flat-out like this kid. And, with his base stealing ability (34 in '04) and ability to qualify at 3rd, 2nd, SS, and in the OF, you could learn to like him too! His numbers were worthy of his being named the Angels MVP, look for a very solid season from Figgins. .297/6/62.



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