Fantasy Baseball Advice

Keep The Dread Pirate? Jolly Roger That

GreyOctober 22, 2010 by: Grey Category: 2011 Fantasy Baseball Keepers

The Dread Pirate is in the top five for Grey’s most favoritest players.  (People using third person for themselves is in Grey’s top five annoyances.  It’s irony!  Or not, did we ever decide what irony was?  Ask the British, offer them some dental assistance.)  Member when I said Andrew McCutchen was a poor man’s Shane Victorino?  Feign Victorino.  No?  Probably cause I said that about Dexter Fowler.  Nevethehoo!  McCutchen’s the next Carl Crawford.  How’s dem apples?  Delicious! (Assuming you don’t bite into the core.  Who thought it was a good idea to make the core barely different in texture and color than the apple?  I’m one-upping Mother Nature and saying the apple core should be made of titanium.  That’s me, my rules.  Carry on.)  So what did Andrew McCutchen do to be in my sights for 2011 fantasy baseball keepers?

In 2010, The Dread Pirate dropped his K-rate by almost 5% from 19.2% to 15.6% while keeping his walks where they were.  His BABIP was .311, which is probably a little low for him.  The line drives held, the fly balls dropped a little (literally!) and ground balls went up (or is that down?) a little.  In 2011, I could see McCutchen maintaining his .286 average or even beating it a tad.  He stole 33 bases and there’s little to think that won’t hold or go up as he turns 24-years-old.  His OBP is solid for a young hitter.  The power is real, but not real real like he’s going to hit 30 homers.  It’s real enough for a guy who can steal 40 bases.  15 homers seems to be the base.  20 homers doesn’t seem out of reach.  In 2011, 100/18/60/.290/38 looks like a conservative line.  He can absolutely beat those projections.  That, friend, is a top 10 outfielder with upside and a 2011 fantasy baseball keeper for Grey.


Top 20 3rd Basemen, 2010 Fantasy Baseball

GreyOctober 21, 2010 by: Grey Category: 2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

Catchers, 1st basemen, 2nd basemen and top 20 shortstops for 2010 have been accounted for.  Up now, the top 20 3rd basemen for 2010 fantasy baseball.   Lots of surprises in the top 20 for 3rd basemen.  In the top 3, two guys that weren’t drafted in the first 10 rounds with the 1st guy not being drafted in the first 20 rounds.  Heroes of 2009, Mini-Donkey and Kung Fu Panda, which sounds like an anime cartoon that has a 75% chance of giving you a seizure, did give you the fits.  Then when you get to around the halfway mark, the drop off is precipitous.  Also, to recap, this final ranking is from ESPN Player Rater with my comments.  The Player Rater allows me to be impartial while looking at how I ranked them in the preseason.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 3rd basemen for 2010 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

1. Jose Bautista – He had 59 homers in four previous seasons combined.  That was in 570 extra games.  No wonder some people were calling Jose Bah-test-him.  (Never heard anyone actually call him this, but they should’ve been.)  This is the most improbable 50 homer season since Brady Anderson, who was aided by Luke Perry’s sideburns.  How awesome would it have been if McGwire was Bautista’s hitting coach this year?  Would’ve been like when a face wrestler suddenly is recruited by a heel manager.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  109/54/124/.260/9

2. David Wright – At this point, I think it’s fair to say you’re never getting 35 homers from Wright as long as he calls Metco home.  At least you didn’t get another 10 homer season, or as Ralph Kiner calls it, ‘What my Mommy hits.’  Preseason Rank #3, 2010 Projections:  100/25/110/.300/17, Final Numbers:  87/29/103/.283/19

3. Adrian Beltre – I didn’t look this up because Google requires me to open a new tab, but Beltre has to have Boras as his agent, right?  Speaking of heel managers, Boras is the ultimate heel agent.  He would be Bob Sugar in Jerry Maguire.  If you get the sense I’m annoyed by these top guys, I am.  Bautista had no business having that season and Beltre is El Senator, as Rudy dubbed him.  Because Beltre campaigns every 6 years, making promises he doesn’t live up to once under contract.  Preseason Rank #14, 2010 Projections:  70/24/80/.275/10, Final Numbers:  84/28/102/.321/2

4. Evan Longoria – If you would’ve told me before the season started that Longoria would get 15 steals, I would’ve been over the moon, or whatever that old-timey expression is.  Though I would’ve expected those steals to be paired with 35 homers.  Someone not only stole his New Era cap but also his power.  Preseason Rank #2, 2010 Projections:  100/36/115/.280/10, Final Numbers:  96/22/104/.294/15

5. Ryan Zimmerman – Seems like his career is following the two steps forward, one step back Electric Slide approach.  In fairness, it was due to some thigh tightness in April and missing the last two weeks that caused Zimmerman to fall just short of projections.  I have to say, for a top guy, he kinda bored me for stretches.  Particularly, the 2 homer, .245 month of June and a zero homer month of September.  Preseason Rank #4, 2010 Projections:  105/30/110/.295/5, Final Numbers:  85/25/85/.307/4

6. Alex Rodriguez – It’s going to be surprisingly difficult to rank A-Rod next year for the first time in 15 years.  He seems to have settled into a solid, yet unspectacular option at 3rd base.  His lineup doesn’t hurt his Runs and RBIs, but the huge homer totals and steals have vanished along with his cousin.  Preseason Rank #1, 2010 Projections:  110/36/120/.310/15, Final Numbers:  74/30/125/.270/4

7. Michael Young – I feel like I’m in countdown waiting for this guy to get old, or, rather, show his age.  I know that any season now he’s going to go from 20+ homers to 15 homers and become tough to own at a high production spot in fantasy lineups.  In 2010, it was not yet that year.  Check in again in 2011.  Preseason Rank #10, 2010 Projections:  75/14/90/.315/10, Final Numbers:  99/21/91/.284/4

8. Martin Prado – Went over him in the top 20 1st basemen for 2010 post.

9. Casey McGehee – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

10. Kevin Youkilis – Went over him in the top 20 1st basemen for 2010 post.

11. Michael Cuddyer – Went over him in the top 20 1st basemen for 2010 post.

12. Scott Rolen – In the first half of 2010, Rolen was a Rolex.  In the 2nd half, he turned out to be a Rolecks.  Preseason Unranked Final Numbers:  66/20/83/.285/1

13. Omar Infante – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

14. Chone Figgins – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

15. Chase Headley – I was admittedly too high on this guy in the preseason.  He wasn’t a sleeper, he was a Valium.  If you throw out his 7 steal month of April, he was middling at best, unownable at worse.  Preseason Rank #21, 2010 Projections:  70/20/85/.290/10, Final Numbers:  77/11/58/.264/17

16. Placido Polanco – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

17. Neil Walker – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

18. Miguel Tejada – Went over him in the top 20 shortstops for 2010 post.

19. Juan Uribe – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

20. Mark Reynolds – This Reynolds year should be a warning for Bautista’s 2011.  I’ll call him overrated and will still probably give him too much credit, as I did with Reynolds.  In 2009, Mini Donkey received all the brays.  In 2010, you pulled on Mini Donkey’s reins to try and get him to move.  Finally, you tried to push on his ass and he kicked you in the teeth.  Preseason Rank #6, 2010 Projections:  85/35/95/.250/12, Final Numbers:  79/32/85/.198/7


Toronto Blue Jays, 2010 Minor League Review

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223 ackley imp StephenOctober 20, 2010 by: Stephen Category: Fantasy Baseball Prospects

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Toronto Blue Jays 2010 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America (2010)
2010 (28) | 2009 (19) | 2008 (25) | 2007 (25) | 2006 (25) | 2005 (15) | 2004 (8)

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Record of Major and Minor League Team(s)
MLB: [85 – 77] AL East
AAA: [66 – 78] Pacific Coast League – Las Vegas
AA: [79 – 62] Eastern League – New Hampshire
A+: [72 – 67] Florida League – Dunedin
A: [70 – 69] Midwest League – Lansing
A(ss): [35 – 40] New York – Pennsylvania League – Auburn
R: [31-28] Gulf Coast League

The Run Down
My Blue Jays 2009 Minor League Review said, “[The] Blue Jays may be better than expected [in 2010]. However, there is a rather large “IF” on each of those players [to continue to produce in the future].” The player with “if” tags? Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, and Shawn Marcum. Three-fourth of the players listed struggled or were injured for most of the year. 2010 saw the Jays post a winning record (last one was in 2008). The Blue Jays were a running strikeout joke here at Razzball, but the Diamondbacks would have won that if they would have had any good fantasy hitters this year. Surprise years from Jose Bautista, John Buck, and a bounce back year from Vernon Wells and Shawn Marcum (injury bounce back) helped the Jays in a brutal division. Youngsters, Ricky Romero progressed very well in 2010, Brett Cecil improved upon his rookie year, and Brandon Morrow had a terrific year posting a 10.95 K/9 – if he was qualified, would have been the highest strikeout rate for a starter. Although the Blue Jays had a winning major league record, they did not have the infusion of rookies or prospects this year as they did in 2009. Not entirely a huge issue, nevertheless, an indication of the lack of a deep talent pool. Granted, the trade of Roy Halladay definitely brought back some great talent (Drabek, d’Arnaud, and Brett Wallace in a side swap for Michael Taylor), there wasn’t a major league ready prospect to start the 2010 season. One surprising name upon perusing the Jays minor league system, Adam Loewen, the former pitcher from Baltimore. Loewen is currently a Blue Jays outfielder, putting his time in at Double-A. He hit 17 homers and looks to be in the Rick Ankiel mold, except Loewen’s pitching problem was injury-based and not a command issue.

Graduating Prospects

Arizona Fall League Players -Phoenix Desert Dogs
AFL Rosters
Pitchers: Matt Daly (RHP), Alana Farina (RHP), Dan Farquhar (RHP), TBA (P)
Hitters: Adeiny Hechevarria (SS), Mike McDade (1B), Eric Thames (OF)

Players of Interest for 2011
Adeiny Hechavarria | SS | D.o.B: 4-15-89 | Stats (A+/AA): .242/.272/.333 | 414 AB | 26 XBH | 4 Hr | .091 ISO | 13/3 SB/CS | 65:17 K:BB
Signed a 4 year, $10 million deal in April. According to some sources, he was the best Cuban shortstop, ahead of prized Boston Red Sox, Jose Iglesias (who had to play second when they were on the same team). Covers a lot of ground, great quickness, and stellar footwork. Has some power but it is his defense that will make him reach the majors sooner rather than later. Baseball America and John Sickels 2010 handbooks did not have Hechavarria listed. During his first year of professional ball in the USA, Hechavarria struggled at High-A but with a .222 BABIP; Double-A was a different story with a .307 BABIP and a slashline of .273/.305/.360 indicating a light hitting middle infielder with on-base issues. Watch him play at Double-A next year and judge accordingly for his MLB ETA.

#4 David Cooper | 1B | D.o.B: 2-12-87 | Stats (AA): .257/.327/.442 | 498 AB | 51 XBH | 20 Hr | .185 ISO | 0/0 SB/CS | 74:52 K:BB | .266 BABIP
Still projected as the Blue Jays first basemen of the future (as he was last year too), Cooper was underwhelming in his second take facing Double-A pitching. Blame Brett Wallace for stealing a potential Triple-A cup-of-joe, granted, Cooper didn’t blow away the opposition. His season was still adequate and should still be considered a potential fit at first for his BABIP was unlucky (.266) showing that his slashline could still improve. The power is sufficient and has improved from his 2009 season and the strikeout to walk ratio remains a strong attribute. A 2009 Honorable Mention has become a strong play for 2011. Just wait to see how he handles spring training and the early season. Could be the 2011 Ike Davis.

#2 J.P. Arencibia | C | D.o.B: 1-5-87 | Stats (AAA): .301/.359/.629 | 412 AB | 67 XBH | 32 Hr | .328 ISO | 0/0 SB/CS | 85:35 K:BB | .306 BABIP
Read his Scouting the Unknown article for more expansive coverage. Also, I rated him as the number eight Fantasy Baseball Prospect back in late July. A quick quote from the 2009 blurb for the lazy reader because the Scouting the Unknown article says the same thing at some point, “The power is legit, the strikeouts are scary and the lack of walks is more of a turn off than Joan Rivers. Playing the Pacific Coast League may have inflated his numbers a wee-bit, however, expect to see him in the majors at some point in early summer 2010. Keep expectations in check, but if you need a catcher, plug him in and see what he can do.”

#25 Brad Emaus | 2B | D.o.B: 3-28-86 | Stats (AA/AAA): .290/.397/.476 | 445 AB | 50 XBH | 15 Hr | .186 ISO | 13/2 SB/CS | 69:81 K:BB | .281 BABIP (AA) .327 BABIP (AAA)
Who knows when another Aaron Hill injury is going to happen, but Emaus may be the beneficiary of said injury. Doesn’t have great tools in any area, but is a savvy player, or if you’re Baseball America, “has high marks for his moxie and approach to the game … a consistent swing and [gap power] … good plate discipline … quality at-bats … was over anxious in 2009 … 10 to 15 homer potential … defense improving.” Sounds like Dustin Pedoria on the high end or Orlando Hudson on the low.

Darin Mastroianni | CF | D.o.B: 8-26-85 | Stats (AA): .301/.390/.398 | 525 AB | 36 XBH | 4 Hr | .097 ISO | 46/10 SB/CS | 96:77 K:BB | .358 BABIP
Looking for steals, waiting for one of the Jays outfielders to be injured or not produce in 2011 (I’m pointing at you Jose), here in your potential Drew Stubbs of 2011. See 2009 blurb, “FROM 2009 (Honorable Mention):.No power to speak of here. Mastroianni is all speed, (70 steals in 85 attempts) and it’s a good thing he keeps the ball on the ground too. If your a firm believer in SAGNOF, then Mastroianni may be someone you steal on the waivers if he gets called up in 2010. But that is a big IF.” That “big IF” is much smaller for the 2011 season, especially if you replace 2010 with 2011. Triple-A is in his future.

#18 Eric Thames | LF | D.o.B: 11-10-86 | Stats (AA): .288/.370/.526 | 496 AB | 58 XBH | 27 Hr | 8/5 SB/CS | 121:50 K:BB | .327 BABIP
His draft stock fell when he tore his quadricep muscle in his right left before the 2008 draft. He has plus bat speed, great plate discipline and a good swing according to Baseball America; he has average speed, an average arm and should play left field because his defense isn’t great. A strong person with a “rock-solid” body helps too. I see an outfielder with the potential to go 30/10 with a solid average (think .275 to .300). Probably won’t get a chance until September to prove himself.

#2 (PHI)Kyle Drabek | RHP | D.o.B: 12-8-87 | Stats (AA): 7.3 K/9 | 3.8 BB/9 | 162 IP | 2.94 ERA | 3.87 FIP | 1.20 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 7.0 H/9 | .260 BABIP
I may be rather harsh, but let me be frank to start, Drabek is a great talent with tremendous upside, but he isn’t a flamethrower and won’t draw rave reviews everywhere you look. His 179 innings (including his three major league starts) in 2010 isn’t a red flag when you consider he threw 158 innings in 2009. Pre-season Baseball America ranked Drabek as the 25th overall prospect. Quoting last year’s review, “He possesses a low to mid 90′s fastball (top 95 mph), a sharp and biting curve, and a “work in progress” change-up. Due to the heavy influx of pitchers at the top end of the Jays system (Romero, Rzepczynski, Cecil, Richmond, David Purcey, Shawn Marcum, Dustin McGowan), Drabek wont be rushed. The earliest, June. Most likely, August/September.” I got the ETA right, just wasn’t as excited as the experts. Much the same holds true from this past season, but his curve isn’t just “sharp” and “biting”, it’s “a 70” on the 20-80 scale. Meaning it is tremendous, fantastic, you get the point. I like his potential and he pitched fairly well in his 17 major league innings. Just don’t expect a 10 K/9, something more along the lines of 7.5 K/9 should be more accurate.

#1 Zach Stewart | RHP | D.o.B: 9-28-86 | Stats (AA): 7.0 K/9 | 3.6 BB/9 | 132 1/3 IP | 3.63 ERA | 4.18 FIP | 1.36 WHIP | .9 Hr/9 | 8.6 H/9 | .298 BABIP
From 2009 Minor League Review, “A key component in the Scott Rolen trade, Stewart has a mid 90′s fastball (93-96 mph), a power slider and a “promising” change-up. His fastball has natural sink to it, laminated by his high ground-ball rate (53%).” Rated as the number one prospect in the Jays system before the Halladay trade, Stewart didn’t have a dominating season at Double-A. His numbers were uninspiring. John Sickels said it best in his recap of the Top 50 Pitcher Prospects for 2010 , “I thought he’d do better, but it was still a good season.” I concur. The Reds used him as a reliever with some success, but the Jays want him in the rotation. Should get a shot in the majors at some point in 2011.

#14 Danny Farquhar | RHP | D.o.B: 2-17-87 | Stats (AA): 9.3 K/9 | 4.9 BB/9 | 76 2/3 IP | 3.52 ERA | 4.28 FIP | 1.20 WHIP | .8 Hr/9 | 5.9 H/9 | .239 BABIP
Why reinvent the wheel, from the 2009 Minor League Review, (he was a honorable mention), “Yet another Blue Jays pitcher who works the ground balls (51.6%). I mention Farquhar because … a deadly fastball that sits between 92 and 94 mph, an average curve, and a cutter – and that is just from a three-quarter slot. He also can throw a 89 to 91 mph fastball with tons of action and a “frisbee action” slider from a below-sidearm angle. Used as a starter in college, the Jays like what they see from him as a reliever. Farquhar could become Lord Farquaad of the Jays ‘pen by 2012, and a stellar mid-to-late relief role by 2011.” My humor is lame, but my predictions remain the same, except it’s possible to see him in 2011. His fastball has improved to 93 to 94 mph topping out at 95 to 96 mph. The 89 to 91 mph fastball in the quote is a two-seamer with good sink. All of his pitches have good action. He struggles with control due to the different arm slots.

Honorable Mentions
#4 (PHI) Travis d’Arnaud | C | D.o.B: 2-10-89 | Stats (A+): .259/.315/.411 | 263 AB | 27 XBH | 6 Hr | .152 ISO | 3/1 SB/CS | 63:20 K:BB | .312 BABIP
Not quite the season the Blue Jays brass was hoping for. To quote the 2009 blurb about d’Arnaud because not much has changed besides getting one year older, “A fixture in the Halladay trade, d’Arnaud was the second rated catcher in the Phillies minors behind Lou Marson. D’Arnaud has a good arm, above average catching skills, a gap-power swing … In his first full season, he played fairly well. His average is more like .275 with a normal BABIP, however, that doesn’t mean he’ll blast off next year. He’s good, just a few years away. Plus, the Jays have JP Arencibia.”

#6 (PHI)Anthony Gose | CF | D.o.B: 8-10-90 | Stats (A+ -2 teams): .262/.332/.393 | 512 AB | 40 XBH | 7 Hr | .131 ISO | 45/32 SB/CS | 132:45 K:BB | ~.338 BABIP
Gose was traded straight up for Brett Wallace. His scouting report is unchanged from 2009, “ 60 yards in 6.5 seconds. Plus-plus arm in center. 76 steals … Some scouts think his swing could produce 20 homers in a season, but no time soon. Steals, man, that is what Mr. Gose can provide, and awesome defense.” Much is the same, except managers aren’t going to let him steal when he is caught nearly half the time (45 steals in 77 attempts). The strikeouts are going to become an issue if can’t get on base. He did hit 13 triples to go along with his 20 doubles and seven home runs, showing off his some of the potential power and speed. Double-A is going to be a true test of his abilities. At just 20, there is plenty of time for development. Don’t quit on this youngster like everyone is doing with Fernando Martinez (NYM).

#17 Tyler Pastornicky | SS | D.o.B: 12-13-89 | Stats (A+/AA): .257/.343/.373 | 421 AB | 30 XBH | 9 Hr | .116 ISO | 35/9 SB/CS | 71:55 K:BB | .288 BABIP
He was a late scratch in the Blue Jays 2009 Minor League Review, and this year, I had no choice. Plus, his talents flowed naturally after Anthony Gose. SPEED!. He had 57 Steals in 2009 and 35 this year. He plays good defense, is an above average runner, but lacks power. Could be a top-of-the-order middle infielder. Nothing special, but SAGNOF isn’t supposed to be special.

#5 Henderson Alvarez | RHP | D.o.B: 4-18-90 | Stats (A+): 6.2 K/9 | 2.2 BB/9 | 112 1/3 IP | 4.33 ERA | 3.88 FIP | 1.46 WHIP | .8 Hr/9 | 11 H/9 | .347 BABIP
Alvarez is a groundball pitcher who doesn’t overpower anyone with his 86 to 89 MPH fastball on bad days and a 89 to 92 MPH fastball on his good days, his changeup is his best pitch and it has splitter-like action. He also throws a “three-quarter” breaking ball. He has good command of his pitches, but has little room for error. This past year he seemed to be hittable, albeit slightly unlucky. His strikeouts are vomit-inducing. Overall, Alvarez still has a couple years until the majors are truly in his sight.

Joel Carreno | RHP | D.o.B: 3-7-87 | Stats (A+): 11.3 K/9 | 2.0 BB/9 | 137 2/3 IP | 3.73 ERA | 2.36 FIP | 1.29 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 9.0 H/9 | .392 BABIP
I couldn’t find a detailed scouting report, but the strikeouts are awesome, the command is great, the FIP is nearly a full run and a half better than his ERA and he was tremendously unlucky (.392 BABIP). Could be a surprise ranked prospect in 2011 scouting handbooks.


Top 20 Shortstops, 2010 Fantasy Baseball

GreyOctober 19, 2010 by: Grey Category: 2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings

Top twenty catchers, 1st basemen and 2nd basemen are in the books as we throw it around the horn.  Today, the top 20 Shortstops for 2010 fantasy baseball get to shine.  Hmm… Actually, most of these won’t shine.  They’re cloudy with a chance of crapballs.  As I said in the beginning of the year, the shortstops are even shallower than the 2nd basemen.  This held true.  A good two weeks in the major leagues and you too can make the top twenty list for shortstops!  Okay, enough of the hubbub on the tomfoolery.  To recap, this final ranking is from ESPN Player Rater with my comments.  The Player Rater allows me to be impartial while looking at how I ranked them in the preseason.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2010 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

1. Hanley Ramirez – Hanley doesn’t need to work on his swing in the offseason, he needs to go on Breakthrough with Tony Robbins or maybe a Biggest Loser spin-off show where people aren’t fat, just unmotivated.  Let’s call it, Just Losers.  Or get him a friggin’ motivational poster with a kitten climbing a mountain.  Hanley was one of the few players in their prime that I actually lowered their power number projections and he ended up coming even below those projections.  A shame isn’t it?  Not a shame, a problem, Treach.  Preseason Rank #1, 2010 Projections:  100/25/110/.320/25, Final Numbers:  92/21/76/76/.300/32

2. Troy Tulowitzki – See if this rings a bell for you, “Without a poor April and May, he’d be the top ranked shortstop.  Yeah, he was that good.”  That’s what I said after the 2009 season.  This year he hit 1 homer in April and missed just about the whole month of July.  If it wasn’t for an otherworldly September when he single-handedly won people H2H leagues, we’d be talking about Tulo’s busted season.  Remember, he had only 12 homers going into September.  That is not a good five months.  Preseason Rank #2, 2010 Projections:  95/35/105/.280/12, Final Numbers:  89/27/95/.315/11

3. Jose Reyes – Not quite the bounce back I envisioned when I drafted him on all of my teams and told you to draft him, but it’s hard to fault a guy who is ranked 3rd overall and missed extended periods of time with injuries.  He’s about the only Met I truly love and, at some point, the Mets will realize that Reyes is the key to their offense and that means him running like crazy.  Especially in Metco.  Preseason Rank #4, 2010 Projections:  105/11/55/.285/45, Final Numbers:  83/11/54/.282/30

4. Alexei Ramirez – Pretty pathetic that Alexei is ranked this high considering the year he had.  They’re not middle infielders, they’re middling infielders.  It’s so tough to own someone like Alexei who doesn’t ever really get hot.  He just hits one homer every week and a half or so and steals a base every two weeks.  That almost put me to sleep typing it out.  Or am I asleep?  I need to spin a top.  Preseason Rank #9, 2010 Projections:  70/18/80/.280/15, Final Numbers:  83/18/70/.282/13

5. Derek Jeter – Here’s a theory.  You know how once all the great filmmakers find happiness they start producing crap?  Coppola’s Jack, Woody Allen’s 1990s, Oliver Stone post-Natural Born Killers… Maybe Jeter needed the motivation of not having a serious girlfriend.  Once he committed to Minka he no longer cared how well he played since a long term piece of tail was in place.  Or maybe it’s just age.  Preseason Rank #5, 2010 Projections:  110/16/70/.315/20, Final Numbers:  111/10/67/.270/18

6. Rafael Furcal – I know it seems like I’m a total downer on all of these guys, but Furcal’s numbers are terrible for this ranking.  Look at his Runs.  That’s a top of the order guy?  66?!  F(urcal) my life.  Preseason Rank #10, 2010 Projections:  90/10/55/.275/20, Final Numbers:  66/8/43/.300/22

7. Stephen Drew – He hit 4 homers in the first 4 months.  Yes, to get ranked this high all you needed was one good month.  (His August:  8 homers, 19 RBIs, 25 Runs and a .310 average.) Preseason Rank #10, 2010 Projections:  85/22/75/.265/4, Final Numbers:  83/15/61/.278/10

8. Omar Infante – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

9. Elvis Andrus – I had mad love for Elvis in the preseason and it’s not going to stop going into 2011.  He’s still very young and this season was a good first step.  Now if he can work on his first step on steal attempts, we’ll be all set.  Preseason Rank #8, 2010 Projections: 75/8/50/.270/37, Final Numbers:  88/0/35/.265/32

10. Ian Desmond – Wanna hear something scary?  In my Ian Desmond sleeper post, I had Desmond down for pretty much exactly what he ended doing.  His projections really aren’t far off.  Yet, he was kinda unownable for long stretches of the season.  Preseason Rank #21, 2010 Projections:  85/10/60/.275/20, Final Numbers:  59/10/65/.269/17

11. Mike Aviles – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

12. Marco Scutaro – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

13. Alex Gonzalez – This list pretty sums up why I punt middle infield every year.  You obviously could’ve drafted 12 of these 20 shortstops at any point in a draft.  And, even better, you draft one then rotate from hot middle infielder to hot middle infielder.  Why do I rotate my middle infielders and ‘Set It and Forget It’ with my catchers?  Will have to be an offseason post.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  74/23/88/.250/1

14. Cliff Pennington – I call this middle infielder, a Puntington.  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  64/6/46/.250/29

15. Miguel Tejada – The fact that he came pretty close to matching my projections, combined with the fact I wouldn’t own him anywhere should give you an idea of the state of shortstops and the state of offense, in general.  It’s like Hamsterdam without the drugs.  Preseason Rank #14 for Shortstops, 2010 Projections:  70/15/85/.295/4, Final Numbers:  71/15/71/.269/2

16. Juan Uribe – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

17. Jeff Keppinger – Went over him in the top 20 2nd basemen for 2010 post.

18. Starlin Castro – If you remove his first game in the big leagues, he doesn’t make this list.  All you needed was one good game to make the top 20 shortstops!  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  53/3/41/.300/10

19. Yuniesky Betancourt – Yes, it’s comical that Betancourt is listed in these rankings.  Wanna stop smiling?  Jimmy Rollins didn’t even make the list.  (Smile again if you didn’t draft Rollins.)  Preseason Unranked, Final Numbers:  60/16/78/.259/2

20. Ryan Theriot – I just hope if you drafted this schmohawk, you heeded the Emergency Broadcasting System’s warning and got out of The Riot in time to save your team.  Preseason Rank #20, 2010 Projections:  85/3/50/.285/22, Final Numbers:  72/2/29/.270/20


Book Review: Rickwood Field

Rudy GambleOctober 18, 2010 by: Rudy Gamble Category: Book Previews, Rudy Gamble

Rickwood FieldSports play a sizable role in my life – in some ways healthy (excuse to talk and hang out with friends and family) and unhealthy (excuse to pore over stats and pundit POVs at the expense of talking and hanging out with friends and family).

Perhaps that’s why the sports books and documentaries that resonate most with me are ones that show the healthy and unhealthy societal aspects of sports fandom.  Like how high school football can dominate small town life in the various media formats of Friday Night Lights (imho, TV show and book are awesome, movie okay).  Or how soccer (or fútbol) intersects with crime, politics, patriotism, and family in ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary The Two Escobars.

It’s the intersection of baseball with the rich history of Birmingham, Alabama that made ‘Rickwood Field’ by Allen Barra such a memorable read for me.

Rickwood Field is the oldest active professional ballpark, celebrating 100 years on August 18th of this year.  The park was patterned after Shibe Park – the first ‘steel and concrete’ baseball stadium which was built in 1909 to house Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s.  The most fascinating part of the book for me was the beginning chapters and getting a glimpse of the early 20th century when America and MLB was less settled.  At that time, St. Louis was both the western and southern outpost for baseball.  Birmingham was rivaling Atlanta and other cities to become the industrial capital of the South.  (Note:  The ‘South’ didn’t have a team until the Braves moved from Milwaukee in 1966.).  The major/minor league delineation was less defined than today.  All teams competed for players and the biggest divide between MLB and organizations like the Southern Association was money and geography.

Besides being home to the Birmingham Barons, Rickwood Field was also home to the Negro League’s Birmingham Black Barons (this uncreative naming of Negro League teams led to the New York Black Yankees and the wonderfully oxymoronic Atlanta Black Crackers).  Author Allen Barra paints the history of both franchises against the inevitable collision of race and baseball – providing a picture of Birmingham that’s much less black-and-white (pun intended and apologized for) than you’d expect for a city infamous for being home of the Martin Luther King-led demonstration and racial strife in the 1960′s.

I’m not sure how widely available the book is across our nation’s fine bookstores but I provided an Amazon link below if you’re interested in purchasing it online.  Enjoy and feel free to comment if you read the book!